Doctor Who — The Power of the Daleks

power_of_the_daleks

Season 4 – Episode 3 – (1966)
Doctor: 2 – Patrick Troughton
 
Companions:
 Polly, Ben

Ben and Polly are watching The Doctor, collapsed on the floor. Hartnell’s Doctor is gone- the character changes from a frail, white-haired, Edwardian-styled grandfather to a shorter, scruffier, black-haired hobo.

Ben and Polly are understandably shocked that the Doctor has just changed before their eyes. In fact, they argue about their unconscious friend. Polly argues that The Doctor commented that his body was “wearing a bit thin” but Ben cannot believe that he would get himself a new one. Finally The Doctor regains consciousness…

The Doctor: Slower. Slower. Concentrate on one thing. One thing. It’s over. Hmm, hmm, hmm. It’s over. — The muscles are still a bit tight.

Ben, especially, is not convinced by The Doctor, who is going through a lot that we have come to expect from regeneration. Our eponymous hero refers to “The Doctor” in the 3rd person and acts aloof while examining his previous incarnation’s achievements. Troughton’s Doctor immediately picks up a recorder (the instrument of 5-year-olds and classical music aficionados (seriously if you see a bass recorder played you just want to play it yourself)). The first sequence of the episode has The Doctor regaining his place and chastising Ben for not believing that The Doctor has reformed. He never admits it but we have a new man in our presence.

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Brazenly, The Doctor ventures from the TARDIS and onto the planet Vulcan. Yes we all know the name is from Star Trek but the name shouldn’t be considered new to sci-fi; Vulcan was a popular idea of a planet that is closer to the Sun than Mercury. I have to admit (Philip) that Doctor Who lost on this occasion (by merely a couple of months).

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The Doctor strolls out onto the surface of the planet, with its Mercury pools. He wanders, unaware of the looming plot. A character, later revealed to be an inspector (the examiner), of a colony of humans is murdered and through a mix-up, The Doctor is found by the colonists and assumed to be the examiner sent from Earth. He, Ben and Polly are brought into the base and are allowed to inspect… Unfortunately, in his snooping he comes across a capsule in a lab in which some creatures that are far too familiar: The Daleks are hidden and dormant and a mutant scurries across the floor.

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We’ll take a brief departure here to discuss the Daleks again. It’s the 60’s and in their first year the pepper-pots took everyone by storm. Everyone loved them and their original creator, Terry Nation, knew it. The Dalek episodes were so successful that they were adapted for cinema. Peter Cushing played an alternate conceptualisation of The Doctor in a very different circumstance. The movie’s that were made were rushed out quickly – the Daleks really needed to have staying power.

Terry Nation wanted to get the Daleks their own individual show or film series as a spin-off and so asked that the creatures be written out of Doctor Who… Season 4 was originally to be their last appearance and we’ll discuss that later.

Power is a very different Dalek story from those before. Basically up until this point the Daleks represented a stellar super-power, invading and conquering as the Nazis did. Power on the other-hand represents infiltration and toppling of society from the inside… We’ll move on with the plot.

It’s clear to The Doctor that someone has moved a Dalek shell and he stresses to Ben and Polly the seriousness of the situation. With active Daleks, which just require power, the colony could be wiped out. The Doctor accuses the chief scientist of hiding a Dalek as he is the one who had no reaction to seeing the things.

(So much to unpack) Ben especially has been accusing The Doctor of being a fraud throughout but the mood softens quite early in episode two when the group are escorted to their quarters. The Doctor waxes lyrical in various memories as Ben calls chastises him … Finally, The Doctor reveals a bugging device. They all share a tense moment before relaxing together.

The scientists in the base begin to connect the Dalek up to a power supply, causing it to move and they hypothesise over the purpose of it’s limbs. It begins to move and observe the people in the room. At the same time, The Doctor finds communication lines to Earth have been cut and the Dalek stuns one of the scientists (only for this to be covered over by the scientists removing the weapon. The Doctor speaks to the leader of the base but the scientists force everyone to see the progress they have made. The metal machine obeys orders! Actually to all the audience, this is overshadowed by the Dalek’s obsession with observing The Doctor on his entry. Ben is quick to point out that the Dalek has recognised The Doctor, who naturally begins warning against the creatures.

It’s a key sci-fi moment as our hero warns against the capability of this rudimentary order-obeying machine. As the Doctor warns against the creature, it finally speaks. It actually doesn’t only speak – it repeats and repeats as The Doctor tries to warn against it. The Dalek continues to speak in increasing volume “I am your servant!”

Sorry all! We need to address the pachyderm in the playpen. If any of you have come in from the revived series you will have seen this plot play out with Matt Smith’s Doctor in the episode Victory of the Daleks. I’ve though long and hard about this and would ask you put your forgiveness helmets on but also your cynical glasses. The modern episode was an homage to this lost story and it does gladly depart plot-wise in some instances. It’s not copying, it’s paying respects but if you think the modern counterpart is just as good… Power of the Daleks is creepy! It’s much more layered and one cannot predict how it will progress. Doctor Who wasn’t airing when I was a kid but gosh how I’ve longed to say: “We gathered round the speakers to listen to the stories of days gone past… you kids would love this if you could get away from your Xboxes and Instagrams…”

I would love to abridge but frankly this cliffhanger is broken with The Doctor asking a Dalek if it is his servant and it faulters before playing its part. He orders it to imobilise itself and it does begrudgingly until The Doctor leaves, at which point it begins to try and present logic to the scientists as to why it reactivated. Indeed while The Doctor, Polly and Ben are trying to regain goodwill, The Dalek is presenting it’s vast knowledge of the universe.

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The colony’s politics are key – a group of rebels want to create a coup and the three Daleks can facilitate this. Of course, our Daleks have their own plans and soon there seem to be more than three as all sorts of splinter groups support the use of these Daleks and begin aiding the pepper-pots’ development. The Daleks are hilariously (almost pantomime like) faking servitude; you should see my favourite quotes at the end.

The original Dalek premise of utilising static electricity for power is brought up and although everyone deems this impossible it seems that they have better technology. Yes finally the Daleks create a huge army and they take over the base, toppling all of the authority figures as they go. The Doctor overloads the power as the Dalek invasion begins and with the feedback loop, all Daleks explode.

The colonists are not thrilled and berate The Doctor for destroying the infrastructure of the colony. He actually is surprised that his involvement made such a massive effect and departs with Ben and Polly, who are cottoning on to the fact that the Doctor is maybe hiding his full intentions. He tells them that they should leave before they are: “sent the bill”. Thus ends the second Doctor’s opening story.

So my thoughts: It’s great! Not that anyone can see it as all 6 parts have been junked but the telesnaps and audio survive, indeed it’s been animated and it’s pretty reasonable! I want this story back… It’s a wonderfully sinister Dalek tale that serves to really support the second Doctor. Not everything is clear about the character yet and he has some traits that latch and some that drop. It’s also a bit of your 60s affair in that Polly gets kidnapped and then Ben gets kidnapped and now we look on this and think, well Michael Craze and Anneke Will had time off on those weeks. Still I will reserve my gushings on the second Doctor. Suffice to say it’s a great first outing….

Favourite Quotes:

  • Ben: The Doctor always wore this. If you are him it should fit… That settles it!
    The Doctor: I’d like to see a butterfly fit into a chrysalis case after it spreads its wings.
  • The Doctor: Yes. When I say run, run like a rabbit. Run!

    Pantomime Daleks 
  • DALEK: A Dalek is bet–… is not the same as a human. If I am to help, I must know everything.
  • DALEK: Until now, we have had to recharge from the colony supply. With static power, the Daleks will be twice as … useful.

Score:

9/10 (I love it)

Next time:
Our crew heads back to Earth in Scotland to get wrapped up in the final pure historical adventure until the 80’s. This story isn’t too special unless you count the introduction of one of the most iconic companions in Doctor Who history, Jamie McCrimmon… It’s a so-so first story which continues to enrich our favourite show!

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The First Doctor Retrospective

This was hard – it’s taken me weeks to write this but I finally settled that this will be video-heavy to illustrate as best I can about the formative years of Doctor Who…

Here I hope to give my retrospective on The First Doctor. Sometimes a Doctor needs defending, while other times they need criticising and it’s my job to do both. When one discusses their favourite Doctor, discussion points fly from all angles. A general trend is often a grudging respect for the predecessor and a distaste for the successor.

Fans generally regard Hartnell with a “counterpointed” opinion… A “patronising reverence”, if you will. To clarify, Hartnell cannot be a bad Doctor to a lot of the most long-term fans as he was the original. The patronising comes in because of the show’s infancy.

Now the only pieces of “lore” are The Doctor, the TARDIS and the companions. At this stage in the show, our lead shows very little in the way of a way of being, other than that of being a scientist gifted with the ability to travel through time and space.

… And then you read what I just wrote and realise that a premise so broadly put should ultimately create an overarching figure of wisdom. Screenwriters will see that with wisdom, age should come and thus the grandfatherly figure was born. This post will explore the first three (point something-or-other) years of Doctor Who with a real focus on The First Doctor.

Can I first suggest that if you haven’t seen it yet, you must watch the Docudrama produced by the BBC for the 50th anniversary special: “An Adventure in Space and Time”. It takes a few liberties with the truth that only the most eagle eyed fan would spot but by and large is accurate to accounts. It tells the story of both Verity Lambert, the first producer of the show, and William Hartnell, throughout the latter’s tenure and is an absolute treat to watch:

The last clip contains a lot of true stories down to the use of a set of keys against piano wire to create the sound of the TARDIS.

If you have followed along, The First Doctor’s tenure began with the fleeing from Earth with his Granddaughter Susan, and her school teachers Ian and Barbara. The first episode of the first story is a piece of television history, which by right should be seen by every fan of the series. The remaining episodes, while setting up a theme, are a little dull but perhaps enough to capture imagination.

The real catalyst (as you all know) of the shows popularity came from the second story. With all scripts being either turned down or impractical in the early days, the second story had to fall to a script by the writer Terry Nation. He created a villain that had to be designed by the BBC. A designer named Ridley Scott (yes, the very same) was assigned to create the monster but sadly due to a scheduling conflict, he was unable to do so. I say unable… Perhaps it was for the best that Scott didn’t create this particular villain:

The Daleks captured the imagination of everyone and it’s no surprise that Dalekmania took hold of everyone shortly after. Forget the Doctor for half a moment: magazines, annuals, models, stories set on Skaro – all poured out from the original phenomenon very quickly and the country was obsessed… The first two Dalek stories from the show were actually adapted into feature films starring Peter Cushing… but that is not for here. I’m sure we’ll look at those when mopping up the gravy of the Doctor Who feast.

So with the The Doctor and the Daleks leading the way, the show ran through it’s first season as a family of four in the TARDIS and set a precident for fanciful worlds and lovely concepts. As with all of the first six seasons, some stories are missing but I would argue that we have kept the better ones. The Doctor starts as an grumpy old man but over the course of a couple of good stories, softens to a character that really respects and loves his life with his TARDIS family – a trait that by and large continues and we get to enjoy the world through the eyes of an wise yet mercurial Grandfather. Just take a look at this scene from (possibly) my favourite story of Hartnell’s era, The Aztecs:

So we move on to Season 2, which introduces a new dynamic that ultimately forges the show’s longevity, it’s ability to change. The Doctor’s companions begin to leave and this ultimately creates the idea that the show can progress without the stalwarts that could have defined, yet dated, everything. In the second episode The Doctor’s granddaughter leaves, being forced out of the TARDIS in one of the most emotional scenes in the series, perhaps yet to be matched:

It’s a lovely piece of acting and based on the premise that The Doctor cannot control where he lands, lends a finality to the scene that is perhaps unmatched in modern standards.

Susan is replaced by Vicki and by the end of season 2, Ian and Barbara manage to find their way back to Earth. Oh dear… I am skimming… Season 2 is the most complete of any pre-colour Doctor Who and has some fantastic stories in it. From The Dalek Invasion of Earth, which we have just seen a clip from; to the comedy of The Romans; to the bizarre, ahead-of-its-time, laughable-in-modern-day episodes such as The Web Planet.

The season builds up to the eventual departure of our original companions, Ian and Barbara, with the replacement by Steven – who is a character that carries the weight magnificently. It is reported that Hartnell tended to take new actors under his wing the portrayers of all the characters (thus far) have nothing but glowing reports to give about the man. What is clear is that the main actor cared and only became truly irascible in the face of those that he thought were damaging the show, or later, his part in the show. The tale is bittersweet one.

Hartnell was ill with a condition that meant (among some disabling physical symptoms) he was suffering memory problems. His tenure could not continue and this was known by all. With this sadness, I have to mention something positive… The shows back then were recorded more or less “as-live” with all of the the script flubs being recorded and yet recovered by the actors. Fans have dubbed Hartnell’s deviations as part of the absent-mindedness of the character and they are affectionately known as “Billy-fluffs”. Basically we all know that it sounds wrong and yet that is how the character bumbles along…

Season 3! The most changeable series in the show’s history (THUS FAR) and the production team is beginning to mix-up behind the scenes. Perhaps a bit of grandeur had crept in when the departing producer (Verity Lambert) ordered a 12 part Dalek story. It sapped the budget of her successors and yet was dark and truly turned the show into the direction of “epic threat”. By this I mean a threat beyond our regular cast and current guest stars in their localised setting. Season 3 brings a whirlwind of new companions, having Vicki depart and having two characters join only to be killed off in the aforementioned “Master Plan” serial. Eventually the Doctor gains one final regular companion in Dodo before losing both her and Steven to the new wave of the progressive 60’s – basically women need not be damsels in distress… So finally the two new companions join in the form of Ben and Polly who join The Doctor for one more tale before a glorious finish in a battle with the Cybermen.

Hartnell had grown too ill to carry on and it is the shows crew that write him out. He provides a stirling performance to the end but the show has reached the point of continued growth. The actor was not happy with leaving but ultimately accepted and respected the idea of his successor – whether this is merely etiquette or respect, it should be noted that he was heartbroken at losing the roll. The next clip is poignant merely for the projection of the show’s future and also it’s first major character handover:

So we see the first regeneration, whether for good or ill on the main actor’s part, he agreed to hand over to a new actor and we have to show the video again:

…poignant.

So what will happen with the legacy of the First Doctor? Well it isn’t forgotten – indeed it isn’t ever the last time that Hartnell would play the role, though I won’t spoil anything with clips. He will be back for the tenth anniversary multi-doctor special. After this Hartnell will have died. He is portrayed by actor, Richard Hurndall, who had an appearance on a similar sci-fi show Blakes 7. The actor makes a great try at recreating the character and should be honoured. The First Doctor doesn’t appear again (really) until 2017, when the actor who played him in the docudrama (David Bradley) would take on the role of the First Doctor – the actor is wonderful but the writing gives pause. The most important thing, however, is the legacy lives on…

Final Thoughts

I love the First Doctor for so many reasons.My prime reason is the subtle character evolution from an angry old man to a lovable character. Oh yes… Hartnell was the first and the original and I cannot take that away from him.. Doctor Who was defined by this man in the beginning and what he finished with was well worth that which writers expanded on in the future.

It is now time to continue my reviews with the Second Doctor and for anyone who knows my sci-fi tastes, he’s my favourite… let’s continues with the episode Power of the Daleks…

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Doctor Who — The Tenth Planet (The First Regeneration)

tenth_planet

Season 4 – Episode 2 – (1966)
Doctor: 1 – William Hartnell
(departs)
Companions:
 Polly, Ben

What a great episode. Finally, the countdown is over and Hartnell reaches his final story playing The Doctor. Producer, Innes Lloyd, had previously thought of writing out Hartnell by having him vanish and reappear as a different man and this likely would have lead to a very different show today.

This story is one of the best examples of a base under siege as the TARDIS lands in Antarctica. The Doctor, Ben and Polly leave the ship and are spotted by a group of men manning a base. They are interrogated and ultimately put into a side room as the base is monitoring the space flight of the Zeus IV. The craft seems to be undergoing a massive energy drain and has been pulled off course. The Doctor notes that it is 1986 and space flight in this year (as we remember or have heard) was very routine and common.

The source of the energy drain is a planet that has entered orbit around the sun between the orbits of Venus and Mars. In a very Doctor-ish move, our eponymous hero hands the commander a sheet of paper as he has already figured out the problem. It transpires that the new planet looks identical to Earth and upon discovery of the planet, The Doctor’s theory turns out to be correct. This is Earth’s twin planet, ejected from the solar system millions of years ago… Mondas.

Can I just say that Hartnell is on form this story – He really is as we’ll see shortly. The base is invaded by interlopers that have come from the new planet and immediately begin to kill. They show no mercy for lives and declare themselves…

My friends we have finally reached the point where the writers have come up with a concept that is robust as the Daleks… Our invaders are from a planet where the scientists allowed the survival of the human-like race by altering them surgically. This is amazing social commentary. Imagine the world of the 60’s where transplants were becoming notable. The first successful transplant was just over ten years ago and the procedures were becoming increasingly common-place. Fascinating philosophy here in that we have to ask just how far things will go and what happens when we can replace ourselves with synthetic parts… are we still human? Of course, one of the advances in the Doctor Who universe is the removal of emotions in order to survive as a race at all costs. As blasé as they may become, the concept of the villain is wonderfully sinister… Say hello to the Cybermen!

Simply marvelous and as original concepts go they are brilliant. The original design disappears rather quickly from memory but the original realisation includes the use of surgical gauze around the face and that singsong voice that follows no natural rhythm of speaking. It’s so sinister that frankly it should be loved.

We’ll carry on with the plot: the story has the invading Cybermen take control by threatening the lives of those on the space-craft. They forbid the contact of the base to a higher power but then casually reveal that the crew of the craft are dead. The craft is drawn to Mondas and explodes.

Polly and The Doctor berate the Cybermen in, again what can only be described as, a lovely scene:

As you see, Ben manages to disable the Cybermen at the end of the scene this represents that turning point. Sadly, there’s about to be an issue within the plot… Look we have to talk about these things…

Yes the stakes are about to be upped but these stories are made up of weekly broadcast episodes and we have hit episode 3. Hartnell‘s health is bad and he just cannot be there to film episode 3 of 4 (he’s ill). It’s rewritten to shift dialogue around and furthermore Episode 4 is a lost episode… all but a few clips… so… folks – you have just seen your last regular Hartnell scene unless you’re like me and will watch those missing episode screen captures…

The Doctor is being drained from the power of Mondas. They take him to lie down and Anneke Wills as Polly claims that he seems “warn out”.  Ben really steps up for the rest of the story but I should note that Ben is a complete cockney in his speaking. Something that was so overlooked in the recent 2017 Christmas special! Michael Craze to all of you, plays a fantastic character in Ben.

So the plot plays out…We can forget all the small bits (except I impore all to watch this story). Clever ruses ensue and essentially Ben wins the day just by being suspicious of the Cybermen… They can’t handle the radiation of their own weapon…

It’s a complicated movement but… Ben’s ideas win and they gain the upper-hand, turning the tables on the Cybermen. The invasion is stopped thanks to The Doctor’s intuition and Ben’s tactics in the base. The Cybermen are isolated from their power source and they dissolve. Now there’s a probem – Ben frees The Doctor from a Cyberman prison. He regains consciousness and questions Ben on the words “it’s all over now”. Determinedly he remarks, “it’s far from being all over” and explaining that “I must get back to the TARDIS”. His final words to his companions are “keep warm” and he leaves, letting his companions say goodbye.

Next we see Ben and Polly are locked out of the TARDIS… The Doctor operates switches but all of a sudden the switches are operating themselves… Ben and Polly enter as he collapses on the ground… Now watch…

Look at that effect!

And so The Doctor changed in 1966. The white hair became a thick mop of black, the wrinkles subsided and our comfortable grandfather has gone.

I shed a tear because Hartnell departs but… We have a new actor to play The Doctor and boy is he good!

I have to say at this point that this episode is everything it could be. It sets out on a premise and delivers magnificently. If you are looking for the perfect 1st Doctor episode, this may not be the one as this is far too sombre an occasion. It lacks the real Mercurial nature of The Doctor.. In terms of story and relevance, however, this story is wonderful.

As a fan, I feel I can’t abandon The Doctor at this point. Before resuming with the 2nd Doctor’s stories, I will my final thoughts on the 1st Doctor.

Favourite Quotes:

  • Cyberman: You must come and live with us.
    Polly: But we cannot live with you, you’re different! You have no feelings!
    Cyberman: Feelings? I do not understand that word.
    The Doctor: Emotions! Love! Pride! Hate! Fear! Have you no emotions, sir, hmm?

Score:

10/10 

Next time:

The newly renewed Doctor will face the only foe that has continued to plague him. The crew arrive on a planet called Vulcan (Star Trek did actually beat this serial to the name but only by a couple of months). It’s up to the new Doctor to explain to the men on a space station just what old pepper-pot looking robots might be…

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Doctor Who — The Smugglers

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Season 4 – Episode 1 – (1966)
Doctor: 1 – William Hartnell
Companions: 
 Polly, Ben

Season 4 of Doctor Who… This is a strange one. The highs should be dizzying but the BBC’s junking policy ruins this. The lows are present. I want to get back into this and I have made a decision!… So from here on in if a story is dull beyond belief it can score a minimum of 3.5/10 … This means I will re-score The Crusades. 

This story… Well it follows on immediately from The War Machines and our new companions have been smuggled away on the TARDIS…

Ben and Polly are well placed as a double-act. Polly will buy the situation and Ben is a complete skeptic on anything, which makes for a nice dynamic. If you are only familiar with the modern series, you may remember the First Doctor referring to Ben and Polly, especially the fact that Polly maintains the TARDIS. This is done in the 2017 Christmas special though I’d argue she has no time to do this for The Doctor. Anyway Ben and Polly question where they are (what with all this bigger-on-the-inside business) and The Doctor is very frustrated that he is not on his own again. At this stage in the show, the Doctor cannot control the TARDIS so their chances of going back are minimal. The Doctor explains about the ship, Polly believes and Ben doesn’t.

So my main problem with this story is that it’s just dull. It is! Polly is mistaken for being a boy, wearing trousers in 17th century Cornwall and they get snagged up in a story with pirates. It sounds like it could work but it is just like The Crusades for me… Let’s do a dash through the plot…

The Doctor finds Ben and Polly have wandered into the TARDIS just as he departed at the end of the war games and is exasperated – lamenting he could have been on his own again. He informs the pair that they have left 1966 and will not be able to go back. Upon leaving the TARDIS they find they are not in central London and Ben is maddened, as he is due back to report to the navy. Then pirates happen…

There’s a big riddle that leads to buried treasure and the Doctor is off to solve it. Eventually he does while convincing Ben and Polly that his time-travelling wanderer story is real.

What can I say though? Hartnell knows that the end is nigh for perhaps the whole story but the fact that this episode is lost does it no favours. It’s a completely skippable episode; it’s a pure historical, it’s boring, but it’s a continuation… Well my friends, pirates can be boring!

 

Favourite Quotes:

None from this one

Score:

3.5/10 

Next time:

The writers finally come up with another villain that can match the Daleks in infamy. They’re creatures that are human but rebuilt to replace parts and they come from Earth’s twin planet. Oh and something else happens… The Doctor may reach the end of his life but don’t worry… this doesn’t mean the end of the series. Next story is one hundred percent a Hartnell story.

COUNTDOWN —> 1

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Doctor Who — The War Machines

twm

Season 3 – Episode 10 – (1966)
Doctor: 1 – William Hartnell
Companions: 
Dodo (Dodo leaves), Polly, Ben (Polly and Ben join.)

Ahh Season 3 of Doctor Who comes to a close! Of course a season did not mean the same thing then as it does now. Imagine the show being on air for something like 45 of 52 weeks a year constantly, with the actors following this schedule. Hartnell couldn’t cope but its not hard to see why. Additionally contracts were for given number of episodes and not a story. This is why Dodo leaves half way through…

The TARDIS lands in London and The Doctor and Dodo step out. As the TARDIS is stuck in the shape of a (then contemporary) police box, The Doctor hangs an “out of order” sign on the door. He shows Dodo the reason for this as a convenient policeman sees it and moves on. The Doctor gives an affectionate wink to his companion and then both notice the completion of the “Post Office Tower”, known to us now as The BT Tower. Something gives The Doctor pause, however, a presence that reminds him of past foes such as the Daleks.

If you watch the later Hartnell clips you’ll notice an increased number of “Billy fluffs” – Hartnell not managing to complete his lines – it’s a sign that he just cannot keep up with the work load.

These reviews are getting hard to keep to my word count… Dodo and The Doctor feel the need to investigate the tower so The Doctor poses as a computer expert and they gain access. They are shown a computer – WOTAN – who is about to be linked globally and who can answer almost impossible questions for a computer in context (e.g. what does TARDIS stand for). One of the computer engineers’ secretaries is Polly who offers to take a mesmerised Dodo to a club in London. Here they meet a Sailor, Ben. He’s mopey and although they try to cheer him up, he only rallies when Polly and Dodo are harassed. he defends them.

Meanwhile, WOTAN has been hypnotising victims into serving it. I adore this as it’s literally a 60’s beast with a spool of magnetic tape. Dodo had been affected earlier and so disappears from the club. The Doctor arrives but Dodo is lost. WOTAN (at the same time) is asking for… I don’t want to say it… None of you should allow this… It’s asking for “Doctor Who”.

Right. “Doctor Who” is the name of the series, I get that but he has never introduced himself as such. Any specific stating of the words “Doctor Who” is said as a back and forth or misunderstanding. It. Is. A. Joke. Sure, this joke is lampshaded and shown playfully but the character never refers to himself as this. He is “The Doctor” – maybe with pseudonyms but “The Doctor” is his moniker.

OK, so, The Doctor waits for Dodo, who returns out-of-sorts. They leave but not before bumping into a homeless man, who goes on to be murdered. The man planned to sleep in a warehouse in which some secret blueprints are being developed. Things get very suspicious and on The Doctor’s return to his visit WOTAN, Dodo persuades The Doctor to make a phone call, which is patched through to the maniacal computer. Dodo’s part in the plan collapses, she believes The Doctor to be under the control of the machine. His resolve is much stronger and he breaks Dodo from her programming. On the advice of some uncontrolled scientists Dodo is taken to recover at a country retreat…

When do I say this!? That’s it! Dodo has gone! She never appears on the show again and I have something to say about this… I can finish the plot of the story first though…

So WOTAN has ordered the creation of War Machines that are released onto London. Polly is hypnotised. Ben encounters a War Machine, flees but is set-upon by Polly and put out of action. There are troops fighting and The Doctor is helping but he has another really special Doctor-ish moment. Here’s a clip:

He figures out the machines and let’s just rush to the end. Ben holds The Doctor’s cloak, accidentally dropping a TARDIS key and pocketing it. The Doctor surmises how the War Machines work and turns them back on each other. Simply, a War Machine goes to WOTAN and destroys it and The Doctor has succeeded. So here we are… (sigh).

The Doctor waits outside the TARDIS for Dodo but Ben and Polly arrive with a message and basically, paraphrasing: Dodo feels much better, she wants to stay in London and that she sends her love… (I’ll discuss it in a second). He seems very hurt but enters the TARDIS sadly. Ben remembers the key and he and Polly enter to return it. Immediately after entering, the TARDIS dematerialises and that’s the end of season 3.

Dodo was fine. She wasn’t popular at the time or now but my modern viewpoint loathes the fact that she was left off-screen… Hate or love her (I didn’t mind her), she was part of this opening section of Doctor Who and was one of the least well handled of the show’s actors… More will come… but I Jackie Lane (Dodo) certainly deserved better.

The episode is great, though. Ben and Polly serve as such great new characters, we should see how they fair in season 4. For now, Doctor Who has reached a crux point… So much more to say… So little time..

It’s a good story, by the way, watch it as it involves some of The Doctor’s best meddling.

Favourite Quotes:

  • The Doctor: I can feel it’s got something sort of powerful. It’s. Look at my skin. Look at that. I’ve got that pricking sensation again, the same. Just as I had when I saw the Daleks, those Daleks were near.
    Dodo: Daleks? Who are they?
    The Doctor: Oh, er, yes, of course, you, er, you didn’t meet them, did you, child? No. No, and I pray that you never will. I really must investigate it.
  • Polly: She says she’s feeling much better and she’d like to stay here in London, and she sends you her love.
    The Doctor: Her love? Oh, there’s gratitude for you. Take her all the way around the world, through space and time, and then— (interrupted)

Score:

8.5/10 

Next time:

So we’ve finished season 3. Next time is a huge amount of stuff. Let’s just say the pure historical hasn’t been pulling in the viewers and maybe the leading actor is presenting problems… Just follow the count down and we’ll go from there. It’s all aliens and manipulation from here!

 

COUNTDOWN —> 2

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Doctor Who — The Savages

savages

Season 3 – Episode 9 – (1966)
Doctor: 1 – William Hartnell
Companions: 
Dodo, Steven (Steven leaves)

Let’s start with points of interest! This is the first story that abandons episode titles[1] and uses the much more standard “part __” of the story. Up until now, each story hadn’t necessarily been titled but the episodes had been. From now until the end of the classic era, only the story receives a title.

Now whenever a production crew takes over in the series, there is usually a handover time. A lot of stories have been written or commissioned, and new producers will see these works to air. John Wiles’ and Verity Lambert’s echos are fading and Innes Lloyd’s power is growing. The show is about to change a lot. Beginning here, we are about to lose a lot of what we have come to know and love from Hartnell, particularly Steven. Steven was our reassurance that the series would continue without Ian and Barbara. He was one of those companions that clearly had The Doctor’s respect and fondness.

Let’s dive in to the story! It’s a Marxist dream – in that its critical of ruling classes. As the Doctor explores a new landscape he calls out that he means no harm. He is being watched by two “savages” and two soldiers – the soldiers have been expecting a traveller through time and escort him to the city. Meanwhile Dodo and Steven have a spear thrown at them, before a soldier arrives to escort them too.

sav2

The Doctor is asked to become high elder in the city and the companions are given a tour and it transpires that the society is a Utopia with a dark secret. They drain life force from the savages in order to maintain this Utopia. Dodo witnesses this happening and is nearly caught up in the process before being found and escorted back to The Doctor. He ignores her until the three make to head to the TARDIS, where he confides he doesn’t trust the elders and ignored her so as not to arouse suspicion. Of course they come across a wounded savage and The Doctor stays to care for him while the companions fetch first-aid. The Doctor is then captured and forced to the city.

The kindness shown allows Steven and Dodo to gain trust from the savages, meanwhile The Doctor is to have his life force drained – except the readings are very high. One of the city leaders volunteers to have the Doctor’s essence transferred to him. Meanwhile Steven takes over control of a guard, using their weapons against them and is hailed as a God. (You may see where this is going.)

So the city leader, Jano, begins to act like The Doctor and as Steven and Dodo meet Jano, they go in to rescue The Doctor and Jano follows them, beginning to help. It all sort of climaxes with Jano about to be killed by the savages but The Doctor, piecing everything together forbids this. It is time to destroy the evil laboratory, which is the source of this drain on the savage society. There follows a rather good rebellion that would have been nice to see (all episodes are lost so it’s like listening to a radio drama) and Jano declares the savages equals and the two societies are to develop together. The Doctor is asked to stay, he refuses. The savages want Steven, however, who accepts and bids goodbye to The Doctor and Dodo, who leave in the TARDIS.

sav3

It would have been nice to see this departure. Steven was a very solid and brilliant counterpoint to The Doctor with Peter Perves playing the part beautifully. The characters were absolutely fond of each other and so were the actors – as such it really does feel like the producers are unpicking the world around The Doctor to facilitate change. At least this is done with nobility. Next time we’ll see something far more crude and ham-fisted.

The savages is all well and good as a listenable story but only the really dedicated fans will really give it a go. It’s fine and let me assure you, Steven’s departure is suitably handled.

 

[1] – Just as an example, the story we know as The Daleks (Doctor Who’s second story) is actually composed of seven titles: 1- The Dead Planet, 2- The Survivors, 3- The Escape, 4- The Ambush, 5- The Expedition, 6- The Ordeal, and 7- The Rescue. You can see how it became tedious.

Favourite Quotes:

  • Jano: Doctor, for many light years we looked forward to your arrival on this planet. We always knew of your wisdom, but we never dreamed of the miracle that it would bring us.
    The Doctor: Thank you, Jano. And if ever you need the benefit of my wisdom again, I trust and hope you will allow me to express myself with my own free will, rather than place me in an oven, and try and cook it out of me.

Score:

7.5/10 

Next time:

Back to the present – the now! (1966.) The Doctor and Dodo will see a super intelligence begin to take over the world. We’ll meet some new faces and see a real low point in the treatment of companions (by the production team). We’ll meet WOTAN – the computer – as a villain it is quite good but in my opinion it has one thing that really makes me hate it. He refers to our hero as… (shudder)… “Doctor Who”. Such a faux pas!

COUNTDOWN —> 3

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Doctor Who — The Gunfighters

gunfight

Season 3 – Episode 8 – (1966)
Doctor: 1 – William Hartnell
Companions: 
StevenDodo

Did you ever think that the show would feature a song? One written purely for it? Well it does and it’s known as The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon. If you’d like to hear it once, I’m sure you can find on YouTube. If you’d like to hear it over and over again, you should watch this episode!

The plot is simple really. The Doctor and co arrive in a town called Tombstone at the O.K. Corral and don appropriate clothes. They wander into town and introduce themselves, under pseudonyms, as musicians and the Doctor goes to see the dentist, who has nothing in the way of anaesthetic other than alcohol or knocking him out. The Doctor doesn’t touch alcohol in this story… So while the dentist is in the back room, another chap enters who confuses the Doctor, for Doc Holliday – famous for being a participant at the gunfight at the O.K. Corral – the real Holliday (the dentist) is only too happy to let this confusion continue and even gives a gun to The Doctor.

Doc Holliday, for those who don’t know, was a figure famous for shootouts in the wild west.

It progresses how you think it will. The Doctor himself is mistaken for Holliday due to his naivety. He recognises the name of some of the patrons of a bar, where Steven and Dodo are being forced to perform that damned ballad. When he realises the mistake he tries to talk his way out of it but Kate, Holliday’s associate, arrives and reinforces the charade. The Doctor protests, pulling out the gun and accidentally shooting one of the ruffians (non-fatally of course). Kate doubles down and pretends The Doctor did this on purpose and he plays along.

The Doctor is arrested and taken to prison, which leaves the outlaws to try and break him out in order to execute him personally. He doesn’t leave and so Steven’s life is threatened.

Everything snowballs and a gunfight is inevitable, with Doc Holliday holding his cards close to his chest, waiting for outlaw gangs – one present, one imminent – to meet each other and it all gets rather predictable. People are shot and everyone is sort of happy at the end. The Doctor insists they leave and such and the story closes.

It’s not actually as terrible as it might sound and the strength of the story is from its character moments. Hartnell’s performance is quite strong, especially with the co-stars that he is clearly fond of. The story is a little looked down on by history but I have seen far worse than this. Just get used to that bloody song; it’s incessant.

Favourite Quotes:

  • The Doctor: Now as I’ve already told you… About this gun… (he accidentally shoots a man)
    Kate: (grabbing a gun from the surprised men) OK, don’t try it fellas. Nice shootin’, Doc but you shoulda got ’em between the eyes.
    The Doctor: Between the who?
    Kate: The eyes…
    The Doctor: Oh my dear young lady, I – I –
    Kate: Kill the next one that moves!
    The Doctor: (cottoning on) Yes, yes… quite so, quite so… Very good idea… Excellent! Well, you heard! Steven! Get their guns!

Score:

7/10 (It’s a complete story and not as bad as history makes out)

Next time: The age of prosperity that the Doctor promises (upon realising where they’re going next) may not be so Utopian. Slaves and savages. Class systems and such … and more signs of imminent change.

COUNTDOWN —> 4

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