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.

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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.

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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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Doctor Who — The Celestial Toymaker

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Season 3 – Episode 7 – (1966)
Doctor: 1 – William Hartnell
Companions: 
StevenDodo

John Wiles (the producer) has had enough and moves on and is replaced by Innes Lloyd (we will mention more key players than the producer in due course). The issue now is William Hartnell. His health problems are well known to all at this point and this issue prevents him from being able to remember his lines. This story represents the first possible exit point… Innes Lloyd had the idea that The Doctor would vanish and be replaced by someone else but it’s too jarring and likely rejected by the public. Elements of the idea remain but the first Doctor continues…

They arrive… well… I actually can’t tell you where… They’re out of time and space and in the domain as a figure known as the Celestial Toymaker. The Toymaker is played by acclaimed actor Michael Gough and he represents a Godlike figure who controls his own world. The Doctor leaves the TARDIS (still invisible but voiced by Hartnell) and they are trapped, in the Toymaker’s command.

The Toymaker makes hundreds of replicas of the TARDIS and presents his challenge… Dodo and Steven must complete a group of games. Each game gives the reward of a TARDIS, which may or may not be the real one. In the mean time the Doctor must play the “trilogic game”. It’s the one where you have to move a set of disks from pole A to pole C, moving one disk at a time and not stacking a larger disk on a smaller. It’s called the “Towers of Hanoi”. The Doctor must complete it without a false move, completing a stack of 10 in 1023 moves, while not stalling overtly in order as to not give the other two time.

I have to jump-in to mention that I was disappointed. I like a good game of logic but nothing is a real logic problem. The Doctor’s game is not a complicated problem in that there is an algorithm for minimum moves. If you have an even stack of counters, move AB-AC-BC- (there will only be one legal move) and iterate this until completion. (AC – AB – BC- iterated for odd). The companions’ games are just plot devices… you cannot solve as a viewer…

The Doctor is snarky, so the Toymaker reduces his presence to a hand making moves and if he stalls, the Toymaker can command automatic progression of the game to any move he chooses with a staccato command. William Hartnell took a lot of story as a holiday and this is very unsurprising. At this stage of production, Doctor Who ran for 48 of the 52 weeks in a year, with each episode being delivered, rehearsed and shot in a week. The episodes were then edited and in a fixed time afterwards. The lead characters have a tendency to just disappear for parts of a story.

Our story really follows Dodo and Steven playing games with the Toymaker’s playthings turned human. It is in one of these sequences that the King of Hearts utters the famous and unfortunate “Eeny Meeny Miney Mo” rhyme using a very unfortunate and blatant racial slur. I defend classic Doctor Who for having forward thinking attitudes… but they do sometimes leave me red-faced.

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The final game is against a school-boy, Cyril, portrayed by a 45 year old Gerald Campion, who confuses everything by ad libbing his friends call him Billy. The BBC were forced into a continuity annoucement denying that the character was not a portrayal of the character Billy Bunter, from a BBC series also played by Campion… Such a mess. Cyril cheats at a game of hopscotch but then falls for his own trick and is electrocuted.

Finally the companions make it back to the real TARDIS and to the Doctor, whose form is restored. The Doctor has made it to the penultimate move, with a trivial step left. He takes Steven and Dodo and smugly enters The TARDIS. It cannot dematerialise without the game being finished. If the game finishes and the Toymaker’s realm disappears and the player with it. Thankfully with one brainwave, The Doctor engages a speaker and commands the game to finish with the same staccato tones that the Toymaker used. They material as the realm disappears and The Doctor smugly explains his victory before celebrating with a sweet, that breaks his tooth…

This story lives in both fame and infamy. The character of the Toymaker holds a place in some hearts and shows that The Doctor is not always the greatest being in the room. The character is incredibly racist, wearing yellow-face, being dressed and acting in a stereotypical fashion, and – believe it or not – the word Celestial is a slur used against Chinese emigrants in the 19th Century.

View it for the game story it is and try to move on from the past. Take it as a warning, though. Times change. That which is acceptable now will not be in decades time and this is a situation that constantly changes. Understand how we move forward and understand the past. Censorship is delicate but dynamic beast and perhaps we should all ponder how art (entertainment media) expresses itself. There is no right answer – directly – as if there was, we would have to accept objective morality. Complacency is a much deeper problem, though. Attitudes change rightly in order for groups to be heard. If we can think towards being equal as humanity rather than a given sex, gender, orientation, race or culture, we may just be on the right track but the road is long and winding.

Favourite Quotes:

  • The Toymaker: I’m bored. I love to play games but there’s no-one to play against. The beings who call here have no minds, and so they become my toys. But you will become my perpetual opponent. We shall play endless games together, your brain against mine.

Score:

7/10 (Its reputation scores it more than I can.)

Next time: It’s the old west and The Doctor looks for a dentist. It’s also a chance to hear the same song played about three hundred times. It was once the least popular episode of the series and consistently scores low. Is it terrible? Yeah, kind of…

COUNTDOWN —> 5

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Doctor Who — The Ark

ark6

Season 3 – Episode 6 – (1966)
Doctor: 1 – William Hartnell
Companions: 
StevenDodo

Well it turns out that everyone hates Dodo (her full name is Dorothea). I don’t understand why, though. She’s happy-go-lucky and the perfect naive companion of The Doctor. She becomes a full time companion and is good for her time on the show but is horribly mistreated by the production team. As ever, we will get to that.

Dodo’s accent has changed from her first appearance. At the end of the previous episode, she enters the TARDIS with a northern accent. As of this episode, she speaks with RP because the BBC couldn’t stand the idea of character who didn’t hold the standard. So the TARDIS materialises in a new place and Dodo runs out without checking any scanners or safety measures. She cheerfully muses that they must be in Whipsnade zoo. Things are not totally right and there are several clues. The animals are wild but completely mixed up from natural habitat. Oh, also, the sky is not sky but a metal roof. Yes they’re on a gargantuan space ship.

The plot splits broadly into to two overarching parts. The first part sees the three travellers exploring before being discovered by the crew of the ship they are on. While attempting to hide from this crew, Dodo sneezes as she’s coming down with Chekhov’s cold. They are invited to speak with the crew and the commander and find out they are in the year ten million. This means that almost all of The Doctor’s adventures, including the Daleks, are in the distant past. The Earth is to be destroyed by a massive solar flare and the population have fled on an ark to preserve life with a destination fully plotted out. The humans on the ship are served by a mute race known as the Monoids, who communicate only through a form of sign-language.

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The humans on the ark show the Doctor and co the monumental statue they are building through the generations on their trip, which is to take centuries. Of course, soon the cold that Dodo carries starts to infect the ship. The future humans have long since lost their ability to fight the virus (it having been eradicated).

The gang are captured and held prisoner (essentially for biological warfare) but the Doctor protests, claiming he can make a vaccine. Through the desperate situation, he is allowed to and it works, curing both the humans and the monoids (who apparently can also suffer the same virus). Hooray hooray, The Doctor and companions can leave and they do with a flurry of thanks. Now we’re half way through.

They gang leaves the ark through dematerialisation but rematerialises 700 years in the future. The statue is complete and but with the head of a Monoid. It turns out that the tables have turned, the cold virus survived and wiped out the human power structure allowing the Monoids to rebel and take over. They have designated themselves with numbers as we’re as likely to distinguish them from each other as we were The Sensorites… (that was a plot point).

So the Monoids took over when Dodo’s cold reemerged and sapped humanity’s morale. The Doctor and co have been reduced to figures of legend. The Ark has arrived at the destination, Refusis II, and The Doctor and Dodo are forced on reconnaissance with a Monoid called “Two” and a human that we might as well call “person a”. All the plots come to a head in that the Monoids are planning to destroy the humans with a hidden bomb and meanwhile, on their mission, the recon team find an abandoned building. When Two tries to destroy the castle to get attention, he is commanded to stop and then disabled by a disembodied presence.

The Refusians have abandoned tangible form and are now complete Deus ex Machina. The humans lead a rebellion led by Steven and the Monoids flee to Refusis, arming the bomb and the revelation of the bombs location is leaked to the Doctor (it’s in the statue’s head). The magic invisible beast joins a trek back to the ark and levitates the statue out of the airlock. It blows up in space.

The Refusian commands that the new races must coexist in order to have permission to stay and The Doctor, Steven and Dodo are allowed to leave. Upon their next landing the Doctor vanishes all of a sudden…

The story is fine as a jaunt with two major parts. It’s a tad problematic in its take on slavery and that really can’t be ignored. As an introduction to some features its nice. As a plot, it keeps pace. It’s themes… ergh… this is where early Doctor Who becomes problematic. The show was really quite progressive for its day but real moral problems can be seen in today’s standards.

Favourite Quotes:

  • The Doctor: Well then, use it, my child! We must do something about that cold of yours. That reminds me, why are you dressed in these stupid clothes? Have you been footling about in my wardrobe? Is that what it is? What do you think you’re playing at, crusades? (Dodo has just put on random clothes that she found)

Score:

6.5/10 

Next time:
It’s one that has gained a real place in most fans’ memories. We’re departing sci-fi and going into science-fantasy to meet a greater universal power who views the universe as his play thing. It also features Michael Gough of Hammer Horror fame and (of course) Alfred in the 90’s Batman series. He’s pretty prolific…

 

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