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Merrick's Personal Journey With The Doctor + A Quick Look At DOCTOR WHO #133 ('Frontios') On This Week's Friday Docback!!



                                                                                                                               submitted by Ken Plume
Merrick here…
…at long last answering questions several of you have asked in the recent months: how did I get into DOCTOR WHO, and which episodes "sold me" on the series as a whole?  My answers to these questions are decidedly long winded and more than a bit sissified - if you don't wish to grapple with such cloying details, you'll find a more succinct list about halfway through the article. But to fully understand how meaningful WHO has become in my life, and how quickly at assumed such a lofty status?  Read on.  
It was a very dark night and I was about seven years old when I first met Gene Roddenberry.  My father, a Cultural Anthropologist at The university of Texas and a well-published Science Fiction author was introducing him at a local University function and I hadn't slept all day, despite my parent's insistence that I should take a nap.  I was too excited about my impending encounter with the man who had invented STAR TREK - a man who had changed my life, shaped my imagination, and helped forge a creativity that remains with me today.  
I didn't understand what it meant to be the "creator" of a show then, nor did I have any sense of the blood, sweat, tears, politics, alliances, betrayals, and obstacles television creators or show runners regularly face until many years later, when my own projects started making their way through the Hollywood grinder.   When I met him, Roddenberry asked me to visit the set of what was then STAR TREK: PHASE II (an abortive television series that morphed into STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE). This visit didn't happen, a crushing reality softened by a later opportunity to sit with Leonard Nimoy in his dressing room - he was in town for a stage performance. I saw him laugh, he offered me a Vulcan salute in the kindest most gently way imaginable. A magical, irreplaceable moment.   Some of this is touched in briefly in Susan Sackett's LETTER TO STAR TREK book.
The original STAR TREK remains intensely special  to me- it has been so for decades and will remain so forever.  I know every intricacy of The Original Series, every nuance, recall every behind-the-scenes story I could assimilate. I am not only interested in the show in front of me, but over the years I've begun to understand the behind-the-scenes machinations which brought it to me.  I've encountered people who worked on that show - some of them became friends.  As the years went on, I remained defensive about STAR TREK - protective of it. It was precious to me, despite its numerous missteps.  TREK was not mine, per se.  But my connection to it was rather unique and deeply personal.   I later found elements to appreciate in shows like LOST and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, but at the end of the day there was always the original STAR TREK.  For me it became an unequaled prototype - an end all and be all for Science Fiction on television.  
And then came DOCTOR WHO.
I was initially introduced to DOCTOR WHO in the mid-1980s when it aired late at night on our local PBS (public television) stations.  I don't clearly recall the matter now, but I seem to remember that I never had a chance to see any Doctors before Tom Baker and Peter Davison.   It's entirely possible more episodes were available to me, but I may have simply stopped watching the show -  I can't recall this with certainty. I tried to like DOCTOR WHO, and went in with an open mind, but I didn't feel any of it.  I lacked the maturity, clarity, and insight to see past DW's frequently lacking production values.  I was a child of STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK,  TRON, POLTERGEIST, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, and THE WRATH OF KAHN. All enormous tales of heart and spectacle - why couldn't DOCTOR WHO be more like them?  Why did it always seem so…wanting?  
Paraphrasing from a Dockback I posted last week:  I could see the VAST POTENTIAL of DW, but I felt like it was far from meeting that potential. I understood it, but I didn't "get" it. AND, at that time, perhaps I was confounded by the show's varying tones, or its serialized format, or couldn't appreciate the flexibility and versatility of the series' basic premise as much as I do now. 
Whatever the case,  my visits with The Doctor proceeded aimlessly and without passion.  I watched a few Tom Baker stories on PBS, probably one or two Peter Davison episodes, saw publicity photos of both previous and subsequent Doctors in Starlog magazine, and just couldn't find my way towards caring for either the franchise or its formula.  I didn't dislike it - I just hadn't seen anything that convinced me I should.  
My very close and unerringly direct friend Ken Plume (Twitter HERE, site HERE) had picked up the show early in the Eccleston era.  This didn't surprise me - at the time he was hooked on British television and, knowing full well the extent of his Geekitude, his checking out DOCTOR WHO made perfect sense.  He pressured me to do so as well.  Holding fast to my hastily established prejudice, the show simply didn't interest me in any way.  Ken pressed…and pressed…for me to try a few WHOs, but I wouldn't - and had quite a few perfectly reasonable excuses to offer: I was busy, I was feeling increasingly disillusioned by and disappointed in the ending of LOST (a lot of time and emotional investment for not much payoff - who would've guessed the series truly was lost?), and I simply wasn't in the mood to slip into a new show at that time.  
As "The Eleventh Hour" - Matt Smith's first appearance as The Doctor and Steven Moffat's debut as DW's overlord - approached, Ken continued to turn up the heat (that's a nice way of saying he nagged me like a little bitch).  "It's essentially a soft reboot…" I remember him telling me.  "New Doctor, new Showrunner, new Companions.  This would be a great time to take a look -  you can always backtrack later."  Finally, I promised him I'd take a look at "The Eleventh Hour" (without really intending to do so, which I think he sensed).  
Concurrently, Paul-Alvarado-Dykstra (aka "Robogeek" here on AICN - Twitter HERE) was also tracking the end of the Russell T. Davies era DOCTOR WHO.  Strangely, while Robogeek and I talk often, he hadn't mentioned DW in any of our conversations.  He may have perceived me to be a hopeless cause, and decided to devote his energy to more promising battles. One day we were discussing our sense that STARGATE UNIVERSE (RIP) was finally and fully coming into its own, and sharing our mutual belief that…because of its style, tone, quality, and network... SGU wouldn't be long for this Earth (we were right - it wasn't). "So SGU will get canceled, but DOCTOR WHO will never die?" I lamented.
PAUL:  Have you seen DOCTOR WHO?
ME:  No.  Ken keeps bugging me to watch it but I refuse.
PAUL (coolly): Why?
ME: I watched it growing up.  I get what they were going for but I can't see past its clunkiness.  Those Cybermen are cool though.
PAUL: It's not like that anymore.  They've got their shit together now and it's pretty damn good.   
At this point I think I grumbled and hoped the conversation would change course.  An awkward silence ensued. Ken and Paul never talk to each other, but had they somehow formed an improbable alliance to force me to watch this damn show?  
Finally (not knowing what else to say…) 
ME: Ken says I should pick it up with those new guys.  There's a new Doctor I guess, and some dude who's in charge.  
PAUL:  Steven Moffat.  
ME:  Yeah, him.  
PAUL:  He's probably right.  But there are a few others you should see first if you want to get a sense of what the show's capable of.  
ME (having just found my way out of this!): I don't have any of the DVDs.
PAUL: They're streaming on Netflix. 
ME: Damn it. 
PAUL: Check out "Blink" and "Silence in the Library."  Not every episode is as good as these  - but others are close, and they'll help you appreciate what the series can be.
I begrudgingly agreed to find "Blink" and "Silence in the Library" on Netflix streaming.  I got Ken back on the phone, telling him that he and that bastard Dykstra had finally broken me down (I felt like Batman when he got his back snapped by Bane).  
KEN:  Yeah.  If you don't like those two episodes you're dead inside.  Which you probably are already, so I don't actually know why we're having this conversation.  And if you like them, do you promise to watch "The Eleventh Hour?"  It'll be on Zune and XBOX Live.  
I agreed once more (still not entirely sincere, Ken still sensing that I wasn't).  A few days later, on a particularly sunny afternoon late Spring 2010, my Significant Other (herein SO) took our (then three year old) son out to play at a friend's house. Having completed my daily duties at AICN, I returned to my increasingly humiliating game of RED DEAD REDEMPTION - which pretty much unfolded as poorly as it could've.  Deciding that I wasn't in a mood to get my ass kicked on this particular day, I found myself gravitating towards the scattered and dementedly eclectic Netflix cue populating my XBOX 360.  Remembering my conversations with Ken and Paul, I begrudgingly searched for DOCTOR WHO and, indeed, "Blink" and "Silence" were available for streaming.  Having nothing better to do, and trusting that…if both of my friends say it's good, there must be something there…I highlighted "Blink" and pressed PLAY.  
I was immediately captivated by "Blink" - it had me before the opening titles burst onto the screen.  I was taken by how The Doctor is used in that episode (if you see it, you'll know what I mean), that newly introduced characters became so important so smoothly and immediately and…in a matter or minutes…were more fully developed and strongly realized than many established characters in seasons worth of American television programming.  The magnificent audacity of creating villains that were FUCKING CHUNKS OF ROCK (!?) - and the effortless ease with which writer Steven Moffat and director Hettie MacDonald realized their ambitions.  It was balls-to-the-wall insanity from a North American television perspective.  It was masterful, and glorious.
Fine.  Whatever. Fluke.  "I'll go ahead watch 'Silence in the Library' and be done with this…" I thought.  Wait, there's a new Companion.  Donna Noble.  What happened to that super hot Freema girl?  What kind of name is Freema, anyway?  I like Donna Noble - she's a great everywoman.  Love the LOOK of the show - wish it was HD.  River Song?  Man, THERE'S a character.  Wonder if they'll ever bring her back?  David Tennant is cool.  I like his hair - my hair sucks.  What - what happened to Donna Noble?  She's "saved" but she's gone?  Those space suit zombies are all kindsa fucked up.  What happened to Donna Noble?  It's a CLIFFHANGER?  They didn't tell me that - jerks!  Is that on Netflix, too?
And so it went.  Buy the time my SO returned from our toddler's playdate, I'd gone through five or six episodes of the show in one sitting. Dishes had remained unwashed, laundry hadn't been loaded.  I scrambled to be domestic, but secretly I was already hungering for more WHO.  That night, I sat my SO down on the couch for a solemn and urgent conversation. Her parents were British and my SO had previously lived in the U.K. for a few years - sometimes she even has one of those funny accents British people talk with.  Surely she must know something of DW, and could help me through this rapidly festering WHOmania.   "Sorry.  Never watched it.  I know what it is, but I always thought it was kind of silly…" she said.  I patiently reassured her that I understood this reaction, and asked if she'd be willing to watch a few minutes of "Blink." "I need to connect with someone about this…" I explained urgently.  "I can't let Ken and Paul know they were right.  At least not yet."  She rolled her eyes and dispassionately agreed.  Five minutes in:  "Wow.  This is REALLY different…"  Ten minutes in: "This is cool!"  Fifteen minutes in:  "That Doctor…he's cute."  
Over the course of last Summer, I backtracked to the beginning of the Davies era, and ingested as much WHO as I could at any time, on any day, in any moment. 'Twas probably something like being a sex addict - 'cept DOCTOR WHO was quite a bit cooler than much of the sex I've had, although there were a few…ah, never mind.  
Sometimes I'd take-in five or six episodes in a sitting.  Concurrently, I fully engaged with Matt Smith and Steven Moffat's run, watching every episode multiple times…taking in every DOCTOR WHO CONFIDENTIAL…living and breathing the show.  Its vastness, its dynamic richness. Relishing its heart.  Noting its blemishes, but allowing its sincerity to shine brighter than its flaws. And, more often than not, I was won over.  Wholly, completely, won over.  In the last year, I've gone from having watched only a handful of older DOCTOR WHO episodes to having seen every single episode of the 2005-present iterations of the show, and I am now backtracking to watch the whole shebang again from the very beginning.  Not the 2005 re-beginning - the 1963 beginning.  Yes, that's a long road and the journey seems daunting.  But I'm up for it, and hungry for it.  
Which brings us back to the episodes which most caught my attention early on - the ones I feel best embody the heart, spirit, and intent of post 2005 WHO.   The ones which sucked me in, and convinced me to not only move forwards, but backwards.  
Below is a list of 12 titles.  In all likelihood, many of you will disagree with elements of this list, or note omissions you may consider startling.  To each his or her own.  I've no doubt I enjoy episodes others don't, and I know that others treasure episodes I wasn't particularly knocked out by ("The Girl in the Fireplace", for example).  But this is OK - and I wouldn't want it any other way.  DOCTOR WHO is far too vast and rich in mythology and texture for everyone to be on the same page at all times.  
"The Christmas Invasion" (Season Two) - for its wonderful interaction between Rose and the newly regenerated Tennant Doctor.  For the Doctor groggily facing down a daunting alien adversary while wearing a bathrobe - an inspired way to launch Tennant's run at the role. For the twist/bitch slap at the end regarding the aliens' fate.  [HERE]
"The Runaway Bride" (Season/Series Three - [HERE]) -  for it's priceless chemistry between Catherine Tate and David Tennant.  The Empress of the Racnoss is one nasty looking, wonderfully realized character.  The TARDIS/freeway sequence is a tour-de-force of editing, score, direction, and visual effects.
"Gridlock" (Season/Series Three) - for its rambunctious, bizarre nature.  Love the number of social statements it's making (being mindlessly stuck in our cars on the way to…where, really? etc).  I love the Brannigan character.  [HERE]
"Blink" (Season/Series Three)  - see above. [HERE]
"Human Nature" [HERE] and its continuation "The Family of Blood" [HERE] (Season/Series Three) - for their ballsy demonstration of how much Hell the series is willing to put its lead character through, and for the closing moments of "Forest" in which Tennant's Time Lord exacts a personal and chilling vengeance.  

"Silence in the Library" [HERE] and its continuation "Forest of the Dead"  [HERE] (Season/Series Four) - see above.  And, of course, I'm now asking myself if that "Silence" is in library is actually the kind of silence we first thought it was...
"The Eleventh Hour" (Season/Series Five [HERE]) - Wit.  Spunk.  Smarts.  Charm.  And this…
"Vincent and the Doctor" (Season/Series Five) - for its truth.  [HERE]
"The Pandorica Opens" [HERE] and its continuation "The Big Bang" [HERE} (Season/Series Five) - a huge and audacious tale told in a staggeringly intimate manner. Perhaps one of the most ingeniously conceived Season/Series finales ever brought to television.  This scene still gives me chills…
Does this list actually work?  Yes.  I assembled it from a bevy of e-mails I sent to my friend Chris when I was pushing to get him into the show.  He and his 11 year old son were subsequently converted, and ended up mainlining the 2005-present era much as I did.  Others have since followed suit.  I have become Paul and Ken, and I don't think I ever thanked them for encouraging me towards this show before now.  So..thank you gentlemen.  Very much.  
Is Ken right?  Is it feasible to jump into the Matt Smith/"Some Dude" era virginally and still be able to grasp what the hell is going on in this funky and often bewildering show?  Absolutely.  In fact, for folks considering jumping into the show I'd argue that "The Eleventh Hour" is an exceptional place to begin DOCTOR WHO - I'd personally advise pursuing the whole of Moffat/Smith's first run (DOCTOR WHO Season/Series 5), segueing into Season/Series Six, THEN backtracking to the 2005 material and working one's way up.  I know several people who have followed this pattern to hugely positive result. 
I mentioned above that STAR TREK was instrumental in forging "a creativity that remains with me today."  This is true. TREK played a large role in my becoming a writer - not just a contributor/journalist here on AICN, but as an author of scripts, teleplays, and whatnot.  Over the years, despite many glorious opportunities and more than a few shining moments of hope, I've slammed headfirst into many walls and obstacles - even when the skies ahead of me appeared to be utterly clear and inviting.  Such is the doom of many writers - writing often feels like a curse more than a talent.  
And somewhere along the way, I stopped caring.  But I didn't stop caring because of predictable political setbacks - I stopped caring because the industry around me adopted different standards and tastes.  Modes of storytelling became increasingly safe and predictable.  Characterizations have become one-note and are often not fully realized.  Concepts and conceits seem to assume that their audience's intellect is incapable of being pushed or expanded, and that viewers lack imagination.  Not only are viewers being underestimated, the stories themselves…and the potential they hold…are being muted and disrespected as well.  In many regards, it now seems dangerous to "think outside of the box," and as this cancerous darkness spread I lost my way creatively.  And lost myself in the process.  
DOCTOR WHO, admittedly a unique beast that will likely never be matched or emulated in the history of entertainment, offered me a safe harbor in my creative dark night of the soul.  At a time when I was asking myself - "What am I doing wrong?" and "Creatively, am I really that far off base here?", DW became a beacon of hope and assurance that bold and atypical storytelling was not altogether dead, and doesn't require hundreds of millions of dollars to realize.  It is proof that stayed convention and triteness are not required ingredients to win the hearts of viewers and to set their imaginations free.  In saying this, I am referring not just to the Davies/Moffat-era WHO, but to all the "early" WHO episodes I've watched so far. I can see these older stories more clearly now than ever before, understand the improbable miracle of their being on-screen at all given the economic and politic storms they faced, and appreciate them for what they are far more than I was able to as a superficial teen obsessed with high-end visual effects and Michael Mann flashiness.  I have finally found the "truth" of DOCTOR WHO, and for that I am eternally grateful.  
As dissimilar as they appear to be at at face value, I actually see DW as being remarkably akin to the original STAR TREK series.  Both adopts a baseline concept across any number of genre platforms - as comedy, as drama, as action, as a suspense piece, as a romance, or any combination thereof.  The later STAR TREK undertakings either shunned this versatility or didn't fully understand its potential, in favor of more stayed and traditional storytelling approaches - this turned out to be a critical miscalculation.   DOCTOR WHO not only embraced its flexibility, but capitalized and expanded upon the variety of options that were before it - over and over again.  That DOCTOR WHO adheres so strongly to this versatility while (more or less) remaining true to itself may well enable the show to supplant TREK as my most beloved television show ever.  Considering my past with, and investment in, STAR TREK - I didn't think such deviation was possible.  But by god, I think it's happening.  I'm still climbing my way up from the beginning, so a final verdict won't be in for some time.  But so far, so good.  
Until then, DOCTOR WHO remains a manifesto to a simple but often forgotten truth in both television and film - that any number of stories can be told in any number of ways.  When broadly considered, the show is a validation competent, confident storytelling...not only can anything be possible - anything should be possible.
Anything can be possible, and anything should be possible.  Excellent qualities for any form of entertainment to embrace, and empowering conceits we should carry into our everyday lives as well...
 "FRONTIOS"  - aka Story #133
Availabe HERE in the U.S., and HERE in U.K. 
That trailer is brilliant, and far more energized than the episode itself.  
PLOT:   On planet Frontios, the last survivors of planet Earth are struggling under bombardment by hostile and unknown forces.  The arrival of The Doctor and companions Tegan and Turlough prompts suspicion from the world's human inhabitants - have mankind's anonymous aggressors finally made themselves known?
A few weeks ago Mark Gatiss Tweeted that this was one of his favorite DOCTOR WHO episodes - I'm honestly not seeing why this would be the case.  
There's nothing wrong conceptually with "Frontios," although the notion of humans haplessly inhabiting a planet that is already occupied by unwelcoming alien forces as an oft-used conceit in SF  (THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, FORBIDDEN PLANET, and many others titles I won't list at the moment).  The main problem with this story lies in its interpretation.  It's dour, and distinctive only for its remarkable lack of distinctiveness.  
We ultimately learn that the human survivors are being beaten down by Tractators - a race of intergalactic Rollie Pollies who are more or less infesting the cosmos. 
                                                                                                                       image via
They're a cross between big, ugly beetles and the Mondoshawans from THE FIFTH ELEMENT.  This is a fun notion, and I'm a sucker for living entities somehow making their way through space (INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS), but the shoddy actualization of the Tractators pulls the rug out from underr any effectiveness the creatures may've had (see blow for the scripter's thoughts on this).  I am NOT attempting to be snarky about production values here.  In this particular case, the characters were too important and pivotal not to work effectively.  
This was my first introduction to Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding) and I found her to be an infinitely preferable companion than, say, Bonnie Langford's "Mel."  Fielding looks awesome in that black leather mini, and is rather hot in general despite an abundance of rouge.  This is also the first time I encountered Turlough - on the DVD's extras, the actor playing him (Mark Strickson) indicates he was happy to be given something of substance for once (a clumsy paraphrase). From the fleeting references I've seen to Turlough in previous Docbacks, I gather that he's not a particular popular character?  I couldn't get a read on him here.  
All in all, everything about "Frontios" seemed dull.  Peter Davison didn't look like he was having a particularly good time in this episode, although seeing The Doctor act like a Doctor (of medicine, in this instance) was both surprising and interesting.  Even if The Doctor isn't supposed to be a "medicine Doctor" kind of Doctor, it makes sense that someone of his age and experience would pick up a few tricks along the way.  Well played.
Performances by many supporting players seemed forced or undirected, and the choice to give so many human survivors such abrasive personalities undercuts the pathos of their being, well, the last of the human race.  Maybe this was an effort to illustrate their desperation and fatigue?  I don't know, but it didn't play effectively and…as is…many of these people didn't seem like they were worth saving, and come across as a bunch of distrusting, overacting goons in space Nazi uniforms. Perhaps THIS was the point?
In the end, the essence of what "Frontios" is trying to accomplish is fundamentally interesting and sound, and there are many fine moments to like here.  But as developed, Story #133  feels like too little material spread over too much time.
Extras include…
--- Insights from Eric Saward, script editor…
--- Insights from Christopher H. Bidmead, writer.  Says the Tractators inspired by woodlice creatures he found in his bathroom.  Admits to writing a show that was "outside the budget."  Which is presumably why the Tractators don't pay off, as mentioned above.  
--- Insights from David Buckingham, designer…
--- Insights from Mark Strickson (Turlough)…
--- Insights from Peter Davison (who seems not at all bored in the extras)…
--- A discussion of the brutal murder of  Peter Arne, who was originally supposed to play Range in this story. William Lucas took over…
--- Insights from Jeff Rawle (who played Plantagenet)
--- Discussions of production issues with the excavation machine that appears in this story.  It was  originally designed to cut with human bone (an awesome idea)...
--- Discussions of the motion-limiting Tractator costumes (originally intended to roll up in balls and unfurl dramatically - man did that not happen…
--- Insights from John Gillett (Tractator Gravis), who says the Tractator costumes were a piece latex/rubber bell that fit over top of actors…
--- A look into production missteps (explosions that didn't go off - an actor who fell through a step, visible on camera - neither were reshot)…
--- Approximately 15 mins...

coming next week
"An Unearthly Child," and more!!
— follow Merrick on Twitter ! ---
Readers Talkback
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  • June 17, 2011, 11:45 a.m. CST

    No Empty Child/Doctor Dances?

    by INWOsuxRED

    1st Moffat, and maybe still my favorite. Certainly better than any of the non-moffat episodes.

  • June 17, 2011, 11:52 a.m. CST

    Pandorica/Big Bang

    by Casey4147

    ANYONE NOT HAVING SEEN "A GOOD MAN GOES TO WAR" - LOOK AWAY NOW. Okay, had to click on the YouTube link to see what particular scene got to you that bad - and had to agree. Got to the point when River is telling Amy that "He never really got to know me, and now he never will" - and MAN is that double-edged now, isn't it? We thought she was just talking about the Doctor not knowing her - but she'd never be, eh? And, really, a Universe without the Doctor? Earth would have perished in the 60's, wouldn't it? How many times did Jon Pertwee's Doctor save our butts? :-)

  • You can tell that's the genesis for the 5th season.

  • June 17, 2011, 12:06 p.m. CST


    by donkey_lasher

    I started a Doctor Who marathon at the beginning of winter and loved it. I started with Hartnell's first episode, and then just selected some of the more interesting serials in time order, but if you think Hartnell is good, Troughton is much more fun!

  • June 17, 2011, 12:10 p.m. CST

    Merrick's Dad

    by TheFerretLives

    Gotta ask who he is, peaked my interest too much! F

  • June 17, 2011, 12:12 p.m. CST

    Chad Oliver?

    by TheFerretLives

    If so then thank you google and wikipedia respectively! F

  • June 17, 2011, 12:20 p.m. CST

    I shall look forward to reading this after my dinner


    Fish and chips tonight. Welcome to Britain on a Friday night.

  • I considered them shallow and sophomoric for not being able to follow inventive story's without needing pretty, shiny special FX to entice their childlike attention spans.<p> And c'mon... even though light years ahead of Dr. Who in budget and FX quality... Star Trek still looked dated even in 1978.

  • June 17, 2011, 12:24 p.m. CST


    by Merrick

    Yes, and nicely done.

  • June 17, 2011, 12:25 p.m. CST

    Thanks, Merrick!

    by DoctorTom

    It was great hearing about how you got sucked into Who. I can see where the mid '80's wouldn't have been the best time to have developed an interest in Who - Colin Baker's stories aren't necesarily the best introduction to the series, despite Baker's best efforts to help. <br> <br> I'm glad to hear from you that The Eleventh Hour is a good place to start with someone with little or no Who experience; I'd have thought so but the little bit with the regeneration makes me wonder sometimes. Given my experience when I started watching with Robot, though, I didn't think it would be that much of a problem. <br> <br> I'm sure there will be many quibbles with your list - the mention of The Girl in the Fireplace is an example of that. I found it interesting to note, though, that you didn't put any of the Eccleston episodes in the list. How did you feel about Eccleston's season?

  • June 17, 2011, 12:27 p.m. CST

    You hit the "heart" of Doctor Who so well

    by HornOrSilk

    And it's why I love the show. It is able to have a simple idea lead to a variety of styles and changes and to allow an exploration of stories and thoughts few shows have been able to do. The fact that it often suffered from a low budget, I think, helped make this so -- as it continued on, the show had to either expand or people will tire of it and the show would die off. Patrick Troughton, I think, is the one who really saved the show. He didn't think the show would last when he took on the role. He thought it would be a quick job -- and they were offering him too much to say no. However, his innate charm (and great first story) saved the series and taught everyone how and why Doctor Who can and must change to thrive.

  • June 17, 2011, 12:28 p.m. CST

    I'm also sure you have read Harlan Ellison's statement by now

    by HornOrSilk

    Star Wars is adolescent nonsense; Close Encounters is obscurantist drivel; Star Trek can turn your brains to puree of bat guano; and the greatest science fiction series of all time is Doctor Who! And I'll take you all on, one-by-one or all in a bunch to back it up!

  • June 17, 2011, 12:30 p.m. CST

    Also, I do like Star Trek

    by HornOrSilk

    I got into Who as my favorite show as a young one, but I've always liked Star Trek (TOS, TNG and DS9 are the ones I liked the most). There are all kinds of odd connections between the two series, if one looks for them.... Speaking of which, have you watched Hamlet yet?

  • June 17, 2011, 12:31 p.m. CST

    Just re-watched City Of Death

    by DoctorWho?

    Julian Glover as Scaroth!<p> That is all.

  • June 17, 2011, 12:35 p.m. CST

    The Girl in the Fireplace and Doomsday

    by RaveX

    yeah... I know it's not very popular to be a fan of Doomsday. <p> screw it, I liked it. <p> besides, it's not as if I like Fear Her, is it...?

  • June 17, 2011, 12:40 p.m. CST

    Ya know, whats cool about this list is

    by Red43jes

    that when I was watching the Tennant episodes, I didn't watch every one of them. Some I skipped over, mainly because I wanted to see others. Now, I can go back and watch these. :-) Nice article, Merrick! As I brought it up before, maybe we could get a week or two of Doc a Day? Keep the Who Docbacks coming, easily my favorite part of AICN now.

  • June 17, 2011, 12:45 p.m. CST

    Moffat of old WAS good

    by performingmonkey

    These days it's like he's taunting the audience, directing everything straight at us. He's not interested in telling a good story or even simply entertaining us. It's all about how 'clever' he can be and how often he can keep us guessing. Pah...

  • June 17, 2011, 12:46 p.m. CST

    Wait one damn minute...

    by DrMeyer

    I know your real name is Glen Oliver, and I only know of one sf writer with that last name... Holy fucking shit, you're Chad Oliver's kid! That's AWESOME!

  • June 17, 2011, 12:54 p.m. CST

    Your list.

    by DrMeyer

    You nailed pretty much all of them, man. I started on the original run with Tom and the Robot, and was pretty well hooked. When the new series came on, the first episode I saw was Fireplace, which just melted my heart. Then I got the earlier stuff on DVD and went on a binge, which told me real fast that RTD had absolutely nailed it. Right now I don't have cable, so no BBC America, but I find the episodes through a torrent site and watch that way. I know, I'm an evil old pirate, but Who is an addiction I must feed, and my birthday is way too far away. So I'm watching old episodes and whimpering. September 3 is a lifetime from now.

  • June 17, 2011, 12:58 p.m. CST



    Agree ... This isn't what I dreamed of when I heard Moff was taking over and if everyone was honest I think many feel the same.

  • June 17, 2011, 1:20 p.m. CST

    Girl in the Fireplace

    by -Halfscan-

    Absolutely belongs on the list.</p> </p> Gridlock and Runaway Bride not so much (both were entertaining, but in no way "exceptional").

  • June 17, 2011, 1:22 p.m. CST


    by photoboy

    Frontios is one of my all time favourites of the classic series, and it's part of Peter Davison's final series, which IMHO was almost unblemished in terms of quality. While Saward and JNT had their problems, whatever they were doing on this series was working. I'd love to see the Tractators re-done on the modern series, unfortunately I think some of their thunder has been stolen by having the Silurians pulling people beneath the earth in a very similar way to Tractators. That said the original plan for the Tractators was for them to roll up into a ball like woodlice, which I think could be well implemented with today's CGI.

  • June 17, 2011, 1:26 p.m. CST


    by Perigee

    We were forged in the same fires, you and I; our stories and timelines are almost identical. For that reason, may I suggest a new course of exploration? As my options began to run low, I decided to investigate our Trekian roots. It has often been said that "Forbidden Planet" was the true pilot for "Star Trek," but our true lineage is much deeper and more diverse. American television Sci Fi began almost with the technology itself, and an appraisal of it proves to be unexpectedly rewarding. In some ways, it's wholly remarkable. Captain Video to forges a space UN after defeating an enemy - so soon after WWII, it's a classic example of the time. But then, in an interstitial, to have him tell his audience to stick up for "The next guy, no matter what his religion or color; he is your friend" is wonderful in 1950. Even early on, scifi geeks rocked. Following him, both "Space Patrol" and "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet" were great fun, and once again closely mirrored our politics of the time. It was all very white hat-black hat, but as a Trekkie, you can appreciate that for what it is. Space Patrol especially has ties to early Trek merchandising; that showrunner sold all of his boxtop-and-quarter merchandise literally out of the trunk of his car. Finally, my favorite, "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger." very respectable effects for its time and production size, and wonderful - if corny by this millenia's standards - stories. Mind you, none of this is great sci-fi. It is, however, wonderful nostalgia and really puts classic Trek into a perspective you've never seen it in before. Perhaps when things get slow in 2012... grrrr... you might want to go on an archaeology hunt.

  • June 17, 2011, 1:34 p.m. CST

    I'm also a great fan of Frontios

    by HornOrSilk

    There was all kinds of insane (and creepy) goodness in it. There is so much in it I am surprised they got away with -- it's a very dark tale (Giger certainly is an influence, and I think, the desire was to be even more Giger-esque if they had the funds). I've also always liked the "the Doctor is breaking the rules" aspect of the story; we are not entirely told what rules he is breaking -- but he clearly is concerned that he doesn't want to be caught. Love it.

  • June 17, 2011, 1:36 p.m. CST

    I would include Utopia on a list ...


    Flawed episode but the last 20 minutes or so is just about the most exciting TV I have ever watched in my life ... I went in mostly unspoiled and by the end I was shaking ...

  • June 17, 2011, 1:37 p.m. CST



    For some reason or another, I've not watched BLINK since it aired. I know it was a good episode but, and I can't really give an answer to this, I've never felt the urge to watch it since that original air date. I recall liking it but can't say it *clicked* with me on that first watch. After reading your wonderfully well-written love letter to DW, I was prompted to go and find the episode online (I actually have all of the DVDs but they're packed away due to an upcoming house move) and, this time, it completely clicked with me in a way it hadn't done before. Why I didn't feel this way originally, I have no idea. It's such a great episode. Thanks for bringing this episode back to my attention!

  • June 17, 2011, 1:40 p.m. CST


    by HornOrSilk

    I'm surprised you had only seen it once. Blink is often the episode I use to introduce people to Doctor Who -- it doesn't require much to watch it, and the story is strong that it really gets people saying "show me more."

  • June 17, 2011, 1:50 p.m. CST

    Merrick, the novelization of Frontios is better than the video

    by DoctorTom

    I actually enjoyed the video despite the production problems. After watching it I started hearing about what Bidmead had wanted, and some of that made it into the novel. (Mild spoilers for Frontios) The machine that they show in the latter episodes making the tunnels was supposed to have been made from the skeletons of people that had been pulled through the ground. Needless to say, this wasn't going to fly in a "Family" show.

  • June 17, 2011, 2:02 p.m. CST

    Hornorsilk - funny you should mention the Ellison statement

    by DoctorTom

    I just dug out an old Pinnacle Books version of Day of the Daleks, when they had those Ellison comments in the introduction. <br> <br> I felt robbed after seeing that cover, though, with the big spaceship that said U.N.I.T. on the back. I want my UNIT spaceship!

  • here's a link to a spot showing it:

  • June 17, 2011, 2:10 p.m. CST


    by Meglos

    An infinitely more interesting character than Tegan "Whine whine whine" Jovanka. After his introductory three-story arc, show writers didn't really know what to do with him beyond having him locked up by bad guys or stuck in the TARDIS while the Doctor and Tegan had all the fun. Frontios is the rare exception to this.

  • June 17, 2011, 2:15 p.m. CST



    I'm surprised too. I've watched THE IMPOSSIBLE PLANET and THE SATAN PIT a dozen times. I've watched THE EMPTY CHILD and THE DOCTOR DANCES a dozen times. Hell, I've even watched THE POISON SKY and THE SONTARAN STRATAGEM half a dozen times... and yet I've only watched BLINK once. Odd.

  • June 17, 2011, 2:16 p.m. CST




  • That ep was almost perfect Doctor Who. I suggest a re-viewing of that ep is in order!

  • June 17, 2011, 2:39 p.m. CST

    Budget with Frontios

    by HornOrSilk

    Yes, that is one of the problems. Frontios is really a cinema-level story and ideas being shoehorned in a very low budget direction, and many of the ideas having to be toned down because it is a family show. The story has more to it, and I think it takes a couple viewings to grasp the whole of it and to move beyond the "how horrible are those monsters" attitude one can have with it. It was always a shock to see something which could do _that_ to the TARDIS. The idea of the tractators, the technology employed, all of it is very very good. Sadly, I don't think its sequel would have been able to be put on screen, either.

  • June 17, 2011, 2:41 p.m. CST

    doctortom -- UNIT Spaceship

    by HornOrSilk

    Yes, it would have been cool if UNIT had a secret spaceship they built...

  • June 17, 2011, 2:53 p.m. CST

    They still might

    by DoctorTom

    In The Death of the Doctor SJA story didn't they make a comment about Liz Shaw being at Moonbase?

  • June 17, 2011, 3:01 p.m. CST

    Sounds like we both started watching Who at the same time

    by DarthFloyd

    Merrick, after watching films like Star Wars, Star Trek II, etc, I found watching Dr. Who has kind of a Sci-Fi lite. When others would ask me what Dr. Who was about, I would tell them that it's about a timelord who could travel to anywhere in space or time - on a shoe-string BBC budget.<p> In any event, there were some good stories during the Davison era. One of my personal faves was Earthshock.

  • June 17, 2011, 3:31 p.m. CST

    Lovely essay, Merrick

    by bravogolfhotel

    You've really underscored what's special about the series. If you're looking for suggestions for episodes of the original series, I'd like to suggest watching "The Caves of Androzani" (with its classy exit for #5) and "The Twin Dilemma" (with its notably less classy intro to #6) back to back for the historical perspective; it puts the highs and the lows of the old show in stark relief.

  • beware of misleading trailers.

  • June 17, 2011, 4:03 p.m. CST


    by berserkrl

    The first 2 seasons are uneven but the 3rd is fantastic.

  • June 17, 2011, 4:09 p.m. CST

    Anyone know where Turlough was from or his backstory?

    by DoctorWho?

    I recall he was not from Earth.

  • June 17, 2011, 4:17 p.m. CST

    Nice to see the "cool" sneaking back into AICN

    by Mr_P

    takes me back 15 years to when this site was compulsive reading as opposed to habitual! Thanks

  • June 17, 2011, 4:17 p.m. CST

    doctorwho? - Turlough

    by DoctorTom

    He's not from Earth. Planet of Fire gives the explanation for where Turlough is from. It's also his last story. It explains some of the things from the first story he was in (Mawdryn Undead) about being in a school on Earth with a solicitor handling his affairs. <br> <br> The Black Guardian trilogy (Mawdryn Undead, Terminus, Enlightenment) is a reasonable trilogy and has most of the material that involves Turlough as anything different from a standard companion.

  • June 17, 2011, 4:45 p.m. CST

    Thanks, Merrick!

    by gruntybear

    More articles like this please!! It was wonderful.

  • June 17, 2011, 4:46 p.m. CST


    by HornOrSilk

    Yes, his character was a great idea, but once they got through the initial trilogy, they lost their way with him. The audios have done well in adding somewhat to his character. I've always liked him, because of the changes he went through -- and it showed even before RTD how the Doctor can have an impact on others.

  • June 17, 2011, 4:50 p.m. CST

    Favorite Turlough Audio

    by HornOrSilk


  • June 17, 2011, 4:54 p.m. CST

    hornorsilk, I actually prefer Ringpullworld

    by DoctorTom

    Granted, it's a companion chronicle, but still fun

  • June 17, 2011, 5 p.m. CST

    Peter Davidson

    by Circean6

    Peter Davison didn't look like he was having a particularly good time in this episode

  • The BBC Controller assured people in his statement that the cutback in budget had no effect on the quality of series, and offered this peek at the 50th anniversary story as proof.

  • June 17, 2011, 5:07 p.m. CST


    by The_Mad_Groper

    Similar story here. It's amazing just how many of us grew up doing the same things, thinking that no one else was doing what we were, not realizing just how many people actually were! I am so glad your friends nagged you! Not only did it help you sort yourself out, but in turn you have helped all of us by giving us this space to connect with people just like us! THANK YOU!

  • June 17, 2011, 5:31 p.m. CST

    similar story here ....

    by berserkrl

    I watched and enjoyed the Tom Baker series in the late 70s / early 80s, then lost track of the show when I went to college. I later caught the 1996 tv-movie but it didn't grab me, which is probably why I didn't make an effort to see the 2005 series. In 2006 I happened to see what I later found out was one of the worst episodes, "Love & Monsters," and so wasn't interested in seeking out more. Then last year I accidentally saw "The Beast Below" and kind of liked it, so I went back and saw "The Eleventh Hour" and liked that even more. So I thought I'd watch more. Reading up on the series I saw that before seeing the upcoming "Time of Angels" I should go back and see "Blink" and "Silence in the Librray"/"Forest of the Dead," so I did that and was blown away. And now I watch both old and new Who and all the spinoffs....

  • June 17, 2011, 5:43 p.m. CST

    The Colin Baker era lost me ...


    Drifted away from the show during his tenure ... Just didn't like the guy. Caught Mccoy's 'The Greatest Show in the Galaxy' which terrified me despite being crap and bits of 'Silver Nemesis' but that was it ... When the show returned in 2005 I jumped on board from the start and never looked back ... I recently watched the TV movie for the first time and while I enjoyed seeing McGann in the role it was in general utter rubbish.

  • June 17, 2011, 5:52 p.m. CST

    Merrick gets DW. As do most of us here.

    by Seph_J

    There really is something about it that is just purely GOOD isn't there. I don't mean in terms of quality, but I mean it's heart is very much in the right place, as are it's values and moral compass. I would argue that you could live your life using DW as a guide and not go far wrong.

  • June 17, 2011, 5:53 p.m. CST

    @Merrick - I'd have guessed Blink

    by V'Shael

    but my other thought was Fathers Day, since for me, if you don't at least tear up in that episode, you might has well have no heart. As for Turlough, I don't think it's that he was unpopular exactly. He's no Adric. He was an attempt by the show, to put a companion in the Tardis who was actually working against the Doctor, and working for one of his enemies. It's the only time it's ever been attempted in Doctor Who. You might like his character arc for that alone. Starts with Mawdryn Undead, and continues until Planet of Fire.

  • June 17, 2011, 5:56 p.m. CST

    Kiss of Death is also a good Turlough centered audio story

    by HornOrSilk

    It certainly adds to his character.

  • June 17, 2011, 6:03 p.m. CST

    The rules the Doctor was breaking in Frontios...

    by V'Shael

    As I recall, and it's been a while, they were at the edge of the Gallifreyan noosphere, the limit of Time Lord knowledge of the future. And Frontios was the last refuge of what remained of humanity in the universe. It wasn't a fixed point in time or anything like that. Humanity could be wiped out. By all rights, the Doctor shouldn't have been there, and he certainly shouldn't have interfered. But he did, and he sort of ensured that humanity would survive.

  • June 17, 2011, 6:06 p.m. CST


    by HornOrSilk

    Some of that was fan speculation -- the whole "Gallifreyan noosphere" aspect of it. The show itself only said they shouldn't be there, the edge of human history (or an edge of it).

  • June 17, 2011, 6:42 p.m. CST


    by chronicallydepressedlemming

    One of the first Whos I ever saw, and really creeped me out at the time. I recommend it for seeing a Timelord truly off the rails that isn't The Master for once.

  • June 17, 2011, 6:51 p.m. CST

    Merrick's Who-gasm

    by The Angriest Planet

    I swear that the people who write about Doctor Who often come up with better stuff than the people who write for Doctor Who. Having been a fan since I stumbled upon Jon Pertwee's CLAWS OF AXOS Part 3 some 35 years ago you are preaching to the converted here but seeing someone discover the show and get fired up never gets old considering how fringe its been over here forever. Seriously, whenever I hear the announcer say "Doctor Who is brought to you by"...I wanna weep like an old man who fought in vain to prove the earth was round and was put in jail by the church for decades before he was fianlly proven right.

  • June 17, 2011, 7:24 p.m. CST

    The Doctor didn't think the "Blink" problem through.

    by stv

    How to beat the “Blink” statues: 1. You are staring at them, both eyes ope because the move when not looked at... 2. Your eyes are tiring, you must blink...WAIT! 3. Keep left eye open, close right eye 4. Open right eye, both eyes open 5. Keep right eye open, close left eye 6. Open left eye, both eyes open 7. At no time are the statues unobserved, so they cannot approach you. 8. If the Doctor is so smart why didn't he think of that?

  • June 17, 2011, 7:47 p.m. CST


    by Seph_J

    Amy did that.

  • June 17, 2011, 8:06 p.m. CST


    by HornOrSilk

    This extra really shows Merrick's point about Doctor Who very well -- it is a good "making of" documentary which shows all the extraordinary aspects which went into making this story -- and discusses at the end the differences between modern television and the way they filmed Frontios.

  • June 17, 2011, 8:07 p.m. CST

    she was not in blink

    by stv

  • June 17, 2011, 9:27 p.m. CST

    I dont think

    by Kevin Bolinger

    I have seen Fontitos yet...I watched a number of Davison's eps, but havent gotten that far yet...I tend to skip around with the Doctor's lol

  • June 17, 2011, 10:09 p.m. CST

    Brilliant article. Reaffirms everything I simply love about DW...

    by pills_26

    Too many people shrug off the show saying they don't like sci-fi, or it's too low budget or there's too much to catch up on, but after converting almost 20 people to the show, I've come to realise it's bloody hard to come up for air after one episode. Just choose the right episode and they'll be hooked. Cause let's face it, one could put forward more high brow efforts, but I will still defend to the teeth the fact that Doctor Who is the best show on television.

  • June 17, 2011, 10:28 p.m. CST


    by frozen01

    Okay, guys, PLEASE stop hyping this episode so much! Seriously. It's an excellent episode. It's fun, and scary, and a great story with fantastic characters. But I was told how wonderful and amazing it was and went into it expecting something that would blow my mind... and it's not that. So please... stop hyping it up! For people who haven't seen the episode yet :) And nzleroi... no, but Amy WAS in Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone.

  • June 18, 2011, 12:58 a.m. CST

    @Hornorsilk - Not fan speculation.

    by V'Shael

    Taken from the Target novelisation, which since it's based on the scripts, often contains information which was cut from broadcast.

  • June 18, 2011, 3:44 a.m. CST

    Great article.

    by OhWhatTheFeckEver

    I think it's brilliant that Doctor Who still manages to drag people kicking and screaming into the obsession I've had for decades. Muahahaha! As to Turlough. An exiled rebel from the planet Trion, recruited by the Black Guardian to kill the Doctor? What's not to like? He was chronically underused after the first trilogy, though. Mark Strickson was/is a good actor and the character deserved better. (as an aside, for those who like fanfic, I wrote a Turlough script series last year ... if anybody is interested it can be found on the DWO forums here ... it won a few awards)

  • June 18, 2011, 4:06 a.m. CST


    by HornOrSilk

    I never read the novel for it -- so I can't comment on it, other than, sometimes the novelizations radically changed the story and not always because of the script. So maybe not fan speculation, however, I do remember reading fan speculation following that chain of thought (I think FASA did a lot in generating fan speculations).

  • June 18, 2011, 4:31 a.m. CST


    by Candy ass monkey suit

    Glad your finally getting into the show now ( what took you so long) Dr Who has become somewhat of a british institution over here now. Id recommend you re-watch all of Tom Bakers run especially the Phillip Hinchcliffe era ( who is clearly the best showrunner apart from Moffat who had) and the classic eps like Pyramids of mars,Taelons of weng-chiang,Seeds of doom etc, all complete who classics. I never dug the show much after Davisons era as the then producer John nathan turner ran the show into the ground and it got progressively sillier with even lower production values (for the most part) than before. Glad you've seen the light at last !

  • who also wrote the script. So I think it's more likely that the novelisation represents what he would have liked to have on screen, before TV budgetary concerns etc... started stripping stuff out. It certainly had nothing to do with FASA.

  • June 18, 2011, 5:40 a.m. CST

    nzleroi - she was in Time of Angels

    by Seph_J

    Check it out. Its a real story.

  • June 18, 2011, 5:47 a.m. CST

    Excerpt from "Frontios" by Christopher H. Bidmead

    by V'Shael

    Tegan was reluctant to tear herself away from the screen. ‘What happens to them, Doctor?’ The Doctor had let them come close enough to make out moving shapes, people crossing an open space between what looked like strange misshapen buildings. ‘Knowledge has its limits,’ said the Doctor, stretching a hand towards the Time Column switch. ‘Even for Time Lords. Ours reaches this far and no further. We’re at the edge of the Gallifreyan noosphere....’ But at exactly that moment a sudden dizzying motion caused the TARDIS to drop like a stone.

  • It seems to blow far more minds than it disappoints ... I would always direct people to this episode as an example of what Who' can achieve when its on fire.

  • June 18, 2011, 6:15 a.m. CST

    Meglos - Tegan 'whine whine whine' Jovanka...

    by BiggusDickus

    ...was absolutely filthy! But hey, if you prefer the annoying, pointless ginger bloke, knock yourself out.

  • June 18, 2011, 6:39 a.m. CST

    Turlough was annoying, but I prefer him over

    by Seph_J

    that goddam pantomime-acting, everything-is-either-AMAZING-or-TERRIBLE, throw-your-hands-up-at-everything-so-that-even-the-audience-in-the-back-row-can-see excruciatingly painful Bonnie Langford.

  • June 18, 2011, 6:58 a.m. CST

    Surprised you had...

    by Chris Wood


  • June 18, 2011, 7 a.m. CST


    by Chris Wood

    Where did my full comment go. OK I'll try again. No Midnight on the list? Easily Russell T Davies best script where he finally mans up (!) and takes on Moffat head to head for the scare stakes. Closest we've seen the Doctor to being snuffed out forever...not at the hands of Daleks, Cybermen but a group of terrified humans with no-where to go. Also Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit - another cracking two parter.

  • June 18, 2011, 7:13 a.m. CST

    A great read...

    by dj_bollocks

    Whilst I've always been a fan as I was getting older the series appeared to be getting younger particularly the pantomime esque McCoy first seasons... But I ended up rooming with fellow sci fans and re evaluated the series and was still a stude in 96 when the movie came out... I think with the Turlough situation, they'd never really done spectacularly well with male companions -everyone loved Harry, Sgt Benton was a bit of a buffoon and the brigadier was a bit of a pompous ass. But they were never really true companions unlike the females... Adric just really wasn't liked, and hard to stand out when you also had Nyssa and Tega, so Turlough was a breath of fresh air that was never really properly realized. It just doesn't quite seem to work with male companions. I'd like to see two females and I'd like to see a non Earth companion too.

  • I don't question why various episodes or on or off the list; people will be different in trying to compile what is an impossibility to compile. I thought the list here was good -- and the choices are ones I can see and would make... I might choose a few others to replace what is on here -- however, the ones on here I would all consider. If I had to do my list of New Who stories which I thought best draw me out, people would be surprised at some of the choices.. but.. I am going to try it.. The Unquiet Dead Dalek Empty Child/Doctor Dances New Earth (see I know that will be controversial) School Reunion Human Nature/Family of Blood Blink Journey's End (controversial, I expect) Vincent and the Doctor A Christmas Carol

  • June 18, 2011, 7:20 a.m. CST

    I've never found Bonnie Langford to be bad

    by HornOrSilk

    I never understood the hate; she was given bad writing to deal with in the televised episodes, but that is not her fault.

  • June 18, 2011, 7:21 a.m. CST

    v'shael -sometimes the novelizations still had stuff

    by HornOrSilk

    Like "Remembrance of the Daleks" which one can question...

  • June 18, 2011, 7:52 a.m. CST

    @Hornorsilk - Agreed, but

    by V'Shael

    in this case, I really think the novelisation shows what was in the writers head when he wrote the script. As for Remembrance, the writer said himself "I realised that since I use a very sparse prose style without much description, a straight novelisation of dialogue and what they did would come to less words than the script. So I've had to do tonnes of padding and that's what's taken me the time!" In other words, he was clearly padding it out with stuff that wasn't in his head when he was writing the script. Considering some of the confusing or ambiguous points in Frontios, I think it makes sense to find their explanations in the novelisation.

  • June 18, 2011, 8:46 a.m. CST

    A Great article....

    by leehb

    for me, it was Klingons spouting Shakespeare that finally killed the TREK era once and forever...and heralded the demise of an entire franchise... When I discovered Babylon5, I realized what TREK might have been...but never had come close..... Then I found The Doctor and the 'ride' has mostly been glorius!!!! (tho a bit 'bumpy' sometimes...)

  • June 18, 2011, 9:06 a.m. CST

    Not a big fan of Peter Davison's era

    by I am not a number

    I liked his portrayal of the Doctor (though it took a while for me to get over him replacing Tom Baker), but I found many of his stories to be unbelievably bland and unremarkable. Plus he was saddled with Adric. I detested Tegan with her incessant complaining; I wished he'd just drop her into the nearest supernova and be done with it. And Nyssa was a non-entity almost from the start. However, he did have some great episodes, especially his finale, CAVES OF ANDROZANI. I used to watch episodes of the show I had taped from PBS repeatedly when I was young, then fell out of the habit in university. I was surprised how good EARTHSHOCK still is though, after having recently rewatched it. I've been meaning to track down KINDA for some time now, remembering that it was a very different sort of story, as well as THE AWAKENING (a simple story that somehow appealed to me). I doubt I will ever have such a desire to see TIMEFLIGHT again though - frig, that was a bad episode!

  • June 18, 2011, 9:35 a.m. CST


    by frozen01

    I think you and I might have different definitions for "mind-blowing". ;) It's not the opposite of "disappointed", hun. I LOVED the episode. Still do, very much so. And I think it's a great "hook" episode for those you're trying to convince to pick up Doctor Who. But I also think people get a little carried away in their descriptions of the episode and it came very close to ruining it for me because I was expecting far more than what it was. I think I would have enjoyed Blink FAR more had I not been told it was this amazing, mind-blowing, incredible thing, and if people would have just called it what it was: a damn fine story, chocked full of great characters, and a truly memorable baddie. Not OMG it's the best episode ever you need to stop what you're doing and watch it NOW it will change your life!!!! ;) I kind of view Blink in two ways: From an established fan's perspective and from an outsider's perspective. I think for the former, it's a really, really good episode... but do you think it's the best Who has to offer (personally, I liked Girl in the Fireplace and Vincent and the Doctor better)? For the latter, I can see how the reaction above might happen because it is so radically different from everything else on TV (especially American TV) that your mind very well MIGHT get "blown" (if you'll pardon the phrase).

  • June 18, 2011, 9:39 a.m. CST

    i am not a number

    by Red43jes

    LOL, with your hate for Tegan, I figured you'd be pleased with that one. Wasn't that the episode where she sorta leaves the Doctor?

  • June 18, 2011, 9:47 a.m. CST


    by I am not a number

    Are you fucking kidding me!? I thought we were rid of this moron! He didn't even go back for Sarah Jane Smith, but he lets this bozo rejoin the crew! WTF!?

  • June 18, 2011, 9:56 a.m. CST

    Half of my last post got deleted. What's going on?

    by I am not a number

    I had prefaced my previous response with, "I was glad she left, then they went and brought her back in the next story. I was so cheated!"

  • June 18, 2011, 9:58 a.m. CST

    Davidsons Tardis crew...

    by Red43jes

    Really, I didn't dislike any of them, but I agree in some points mentioned: Adric: what appealed to me as a kid about Adric was he was a kid traveling with the Doctor. The thing that drove me nuts about Adric was his decisions from time to time, if memory serves me well. That, and he really needed a costume change. Dude, you weren't hanging in E-Space anymore, blend in! LOL, the Tardis has tons of outfits, pick on! Tegan and Nyssa eventually did! Also, he was killed off. It still seems to be a topic of discussion as far as should Adric had been rescued by the Doctor, using the Tardis? Tegan: Like most of you, I disliked Tegan Jovankas complaining as well, HOWEVER, I liked it because she sometimes would make some good points, to which it gave the Doctor a chance to explain stuff to the audience. That, and I always thought she looked good after she lost the airline stewardess outfit. Nyssa: Ya know, my biggest disappointment with Nyssa was the fact that she never ever had any reaction to the Master stealing her fathers body (that is what happened, right? Again, its been a long time). When they would do an episode with the Master,I figured that she would at least get somewhat upset. Instead, from what I remember, it was just along the lines "oh, its the Master." Good character that I felt coulda been better used. Turlough: I liked the character. Honestly, they shoulda stretched the Black Guardian/White Guardian idea out with him longer (yes, I love these character, I admit it), because as someone pointed out earlier, once they finished that trilogy, he didn't always do much, he was underused. Really Turlough, in my opinion, didn't come into his own until around the last season he was on. He just seemed to be a kind of wormy guy that the audience hated for being on the Tardis. Kamelion: I always felt that they wanted to use him to sorta replace K-9. What I found extremely odd about him was he joined the Tardis crew, then was MIA for several episodes. When he was on, WAY underused, as he could have been so much more interesting. Kamelion, we barely got to know you! Peri: Beautiful but if you disliked Tegan, you were REALLY gonna be annoyed with Peri, as she whined ALL the time! Great to look at, but I always felt she was as dumb as a box of rocks. Again, I've no revisited these episodes in years, I'm going off of memory...

  • June 18, 2011, 10 a.m. CST

    i am not a number

    by Red43jes

    I didn't always like her character but she at least wasn't a dope like Peri. Peri was just dumb! Peri just had a nice set of tits to look at. :-)

  • June 18, 2011, 10:12 a.m. CST

    test to see how much of my post makes it up.

    by Seph_J

    1 is the first number. 2 is the second number. 3 is the third number. 4 is the fourth number. five is the fifth number. 6 is the sixth number. 7 is the seventh number. 8 is the eighth number. 9 is the ninth number. 10 is the tenth number.

  • June 18, 2011, 10:13 a.m. CST


    by Seph_J

    ...that'll be all of it then!

  • June 18, 2011, 10:14 a.m. CST

    my biggest disappointment with Nyssa was...

    by Seph_J

    ...that she remained clothed.

  • June 18, 2011, 10:23 a.m. CST

    Nyssa and more

    by I am not a number

    Yeah, the Master took over her father's body (killed him). I was bugged by the lack of reaction to that as well; I recall it being mentioned once or twice, but it never got treated with more than the odd throwaway line. That was part of the problem I had with Nyssa, apart from that and the mention that her homeworld/people were all destroyed, she barely registers. I couldn't given a description of her character's personality if I tried (I could at least do THAT much for Tegan!) And Adric definitely should have ditched the E-Space pajamas. At least the gold star had a use at some point. And I agree, Peri definitely had a nice pair of . . . assets. I was more bothered by her accent. I didn't know that that actress was from the UK at the time, but I always noticed how odd some of her American words sounded ("Doctor" being particularly off - always over-emphasizing the "r"). Poor Peri, like the sixth doctor, got lumbered with some of the worst scripts too!

  • June 18, 2011, 11:18 a.m. CST

    Books/Missing Adventures

    by dj_bollocks

    Were there ever any good missing adventures or books from the fifth doc era ? Was never much attracted to the virgin new adventures but I remember reading Terrance dicks fourth doctor and romana one with vampires as a young'un and enjoying it a lot... Anyone ?

  • June 18, 2011, 11:19 a.m. CST

    i am not a number, more on the Davidson era...

    by Red43jes

    Ya know, the more I think about the characters and writing from the era, LOL, more more I realize I'm a bit disappointed. I agree with you, I liked Davidson, but really, from what we are talking about, Nyssa and Trulough mainly, the characters suffer from being fleshed out. Nyssa really doesn't do a whole lot while on the show, and coulda been a LOT more. Heck, she should have had issue with the Master and it should have been a hook with her and the stories they used him for. WHY didn't they?, unused potential for interesting stories. They could have written him as a character that had motives that portrayed him as someone out for himself, until you find out that he was exiled from his planet. Hell, Mark Strickson has humorously commented that, not knowing what to do with him, the writers of the television series would often have the villains capture or lock him up, leading to Turlough ending up in various "states of bondage". Not a bad era for Doctor Who, just underdeveloped ideas, as well as untapped potential for better stories and ideas...

  • June 18, 2011, 11:45 a.m. CST

    Nyssa and the Master

    by DoctorTom

    Nyssa didn't really have a reaction to the Master taking her father's body because it was Bidmead handling the script editing at the time, and you weren't allowed to have human reactions (or anything funny) during his year + on the show.

  • June 18, 2011, 11:56 a.m. CST

    Missing adventures with the 5th Doctor

    by DoctorTom

    dj_bollocks, there was Goth Opera, which was the 5th Doctor with the vampires that kicked off the Missing Adventures, it tied in with the 7th Doctor New Adventure at the time. <br> <br> I remember one where he got stranded in time, so he opened a restaurant and worked hard at getting it acclaimed over 500 years so some pantemporal thing that went around visiting all the great restaurants would show up, so he could get back to his TARDIS. I think it also had Kamelion in it too. (It might be The Crystal Bucephalus). <br> <br> Lords of the Storm had Turlough, with Sontarans as the bad guys. It had links to the New Adventure Shakedown (Dicks wrote Shakedown) <br> <br> Some people think the best 5th Doctor Missing Adventure is probably The Sands of Time. It was a kind of sequel to Pyramids of Mars. They used to have it posted on the BBC Website (but I don't see where they have any of the older Virgin books posted now). <br> <br> My favorite of Virgin's adventures with the 5th Doctor was Cold Fusion by Lance Parkin. It actually had the 5th and the 7th Doctors in there

  • June 18, 2011, 11:59 a.m. CST

    @DJ_Bollocks - You could try "Cold Fusion"

    by V'Shael

    which has a rather nice twist, in that as well as being a 5th Doctor adventure, it is also a 7th Doctor adventure.

  • June 18, 2011, 3:28 p.m. CST


    by donkey_lasher

    Or whatever he calls himself, must be angry as hell about this weekly talkback. R.I.P. Stargate.

  • June 18, 2011, 4:26 p.m. CST

    Merricks comment made me laugh:

    by Seph_J

    "So SGU will get canceled, but DOCTOR WHO will never die?" I lamented.

  • June 18, 2011, 7:27 p.m. CST

    Watching "Four To Doomsday" right now.

    by johndillingers20inchseveredcock

    Merrick, you're my hero. Thanks for this piece. Recently I put in a classic era Doctor Who DVD I'd just bought, and at the beginning, it had the Series 5 trailer. That got me so pumped I actually took out the DVD I was about to watch and just watched series 5 again, starting with "The Eleventh Hour". I think (could be wrong here) the first episodes to be imported over here by PBS affiliates were from Tom Baker's run. That's how my dad and I discovered the show late at night back in the 80's. It was such an odd thing back then: weird show, creepy opening sequence, cool, haunting theme song, grainy reception on a UHF station late at night, like it was a bizarre transmission intended for someone else. I tried talking to my schoolmates about the show, and no one had any idea what I was talking about. I got a hold of two random Marvel reprints of Tom Baker and Peter Davison comic strips in fifth grade, and I loaned them to a friend, and he got in trouble with his mom over them because she saw them and thought they were too weird.

  • June 18, 2011, 7:30 p.m. CST

    I'll never forget how I felt when I heard that the show was about to be revived.

    by johndillingers20inchseveredcock

    My life as an adult came to an abrupt end. I regenerated into an eight year old. And I now have all these action figures and playsets from the show that I would've killed for when I was a kid the first time. When this show clicks with people, sometimes they just straight up lose it.

  • June 18, 2011, 7:35 p.m. CST

    Kudos Merrick, this is tight.

    by Smashing

    Nice to see such a loving and interesting look at Classic Who. JohnDillinger I'm 37 and had waited what felt like my entire life for a Cyberman action figure, he's guarding my bedroom right now.

  • June 18, 2011, 7:55 p.m. CST


    by johndillingers20inchseveredcock

    I have an army of those bastards. Various classic styles and RTD era versions. And the Daleks... I have a ludicrous number of those things. I wish there was a STAR TREK line that was in scale with these guys just so I'd be able to take goofy pictures of Kirk hitting on various companions. Interestingly, the figures are more or less in scale with the short-lived Bill and Ted line as well as Accoutrements' series of historical action figures.

  • June 18, 2011, 8:35 p.m. CST


    by Seph_J

    did anyone else have trouble containing themselves when the classic who figures started coming out? Like the sea devil/zygon/robot of death etc collection that each had a piece of the Robot from (you guessed it) 'Robot' that you snapped together? Man, that made my life. My Zygon stands proudly next to my Weeping Angel, who stares across at Davros and a Sea Devil. Fucking wonderful.

  • June 18, 2011, 8:39 p.m. CST


    by DoctorWho?

    I had the same exact experience finding Doc Who late-night Friday's on PBS. I would stumble in my room (usually buzzed after a night of partying) flip on the tube and just as you said "...weird show, creepy opening sequence, cool, haunting theme song, grainy reception on a UHF station late at night, like it was a bizarre transmission intended for someone else".<p> You nailed it! I would sit on the edge of my bed mesmerized. This was not Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Outer limits is it I'd never seen this before! It was low budget but confident in it's story telling. And the concepts... Whoa! Did he just walk into that blue box only to end up in a larger room!?! I was hooked. This was not the usual American sci- fi: milataristic space explorations, laser gun fights and space ship this was deeper. And yet...sillier! <p> I began staying home on Friday nights. I told no one about this weird, geeky show I had found. It was like I had discovered some well kept secret that in reality, the whole world knew about. My friends would not understand so I kept it to myself. <p> Discovering those first Tom Baker episodes (Starting around Pyramids of Mars) was just magical and letting the mystery of the show unfold week in and week out was fun. This was pre-internet...I couldn't just look it up...I had to keep watching to answer my questions. Who is this guy?

  • June 18, 2011, 8:39 p.m. CST


    by johndillingers20inchseveredcock

    One of my big regrets is being a few pieces short of a robot. I work in a shop, and although I had pre-ordered some of the figures from a website before I knew I'd end up ordering them for the store, when they arrived there first, I bought a Tom Baker and Peter Davison knowing full well that I had duplicates coming in the mail anyway. I bought two Toms because of the alternate heads. I had the other figures on hold at the store to complete the robot, but I let a co-worker buy them. Her kids built the robot and straight up murdered the poor thing.

  • June 18, 2011, 8:49 p.m. CST

    johndillinger - original US broadcasts

    by DoctorTom

    Actually, some John Pertwee stories were broadcast around 1972 in America. I didn't see them then, but I remember hearing it mentioned by different sources in the early '80's. Wiki backs this up. This launch didn't do well. <br> <br> The first episodes most places carried were indeed the Tom Baker stories, the Philadelphia PBS station started broadcasting them during the summer of 1978. The stories were broadcast one episode a night, with a full story rebroadcast on Saturday. The initial batch being shown in the US started with Robot and went through the end of Invasion of Time. These had the Howard da Silva openings and next episode bits stuck in. I think by the '80's whenever they rebroadcast these stories they took out the Howard da Silva narration - do you remember if they had those when you started watching?

  • June 18, 2011, 8:50 p.m. CST


    by johndillingers20inchseveredcock

    I was actually kind of scared of Tom Baker when I was a kid. Still loved the show though, and being scared of the lead kind of added to the mystique of it. Since it was pre-internet, and there wasn't a lot of information in small towns about the show unless you stumbled upon the right people, I didn't know about regeneration until he turned into Davison, and I didn't know what the hell had just happened. I immediately loved Davison's Doctor. I loved his outfit (not at all getting that it was a cricket outfit) and found him much less creepy. Now that I'm building a DVD library of these episodes, I still completely love Davison, but I've fallen in love with Baker's mad-eyed take on the role. I remember finding out the owner of a comic book store in town seemed to have a lot of information on the show. I was in awe of him when he told me he had eaten jelly babies. It was from him that I first heard the word "Whovian".

  • June 18, 2011, 8:56 p.m. CST


    by johndillingers20inchseveredcock

    I don't remember the narration. Actually, this is the first I've heard of it, so I'm curious. I don't know if any Pertwee episodes aired in my market (I lived in Kentucky as a kid); if they did, my dad missed them and discovered the show when they were airing Tom Baker's episodes. I never saw any Colin Baker or Sylvester McCoy stories until the last few years, after the show's return.

  • June 18, 2011, 8:59 p.m. CST

    doctortom: furthermore

    by johndillingers20inchseveredcock

    I started watching somewhere around 1984-85. Not sure which episodes were my first, but my hazy memories are of maybe the tail end of Sarah Jane's travels and the beginning of Leela's.

  • for '84-85 stations would be broadcasting up through Davison - in 82-83 they got the first season of Davison in Philly. I remember in 84 or 85 hitting a convention in Madison Wisconsin and they showed Attack of the Cybermen before it was broadcast over PBS in the US. At the time Lionheart was a year or two behind England in picking up the stories for broadcast (the time gap narrowed during the hiatus). They kept cycling back to the Tom Bakers in the '80's. I think it wasn't until the '90's and there weren't any more new Doctor Who stories being made that Lionheart started distributing the older 1st and 2nd Doctor stories; I can't recall if any of rhe Pertwee stories had worked into the regular rotation before then.

  • June 18, 2011, 9:06 p.m. CST

    So true. When the Doctor regenerated I fell off my chair

    by DoctorWho?

    I didn't know he could do that! Coolness factor increased twice over.

  • June 18, 2011, 9:26 p.m. CST


    by johndillingers20inchseveredcock

    Sounds interesting. I'll poke through some of my Tom Baker DVDs and check for those. When I moved to my current location, about seven years ago, I tripped over Baker episodes on the PBS station here. Couldn't believe it--I hadn't seen those episodes since I was a kid. They seemed to cycle through bits of Baker's run over and over. They always stopped at his regeneration and started somewhere around... it seems like "Horror of Fang Rock"? During maybe series 3 of the revived series, they started showing Eccleston's run. It was cool to see those episodes again in similar circumstances under which I'd initially seen the show. But they soon quit showing the show at all. I wrote the station a few times, but they didn't bring it back. I'm under the impression the success of the new series made the broadcast rights for the classic episodes more expensive.. could be wrong on that.

  • June 18, 2011, 9:29 p.m. CST

    Did anyone happen to catch the Max Headroom signal intrusion?

    by johndillingers20inchseveredcock

    wikipedia: YouTube:

  • June 18, 2011, 9:39 p.m. CST


    by DoctorTom

    The original DVD for Talons of Weng Chiang in the US had them (I don't know if they're on the Remastered version that's coming out in the US later this year but has been out in the UK for a year now). I think they might have been Easter Eggs on some other releases.

  • June 18, 2011, 9:48 p.m. CST


    by johndillingers20inchseveredcock

    Cool--I bought that DVD a few months back. I'll check it out.

  • June 18, 2011, 9:50 p.m. CST

    Why the hell isn't BBC America airing classic episodes?

    by johndillingers20inchseveredcock


  • or the "British" movies made in America that have one British actor in it.

  • June 18, 2011, 10:08 p.m. CST

    ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES is sooooo British.

    by johndillingers20inchseveredcock

  • June 18, 2011, 11:34 p.m. CST

    Weird thing is...

    by I am not a number

    I somehow knew about DOCTOR WHO before I started watching it on PBS and YTV in the 80s as I recalled scenes from POWER OF KROLL (though I erroneously thought Sarah Jane was the companion) and CITY OF DEATH. We didn't have cable back then, so I'm guessing it must have been on CBC (we only got two channels back then!) at some point. I learned that the BBC had obtained some prints from the CBC after certain old episodes were lost, so I guess that was how I saw it first. I couldn't have been more than 5 or 6 at the time.

  • June 19, 2011, 1:04 a.m. CST

    I started watching about 1979

    by lonniebeale

    When we first got cable. They were the stories with the introductions and had quite a bit cut out of them. The Doctor trying on various outfits in ROBOT was one example.

  • June 19, 2011, 2:39 a.m. CST

    no intros when I started watching

    by berserkrl

    which would have been around 1979 or 1980, on a local PBS station in New Hampshire. I remember Android Invasion, Weng-Chiang, Fang Rock .... They were also showing reruns of The Prisoner around the same time.

  • June 19, 2011, 9:21 a.m. CST

    My List of Star Trek TOS:

    by wtriker1701

    THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE SPACE SEED THE IMMUNITY SYNDROME THE ULTIMATE COMPUTER THE THOLIAN WEB OBSESSION Those were the episodes I watched as a kid back in '78 here in Germany. Those absolutely caught me, although I had faint memories back in '72, with SPACE SEED and THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE as pictures in my mind. When somebody asked me: WHY Star Trek? I recollected those eps as MY Star Trek. Yes, there are some other very fine episodes (incl. TCOTEOF), but those 6 above are my alltime favourites. So-to-say: My BLINK, TGITF, Silence In The Library, Human Nature, The Empty Child favourites.

  • June 19, 2011, 10:49 a.m. CST

    First American Whovian?

    by Perigee

    The first episodes most places carried were indeed the Tom Baker stories, the Philadelphia PBS station started broadcasting them during the summer of 1978. The stories were broadcast one episode a night, with a full story rebroadcast on Saturday. The initial batch being shown in the US started with Robot and went through the end of Invasion of Time.

  • June 19, 2011, 10:50 a.m. CST

    Philadelphia Freedom, I Love Love Love you...

    by Perigee

    So. FIRST! Squeee!!!

  • June 19, 2011, 11:01 a.m. CST

    Although, are they sure of that date?

    by Perigee

    '78 would have made it my Sophomore year of High School, and After "Space 1999..." That's not the timeline as I remember it - I could have sworn 1999 came after my Baker Whos... Alzheimers. Heeere she comes....

  • June 19, 2011, 11:25 a.m. CST

    I'm sure of the date -

    by DoctorTom

    I started watching them on WHYY during the summer of '78 - it was my summer between high school and college (that I started in the fall of 79). I was glad to see the Boston PBS station also carrying them when I went to college, and loved finding SF bookstores that carried the Target paperbacks. <br> <br> I had already been watching for a year before the Doctor Who Weekly magazines started coming out in the latter part of '79.

  • June 19, 2011, 12:38 p.m. CST

    doctortom, johndillinger: PBS Doctor Who...

    by lynxpro

    I remember when Doctor Who became big in Sacramento [scifi capitol of the world, per capita]. It was 1984. KVIE 6 started showing the Tom Baker episodes and my dad started watching them. "State of Decay" was the first story I watched almost completely through until my mom told me to stop watching it because it was so creepy. I was 9 at the time. Now, I had seen the first Cushing film prior to this because [what is now] Fox 40 showed it one Saturday. However, prior to this, I had seen some Doctor Who with K-9 in the late 70s while our family took a trip to the Pacific Northwest so it must've aired in Portland or Seattle back then. But I digress. Who was big here. Shown every Saturday night at 10pm from 1984 to the mid 90s when the then BBC owned Lionheart Television started massively overcharging for the episodes which caused PBS stations across the country to drop the show even though historically it brought in the most amount of contributions from the "Pledge Breaks". The BBC also personally went about bankrupting the Doctor Who Fan Club of America (DWFCA) over a dispute over supporting their [BBC's] lame touring bus whose only redeeming feature was Jon Pertwee's participation. The DWFCA before that had been critical over Colin Baker's firing, not to mention Michael Grade's attempts at cancelling the show prior to the official "hiatus" placed upon it in 1989. But back to the local station. Our station showed all the Classic Series episodes, although it is true that when a PBS station bought the Davison episodes [or any other Doctor], the BBC/Lionheart made them also pay for the entire Tom Baker run so that's why PBS stations always recycled their runs with the Baker episodes all-the-time. We had big conventions - and not run by Creation Conventions either, but by the DWFCA - in this town back in the 80s; Davison and Colin Baker were both brought to our town to popular fanfare. I wonder if Colin still has the key to the city... It's such a shame. To this day, BBC Worldwide Americas believes they can stiff American fandom and we'll like it. They are also why the show was moved from SyFy to BBC America. It wasn't about building up the show's popularity - because had it been, the show would've remained on a channel with a larger potential viewing audience - it was about goading the rabid American fans into pressuring their cablecos into offering the BBC America channel.

  • June 19, 2011, 12:39 p.m. CST

    Doctor Tom!! Homeboy!!!!

    by Perigee

    I had no idea you were one of Us! Yo!

  • June 19, 2011, 12:44 p.m. CST


    by lynxpro

    Actually, the Pertwee episodes were shown in the States first when the show was syndicated to independent commercial broadcast stations in the mid 70s. The attempt was considered a failure and thus BBC tried distribution through the PBS channels which was actually considered a success. Doctor Who became an underground success in the States in the 80s...they estimated fandom at about 4 million or so back then...

  • June 19, 2011, 1:42 p.m. CST

    Right, in the 70s, Pertwee was shown in some places, like Chicago

    by HornOrSilk

    A friend of mine thinks his first Doctor Who story was Claws of Axos.. and it was in the early 70s... But it was on PBS when the show became the underground hit.

  • I know there are a lot of variables in the equation, but I mean really, 50 years is a milestone that very few shows will ever get to enjoy. And as far as I know Tennant, Davison, McGann and Mccoy have all said they would come back. Eccelston seems like he might be a holdout, but I'm sure with enough money and persuading he could be talked into it. And as terrible as it sounds, I don't care at all if they recast doctors 1-4 or 6. The actors are either dead or far too old to resemble their characters now, and I'm sure suitable lookalikes can be found. It just feels (to me anyways) that what everyone really wants is to see all 11 incarnations on screen at the same time, all standing around interacting and bickering with each other, against a worthy foe. I don't need anything even remotely close to a plausible scientific explanation as to how it comes about either. Maybe it's just because 'the three doctors' and 'the five doctors' were 2 of the very first classic series I watched, but I just think its a unique oppurtunity on a unique show and would definitely be the perfect way to celebrate the big anniversary!

  • June 19, 2011, 3:14 p.m. CST

    and re: Blink (mentioned way back at the top of discussion)

    by Rebel Scumb

    I completely agree. It is without exaggerating, a perfect episode of television. The premise of the angels alone is better than about 99% of all horror/monster movies ever made. Plus you throw in all the time travel stuff, the dvd easter eggs, the sparrow/nightengale stuff, the tragic romance between sally and detective shipton, the other romance with nightengales bro. It's absolutely astounding it all fits into 45minutes. It could easily be a feature film, with no ties to doctor who (just rewrite the doctor and tardis involvement ever so slightly) and would probably have been a big hit and a critical darling.

  • June 19, 2011, 3:38 p.m. CST

    The problem with having all 11 Doctors in a story together...

    by Red43jes

    Ya, It sounds awesome. However, if there were to do it, I think it would be HUGELY disappointing to most fans. Why? The problem boils down to what exactly will you have them doing? Your just not going to get enough time for all of them on screen. You have the main cast, our current Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory, and lets throw in River. Okay, now move back to Tennant, and I'll even go as far as to say lets leave out his compainions. He solo. Done. Now, how about Eccelson? We know it will be Rose, unless they want this adventure to take place just right before he meets her. Alright, 3 down, now whom else do we put in there? Do we get Paul McGann? Will they bring him back? Sure, you talk about money, BUT can they afford him? Same goes for Eccelson...Heck, it could be fun to get McGann with a never seen companion... Now we go even further back. Sylvester McCoy. Under written Doctor that could have been a lot better in terms of story. Do we bring back a companion of his? Can he even pull off looking like the Doctor anymore? Colin Baker. Sure hes still alive. But honestly, I don't think he looks at all like the Doctor. So recast him? Okay, again, do we throw a companion in there? Peter Davidson. Still alive. Did the short with Tennant which was fun. But honestly, and I think some would agree, hes looking long in the tooth, and the poor guy is loosing hair, as well as gained weight like some of the other Doctors. Recast? Bring him back with how many companions, as he had an entourage... Tom Baker. Hands down, one of the best. Have you seen him lately? Hes seriously aged. No offense, Tom B. And you think Tom could pull it off? Furthermore, I'd hate to see someone else try to play him. He was brilliant as the Doctor! Okay, so what if they do recast him? Again, do we see him with K-9 and one of his old companions? Okay, so we now go to the original three Doctors. All of which has passed away. Sure, we could recast them, and because they are gone, heck, I would be fine with it, BUT we would also have to recast some of their companions, IF you want any of them in the story.... So where am I going with this? You put that many people on the screen at the same moment, and I tell you, your not going to be happy with how it turns out. Which Doctor do you make the center of Focus? Do you give one of them , or his companions anything to do? For that matter, wouldn't you want your regular cast to be the focus of the story? Now, I do have some thoughts as to how it could be done, and done interesting. Make the story 10 parts. Instead of having all 11 on screen the whole time, have our 11th Doctor bumping into each former Doctor and showcase each one (and companion, if chosen to do so) in the story. Heck, another way would be flashbacks to each one, and make the 11th Doctor remember events with one particular Doctor and companion(s)...heck, combine the two ideas, and that could be interesting. Honestly, if you feel I'm off, check out the 5 Doctors. It was okay, but it was a cluttered story, and as I pointed out, some of the cast just didn't have enough to do...and when they all got together, eh, not all that exciting. Worse, Tom Baker was in it but only through outtakes of the unfinished episode, "Shada".

  • June 19, 2011, 3:51 p.m. CST


    by johndillingers20inchseveredcock

    I tend to agree with your points regarding an eleven Doctors story. Moffat has pointed out that multi-Doctor stories really have just a few minutes of steam in them since they're all the same person experiencing the same events at different points in the same life, so every one of them should have memories of the events. I guess they could try playing it in a "Christmas Carol" scenario where the Eleventh Doctor is rewriting his own timeline, thus changing his own past and memories. That said, if they HAD to recast Tom Baker, I might just vote for the guy on DEAD RINGERS. He doesn't have Tom's face, but he's got the voice down pretty well. Check this out if you haven't seen it:

  • June 19, 2011, 5:47 p.m. CST


    by johndillingers20inchseveredcock

    I love how BBCA routinely edits the slightly longer episodes to death. I tweeted at Moffat about that awhile back. He said he'd look into it, but I don't know that he can really do anything anyway. I think SciFi edited them a bit too. Very sad story about Doctor Who Fan Club of America. I'm relieved Colin Baker will still associate himself with the show after the way he was handled back in the day.

  • June 19, 2011, 5:51 p.m. CST

    Multi-Doctor story

    by I am not a number

    I could not see them recasting the roles of past Doctors/companions for such a show, especially since it would mean recasting about half of the Doctors. Unless they planned on limiting the number of Doctors used to the more recent ones, the only way I could see such a multi-Doc episode working is if they inserted Matt Smith into past episodes of the show, running around in his own timeline a la TRIALS AND TRIBBLE-ATIONS. Not sure how cost prohibitive such technology would be nowadays though. I recall DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE having a one-off comic in which the Black Guardian changed history such that the Doctor never left Gallifrey, forcing the 7th Dr and companions to find the segments of the Key to Time, which had been scattered along the Doctor's timeline (Some of the episodes used were NIGHTMARE OF EDEN, where the key segment was disguised as a Jelly Baby, THE MIND ROBBER, BLACK ORCHID, and DAY OF THE DALEKS).

  • June 19, 2011, 6:03 p.m. CST

    Why recast Tom Baker?

    by John

    I went to YouTube and saw his appearance on"Have I Got News For You", if that was 2008, he didn't look bad for someone in his mid 70s. (And, I thought he was funny, too.) Besides, didn't both Baker, Davison, and McCoy wear hats as the Doctor? Any hair loss or hair change could be covered up. I've been watching the classics in reverse order, McCoy, Baker, Davison, Baker, funny, the way it was filmed, it felt like I was watching a play. I thought most were pretty good.

  • June 19, 2011, 6:40 p.m. CST

    If you want 11 Doctors

    by HornOrSilk

    Go to youtube. Watch the 10 Doctors. Next part is to have Matt Smith in it, so now 11.

  • June 19, 2011, 8:28 p.m. CST

    I don't see age entering into it

    by Perigee

    You are, after all, talking about a 50th Anniversary - HUGE. For fifty years, people have been pretending that there's a guy in a phone box traveling in space and time; for one lousy episode we can all pretend that Tom Baker is still in his thirties, just to see HIM in the scarf one more time. Same with the rest of the boys. Sometimes the nostalgia has to take precedence over the drama - even if it's for just one night in fifty years.

  • June 20, 2011, 6:01 a.m. CST

    Multiple Doctor stories...

    by dj_bollocks

    Naff for the most part - I do have fond memories of The Three Doctors, but The Five Doctors is not something I feel the need to go back and watch... I also have a huge issue with the credibility of having older Docs now when they clearly regenerated when they were younger... Granted, if it was an alt universe story you could perhaps tie it in, maybe where he never pledged his life ever to save the world/universe/companion... But I think you could only do that with one Doctor and not a whole host. Matt Smith battling an aging, mentally unstable alt Universe Tom Baker, still savaged by the guilt of not stopping the creation of the Daleks, would be a 50th Anniversary show I'd watch. I even have an ending !

  • June 20, 2011, 6:40 a.m. CST

    How to do the 11 doctors

    by veteran_of_mu

    Motion capture and morphing. Worked fine for Gollum 10 years ago, these days it's cheap as chips. Watch any modern superhero movie and you'll see it. Check out Captain America for example. You can do that, de-aging Tom Baker is a lead pipe cinch. Of course there is one problem with this and her name is Liz Sladen. I don't think anyone could watch a CGI-reanimated Sladen without crying their eyes out. At least I couldn't.

  • June 20, 2011, 6:42 a.m. CST

    But I could watch a de-aged Leela all day ...

    by veteran_of_mu

    Oh, and if you could toss in some more of young Nyssa crawling through the ventilation shafts in her underwear ... Which episode was the Nyssa underwear bit anyway? Just curious ...

  • June 20, 2011, 6:45 a.m. CST


    by dj_bollocks


  • June 20, 2011, 9:13 a.m. CST

    It would be easy to do the 11 Doctors

    by DoctorTom <br> They might even have the funding for this! <br> <br> This might be best as a Children in Need special that also celebrates the 50th Anniversary. <br> <br> Also, they've already shown 9 Doctors meeting each other - granted, it was a comedy sketch where they were all together for Christmas, but just throw in Tennant and Smith, and keep the person from the comedy sketch to do Christopher "Ferengi Ears" Eccleston...

  • June 20, 2011, 9:19 a.m. CST

    perigee - yup, Philly area

    by DoctorTom

    Yeah, I grew up in Delaware near the Pennsylvania border, and the Philly stations were what we got on TV. I remember WHYY showing the Prisoner in the 70's along with Monty Python at that time. Then, later, the Doctor Who (just before going to college out of state).

  • June 20, 2011, 9:31 a.m. CST

    Seriously, though, on multi-Doctor stories

    by DoctorTom

    I agree with Perigee that people would be willing to suspend disbelief to have the original actors back playing the Doctor. They could even pass off the aging bit the way they did in Time Crash. <br> <br> I don't see motion capture and morphing being the way to go because of the expense, plus not being able to get some of the originals back to do new bits. If you tried something like that, would you have David Troughton doing the voice for Patrick's doctor? Would you have Sadie Miller doing the voice for Sarah Jane? Who would you get for Jacqueline Wright? Or Nick Courtney? <br> <br> It does depress me that Tom Baker's really the only one left from "my" Doctor's first outing - Lis Sladen, Ian Marter and (even though he wasn't featured as much) Nick Courtney have all passed away now. It makes it hard for Big Finish to even do Companion Chronicles for them. At this time we still have at least one companion for all the other eras so there isn't as much of a problem. The only way to do "companion chronicles" for that era would be to have Tom Baker himself narrating the story, or having a completely different person who would be involved in the adventure narrating it. <br> <br> That does take me, though, to the thought that perhaps Big Finish will finally be able to give us an audio with Tom Baker as the Doctor and Katy Manning as Iris Wildthyme. We know Baker likes Paul Magrs' stories, so maybe that could happen.

  • June 20, 2011, 12:11 p.m. CST

    Doctor Tom

    by Christopher Bynum

    Cold Fusion is an awesome story. And kind of hilarious when you see how much of an a-hole the 7th Doctor is. He even screws himself over to make his plan work!

  • June 20, 2011, 12:18 p.m. CST

    I agree, silentrifleman

    by DoctorTom

    I also liked the bit with the 7th Doctor looking at Adric, knowing what's in store for him. <br> <br> It was also nice to see bits from Cold Fusion surfacing again or getting explained in The Infinity Doctors (same author, but different book company - now at BBC instead of Virgin Books).

  • June 20, 2011, 12:35 p.m. CST

    Lance Parkin also wrote the Gallifreyan Chronicles

    by Christopher Bynum

    which was the final Eighth Doctor story of the series. I'm still baffled as to why they ended it on a cliffhanger.

  • June 20, 2011, 1:02 p.m. CST


    by DoctorTom

    They ended it that way because it felt right to do it that way. It wasn't like they were going to be allowed to do the Time War and show the regeneration between the 8th and 9th Doctor. <br> <br> Of course, that doesn't stop some people from trying to tie in the Time War with "the War" that went on in the EDA books that destroyed Gallifrey. There's a big difference between Daleks and Faction Paradox, though.

  • June 20, 2011, 2:32 p.m. CST

    Fathers Day weekend and kids illnesses really takes it out of you....

    by sam jacksons wig

    .....hope everyone is well and enjoying the TB. I will be checking back in next week as currently there is alot on my plate between sick kids (mine, unfortunately), my mothers impending shoulder surgery (routine, but stressfull non-the-less) work (too much!!) and definately not enough sleep or hours in the day. Take care, fellow DocBackers and I will speak to you all soon!!! SJW.

  • June 20, 2011, 3:56 p.m. CST

    Best wishes, Sam!

    by DoctorTom

    I hope your mother's surgery goes well and the kids get well soon! <br> <br> You could show the kids old Doctor Who videos to hook them early while they're recovering. :)

  • June 20, 2011, 5:30 p.m. CST


    by HornOrSilk

    I was wondering where you were. That makes sense, but also, sorry for it all coming on all at once. So, I hope your kids get better, your mother's surgery goes well, and you come back next weekend, talking quite a bit. This last weekend was the first Father's Day since my dad died. I got with my mom to go out to eat at a place they liked to visit. It helped her, but still, it was a first of not knowing what to do for Father's Day.

  • June 20, 2011, 5:52 p.m. CST

    Rebelscumb...exactly right about the angels

    by DoctorWho?

    I was saying the same thing to my wife...they truly are the single most terrifying and original horror conception since I don't know when. <p> Think about it...the brilliance of letting the viewer's imagination provide the tension and fear. The concept itself is frightening. It is precisely because we can't see the angles act that is so scary. <p> The production crew designs elegant, slightly gothic statues and with only occasional minor special fx, the director just has to shoot them. With some good editing and music to punch it up you have easily the scariest moments in Dr Who.

  • June 20, 2011, 6:10 p.m. CST

    red43jrs: Personally I wouldn't have any companions

    by Rebel Scumb

    Or just one to bounce the jokes off of, who ever the current companion at the time is (which I don't believe will be either rory or amy, but probably a 20-25 year old River) I agree that with all the previous companions it would get clogged up, I wouldn't bother bringing any back. RTD did that effectively in the series 4 finale, and any companions prior to that beside Sarah Jane are only known to classic who fans anyways. But having all 11 doctors would be a treat. I'm not saying it wouldn't get tricky to keep them all busy, it demands a good script, but that should be a given anyways. And its mostly being played for laughs and nostalgia anyways. I suppose the other route they could go is devote one episode to each doctor over the course of the 2013 series, Smith going around from one to the other, recruiting, and then the finale 2 episodes be all of them together teamed against a worthy foe. I just think if they're ever going to do it, now's the time. I'd rather have them do it and have it be a colossal mess, and fail completely then to not have them try.

  • I would love for them to do that to. That DS9 episode was executed perfectly. It would be funny that they'd have to shoot the interior stuff on old SD analog video tape to match the footage. I do sort of miss the cheesiness of all the interior stuff being shot on video, then they go outside and suddenly its 16mm film and a completely different frame rate and visual tone.

  • June 20, 2011, 8:43 p.m. CST

    rebelscum, if they did that...

    by Red43jes

    THEN I'd be all for it. I would definately dig the trials and tribulations angle on a Doctor Who story...

  • June 21, 2011, 8:02 a.m. CST

    11 Doctors - Replacing Doctors 2 & 3 ?

    by mulberry

    The ultimate fanboy fantasy would be for them to be played by their sons. Patrick Troughton ( ) has two sons: David And Michael (there is also a grandson Sam he's too young) David is best match. He has been in Dr Who several times (first time 1972!), but that's never stopped them. Jon Pertwee's ( son Sean is well known as a genre actor. He apparently auditioned to be the Doctor for the new run. Wouldn't have to be a straight impersonation, just getting the spirit/feel of them.

  • June 21, 2011, 10:27 a.m. CST

    Possible clues in Eyepatch Lady's name

    by DoctorTom

    This might be nothing, but.... <br> <br> Eyepatch lady's name is Madame Kovarian. If you take the phonetic pronounciation and spell it differently, it could be read as "covarion". Looking at, the method of covarions is a technique related to "varying the hypothesized rate of molecular evolution" <br> <br> <br> <br> Now, the question is whether this is just being a cute reference to the fact that Kovarian is looking to bring about a human/Time Lord evolution faster, or is it a clue that Kovarian is the product of such an evolution? Is Kovarian actually an older River Song from a timeline where she kept her training/brainwashing as a weapon against the Doctor (and didn't die in Silence in the Library)? She did refer to the "interminable war" with the Doctor - is she a Time Head who has has had a lot longer time fighting this war than we thought? The "trained assassin" Kovarian-River vs. the River we see running around might be a parallel to the Dream Lord-Valeyard vs. the Doctor - one's collected all the bad impulses while the other side hasn't.

  • June 21, 2011, 10:55 a.m. CST

    is RTD slagging off Moffat too????

    by Seph_J

    I'ts a big 10-episode story, its worth saying that everything gets answered and finished and done at the end of ep 10, you won't be left hanging on for 5 years for a 'lost-type' story - marvellous though that was...

  • June 21, 2011, 10:56 a.m. CST

    oh for fuks sake sort the Talkbacks out!!!!!!

    by Seph_J

  • June 21, 2011, 10:58 a.m. CST

    2nd try: Is RTD slagging Moffat off too????

    by Seph_J

    It's a big 10-episode story, its worth saying that everything gets answered and finished and done at the end of ep 10, you won't be left hanging on for 5 years for a 'lost-type' story - marvellous though that was...

  • June 21, 2011, 10:58 a.m. CST

    AICN is shit

    by Seph_J

  • June 21, 2011, 10:58 a.m. CST

    3rd try: Is RTD slagging Moffat off too????

    by Seph_J

    It's a big 10-episode story, its worth saying that everything gets answered and finished and done at the end of ep 10, you won't be left hanging on for 5 years for a 'lost-type' story - marvellous though that was...

  • June 21, 2011, 10:59 a.m. CST

    AICN is even shitter

    by Seph_J

  • RTD on TW:MD: "It's a big 10-episode story, its worth saying that everything gets answered and finished and done at the end of ep 10, you won't be left hanging on for 5 years for a 'lost-type' story - marvellous though that was..." Here: FOLLOWED BY a tweet from Moffat: "I am grumpy and impossible to deal with, at the moment. If you see anyone I know, just give them a random hug. They need it"

  • June 21, 2011, 11:10 a.m. CST

    It was a pain for me to post, too.

    by DoctorTom

    Eventually, mine showed up too.

  • June 21, 2011, 11:10 a.m. CST

    That one went through okay

    by DoctorTom

  • June 21, 2011, 11:12 a.m. CST

    don't know if he's trying to slag off Moffat with that

    by DoctorTom

    The obvious rejoinder would be "better a 5 year 'lost-type' story than a wrapped-in-1-year-by-"twilight-style"-"sparkly vampire"-deus ex machine"

  • All they have to do is hire a dietician and contract Tom Baker to loose 25-35 pounds over the next 18 months. He still looks young in the face and they can do the digital de-aging bit and just throw him in a wig. Same for Colin Baker too. Worse comes to worse they could even just stick Tom Baker's head on a younger dude. But a true 4th Doctor story with him teaming up with Smith, Tennant, Eccleston(he'll come back as long as they assure him he doesn't have to kiss a dude this time), McGann in a small bit, McCoy in a small bit, Peter Davison and Colin Baker together in a merged version of their Tardis with Peri and Troughton, Pertwee and Hartnell in cutaway cameos. Unless they really want to recast. But I'd put Tom Baker front and center. They've got the technology to pull it off and it would be all kinds of awesome.

  • For example, imagine a storyline with no clear cut bad guy. Where some of the Doctors incarnations take one side of the conflict, and some take the other side of the conflict? And when the more traditionally moralistic Doctors (the younger ones, typically) are working against the more cynical ones (the more recent, typically) you eventually come to realise that victory goes to, say, the 7th and 11th incarnations who have jointly been manipulating things behind the scenes. Something different. Something that makes me say "Huh, I've never seen that type of story before." A story that could only be done on Doctor Who, and could only be done on a show that had 50 years of history to draw on.

  • June 22, 2011, 7:11 a.m. CST

    Honestly guys, I hope they DON't do a 11 Doctors type of story

    by Red43jes

    I mean, I've pretty much made that clear. I'd rather seen them do something clever...sat, give us the Doctors defined backstory? I just think theres so many cooler things they could do for the 50th other than putting all 11 Doctors on TV. Again, I'm reminded of the 3 Doctors, and the 5 Doctors. Ya, they sound like a great idea, but just don't seem to play out well...I'd hate to see that go down for an 11 Doctors story.

  • June 22, 2011, 7:24 a.m. CST

    That's a great concept v'shael...

    by thecomedian

    Splitting the Docs against each other even already has a built in plot point with the fact that 9-11 can't tell 1-8 about The Time War. So 1-8 would probably be a bit suspicious of their older selves. I was thinking about that in my 4th Doctor idea of having a story where he was the lead but the 4 oldest Doctors couldn't tell him about The Time War so they figured they'd let him run around and have his fun. They probably think of 4 the way people look back on their early 20's. Either way, I think as long as Tom Baker is alive and the technology actually now exist to make him look just like his younger 40-something self that 4 should definitely have the most prominent role amongst the classic Docs especially since the 1st 3 are now deceased. You couldn't possibly want 7 to have a more prominent role than 4. I mean, come on.

  • First, your idea would have some advantages. I could see some kind of situation where you have one of the older doctors (Davison? If Pertwee were around I would have it be him) suggests that they call on the Time Lords for help, and having the 9th, 10th and 11th Doctors going "No!" simultaneously. <br> <br> One twist on the "N Doctors" story would be a multi Doctor story where the first time we see one of the Doctors is in this multiDoctor story. Not "the Next Doctor", where they just tease you with it, one with an actual future Doctor. <br> <br> It might not be done for the 50th anniversary, but it would be possible, and tt would be quite a feat to be able to pull off. You would have to do it at a time when you know it's Matt Smith's last season, then you could have him run into the next Doctor in a story, then only later when he regenerates do you find out that it was the actual next Doctor in line that you met. <br> <br> There are other ways it could be done, for example you could cast as big a name guest star as you could afford and say that he's the 317th Doctor for one story, but that might not resonate as much for people. Actually (and this was something that I thought they should have tried pulling off the season they changed from Colin Baker to Sylvester McCoy) you could have a season where the future Doctor is the past Doctor's companion, and part of the season is to figure out when and why the Doctor regenerated (the future Doctor might still have some amnesia or something to start with) - it's something that would be the kind of thing that Moffat might do.

  • June 22, 2011, 10:40 a.m. CST

    @TheComedian - Yeah, I would actually.

    by V'Shael

    Sylvester played the Doctor for a time longer than anyone else. (1987–1996) He's done sterling work in the audio adventures, where the writing has generally been head and shoulders above the tv episodes he was given. And as for the character of the 7th Doctor himself, fleshed out brilliantly in the New Adventure series, he's simply the most dramatically compelling of the Doctors incarnations. Times Champion, the Ka Faraq Gatri, future Red Guardian, facet of the six-fold God. Cynical manipulator, master planner. You bet your ass I'd rather see that guy on screen.

  • Loved Ace though, I see your point though obviously McCoy wasn't the Doctor consecutively for all those years. I just think a 4th Doctor return would be awesome but I guess the point is all the good ones returning and getting equal screen time would be ideal. Though as many here more practical than us have pointed out that the story should come 1st and foremost. If it's for the anniversary I'd say this would be worth a two parter since the classic series was all about the serial cliffhangers anyhow.