…with a look at two vintage DOCTOR WHO stories. One is new to DVD in the U.S. this week, both star William Hartnell - the first Doctor.
My chronological progression through "older" DOCTOR WHO episodes continues with…
"THE EDGE OF DESTRUCTION / THE BRINK OF DISASTER" (Story #3)
Written by David Whitaker, this two part story finds The Doctor, Susan (Carole Anne Ford), Ian (William Russell) and Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) stuck in a malfunctioning TARDIS and attempting to resolve bizarre anomalies. The travelers become increasingly hostile and factionalized as their search for answers turns to suspicion (and ultimately accusation) of their own comrades.
The TARDIS viewscreen displays images of locations that aren't actually outside the ship, clock faces melt away, and Barbara begins to sense a pattern or meaning to these apparent malfunctions. All of this as our heroes encounter the most frightening monsters of all - their own dark misgivings about each other.
A cost saving, time buying episode developed in response to preparatory delays on "Marco Polo" (a story which aired subsequently) - "The Edge of Destruction" and "The Brink of Disaster" are set entirely inside of the TARDIS, and features only our four principal cast members.
Despite this simplicity, the story is noteworthy for several hugely meaningful contributions to the overall WHOverse. This is, for example, the first time we truly see The Doctor express an appreciation for the majesty and danger of the universe around him - the first time he speaks of the cosmos and its processes with any level of genuine awe or respect. This flavoring…this vital sense of wonder…would eventually become a fantastic character trait in many Doctors to follow.
This story also sets up notion of "energy" escaping from TARDIS' "heart" (a conceit later brought to bear in the Eccleston-era "The Parting of the Ways"), and in no-uncertain-terms implies the TARDIS' sentience (following up on Ian's "Unearthly Child" assertion that the TARDIS is "alive," and nicely portending Neil Gaiman's recent "Doctor's Wife" episode).
"Edge" and "Brink" were directed by Richard Martin and Frank Cox respectively - different directors with two notably different styles. However, this disparity doesn't hurt the episodes as…when all is said and done…this is a startlingly intimate tale hinging on atmospheres created by performance and timing more than any deliberate visual style.
This story is relatively simple when compared to the episodes preceding it ("An Unearthly Child" and "The Daleks"), but the mileage and the importance of character movements here…particularly regarding The Doctor…can not be understated. In addition to the defining moments mentioned above, this also marks the first time we see The Doctor appreciating the "truth" of the people he travels with, the first time we see him admitting his fallibility with any level of true humility (as awkward as it is), and the first time we get a clear sense that he truly does want/need people around him. And, as a result, this leads to him functioning alongside his fellow travelers, rather than merely dragging them around while being derisive towards them.
I'm not altogether certain the "gag" (i.e. what's happening to the TARDIS and why) makes a great deal of sense here, a sentiment partially and politely echoed in interviews on featured on the DVD's extras. But, in this instance, whether or not it makes sense is rendered somewhat irrelevant given how critically formative the story as a whole turns out to be.
An audaciously unassuming milestone, "The Edge Of Destruction" and "The Brink of Diasater" are available along with "An Unearthly Child" and "The Daleks" (comprising the first three episodes of the show) HERE in the U.S. and HERE in the U.K.
NEW TO DVD IN THE U.S THIS WEEK…
"THE GUNFIGHTERS" (Story #25)...written by Donald Cotton.
The U.S. DVD of "The Gunfighters" can be found HERE - the U.K version is available HERE.
"...people keep giving me guns and I do wish they wouldn't."
- The Doctor, "The Gunfighters" Part 2 - "Don't Shoot The Pianist"
"The Gunfighters" finds The Doctor and companions Steven(Peter Purves) and Dodo (Jackie Lane) arriving in 1881 Arizona where cowboys struggle not to sound British and The Doctor has a toothache.
The Doctor's visit to the local "dentist", Doc Holliday (Anthony Jacobs), gives rise to a case of mistaken identity when the ornery Clantons mistake our "Doctor" for "Doc" Holliday - who they are out to get. Thus the stage is set for the fateful and legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral - the question here being, what part will our heroes play in the event, and will they survive it?
"The Gunfighters" is cinematically directed by Rex Tucker, and offers surprisingly strong photography, style, and design. I'd even go so far as to call the execution of this story 'remarkable' given how episodes of this time were actually made, and considering the limited resources with which their makers were forced to work.
Throughout all four installments, the "Gunfighters" storyline is underscored with a ballad (written by Tristram Cary, performed by Lynda Baron) which accentuates plot points, provides more insight into motivations, and contextualizes certain events less viewers become confused. This is an interesting gimmick which works nicely for a while, although it eventually becomes a tad grating (as far as I'm concerned, the song is used incorrectly as the show progressed - it assumes the wrong tone and thus became distracting).
Despite so many interesting and well-executed elements, Cotton's script is never as tightly focused as it might've been, and some of the cowboys here…stretch credulity to say the least. Perhaps this notion was gently poked at by The Doctor when he says to Dodo, "...you're fast becoming a prey to every cliche-ridden convention in the American West."
Appropriately but surprisingly, "The Gunfighters" is a rather violent episode - bringing about a n umber of deaths, and even a darkly comedic moment involving a corpse. This isn't a complaint…I love this kind of stuff…I'm just consistently amused at the characterization of DOCTOR WHO as a children's show, when…the early episodes at least…feel quite dark and often channeling in nature.
"The Gunfighters" is ultimately flawed-but-interesting, and even memorable, with some startling shots that would be impressive even by today's measure...
One particular image of Hartnell's Doctor sitting in jail is priceless.
THE END OF THE LINE
--- Discussions with Donald Tosh (Script Editor 1965-1966)...
--- Talks about John Wiles coming in to replace outgoing producer Verity Lambert...
--- mentions Wiles' and Tosh's commitment towards gravitating DW towards more adult tones...
--- Insight from Peter Purvis (Steven Taylor)…
--- Insight from Maureen O'Brien (Vicki)…
--- Perspective from Ian Levine (apparently some sort of UberWHOvian)...
--- Insight from Gareth Roberts (writer on DOCTOR WHO and SARAH JANE ADVENTURES)…
--- Discusses William Hartnell's friction with John Wiles...
--- Examines how "The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve" (Story #22) lost the show 25% of its viewers…
--- Looks at changes in production teams, and early plans to replace William Hartnell
--- Evaluates the removal of characters Steven and Dodo from the show...
--- Insight from Anneke Wills (Polly)…
--- Insight into William Hartnell's ailment and deteriorating condition. He was suffering from arteriosclerosis - "resulting In vascular dementia where emotional liability and short-term memory loss are amongst the symptoms. As s result, he was finding it increasingly difficult to remember line s and to cope with the rigors of a weekly television series."
— Ends with the entry of Patrick Troughton (the second Doctor) into the WHOverse…(Troughton was considered for the Johnny Ringo role on "The Gunfighters." He was unavailable, and the part went to Laurence Payne).
TOMORROW'S TIMES: THE FIRST DOCTOR
Discusses DOCTOR WHO's reception/coverage by critics and press, and the escalating "backlash" against later Hartnell-era stories (critic Philip Purser suggested a particular Dalek in "The Chase" - Story #16 - was "undoubtedly Queer.") Also looks at the "almost universal derision" with which the DR. WHO AND THE DALEKS feature film was met, and the equally unkind reception of its successor DALEKS' INVASION OF EARTH: 2150 A.D. Touches on The Daily Telegraph's announcement that Patrick Troughton would join the show, whose stories would now be tougher and bring a greater emphasis on Science Fiction.
Mary Tamm (the first Romana in Baker-era stories) hosts, looking quite hot in a sultry librarian sorta way.
AICN's Friday DOCTOR WHO Talkbacks - aka "Docbacks" - operate on a different set of standards than other AICN Talkbacks. These standards developed quickly and naturally, and we intend to preserve them. Accordingly, please take a moment to note a few guidelines which should help proceedings move along smoothly and pleasantly:
1) a Docback should be about completely open and free discourse regarding all things WHO (with, obviously, some variation on subject matter from time to time - the real world intervenes, discussions of other shows are inevitable, etc.)...
2) Matters of SPOILAGE should be handled with thoughtful consideration and sensitivity. Posts containing SPOILERS should clearly state that a SPOILER exists in its topic/headline and should never state the spoiler itself . "** SPOILER ** Regarding Rory" is OK, for example. "** SPOILER ** Battle of Zarathustra" is fine as well. "**SPOILER** Why did everyone die?" Is NOT good.
And, above all...
3) converse, agree, disagree, and question as much as you want - but the freedom to do so is NOT a license to be rude, crass, disrespectful, or uncivilized in any way. Not remaining courteous and civil, as well as TROLLING or undertaking sensational efforts to ignite controversy, will result in banning. Lack of courtesy will receive one (1) warning before a ban is instigated. Obvious Trolling or Spamming will result in summary banning with no warning.
In short, it's easy. Be excellent to each other. Now party on...
Have you looked into the reconstructions? They take a bunch of photos from the sets (and occasionally even brief video clips, if they exist) and match them up to the audios.
I only ask because I tried my first reconstruction: Marco Polo. It was surprisingly watchable; far easier to get through than just the audio.
On the subject of Edge/Brink...I found it got a bit tedious. Of course, it's a bottle episode, and it just screams "bottle episode" as it goes but...I dunno, I just never warmed to it.
Gunfighters, on the other hand, I enjoyed a great deal. I was surprised, because it was long knocked as one of the worst stories of all time on Doctor Who, but I found it fun. Yes, it's not entirely serious -- I mean, c'mon, a British Western? And clearly it knows this (the cliche remark that Merrick quoted).
But it was great fun. I find it very watchable.
What comes on "The Beginning" is not a full episode (none of the full episodes of Marco Polo exist). It's a "condensed" version of the story.
Definitely try the reconstruction. (If you don't get the email, lemme know.)
that's mentioned in the extras. I'll go track down a plot summary, but does anyone want to chime in with how they felt watching it? I'm very new to Who (started watching with Smith and am now going through Tennant episodes), so I have no conception of what the big/famous/infamous episodes are.
I had read anything I could get my hands on about Doctor Who as soon as I'd seen the show for the first time, so I knew a lot about the first Doctor episodes even though I hadn't seen any until about 6 years after seeing my first Fourth Doctor ones.
The Gunfighters and Edge of Destruction were always ripped on in any of the "making of" books because Edge was written in such a hurry and people thought that the tone of The Gunfighters was completely off.
I really enjoyed the way that they developed the characters' relationships in Edge and I thought that Gunfighters was one of the most playful episodes of the first Doctor and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
I think it is a great episode, and we have to remember, even if other series did things similar to this in years later, Doctor Who did it so early on, and did it because of the need for a filler story. In the process they got one of the best filler stories in the history of TV because of its work with the characters, and helping the Doctor "get it" finally. The Doctor is the hero of the show, but he had to be led to the point he can become the hero, he had to move beyond his own Time Lord prejudices. Of course, as the series goes, he lets go more and more of them -- but that's another thing for another time.
I also think Edge of Destruction is a story which makes more sense the more one watches it. There are, to be sure, some mistakes here and there, but with the pace in which it was written, those errors are slight imo.
Now, The Gunfighters, the song just goes on too too long...
Sadly, all 4 episodes of "The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve" no longer exist. The audio track exists and has been made into a narrated audiobook by the BBC - it is available on iTunes, or on CD. It's a shame this one is missing, as it is truly an excellent story.
There are also fan-made reconstructions out there - search "Loose Cannon" if you want to check some out, or you might be able to find some on YouTube.
The Gunfighters was one I caught once on TV during the 90's, then didn't see again until BBC released it in its "End of the Universe" collection that put together the last bunch of videos that they needed to put out on VHS. When I saw it again then I was surprised at how much better it was than the collective wisdom of fandom portrayed it as. I'm guessing that fandom's "collective wisdom" was still having a bad reaction to the Star Trek TOS show that had the Gunfight at the OK Corral and was just negatively reacting to anything getting even close to it in any other sf series. The Doctor Who story had the humor in it that the Star Trek episode should have had (but didn't because of the 3rd season producer deciding that Star Trek had to be serious and couldn't have any humor in it - much like JN-T and Christopher Bidmead when they took over Doctor Who with Season 18).
Edge of Destruction is just amazing as a piece of broadcast television when put in historical perspective, considering what else was on TV at the time and how different it was from anything else.
I'm glad to see that Dan Abnett is getting a Doctor Who book in the same size/format as the Michael Moorcock Doctor Who novel, and that Abnett's book will be dealing with the Ice Warriors. Given his background going with military SF (the Warhammer 40k stuff, Embedded), he'd be a good fit with writing about that race.
And although I was slightly too young to remember it the first time around (I was only two when the show started so I have vague memories, but probably more so from repeats) it was always one of my favourites as a wee lad. The Edge Of Destruction, not so much. Not a fan of Tardis based stories, never have been. We all know that it should be used purely to take The Doctor on his next adventure and not to be used to hang around in. Nobody wants to see that! I've always compared it to the wardrobe in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Nobody wants to see the children hanging around inside it with the fur coats, you want to see them use it to have amazing adventures. Oh, and before I forget, we have the lovely Lynda Baron coming back to the world of Doctor Who this year, which will be her third appearance! How exciting is that? She could become the new Bernard Cribbins. You can't have Doctor Who without Nurse Gladys Emmanuel, can you?
I find edge/brink pretty unwatchablly dull.
And I've seen the marco reconstruct and all I can say is I found it too long even in the condensed version so I can't imagine sitting through 6-8 episodes or whatever it was meant to me originally.
But that's just me.
I don't have an issue with TARDIS stories, to a point, because the TARDIS is a lot cooler and more complex than the wardrobe.
I loved Invasion of Time. Sure, you could complain that the TARDIS looked like an old English hospital or warehouse or something, but that actually added to the charm as far as I was concerned. I loved the idea that the TARDIS looked so...random.
Then again, I also loved Castrovalva (where it looked a lot more...TARDISy...throughout). In fact, a friend of mine and I speculated that maybe William Hartnell wasn't the first Doctor but the second, and that the first spent his entire regeneration cluttering up the TARDIS until a sofa fell on him.
And I loved that we finally got to see some new TARDIS interiors in The Doctor's Wife, even though it amounted to a few corridors and the old console room.
Now, in those cases the whole story wasn't set in the TARDIS -- so far as I know, only Edge/Brink meets that criteria. But IMO that's not a problem.
I LOVED Marco Polo. I watched the entire 7-part reconstruction in one sitting, and I found it very watchable.
Admittedly, the "classic" series tended to have a slower pace, and the Hartnells in particular could be extremely slow...still, I found Marco Polo, even as a reconstruction, more gripping than, say, Keys of Marinus or The Sensorites.
I actually enjoyed The Invasion of Time, including the parts where the Doctor was running around the TARDIS to stay away from the Sontarans, and thought that the look for the TARDIS interiors worked there for Tom Baker. It wouldn't have worked for Pertwee or Davison, but it felt like the type of look that Tom Baker's Doctor would have for his TARDIS.
(As an aside, it's probably a good thing that the "changing the desktop pattern" didn't really happen in the classic series after the start of JN-T's production run, otherwise when Colin Baker took over as the Doctor we might have had JN-T making the interior of the TARDIS beyond the control room looking like a kaleidoscope. )
I also liked Tom Baker's one season with the wood panelling in the TARDIS control room. Given his bohemian look, the white-wall-with-roundels look didn't seem to fit as well as having something that seemed to be more steampunkish.
It all depends on how the TARDIS is used, though. All the endless "let's show the TARDIS crew bickering" stuff that we had with Saward did nothing for me, and could easily put off people from having TARDIS scenes.
bytor is correct in terms of an appearance as The Cloister Room in Logopolis, but we have *heard* the cloister bells several times since, especially since the show returned in 2005, The Sound Of Drums and The Eleventh Hour being two prime examples.
It is a bit slow, but I like the weirdness of it (melted clock faces, people being telepathically controlled, the way everyone seems dazed throughout much of the episode, Susan stabbing the bed, etc) and the idea that the cause was something so simple. Unlike an apparent large number of people, I always liked episodes with lots of time spent inside the TARDIS for some reason (Castrovalva, INVASION OF TIME, etc)
Plus it is neat to see that The Doctor labels buttons on the console in felt-tip pen. LOL.
The shots inside the TARDIS even make the ship look a bit sinister, as I recall. The problem with it is that it feels like the writer had ideas for weird stuff to happen first, then tried to craft a story around it afterwards, resulting in little forward momentum to the story. Still, not bad for a filler episode, written in a couple days.
As for GUNFIGHTERS, it always had a bad rap but I never thought it was all that bad. Like most of the historical episodes, it is still not an episode I feel compelled to revisit though.
Totally agree, especially about the Saward-era bickering. Saward seems like a decent guy in the various DVD interviews, and reasonably clever too, but overall I thought his characters were just awful.
Watch Castrovalva, and even a couple of other S19 episodes. Then watch part 1 of Earthshock. I like Earthshock overall, but the Doctor/Adric scenes are just awful. How anyone could read those script pages and not point out to Saward that the Doctor was being a complete dick is beyond me.
There's every chance that we'll see the 'Secondary Console Room' someday, never say never with this show! At least we've established that all the old console rooms have been 'saved' by the Tardis, which I know pleased quite a few fans. And don't get me wrong, I love the Tardis dearly (she's the second most important character in the show after The Doctor) but I also think it's important to get the characters out of her doors and into a new environment as quickly as possible each week. Neil did a lovely job with his Tardis-based episode this year and it would be wonderful to have him come back and write another story for us all. Again, never say never...
have never seen it, looking forward to this DVD.. Edge of Destruction is cool from what I remember? Wasn't there a lot of weirdness in that one? Almost seemed like an episode of The Outer Limits or something....
and it's a damn good enjoyable ROMP, why do people say it's bad? The story moves along at a good pace, there is mystery as to what is the deal with The Doctor having psychotic breakdowns, you have the always delicious Peri (showing less cleavage than in Caves of Androzani, unfortunately.) The way The Doctor eventually destroys the slug thing is great, just completely pwned that thing...
Killing a bit of time before going to a late show for Harry Potter tonight. I decided to continue rewatching Series 5 from where I left off with The Eleventh Hour the other night.
I still really love this episode (the beast below) it's one of the most underrated episodes of New-Who methinks. Great sets, Liz 10, the weird face rotating guys, Amy in her nighty, great monster, Starship UK. Interesting mystery.
I think this is also Amy's best episode in a lot of ways, this is the episode I like her the most actually. I wish she had been portrayed more like this in other episodes.
Plus the great bit of dialogue from Liz: 'And Dammmnnn!" shoots laser guns "I'm the blood queen mate. Basically.. I rule"
I also love the way the space shots look in this episode, they have almost... claymation vibe to them. I really wish the outerspace stuff could always have this vibe to them, something so magical about them.
Also the tease at the end with Churchill and the Dalek shadow is priceless.
I've been running a little experiment that some of you might find interesting. I'm a long-term Doctor Who fan and I have embarked on a marathon re-watch of the classic series. The twist is my wife, someone with little knowledge or interest in the classic series, has come along for the ride and I've been blogging the experience.
We've even been watching the recons!
We've made it all the way to Patrick Troughton's The Faceless Ones so far and her reactions have been, shall we say, interesting!
You can visit the blog via Tachyon TV here:
I've been watching old episodes with the wife as well (mine, not yours LOL) and will check out your blog.<p>
She loves the NuWho but loves Tom Baker and Pertwee as well. She recently gave me crap over how slow those episodes are paced compared to today's fast paced film and tv. She characterized THE FIVE DOCTORS as "a bunch of old men having trouble running around" and it put her to sleep.
I know for myself I've never seen it (as it's one of the missing stories), but the general view they make is that it's a 4 part story about a, well, a massacre. This for what was (ostensibly) a children's show. Not exactly conducive to high ratings.
Way back in the in-between years of DW on TV, DW was carried on in various other media, but particularly books. Back when Virgin had the rights, they released several very good resource guides to the original series that I would recommend trying to track down.
For a good record of episode and background info on each era, Virgin released Handbooks for all 7 Doctors. If you can find them, they are an absolutely fantastic record of the original series.
If you like your resource guides to be a little on the humourous side, then I would suggest hunting down a copy of The Discontinuity Guide. It covers every original episode, and discusses such things as dialogue do's and dont's, horrid fashion, episode influences, and lots and lots of jokes.
Just a couple of suggestions...
she has a point with The Five Doctors, it starts off very well but drops the ball halfway through and never picks it up again. It's poorly edited and realized, and seems to be nothing more than fanservice.
I think the idea that the older ones are slower paced is definitely true, but I tend to notice the pacing coincide with the quality of the stories. Some stories are really engrossing and are worthy of having 4-6 episodes.. The Keys to Marinus was cool because each episode revolved around a key, so the pacing was pretty great.
Basically the older series has more of a swing in quality because some stories are just not that good, and then you stretch that out over 4 episodes it wears thin. Poor pacing only really becomes an issue when the story is dull.
I agree with everything you said, Beast Below is a great episode and has a nice archetypal story. Liz 10 bloody well rocks. I loved the mechanical faces and the overall setting of Starship UK with its disheveled steampunk look reminded me of the city of Rapture from Bioshock...
... I just stared a marathon (doing a week of high volume development to finish a project) of the new series, the 2005 and forward.
Really good stuff. I'm a fan of the older DW, particularly the Tom Baker and Pertwee series, in fact, just recently watched Terror of the Autons, which scared the hell out of me when I was a kid.
The new series is really well done, pretty good production values, great scripts and interesting stories. Plus the new Doctors are pretty solid (I'm almost to the end of the first series with Tennant). Also great use of the classic concepts and storylines.
Yes, I know it's a narrative point, but it is just awful, and way overused. Everything else though I really enjoy about The Gunfighters, and Hartnell is just terrific in it, proving yet again just how much range he had when given the chance on the show.
I've always also enjoyed Edge of Destruction, primarily because it's just off kilter and weird as fuck a lot of the time. Yes, it's pretty much a bottle story where nothing really happens, but nothing happens in really odd and interesting ways. And the perpetually under-rated Hartnell is again really wonderful here. The only downside for me is the texta labelling on the Tardis console.
If you want to know the plot, just go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Massacre_of_St_Bartholomew%27s_Eve.
You can even see in the ratings that it went from 8 million viewers to 5.8 million viewers between episodes 1 and 4. The plot was pretty depressing for several reasons, it was one of the "purely historical" serials, and it's now completely lost. I've seen a reconstructed version, which makes it quite difficult to judge, but it didn't seem to be one of the series' highpoints. Plus at the end it introduced Dodo who is pretty much the most worthless companion ever.
I've got to agree, it, along with most of Colin Baker's run, is actually a lot more enjoyable than it is often given credit with being.
In the case of TD specifically, I think the shock of how different the new Colin Baker Doctor was, in combination with a budget that was clearly stretched thinner than ever really hurt it at the time, as did The Doctor wearing a coat that looked like an explosion in a rainbow factory (as Colin Baker was fond of sayong) and one of the new Doctor's first acts was going post regeneration crazy and half choking Peri to death. And 'womulus' and 'wemus' being, let's face it, pretty awful actors didn't help matters any either. And all this coming, literally, a week after Davison bowed out with the excellent Caves of Androzani to boot. It was all just too much too fast for fans at the time, and they reacted in instant backlash, a perception that has tainted the Colin Baker era ever since.
Now don't get me wrong, as much as I am actually a big Colin Baker fan, TD is not a great episode, but nor is it nearly as bad as it is often made out to be, and there have certainly been a lot worse Doctor Who stories both before and since. I think it is extremely uneven, but I don't mind it overall. But I also think that because it marks the point where an era changed, and a new era that most of the more vocal fans did not embrace, it is one of those classic era stories that regularly gets picked apart and hauled over the coals more than some others happen to.
Personally, I thought Colin Baker was great in it, I loved how different he was from Davison, then and now, but then as a Hartnell fan also perhaps I am just more open to the idea of a rather 'prickly' Doctor to begin with. Then again, what do I know, I actually really like Time Lash too...
The first time I saw The Five Doctors on PBS was in the middle of a Tom Baker run. Up to that point I hadn't seen any of the other Doctors, so I was pretty enthralled.<p>
I spent the whole episode waiting for Tome Baker and Romana to escape that "time eddy" they were trapped in. I t never happened. I was SO looking forward to his interaction with the others. I forgot the reason he didn't get on board with the rest of the Docs....was it money?? What a missed opportunity. I wonder if he regretted it.
It came out when the show turned 50 yrs old. Peter Davidson was the Doctor at that time. It had a brief synopsis of every single episode plus a whole lot more. Even though I haven't seen a lot of the Hartnell/Troughton years I feel like I know what each episode is generally about from reading that book a thousand times.
Loved him. In the right circumstances, he could have been considered one of the best Doctors. Timing is everything. If I ever run into Colin I would give him his due. Have you guys seen the Youtube videos where fans have "re-colored" his coat to something...shall we say, less "gay"?
As though space is almost overcrowded with stars and it has this bright speckled almost white look to it, instead of the usual black void was a really great choice. I'm not sure who's choice it was to do the space shots in such a different style than any other part of the series but it rocks. The actual look of the starwhale again has this very 'stop motion' / 'claymation' look to it, like a Henry Selick film.
Onto Victory of the Daleks next!
...what a truly great Doctor he could have been in the public eye if only he had appeared in an era that wasn't beset with the budget now officially being too small to really manage on, a BBC head who outright wanted the show cancelled (and Baker fired for personal reasons to boot), timeslot and format changes, and a production team who were past their best days and largely didn't want to be doing the show any more, and so were mostly phoning it in.
Under more favourable circumstances I honestly do believe that Colin Baker would have been seen as one of the greats, because he truly gives his all trying to light up every single episode, and he really did love the character, which to me at least shone through in his performances. Alas instead he is a damn fine Doctor who is usually far better than the material around him, and who has been unfairly maligned because of that, and all those other various problems that his era was saddled with.
Although on retrospect I do see more and more fans opinions on Colin Baker changing as the years go by, kind of in the same way that Timothy Dalton's James Bond has grown in popularity in recent years, compared to how it was viewed at the time.
It wasn't a money issue, Tom Baker was still pretty fresh from having left the show after his still unbeaten 8 year stint playing the character, and he thought that going back to play it again so soon would just muddy the waters right when he was trying desperately hard to seperate himself from the role enough in order to get other acting roles, which he was already struggling with given that everyone looked at him and just saw The Doctor. So he believed at the time that going back so soon to play the role again just wasn't a good idea.
He was almost convinced to come back on a few occasions but his heart just wasn't in it I guess, so ultimately all attempts fell through.
He has, in the years since, expressed regret that he didn't do it though, as he has said that it would have been 'great fun' to work opposite the other Doctor Who actors (and to probably annoy Jon Pertwee as well), but such is life I guess.
It was certainly disappointing to many fans at the time though, as I remember all too well.
it seems odd that they would have the last arc of the season be with an entirely new doctor rather than waiting until the end of the season. just one serial with the new doc then you have to wait months... seems pretty stupid scheduling imo
Merrick - Ian Levine is one major reason we have as much Who as we do. He spent considerable time and money hunting down many of the lost episodes.
If you want to do an interesting Doctor Who feature, you may want to think about interviewing him.
However, he is also responsible for a Doctor Who pop song. Doctorin' The TARDIS I believe it is called.
CY TOLLIVER: Swearengen! I've come to see that "Doctor" of yours-
SWEARENGEN: I think you'll find our curiosly named friend indisposed at the present moment, his grievous injury betokening some manner of transfiguration. Myself I could not take interest in the details, owin' to all manner of spectral lights and visions emanatin' from his person.
Really loved the carnivalesque atmosphere that the Smilers included, not to mention the dystopic undertones.
Also, Kojima (go MGS go!) - love the suggestion of its similarities to Rapture. Its quite true!
On TV, Colin Baker's Doctor does kind of get a raw deal, mainly as a result of a number of factors. Dissatisfaction with the show, Mary Whitehouse, and the like. However, he has actually gotten better. If you have never listened to a Big Finish DW audio adventure, you really should. It fleshes out his Doctor so much, and there are some great stories out there from the 5th-8th Doctors. For excellent 6th Doctor stories, I would suggest:
Whispers of Terror
The Holy Terror
There are plenty of others, so check them out.
If you weren't aware of it, There is a series of DW audio adventures out there by Big Finish (I think their NA distributors are The Ministry of Light and Sound), which I think are just as good as the new series. They feature adventures with the 5th-8th Doctors, along with a host of old companions (the 5th Doctor was recently reunited with his TARDIS crew of Turlough, Tegan and Nyssa, as a matter of fact). Recently, Tom Baker did a couple of series as the 4th Doctor teamed up with Captain Yates, and he liked it so much, he's signed up to do more regular adventures with his old companions (Romana 1 and Leela, I believe).
If you decide that watching the old series isn't enough for you, then I would also suggest checking out the Big Finish website. They do a series of audio adventures for Doctor Who, and they are quite good on their own. They've actually started adapting some of the "lost" stories from the Troughton, Hartnell, and Colin Baker years. I have yet to listen to them, but thought I'd throw them in the mix.
I enjoy your column, BTW. Always nice to see DW get some love. I've been a fan for almost 40 years now.
While I understand why he would not of wanted to do it at the time, it's really sad that he didn't. It's the one big thing compromising the 5 doctors, which is otherwise pretty glorious in its ballsout celebration of the franchise.
I mean at least they managed to get him in with some "new" footage sort of, but it would of been truly wonderful to have him in with the rest.
Is do it as animation. Preferably better quality animation than the infinite quest. Then they could have baker and baker and the rest back as voice actors and their aging won't have mattered. Probably easier to get eccelston and others back that way to.
Pertwee, troughton and hartnell could either be voiced by impersonators, or perhaps edited together from lots of different dialogue from their old adventures.
Here is another episode I feel gets a lot of undue flack from fans.
Is it the best episode ever? No.
Is it a great Dalek appearance, not particularlly.
But it is a pretty decent episode. Granted I'm a fan of WWII era stuff, but I enjoyed the 'old poker buddies' type relationship between Churchill and the Doctor. The mystery of what the daleks are up to is also pretty engaging in the first half.
Some of the pacing is a little dodgy in this episode, but I see it as mostly functioning as an effort to introduce the daleks to new fans who jumped on with The 11th Hour.
I know some people dislike the bracewell stuff, but I think it works okay.
My chief complaint is actually the new design of the daleks, which look a bit tacky to me.
I thought the RTD era daleks were pretty perfect in design.
People love to criticize RTD, but almost any other showrunner would gone to the daleks and completely redesigned them ala Michael Bay's transformers and whatnot.
RTD kept them exactly the way they should look, the units themselves just seem to have a lot more weight and menace and as props seem a lot more expensive and sturdier built.
I just think its a design that should not have been fiddled with further.
I would of been fine with the bright colours on the daleks if Moffat wanted to change things up a bit, but I don't like the new eye stocks, the new voice or the overall fatter clunkier dimensions.
I hope eventually some RTD era daleks resurface and take control of the dalek empire again. Perhaps I shouldn't hold my breath on that one.
The Time of Angels + Flesh & Stone!
River Song's second appearance, the return of the angels, and Jorah Mormont from Game of Thrones as Octavian!
is caused by quoting, using the double quotes.
If you want to be able to post in future and avoid the talkback eating your post, use two single apostrophes like this '' instead of the double quote character and you won't trigger the bug.
And yeah, seriously, the bug was detailed days ago. It shouldn't take this long to code a fix. If I was optimistic, I'd say they were testing the fix before deployment, but when has that ever happened at AICN?
Is one of my favorite pieces of non-continuity. My other fave is probably Pertwee's Venusian Aikido.
In fact, I just watched David Tennant's first episode yesterday for the first time, and I was surprised at how much swashbuckling his Doctor did, probably the most since Pertwee's action-oriented, Intergalactic secret agent take on the character.
Over his history the Doctor has been much more a man of brains over physicality, so it was interesting to see a Doctor who could mix it up a bit too.
Yet it somehow only increases my appreciation for Pertwee, my 2nd fave Doctor.
What I loved about Venusian Aikido was that it suggested there was a civilization on Venus that had advanced to the point of developing it's own Martial art...remarkably similar to ones practiced on Earth...and that no other Doctor knew a lick of it. So maybe there really was no such thing, it was just something that Doctor made up? It's both cool and funny and maybe only a winking nod to James Bond but I thought it worked brilliantly, probably moreso than the producers ever intended...
I do wonder, is Mike Myers on record as saying Powers was influenced by Jon Pertwee?
A good two parter that has given us a lot of the ground work for the ongoing River Song story. Lots of atmosphere, although I don't like some of the retcons they worked in for the Angels, especially the bit where Amy can't see but for some reason the still stay turned to stone, but then start moving while also still moving...
It is cool that the crash of the byzanthium is actually mentioned in 'silence in the library' when river is consulting her diary.
also notable this was the first episode shot for series 5, and the doctor and amy are still finding their characters, matt smith's hairdo changes quite a bit from shot to shot.
The fx shot of the byzanthium smouldering in the ruins as the camera pans down to the heros on the beach is probably the best special fx shot the series has ever had.
Moffat backtracked on the Daleks later and said whenever they got back around to the Daleks, the new ones would appear alongside the old ones. He referred to the Victory Daleks as a new officer class. I think the original plan seemed to be to replace the old ones, but there was a bit of a fan backlash. I like them in a way, but the idea of the RTD versions sticking around has warmed me up to them a bit. That said, I quite like that episode.
So I'm watching Vampires of Venice. The fishqueen lady says that there were cracks, some they saw other worlds through, and others they saw silence.
I'm starting to get the feeling that whatever Moffat was planning for the silence when he was doing series 5, has been radically altered in series 6.
It seemed like at the time, the silence was the voice left after time was unwritten. And the voice in the tardis saying 'silence will fall' was whoever was orchestrating the tardis detonation/cracks.
But now we have 'the silents' as a race that the doctor defeated in the 1960s. I really hope they have bigger plans for them than just that 2 part season opener.
Seems to have turned into a doctor who marathon day for me, but its bloody hot out and gives me an excuse to tidy the tv room.
Vampires of Venice:
Not much to say about this episode other than my observations about the silence. It's pretty run of the mill, but some nice location work, and I think Helen McCrory is pretty great as the fish momma duchess. Her scene with the 'answer for an answer' with the doctor is pretty great.
It's pretty impressive how Smith manages to provide this palpable sexual chemistry with all these older women. It really helps sell the notion of him as an old man in a young man's body. The romance with River could of been laughable with a lot of other actors his age, but he really makes me believe in it.
This along with VoV are definitely my 2 least favorite Series 5 episodes. Amy's choice isn't a bad episode and has some interesting ideas behind it, Toby Jones is great, but for whatever reason this episode just never really hits the mark for me.
Wouldn't it be crazy if Toby Jones ended up plaything the 12th or 13th doctor? I doubt it would happen since he's a fairly big movie actor now, and also I think BBC will stick with young hip doctors to keep the teenage girls watching, but it would be an amazing bit of foreshadowing if he did. At the very least I hope we see more of the dreamlord.
I made those very same observations to a friend the other day, about the Silents. I think they're a red herring, for the reasons you mentioned.
I don't know, there's so many theories bouncing around my head right now, and they all want to come out at once! I think I'll just wait and see :)
I guess I should have taken the hint in the episode's name, but for some reason I figured it was just really, really bad rather than inappropriately violent. I've heard bits and pieces about these lost episodes and now I'm really interested—think I'll see what I can find. Thanks!
Re: The Silence: yeah, I can't tell whether Moffat's plans changed between 5 and 6 or not. I suppose there could be some meaning of ''Silence will fall'' that I'm just not getting, but right now it doesn't make much sense—the race known as the Silence (Silents?) will...be defeated (and that's a bad thing)? What else can ''fall'' mean?
I mean I'm sure they'll do something interesting with it, but it's just really hard to see at the moment how it can all tie together.
And for it to feel like it worked, they will have to do a LOT more with the Silents/silence in my opinion. This needs to be established as the numero uno threat to the universe after all teh set up they've done with them, and especially tying them into the cracks/tardis explosion
One of the very first classic who stories I watched was Pertwee's 'Dr. Who and the Silurians'
SO I was always hoping they would come back in new-who. I was happy with the new take on them. Is it wrong to find the lizard women super sexy????
I actually think this episode is begging for a followup where the doctor arrives 1000 years in the future or whenever it was suppose to be that they try waking up again. He could meet up with the mining guy and the lady who got put into stasis which would be cool.
I actually think she could make for an interesting companion, sort of in the vibe of Donna Noble. Not a romantic interest, but a good buddy to the doctor, I really liked her enthusiasm and eagerness to jump into the unknown.
That's my point. My theory at the moment is that the Silents were placed at the beginning of series 6 to make us think that they were wrapping up the plotlines from series 5... that they are the "silence" that we kept hearing about. I don't think they are. I think they're a misdirection. I can't see them coming back, not in any way that would tie them in with last year's plots. So I'm thinking the "silence" is something else, and the "Silents" are a red herring.
that seems a bit clumsy and overly complicated to have a 'silence will fall' but also badguys called the silents who actually say 'silence will fall'
Plus don't forget they seem to be involved with the little girl in the suit (presumably river)
and also, most importantly, we know the Silents are still around in 2011 earth, because we see Amy see one right before the doctor gets killed.
...about whether they were called The Silents or The Silence, as he was on a bit of a question and answer kick at the time, and they were being called both, so I wanted to know which one was actually correct. He answered just about every question asked that day, except mine.
Now maybe he just doesn't like me, maybe he didn't see my question, or maybe, just maybe, that was a question that he intentionally did not want to answer for reasons that are still to be revealed.
Guess we'll have to wait and see, but there might be something in this whole The Silents and The Silence are two different things malarky.
I see that as something has already happened, since the old version of Canton was there to witness the doctor's death, which means that was a version of time where they had already gone back and fought the Silents.
Or at least that's my take on it.
glad you like the idea! I'm just finishing off 'cold blood' now, and I think she'd be perfect, what I always think is the best attribute for a companion, is their wide eyed love of adventure and appreciation of all the galaxy's wonder, and she just seems like she would be perfect for that.
Interesting. So a "Silent" has survived, you mean?
I still dunno. I mean, they're interesting baddies, to say the least, but bad enough to make the universe fear them? They operate by not existing, and by bending subjects to their will, literally forgotten the next moment. Not exactly reason for entire galaxies to flee in terror.
It's a really unsettling idea if you really wrap your head around it.
On the other hand you bring up a good point. If everyone is fleeing in terror from them, how do they know about them?
I just have this sinking feeling that the 2 part opener this year is meant to be the payoff to the silence stuff from series 5, except that cool as tIA & DotM were, they don't really jive with what was set up as 'the silence' in series 5
there's also the business of the tardis thing from the Lodger being the same as the one the Silents were using in their underground layers.
And we still don't know how Korvarian fits into this equation.
And then there is also 'the voice', that says 'silence will fall' to river song in the tardis in 'the pandorica opens. The voice doesn't sound at all like the Silents from tIA or DotM, so is this an as yet unidentified baddie, or did they simply change the voice of the Silents between seasons? If it was a Silent, how were they speaking to River from inside the Tardis? If not, then who the heck is it?
Not much to say other than this is a wonderful episode.
A few days ago I was commenting that the Moffat era lacks any truly great episodes, or at least fewer than the RTD era did.
While I still think on an episode by episode basis this remains essentially true (although I have been loving the hell out of this rewatch) I do think that when looking at a season as a whole, series 5 is probably the most satisfying as a complete body of episodes. Good balance of different settings, overall good story arc, nice flow.
Well enough tv for one day, I'm off to bed, hopefully to have a lot of Amy Pond dreams.
Agree with you on the season's flow. And Nazareen would indeed make a wonderful companion. I'm happy to report that "The Awakening" arrived in my mailbox yesterday, so I now have every Peter Davison episode. I'm going to go through the tail end of Tom Baker's run, straight through Davison, and the early part of Colin Baker's run in sequence. I have a decent uninterrupted run there. Maybe someday I'll have Tom Baker's complete run.
Loved Vincent. Taking him into the future to see his impact and legacy he left as an artist was wonderful and had the kind of emotional impact that RTD often brought to the table.<p>
And Amy Pond is a very naughty girl . Grrrr
At least, on the BBC site it seems definitive:
This article quotes Moffat but doesn't say where the quote is from:
It was just that Tom Baker, being Tom Baker, liked to bait and tease certain people wherever possible, and Jon Pertwee, who was always just a tiny bit self imporant, often made for a bit of an easy target for Tom's 'fun'. Most notably Tom Baker used to commonly wind Jon Pertwee up when it came to how much more money he was making on the convention circuit and for personal appearances, which would get Jon Pertwee in a bit of a huff, when in truth Tom Baker was just making it all up to get a rise out of him.
It was all good natured though, and from everything I've heard, while there was the common actorly rivalry, all the Doctors on the circuit at the time - Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton and Peter Davison (and later Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy) all got along quite well. Never heard anything to the contrary to suggest otherwise from anyone.
I was surprised and impressed that BBC actually included it on the logolopolis dvd. Usually studios/networks will always try to present this squeaky clean 'everything is hunkydory' picture of the production of their shows. But BBC seems pretty good about doing warts and all for classic who dvds.
It's weird how much I know about Dr. Who now, both old and new.
I believe it was in 2008 when I first gave the series a chance. I remember knowing virtually nothing about it, and the doctor who canon seeming so vast and complex that I would probably never understand all of it.
Sort of like whenever a new Legend of Zelda game comes out and Hyrule seems like this big endlessly complex place that I could never possibly explore all of.
It's so much fun at the start of a new series, I remember getting to Aliens of London/World War 3, and thinking 'wow this is a big event, the stakes are really being raised'. Because at that point, it's true!
I can't remember when I started watching classic era Who, probably around the time I was watching series 4 of new who.
I remember thinking, there's so many companions and storylines, I'll never even scratch the surface.
Now I know the name of almost every companion by heart, in order of appearance, I own a fairly good sized library of classic who dvds, know a lot of trivia and important info about the doctor, even stuff that doesn't directly appear in the show...
I'm hardly the greatest whovian of all time, but I am surprised about how much of it I do know now. Though I wish there was a way to forget all of out favorite books, shows, videogames and films so we could expirence them for the 'first time' over and over again.
I was surprised by the "warts and all" approach as well with the BBC DVDs. I recall also seeing footage of Tom Baker losing his temper on a couple occasions, including CITY OF DEATH (I recall him snapping about shoddy props, in this case, the thumb screws), and THE LEISURE HIVE (shooting the scene where he throws the helmet at the tachyonics display). I think he even recollects being difficult to work with in some of the interviews, but I've seen so many of these DVDs/documentaries that it is difficult to remember them all.
I have no idea which doctor it was, this is from when I was around 1984-1986, but it could of been a rerun of an older story.
I remember trying to watch Dr. Who before bed
(I would of been about 4-6 at the oldest) and being freaked out because, and this is just my half remembered image from childhood, that there were minecarts, but they had severed human heads attached to the fronts which seemed to control the carts.
That is all I remember. Really freaky to a small child. I have no idea which story that is from, but would love to track it down to revisit.
I would guess the episode you are remembering is FRONTIOS, which features a mining machine with a human in it, but the head is the visible part. I found the image quite disturbing when I first saw it myself.
One of my favorite stories, even if it loses steam around the midway mark and just sort of peters out instead of coming to any truly satisfying conclusion. Nice and dark, and some impressively scary sequences in the tunnels underneath the colony...and even with their obvious sound-staginess, the colony sets seemed to have an impressive scope and vision...granted, I haven't seen it in 20 odd yrs, I wonder how it has aged.
Wow yep that's the one!
Oddly enough I was thinking of getting this story next! Looks good, I will have to grab it.
Oddly enough there is a grocery store chain in the town I grew up in called Fortinos (last name of the family that owns it) so every time I see the dvd cover for Frontios I always think it says 'Doctor Who: Fortinos'
Pls ignore that last post BTW... I honestly don't know the difference but I would swear it was described as Aikido in a book, maybe a few of the Target novelizations...and I thought the Doctor used to yell a word that sounded like "Aikido!" when he used it...not unlike Austin Powers shouting "Judo CHOP!" in his films.
I could be completely "mis-remembering" all of this though.
... and one of the few from Peter Davison's time that I really liked. Catching up on some of his episodes after a number of years has only increased my appreciation of the ones I initially liked, especially CAVES OF ANDROZANI, and EARTHSHOCK. Always found most other of his stories really bland.
Re: FRONTIOS, I don't buy the TARDIS being destroyed so easily (or how they resolve reassembling it for that matter), but I don't recall Tegan grating on my nerves nearly as much as in other episodes, and I liked the grimness of the story. Plus the aforementioned miner scene was a standout creepy moment.
On a sidenote, I just watched THE AWAKENING DVD and was instantly reminded what a twit Tegan is when she whines and runs off to find her uncle. She just sets me off when she starts complaining. Man I hate that character.
I only have a few from his run:
-Castrovalva (which I really liked)
-The Kings Demons (which seems to just end without any real resolution)
-The Five Doctors
-Caves of Androzani
Frontios is near the top of my list of ones to get, and after todays revelation, the very top!
I also remember seeing a scene as a teenager of the doctor going out an airlock, then throwing a cricket ball against the ship and catching it on the way back to use the momentum to get to another ship.
I remember thinking it was bollocks at the time, but now really want to see that one, my brother just got 4 to doomsday and said that is the one.
It makes me wonder how much of that was the script, and how much of that was just Janet Fielding's disatisfaction with DW. It's well known that she is extremely prickly in real life (though I think she'd call it being forthright).
The one thing you have to remember about Tom Baker is that if he liked you, he liked you. If he didn't, he didn't. Add to that the fact that he'd been in the role so long, he'd started to feel that he should have more of a say in what was going on. He admits he was difficult, but let's face it, who wouldn't be?
He is mellowing, however. Case in point: Louise Jameson. She and Tom sometimes didn't get on (mostly because Tom didn't think she was a proper companion for him). But now they're working together again on DW.
If you ever get a chance, see if you can find a copy of Tom Baker's biography. It's an interesting read.
All good choices you've seen. Another one I would recommend is Black Orchid. It's a two-parter historical/Agatha Christie-type story.
I'd also suggest checking out Big Finish's audio adventures. They have some great Peter Davison stories, teaming him with Peri, plus a new character. Some of his best ones are:
The Eye of the Scorpion
The Church and the Crown
The Council of Nicea
Before I started collecting classic Who (although I had seen a bunch on loan from someone else by that point) someone I know who didn't like who at all ended up with a copy of the dvd for black orchid so gave it to me.
I watched it and liked it, but since I didn't have any other classics it looked weird on my dvd shelf to have the 4 RTD seasons, and just this one classic adventure, especially since it is such a run of the mill throwaway story.
So I ended up donating it into a geek/scifi themed gift basket me and some friends were preparing for as our contribution to a charity thing they do at our office (people bid on themed baskets in silent auction and the money goes to charity).
Fast forward a year or so later and I had caves of androzani, the five doctors and genesis of the daleks. I was going to just stick to really key classics to buy, but I decided just to try and get as many as possible.
So now I actually have to buy Black Orchid when I already had a perfectly good copy for free. Oh well, at least it's usually one of the cheap ones.
I'm curious what are the top 20 favorite stories of classic Who (any doctor) for any of you docbackers. I've probably seen a lot of them at this point, but if I haven't it will help me prioritize purchases.
For extra fun feel free to throw in your Worst-5 list
...cricket ball in space episode. I haven not seen that one in ages.
RE: Janet Fielding, I don't know a lot about her outside of her performance (though I seem to recall her complaining about the show being sexist some years ago), but the character was my main problem. The character was always acting like everyone had to drop what they're doing whenever she had a problem. I think I liked Adric more than her!
I have a number of issue with Colin's era, though the guy is (IMO) a pretty good actor, and a very nice guy (true story: had drinks with him once fifteen years ago).
First, I think it's a mistake to make the main hero an asshole, and more or less, the 6th Doctor was an asshole. Eric Saward seems to like doing this sort of thing, for some reason, as even the 5th Doctor was a dick in Saward-scripted episodes. The trying-to-choke-Peri thing was a bad decision all around: you want your audience to LIKE the guy.
Even dumber, they do something like this to end the season. Now you have everyone wondering if the Doctor isn't just a total prick for months.
He never recovered from that, and to be honest they didn't try all that well. The constant bickering was tiresome, and the stories were...not great:
Attack of the Cybermen: decent enough, but falls apart.
Vengeance on Varos: I must be the only guy who doesn't like this one, as I know it's a fan favorite, but I think it's gruesome and unpleasant, and I despise Sil.
Mark of the Rani: this had promise. It was beautifully shot, with great costumes and awesome music. The Master was wasted, and boo to not bothering to explain how he survived Planet of Fire, by the way. Kate O'Mara was interesting -- I liked the concept of an enemy that was just amoral, rather than power-mad. But it goes off the rails a bit with an overall hack-y plot, and the embarrassing trees. (''Don't move, Peri! The tree won't harm you!'') Someone should've pointed out how stupid that line sounded.
The Two Doctors: well, Robert Holmes normally delivers. But I couldn't stand the Androgums. Yes, I get it, they're slaves to their base instincts and desires. Any chance we could get that across a bit more subtly? But the music is wonderful, the location work superb, and of course Troughton is magnificent. Still, it's a bit too long, and the director should be smacked for the horrible Sontaran reveal.
Timelash: the worst of all time. I don't understand how anyone can like this. This isn't about opinions, or taste. THEY NEVER RESOLVED THE MAIN CRISIS OF THE STORY! That's, like, English Comp 101, man. It's a dumb story, with horrible sets, annoying characters...they did absolutely EVERYTHING wrong on this one. This is an episode people emigrate to avoid.
Revelation of the Daleks: well it looks marvelous, thanks to Graeme Harper's direction. And it's an interesting story, though again we get asshole-y dialog thanks to Saward. (He actually tells Peri she eats too much! Jeebus!) But the main flaw...is that the Doctor is totally unnecessary. Everything would've happened almost EXACTLY as it did had the Doctor not even arrived. Not my idea of Doctor Who.
And then you get the hiatus, followed by that disaster that is Trial of a Time Lord.
Now if you want to see Colin as he could've been, try and track down some of the Stranger videos. These were independently-made stories about a "Stranger" (played by Colin) who traveled, and his companion, Miss Brown (played by Nicola Bryant). Made on a shoestring, but some are rather good.
But I always really dug these:
Day of the Daleks
Caves of Androzani
Horror of Fang Rock
Robots of Death
Planet of the Spiders
Seeds of Doom
Genesis of the Daleks
State of Decay
Spearhead From Space
Talons of Weng Chiang
Of those I have seen:
Caves of Androzani
Horror of Fang Rock
Robots of Death
Genesis of the Daleks
Spearhead From Space
Talons of Weng Chiang
All of which I considered to be really good to flat out great (talons, robots and Horror estpecially)
I've been meaning to grab:
Planet of the Spiders, as I know it's pertwee's final adventure
Which doctor's are State of Decay & Seeds of Doom from?
isn't there also a Seeds of Death or Seeds of Doom or something like that. I always see them both listed on amazon and get mixed up which is which
I'd go with almost all of i am_notreal's list, and I would add INFERNO, CITY OF DEATH (John Cleese and General Veers!), PYRAMIDS OF MARS, BRAIN OF MORBIUS, TERROR OF THE AUTONS, THE ARK IN SPACE, REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS, THE TIME WARRIOR, THE GREEN DEATH, and THE CURSE OF FENRIC
Some perhaps controversial ones that I like and others seem to really hate are THE HAPPINESS PATROL, SURVIVAL, GREATEST SHOW IN THE GALAXY, and THE ANDROID INVASION (at least the first couple parts when they are wandering around the deserted village and finding all the weird clues - not a fan of the last episode so much). Then again, TALONS OF WENG CHIANG gets lots of love from fans and I just don't particularly enjoy it. Interesting premise, but it always felt way too stretched out for me.
In no particular order:
Genesis of the Daleks: it's only got two (possible) flaws: it's a bit overlong, like almost every 6-part story, and the stupid giant clam. Other than that, it's flawless. I love the beginning encounter with the Time Lord; this, IMO, is how the Time Lords should be portrayed.* (And RTD calls it the first shot in the Time War, which makes sense.) The characters are brilliant, the story cracking, and Michael Wisher gives what is still the ultimate Davros performance. I know Terry Nation wrote it, but you can feel Robert Holmes' input everywhere.
Logopolis: I loved Season 18 in general, and this was its pinnacle. I just loved the math-logic-entropy stuff.
The Deadly Assassin: wow, where to begin? Robert Holmes at his absolute best: the Time Lords envisioned as a corrupt oligarchy, traitors and conspirators, a virtual battleground, and hilarious dialog. (''Well done, Hilred. An antiquated capsule, for which you get adequate early warning, transducts on the very steps of the Capital. You are warned that the occupant is a known criminal, therefore you allow him to escape and conceal himself in a building a mere 53 stories high. A clever stratagem, Hildred. You're trying to confuse him, I take it?'')
City of Death: the anti-Deadly-Assassin episode. By that I mean the tone is totally different: Holmes (as author and script editor) went for grim, harsh, serious, whereas Douglas Adams (as author and script editor) went for light-hearted and funny. That's not to say there's no meat, here: it's a very clever story, with a terrific villain. But the dialog will keep you laughing, I guarantee it. (''Can he really be as stupid as he seems?'' ''My dear, no one can be as stupid as he seems.'' Or my favorite line, ''You're a beautiful woman, probably...'') And John Cleese has a (hilarious) cameo!
Terror of the Autons: return of the awesome, creepy Autons, plus the first appearance of a certain, renegage, Time Lord. Robert Holmes (anyone seeing a pattern?) delivers a tight story, and Roger Delgado shows why he was born for this role. Marred only by the silly plastic chair scene.
Pyramids of Mars: the quintissential Hinchcliffe/Holmes-era Baker story. Great villain, nasty robots, Egyptology everywhere. And, of course, the silly waving hand as Sutekh stands up. :)
The Talons of Weng-Chiang: Doctor Who meets Sherlock Holmes. Great story, awesome villain, and a Robert-Holmes duo that deserve their own show. (And yeah I know they eventually did some audios.) Some awful-looking rats, and some regrettable racist casting/acting (Chang), but other than that, pure awesomeness.
The Invasion of Time: look, OK, I know this one isn't considered great. But I have an irrational love for it, and I don't care who knows it. Though I admit it could probably lose an episode or two.
State of Decay: moody, atmospheric...the best thing Terrance Dicks ever wrote for the series. Great performances; very gothic. Loved it.
Warriors' Gate: oh, this one is unique. A clever story, wonderfully shot, with awesome music. THERE ARE THREE PHYSICAL GATEWAYS AND THE THREE ARE ONE!
SEEDS OF DEATH = Second Doctor fighting the Ice Warriors, who have taken over a TransMat station on the moon and are using it to change Earth's atmosphere to be habitable for them.
SEEDS OF DOOM = Fourth Doctor fighting a killer plant (starts out as a rip off of THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, and then goes on its own path). One of my all-time favorite episodes.
Again, in no particular order:
The Keeper of Traken: great fun, and a great return of you-know-who. Actually fooled me the first time I watched it. Shame about Cassia's cheap eyeball effect, but other than that, it's terrific.
Castrovalva: awesome. A great Bidmead story, with logic twists and tons of TARDIS interior. All of the guest cast were superb, and the location stuff is gorgeous. Drags a wee bit in the middle, but not badly.
Earthshock: Saward's best, despite terrible characterization of the Doctor. The re-imagined Cybermen were great, and the ending unexpected. (Be sure to watch "Episode 5" on the DVD. Hilarious.)
Mawdryn Undead: I love timey-wimey stuff, and this is chock full of it. Great to see the Brigadier again, Turlough is awesome, and of course Valentine Dyall's voice rivales JEJ's (I think I might like VD's a bit better, to be honest).
Enlightenment: the resolution of the three-story arc is the best by far. Fascinating, original plot with clever twists, gorgeous sets and a cracking villainess -- and the Guardians, too. Utter awesomeness.
The King's Demons: another one that I know isn't held in the highest esteem, but I love it. Simple, fun story, and IMO this is where Davison's Doctor and Ainley's Master really, finally *clicked*.
Planet of Fire: Nicola Bryant in a bikini, gorgeous location work, great guest stars, and Ainley's best (by far) performance as the Master. Did I mention Nicola Bryant in a bikini?
The Caves of Androzani: Robert Holmes writes an amazing story. Sharaz Jek is one of the best villains the show ever sees, Peri is wonderfully subdued, Morgus is spine-tinglingly good, and newcomer Graeme Harper immediately shows everyone else how Doctor Who SHOULD be directed. The cliffhanger to episode 1 is *the* *best* the classic series ever saw, and the cliffhanger to ep 3 is pretty damned good, too. Top it off with the best classic series regeneration scene and you have a winner all around.
Tomb of the Cybermen: Patrick Troughton before he got too silly (i.e. Season 6). Tightly plotted, great suspense...it's a good one!
Remembrance of the Daleks: some nice continuity stuff, the best Dalek effects the classic show ever saw, and some interesting backstory that hints at all kinds of good stuff (sadly never developed).
Honorable mentions: An Unearthly Child (episode 1 only), Marco Polo, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Rescue, The Time Meddler, The Mind Robber, The War Games, Spearhead from Space, The Mind of Evil, Day of the Daleks, Frontier in Space, The Time Warrior, Terror of the Zygons, The Brain of Morbius, The Seeds of Doom, The Masque of Mandragora, The Robots of Death, The Sun Makers, The Pirate Planet, The Androids of Tara, The Leisure Hive, Full Circle, Black Orchid, Terminus, Frontios, Resurrection of the Daleks, The Two Doctors, Revelation of the Daleks, Dragonfire, Silver Nemesis, Battlefield, Ghost Light, The Curse of Fenric
It may start out as The Thing From Another World, but if you think it goes its own path, you're sadly mistaken. In the original Avengers TV show, there was an episode called "Man-Eater of Surrey Green" in 1965. The episode concerned a plant from outer space that was planning to germinate itself and take over the world. While not identical, the stories are very close.
I'm not knocking Seeds of Doom, though. It's one of my favourites as well. Just thought I'd share... :-)
In no particular order:
Timelash: the absolute worst. There's nothing redeeming about this episode. Stupid plot, terrible performances by most of the guest stars, ridiculous effects even by Doctor Who standards, and they never even bother to resolve the big crisis moment. I can't believe professional TV people would allow that. Everyone involved should've been fired on the spot for gross incompetence.
Time and the Rani: I'd rather have Harry stomp on my nards than watch this again. Any redeeming qualities Kate O'Mara had as the Rani are long gone by this one. Her masquerading as Mel made me want to vomit. Awful.
Nightmare of Eden: just in case you couldn't tell, DRUGS ARE BAD! THIS EPISODE SAYS SO! OVER AND OVER! Doctor Who as a straight-up morality tale often doesn't work, but at least TRY to be subtle about it, OK?
Underworld: look, kids, CSO was never, EVER convincing. EVER. This is not a ''well it was good for its time'' issue, because it was never good for its time. I would rather they simply showed less, or found other less ambitious ways to shoot things, than this.
The Happiness Patrol: really? The Kandyman? Really?
Honorable mentions: An Unearthly Child (episodes 2-4), The Web Planet, The Krotons (sorry, Robert), The Ambassadors of Death, The Power of Kroll (sorry, Robert), The Creature from the Pit, The Horns of Nimon, Four to Doomsday, Vengeance on Varos, Terror of the Vervoids, Paradise Towers, Delta and the Bannermen, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
relative to THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD insofar as the story movies to merry old England instead of being confined solely to Antarctica. Your point is taken though.
And the plant-obsessed human villain of Chase (and the thuggish Scorby as well) is terrific.
CHASE: 'You've heard of the theory that irregular light patterns can affect the senses of so-called mindless things?'
DOCTOR: 'Oh yes, like Scorby here.'
Ha ha ha. And the exchange when the Doctor crashes through the skylight:
CHASE: 'What do you do for an encore?'
DOCTOR: 'I win!'
I don't think it's a mistake that you have aliens remembering the Silence in Vampires in Venice. In Day of the Moon, they had the one Silent talking to Amy and stating "Silence Will Fall". It sounds like the Silence is an event that the Silents are trying to bring about and it's the event (the Silence) that people are remembering, not the race (the Silents).
It kept me laughing through the whole thing, especially the parts where Hitler goes "Anyone who thought the Rani, Omega or the Valeyard were involved leave now" and Hitler talking about Amy's house being a TARDIS. Kudos to kelvington for putting it together!
The Aztecs - This is really Barbara's story, though Ian and The Doctor both get some good stuff too. A simple morality tale, but one I've always been a big fan of.
The Daleks Invasion of Earth - The first Dalek story was great, but this one was even better. Plenty of memorable moments, and despite its budget, still better and tighter than the Cushing film that was based on it.
The Time Meddler - a great, fun romp, and another Time Lord to boot.
Patrick Troughton Era:
The Tomb of the Cybermen - Stone cold classic. Wait for the DVD special edition release next year (in a box set with SE's of the excellent Tom Baker story The Robots of Death and Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell in the hugely fun The Three Doctors)
The Invasion - with the two quite well done animated episodes, this story is now one of the best of Troughton's remaining era. Makes me really look forward to seeing how the animated restoration of Hartnell's Reign of Terror turns out next year.
The War Games - At ten episodes, some say that this is 'a bit long', but personally I think it holds that length remarkably well, and is not just a great story, but in terms of canon, an important one as well.
Jon Pertwee era:
Spearhead from Space - Jon Pertwee's first story is cracking good fun, while setting up a very different era for the good Doctor.
Inferno - Perhaps my favourite Pertwee story, just fantstic sci-fi storytelling, and lots of fun for fans as most of the cast gets to play a different spin on their familiar roles.
The Three Doctors - Just a great fun romp, and seeing the main cast and the three Doctors on screen together is pure fanjoy, even if Hartnell was too ill at the time to take a more active role. The chemistry between Pertwee and Troughton is especially fun. A couple of great Benton and Brig moments too.
The Green Death - Giant maggots! Hippies! Evil Corporations! Plus that final shot of The Doctor in this is one of the most memorable and haunting classic era character moments, at least in my opinion.
Genesis of the Daleks - Best Dalek story ever, and Davros was never better than his first appearance here, both in performance and character.
Revenge of the Cybermen - Not a favourite amongst most fans, but this one has always been a favourite of mine. Quite dark and downbeat, with some truly memorable moments.
Terror of the Zygons - Absolutely superb 'bodysnatcher' type story, can't wait for this one to hit dvd next year. And I'm honestly amazed that we've never seen the Zygons again given not only how great this story is, but how memorable they were as Doctor Who beasties.
The Talons of Weng-Chiang - Near flawless, giant rat and all. Leela is a fantastic companion, even if off the set Baker hadn't accepted Jameson yet, as he was still pining for Liz Sladen (Baker and Jameson would start coming together during production of the next episode, the excellent Horror of Fang Rock), and two of the guest characters were popular enough that they got their own spin off audio adventures. This one just hits all the right notes - performance, story, atmosphere. Top stuff.
Image of the Fendahl - Another personal favourite, even if the final make up effects are a bit naff, this is just a terrific romp for Tom's Doctor and Leela.
The Visitation - I always had a lot of fun with this one. A good romp.
Enlightenment - The third and final story in the 'black guardian' trilogy (after the very good Mawdryn Undead and the so-so Terminus), and easily for me the most memorable, this is a really cool little story.
The Caves of Androzani - They saved the best Davison story for last, and it's a hell of a way to go out.
Vengeance on Varos - My personal favourite of Colin Baker's era. Too grim for some tastes, but personally I love this darkly satirical tale.
Remembrance of the Daleks - After a really rough first season, probably the poorest overall in Who history (in my opinion anyhow) everything gets back on track with this one. Not only a fun story, but McCoy is very much at home in the role here now, and they've finally started to get a grip on where they should take the character of The Doctor in this new era.
Twenty choices actually run out pretty damn quickly, as there's plenty of others I'd like to include, things like Troughton's The Mind Robber, Pertwee's The Daemons, The Silurians, and Planet of the Spiders, Tom Baker's Robots of Death, Pyramids of Mars, and Horror of Fang Rock, and Davison's Earthshock, just for starters, probably others I've overlooked as well, but alas twenty is a smaller number than it looks when talking classic Who.
What can I say? I like it. Yep, I like Timelash.
I get why a lot of folks don't like this story, or find it mediocre. I don't quite get the rampant level of bile that it often gets showered with however, nor it being often placed so high on fans "worst ever" list, but hey, I guess that'll just remain a mystery to me, fan who actually likes Timelash that I am.
There is admittedly a lot here that you could take aim at, if you want nits to pick then you'll have a few to choose from, but at the end of the day, for me, it all boils down to the fact that I just find it rather fun. I love Paul Darrow's much maligned performance, yes it's hammy, but it's delightfully hammy, not obtrusively so, and while his acting choices may seem batspit crazy, he fully commits to it, and for me it just works. Plus he's wearing a cape, for no concievable reason at all, and against all other percievable fashion on the planet, but he doesn't care because fuck them all, he has a cape and it is awesome. And it makes me smile.
I also think that while Nicola Bryant is woefully underused in this story, and just plain poorly treated even when she does have some screen time, Colin Baker is actually quite superb, and I just really enjoy his blustering Doctor, who, as I've often said before, for my money was often better than the scripts he was in. And this is no different. Also I thought the performance of Robert Ashby as The Borad was quite solid, as was the late, great Denis Carey as his human image, and Eric Deacon as Mycros. And again, though not popular, I enjoyed David Chandler's enthusiastic performance as 'Herbert'. The rest of the cast however range from merely servicable, to, yeah, not so much...
I also don't think the production design is that awful when you consider that this was the lowest budgeted episodes of an already ridiculously low budgeted show from an era where they had now endured years of ever slimming budgets versus ever increasing basic expenses. Yes, the Timelash chamber is very very naff, and the use of tinsel never did anything any favors whenever it showed it's shiny face in an episode of Doctor Who. And while the cavern beastie isn't very convincing at all, the head was actually decently sculpted at least, so if they had smoked up the caves a bit and lit darker it might have had a bit more impact...or perhaps not. And the blue faced android(s) rates quite high on the cheese factor as well, but again the actor in question was at least commited (or maybe he should have been...). But for some crazy reason these things just don't bother me all that much here for some reason, they're just part of the crazy, and I guess it rings true as my kind of crazy. Plus the Borad makeup was actually quite good in my opinion. The snakehead ambassador puppet, yeah, not so much...
The real problem here is the script, it's unfocussed, very padded, and pretty flatly directed for the most part to boot. It also has more holes than a seive with extra holes in it, if you're mad enough to examine it too closely. But again, even knowing that, it doesn't really bother me too much, outside of the under use and, frankly, plain poorly written treatment given to Nicola Bryant's Peri, who as I already stated above definitely deserved better than she was granted here. That, more than anything, is my major bugbear with the show. Most of the rest I can go with, and some of it, as I've explained, I crazily enjoy, but the tied and screaming Peri factor is a legitimate and lasting complaint against the whole proceedings. As for my thoughts on the climactic encounter, nah, I'll tell you later...
Timelash is no classic, that's for sure, but a lot of it just makes me smile, and you know, sometimes that's enough.
Wow, been cutoff from the internet since a week last thursday and frankly it's been horrible LOL it was like having a very bad nightmare ;)
But now i am back :)
And in a DocBack! :)
Missed you all terribly :P
Have i missed owt?
Oy Frozen :P
OK, if you want to view Timelash as a wacky send-up, with singing robots, ham leaders, and whatnot, fine, I can see that.
I can see forgiving the horrible Timelash chamber, the unfortunate puppet ambassador, and everything else.
But the resolution to the climax is unforgivable. Absolutely unforgivable. That's why I hate Timelash: it builds to this big dangerous moment and then forgets about it. It's ejaculation without orgasm.
The writer was very inexperienced, and clearly should never have gotten to write for the show again, but Eric Saward was the bloody script editor. It was HIS JOB to make sure the scripts were up to snuff. He should've been fired on the spot.
Was pretty much prick(ly) from the word go. If memory serves, that was the first time the Doctor was lucid enough immediately post-regeneration to interact with anyone, and he began by criticizing Peri's diction.
I never cared for that Doctor. Colin Baker might have been a good Doctor in better circumstances, but that iteration was a miss as far as I'm concerned, and pretty much brought an end to my teenage interest in the show.
Mocking or demeaning other peoples opinions is bad enough, but to do so with such pomposity, and with such ridiculously over the top bile, not only is it childish in the extreme, but it's frankly embarrassing. "He should have been fired on the spot". I mean fuck off. Seriously. Any opinions or points you may have are absolutely undone and undermined by such absolute bollocks. And you seem to post almost nothing but, or so I've noticed reading various who threads.
Opinions are great, debates are fun, as is the back and forth of opposing views, but acting out like a spoiled man-child and making such idiotically over the top statements and rantings in every other post gets very old, very fast, and sucks the life out of proper, reasonable discussion and debate.
For instance, that dude above actually likes Time Lash, you don't, that's fine. Stating your views, alos fine. Acting like an absolute twat about it, not so much.
I've been a fan of Dr Who most of my life, but posts like yours and so called 'fans' like you, who rarely seem to have anything other than complaints, insults and bile to spew about in the most self-important way possible, are the reason why I rarely post on talkbacks like this, or on other forums. People like you take everything I love about the show and layer it in a level of over-reactionary shit that I just find completely unpalatable, and thus sucks any fun out of the show, and in discussing it.
I'm sure you'll just throw insults back at me, and that's fine, because I frankly don't expect anything else, and honestly I don't even know why I'm bothering to post this, as I know full well I'm just shouting into a whirlwind here, but I guess I came here to try and get involved with discussing the show with some fellow fans and hopefully have a bit of enjoyable back and forth, but instead, as usual, the good, interesting, and level headed fans are drowned out and derailed by the posts from reactionary fanboys spewing the same old over-the-top and all-too-familiar stereotypical whining crap where everything is magnified well beyond the limits of credulity, and every solution is a verbal scorched earth policy.
If there is a God, may he never let me turn into that kind of (so-called) 'fan'...
I have no idea what you're going on about at all.
I wasn't slamming another fan; if it comes across that way, I apologize. In fact, I made a point of stating that I get what stegman84 is saying.
But suggesting that Saward should've been fired for such an error is hardly over the top. The story is missing its resolution. I can't think of anything more basic. The script editor's job is to, well, edit the scripts. He didn't do his job. It's really that simple.
Well, OK, maybe it's a LITTLE over the top. But it makes a pretty clear point: no other Doctor Who story, in the history of the series, actually omitted the resolution of the climax. Not one. Like I said before, that's pretty much English Comp 101.
You disagree? That's cool. But make your case. Instead, you spend your whole post insulting me (something you accuse me of doing).
I'm willing to discuss, in a reasonable fashion, pretty much anything. If you are too, then great. If not, then...whatever.
But a couple of baytor's posts just really rubbed me the wrong way, just as posts by baytor and others in various who talkbacks have done previously. Like I said, that kind of extremism just sucks the fun right out of everything - for me at least.
But I know that posting about it as I did above achieves nothing, other than adding yet more discontent, so instead I'll do what I should have done all along, tip my hat to those that do post interesting, fun-to-read posts, acknowledge that fandom never changes, including the worst aspects of it, and that nothing I say on the matter will ever impact any of that, and just move on, enjoy the shows, and avoid the majority of overly vocal fandom.
Sorry for the drama.
And if so, and if indeed I have misjudged you unfairly, for that I am sorry.
But a lot of these Who threads do seem to be polluted with exactly the kind of extremist and over-the-top negativity I was talking about, and because of that, and my (perhaps incorrect) interpretation of your above posts, I just lumped you in with the same, as I guess it just hit a tipping point for me that had been building for a while now.
Right or wrong, though my sentiments for wishing for more level headed debate within fandom remain true, I probably shouldn't have gone on the attack, and should have remained more generalised in my posting. Anyway, like I said, best I just move on anyhow.
Sorry if I've made posts that rub you the wrong way, but I think you've got the wrong impression of me.
I love the show, classic and new. I love great heaping gobs of the stories -- as you can see from my top 20 posts.
I guess I really just don't understand what your issue is.
Totally cool, and to be honest I'm no more a fan of the extremist crap than you. I totally get where you're coming from.
You seem like a pretty intelligent person, and I'd like to think I am, so I look forward to discussing this terrific show with you as time goes on. That's what makes Doctor Who so great: the show can be almost anything, so there's always lots to discuss.
And I agree with biggusdickus: Docbacks have some of the classiest posters this site has ever seen. Angrysmurf most definitely included.
Off and on for more than 12 years...I remember seeing the first teaser poster for The Phantom Menace (what a crashing disappointment that turned out to be) right here...and from what I have seen in that time, these DocBacks are roughly 10k times more civil than the average TB here...
Which is very nice and a general tribute to the online populace, I do hope that it continues.
It's all good bro! And I appreciate your passion. Bytor posts some great stuff here both insightful and knowledgeable. He's as big a fan as any of us. <p>
I feel comfortable in saying that myself and most of the posters in these Docbacks, would annihilate any of usual trolls/assholes you see in other forums... on the spot! And the ban hammer would quickly follow.<p>
May the Docback remain an oasis in the harsh AICN desert. Cheers!
Yeah, it's a bit rough.
I'm glad Lis Sladen got her chance to shine in her own show eventually. I didn't care all that much for it -- I don't like shows that feel they have to *pander* to kids, and while SJA was certainly smarter than your average kids show, it still felt the need to pander to kids more than I'd like. But I have friends that adore it, and I get why.
In any case, SJA was a better effort that K9 and Company.
Also, have you seen the new K9 series? It's...well, it exists, I'll say that for it. It's not on par with SJA.
I have to agree that his character left a lot to be desired, but I've always attributed his attack on Peri as his post-regeneration instability. I've always been of the opinion that the instability one Doctor shows tends to be the exact opposite of the previous incarnation. For example, the 3rd Doctor could be considered stuffy and pretentious, while the 4th was off-the-wall. The 4th Doctor, by the end, was maudlin and old, while the 5th was young. The 5th Doctor I would characterise as one of the most stable incarnations, rarely deviating emotionally. So, by the time we get to the 6th, he goes completely the opposite way to temporary insanity. That, I think, is what they were going for with Colin. Did it work? To each their own. I think he did the best with what he was given, but he had to fight something the other Doctors didn't have to fight before: a BBC organisation that disdained the show.
Now that he's been able to spend more time as the 6th Doctor in audio, he's done a great job of strengthening up his character.
Watching several of the making of documentaries for DW during the Eric Saward years, I am getting the distinct impression that he is washing his hands of the whole thing. Nothing ever seems to be his fault. It was the director, or the script, of anything else except for him.
That may just be me, of course. Anyone else get that feeling?
I don't disagree with most of what you said. I certainly don't hold anything against Colin, who not only has been good in the audios, but was also good in the BBV releases (The Stranger, etc.).
And I get what you're saying about strangling Peri from a *story* perspective, but from a real-world perspective it seems like a dangerous move to me. Your hero should be likeable, and in Twin Dilemma he wasn't...and then came months before he had another show air.
Just not a good idea IMO.
Yeah, Saward gives that impression. In his defense, there were other things causing problems. JNT insisted that they not use experienced Who writers, which surely added to Saward's workload. JNT would also make story demands that would require lots of rewrites, etc.
It's also probably not realistic to expect him to show up for these DVD extras and focus on his flaws, either.
As far as King's Demons go...it's a bit up in the air, yeah, but there is *a* resolution. It may be iffy, but it's there.
Oh, I definitely agree that it was a dangerous move, but ultimately it was one they thought they needed to do. To have one of his first moves be to attempt to strangle his companion? Not wise, especially when you're dealing with an early evening television show. Which, to me, begs the question of who came up with the idea. Though the story was written by Andrew Stevens, it apparently went through serious rewriting by Eric Saward.
I personally think that this was all part of their attempt to "grow" the show thematically. Unfortunately, I think Saward was the wrong person to do that. Most of the interviews I see with him, I find he comes off as somewhat overbearing and self-absorbed. He would probably be more interested in what he thinks, as opposed to the audience. That is, of course, just my personal opinion.
Well, it certainly wasn't the boldest plot the Master ever devised. Meddling in Earth History? This is the same man who almost erased the Universe! Perhaps the Doctor just couldn't be bothered. Wake him up when the Master planned something truly massive.
Yeah, I suppose I shouldn't lay all the blame on Saward (or JNT for that matter). As I stated in a previous comment, the BBC was growing tired of DW at this point. So I can chalk a lot of it up to the trickledown of the pressure. However, one can point to the fact that, after Trial of A Time Lord, things did get better once a new script editor (Andrew Cartmel) came along. Sure there were a couple of clunkers in McCoy's first season (I still haven't rewatched Time and the Rani), but things got a lot better. The pressure from the BBC was still there, but the scripts got much better...
The Time Meddler
The Tomb of The Cybermen
The Claws of Axos
The Time Warrior
Genesis of the Daleks
Terror of the Zygons
Pyramids of Mars
The Masque of Mandragora
Talons of Weng-Chiang
Image of the Fendahl
City of Death
The Caves of Androzani
Remembrance of the Daleks
The Curse of Fenric
Sorry, Colin. While I don't hate your work, per se, they just don't have the rewatch value that a lot of other eps do.
Bare in mind I have not seen all of them, but of the ones I have these are my favorites:
Daleks (story 2)
Carnival of Monsters
The Three Doctors
Genesis of the Daleks
The Robots of Death
The Talons of Weng-Chiang
The Horror of Fang Rock
The Pirate Planet
The Stones of Blood
The Power of Kroll
City of Death
The Five Doctors
Caves of Androzani
Remembrance of the Daleks
Someone above mentioned this as a noteworthy 'bad' DW episode. I liked it. I remember it was very well photographed (black and white) with some particularly nice shots of the astronauts silhouettes with the sun gleaming behind them. The music was strange and the episode unfolded in a suspenseful way. Loved Liz Shaw as companion. Very strong character. I used to not mind Jo Grant so much but looking back, she really wasn't a very good actress.
I love the Pertwee era, but for me she was never quite interesting or quirky enough, or hot enough to be a super memorable companion.
She was pretty competent and far from the worst companion, but nothing about her really stood out for me.
...she never took shit from the Brigadier, which would visibly piss him off. Come to think of it, Pertwee was often kind of playfully condescending to him as well. In fairness though, there does need to be more of a contrast between the Doc and the companion. More of a surrogate for the viewer.
No prob, Rebel Scumb. I've been a fan of DW for over 30 years now, and quite enjoy every era of it. The McCoy era, though it started off so miserably, actually got better as it went on. A lot of that credit has to go, I think, to Andrew Cartmel and the writers that he brought in. They were able to bring mystery back to the character, and move him in an intriguing direction. And then there's Ace. The way they deconstructed her character over the final 4 stories was fantastic. I don't think a companion ever had as much focus placed on them as she did (not until Rose, anyway). And even after the show went off the air, it was the McCoy era (and its script writers), that enabled the show to grow through the novels, eventually revitalising its importance at the BBC.
You should check out more of the McCoy stuff (even some of the earlier stories). McCoy did very well, and I really liked his character.
I agree that Andrew Cartmel did some interesting things. He (and the era) started off shaky, but then Dragonfire was awfully good, and the overall quality got better over the next two seasons.
When the era was bad, it was VERY bad (e.g. Paradise Towers), but when it was good, it was VERY good (Remembrance, Curse of Fenric, Ghost Light). They experimented in ways the show never had, and as thatsalaugh points out, they were the first to treat the companion as a real character with depth and story, rather than just a vehicle for the audience to understand what's going on.
Now, the ''Cartmel Masterplan'' wasn't totally my cup of tea. I'm not nuts about the whole genetic loom business (which admittedly never made it on-screen), and I'm not sold on the more-than-a-Timelord stuff. But I truly credit Cartmel et al for trying to add more mystery to the Doctor's background. It was ambitious and clever.
If I had a complaint about the era, it would probably be with McCoy himself. He's clearly a wonderful guy with great enthusiasm for the role, but he plays every scene, every moment, every line completely over the top. If you want to say his Doctor has that sort of personality, fine, but there were scenes that really demanded he pull it back a bit, and he just...couldn't. Even in other things (e.g. one of the BBV videos), he just chews the scenery. Even in INTERVIEWS. And while I certainly like his era better than the 6th Doctor's, Colin could definitely pull back and play a scene in a quiet, understated manner (see Revelation of the Daleks for multiple examples).
Oh, and the question-mark sweater made me want to barf, but that's on JNT. :)
Having said all that, I truly wish the show could've continued for at least another season or two, as I really wanted to see where they were going with Ace, Gallifrey, etc.
...seems I have missed quite a spectacular argument in this here DocBack. Nice to see it's all been sorted out though!
Will be back later with an update on various things. For now, stay safe and have a good time here DocBackers!!!
Not much to say about the last 2 episodes other than that they're great! And get better with each viewing.
Of the Lodger, I find I like it more and more each time. And curious about the clues it drops about the fake Tardis which was the same place the Silents were using in Series 6.
I can see what you mean about McCoy, but for me, when it was announced he was becoming the new Doctor, it was great news. Here was an actor I'd actually heard of before he became the Doctor! Yes, he had a history as a clown, but I didn't care. So his time didn't disappoint me. And I definitely think that if DW had ended after TOATL, there wouldn't have been a book series. No book series, I think no DW TV movie. No TV movie, no BBC recognition of DW as a viable property again. And so on...
If you aren't aware of it, Big Finish is actually going to be producing the next season of McCoy's tenure as audios (under the supervision of Andrew Cartmel). This includes the changeover from Ace to the next character, Raine Creevy. If I recall correctly, Ace's future was one of two things:
1) She would end up married and living in Russia in the 19th Century; or
2) The Doctor would send her off to Gallifrey for school, so she could raise merry hell with Time Lord Society...
To me the first McCoy season is easily the out and out worst season of Doctor Who ever. I didn't have a problem with McCoy, although he seemed a bit all over the place, and hadn't yet found the balance of the character like he eventually would, but I just find most of the stories in that season amongst the worst ever, with Delta & The Bannermen being personally my most loathed classic who by a mile. And yes, despite that I still own it on dvd (I did buy it for cheap, plus the extras were pretty good, and I hadn't seen it for years so wanted to see how time had treated my view of it...my opinion hadn't changed). Plus Mel was often rather excruciating, and to this day still the only companion I really have an issue with, I mean I don't even mind Adric all that much.
Thankfully the next two seasons things changed for the better, both in regards to writing, companion, McCoy's version of the character, and a more engaged production team.
But the thing that, to me, hurt the McCoy era the most (and still does in retrospect as I rewatch it again as the dvd releases come out) is that it just looked cheap.
Now I know it *was* cheap, Doctor Who was always cheap, but all the previous eras all the way through the Davison era managed to make do most of the time, and look respectable enough compared to other UK shows of their eras. In context, they were just products of their times, and all things considered made the best of their limited resources more often than not. Once we hit Colin Baker's era, the budget had hit breaking point and clearly wasn't enough to quite do that any longer, but though the seams were most definitely showing, it still looked like Who had always looked, just not quite as good and with too many corners forcibly cut a lot of the time.
But when we hit the McCoy era, it just has an overall cheapness to it, particularly in the way that it was shot, that hurt the look of the show at the time, and has aged much worse than the other, more traditionally shot eras, including Colin Baker's. I mean some of the episodes, especially in regards to the out of studio stuff, honestly doesn't look much better than the fan projects that would follow during the years when the show had gone off the air.
Too often during the McCoy era you'd get that combination of a not very good or experienced tv director and lots of cheap looking out of studio footage, and it just took the show to a whole new lever of cheap looking, at least in my eye.
Occasionally you'd get a decent director, and they'd manage to make the outdoor shoots work as well as they could given he constraints, and you'd get a Remembrance of the Daleks, but too often the results would be more Silver Nemesis, and it would somewhat hurt the show (for me) and undermine otherwise decent stories a little bit.
There are still gems in the McCoy era, and it was getting better, not worse, when it went off the air, but to me when the McCoy era was bad, it was the worst.
I do agree with what you're saying regarding the cheapness. To be honest I think that actually started during Trial of a Time Lord, and it boils down to the switch from film to OB video for location work.
Video in the studio was bad enough, but we'd been stuck with that since day 1. But video outside looks horrid, like (as you said) a fan production. Even the cheapy 16mm they used to use looked a lot better IMO.
And with McCoy's first season, my exception would be Dragonfire, which I thought was a pretty solid story, AND as a bonus got rid of Mel and replaced her with Ace (a HUGE upgrade).
I definitely want to rewatch that one before the new episodes air; I was distracted while watching it the first time and mostly just remember the jokier stuff (the roommate's romance, the Doctor kicking ass and taking names at football). But that cobbled-together TARDIS...I fully expect a timey-wimey, ''Big Bang''-style revisit of those events.
...and with very little interest came very little budget, which damaged the stories and limited what could be shown.
Remember, Who was having the death knell sounded at this time and the BBC wanted to put their money elsewhere. McCoy only ran for 2 years (most of which I have never seen mind you, as I had given up well and truly by this point.)
What has probably kept him alive in fans consciousness is the novels and audio dramas.
3 years, actually (or 3 seasons anyway).
Yeah, the BBC's attitude at the time was (and is) well known. In fact, I was just watching some DVD extras interviewing...I think it was Jonathan Powell. Either him or Michael Grade; can't remember. Anyway, the guy came across as a complete asshole whenever he'd discuss the show.
Beyond the budget there is the issue of the Producer. JNT wanted out, but they wouldn't let him leave. The asshole mentioned above claimed they couldn't find anyone else to take over. I find that very difficult to believe...unless, of course, the asshole made it clear to the BBC as a whole what he (and the sixth floor) thought of the show. With that kind of attitude, would any sane person volunteer to take that job?
And JNT, as a BBC employee, had no choice. He could either give up his career, or stay where he was. Now I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but even so, if you're doing a job that you don't want to do, that's just got to affect the quality of your work, doesn't it?
I do recommend that folks give some of the Virgin novels a try. The quality was quite variable, to be sure, but the authors were encouraged to experiment and try to craft novels that were more than your typical tie-in fiction. Paul Cornell, in particular, penned some mighty fine books (including one -- Human Nature -- that got made into a two-part story in Series 3 of the new show), as did Kate Orman, Andrew Lane, Lance Parkin, Craig Hinton, and others. If you want some that feel the most like "traditional" Who, check out the ones from Terrance Dicks.
I also highly recommend the novels, especially as it was crucial in bridging the gap between series. It featured authors from the old series (such as Terrance Dicks, as you mentioned, but also Andrew Cartmel, Ben Aaronovitch, and Marc Platt), as well as from the new series (such as Mark Gatiss, Gareth Roberts, and someone named Russell T. Davies). If you're interested in Douglas Adams style comedy, I highly recommend Gareth Roberts (especially his 4th Doctor/Romana II novels).
I have to admit that, on the whole, I was rather disappointed with Terrance Dicks' fiction. I thought he just kept going to the same storyline over and over and over again (I know what my story needs; more evil Time Lords!)
Before the new series, I just had to re-watch those old PBS VHS episodes to get my WHO fix. Now, we've got new stories from Baker and Davidson and I can get an even better appreciation for Colin and McCoy (I have no desire to re-visit those tv episodes).<p>
I'm actually watching Seeds Of Doom right now. Vintage Doctor/Sarah Jane combo. I had forgotten how this episode has a real sense of threat and menace from the two baddies Chase and Scorby. We have the alien threat of the Crinoid of course... but, for a change we have quite believable, real world assholes motivated by power and greed. <p>
The Crinoid pods are the MacGuffin and really the only sci-fi aspect to the story. Substitute the pods for something else and you still have a well done thriller/mystery.
He didn't make any major changes to the core concept or character.
I can just imagine at the time that there would have been a lot of advice to changing or updating or altering Doctor Who to better reflect 'a whole new era', and to seperate it as far as possible from the old, while trading on that all important name recognition factor.'It would have been so easy for it to have turned out to be yet another disasterous tv remake.
But instead, RTD retained all the core elements of The Doctor, the Tardis, the idea of companions, and much of the wider storied universe with Daleks, Timelords, and eventually Cybermen, Sontarans, and The master, et al.
The only changes he really made were in the stories he wanted to tell, and the characters he wanted to focus on, and putting his own spin on things - just as all production teams and different eras generally do, and just as it should be with any new (production) era of the show. But he didn't throw away what made Who Who.
I don't love every choice he made, or everything he did with the show, but I'll be forever thankful for him not changing it into something largely unrecognisable, and for being able to stay true to the spirit of the show and core concept, while also being able to deliver something that was so popular that it literally put Doctor Who back on the map in a huge way, and made it one of the BBC's most important shows, and a major cash cow, and thus in no danger of cancellation for a great long time into the future, almost regardless of what happens, which production team takes over, and how the tv landscape may change.
That, to me, is RTD's true legacy, resurrecting a show without throwing away all that made it truly special and unique in the first place. And no matter what you think of him as a writer, or of his era in general, I honestly do believe that every who fan should at least be thankful to him for that.
On Terrance Dicks: yes, I wasn't nuts about Dicks' novels. They're not horrible, but they are very straightforward and simple. You're not going to get great characterization or anything, but they do "feel" like typical classic Who in many ways.
And yeah, I knew Kandyman was Happiness Patrol; dunno why I mixed it up with Paradise Towers. Maybe because I don't really like either one.
On RTD: I totally agree. And you can see what COULD have happened by flipping through a book called The Nth Doctor. This came out around the time of the Fox movie (which had its own issues), and broke down four different scripts that were prepared for either (A) a theatrical film or (B) a new pilot or series. Some of them were just...awful.
The best, IMO, was by Star Trek VI co-writer Denny Martin Flynn, which was for a theatrical film to be directed by Leonard Nimoy and star Pierce Brosnan. (Brosnan had not officially been signed, but Nimoy was on board and already scouting locations.) Rights expired before they could get shooting started.
The John Leekley script was...scary-bad.
But anyway, it's to RTD's credit that he managed to launch the show and not only retain the core concept, character, etc. AND not only do it without a reboot, BUT also managed to shed tons of choking continuity (via the Time War). Best of all possible worlds.
Anyone who has any interest in the period between McCoy and the TV movie has to watch the special features from the DVD release. After I watched it, I am well and truly amazed that it even got made. But luckily it did. And full credit to RTD for being able to get the new series up and running. As for continuity, I think RTD just followed the pattern set from the original series. The continuity is there, but don't be a slave to it. Just look at the number of times the original series contradicted itself. I strongly advise anyone interested in this to read the Discontinuity Guide.
Yes, it is a miracle it got made. Sadly, it made a number of mistakes. In fact, comparing the TVM to Rose gives one quite a contrast of what one should or should not do when trying to launch a new series. (And the TVM was trying to launch a series; it was a back door pilot.)
Yes, RTD followed the mold of the previous series, but more specifically he very much avoid getting continuity-laden (one of JNT's mistakes IMO). He also jettisoned the Time Lords. This not only streamlined the backstory; it allowed the show to explore the Doctor's character both as the lone survivor and as the warrior who destroyed his own people.
RTD had strengths and weaknesses, no doubt, but his #1 strength was characterization. To me, that's the highlight of the new series: character-driven stories.
But was it really trying to launch a series? Yes, it was a back door pilot, as you pointed out; but that was the only way it would get made by Fox. The Brits weren't interested in a series (at that time), and Fox? Not likely. The guy behind the TV movie may have been interested in taking it to series, but he was probably the only one.
JNT was definitely more of a continuity nut than RTD, but I love how RTD kept giving out little nuggets now and again. Case in point: the reappearance of the Macra in Gridlock.
And the focus on characterization is, I think, one of the main reasons the books were crucial to DW's future.
Well what Fox wanted wasn't the point; if Fox wanted a series, they could've just ordered one. It's the production company that wants a back-door pilot to get made into a series. Making it a back-door pilot isn't what made Fox buy it, because the whole point of a back-door pilot is that it's just a TV movie in name, but if it does well it's structured such that it could be sold as a show.
But Amblin (initially) and Universal ABSOLUTELY wanted it to go to series. So did BBC Worldwide. So did Phil Segal, Paul McGann, et al. (McGann was signed to a series deal. Peter Ware would've been the show runner. Matt Jacobs would've been the story/script editor. These deals were all in place.) Heck, Universal actually contributed its own money to the production (a VERY unusual step). Normally the costs would be wholly covered by the license fee (the amount charged to, say, Fox for the right to broadcast the film). There's no reason for Universal to do that unless they think it can turn into a series.
As to characterization and the books...maybe. But I think what really helped is a guy like RTD, who was a fan but who also was a talented writer who "got" the whole characterization thing, being in the right place career-wise to get the job of relaunching the series.
I would argue that what Fox wanted was, indeed, the point. As I said and you said, the production company was working it as a series. So the deals with McGann, Jacobs and the like make sense. But, when it comes right down to it, what the production company wants doesn't amount to a hill o' beans in the crazy mixed up world of TV programming. By the time the TVM production was underway, it had to be painfully clear to Phil Segal that a series wasn't going to happen. IIRC, his deals were with individuals who had the ability to help him, but only so far. As for the bankroll, don't forget the magic word, "Spielberg". That's what got the ball rolling, and it got Fox's attention, and it got the BBC's attention. The further production went on, though, relations pretty much fell apart (especially as the BBC got more suspicious of the "Americanization" of DW).
So by the time the TV Movie aired, anyone who thought a series was viable must have been delusional. Even after the TV Movie's success in the UK, the BBC still weren't interested in a series. Which is where BBC Worldwide comes in. They recognized value in the DW brand, but with the heads at the BBC not interested in a new series, they went and took back the book license from Virgin when it expired. They also licensed the Big Finish audios. They started the cash cow rolling for the BBC.
Then, less than a decade later, along comes RTD with his vision for a new DW TV series. By this time, the DW brand has been doing well enough for the BBC, and there was a change in the leadership of the BBC. The anti-DW leaders were out, and people more receptive were in. So they must have liked what they'd heard from RTD, and greenlighted the new series.
And here we are...