Doctor Who: The Fire of the Daleks: Part 2

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“You mean to say that none of them survived? It can’t be”

“I’m afraid so Asica my liege. The entire world of Meliscor is completely gone. We are the only survivors of the galaxy now.”

The king felt like giving up. All of the sacrifices and atrocities that had been carried out in his name, all those years of suffering had seemingly been for nothing.

“We can’t possibly hope to fight the Daleks off on our own.” The King said.

“No sir we can’t. This means we shall have to resort to the final option.”

“I prayed it wouldn’t come to this, but our race must survive and surrender isn’t an option.” The King said with regret.

Asica had been ruling their world throughout most of the war. His father Leri, though an effective and just ruler had struggled during the early years of the war with the Daleks. Leri chose Asica out of all his children replace him during the warbecause he believed Asica was the most heartless, and therefore the best to deal with the horrors ahead.

Its true that Asica was always the hardest out of all of his siblings, but even he had not been prepared for the Daleks. Asica had been forced to send billions of young men and women away to their deaths, ravage his planets resources, starve his people and force them work themselves to death. As a result the king was the most hated man on the entire planet, but there was really nothing anyone could have done differently. It had only been through Asica’s ruthless actions that his world had held out for so long, but now it appeared that it was all for nothing. Or maybe not.

The only hope for the Heglozians was to try and get a select group of their people away from the galaxy in a spaceship that had been constructed over the course of the last few years. This plan, called the final option had been prepared for the last few years when most of the planets fell to the Daleks.

In spite of the devastating losses, the King still hoped he’d never have to implement the plan. Not only did he not want to abandon his people, the plan also had a very slim chance at succeeding anyway. Asica would have to essentially use most of his soldiers to distract the monsters, whilst he and the select few fled. The Daleks would most likely pick up a ship fleeing the solar system anyway, but if there were enough vessels distracting the Dalek war fleet. It might just slip by. There is no way that all of the men would abandon their post around the planet however. Furthermore if the public found out about the ship, they would do all they could to stop it from leaving.

There were regular attacks on Asica’s central command from various different groups of rebels, all with their own reasons for hating Asica.

Those in the poorer areas who were forced to work night and day, whose husbands, wives, daughters and children were dragged away to fight viewed Asica as a glory hound who cared about defeating the Daleks rather than his own people. They wished he would surrender to end the conflict. (Having no idea that surrender was not an option.) Others meanwhile viewed Asica as an incompetent leader who wasn’t doing enough to stop the Daleks. Others believed that he needed to be stopped due to the damage he had inflicted on the environment, which they believed was worse than anything the Daleks could ever do.

Whatever the case most people on the planet wanted him dead. It was hard for Asica to even get loyal body guards. The only way he could ensure their loyalty was to promise them that their families would not be called on to fight the Daleks, and that they would be given a place on the escape ship. This meant that many of the elite who had been originally chosen however would have to be replaced and executed to prevent knowledge of the plan from being leaked.

Whilst the people were divided into different groups, desperate to try and take control from Asica. The knowledge of the ship would most likely unite them all against him.

Even if the ship did manage to escape its own people and the Daleks, all of the planets in the entire galaxy next door were seemingly inhospitable. There is no way they would have enough supplies for most of the crew to survive the journey, let alone trying to terrorform a planet.

Finally the vessel which would have to travel faster and further than any of their other ships had not even been tested yet. There was no way to test it. For all Asica knew, the ship would explode as soon as they tried to take off.

Asica contemplated simply ending his own life now. Better that he thought than to order millions of young men and women to sacrifice themselves to the Daleks whilst he and the elite fled like cowards.

“No” the king thought to himself. “I have a duty to our people. Some of us must survive. We can’t let hundreds of thousands of years of history and struggles end like this.”

Just as Asica was about give the order to implement the final plan however, another guard came bursting into the room with a look of horror on his face.

“My liege, we’ve just had report that one of our vessels escaped the massacre of Meliscor. It crashed right in the centre of the badlands.”.

“Where there any survivors.”

“We don’t know yet.”

“Well I’m afraid we have more important matters to discuss if you’ll.”

“I’m afraid sir there was…. There was a Dalek on board.”

Asica’s blood ran cold.

“How, how could it get by.”

“We don’t know yet, but there is a possibility that it may have survived and be loose on the planet right now..”

“Send a team to the badlands to be sure. The possibility of a Dalek on this world and the fact that we are the last survivors means the final option must be implemented.”

“Doctor, Doctor wake up”. Dana roused the Doctor after the debris had fallen on him when the ship was struck by the missiles. Together they then shifted the boulder off of Zoella.

“Quick we have to get to the safe room.” Zoella shouted. The Doctor could not disable the trap the Dalek had placed on lock of the TARDIS in time and more rubble had fallen in front of the TARDIS anyway.

Their chances of survival in the safe room were still very slim, but it was their only chance. The corpses of Zoella’s team still littered the room. Dana could barely look at them, but Zoella showed no emotion. Zoella had seen entire worlds burn by this point. The Doctor similarly had seen so many people, even entire races fall victim to the Daleks that he was sadly used to it by now.

It soon became apparent to the Dalek that the ship could not be redirected, and so the monster quickly followed the trio to the safe room

“YOU ARE TRAPPED” the Dalek shouted as it fired at the three cornered humanoids. The downward trajectory of the ship however quickly sent the Dalek flying back to the other end of the room

The safe room survived the crash, but it was blown to the other side of the wreckage. The Doctor, Dana and Zoella had managed to hold on, but when it finally hit the ground all 3 were knocked out cold.

Zoella’s right arm was broken in the impact, whilst the Doctor suffered two broken ribs.

Dana was the luckiest in the crash as she only had a few broken fingers. The Dalek had been thrown out of the room into the rest of the ship meanwhile.

The Doctor was the first to wake up.

“Dana.” the Doctor said as he roused her and clutched his ribs. “I take it we’ve landed. Not my smoothest landing, but now my worst either.”

Zoella started to wake up. Unlike the Doctor she didn’t even take notice of the pain.

“Where is the Dalek.” She shouted

“First let me see if you’re all right.” Dana asked as she tended to Zoella.

“We need to find it. We can’t let it loose.”

Suddenly the room began to shake again.

“Its the military. They’re destroying what’s left of the ship. We have to get out of here!” Zoella said.

The Doctor climbed out first. The entire room had been knocked on its head with the door facing up the way. In the sky above the Doctor could see the Dalek flying through the air and fighting with several smaller fighter ships. None of them were able to land a hit on the Dalek however it was so fast. The Dalek meanwhile was able to bring down each ship with just one blast each.

“It won’t take it long to finish them.” The Doctor said. Dana followed him, but Zoella couldn’t because of her arm. She tried to fight through the pain, but it was too much even for her. The Doctor reached down and with Dana’s help pulled Zoella up.

The Doctor, Zoella and Dana jumped off of the wreckage while the Dalek was distracted with the last of the fighter jets. Below however the trio were confronted by several soldiers pointing guns at them. There must have been over 50 there in total.

The soldiers attention was quickly diverted to the Dalek as it flew overhead. The soldiers much like Zoella’s crew where frozen with terror when they first saw the monster. They had heard so much about the Daleks, but up until now had been lucky enough not to meet one.

“EXTERMINATE” The Dalek screamed as it fired on several of the soldiers. The rest of the soldiers started to scatter whilst firing back at the Dalek. The Dalek didn’t even bother to dodge their attacks, as the rays simply bounced off of its casing.

“AIM FOR THE EYEPIECE” The Doctor shouted in desperation. None of the soldiers even acknowledged him however. They had never felt so helpless and just fired blindly in fear and desperation.

As the Doctor continued to try and warn them, one of the soldiers hit the the Doctor over the head with the butt of his gun. The Doctor was knocked out cold and the soldier responsible quickly pointed his gun at Dana and Zoella before they could come to the Time Lord’s aid.

“Come with me now. The King will want to speak with you himself. NOW!” He said as he hoisted the Doctor over his shoulder. The soldier took Dana and Zoella away on a small vessel whilst the rest of his platoon desperately tried in vain to bring down the Dalek.

The Dalek seemed to take its time in killing the soldiers. It could have wiped them all out in under a minute, but it prolonged their deaths for as long as it could. It let the final soldiers ammo run out on the Daleks casing, before cornering him against a rock. The Dalek simply stared the petrified soldier down for a few minutes, bringing him to the very limit of his terror before gunning him down in cold blood.

All a Dalek existed for was to destroy all apparent “lesser life forms.” Whenever they could they would savor a kill.

The Doctor awoke in the King’s room. Asica had asked they be brought to him as he always liked to shame traitors himself. In his own mind it was his way of getting back at his own people who had decried him as a monster for so long.  The Doctor awoke to both Zoella and Asica screaming at each other.

“You should have stopped him. You’ve doomed our entire planet.” Asica screamed at Zoella.

“Well dooming our planet is nothing you haven’t done.” Zoella said back “You’re a weak man. You always were. A semi competent leader could have helped to save at least one of the planets in this galaxy.”

The Doctor interrupted. “Excuse me, hate to be a bother but could you direct me to a large blue box?”

“Doctor.” Dana said. “The Dalek it, it killed all of the soldiers. Its loose.”

“Yes thanks to you three.” Asica snapped.

“Excuse me, we just arrived in this galaxy. We didn’t know anything about your war until 30 minutes ago! Now please can you tell me did your men find a blue box from the rubble”. The Doctor said flippantly.

“Those men rescued you from the monster you brought here, and all you care about is some trinket” Asica shouted.

“You’re the leader here am I right? In that case those men died in your name, not mine. Also that ‘trinket’ is actually a complex, space and time machine that can get you and the rest of your people out of here. Its called the TARDIS and from the looks of things its your people’s last hope.” The Doctor said boastfully.

Asica was silent for a few minutes.” I know you are not one of us.” He said. When the Doctor and Dana were brought in, their bodies were scanned which instantly revealed that they were not only not of this world, but of this galaxy. “Did the Daleks create you?”

“Oh not this again look I already went through this with her. I’m a time traveller.” The Doctor said

“Did you cross entire galaxies just to taunt a dying race.”

“I crossed billions of galaxies to get here, but I am not lying when I say I can help you. Please we need to stop that Dalek first, and then get your people out of here while the forcefield still holds.

Asica wasn’t sure what to think. As far as he knew time travel was an impossibility, yet if the alien was telling the truth then he couldn’t ignore a chance to help his people.”

“What do we have to lose” The king said in a somewhat pessimistic tone. “Your ship can it take off right away?”

“Yes. It can go anywhere, to another world, another time. We can make as many stops as we need.

” You will accompany a team to the wreckage to fetch this blue box if what you say is true. We will deal with the Dalek itself.” The King said.

“Well that’s the thing I have some experience in dealing with these monsters if you’ll only listen to me.” The Doctor said.

“We’ll see if you’re telling the truth about this vessel first. The Daleks are our priority. We’ve been fighting them for longer. I’m not going to listen to a total stranger about the biggest crisis we’ve ever faced.”

“You two” he said to two soldiers. “Take him back to the wreckage. Zoella and the other alien will stay here.”

“No” the Doctor said. “They both come with me.”

“You’re wasting time” Asica said. “I won’t hurt them I promise, but you wouldn’t expect me to give up my only leverage?”

“Just go” Dana said. “He’s right all the time we spend here arguing, the more the Dalek gets a lead on us.”

“If only that fool would listen. With his resources I might be able to whip up a weapon against that monster.” The Doctor thought to himself.

Suddenly a massive explosion shook the building.

“The Dalek. It followed us” Dana said.

“No” Asika replied as he checked the screen. “Its the Hiaskas. A rebel group. They’ve broken down our defenses. They’re here!”

To Be Continued

 

 

Doctor Who: The Fire of the Daleks: Part 1

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“We can’t retreat” Zoella shouted.

“We have to. They’ve got us completely out gunned, if we don’t we’ll burn with the others” her Captain, Shreskia shouted back before sending the ship on a course for home.

Zoella attempted to stop her captain physically, but she was easily overpowered thanks to his greater experience.

Zoella wasn’t the only member of the crew angry with the Captain. 5 more soon arrived on the flight deck, furious that their Captain had, in their minds, brought shame to their crew.

The largest of the crew, had to be restrained by two others from attacking his Captain, “How could you! We vowed that we would give our lives for the people of Meliscor! They had sacrificed so much for us!”

“I had no choice. Meliscor was done for. Those monsters, they had destroyed all of their defences, and begun blitzing Meliscor’s continents. The last message I received from their main command centre was nothing but screams. What could we out here in space have done?”

“A lot more than just running away.” Zoella said with disgust.

“We have to get back to our world Zoella. We are now the last planet standing in this entire galaxy. Our people are going to need as many soldiers as they can.”

“They won’t want our help.” She sneered.

“Well if it makes you feel any better our world probably won’t survive long enough to reject us anyway.” The Captain snapped back.

“I can’t believe it.” He continued. “82 inhabited planets in this galaxy, and one by one they’ve all fallen. So many great civilisations, and not one survivor from any of them. If we are to join our comrades, I want to at least see my family one more time, would you begrudge me that.”

Before his crew could even respond, a bright light began to shine at the other end of the room. All of the soldiers pointed their guns at it, whilst the Captain checked the readings.

“No, it can’t be” he said with horror. “One of them is, how?” He instantly tried to set a new course for the ship, only for a green ray to fire from the light at the controls, destroying them.

Just then the light began to fade and in its place, emerged the image of the monster that had spelled the doom for the crews entire galaxy. A Dalek!

They all froze in fear for a moment. They had never had an encounter with a Dalek up this close. No one who did, had ever lived to tell about it. For a second they all felt like running away, but the largest at the centre of the group started firing at the Dalek, only for the rays in his gun to bounce off of the monster’s armoured casing.

EXTERMINATE” it shrieked in its hideous, rasping, metallic voice, before opening fire on all of the crew, except for Zoella and the Captain who stood at the other end.

Just one shot was all it needed. It filled the entire area with a green light. The entire crew screamed in absolute agony. The rays from a Dalek gun stimulated every single pain receptor in its victims body to the absolute maximum they could be. Though the crews death only lasted a few seconds, the pain was so intense it felt like several hours.

The Captain pushed Zoella behind him.

“Zoella go, you have to warn the others, we can’t let even one of these monsters get back home. Its my fault. Go!”

Zoella protested, not wanting to leave her captain, and so he shoved her to the door and then locked it, whilst firing at the Dalek.

“YOU CANNOT WIN. YOUR WORLD WILL FALL TO THE DALEKS. WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS” The Dalek shouted as it shot the Captain.

The Captain felt tremendous pain run through his entire body, pain like he’d never felt before. After the sensation was over however, to his horror, the Captain was still alive.

He couldn’t move a muscle in his body. He couldn’t even scream! The Dalek approached the immobilised, and petrified Captain.

“YOU WILL HELP US CONQUER YOUR OWN WORLD!”

“Ah good we’ve finally landed.”  The Doctor said as put his book down and headed for the console room.

The Doctor had spent most of the journey in his vast library, catching up with his collection. Dana had urged him too, feeling that it was a shame all of those great books were going to waste with no one reading them. The Doctor had actually read them before, but that was many faces, and several thousand years ago.

“So where’s it taken us this time Doctor.” Dana said as she arrived in the console room from the lounge.

“According to these readings we’ve arrived at the Myosirka Galaxy. That’s all it’ll tell me for the moment. Mysorika? That name is familiar to me? I can’t remember why.”

“Well I’m sure it will come back to you.”

“I suppose. You know Dana when’ you’ve been around the universe as much as I have the galaxies really do all start to blend together.”

The Doctor and Dana exited the TARDIS and discovered that they had landed on a spaceship. There didn’t appear to be anyone around however. The ship was dull, grey and depressing.

“God how hard is it for people to make a cosy spaceship” the Doctor moaned.

“Well maybe boring and grey is this species idea of cosy.” Dana said as she looked down the nearest corridor.

Suddenly a scream started to echo down the corridors. It was absolutely blood curdling, but neither the Doctor nor Dana could see any signs of anyone or anything nearby.

“What is it a ghost?” Dana said jokingly, whilst still somewhat nervous and scared.

“No it’s a communicator of some sort I’d wager. Whoever, whatever, is responsible for that horror, wants the rest of the crew to know what’s in store for them, so its broadcasting it.”

The screams chilled both the Doctor and Dana to the bone, but as always the more scared they were, they more curious they became.

The two time travellers explored the nearest corridor with the screaming ringing in their ears. They’d never heard anything quite like it. There wasn’t even a seconds relief for the victim.

“Poor soul” Dana said. “So much for landing somewhere nice and quiet.”

At the end of the corridor they discovered a large weapons room, filled with several rows of strange rifles.

“Well now at least part of this is starting to make sense, the Doctor said. We’re on some kind of military vessel. I’m afraid I don’t recognise the weaponry but”

Just then a young man appeared from behind one of the rows of rifles, and ambushed the Doctor, pointing his gun into the Time Lords spine.

“Thanks for the heads up Dana” the Doctor said sarcastically.

“Sorry I was little distracted by all the screaming.”

“Who are you? How’d you get on board” the figure said frantically.

“Well now look I can’t tell you if you shoot me can I, why don’t you just put the gun down and”

The Doctor quickly spun run and knocked the gun out of the soldiers hand, before kicking the gun back to Dana. He then floored the soldier with a quick hit to the stomach and another to the jaw.

“There now perhaps we can have a more civil conversation about just what the hell is going on here” the Doctor said somewhat pompously. Five more figures however quickly emerged from behind the weapons cabinets.

“Ah okay maybe not” the Doctor said as Dana dropped her gun to the floor.

The young soldier the Doctor had hit jumped up and punched the Doctor in the face in anger. When he tried to hit him again Dana got the soldier in an arm lock.

“We don’t have time for this, we need to get these people, whoever they are to the safe room now!” A young woman who appeared to be the leader of the group said.

The soldiers took the Doctor and Dana through a door at the other end of the weapons room, which led to another long corridor, that ended in two flight’s of stairs, and then two more corridors. In the middle of the second corridor, the young woman activated a device which caused a hatch to suddenly appear in the floor. The hatch led to a safe room. Along the way, the screaming stopped. It didn’t come to a sudden stop. It more slowly died down.

There was only one soldier in the safe room waiting for them, a young man trying frantically to work several controls.

“They don’t look like enemy agents.” He said whilst peering over his soldier.

“I can assure you we’re not anybody’s agent” the Doctor said.

“Why don’t you tell me what’s going on here.” The Time Lord continued.

The leader pointed her gun at the Doctor. “We’ll ask the questions. We detected the presence of something on one of the upper levels. Why are you siding with them?”

“With who?” the Doctor said in frustration.

“Don’t lie to me. Even if you weren’t one of their agents, no one in this Galaxy hasn’t heard of the Daleks.”

Both the Doctor and Dana’s faces filled with horror at the mention of that name.

“There are Daleks on board. Please you have to let me help you, I am a traveller. My vessel’s on the upper level. I swear we came here by accident, but if the Daleks are involved.”

“Involved?” The woman laughed. “They’ve destroyed every planet in this entire galaxy! All except ours. For the past 30 years I’ve had to watch trillions of young soldiers sacrifice themselves for nothing against those monsters. I’ve seen entire cities, continents and planets burn.”

“I know” the Doctor said. “I’ve seen the Daleks destroy millions of worlds throughout all of history. Please just let me and Dana help.”

The figure at the controls suddenly interrupted. “I’ve managed to hack into it Zoella” he said to the leader of the group.

Zoella paused for a minute.

“Do it” she said.

“Do what?” Dana asked.

“There is a self destruct device on board this ship. Only the Captain knows the code. Fortunately our friend here, Resicha was able to hack the mainframe.”

“Fortunately? I assume you have a way off this ship.” Dana said in disbelief.

“No we don’t. Our lives don’t matter at all. The Daleks let this ship escape. They were manipulating us. There’s an impenetrable forcefield around our planet. Its the main reason our world is the last one standing. Though maintaining it has not been without cost.” She said with regret.

“The Daleks haven’t be able to penetrate it, yet.” Zoella continued. “So they let one of our ship go, and then teleported one of their own into our vessel. We didn’t know they had teleportation technology. They must have developed it recently. They want to get one of their own into our forcefield.”

“Why don’t they just teleport in?” Dana asked.

“The forcefield probably prevents that too.” The Doctor said. “Its very rare to find teleportation technology that can penetrate forcefields, and if my estimates are correct, this is an early point in their history.”

“Once that Dalek is on our world it’s all over. We can’t take control of the ship, its locked it on a course for home, and it has our Captain.”

“Those screams. That’s who they were from?” The Doctor asked.

“Yes. For the past two days since it first came here, the Dalek has been torturing him and forcing us to listen. We get a relief from it every now and again only because he faints. We tried to rescue him, but every time we’ve sent more up there, it kills them. There were 60 of us. Now there’s only 12. This place is sealed from the rest of the ship. Even then I think the Dalek more hasn’t found us because it doesn’t care. It seems to only care about him. Its time to end his pain as well as ours.”

“No you can’t give up.” The Doctor protested.

“We’re giving our people back home maybe a few more months before the Daleks find a way to break through the forcefield anyway. We also won’t have to watch our world burn like the others in this galaxy. I’d say its our best option” Zoella said.

The Doctor and Dana attempted to plead with their captors further, but they didn’t listen. The countdown started. The Doctor punched one of the soldiers next to him and flipped the other over his shoulder into two more, but when he tried to make a move for the control panel he was overpowered by three more. Before Dana was able to make a move, the soldiers pointed their guns into her stomach and back.

The countdown went to zero, and nothing happened.

“No, no, no! That Dalek, it must have, overrun the security system.” Zoella said in despair.

“Well how’s that for one of life’s little ironies. I owe my life to a Dalek.” the Doctor said in a somewhat chipper tone.

Zoella shoved the Doctor against a wall.

“You think this is funny?” She screamed in rage.

You’re right, I’m sorry, but had you blown us all up you’d have taken us with you. Now you might have a chance. We’ve fought the Daleks before and we’ve won against. I have equipment in my vessel, the TARDIS that might be effective against them.”

“Might be?”

“Well I’m not exactly sure what year it is. These Daleks seem to be quite primitive if they have only just mastered teleportation, but still.”

“You’re saying you’re a time traveller?”

“Yes and I’ve seen the Daleks throughout their entire history. No one is ever able to completely destroy them. Some have survived their evil however, and you can too, but only if you let us help you.

“What do we have to loose Zoella?”  Resicha said.

“This vessel of yours? Its on the level we found you?” Zoella asked.

“Yes we can take you there now.”

“I’ll take some of the team. I warn you however. If you try anything you’ll both die before either of us.”

The Dalek meanwhile had also detected the presence of something on the upper deck. The creature decided to investigate. It knew that none of the races in this galaxy had access to teleportation technology. At the same time he knew that it couldn’t be any more of his kind, as they couldn’t teleport this far.

When the Dalek arrived at the source of the disturbance, it was shocked to see the all too familiar blue box. It had heard so much of it back on Skaro. It belonged to the Doctor, their legendary enemy who had been attempting to destroy the Dalek race since their birth. The Dalek however had personally never believed them. Like all members of its kind it couldn’t fathom the idea of any life form being superior to them. It believed that the Doctor was just a lie invented by their leaders to make sure the Daleks never became stagnated.

Now however it was being faced with the reality of this enemy of the Daleks. It wasn’t scared however. More curious. The Dalek examined the strange blue box. It knew that its fire power couldn’t harm it, but perhaps there was something it could learn from the TARDIS.

“So tell me about your world.” The Doctor asked as they made the long trek back to the TARDIS.

“You really claim to not be one of us?” Zoella asked. The Doctor didn’t even bother to answer.

“Our world, HegloZia, was once the most advanced of its galaxy. It was a paradise world filled with red skies, golden water and green lands.”

“Was?”

“Like I said in order to keep the forcefield running, and even just to supply weapons and resources to the other worlds. Our planet was stripped clean. Its a waste land now. People fight for the tiniest, most basic resources, the air is polluted, diseases we conquered centuries ago have returned and run rampant, there are constant coups and civil wars to overthrow the governments. Since the start of this war, about 80 percent of all life on Heglosia has been extinguished.  The Daleks almost don’t need to invade. They’ve already practically killed our world.”

“I’m sorry” Dana replied. “They did the same thing to my world too. It wasn’t in my time, but still seeing what they did to my people, I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live through it.”

“When the war started, everyone came to us for protection.” Zoella continued. “We had been the first race to develop space travel in our galaxy. We had a good head start on the others. We didn’t always treat them right. We exploited them during a large part of our history. Still we tried, we threw everything we could at the Dalek but we… we failed our kin.”

“I’ll make sure I won’t fail your world” the Doctor said as they approached the TARDIS.

“That’s your ship? Is it not a little small?”

“Dana can you go through the usual its bigger on the inside than the outside thing, I have to go and try cobble together something for the sake of this charming young woman’s species.”

As soon as the Doctor put the TARDIS key in the lock his entire body was consumed in a flashing blue light before he collapsed on the floor.

“DOCTOR!” Dana shouted as she rushed to his aid.

“Quick we have to get out of here” Zoella said. “Help him” she said to her two men who lifted the Doctor up by one arm each.

“STAY WHERE YOU ARE! YOU ARE TRAPPED” The Dalek shouted from the direction they had just come from.

“Quick we need to move now!” Zoella shouted.

The only way forward was to the control room. In there Zoella saw her former Captain, whimpering and shaking on the floor, a completely broken man.

Despite her recent differences with him, Zoella had still always admired her Captain. In his prime he had been one of her people’s greatest war heroes. To see him reduced to this by one of those monsters was both terrifying and heartbreaking.

One of the soldiers tried to shut the door, but the Dalek had jammed the controls. “YOU CANNOT ESCAPE YOU ARE TRAPPED” The Dalek barked from down the corridor as it glided towards them. The soldier attempted to shoot the monster and went for its eye stick, but the Dalek shot him down first.

The soldiers agonised screams were deafening and seemed to last a lot longer before his body crashed to the ground, his face twisted in the most horrific expression of agony.

Just then the Doctor suddenly jumped up and with his sonic screwdriver quickly sealed the door shut. The Dalek blasted at the door several times, and though it burned some holes in it, the door withstood the monsters weapon.

“Doctor I thought you were dead.”

“No that Dalek I’d wager wanted to interrogate me. Not to big myself up, but for a Dalek finding out I exist must be like finding out the monster under your bed is real. It underestimated me though. A little shock like that would have been enough to kill you, but me well.” Dana rolled her eyes.

“He’d take any excuse to boast” she thought.

“Better luck next time” the Doctor taunted the Dalek.

The Dalek didn’t respond however. It had other plans in mind.

The Captain started to scream and ran towards the door. The remaining soldier tried to restrain him, but it took the combined might of the soldier and Zoella to hold him in place.

“What did that thing do to him” the soldier shouted.

The Doctor used a Venusian neck pinch to render the Captain unconscious before examining him.

“I’ve seen them do this before. We must be at a fairly early point in the Daleks history right enough” the Doctor said.

“Before they’d mastered proper mind control techniques, they’d inject their victims with a chemical. It caused the most unimaginable pain in the victims to the point where it would literally break them. Turn them into nothing but slaves who obeyed the Daleks every whim. Often the victims just died, or the became vegetables. Clearly the Dalek was hoping to use it on the Captain so that when he reached your planet he’d vouch that the ship was free to enter the forcefield.”

“Is there anyway to reverse the chemical’s effects?” Zoella asked?

“I’m afraid not” the Doctor said.

Zoella then shot her Captain in the head. Dana and even the other soldier were absolutely horrified at her actions.

“You heard the expert. There’s nothing we could do for him. Besides now that monster can’t use him. He’d rather it was this way.”

The Doctor meanwhile who had understood her logic, started to work the controls.

“My people are a good bit ahead of the Daleks at this stage of development. More so than the Daleks are ahead of yours. I might be able to pilot the ship off course.”

“Where will we go?” the surviving soldier said grimly.

“To another galaxy for help. You’re right, you can’t even hold the Daleks off for much longer never mind beat them. We’ll need to keep looking until we find someone willing to help.”

“There is no life in the galaxy next to us. We explored it many centuries ago.” Zoella replied.

“Well then we’ll explore the one after that, and after that. With a few adjustments to this ship we should be able to find a new galaxy with a new civilisation sometime soon. We The Daleks have a habit of uniting all other species together. Trust me, we won’t have to look hard to find someone willing to help. Case in point, me and Dana both come from galaxies trillions of light years beyond yours, and we’re willing to help you against them.”

“ATTENTION, ATTENTION”. The Daleks voice suddenly croaked through its communicator.

“I HAVE DISCOVERED YOUR ALLIES YOU WILL SURRENDER THE DOCTOR OR THEY WILL BE EXTERMINATED!”

“It knew where we were hiding all along” Zoella said.

“Yes. It probably kept you alive in case the Captain died from the chemical so it could just pop down and snatch as many of you as it needed, either to use the chemical on or force to help it. It never once viewed any of you as a threat it needed to deal with right away.”

“YOU HAVE TEN SECONDS OR I WILL EXTERMINATE THEM.”

The voice of one of Zoella’s team came through the communicator.

“Please Zoella don’t give in, our lives aren’t important.”

She was suddenly cut off by a zapping sound, followed by a blood curdling scream. There were several more shots and screams, that were then followed by a deathly silence.

“All those men and women lost?” The soldier said with regret.

“Possibly” the Doctor said. “The Dalek won’t have slaughtered its entire leverage. It has something planned which is why I’ve got to act fast.”

In the safe room the Dalek had slaughtered everyone except for Resicha. The monster had sensed he was weaker than the others. The Dalek cornered the terrified soldier against a wall.

“YOU WILL SUFFER AS YOUR CAPTAIN SUFFERED UNLESS YOU OBEY ME!”

Resicha thought back to his Captain’s constant screams. He’d never been the strongest of the soldiers. In fact he had only signed up to avoid starving back home. Sadly at this point the war was so desperate, there were very few actual soldiers left. Zoella and the Captain were among the last. There is no way he would hold out.

“I’ll do whatever you want.” Resicha said to his eternal shame.

“YOU WILL SPEAK THROUGH THE COMMUNICATOR AND TELL YOUR SUPERIORS THAT THE VESSEL IS READY TO GO.”

“They won’t accept my word?”

“TELL THEM THAT YOU HAVE STOLEN DALEK TECHNOLOGY. YOU WILL BE GRANTED ACCESS. OBEY! OBEY! OBEY!”

Back on the flight deck the Doctor had struggled to take control of the ship.

“What, what’s wrong” Zoella asked.

“The Dalek has created a forcefield around the back up controls. Its draw energy from the core of the vessel itself, and if I attempt to touch it, or even any of the wires, then I’ll be vaporised. I could maybe try and find a way, but we don’t have time.”

“After all your talk of being the thing the Daleks fear in the dark, and it turns out you’re totally useless.” Zoella shouted.

“Well we’re not completely finished yet. I might be able to take over the communicator from here. We can warn your people before the Dalek can trick them.”

“But they’ll blast us out of the sky”? Dana said.

“I know Dana, its a risk we’ll have to take to save an entire world.” He said with regret.

“Its just one Dalek?” She replied.

“You know what one of those things can do. Chances are it knows everything about their forcefield. The Daleks will have made the members of Zoella’s race they took prisoner talk. They can make anyone talk. If that thing gets down there, it could easily dismantle the forcefield and allow its army to get in. We have to stop it now.”

“I understand. Like you said. Its a small sacrifice to save a planet.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to make it back to the TARDIS in time. The planet below will need us to survive too, as we’re the only ones who can fetch help. Still our first priority is too stop that monster from getting down there” the Doctor said as he tampered with the communications device.

There was a brief shock. “Damn he’s booby trapped everything, this isn’t as complicated as the guidance system however if I can just.”

“You’re too late.” Zoella said.

“We’ve reached our world”

Suddenly the they heard the voice of Resicha in the safe room coming through.

“Hello control, hello control, I would like you to lower the forcefield for us.”

“Resicha! The traitor!” Zoella shouted. “I’ll kill him, I swear.”

“We hear you, all vessel’s were ordered to stay and fight no matter what the cost, to save Meliscor.”

“We only fled because the Daleks had already destroyed their world. We also have Dalek technology. It’s vital for the war front.” He held up a Dalek sphere that the monster had given him through the visual communicator.

“Please this could help sway the war in our favour.”

There was a moments silence before the ship was given the all clear.

“The fools.” Dana shouted.

“They’re desperate.” The Doctor replied.

“The idea of having some of the Daleks technology to use against them. It was far too tempting.”

The Doctor continued to tamper with the controls. Several bolts of blue lightening started to shoot out across the room, one of which struck the surviving soldier knocking him back.

Zoella didn’t even bother to check on him, she was too fixated on what the Doctor was doing.

Dana tended to the soldier. He was badly burned from the blast, and could barely stand without Dana’s help.

“Finally! I’ve got it!” the Doctor said as he managed to adjust the speaker.

“Noella quick whilst we still have control.”

As Noella spoke through the communicator the Doctor tended to the soldier. He had been too worked up in dismantling the communicator to notice. “We need to get him help, fast or else he won’t live” the Doctor said.

“This is first officer Noella. The Captain is dead. Killed by a Dalek that’s still onboard. You have to shoot this vessel down now. Blow it to pieces before it can reach.” Suddenly the device broke down.

“Please, please don’t kill me” Resicha pathetically begged the Dalek as it cornered him.

“I did everything you said.”

“YES THE FORCE FIELD HAS BEEN LOWERED WE ARE IN YOU WILL BE SPARED FOR THE MOMENT YOU MAY BE USEFUL WHEN WE REACH YOUR PLANET FOLLOW ME!”

“We have to get to the TARDIS now” The Doctor said as he opened the door with his sonic screwdriver. Zoella and Dana carried the wounded soldier with them down the corridor.

The Doctor used his sonic screwdriver to try and detect the booby trap the Dalek had left on the TARDIS door.

“Come on Doctor” Dana shouted frantically.

“I’m trying believe me.”

Suddenly a Dalek ray blasted the door of the TARDIS, scattering the Doctor, Dana and Zoella.

The monster soon emerged from the corridor, with Resicha in tow.

“You pathetic coward. You sold out your entire world.”

“I’m sorry Zoella. Please forgive me. I’m not a real soldier, you know that. I couldn’t end up like the Captain.”

“Oh don’t worry you won’t” Zoella said coldly as she shot Resicha in the head.

“You monster.” Dana said with disgust to Zoella. “You’re no better than the Dalek”

“SILENCE” the monster shouted.

“You’re too late. They’ve already got the warning. You’ll go up in smoke with the rest of us.” The Doctor taunted.

“YOU WILL TAKE ME INSIDE YOUR VESSEL DOCTOR!”

“Never”

The Dalek responded by shooting the wounded soldier dead.

“YOU WILL OBEY OR THEY WILL DIE!”  It screeched.

Before the Dalek could make good on its threats, a massive explosion burst its way out of the flight deck. The ship was being fired at on all fronts.

The Dalek instantly retreated into the control room to try and pilot the vessel, whilst the Doctor attempted to dismantle the booby trap. A further knock to the ship however caused a massive piece of debris to fall on Zoella. Dana tried to life it up. Despite her feelings towards Zoella she wasn’t about to just leave her to die.

Unfortunately another piece of debris fell on the TARDIS and knocked the Doctor out cold.

Dana tried to rouse the Doctor as more and more flames began to burst their way from the corridors of the ship.

To Be Continued.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor Who Season 18 Review

Image result for Tom Baker season 18

(This article is from a friend of mine named Laurence Buxton. I have decided to showcase some of his writing here. Let me know what you think, and enjoy.)

DOCTOR WHO. SEASON 18 REVIEW. By Laurence Buxton 2019.

Season Credits : –

Produced by John Nathan-Turner

Executive Produced by Barry Letts

Scripts edited by Christopher Hamilton Bidmead

THE LEISURE HIVE

Written by David Fisher. Directed by Lovett Bickford

Plot

The Doctor and Romana cut short a less-than-successful holiday on Brighton beach and decide to head to the famous Leisure Hive on the post-apocalyptic planet Argolis. They soon find themselves caught in a political powderkeg, where the natives are at risk of being manipulated to sell the Hive by a breakaway group of their mortal enemies the Foamasi. Meanwhile a militant young Argolin, Pangol, is looking to use the power of the Hive’s Generator, tweaked by the Earth scientist Hardin, to form an army of doppelgangers to destroy the Foamasi. The Doctor must not only convince the suspicious Argolins he is not behind a sudden murder in the Hive, but find a way to reverse his accidental rapid ageing and to prevent all-out war breaking out between the Argolin and the Foamasi…

‘The Time Lord’s looking his age all of a sudden – is the party over for Doctor Who?’

Review

Following the popular, if shortened and rather frivolous season 17 ( after shooting of the troubled Shada production was finally abandoned ) few could have expected the massive changes that Doctor Who, under the stewardship of JNT and Christopher Bidmead, would incur. With the departure of producer Graham Williams and script editor Douglas Adams the undergraduate humour that had begun to slip in during s16 was firmly vewtoed, and so when the series reappeared there would be very little, apart from the continuing presence ( for now ) of Tom Baker and Lalla Ward on board the TARDIS, to link it to what had gone before.

Not since season 7, with the introduction of Jon Pertwee, colour TV and UNIT, had there been quite as many fundamental changes to the on-screen realisation of Dr Who. Gone was the time tunnel sequence that had been a staple of Tom Baker’s time on the show; gone too was the ghostly howl of the theme tune, to be replaced by a ‘travelling through the stars’ opening segment and a more haunting, phased and up-tempo ( often referred to as the ‘disco’ ) arrangement by Peter Howell. Both seemed to be aimed at dragging the series into the 1980s, and it only took a brief look at the sets and special effects in the trailers to realise that the standards of both had done the same.

Even more changes are clearly signified by the opening scene, ones which give a chilling notice of intent for a gloom-laden future for the season, and for the Doctor personally, especially when compared to the previous year’s. The knockabout first moments of season 17 (Destiny Of The Daleks) on board the TARDIS had seen a coughing K9 being teased by the Doctor about having ‘laryngitis’, whilst Romana casually tried on a succession of new ‘bodies’ and ‘styles of dress’ – the latter including Baker’s – with the Doctor sniffily passing judgment on each. In The Leisure Hive, the opening titles to part 1 are followed by a plaintive and wistful synthesiser score accompanying a very lengthy pan across a notably out-of-season, windswept Brighton beach – all flapping deckchairs and abandoned beach tents. The camera finally alights on the Doctor, alone, wearing a vampire-like variation of his famous outfit, and slumped as if dead with his hat over his face. Even the apparent attempts to inject humour into this startlingly forlorn scene with the arrival of Romana and K9 sit disconcertingly with the viewer (the Doctor’s apparent narcolepsy, K9’s ill-advisedly going into the sea to ‘fetch’ a ball for Romana, and exploding) and with their referencing of decay and death seem to bode ill for both the titular hero and his trusty metal dog in series 18. More of which in future reviews…

The Leisure Hive, a story rumoured to make wry comment on the declining status of the British tourist industry, is nothing if not convincingly brought to the screen, with a gloss and sheen that was then new to the production, with evocative shots of the planet’s surface. The directing and camerawork from Bickford is certainly distinctive, and with the use of editing the Foamasi come across as an effective menace, when depicted as shadows, claws etc. This effectively increases the tension levels through the opening episodes, where a breakaway group of the Foamasi (originally envisaged as a kind of alien Mafia) are breaking their way into The Hive. They are also, unfortunately, rather too portly when viewed properly to convince as being able to disguise themselves as humans (as with Julian Glover’s head being the ‘disguise’ for the Jagaroth in series 17’s City Of Death). Hence the close-ups and single-camera work used here by Bickford, who unfortunately ran over budget and was not asked to return to the program.

There are also a certain amount of pacing problems with The Leisure Hive, notably in the first half, where events such as the landing of Mena’s spaceship, and the aforementioned pan along the beach are perhaps allowed to run on for rather too long and test the viewer’s attention span before the story, let alone the season, has really got going. Another oversight is the moment where Hardin’s shifty financier, Stimson, is fleeing from a Foamasi and leaves his glasses on the floor which are promptly stepped on and crushed by the alien – whilst a suitable conveyor of the ill fate which is about to befall him. However the likelihood of him either not noticing or at least trying to retrieve them stretches credibility, and a more convincingly edited sequence would at least have shown why he did not try to get them back. Apart from what is shown from the later shots of the Foamasi, however, the costuming and casting in The

Leisure Hive are generally strong, and the political scene on Argolis is well-realised through the many conversations by the major players in the boardroom. The theme of characters such as Morix and Mena displaying their mortality ( through the ‘buds’ dropping off their heads and visibly dying as this happens ) links in well with the grim themes of entropy and decay not only in the Argolin world but season 18 generally, themes that set the season a league away from what had gone before in light-hearted stories like The Horns Of Nimon and The Creature From The Pit.

Other aspects of the production are more hard to fault. Peter Howell does the incidental music for The Leisure Hive, and he does a good job at initiating a very different, austere synth soundtrack for the season, a clear step away from what had previously been heard on the show. Howell also went on to score the likes of Meglos and though obviously varying from story to story, the haunting style of this background music adds much to stories such as State of Decay, Warrior’s Gate and particularly Paddy Kingsland-scored Logopolis. There is a balancing during the suspenseful and serious scenes of high-pitched drone and lower, clanking ominous sounds. The opening pan along Brighton beach is perhaps the most distinguished moment, however, the aforementioned mournful melodies finally lightening with the ironic burst of “Oh I Do Like To Be Before The Seaside” upon the glimpse of the Doctor. Nonetheless the underpinning of the action with pensive, minor-key synthesized motifs will form another navel-gazing element of a downbeat season.

It is noticeable that this more serious atmosphere is partly induced by the changes in the dialogue, which are certainly noticeable in this story – as well as the removal of Baker’s physical pratfalls of series 17 there are noticeably fewer wisecracks made between the Doctor and Romana, and the concentration is now on not only political but scientific wording : discussions hinge here on the likes of tachyon recreation generators, anti-baryon shields, and so on. This would gain the show criticism by some long-term reviewers for being rather distant and clinical, and for fans of David Tennant’s more recent portrayal of the Doctor there are no vague ‘timey-wimey’ style explanations here.

Not as accessible to a casual viewer as in the past, perhaps, but there are at least strong and more serious performances from most of the guest cast. David Haig, well-known now for playing comic supporting roles alongside Hugh Grant in the likes of Four Weddings And A Funeral and Two Weeks’ Notice, shines as the increasingly militant and deranged Pangol, convincingly developing the character from apparently good-humoured tour guide to hate-filled fanatic, and making his ultimate defeat suitably poetic. Adrienne Corri also puts in good work as the dignified and wise Mena, and Laurence Payne, who would go on to appear as the ambitious scientist Dastari in the Colin Baker story The Two Doctors , plays the short-lived Chairman Of The Board, Morix, who desperately wants to finish the negotiations over the Hive before his imminent demise. Nigel Lambert also has plenty to do as Hardin, and forms a trusting bond with Baker’s Doctor. There are also great cliffhangers to part 1 ( where the Doctor is apparently dismembered by the Generator ) and part 2 ( where the Doctor emerges from the machine prematurely aged ).

Following on from the notorious ‘commentaries’ which accompany the DVD releases, much has been made of the tensions between Tom Baker and other cast members this season, which, coupled with the apparent after-effects of an illness that he caught in Australia, bring a world-weariness to his performances that had been totally lacking in previous years. Coupled with the need for him to play an aged version of his character, complete with long beard and sad eyes, Baker suddenly seems far more subdued, less comic ( even the ‘arrest the scarf’ comment he makes on being accused of Stimson’s murder is glossed over ) and even when not aged by the machine his portrayal here comes across much more consciously autumnal – when K9 ‘dies’ from going in the water at the beginning he continues to snooze, remains seated during his conversation with Romana and falls asleep again before she has finished. The more mature, less garish and more stylised black and burgundy version of his ‘costume’, which Baker allegedly did not approve of, arguably adds to this sense of decline, as well as his occasionally gaunt appearance, broody demeanour and slightly greyer hair. On the issue of his superbly-realised ‘aged’ appearance after entering the Generator special mention should go to make-up artist Dorka Nieradzik, and Baker’s increasingly drained, wistful and desperate performance has garnished great praise, for all the rumours of bad behaviour on the set.

Then of course there’s poor old K9, with his original voicer John Leeson back in the fold. With his indisputable logic and lethal lasers, the ‘metal dog’ had been such a useful ally to the Doctor and Romana in the past, particularly in season 17, but here he’s pretty much sidelined in scene one after his dip in the Channel – a deliberate ploy from the new production team that would become a regularity until the character was written out later in the season. The character had been seen as too easy a way for the heroes to escape from potentially difficult situations, hence lessening the danger and heightening the humour, and so spends much of s18 being mistreated, repaired or generally being out of action. If there were such a thing as the ‘Royal Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Droids’, then they would have had a field day with the majority of stories in s18.

The Leisure Hive represents a dour new direction for Who under JNT and, more temporarily, Bidmead. Technobabble takes over from titters, longeurs from laughs, and the fact that the show struggled for viewing figures up against the more light-hearted sci-fi of Buck Rogers is perhaps not so surprising in hindsight. In fairness however the serial, whilst containing one or two costuming and plotting issues, and whilst rarely remembered as either a fun romp likeCity Of Death or a gothic masterpiece like Talons Of Weng-Chiang, did at least allow the show to develop

greatly away from the sometimes farcical tone of the previous show. It also establishes the themes that would, in some form or another, encompass the entire season.

MEGLOS

Written by John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch. Directed by Terence Dudley

Plot

An old friend of the Doctor’s, Zastor, requests that he visit his planet of Tigella (one of two planets in the Prion star system, the other being Zolfa-Thura) to help investigate why the Dodecahedron (the source of their power) is fluctuating. The problem is compounded by the fact that their society is split into two tribes – the Savants, who have used its power scientifically, and the Deons, who believe that the Dodecahedron has been passed down from the god Ti. However, the TARDIS is trapped within a time loop by the last remaining Zolfa-Thuran, a cactus-like Meglos who has enlisted the help of some Gaztak mercenaries, led by the grumpy General Grugger and the impulsive Brotadac, and forces an Earthling to merge with him to enable him to take the Doctor’s identity. The Doctor needs to free himself and Romana from the time loop, stop Lexa and the rest of the Deons from launching a coup, prevent his own execution at Lexa’s hands and stop Meglos and the gaztaks making off with the dodecahedron.

‘A talking cactus, a devilish Doctor doppelganger – is Douglas Adams back on board?’

Review

After the serious introduction to the new season with the dramatically different The Leisure Hive, Meglos appears on paper to be a surprisingly quick return to the more whimsical, not to say fantastical style of storytelling of s16 and particularly s17. A talking cactus with aspirations to steal an immensely-powerful device and disguising itself as a diabolical double of the Doctor, whilst enlisting the help of a semi-comic selection of blundering space pirates. On the face of it, a return to the light-hearted entertainment of the show’s then recent past.

However Meglos touches on themes which had always been central to Doctor Who, in particular the battle between science and religion – here represented by the scientific Savants, led by Deedrix and the fanatical religious figures of the Deons, led by Lexa. This is slightly at odds with what could have been an unusually knockabout and daft adventure in the gloomy season 18. Inevitably the Deons are shown to be stubborn and struggle to listen to reason, though like the Savants ultimately their intentions are noble, and whereas in the past a race of scientists has not always managed to co-exist with others – note the strained ‘union’ between the Sevateem and the Tesh in the season 14 story, “The Face Of Evil” – at least there is a genuine chance of co-operation after the heroic death of Lexa and the destruction of the Dodecahedron.

Typical to the season, however, there are also themes of society being in decay and needing a revolution or change, and the attempted sacrifice of the Doctor by the increasingly powerful Lexa links back to rituals in stories such as The Power Of Kroll, where not only is such barbarism is shown as primitive, xenophobic and closed-minded, but the Dexans’ increasing dominance actually allows the pirates to make off with the Dodecahedron. Once again the Doctor arrives at the correct time, as unbeknown to the Tigellans Meglos is launching a plan that will take advantage of the Time Lords’ friendship with Zastor, and curiously it is Meglos’ abuse of the Doctor’s privileged position that, having threatened his life, allows him to bring down the threat to the fractured society and help it develop.

In fairness the suspicion of the Doctor is on this occasion understandable, due to the very convincing impersonation by the human-melded Meglos, even though it is never really explained why the villains needed to go to all the trouble of obtaining an apparently random human earthling was needed for this rather than a local Tigellan. It is also not convincingly explained how Meglos performs many of his actions in this serial, from the shrinking of the dodecahedron to the piloting of the spaceship, to the sealing the doors shut to prevent the Gaztaks from looting the ship, to the notorious ‘Chronic Hysteresis’. not to mention how the character is able to give the appreciative Brotadac the Doctor’s coat for good keeping.

On the subject of the titular villain, Tom Baker surpasses himself in the role of his own adversary, contrasting nicely even with his now more subdued – and occasionally grouchy, note the opening scene in the TARDIS – Doctor. Having already proven his ability to play an ‘evil’ version of the Doctor by briefly doubling as his robot imposter in “The Android Invasion”, Baker is asked here to play both the Doctor and the main villain for most of the story, and in doing so provides it with its ‘draw’. Baker steals the show every time he is on-screen as the villain, whether roaring “I am Meglos!” at Karris, shouting “Patience!” at the excitable but dim-witted Brotadac or coldly stating, “We mustn’t disappoint the Tigellans” to his co-conspirators, upon first appearing to them and the viewers in the Doctor’s guise. The actor’s excellence keep the strange premise grounded, and provides the unusual but excellent cliffhanger to episode 1.

Baker is great too at subtly enhancing the Doctor’s softer, warmer qualities when he pretends to be the disguised Meglos in return. The spiky green make-up for the actor as Meglos fights against the Earthling trying to exert his independence from him is excellent, and as on the Leisure Hive the production values are strong, including the scenes toward the stories’ climax where the Doctor and Meglos are locked away together as there is not the usual superimposing problem of having the same actor on screen twice. Indeed the two characters are immediately personally distinct in every way, which again stands as a compliment to Baker’s ability, even it renders the obvious subterfuge on the viewer less convincing than expected – there’s rarely a moment of doubt as to which ’version’ of the Doctor is which. Still, whatever criticisms Baker had of the changes made to Doctor Who for his last season, the first two stories in particular give him a great chance to play outside the normal constraints of the Time Lord’s character.

Unsurprisingly then it’s the lead actor’s show, but there are other strong performances. Lalla Ward is given plenty to do as Romana – note her curious reaction in the opening scene in the TARDIS when Baker states “First things first – but not necessarily in that order”, and it’s good to see K9 get a serious run-out after his ‘cameo’ in the opening scene of The Leisure Hive, though the metal dog is no sooner repaired than he runs out of power and is demeaningly kicked by Grugger. Stand-out among the guest cast is the surprise return of former Who star Jacqueline Hill (a rare case of an actor/actress who had portrayed a former companion, in her case Barbara Wright, returning in a guest role), giving a three-dimensional performance and instilling some genuine debating skills into the character rather than portraying her as just a two-dimensional ranting religious zealot – she even heroically lays down her life for Romana. Crawford Logan and Christopher Owen are also committed as Deedrix and the ‘possessed’ Earthling respectively, although Bill Fraser’s role as the grumpy, blustering Grugger is something he had by now been rather typecast in, after similar roles in comic films alongside the likes of Frankie Howerd. Though intended as mostly comic relief, Frederick Treves is mostly as annoying to the audience as the coat-obsessed Brotadac as he is to his fellow schemers, whilst Edward Underdown’s Zastor sadly fails to convince as any kind of leader even before his attempted deposing by Lexa.

Again the production values are more convincing than in then recent years : Meglos’ spaceship is clinical but convincingly high-tech, and the contrast between the white of the Savants and the red attire with black headgear of the Deons is simple, but striking. Perhaps for budgetary reasons the dodecahedron is shielded from the audiences’ view whilst still in its larger form, however, and its underwhelming ‘detonation’ at the end, to the chagrin of the squabbling villains, is a rather throwaway ending to the serial. There is also a fairly unconvincing sequence at the end of episode 2, where Romana is chased and apprehended by the Gaztaks, led by a shrill and rather unthreatening Brotadac, and once again the production team’s attempts to convincingly recreate the surface of a vegetative world look over ambitious, although it is still far from the worst ever seen on the show.

Peter Howell handles the incidental music for the story, and for the most part does very well at supplying apt atmospheric touches to different occasions and situations – the eerie rattle musical cue for Meglos immediately grabs the audience’s attention whenever he appears, which combined with Baker’s unblinking and stern-faced portrayal is the highlight of the serial. There is also the use of stately music in the early Debating Chamber sequences establishes the society well, and the increasingly fast-tempo use of ‘chanting’ vocoders in the sequence where Lexa is attempting to sacrifice the Doctor builds to a tense climax as the rope burns away.

There are also welcome touches of humour peppered throughout the tale, surprisingly for this more austere season, although fan reaction to these is often exaggerated due to the notable absence of comedy in the other stories. Furthermore, unlike the latter stages of the Williams era some of them actually seem to have been in the script originally, and those that do appear more improvised and natural are a little more tightly-edited and not allowed to get out of hand. That said, there are more unguarded moments that appear to have been allowed through – the previously mentioned one from Lalla Ward in the opening TARDIS scene, where she clearly winces, and one from a giggling Baker in the initial scene of the ‘time loop’. Other jokes, where Zastor chides Deedrix for being argumentative or during the Chronic Hysteris – which was itself widely criticised as being part of padding to increase the story from 3 to 4 parts – where K9 addresses the Doctor as Mistress, are dealt with in a more deadpan fashion that would have been the case in the past. The previously mentioned long-running joke about Brotadac’s obsession with Meglos’ discarded coat which he ends up wearing also works as a metaphor of changed identity, along with Meglos’ adoption of the Fourth Doctor’s persona, the fight for control of the Earthling and the spooky moment where the Doctor ends up facing his doppelganger. That comes immediately after the belly-laugh moment where the Doctor witnesses Meglos being winded and apprehended, opining “Ooh nasty – that could have been me!” before exactly the same fate happens to him seconds later. “Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?” states Baker upon facing his double, a sequence that briefly harks back to the ready wit and fun of the previous season.

But whilst not nearly as bleak as other season 18 stories such as The Leisure Hive, Warriors Gate or particularly Logopolis, Meglos also continues the former story’s theme of society stagnating, and the impasse between the Savants and the Deons in the opening debate being mirrored by the TARDIS crew being trapped by the Chronic Hysteris. The famous, endlessly-looping short sequence of comic events (the Doctor tripping over, Romana’s casual exasperation), which the crew escape by deliberately performing it out of turn, is regularly remarked on as a comment on the show’s former failings under the Williams era. It’s possible to imagine JNT and Bidmead saying Romana’s repeatedly circling opening groan of “Oh blast – here we go again!” to the previous season’s similar frolics, but here the sombre incidental music, and the way that Baker and Ward’s previously lightheartedness changes to real concern at the possibility of being stuck in it forever, makes the threat more unsettling than comic. This feeling is reinforced when a serious-faced and malevolent Baker subsequently appears as the transformed Meglos has been criticised for having a lightweight conclusion, and the comments are valid. Overall, though, is still a very enjoyable adventure in the classic Doctor Who mould, with generally strong acting and with its less downbeat mood it breaks up the more weighty stories that make up season 18, and one featuring a very impressive dual role from the still impressive Tom Baker. The next three stories, making up the E-Space trilogy, would see a return to a more thematically-rich style of storytelling.

E-SPACE TRILOGY

FULL CIRCLE

Written by Andrew Smith. Directed by Peter Grimwade

Plot

The Doctor tries to take the reluctant Romana back to Gallifrey, but pass through a Charged Vacuum Emboitment. Despite the scanner showing that they are on their home planet, they have actually landed on Alzerius, containing people whose origins are from another planet, Terradon. There is a schism between the crew who wish to take off in the Starliner (led by Three Deciders) to return to Terradon and a band of outcasts who reject the oligarchy of the Deciders. When the Mistfall descends, strange Marshmen start to emerge from the swamps, and spider-like creatures start to hatch from eggs that have come from the Riverfruit that make up part of the colonists’ diet, and the outcasts take refuge on board the Starliner which puts the crew at further risk. As well as trying to prevent Romana from devolving when she is bitten by a spider the Time Lord tries to discover what the connection is between the the spiders, the Marshmen and the crew, and just how long they have been preparing to leave Alzerius…

‘The Doctor and Romana immediately regret entering E-Space – and on top of Adric there are Marshmen for them to deal with, too…

Review.

It’s off into E-Space we go with the Doctor, for a trilogy of very different adventures : an evolutionary tale, a Hammer horror homage and an experimental mind-bender. Full Circle, the first of the trio, harks back in some ways to the ‘sympathetic monsters’ and moral dilemmas of early Pertwee-era Who, despite the higher production values and extra sheen. Furthermore it adds an extra twist to the genre as well as another element of variety to an already varied season, with the revelation that the Marshmen, and the Marshspiders before them, are ultimately the same race as the crew – and the circle of life will continue unabated unless drastic change is made.

Full Circle is the first story by the then 18-year old Andrew Smith, and it has to be adjudged a success, never gaining cheap criticism over the years in the manner of either the ‘derivative’ vampire tale State Of Decay or the ‘overly-complicated’ or ‘baffling’ Warriors’ Gate, with Smith’s scripts proving remarkably multi-layered and mature for the author’s age. The story also succeeds in introducing the unlikely ( and unpopular ) future companion of Adric in a subplot, where the adolescent fruitlessly endeavours to prove himself to his brother Varsh and his friends in much the way that the Starliners’ crew try to prove to themselves that they are not trapped on Alzerius. This determination to gain respect would be a characteristic that, whatever one thinks of the character and Matthew Waterhouse’s performance, would define the character through to his surprise exit in the Davison years.

The atmosphere is definitely murkier than the more ‘straight-ahead story’ of the preceding Meglos. The idea of Mistfall clearly fills the locals with a sense of dread, and the spooky music during part 1, including electronic drums and pan-pipe style synths as well as the usual minor-key motifs, enhances the menace of the bubbling swamps. Moreover the Doctor himself is fairly slow to get to the scene, too late to save Decider Draith who is chillingly dragged into the swamp whilst accosting Adric. The idea of being locked away on the sterile Starliner for up to ten years is shown as being almost as much of a punishment as being left outside during the Mistfall, and the irony that the crew have never learnt to fly the fully active Starliner seemingly condemns them to their needless fate, the same as befell the previous 40 000 or so generations.

There are strong central performances to enhance the clever concept, too. Baker shows charming little flashes of humour: when he meets the Marsh Child “How odd – I usually get on terribly well with children!” or flashing the now-rare grin when the Deciders introduce themselves to him, “And I’m the Doctor!”, quiet inquisitiveness in the opening two episodes, his usual unpredictable reactions to events, one amusing telling-off of Adric upon a crowd of Alzerians emerging from the TARDIS, “What is this, Noah’s ark!?” and finally roaring his dismissal of the Deciders’ flimsy moral self-defence after the Marshchild’s death, “Not an alibi – Deciders!” make this another strong outing for his portrayal of the Time Lord. But it’s Lalla Ward who gets the plaudits this time, coming into her own away from Baker’s Doctor. Here we see Ward able to play a more assertive yet nuanced version of Romana – witness her cheerful admonishment of Adric for asking her to touch his wounded knee – acting despondently upon hearing that she is wanted back on Gallifrey, during the quietly intimate scene with Baker in her quarters on the TARDIS, or the scene where, with the help of Adric, she disarms Varsh and points the knife at him before calmly handing it back. But the piece de resistance is the moment where she gets possessed by the spider – just as Baker got to play against the preconceptions of the audience in previous adventures, here it is Ward’s turn, and she rises to the occasion.

One of the accusations always levelled at the classic series of Doctor Who is that it contains wobbly sets and rubbery monsters, but here the season again defies this – if only to a point. The Marshmen arising from the swamp represent a dramatic (if unfortunately curtailed) climax to part 1, and the Marshchild comes across as a genuinely innocent and sympathetic character whom the audience immediately feels sorry for. As a contrast, however, the scuttling spiders are far less realistic, and Romana’s initial dismissal of them seems a more appropriate reaction than her subsequent terror. However the interiors of the Starliner are minimalist but effective, and the Inquisition chamber beautifully balances the black and grey décor with the gold of the Deciders, whilst the make-up for Romana’s ‘possession’ is also a winner.

One aspect of the production that becomes apparent from here on in, and would become an even more noticeable problem during Davison’s tenure as the Doctor, however, is the ‘costuming’ of some of the regulars. Whilst Romana here appears in a strikingly different red gold and white apparel as opposed to her ‘sailor’ outfit of the first two transmitted tales, the Doctor’s attire, though stylish, distinctive and more urbane than his previous ‘random collection’ of clothes, is by now seeming to be as much a ‘uniform’ as clothes of choice. Whilst Davison’s Doctor’s inflexible cricket garb and Colin Baker’s notorious multi-coloured coat when playing the role are worse intruders in this sense than the 4th Doctor’s’ burgundy outfit, JNT’s stating that this was for merchandising reasons only half-convinces, and has given rise to speculation that this was also an attempt to ensure that Baker played the Doctor as a dramatic part and not simply as an extension of the more comic side of his real-life personality. In any case, considering how many times the Doctor lands on a planet or spacecraft and is instantly threatened or ‘tried’ for a crime by suspicious individuals, coupled with the amount of clothing that we have seen on several occasions within the TARDIS, it makes little sense that he would now ensure that he or his companions would look even more out of place than usual, and therefore place themselves in immediate danger and hinder his investigations. In the near future, Adric’s off-yellow and grey ‘pyjama’ outfit becomes a particularly hideous example of this once he stows away on board the TARDIS, in this adventure.

On the subject of Adric, Matthew Waterhouse gets a great deal of bad press for his performance here as Adric, and his general attempts in the future at trying to display the character’s often contradictory qualities of intelligence and well-meaning kindness whilst being naïve and desperate to impress. Actually his performance in Full Circle is not too bad, displaying a pragmatic side (when he advises that Romana look outside the door rather than look for technological ways of surveying the surface of the planet), brief moments of burgeoning sexuality (the aforementioned scene with Romana), bravery (when he helps Romana fight off the River people), and ironically reacting more calmly and naturally to the Doctor than in later adventures. He still finds himself on the receiving end of a fair few Baker broadsides throughout the adventure, however, as does Romana, and commentaries on the E-Space trilogy box-set have proved rather candid on the deteriorating communications on-set at the time – such as Baker allegedly not looking at his co-stars during takes if riled. Perhaps more pertinently during his time on the show, the character’s occasional sulks or ill-considered wilfulness, such as one which indirectly leads to Decider Draith’s death, hindered his would-be allies and greatly alienated viewers, right up to the character’s final story.

Of the rest of the cast, Richard Willis impressed many as the more headstrong Varsh, by some way the best of the actors playing the Outlers and unfortunately casting a shadow over the appointment of Adric as companion, and the death of his brother saving his life would be rather glossed over for much of the mathematician’s time on board the TARDIS. George Baker is probably the best of the Deciders, although Leonard Maguire impresses as the ill-fated Draith. The musical accompaniment, like many this season, is of a high standard, particularly the Church organ-style music during the ‘Decider’ scenes on board the Starliner.

The subject of resistance to change, or an (in)ability to adapt is a key theme to Full Circle. The Marshmen are observed by Romana as adapting to their new environment quickly when she admonishes Varsh and the others; in contrast are the inhabitants of the Starliner, who in some cases show a struggle to develop without the Doctor’s assistance – take the scene where the three Deciders each expect the others to come up with a solution to the Marshmen invasion. There is a neat moment where the Doctor remarks to Adric that “we’ve come full circle”, which his new companion remarks is what the scientists have observed – which can be compared with the Chronic Hysteris sequence in Meglos . Ultimately the two remaining Deciders are forced to make a decision on whether the Starliner stays and their race continues to go full circle or leaves, and evolves, and the fact that they depart Alzerius – albeit with a little prodding from the Doctor – provides the positive resolution to the story. Apathy is defeated, though the theme of stagnation and disinterest would again surface during the E-Space trilogy (Warriors’ Gate).

Full Circle is another strong story, well-directed by debutant Peter Grimwade and with plenty of opportunity for both Baker’s Doctor and Ward’s Romana to shine in a well-written script that disproves the addage that first-time or ‘fan’ writers cannot come up with the goods. The addition of Adric’s ‘boy genius’ to the TARDIS crew would allegedly cause ructions on-set, but the theme of change prevalent in the tale is particularly apt here – with the arrival of Adric, the process of change had begun of the crew themselves. By the end of the season the Doctor, Romana and K9 would all, like the crew of the Starliner, be gone…

E-SPACE TRILOGY

STATE OF DECAY. Written By Terrance Dicks. Directed by Peter Moffatt

Plot

Still trapped in E-Space The Doctor, Romana, K9 and the stowed-away Adric arrive on an unnamed planet. They are surprised to find that it is almost feudal, and note that the villagers are in fear of the ‘Three Who Rule’: elusive beings who dwell in a nearby Tower, and with the help of their guards, the Habris, seem to be behind the annual disappearance of a number of the younger villagers. Threatened by the Lords’ guards and the mysterious ‘Wasting’, the adventurers look to investigate the reason why the corpses of the missing villagers are drained of blood, whether the Three Who Rule and the Tower itself are linked to a spaceship which once landed there, and whether a long-standing enemy of the Time Lords could be behind the current state of decay…

‘It isn’t just the young stowaway on the TARDIS who’s’ proving a pain in the neck…’

Review.

“It’ll be dark soon” notes Romana towards the end of the first episode, and this observation highlights not only the ethos of the gloomy march to oblivion of season 18 of Doctor Who but more specifically the phobia of creatures that fear the sunlight. And the fact that State Of Decay is the title is something of an irony, as not only is the story about a society that has become something of a regression but the story itself is something of a throwback, being as it is a rewrite of an adventure initially intended to take place in the Gothic days of s15.

During the earlier days of the Tom Baker era classic monsters from film and literature had been the subject of homage successfully. His very first story (Robot ) was a tip of the hat to King Kong, and another of his earlier adventures (The Brain Of Morbius) was clearly inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. So why not take the vampire legend and put that unique Doctor Who spin on it too?

Of course Gothic Horror such as The Brain Of Morbius had been successfully done during the Hinchcliffe era, and even when not featuring any kind of horror genre-related villain, it had been a defining feel of early Tom Baker stories such as series 12, 13 and 14. Indeed, an early form of the serial had been submitted by Terrance Dicks back in 1977 during the Hinchcliffe era called The Witch Lords, and was intended to open series 15, but due to a clash with a BBC adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula the claustrophobic, lighthouse-based story Horror Of Fang Rock (which was perhaps even more horror-inspired) was commissioned instead. With hindsight, then, one can see such a story fitting in well to that period of Tom Baker’s tenure.

The title and theme of State Of Decay slot more appropriately into this entropy-obsessed season, however, and encapsulate the general theme of societies in decay, decline and regression. The Doctor’s conversation with Camilla and Zargo in the second episode highlights this, as does his subsequent chat with Romana where he deduces that the vampires are the original crew of Hydrax, and that the ‘throne room’ was once the spaceship’s control booth. The planet is clearly in a state of devolution, obvious from the scene where the Doctor talks of ‘consonantal shift’ explaining the changing of the Three That Rule’s names over a great period of time and the fact that the control room is now a throne room, and from the moment the villagers produce communicators and other hi-tech devices yet, as in Full Circle, are unable to explain what ‘the Wasting’ actually is. Once again, such self-destructive traditions and fears are questioned by the Doctor upon his arrival, and by doing so he prevents a society from stagnating – ironically causing the literal ‘wasting away’ of the Three That rule when he slays the Great Vampire.

Another theme that rears its head is the easiness of waiting for things to improve rather than taking risks to ensure that they do. The scene where Tarak, Kalmar and the others argue in the dwelling highlights a theme that was particularly noticeable in the previous story, Full Circle, where the crew of the Starliner showed an unwillingness to learn how to launch a perfectly functional Starship, actually sabotaging it to avoid doing so. Kalmar admits he is prepared to put off any revolution for several generations if necessary, and apart from Tarak the others agree that it is ‘too soon’. The acquisition of knowledge is seen as the greatest power in a society like theirs, as Camilla remarks to Zargo, and this is backed up by Tarak’s remarks to the others about the importance of the Doctor. It is no coincidence that Aukon comes across as the most knowledgeable of the vampires and is also effectively their leader.

The planet is realised onscreen as largely a plush and convincing environment, and the ‘covering up’ of high-tech equipment among apparently mediaeval settings is convincingly done, enhanced by the sometimes occasionally archaic incidental music, whilst accentuating the spooky threat of the vampires. The use of location filming during the first episode gives the chance for a surprisingly relaxed-looking Doctor and Romana to stroll through genuine flora at dusk, and the moment where the bats (aka ‘The Wasting’) bite the Doctor and fly over them could be straight out of a classic Hammer film. The superimposing of a bat over Aukon during episode 1 shows a stylised touch which previous Who had rarely attempted, and is a memorable image which removes the need for stilted information dumps. Clothing-wise the more stylised, two-tone black and burgundy Baker fits in perfectly here, of course, despite seeming a little more chipper than at certain other times this season. There is an ominous moment the moment we first see the Doctor in the TARDIS, however, where Romana is concerned at his pained expression, which seemingly doesn’t bode well long-term for this incarnation of the Time Lord. Baker’s Doctor had always been famous for almost cheerfully enduring physical pain in early stories like Arc In Space, or dealing with being menaced by monsters in tales like Nightmare Of Eden in farcical fashion – not any more.

Adric has a rather strange adventure here, however, showing ‘Artful Dodger’-style cheekiness (which was originally how the character was envisaged), but his inward and easily malleable nature makes him less than sympathetic. Within moments of being caught entering the villagers’ dwelling he is helping himself to their food and their son’s coat, though with hindsight it’s a shame that he didn’t continue to wear this more natural looking garment during his time on the show instead of his horrendous yellow ‘pyjama’ outfit. Furthermore the Alzerian later displays turncoat-style behaviour in apparently acquiescing to become like the Lords, and gives an unconvincing explanation to Romana about fooling them into a false sense of security. Whether due to Waterhouse’s performance or a conflicting script, Adric’s behaviour during this adventure never convincingly comes across as anything other than self-serving, even though he does eventually attempt to slay Zargo towards the end of the tale as the Time Lord and Lady are threatened. This portrayal of the character contrasts with the more plausible attempts he made to help the Doctor and Romana in his debut story Full Circle. K9 finally gets to have a less battering adventure of his own here, a rare event this season, and delivers a cutting summary of Adric in the TARDIS upon discovering the stowaway – “Immature humanoid – non-hostile.”

Characterisation is generally inconsistent in this story, sadly. Ivo, head of the village, shows equally unfathomable motives throughout, going from acceptance of any uprising to betraying it. This is unfortunate when the humans are clearly shown to be the oppressed and disadvantaged peoples of the planet, ruthlessly preyed on by the Lords. More appealing by far is Arthur Hewlett as Kalmar, with his quiet subversion evoking memories of Timothy Bateson as Binro the Heretic in the Key To Time adventure The Ribos Operation, and Thane Bettany as Tarak, who in contrast to his peers shows the charisma and the bravery to defy both the Three Who Rule and the once loyal villagers who now serve under Habris and his guards. On the subject of the Lords, Emrys James is imposing and entertaining as the dominant Aukon, though his dominant performance does reduce Rachel Davies’ Camilla and William Lindsay’s Zargo to the role of hissing, bickering sidekicks whenever he is present.

There are other quite noticeable flaws. The on-screen realisation of the Great Vampire is a disappointment almost on the scale of the Skarasen in Terror Of The Zygons, and the rocket going straight up and then straight back down to pierce its heart, is poetic but truly corny. The use of blood as ‘fuel’ over such a long period of the time raises the simple question of why has it not evaporated or gone bad, being organic, not to mention the fact that the planet’s population now seems extremely meagre for them to continue plundering. Considering how the peasants’ society has regressed over time it is surprisingly easy for the Doctor to get them up-to-speed with the high-tech equipment, and it is equally surprising they have not destroyed or thrown it out once it became useless to them. It is also difficult to work out what the ‘perks’ of becoming a guard are, as the Three That Rule still threaten to feed them to the great one upon the slightest failing, and show no concern when informed that they are dying.

State Of Decay is not perfect and with its use of hypnotism, mind-reading and other vampire cliches, seems a little out of place in a season heavy on science, but it remains a stylish story even today, for sure, and though criticised for being something of a derivative horror story given the Doctor Who treatment, it is nonetheless watchable and reinforces the themes of the season as directly as any of the stories without being too heavy-going. Those who criticised the story for perhaps lacking much under the surface or for being too simple would soon see the flip-side of the coin…

E-SPACE TRILOGY

WARRIOR’S GATE

Written by Stephen Gallagher. Directed by Paul Joyce ( assisted by Graham Harper )

Plot

At the point where N-Space and E-Space meet, a time-sensitive Tharil named Biroc escapes from a slaver cargo vessel holding others of his kind, and hijacks the TARDIS which, like the slave vessel, has become trapped there, near a gateway. He warns them that the slavers are following him and that they cannot be trusted. The Commander of the slaver ship, Rorvik, is determined to recapture Biroc who has been navigating them, and is becoming increasingly irritated at both the entrapment of his ship and the rest of his crew’s apparent disinterest in escaping. The Doctor will need all of his wits to investigate a mysterious gateway and an abandoned banquet hall nearby, utilise a number of mirrors which provide passage for time-sensitive aliens, avoid the threat of the malfunctioning Gundan robotic knights, rescue the captured Romana from Rorvik who believes her to be time-sensitive too and intends her to replace Biroc, and prevent both the slave ship from diminishing the Gateway into nothingness and its captain from misjudging the power of the mirrors and destroying everyone…

‘Who knew E-Space could get so complicated’?

Review.

One of the fascinations of Doctor Who, particularly in its’ ‘classic’ days, was the sheer range of its types of storytelling, and s18 had already encompassed this – a sly satire on the culture and holiday business ( The Leisure Hive ); a fantastical ‘villain with delusions of grandeur’ tale ( Meglos ); a pacifistic and environmentally-aware precautionary tale of evolution ( Full Circle ) and a homage to the horror genre ( State Of Decay ). With the 5th story to be released chronologically, however, season 18 went one stage further, with a bizarre tale of time-travelling reformed aliens, cruel and listless humans, mysterious mirrors and mystical castles, which showed influences from sources as diverse as Jean Cocteau, Stanley Kubrick, C S Lewis and Mervyn Peake.

Warrior’s Gate , though utterly distinct from either, ranks with The Mind Robber during the Patrick Troughton era and Ghost Light during the McCoy era as one of the most experimental serials in the show’s history, featuring concepts that would baffle any first-time viewer. Furthermore, faced with the need to convincingly wrap up the E-Space trilogy (which had had little bearing on the previous adventure other than the Vampires had fled there to hide from the Time Lords), return the Doctor to N-Space and plot the departures of both Romana and the now long-suffering K9, it would need to include a convincing reason why they would choose this moment to depart. Not only did the writer succeed in doing this, and expanding on the themes of season 18 as a whole, but they managed to create a world like no other in the Doctor Who canon – the Tharils, the mirrors, the gateway, the abandoned hall, the shrinking dimensions and the time winds are all strikingly original, to an almost daunting degree when all are presented at once.

Once again the Doctor finds himself faced by a pseudo-tyrant, in the form of the blustering and impatient human Commander Rorvik, “We’re back in nowhere” mutter the crew near the beginning of the story, and this sums up the quandary they find themselves in, and Rorvik’s desperation to escape. In typical series 18 fashion it is not so much the prospect of death but that of being trapped or regressing which seems to breed even greater apathy and fear of action in both the time-sensitive Tharils (represented most strongly by the noble yet enigmatic Biroc), who are clearly being mistreated and even killed, and their new masters the privateer crew. The theme of devolution is present in the Tharils once being masters but now being slaves, and that of apathy is evident not only in their failure to rebel until the Doctor and Romana arrive, but also in the crew who show little urgency to escape E-Space, although their inertia is not wholly condemned by the fact that as the Doctor says to Biroc, “sometimes it’s best to do nothing, if it’s the right sort of nothing.”

In many ways it should be possible to have sympathy for the crew for the literal and metaphorical limbo they find themselves in, despite the casual cruelties they inflict on their former masters. “Nowhere to go and no way of getting there” remarks Rorvik sourly to the crew at one point, and they say nothing. In many ways the void the crew are in, trapped between N Space and E Space, reflects their state of mind. This sense of aimlessness then ensures that they remain trapped, their lack of personal progression being displayed in their concern with maximising their bonuses rather than escaping the void. Following on from the theme shown in the likes of Meglos of individuals failing to evolve and going round in circles (the Chronic Hysteresis), and the same thing happening to societies in The Leisure Hive, Full Circle and State Of Decay, Warriors’ Gate takes the extra idea of the oppressors becoming the oppressed – with the Tharils having been defeated by their then ‘inferiors’ rising up and defeating them with the aid of the Gundans. The decay of the Tharil civilisation after that revolution ties in with the idea presented in State Of Decay, where the fortunes of the oppressed are actually declining the longer they allow the current state of affairs to continue.

“It’s always darkest before the storm” says the Doctor, linking to Romana’s comment about night being about to fall in the previous story, and though the murky huts, darkened ‘tower’ and gloomy wood of the previous story are stylistically completely opposite to the well-lit spaceship, white void and fantastical castle behind the Gateway, there is a similar underlying bleakness about this story. The Doctor himself seems to have developed something of a death wish, where he nearly pushes a button that would have destroyed the TARDIS in the first episode and recognises that chance is in itself not an explanation for what he could have done. When he faces apparent decapitation by the Gundans he seems, at times, strangely resigned to his fate, albeit cheerful when he is not ultimately killed. In fact this story could be seen as the ultimate encapsulation of the Doctor succeeding by being ‘passive’ – such as his aforementioned comment to Biroc, his tolerance of Biroc and acceptance of a logic which is alien to him and finally his opposing of Rorvik’s rashness in trying to escape E-Space, even though it is something the Doctor himself wishes to do.

Lalla Ward, generally considered to have steadily improved as an actress since her initial Doctor Who appearance as Princess Astra in The Armageddon Factor, puts in one of her finest performances, and so whilst her departure at the end to stay with Rorvik in E-Space has been signposted – both by her comment in Full Circle to the Doctor and her earlier remark to Adric that she and the Doctor may soon be going their separate ways – it is a curiously rushed scene when she and K9 depart, with the Doctor’s comment, “You were the noblest Romana of them all” standing in sharp contrast to the increasing discord that Baker and Ward’s relationship was going through at the time. As for poor K9, after his more dignified treatment in State Of Decay he’s back to being abused with a vengeance here: overheating, running out of power, getting kicked and thrown away all in the same story. To literally add insult to injury he is even belittled by Adric! It’s difficult not to see this constant belittling of the character as being alienating to the children who were intended to be his fanbase, and for the character’s sake it is good to see his suffering end as the Doctor orders him to stay with Romana and the Tharils.

Surprisingly in such a ‘puzzle within a puzzle’ story, characters such as Aldo and Royce provide effective and accessible humour, and the two succeed in grounding what could have been a grim and incomprehensible story with some down-to-earth observations and their general laissez-faire attitude, and their cowardice only goes further to ensure that they will not escape from the gateway. Kenneth Cope puts in as reliable a performance as ever as the more level-headed, no-nonsense Packard, the perfect foil to Clifford Rose’s irascible Rorvik. Even Rorvik himself is not a stereotypical villain, however, as his frustration is understandable when surrounded by the apathy and counter-productive attitude of the crew, and the fact that he causes his crew’s death by the hot-headed action in trying to blast away is an irony in a season where inaction is often seen as the worst thing to do. As he himself remarks caustically to the Doctor “I’m finally getting something done!” It is a bleak conclusion to a tale where all the humans

are apparently killed in the inevitable blastback, regardless of whether they agree with Rorvik’s rash but understandable action.

Warrior’s Gate is undeniably complex. Whilst well-made with remarkable effects and brimming with intriguing ideas its mixture of mind-bending science, surreal fantasy, satirical comment and comments on self-destruction, slavery and cycles of oppression make it unlikely to top a fan’s favourite poll, and it is certainly a story that requires more than one viewing due to its density. It is also not only the end of the E-Space trilogy but the end of another era for the Fourth Doctor with the departure of long-standing companion Romana and the even longer-standing K9, and with Adric now the sole companion on board the TARDIS the Doctor prepares to return to N-Space – where an old enemy awaits…

THE KEEPER OF TRAKEN. Written by Johnny Byrne. Directed by John Black

Plot

The Doctor and Adric return to N-Space and are visited on the TARDIS by the aged and infirm Keeper Of Traken, who states that he has perceived a great evil within his potential successor Tremas and his family – wife Kassia and daughter Nyssa. Although Traken is a planet where decency is paramount, the arrival of an evil life form, calcified on arrival by the essential ‘goodness’ of the planet and now known as the Melkur, leads to the mysterious deaths of a number of citizens which are blamed on the Doctor and Adric. The Melkur has also taken control of Kassia by means of a collar, and is manipulating her in order to become Keeper himself and gain access to the source. Who is the Melkur, and why do they wish for control of the source?

‘Anthony Ainley makes his Doctor Who debut – and there’s barely a cackle in sight…’

Review

With Tom Baker’s time on board the TARDIS now drawing towards an end (it was during the filming of this serial that it was announced on the BBC that the Liverpool-born legend would be leaving the show), Season 18 continues its remarkable range of different adventures with the almost Biblically-themed Keeper Of Traken. And for the role of the snake in the garden of Eden, there can be only one long-standing adversary of the Doctor to fit the bill – the Master.

The tale of Traken is ultimately especially grim, of course, as the Master – the real force behind the evil, calcified Melkur – manipulates the people of the ‘utopia’ of Traken to not only ascend to the throne but to steal the body of the wise and open-minded Tremas, who seemed to represent a better, more astute future for Traken, and ultimately to lead to its destruction in the following episode. The corruption and destruction of the planet by the satanic Master (note the number of references to not looking into the Melkur’s or the possessed Kassia’s eyes) would of course go on to form part of a similar plot of the David Tennant story, “Utopia”, carried over into the following two episodes which concluded season 3 of the new series. Here, however, his ultimate aim is to obtain a new, healthy body, the audience being deliberately misled to think that his aim is universal domination and Jacobean-style revenge on the Doctor – though with the now more malevolent than ever Master, neither of those motives are far away either.

The season’s themes of entropy and decline cast a shadow over Traken from the beginning of the story, in the image of the dying Keeper in the TARDIS, the initially unexplained death of the old man in the grove, the notion of the Melkur immediately being pinpointed as an all-pervading evil corrupting the ‘absolute goodness’ of Traken; the still hideously-wizened figure of the Master, skulking in the Melkur and reaching out to seize the body of Tremas (an anagram of Master) in the very final scene, and the ominous fact that the clock’s hands on the Master’s newly-disguised TARDIS in that scene are at five to midnight, boding ill for the final story in the series. Curiously there is also the theme of rebirth and change after a low period, as evidenced by both Traken and the Master’s restorations by the end of the story – a theme which becomes evidenced again in Logopolis through the Doctor’s own fate.

Whilst the behind-the-scenes documentaries have often pointed the finger at Tom Baker being less than satisfied in s18, he seems calm here, and at times quite warm towards Waterhouse. In the opening scene he discusses the wonders of N-Space to Adric and even puts his arm around the young Alzerian, and shows the full array of the 4th Doctor’s emotions – humour, bafflement, empathy, grace, brief indignation, a tendency to ramble and absent-mindedness, along with a greater awareness of his incarnation’s limited timespan. “I know that feeling” states the Doctor when the aged Keeper makes a remark about feeling his age. Although Baker is clearly looking older he puts in a lively performance here, getting his famous humour into his performance when captured. “I wonder what we’ve done this time”, he whispers to Adric, and ponders aloud to his captors if they are the welcoming committee and knocks two of his opponent’s heads together with the obvious but effective quip, “two heads are better than one”. Yet he also enhances the threat of Melkur where he admonishes Tremas for wanting to keep his honour intact rather than give him the master plans so he can help save Traken.

Intriguingly the other more recent theme that had come up in Season 18 : that of changing one’s course of action rather than simply keeping the status quo not always being for the better (in Warrior’s Gate) is again referenced here, with the consul’s willing adoption of Kassia as the new Keeper proving as ill-thought out as Rorvik’s suicidal decision to try and blast free of the Gateway in the previous story. Unfortunately the combination of the apparently ‘nice to each other’ Traken peoples being generally extremely suspicious of outsiders and willing to pass death sentences on even each other quickly may try the patience of those who are supposed to sympathise, whereas in Warriors Gate, of course, the ship’s crew were led by the stories’ main villain, Rorvik. One also has to wonder why the Traken people are so convinced of the Doctor and Adric’s ‘ultimate evil’ when unlike the Melkur they have not calcified upon arriving in the grove.

Anthony Ainley, who became so maligned for his occasionally OTT performances as the Master during the Davison era, has been uniformly praised for his rounded portrayal of Tremas in The Keeper Of Traken. His compassion, knowledge of science and shrewd good judgement helps him form an immediate empathy with the Doctor, and his decency is reflected in the warmth of his daughter Nyssa (played by Sarah Sutton) whose pure-heartedness contrasts greatly with the weak-willed desperation of Kassia, who has fallen under the thrall of the Melkur. Nyssa, who would soon become a surprise long-term companion on the TARDIS, has greater character development here and in Logopolis than in many of her subsequent stories with Davison’s Doctor, due to the more obviously personal effect that the Master/Melkur’s machinations have on her. Roland Oliver’s performance as the pragmatic Proctor Neman, looking at monetary gain for himself until his shock execution, is also impressive, though it is another indictment of Traken’s supposedly virtuous society that such a corrupt character has become so prominent. John Woodnutt is as entertaining here as the self-assured and seemingly politically-astute Seron he was in dual role of Forgay/Broton in Terror Of The Zygons , and even adds a touch more fruitiness to the role this time around, and proves his good intentions as he begs Kassia to reject the evil within her.

Even Adric’s many detractors confirm that Waterhouse is on good form here, too – forming an effective double-act with future co-companion Nyssa which mirrors the Doctor-Tremas partnership. Sheila Ruskin’s Kassia is more hit-and-miss, however. She is overly histrionic in the scene where following the Keeper’s death she denounces the Doctor and Adric as the culprits for the recent evils on Traken, even considering the Shakespearian tragedy that the character is central to – her love for her husband and wish for him not to suffer and playing into the Master’s hands. Geoffrey Beevers makes up for this, however, as the silkily-evil and Iago-like Master/Melkur, although as a downside the untreated voice of the Master lacks the echoing resonance of the Melkur’s, and is less effective as a result.

To complement the well-thought out society of Traken there is an appropriately-stagey (but well-realised) combination of Elizabethan-style sets from Tony Burroughs, with the right array of lighting to denote the time of day when outside, and though the grove does not look like anything other a set in itself, it is attractive and imaginatively designed, with the off-white form of the Melkur proving a strong, contrasting image. Roger Limb’s soundtrack, though not perhaps the best of the season, is steady and stately without being too intrusive, and the costumes etc, in a range of subdued reds, blues and greys, provide a society into which the Doctor’s flowing burgundy garb fits in well, though the same can hardly be said of Adric’s attire.

The Keeper Of Traken is one of the more consistently-highly rated stories from season 18, a dark scientific fairy tale with tragic overtones but without the tone of utter gloominess that pervades the following Logopolis. Though looking a little wearied Baker is back to his energetic, more spirited and humorous self, but the arising of the Master, the time on his TARDIS’ clock-face and the mentions of “time running out” during the story are an ominous portent for what is about to happen…

LOGOPOLIS. Written by Christopher Hamilton Bidmead. Directed by Peter Grimwade

Plot

The Doctor, alerted to oncoming danger by the ringing of the Cloister Bell in the TARDIS, decides to head to Earth to measure an original police box as part of a scheme to fix his chameleon circuit with the help of the peoples of Logopolis. However the Master has materialised his TARDIS on board the Doctor’s, and due to his psychotic tendencies the deaths of a number of Logopolitans, whose chanting of a series of complex numbers keeps the entire universe in check, interrupts the process and threatens the whole of creation with entropy. Robbed of several of its workers Logopolis decays dramatically, followed by the Traken Union, and the Doctor, Adric, Nyssa and accidental new companion Tegan Jovanka join forces with the Master to prevent universal annihilation. Can the Doctor’s old nemesis be trusted even now, however, and who is the strange ghost-like figure that keeps appearing?

‘A ghostly grim-reaper and a black-clad blackheart – is time almost up for the Doctor?’

Review

The curtain finally comes down on the Fourth incarnation of the Doctor after seven hugely successful years, in what is unquestionably one of the gloomiest stories in the canon of the series. As season 18 is not exactly a barrel of laughs even at the best of times, Baker’s forlorn face, the ultimate encapsulation of the entropy theme and the utterly desolate feel all make Logopolis seem a fitting season finale, if not necessarily a wholly-satisfying end to a once so jocular incarnation of the character.

It is Tom Baker’s performance that naturally takes centre-stage here, and Matthew Waterhouse’s constant questioning and repeating his phrases in the TARDIS during the earlier scenes has to be endured as a minor distraction. As in The Keeper Of Traken there is an initially warmer rapport between the two now Romana and K9 are no longer on the scene yet Baker looks tired, drawn and fearful throughout, in a manner never seen before even in this more sombre season, and before long he is snapping his impatience with Pertwee-like fierceness. Ironically one of the rare moments he smiles (apart from the brief flash of those familiar teeth as he suggests a tour to Earth to measure a police box) is as he lies ‘dying’ at the bottom of the Pharos research Tower. Thus even in death he achieves victory – even as the Master has achieved one of his aims (the destruction of the Doctor) the Doctor succeeds heroically in foiling the Master’s opportunistic attempt to seize control of the Universe. It also allows Baker to depart in a manner appropriate to his often larger-than-life legendary portrayal, after a season where the theme of decay seems to have had a quietening effect on his character too.

The idea of entropy comes to a head here, both explicitly – Baker directly addresses this in his first scene in the grove, noting the decay of the TARDIS, as does Adric to Nyssa, and entropy is openly discussed as Logopolis visibly decays, coupled with the more subtle but noticeable ‘decay’ of Tegan’s car – looking battered and getting a flat without the means to replace the tyre (the spare is flat too) – drawing parallels with the now inadequate nature of the TARDIS. Of course the universe’s peril from the Master’s ultimate plan seems to indicate the decay and destruction of everything, and the shrinking of the TARDIS in part 3, with the Doctor still inside, also foreshadows the ‘shrinking’ of the universe, as does the miniaturisation of the Master’s victims with his Tissue Compression Eliminator. This ties in with the downsizing of the Gateway in Warriors Gate, along with the shrinking power of the respective sources inMeglos and The Keeper Of Traken, and the forthcoming ‘death’ of the Doctor is cleverly referenced during the ‘mini-TARDIS’ scene as, trapped inside, he sees his companions looking down at him, desperately calling his name.

Logopolis has a wary standing amongst long-term fans, however, many of whom criticise certain plot holes, notably when the Doctor is in the TARDIS and debates ‘flushing out’ the Master in his own TARDIS, and the ending of the story at the Pharos Research tower, where the Doctor and the Master are supposed to be working together to prevent the utter destruction of what is left of the universe. Adric’s bafflement at block transfer computation, and at why the Doctor needs to go to Earth to find a police box in the first place, is understandable, too. The decision by the Doctor to flood the TARDIS has also been particularly condemned in such a science-heavy season as being deeply improbable, although it does fit in with the title character’s apparent death-wish, previously seen in Warriors’ Gate. The fetching of Nyssa from Traken is another such issue, as is the fact that the police immediately deduce that Vanessa and the policeman are dead, even though the only ‘evidence’ of this are two tiny doll-like figures – and one has to wonder who called the authorities in the first place. Finally there are the logistics of the Master’s deranged plan to hold the universe to ransom from on board the research tower, which bearing in mind that the authorities are still a factor is flawed in the extreme – one suggestion put forward by reviewers is that the Master might have been playing a cruel practical joke on the Doctor, which is made to look unlikely by his subsequent concern and panic when the Doctor goes outside to disconnect the cable.

Anthony Ainley’s performance here is a curious one, too, the actor following up his superb portrayal of the kindly, reasonable and honourable Tremas with a Master who, though bearing a general resemblance to that of Delgado’s, is altogether more psychotic and malevolent, and whose schemes are far less rationally-based. This is not Delgado’s ruthless yet oddly gentlemanly crook, nor is it the wizened, wraith-like figure of Pratt/Beevers, desperately clinging to the remnants of life and gleefully inching closer to rejuvenation. This is a character who as well as taking that extra silver of pleasure from the suffering of others, that Pratt and Beevers displayed, seems to have an almost impulsive, ever-cackling evil, one which if left unchecked would not only threaten his own life but the decay of the entire universe. If that weren’t enough, the Master then cannot help but threaten to continue the destruction of all life unless they subject to his will, and his giggling near-collapse at the delight of holding such power suggests total psychosis and a more unfocused megalomania than ever seen before from the character. The Doctor’s subsequent astonishment at this unhinged behaviour (famously exclaiming “You’re utterly mad!” when his nemesis makes his latest plan clear) is rather contradicted by his earlier comment to Adric. “He’s a Time Lord. In many ways we have the same mind.”

Davison’s initial trio of companions are all together by now, with the loud-mouthed Tegan becoming an occasionally reluctant and complaining presence on board the TARDIS. Janet Fielding’s portrayal of the character is notably at odds with the good grace of previous passengers, and the first scene where she screeches at Tom Baker for an explanation (and his pained expression as she does so) is a moment of surprise humour in a doom-laden tale. Despite the fact the character went on to become, like Adric, one of the more criticised companions in the show’s history, and despite the fact that her dialogue with Aunt Vanessa is rather clumsily geared at making sure the audience know she is a flight attendant – her emotional reactions to events – whether berating the crew of the TARDIS, talking openly to the Monitor about the joyless lives of the Logolopitans or learning of the death of Aunt Vanessa – provide some genuine, believability and humanity to a miserable and sterile story, though her costume is no better than Adric’s. Matthew Waterhouse’s performance, however, is sadly not as strong here as in the previous story, hectoring Baker’s Doctor repeatedly in the opening stages and his OTT greetings of Nyssa seem forced – almost suggesting a potential attraction from the former towards the latter, though any potential relationship which could have humanised the characters never did come to pass. On a positive note, John Fraser provides gravitas as the welcoming, dignified and ultimately terrified Monitor, conveying the scale of doom in part 3 as entropy overwhelms Logopolis.

The sets are again of a high standard. The Master’s TARDIS is a clever variation on the traditional model, with a devilish red tinge to the outer panels, and the cold, sterile sets for Logopolis, described by the Master as “a cold, high place overlooking the universe”, are well-lit and suitable for an austere story such as this. Paddy Kingsland creates an ethereal, haunting score, notably during the scenes where the Doctor first sees the Watcher across the road and later on the bridge overlooking the Thames, and this sets the mood for the gloomy adventure ahead along with the dignified incidental music when the Doctor first arrives on Logopolis. The chicken-guitar funk music where the Doctor, the Master and the companions are attempting to get into the Pharos tower is a little less successful, however, rather breaking the consistent mood of the story even bearing in mind that something more up-tempo was needed for the chase scene.

Finally, after the Doctor’s ‘life flashing before the eyes’ moment clinging for dear life to the tower, and seeing his old enemies – the Master, a Dalek, the Pirate Captain from The Pirate Planet, a Cyberman, Davros, a Sontaran, a Zygon and the Black Guardian – comes the regeneration scene on the ground beneath. There is a similar ‘run-through’ of his companions – Sarah-Jane, Harry, Brigadier, Leela, K9, and the two Romanas – looking down at him and calling his name as well as the present and correct trio, and an effective use of special effects (unlike the moment where the Doctor is supposed to be hanging from the tower, and the badly choreographed reactions of the companions who ‘watch’ him fall) where the Watcher, now revealed to be a transitional stage between the 4th and 5th incarnations of the Doctor, merges with him in a flash of green and then white light. “It’s the end – but the moment has been prepared for” gasps Baker, with a triumphant expression at odds with the Master’s apparent ‘slaying’ of him, before the fresh-faced Peter Davison sits up wordlessly in his place. The theme of change referenced here in the constant ‘regeneration’ of the Master’s TARDIS (and the Doctor’s attempt to do the same to his ), and the clearing of the decks (the jettisoning of Romana’s room) is complete, with the once-inconceivable changing of the lead actor.

Logopolis, then, gives Baker a memorable (if not always for the right reasons) send off. It is a sombre, doom-laden final goodbye for an actor in the part of the Doctor, who will probably always be remembered as its most popular. It does well in bringing the themes of entropy and decay which had seeped through all the stories of season 18 to the forefront and to a conclusion, and with the regeneration of the Master to compliment that of the Doctor (whose own instability would not be cured until the end of Davison’s first transmitted story Castrovalva), hinted at the show’s future, where the two’s fates would be as interlinked as they were in Pertwee’s day. Whether one approves of all the changes Nathan-Turner had made during the season, there was little doubt that the show which concluded with Davison now in the role of the Doctor had completely evolved to enter the 1980s.

THE END

Why I Want A Doctor Who Meets Scratchman Film

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Doctor Who Meets Scratchman was an idea for a Doctor Who movie originally dreamed up by 4th Doctor actor Tom Baker and Ian Marter during the filming of season 12.

Its premise would have seen the 4th Doctor, Harry and Sarah land on an island off the coast of Scotland where they would battle living scarecrows, before discovering that the Scarecrows were minions of Satan himself, called Scratchman!

The Doctor and his companions would then travel to Scratchman’s home dimension, where they would encounter other mythological figures such as the Greek God Pan and the Ferryman of the dead, Charon.

The finale would see the Doctor, Sarah and Harry battle Scratchman inside a giant interdimensional pinball machine!

The film came very close to being made towards the end of the 70s, but sadly a lack of funding and the release of Star Wars eventually brought an end to Baker’s plans to bring the Doctor to the big screen. Over 40 years after it was first conceived. Tom Baker and Ian Marter’s screenplay was finally adapted into a book, written by Tom Baker and James Goss, released in January 2019.

Personally however I still think the idea could work as a film. Scratchman to me is the perfect Doctor Who story. It combines horror, science fiction and surrealism together to create a truly unique adventure.

In this article I will give my opinion of the 2019 novelisation of Tom’s script, run through why I want Scratchman to be adapted, what I would like from said adaptation, and who I would like to play the Doctor, his companions and the titular villain.

Why Scratchman has potential

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Doctor Who Meets Scratchman could still work as a film, even after all this time, as it has a suitably epic story, potentially stunning visuals and a fascinating, terrifying villain in the form of Scratchman.

Scratchman is an ancient being from another universe who feeds on psychic energy. His hunger is so great that he eventually consumes each universe he visits.

Scratchman is a sadistic monster that enjoys reshaping each universe he overruns into a hideous hell dimension. He twists aliens into his Demonic servants and torments them until he gets bored and moves on.

This disturbing scene from the 2019 novelisation where Scratchman forces several of his minions to commit suicide by throwing themselves into a firey pit, shows the full extent of the torment he inflicts on his minions.

“You’re one of the new arrivals aren’t you? You’ve caused so much damage. You have cost the lives of so many of us.’ ‘I’m dreadfully sorry about that’, said Harry sincerely. ‘Don’t feel too bad, the creature said,’ but clearly didn’t mean it. ‘We are just memories of life, twisted into something to amuse our master. You’re thinking of fighting back, of escaping-but really, you’ll just cost more lives and you’ll end up like one of us- sooner or later. Sooner in your case.’ ‘Thank you,’ said Harry. ‘And then nothing awaits you but milleia of service as one of us, and finally, as fuel for him.’ ‘Fuel?’ ‘We must keep his dreams aloft.’ The creature nodded miserably. ‘If I were you I’d save myself the torment and jump now.’ ‘Will it be quick?’ Asked Harry? ‘No,’ the creature said, ‘but it will at least be over.’ And it launched itself into the air, dived down into the sulphurous pit, gave a single cry, and burst into flame.”

The current universe Scratchman inhabits resembles hell from various religions, with figures such as Charon existing. However the creatures are given somewhat modern and humorous twists; with Charon now being a down on his luck cabbie who drives people to their final destination and Scratchman’s chief torturer being a lazy giant lizard.

Scratchman has destroyed billions of universe throughout all of time, but now he sets his sights on our reality. He has been attempting to enter our universe for centuries and has been able to project his thoughts into our universe for centuries too, influencing humanity, and giving rise to myths and legends about the devil. Scratchman has also been able to pull the minds of people from our universe into his own to torture them, giving rise to myths about Charon and the afterlife.

The whole point of doing a film version of a long running television series is to do something that you couldn’t do on tv. Scratchman still fits that criteria. Even with the improved effects of New Who, the visuals of the Underworld would be too grand to do on the tv shows budget. Also the images of people being tortured and damned in hell would perhaps be too frightening and violent for the tv audience. Scratchman could up the horror ante from even the Hinchcliff era.

A problem I have had with the 21st century version of Doctor Who is that overall it’s somewhat more toothless than the original. The 1963-1989 classic era of Doctor Who regularly pushed the boundaries in terms of its violent content and provoked extreme controversy. At times the original Doctor Who was almost a horror series as much as a sci fi show.

Doctor Who Meets Scratchman, which has the potential for some really terrifying ideas and set pieces could help restore Doctor Who’s reputation as a horror series.  Indeed Doctor Who Meets Scratchman is arguably one of the darkest Doctor Who stories ever made.

Though the Doctor does defeat Scratchman, he fails to save the entire universe that Scratchman took over. The Third Doctor story Inferno was always one of the most terrifying stories for me as a child because the Doctor failed to save the earth. It was an evil, alternate version of the earth, but still seeing an entire world actually burn on screen was utterly horrifying.

Now imagine seeing the Doctor fail to save an entire universe!

Worse than that however, the universe Scratchman has taken over has been ravaged by him to such an extent, that he is the only thing that is holding it together. Therefore in order to save his universe, the Doctor has to sacrifice another!

Scratchman is even by Doctor Who standards a huge threat. He is an individual villain that can consume entire universes, and has slaughtered more people than the Daleks, the Master, and the Cybermen combined.

The story also pushes Doctor Who to its limits in terms of how surreal it is. A story with living scarecrows, the Devil, Greek Gods, and giant pin ball machines, even by Doctor Who standards is somewhat unusual.

Nevertheless it still stays within the limits of what Doctor Who can be. Scratchman is not actually a supernatural creature. He is still an alien, and the world he lives in is not actually the afterlife, just another universe.

Also whilst its true that the idea of the Doctor fighting the Devil has been explored in the television story The Satan Pit/The Beast Below, a lot of other ideas in Scratchman are still new territory for Doctor Who, such as the concept of hell. The finale featuring the Doctor and his companions being trapped in a giant pinball machine would still make an absolutely spectacular and surreal sequence too.

With a decent budget I think Scratchman could still be a unique, imaginative, and scary Doctor Who story that truly goes beyond what the tv series would be capable of.

My Opinion Of The 2019 Scratchman

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Personally I wasn’t that keen on the recent adaptation of Scratchman. The first half of the book, which stays closest to Tom and Ian’s original script is fantastic. There are some genuinely chilling moments and the story plays out like a classic Phillip Hinchcliff era gothic story.

Sadly its from the second part on that the book starts to lose it. I suspect in this part of the book, co-author James Goss’ input became greater, as it doesn’t seem to match Tom’s style.

The second section of the book is done more in the style of New Who. Leaving aside the fact that I am not a big fan of the 21st century version of Doctor Who (certainly not compared to the original.) The new style also does not fit Tom’s Doctor at all.

Rather than be just a bumbling traveller with great improvisational skills like in the original series, the Doctor is rewritten in the book to being an angry lonely god. The way the Doctor defeats Scratchman by creating illusions of all the monsters he has faced on his travels is exactly the type of thing I’d expect to see in a Moffat script.

Its an attempt to big up the Doctor (with Scratchman commenting that no one could stand against all of the creatures culled from the Doctors mind) that goes against the logic of the story. Scratchman is a creature that has eaten entire universes! How on earth could the Doctor, who has only explored part of one universe, have possibly have seen anything that could shock Scratchman?

Scratchman 2019 also plays on the idea of all the Doctors being different people, and the Doctor never wanting to change. This is again something that New Who pioneered during the Tennant era. In the classic series the Doctor was never scared of regeneration. Troughton’s Doctor does protest, but once they tell him that he can choose what his next face looks like, he says “that’s not so bad”, showing that they are all meant to be the same man underneath. Making all of the Doctors into different people, destroys the Doctor as a character overall, as it now essentially turns him into a title passed onto 13 different characters.

Scratchman 2019 also features pointless cameos from other Doctors, which I feel drags the story down into fan fiction territory.

Something as large as the first 4 Doctors meeting (even if it is only scarecrow copies of the first three) should not be crowbarred into a story that is not about that, and was never intended to be about that.

Worst of all however is the fact that Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor appears. Now I freely admit that I am not keen on Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor. I feel her casting was pandering and Jodie whilst not a terrible actress, is somewhat lost in the role.

Still sticking such a controversial version of the Doctor into a story that she was never intended to be in seems like a mean spirited taunt to Jodie’s critics on behalf of the co-author, James Goss. (I very much doubt that it was Tom’s idea to include Jodie. Remember Tom is a man who refused to be in The Five Doctors as he didn’t want to appear with any other Doctors. Tom also always jokingly responds “OTHER DOCTOR” when fans ask him who his favourite other Doctor was. I very much doubt with this in mind that he would go out of his way to include other Doctors in a story that was only ever intended to feature his Doctor.)

Fair enough not everybody hates Jodie, though I think its fair to say that she is not one of the most popular incarnations of the Time Lord to say the least.

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Still this is not like someone having a line up of all the Doctors and Jodie’s critics getting angry at her being included at all.

This book was a chance for old school fans to enjoy a new story from the most popular Doctor of the original series, that Jodie was never a part of at all. James Goss however wouldn’t even let us have that. He has such contempt for classic era fans that he had to force the revival into it, and the most controversial aspect of the revival too, regardless of how out of place it seemed. It sullied the entire book for me.

Its a shame as well as the second section of the book contains the most wild and imaginative aspects of the story, but Goss’ tampering with Tom and Ian’s ideas lets it, and consequently the entire story overall down.

The subsequent film adaptation would in my opinion have to leave out cameos from all the former and future Doctors, focus on the other universe and its history, how it tried to fight and ultimately fell to Scratchman, the Doctors dilemma in having to destroy another universe to save his own, Scratchman’s influence on human history, and the various monsters in his universe. All of these ideas are only touched upon in the 2019 version, as the story seems to be more concerned with focusing on analysing the Doctors character instead.

Who Would I Cast

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For a hypothetical film version of Scratchman I would like to see Julian Richings as the Doctor and Dana Delorenzo and Colin O’Donaghue as his two companions.

I have mentioned all 3 of these actors before as being my ideal Tardis team. I think Julian would be perfect as an old school, alien, distant, no nonsense Doctor, based on his stellar performance as Death in Supernatural.

See here.

The Doctor

Dana Delorenzo and Colin O’Donaghue meanwhile are both actors with prior genre experience, (Delorenzo was one of the stars in the cult series Ash Vs Evil Dead) whilst Colin starred as Captain Hook on Once Upon A Time for 6 years.

And his companions

Colin and Dana would both be very physical companions who would make a great contrast with the more cerebral, cold and elderly Doctor.

All 3 actors together would bring a very different dynamic to the story than Tom, Sarah and Harry would have done, but that’s okay. You could never replicate the chemistry those three characters had, so it would make sense to try something new.

Julian’s more serious Doctor could help play up some of the horror aspects, whilst Dana and Colin could at the same time allow a chance for there to be greater action in the film.

I have mentioned in the past that I would prefer to see an alternate sequel to Classic Who that ignores New Who and a Scratchman film could serve as quite a good pilot to this hypothetical sequel.

Personally I think it would be for the best if they ditched Jodie’s era which is already failing hard next year, gave the show a rest for a few years; and then produced Doctor Who Meets Scratchman with Julian, Dana and Colin in 2023 for the 60th anniversary, followed by a new series with that cast.

As for Scratchman personally I would like to see Bruce Campbell play the role. Bruce Campbell is a horror icon best known for playing Ash Williams in The Evil Dead franchise. He has played a few villains in his long career such as Assault on Dome 4, as an evil Witchfinder in Charmed, and as Ash’s evil counterpart in both Army of Darkness and Ash vs Evil Dead.

In my opinion Campbell would be the best choice for Scratchman as he would be able to inject enough humour into the role. Part of what makes Scratchman such an effective villain is his twisted sense of humour. Campbell has a real talent for being able to blend overt horror and comedy together almost like no other angle.

When he wants too Campbell can be menacing as seen in Ash Vs Evil Dead when his evil counterpart brutally murders and taunts Amanda Fisher, or in Army of Darkness where the evil version of Ash rapes Shelia! (Which may be the most disturbing moment in any of the Evil Dead movies.)

Also its known that Tom Baker wanted Vincent Price to play the original Scratchman. Price even expressed interest in the role. Thus it would make sense to get another legendary horror actor to play it today.

Scratchman!

I would also have Scratchman survive the Doctors attempts on his life (as was planned in the original script by Tom and Ian) so that he could then recur in the series as another major enemy of the Doctor. I think there is enough in the Scratchman character to bring him back for later stories. (If he were to be played by Bruce Campbell then that would just be all the more reason to bring him back! Its a scientific fact that you can increase the enjoyment of something by the inclusion of Bruce Campbell.)

For the role of Charon, I think Mark Hamill would be an excellent choice. Hamill’s talent as a voice actor could allow him to come up with a suitably unique and creepy voice for the ferryman, or cabbie of the dead.

For the role of Mr Tembel, the Lizard who attempts to torture the Doctor by boring him to death, I think David Warner would be an excellent choice. Aside from being an all around excellent actor, Warner’s role as the inept, useless torturer would be a nice contrast to one of his most famous roles as the Cardassian torturer in Star Trek The Next Generation. It would also give him a chance to show off a more comedic side as well.

Finally as for the role of Mrs Tulloch, the mean spirited woman in the village, I would cast Lucy Lawless. Lucy Lawless who is best known as Xena is excellent at playing villains. In this hypothetical film version you would have to expand Tulloch’s role so as not to waste Lucy. I would have her rather than simply be killed, be turned into a Demon by Scratchman and be one of his main servants in hell chasing the Doctor and his companions.

Lucy would make an amazing Doctor Who monster. She’s already proven she can play really horrific, vicious monstrous characters as seen with Ruby in Ash vs Evil Dead, and the various times Xena was turned into a Demon, Vampire etc.

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Mrs Tulloch

My Own Version Of Scratchman

Regardless of whether or not we will ever see a version of Scratchman on the big screen, I will be doing my own adaptation of the story as part of my own alternate sequel series. I wanted Scratchman to be canon to my series that ignores New Who, as I wanted to use the character of Scratchman as a recurring foe for the Doctor, but sadly I can’t use the 2019 version due to the inclusion of Jodie’s Doctor.

So instead I will be doing my own version. (I will not be using Tom’s Doctor as I obviously could never hope to write his Doctor as well as he could.)

My version will be released in weekly instalments over the Chirstmas period in 2019. Think of it as being this years Doctor Who Christmas Special.

Big Finish’s Scratchman

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Finally regardless of whether we ever get a film version, I think that Big Finish should adapt Scratchman as an audio story. I’d love to see Tom and Lalla Ward appear in it. As for who could play the audio Scratchman, personally I’d love to see William Shatner play the villain. I realise that casting would probably never happen, but still imagine how sensational it would be to see Tom Baker’s Doctor fight the Devil played by Shatner himself!

With Lucy Lawless as a Demonic Mrs Tulloch to complete the cast, Scratcman could be the best Big Finish audio story yet. Please if you’re reading this Nicholas Briggs, make it happen!

(Though please for the love of god keep Jodie out of the audio version. No more Stalinist revisions of the shows history. I’m just saying trying to crowbar the most polarising version of the Doctor into every aspect of Doctor Who history, isn’t going to make us love her.)

Thanks for reading and let me know if you think Scratchman could ever work as a film, and what you thought of the recent adaptation.

 

 

The Moonbase Review

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The second Cybermen adventure. The Moonbase also marked both a radical change of the Cybermen’s design and their characterisations, turning them into complete machine creatures.

It also marked the first of 4 Cybermen stories throughout the Second Doctors era.

Plot

The TARDIS lands in the year 2070 on the Moon. Using spacesuits, the Doctor and his three companions, Jamie, Ben and Polly explore the Moon, but whilst they play around in the low gravity, Jamie is injured.

Jamie is found by people from a nearby Moonbase who take him in for treatment. The TARDIS crew soon follow Jamie into the base and learn that the Moonbase controls the weather of the earth, using a machine called a Gravitron.

Unfortunately however the base is suffering from problems. A plague has infected various members of staff, which has made it more difficult to control the Gravitron. Whilst Jamie is in the sick bay, Polly spots a Cyberman abducting one of the patients next to him, suffering from the plague.

Hobson, the leader of the international team aboard the Moonbase, dismisses Polly’s claims believing the Cybermen were all killed when Mondas blew up in the 1980s. Hobson also gives the Doctor 24 hours to figure out the cause of the disease or else he will be forced to  leave the Moon.

The Doctor later discovers that the Cybermen are spreading their plague through infected sugar from the food stores. Having dwindled the base’s staff, the Cybermen are able to take the base by force easily and reveal that they intend to use the Gravitron to disrupt the weather on earth and kill everything on the planet. The Cybermen are able to gain control of the Gravitron by using brainwashed human servants.

Using fire extinguishers, nail varnish remover and other substances that dissolve plastic mixed together, Ben, Polly and a recovered Jamie are able to fight back against the Cybermen, but the monsters soon send a second army to attack the base. The Doctor however is able to best the Cybermen by using the Gravitron itself to send them back into space. 

Review

The Moonbase is a somewhat overlooked adventure. Its not surprising in a way as on the surface it is just another Troughton era, base under siege story. That plus that fact that two episodes were missing meant that it naturally wouldn’t have that much appeal to contemporary audiences. (Though both missing episodes were recently animated.)

A common criticism of The Moonbase is that it is just a remake of The Tenth Planet. Personally I find this claim to be somewhat hollow. Yes they both involve monsters attacking a base, but again so do many classic Troughton era stories from The Ice Warriors, to The Web of Fear, to The Seeds of Death. (I might add that The Moonbase predates all of these adventures.)

Other than the base under siege formula however, there are no real similarities between The Moonbase and The Tenth Planet.

The Cybermen are portrayed very differently across both stories. In The Moonbase we see a more clever, sneaky side to the monsters the way they divide and conquer the base using a plague. The idea of the Cybermen being desperate after the destruction of Mondas is also a nice contrast with The Tenth Planet too. In The Tenth Planet the monsters were a strong invading force, far in advance of us, who had armies capable of overrunning every military base and city on earth. Here however they are forced to skulk in the shadows, resort to sneak attacks, and ironically use humanity’s own technology against them.

This would help set the tone for future Cyberman stories where the monsters were shown to be nearing extinction. Personally I liked this idea as it helped set them apart from the Daleks in many ways.

The Daleks were a vast empire across the universe with countless resources and servants, whilst the Cybermen were once a great power desperately struggling to reclaim their former glory. In a way the Cybermen were more sympathetic as all they wanted was to survive, but sadly that has to come at our expense, as the only they can reproduce is to convert us!

The Daleks don’t need to invade. They do so out of pure malice, whilst the Cybermen in contrast make it very clear in The Moonbase that they are disposing of humanity, not for revenge or hatred, but simply to eliminate a potential threat. In this respect we don’t really have the moral high ground against the Cybermen. With the Daleks is more black and white. They are the badguys who want to kill everybody, but ultimately the Cybermen are behaving no differently than we would in this story.

Sadly the two races can never go exist, as the Cybermen essentially have to prey on us, so they are just trying to get rid of us before we get rid of them.

The redesign of the Cybermen for this story is more than just a superficial difference. Here the Cybermen are made completely mechanical. In The Tenth Planet not only did they still have some organic parts (like human hands) but they also still appeared to have individual names and identities. Here however they are all machine like drones.

In some ways this is less effective than the original Cybermen design from The Tenth Planet. They loose the body horror aspect of the original Cybermen were you get the feeling there really is a human sliced up under the mask. At the same time however these Cybermen are far more terrifying in close corners than the original Mondasian Cybermen ever were.

The original Cybermen did look somewhat more vulnerable because there were still some organic parts that looked like potential weak points. You could imagine in a fight being able to make them bleed, or hurt them by pulling out the various wires on their bodies.

The Moonbase Cybermen in contrast however are a mountain of steel that you’d probably break your hand off of if you tried to hit! There is no way you could even defend yourself against one if it cornered you.

The story takes full advantage of this in various scenes such as when the Cybermen brutally beat two workers to death, or when Cyberman corners Jamie in the sick bed, which is undoubtedly one of the tightest, most claustrophobic moments in 60s Who. Here we have one of our main characters, who even if healthy couldn’t possibly fight off this monster, trapped completely helpless as it looms over him. The Cybermen’s blank face and total silence also helps to heighten the terror, as you have no idea what is going on in its head. Again in contrast to the Daleks who would always shout their intentions “EXTERMINATE, DO NOT MOVE, DO NOT MOVE, SEEK LOCATE DESTROY!” The Cybermen in this story barely utter a word and are actually all the more sinister for it.

In many ways The Moonbase is the story that would help to establish the Cybermen’s identity to viewers and fans for decades to come. Certainly most Classic era Cybermen stories seem to follow their portrayal in this adventure at least, as more mechanical, desperate creatures, working through infiltration and simply trying to survive.

Aside from the Cybermen themselves, the story holds up in most other respects. The sets are well designed, the direction is tight and atmospheric, and the guest cast is particularly strong.

The regulars, Ben, Polly, Jamie and the Doctor are also on top form here. Though Jamie is somewhat sidelined for part of the story, the four nevertheless make an effective team against the Cybermen for the second part. (Considering Jamie had to be included at the last minute, I think the writers got round the problem rather well by not only making him part of the action, but also using his injury to build up the threat of the Cybermen stealing patients.)

Patrick Troughton delivers a solid performance, though I think at this stage, Troughton hasn’t really worked out his own Doctor’s personality in quite the way he would later.

In these early Troughton serials he is very much just a younger, friendlier Hartnell. He’s more Holmesian, deadly serious, constantly consults his 500 year diary etc. The more clownish facade that he’d use to throw his enemies, that really defines his character starts to appear in later adventures towards the end of his first season.

Still in some respects his more subdued performance here helps to sell the threat of the Cybermen better, such as his memorable delivery of the line “Some corners of the universe have bred the most terrible things.”

Overall whilst The Moonbase is not one of the all time greatest Doctor Who stories, much like The Tenth Planet I’d say that its a minor classic. Its a well written, well directed, well made, tight, scary story that also manages to develop the Cybermen and set the standard for the monsters portrayal for decades to come.

Trivia

  • Michael Craze who played Ben in this story said that he preferred the Cybermen’s design in this adventure. He found the Tenth Planet Cybermen to be utterly laughable.
  • This story is a direct sequel to The Tenth Planet. The events of The Tenth Planet are mentioned, with there being no cover up of the Cyber invasion in the 80s. According to Hobson, every child on earth knew who the Cybermen were after the events of the Tenth Planet. The Cybermen also mention having survived Mondas’ destruction and being forced to upgrade (hence their different appearance.) The Tomb of the Cybermen follows on from this story, with the Cyber controller explaining that after the events of the Moonbase, they retreated to Telos. In both The Moonbase and Tomb of the Cybermen the monsters also recognise the Doctor from previous encounters. This marks one of the first examples of a story arc in televised science fiction, as well as a rare example of a story arc in 60s Who. (Prior to this the Daleks in The Chase mention making the Doctor pay for foiling their invasion of earth seen in the previous adventure. Other than this reference however, the Dalek stories, unlike the Cybermen adventures at this stage remained largely unconnected.)
  • This story was commissioned before The Tenth Planet episode 4 had been broadcast due to the immensely positive response to the Cybermen from viewers.
  •  Much like The Tenth Planet, this story was greatly inspired by Dan Dare (which Kit Pedler was a huge fan of.) The Cybermen’s plot is similar to The Mekon’s from Voyage to Venus. In that adventure, the Mekon attempted to build a base on the Moon that would control the weather on earth. The Cybermen’s position in this adventure is also similar to the Treens, who also lost their home planet in Voyage to Venus, and would subsequently be portrayed as desperate in later Dan Dare adventures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tenth Planet Review

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A story of many firsts, but also sadly the last regular appearance of William Hartnell as the Doctor. The Tenth Planet would help to shape the future of Doctor Who in more ways than one and lay the groundwork for the Troughton era in particular.

Plot

The TARDIS arrives at the South Pole in 1986. The Doctor, Ben and Polly decide to explore and discover the Snow Cap Base, a space tracking station, designed to supervise the Zeus IV spaceship. The base is commanded by the hotheaded General Cutler who takes an immediate dislike to the four time travellers and locks them up.

Suddenly the Zeus IV is dragged off course by a mysterious force, and a new planet begins to emerge in the sky. A rescue ship, the Zeus V, piloted by Cutlers son, Terry is sent to try and rescue the lost vessel meanwhile.

The Doctor recognises the new planets continents as being identical to earth, and realises that the planet is Mondas, earth’s identical twin planet, and warns the base that the Mondasians will soon be arriving.

Sure enough, a mysterious spaceship soon lands in the snow and three strange robot like creatures emerge from it who quickly kill the guards and overtake the base.

The creatures reveal that they are Cybermen and that they were once similar to human beings, but in order to survive their planet drifting off course, they slowly removed all of their organic components and replaced them with machine parts. They also removed all of their emotions to prevent themselves from going insane.

The Cybermen prevent the base from saving the Zeus IV rocket and it is seemingly destroyed. The monsters then reveal that Mondas is draining energy from the earth and that it will soon explode. The Cybermen intend to get as many people off the earth as possible before this happens and convert them into a new race of Cybermen. Cyber scout ships soon begin to appear in every major city and command base around the globe as a full scale invasion of earth begins. 

The Doctor and his companions, working with Cutler are able to fight back against the Cybermen using their own weapons and reclaim the base, though the Doctor quickly collapses from exhaustion afterwards. 

Cutler plans to use the Z-Bomb, a special to secret weapon to destroy Mondas. He is warned however from Geneva HQ that destroying Mondas this close to earth could release vast amounts of radiation which would kill billions. Cutler doesn’t care however as if he doesn’t act soon the Zeus V will be destroyed.

Ben however, working with another scientist named Barclay is able to sabotage the bomb. Cutler attempts to kill the Doctor, Ben and Polly in response, but he is killed by the Cybermen who retake the base. The Doctor realises that Mondas will be destroyed instead as it will absorb too much power from the earth.

The Doctor attempts to mediate with the Cybermen and offers them a new home on earth alongside humanity, but they refuse to listen. Taking Polly hostage, the Cybermen send Ben and various other scientists from the base to disarm the Z-Bomb. The Doctor deduces however that the Cybermen are actually planning to use the bomb to destroy the earth in order to save Mondas and warns Ben. 

Ben and the others fight back against the Cybermen using radiation rods (having realised that the Cybermen are vulnerable to radiation, hence why they needed the humans to work on the bomb.) 

The Cybermen however take the Doctor hostage, and as more Cybermen surround the base all hope seems lost. Fortunately, Ben and the others are able to hold them off long enough for Mondas to absorb to much energy, after which it harmlessly vaporises into nothing. 

Following Mondas’ destruction, all of the Cybermen on earth start to die and the invasion is over. (The Zeus V is also ironically able to return safely to earth.) 

Ben rescues Polly and the Doctor from the Cyber ship. The Doctor however is still very weak and poorly, but he simply tells Ben and Polly that “Its far from being all over.”

The Doctor heads out alone to the TARDIS, though Ben and Polly follow after him. When they finally reach the TARDIS they find the Doctor collapsed on the floor. Suddenly a beam of light emerges from the Doctors body, and much to Ben and Polly’s shock he changes into the form of a much younger man with thick dark hair. 

Review

The Tenth Planet is a story that I think for many people often sadly doesn’t live up to its hype.

Its the first Cyberman story, the first story where the Doctor regenerates, and it has the most sought after missing episode. I’d imagine many fans probably expect it to be an epic, all time classic adventure like Genesis of the Daleks or Caves of Androzani, and sadly its really only an above average story. I’d say its a minor classic. As a result I think its come in for some unfair criticism over the years.

Its not bad, but it’s certainly not as strong as the first stories of other memorable villains like Terror of the Autons or The Daleks. Overall it tends to play out as a more basic base under siege story. In all fairness however this adventure was actually one of the very first ever examples of the base under siege formula in Doctor Who. Still its not used quite as effectively here as it would be in the Troughton era. Despite only running at four episodes, its pace is somewhat lethargic in places.

The most disappointing aspect of the story is that Hartnell’s Doctor isn’t given much of a send off. He is out of action for the third episode and he doesn’t play that big a role in the others he’s actually in either. The most significant thing he does is simply warn Ben that the Cybermen want to destroy the earth. Its entirely down to Ben that the Cybermen are defeated however.

I don’t blame the writers for this. Originally the Doctor was going to save the day, but Hartnell fell ill during the making of the story and had to be written out of the third episode and his role was subsequently reduced for the fourth.

Still whilst I understand why it happened (and I think they got round it rather well by having the Doctor collapse there by setting up the idea of Doctor’s body wearing a bit thin.) It is a shame that Hartnell’s Doctor just kind of fades away rather than going out as a hero.

Hartnell’s performance is nevertheless as strong as ever. He most certainly does not phone it in, and he gets some of his most memorable lines and deliveries such as his famous speech towards the Cybermen. “Emotions, pride, hate, fear! Have you no emotions? Sir?”. Its not the most memorable send off, but Hartnell certainly makes the most of it.

Still despite some failings, The Tenth Planet is overall a strong story with many fascinating concepts and ideas. The Cybermen themselves are obviously a brilliant idea that has stood the test of time for 5 decades. They were a genius fusion of the age old concept of men being turned into monsters, (such as Vampires, Zombies and Werewolves) and then contemporary techno fears. They played on the fear of a loss of identity, mankind’s constant attempts to cheat death backfiring on him, the primal fear of becoming something totally inhuman, and fears for our future of technology turning in on us; all at the same time.

The Tenth Planet deserves credit not only for introducing the Cybermen but also for using them in a somewhat more effective way than many future Cybermen stories.

The Tenth Planet is really the only Cyberman adventure where the monsters do genuiney blur the line between man and machine. In later stories the Cybermen I feel are portrayed as being totally mechanical creatures. In some later classic era stories such as Revenge of the Cybermen, their ability to turn humans into Cybermen isn’t even mentioned!

In the Tenth Planet however the Cybermen do still have organic parts, such as their hands. I also love the fact that their faces are covered in cloth rather than metal. When I was younger I used to have nightmares where I would pull the cloth off and see the mangled, mutilated, faces underneath!

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I also like the fact that these Cybermen have names such as Krang. Again it helps to reinforce the idea that these machines were not only once people, but that there are still traces of the person they once were, chopped up and mangled inside.

Sadly later writers I think would just write the Cybermen as second rate Daleks, IE, generic robo conquerors, but in this adventure they stand as their own, perhaps in some ways, more disturbing concept than the Daleks.

My only problem with the Cybermen’s design in this adventure is that its a bit too clunky in places. The chest units are too big and cumbersome and would not have been practical for later adventures.

The direction in this story is also among the best for any Classic era story. Derek Martinus gives the story a tight claustrophobic feel that suits the Cybermen. The Cybermen are always at their best in tiny little surroundings where they can corner you, and there’s no way you can fight back. Martinus also makes use of the location too, such as when the monsters first emerge through the snow storm and we can’t quite make them out at first, but still get an idea of how large and powerful they are.

I also like how the first thing we glimpse clearly of a Cybermen is its organic hand, before it zooms up and we see rather surprisingly that there is a robot creature attached to it. Much like the Daleks in their first story we are left guessing as to what the monsters true nature really is until the big reveal later in the story.

The supporting cast for The Tenth Planet is also very strong. Robert Beatty gives a stellar performance as Cutler, a human villain who makes a nice contrast to the Cybermen, as he is a very emotional character.

Cutler is a sympathetic character who just wants to save his son, albeit is willing to go to any lengths to do that. The tragic irony is that his son survives, whilst Culter, for all the sacrifices he made to protect his son, dies believing that Terry was killed. You can’t help but pity him, despite his more ruthless actions.

The rest of the scientists at the base’s characters aren’t as well fleshed out, but they serve as fairly likable foils for the Doctor and his companions during the story. They have enough personality that you actually do care about them when the Cybermen attack.

Whilst it may be more remembered for the concepts it pioneered than anything else, The Tenth Planet is still overall an enjoyable, well written, well acted and well made adventure that serves as a decent send off for the Hartnell era, even if Hartnell himself is sadly relegated to the side for most of the serial.

Influences

The Cybermen were created by the series scientific adviser Doctor Kit Pedler and the then script editor Gerry Davies.

Both men were inspired by the British comic strip Dan Dare (which had also served as an inspiration on Terry Nation when writing the original Dalek stories.)

The main villains of Dan Dare were a reptillian race known as the Treens who had no emotions and sought to conquer the universe. Much like the Cybermen, they had also augmented themselves, removing all of their emotions. The Treens had also genetically engineered a member of their race, The Mekon, with super intelligence to lead them.

The Treens came from Venus and were driven off their home planet by Dan at the end of their first story. Throughout the remainder of Dan Dare’s initial run, the Treens would be portrayed as a desperate band of creatures, trying to reclaim their former glory.

The Treens influenced the Cybermen in a number of ways, from their emotionless nature and reliance on logic, to their desperate situation after losing their home world in their initial story, to finally their leader, the Cyber Controller. The Cyber Controller was originally to have been a small, flying creature with an enlarged brain, similar to the Mekon. Ultimately however the budget would not allow this, though the Cyber Controller was still given a large brain inspired by the Mekon’s look.

The future of the Tenth Planet also matches that seen in Dan Dare. Dan Dare broke new ground in the 1950s by depicting all of the races of the world living together in the future (long before Star Trek) which is seen in The Tenth Planet, which features the black actor Earl Cameron as one of the astronauts. Space Command HQ in Geneva is also a similar organisation to Space Fleet from Dan Dare as well.

Finally the plot for The Tenth Planet was directly inspired by the second Dan Dare adventure, The Red Moon Mystery, which also revolves around a planet that can travel through the universe like a spaceship and that returns to our solar system to wreck havoc.

Kit Pedler was always very open about his love for Dan Dare, even supplying the forward to a 70s reprint of Dan Dare, where he said that “the Cybermen are very like the Treens.”

Legacy

The Tenth Planet is one of the most influential and important stories in Doctor Who’s history. It marked the introduction of both the Cybermen and the concept of regeneration.

The concept of regeneration is generally believed to have been created by Gerry Davies (though prior to this Innes Lloyd had wished to recast William Hartnell using a different method in the story The Celestial Toymaker. Here the titular villain would have made the Doctor vanish, and when he returned he would have had a different appearance.)

At the time The Tenth Planet had been made, nothing had been revealed about the Doctors race (including even what they were called) and so it was decided to introduce the idea that the Doctor could renew himself, thereby changing his physical appearance whenever his body broke down.

Originally it was going to be revealed that the Doctor’s body renewed itself every 500 years, and that the Doctor always dreaded the process. The producers also intended to reveal that Hartnell’s Doctor was not the first, with their having been multiple Doctors (including a pirate incarnation) before Hartnell.

Ultimately most of these ideas were jettisoned from the final script, and the process of renewal remained vague and undefined for many years. It wouldn’t be until the 4th Doctors era when the process would be fully fleshed out and we discovered that the Doctor could only regenerate 12 times. It wouldn’t be until the 20th anniversary story, The Five Doctors meanwhile until we found out that William Hartnell was the first Doctor after all.

The Tenth Planet was also one of the first examples of the base under siege format, which would go on to become dominant in the Troughton era. In much the same way as The Invasion and The Web of Fear can be seen as dummy run’s for the later Pertwee era, then so can the Tenth Planet be seen as a template for the Troughton era. It features his most recurring monsters, the Cybermen, the standard formula for many of his stories, and some other key Troughton aspects too. The Hartnell Doctor for instance, though normally commanding in his other stories, struggles to be taken seriously in this adventure from Cutler, which is a common plot point in many Troughton adventures.

Scenes from the Tenth Planet would also later be recreated for the docu drama An Adventure in Space and Time in 2013.

Notes and Trivia

  • William Hartnell was very unhappy at being forced to leave the role of the Doctor that he loved so much. Nevertheless he approved of his choice of successor. According to some sources Hartnell described Troughton as the only man in England that could take over. Michael Craze and Peter Purves however have both disputed that he ever said this, as they felt Hartnell was so protective of the role he wouldn’t have liked anyone else playing it. Hartnell’s widow Heather however said that Hartnell loved Troughton and later Jon Pertwee’s performances as the Doctor. She also said that Hartnell watched most of Troughton’s era, but eventually it became too painful for him, and he subsequently only saw a few of Pertwee’s stories. Hartnell himself said in an interview taken in 1971 that he felt Doctor Who had become too violent and was no longer for kids. Nevertheless he did reprise the role in 1973 and in his final interview said that he was proud it had gone on for so long.
  • The 2017 two part story World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls serves as a prequel of sorts to this story. It reveals the creation of the Cybermen (who originated on a colony ship away from Mondas) and features the return of the Mondasian Cybermen seen in this story. This blogger however personally does not consider the new series canon to the old.
  • The Cyber invasion of 1986 is revealed in later Classic era stories such as Attack of the Cybermen and The Moonbase to have not been covered up afterwards and becomes an important historical event.
  • This story was set twenty years after it was broadcast.

 

 

 

How To Fix Doctor Who

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All as bad as each other in destroying Doctor Who, its credibility, its legacy, and its fandom.

For the last few years Doctor Who has gone down a very bad route. Its viewers have tanked, its fandom has become utter poison and its casting choices for the Master, the companions and even the Doctor himself have all been misguided at best.

I have not been a fan of Jodie Whittakers Doctor. In fact for the first time I didn’t watch a season of Doctor Who in its entirety. I didn’t review it here because the entire page would have been nothing but negative.

Jodie is awful in the part. I’m not saying she is necessarily a bad actress overall. In the role of the Doctor however she lacks any kind of gravitas, charisma and authority

Jodie seems to treat the role too lightly. Her entire idea of how to act alien and otherworldly it seems is just to pull funny faces which gets very annoying, very fast.

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You can see how based on this Jodie seems to have the mindset of the Doctor isn’t a real character, just a silly, almost comedy role to be played lightly.

The show does not seem long for this world, with its viewers declining and the show going on yet another hiatus. I’d argue that Doctor Who has never been in a worse position. In the late 80s whilst its viewers sunk thanks to the BBC’s smear campaign, its fanbase was still strong, and the show at least died a dignified death.

Still all is not lost. There is still a chance for Doctor Who to crawl back from the abyss and in this article I am going to run through the ways in which I feel Doctor Who can be saved.

Cancel the current version

Well that among other things seems to have backfired on you quite a bit Jodie. Who would have thought saying “watch me or you’re a sexist” wasn’t  a good strategy for success? Worked wonders for Ghostbusters and Star Wars. Didn’t it?

Jodie’s era needs to finish before it does any more harm to the brand. Its not even just a question of the shows quality decreasing. Doctor Who and its fandom have now become associated with a poisonous, divisive and hateful ideology. The casting of Jodie alone proves this.

As I have explained before the character of the Doctor cannot be anyone. There is a definite template to all of the different incarnations of the Doctor. They are all meant to be the same person, same consciousness, same core personality, under his new faces.

The Doctors gender is a part of that template by default. He was always written as a male character, all of the 13 men who played him brought aspects of their own persona’s to the role, and viewers always related to him from a male perspective. This doesn’t mean that women can’t play heroic roles in general as often as men, or even a similar character to the Doctor. (Which Mrs Marple is in some respects.) Its just that this particular character, in this continuity, is set as a man.

A female Doctor just isn’t a good fit as it doesn’t seem like the same character anymore. It feels disjointed from the previous 13 men, and it is also in danger of turning the show into parody.

As a result of this, nobody bothered to have a female Doctor for decades, despite it being brought up in the press (originally as a joke by Tom Baker.) Its not as though the people making the show were right wing or anti LGBT. From 1980 to 2010 the show was produced by a gay man! Ultimately however, from a creative point of few it was never explored as it was a dead end.

Steven Moffat however made it canon that Time Lords change gender after SJWs viciously slandered him as a sexist and a racist for several years. This was only the beginning sadly, as the regressive left thanks to Moffat’s pandering were able to take over the entire show and its fandom over the course of the Capaldi and Whittaker era. (To the point where in the latest episode, UNIT, a staple of the show since 60s were killed off to make a jab at BREXIT!)

See here for examples of the feminists smear campaigns against Moffat, as well as responses from Steven Moffat and others at the BBC proving that it bothered them.

Problematic Posters For Doctor Who

Steven Moffat is a Classist

Has Doctor Who Become More Sexist

Doctor Who Is Racist New Book Claims

Doctor Who Returns New Direction

BBC Responds To Sexist Claims

Karen Gillan: Moffat Not Sexist

Steven Moffat Tweets Against Sexist Accusation

This quote from Steven Moffat about the feminist backlash against series 6 of Doctor Who sums up his true feelings towards the real toxic side of fandom.

I think its one thing to criticise a programme and another to invent motives out of amateur psychology for the writer and then accuse him of having those feelings. I think that was beyond the pale and strayed from criticism to a defamation. I’m certainly not a sexist, a misogynist. It was wrong.

The fact that the show has become so one sided politically should have any fan worried. Whilst some classic era stories may have had a political slant to them, ultimately the show was always largely neutral. Hence why Terrance Dicks, a conservative who supported the British empire, and Malcolm Hulke, a communist could both work on the show together in Pertwee’s time.

Now however no one who isn’t a far left SJW could work on the show. Ironically however this will come back to bite the SJWs in twenty years time.

Generation Z, said to be the most right wing generation since World War 2 will eventually take over the entertainment industry. When they do, Mr Tardis, Samuel Davis, Whovian Feminism and all the SJWs insisting “DOCTOR WHO SHOULD ALWAYS BE POLITICAL” can’t complain when the show becomes a cringey piece of right wing propaganda. When we get the Doctor quoting Ayn Rand, and attacking the NHS, remember that its still the likes of Claudia Boleyn and Mr TARDIS who will be to blame. They set the precedent.

I am sympathetic to people who do genuinely want to see more leading roles for women and minorities, but ultimately you don’t need to sex change the Doctor for that.

You could easily create your own female or LGBT hero. Even within the Doctor Who universe you could easily bring Romana, a female member of the Doctors race back, give her, her own show and then everybody wins.

Little girls get a role model, little boys still keep their role models, and guys like me who don’t give a shit about role models, get two great time travelling heroes to enjoy. What the hell is wrong with that?

The SJWs who bullied Moffat into making Time Lord gender bending canon, and put pressure on the BBC to sex change the Doctor however; clearly didn’t actually care about female role models for little girls. Instead they just wanted to take them away from men, who their toxic ideology says are all privileged shit lords that need taken down a peg or two.

You can’t say that little boys can still have a female Doctor as a role model, but that little girls need the Doctor to become a woman in order for the character to be a role model for girls. If you do think that both need role models, well then you shouldn’t be in favour of taking one away from a certain group. Don’t give me the boys have plenty of role models argument. To start with the Doctor might be the most prominent role model for the little boys who watch the show. Second there are also dozens of female heroes too.

The likes of Claudia Boleyn, Whovian Feminism, Mr Tardis, and Christel Dee however prominent SJWs within the Doctor Who fandom, do only care about taking role models away from little boys. The proof of this is that none of them are fans of any female led films or television series.

You’ll never see comprehensive reviews of female led television and film series like Xena, Buffy, Charmed, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Once Upon A Time, Ghost Whisperer, Alien and Nikita on any of these people’s channels or blogs. You’ll never see an analysis of the impact these female led series had on the genre from these people. None of them even follow any prominent leading ladies in the genre like Katey Sagal, Lucy Lawless, Gina Torress, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Shannon Doherty, Maggie Q or Dana Delorenzo on social media. (I’d be surprised if they even knew who the vast majority of those women were.)

They may comment on female led films if they are in the cinema briefly, but they aren’t fans of any female led series.

Ironically I myself have done more to promote women in the genre. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not delusional. I’m well aware I have less than 0 impact on the entertainment industry.

Still at least I have written 10 thousand word articles about characters from series like Xena, promoted female led films and series like The Heroic Trio that are obscure in the west, written 10 thousand word articles about Amy Winehouse (one of which was retweeted by her mother.) I’ve even put forward ideas for female led series and films, that have even been retweeted by prominent actresses within the genre themselves

See here

Ingrid Oliver: Twitter Status: The Best Tweet I’ve Ever Received

Dana Delorenzo Twitter Status: Means More To Me Than You Know

(Note: I do not know either Dana Delorenzo or Ingrid Oliver personally. I met Ingrid at a convention when she was a guest fleetingly, but that’s it! My only interaction with either of them has been via these tweets and a few fan posts I made on Instagram. I feel I have to make this clear so as not to drag them into this ridiculous political minefield and make it appear that they endorse any of my views.)

Again I don’t think that makes me a modern day Gene Roddenberry or Rob Tapert, but its more than people like Whovian Feminism or Claudia Boleyn have done. Ultimately the great irony is that the SJW fans don’t care about original, great, strong female heroes like Kelly Maxwell or Xena. Those characters don’t allow them to take a role model away from men which is all they really care about.

Now the likes of Claudia Boleyn, the blogger Whovian Feminism and Christel Dee may not make the show, but they are clearly seen as its ideal audience by the BBC. They have all worked for the BBC, been used to represent the fandom in DW Magazine and at conventions. In some cases they have even been promoted by the makers of the series.

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Claudia Boleyn and Christel Dee as part of the new time team for DW Magazine.

Here’s Rachel Talalay, the director of every finale in the Capaldi era, and Jodie’s first appearance as the Doctor promoting Whovian Feminism.

Rachel Talalay Blog: Whovian Feminism Reviews Twice Upon A Time

Considering that this was the audience the BBC were clearly after, then its fair to say that the Beeb were motivated by pandering to anti men feeling at least.

A further example of anti men spite being the primary reason behind the push for a female Doctor can be seen in these two articles from the notorious feminist website, The Mary Sue.

In the first article they argue that it would be wrong to reboot Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a black actress, as black people deserve to have heroes of their own, rather than just third rate copies of existing white heroes.

The Mary Sue I Don’t Want A Black Buffy

In the second article about a female Doctor however? They are all for giving supposedly underrepresented groups hand me down’s of other people’s heroes. Ironically anyone who expresses the same opinions about a female Doctor, that they did about a black Buffy is automatically a sexist, woman hating freak.

Sexist Doctor Who Fans React To Jodie’s Casting

Hey its not like the first thing a lot of the pro female Doctor people did when it was announced was spitefully gloat about how glad they were that it was upsetting white men right?

The Internet is Roasting Sexist Doctor Who Fans

Cry Me A River Song For The Manbabies

This Will Annoy Exactly The Right People

New Doctor Who Is A Woman And Man Babies Are Not Happy

Dear God Please Let The Identity of Doctor No 13 Upset

This Will Annoy Exactly The Right People

Miriam Webster Elegantly Tweet Slaps Sexists

The One’s Most Angry With A Female Doctor

Aside from taking away a role model from young boys, there have been many digs at men throughout Doctor Who itself during both the Moffat and Chibnall era. The First Doctor was retconned into being a racist, homophobic sexist, whilst there have also been many attacks against single fathers in the Chibnall era.

In addition to this Jodie Whittaker has more or less derided anyone who is opposed to a female Doctor as a sexist. She even declared their mothers would be ashamed of them.

See here. Doctor Who Interview Marie Claire

Naturally for all of these reasons both male and female viewers took a strong dislike to series 11 and its fandom, that went beyond just not liking the current iteration of a series. The majority of women don’t want to see men insulted, the same way the majority of men don’t want to see women insulted!

I for one would never watch a remake of Xena that replaced all of the prominent female roles with men, solely to spite “entitled female fans”. Included digs against women in the show itself, slandered Lucy Lawless’ original and iconic portrayal as misandrist moron,  and whose core male audience wrote articles gloating about how happy they were little girls had lost a role model in Xena.

Sadly however, upper middle class feminists arrogantly assumed that what they wanted, was what all women wanted. In doing so they ultimately drove the shows female audience away just as much as they did the male audience.

Videos from some female Doctor Who fans.

The show needs to break its association with this toxic ideology, and the only way to do that is to ditch the current version and give it a rest for a few years.

Sell it to Netflix

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Netflix could do a much better job at producing a Doctor Who series than the BBC for many reasons.

First of all, Netflix can put proper money into it and allow the show for the first time to really compete visually with more glossy American productions.

Even Steven Moffat himself has expressed this opinion recently that Doctor Who needs a higher budget to properly compete in the modern world. (Of course a low budget is the least of the Jodie era’s problems, but he does have a point in general.)

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Some monsters from series 11. 

Netflix can also allow the show to return to a serialized format. 45 minutes is too short a time to tell a proper Doctor Who story.

You need time to build up the atmosphere, establish a proper backstory for the world or time the Doctor has visited, and flesh out the villains and side characters motivations properly.

Yes its true some Classic era stories could be padded, but ultimately something like Doctor Who which takes us to a new place every week has to have time to tell a story to set things up.

Trying to cram everything into 45 minutes is too much. Classic stories like Genesis of the Daleks, Frontier in Space, the original Dalek story, Tomb of the Cybermen, and Pyramids of Mars that are able to build up a suspenseful atmosphere as the Doctor treads ever closer to danger, keep the audience guessing with a proper mystery about the main villain, establish supporting characters like Lawrence Scarman, and General Williams backstories; and create in depth worlds with their own history and identity, from Skaro to Draconia to even the future earth. Simply could not be done in 45 minutes.

I don’t blame Russell T Davies for ditching the serialized format in 2005. I think in hindsight it was a mistake, but the tv landscape had changed dramatically in the decades the show had been away.  There were virtually no other serialized shows on air at that time.

Still almost 15 years on from when Doctor Who returned in 2005, the tv landscape has changed once more. Now streaming services like Netflix regularly release entire seasons of television series all at once.

With this in mind there’s no reason Netflix couldn’t do a series of say 22 episodes split up into 4 four parters and 1 six parter. If anything I think the serialized format would be a hit on Netflix, as people tend to enjoy watching shows on Netflix if they have a story arc.

Also its worth noting that to modern audiences, the Classic era style seems to be more popular. In 2017, Classic Who was the third best selling cult series (and the best selling sci fi series) on both DVD and Blue Ray in the entire world. (New Who was still number 10.)

Classic Who Outsells New Who

In addition to this other than the first few episodes of Jodie’s era (which drew in viewers purely for the novelty of a female Doctor.) The revival has not been a hit since 2013, with viewers falling dramatically every year.

It can be argued that the New Who format which hasn’t changed since 2005 is now outdated.

Finally Netflix can also aim the show at a more adult audience. I’m not saying I’d want it to be a totally adult show. I think a return to the levels of violence and fear seen in the Hinchcliff era of the series would be fine.

Now I know what you’re thinking. That the BBC would never sell Doctor Who, so its a pipe dream to even think about it being sold to Netflix. The BBC wouldn’t have to sell it completely to Netflix however.

They could reach a deal where they jointly own the rights, allowing them to still profit from the brand, but not actually have to make the show. It would be similar to the deal they have with Big Finish productions. Lets be honest the BBC hate Doctor Who.

They always have. Leaving aside their shameful and unprofessional treatment of the series in the 80s, even today the BBCs treatment of the series has always been one of indifference at best. Look at all of the hiatus’ and gap years we’ve had to deal with in the last decade.

The BBC enjoys making money off of Doctor Who merchandise, toys, magazines, and books, but they hate having to make the actual show. This would solve all of their problems as well as ours.

Cast Julian Richings as The Doctor

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My top choice for the Netflix Doctor would have to be Julian Richings. For those of you unfamiliar with him, Richings is a character actor who is probably best known for playing Death in Supernatural.

His performance as Death became an instant fan favourite with many hailing him as the greatest onscreen interpretation of the Grim Reaper of all time.

See here.

Now personally I think Richings would be an ideal choice for the Doctor for many reasons.

To start with he could capture the Doctors great age, his wisdom and his authority perfectly, as seen with his performance as Death.

At the same time  I also think Julian would mark a return to the Classic era type of Doctor. There’d certainly be no romance with his Doctor. His Doctor would most likely based on his previous work, be quite a distant, mysterious, unpredictable and alien character.

Julian’s Doctor would also be a return to the more practical, level headed version of the Doctor. In the original series the Doctor, regardless of his incarnation tended to be more practical. He was more akin to Sherlock Holmes and Quatermass. We never saw him break down in tears, let his anger cloud his judgement, or completely lose his cool (apart from when he went temporarily insane in The Twin Dilemma.) He’d get angry and visibly upset yes, but he always kept his emotions in control.

Compare Jon Pertwee’s reaction to Jo Grant’s apparent death in Planet of the Daleks, calmly saying the Daleks murdered her, to David Tennant’s to losing Rose Tyler in Doomsday? Or Peter Davison’s reaction to losing Adric to Capaldi’s to losing Clara.

See how the roles are reversed? In one its the Doctor telling someone how to cope with grief, whilst in another its someone telling the emotionally unstable Doctor how to cope.

Julian would be a return to the more emotionally mature, level headed and at times even quite cold Doctor.

There are many actors that would make an excellent Doctor like Robert Carlyle or Bruce Campbell, but I think Julian would be the best first Netflix Doctor as he would be a real return to the William Hartnell type (he even looks somewhat like Hartnell.)

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If the Netflix series wanted a return to the old style, then it would need to get an actor that would show people that this Doctor really wasn’t the emo, romantic Doctor of the past decade or so, and Julian in my opinion would be the best choice.

I think it can be agreed that Julian Richings has more gravitas and screen presence than  Jodie Whittaker regardless. 

Hire Dana Delorenzo and Colin O’Donaghue as the Companions

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Dana Delorenzo and Colin O’Donaghue for those unfamiliar are two actors already known for their starring roles in genre series.

Delorenzo played Kelly Maxwell the main female character from Ash vs Evil Dead, whilst O’Donaghue played the heroic version of Captain Hook from Once Upon A Time.

Both series have developed huge followings, whilst Delorenzo and O’Donaghue’s characters in particular have gone on to become among the most popular from either show.

Personally I think they’d both be the best choices for the companions for various reasons.

To start with I can see both actors bringing a real physicality to the role of the companion, which hasn’t really been present in New Who at all.

As I have pointed out many times in the classic series the Doctor did a fair bit of fighting (even in William Hartnell’s time) whilst in the revival the Doctor seems to rarely ever use his fists.

The same is also true of the companions. Characters like Rose, Martha and Amy may be strong, brave and resourceful heroes, but could you really imagine say Martha or Clara punching someone in the face? Classic era companions meanwhile like Barbara, Zoe, Leela, and Ace regularly beat up and even killed their enemies in fights.

Even the male companions like Jack, Mickey and Rory don’t seem to do much fighting compared to the likes of Ian, Steven, Jamie and even Harry. They generally tend to shoot badguys instead.

The reason for this is undoubtedly a hold over from when Mary Whitehouse and other moral guardians attacked the show for supposedly being too violent during the days of the classic era.  (Sound familiar? A tiny, but loud minority attack the show until it caves to them? Only difference is Mary Whithouse was right wing whilst Whovian Feminism and Claudia Boleyn are left wing.)

I can imagine the BBC, fearful of another backlash deciding to make the Doctor and his companions less gritty and violent. (This would be another reason to make the move to Netflix.)

Dana and Colin have already done physical scenes in their previous series. Dana in particular brought a real physicality to the role of Kelly that made her very popular among fans of the show, so I could see her being more in line with companions like Ace from the original series.

You can see how Dana could quite easily be an Ace/Leela style companion no problem. Colin meanwhile I can see being more of a Jamie type companion. The male companions in New Who have been a bit too bumbling and secondary. Kind of like a modern day Harry Sullivan. It would be nice to see a strong male companion again like Ian or Jamie or the Brig

I also think it would be better to have the companion fulfil the role of being the more romantic, relatable character for younger audiences than the Doctor.

From about the Tennant era onward I think that the producers decided to cast the Doctor in the role of being a pin up to the female audience, and a role model for the young boys who watched the show. Obviously it was a success, and I’m not going to knock Tennant as an actor or his performance.

However I do think that this was a mistake in the long run. To start with it made Tennant feel extremely disjointed from his predecessors in many ways, such as in his relationship with Rose. (Again this ties into my dislike of a female Doctor. Its always important, not to change the Doctor too much.)

Making the Doctor romantic also I think pigeon holed the Doctor into being too much of a young, relatable character, which made it difficult for Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi to branch out and do something new.

When you look at Matt and Peter’s first seasons they both try and make the Doctor more alien and professorial, but in both cases there was a backlash from people who wanted a more Tennant style, romantic, younger Doctor. Sadly for their later seasons, Matt and Peter were forced to be more clones of Tennant, via a romantic relationship with Clara.

Having a strong companion fulfil this role would be a good way of easing the audience back into a more old fashioned Doctor. The Doctor would still be the lead of course, but his companions would balance him out and take on other roles he couldn’t, such as being the audience surrogate.

Dana and Colin I think would fulfil this role brilliantly by being dynamic in their own right, but also more down to earth and human than Julian’s Doctor so as not to step on his shoes.

Snip New Who Away From The Old Series Canon

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As controversial as it may sound, New Who needs to go in order to save the franchise as a whole.

Now again this is not just bitterness as the revival. I may not have been happy with the new series as of late, but I don’t completely hate it. I have said many positive things about it in the past. I have praised its very best episodes, such as Vincent and the Doctor as being among the best British television of the last 20 years.

I have also acknowledged the positive impact it has had on the entertainment industry, through launching the careers of many of Britain’s best actors and actresses of the past 20 years such as Freema Agyeman, John Barrowman, Karen Gillan, and Matt Smith etc.

I have also frequently rated Peter Capaldi and Matt Smith as two of the best actors ever to play the role of the Doctor.

So I don’t hate everything about the revival. However for practical reasons I don’t see how you can continue the franchise with New Who as canon.

To start with casting the next Doctor is going to be absolute hell. If you cast a man the SJWs will accuse you ironically of taking a role away from a woman, (and probably encouraging trans women to detransition.) If you go for another woman again however, the same backlash of people accusing you of taking a role away from little boys will continue. Its hard to imagine any experienced producer wanting to go through that hell from both sides, particularly when there are other, more lucrative franchises out there. A young and up coming producer meanwhile won’t be prepared for it either and probably shy away from producing the series.

On top of that it would be impossible to have the Master appear again as the actual Master.

For 26 years the Master was written as the Doctors archenemy who wanted him dead and was kept alive by his intense hatred for the Doctor. Now however you couldn’t do that because Missy was retconned into being in love with the Doctor. How would you be able to take say Charles Dance as the Master wanting to kill the Doctor seriously, after you had seen him as Missy staring into the Doctors eyes and French kissing him?

The whole illusion of the Masters character and his reason for being has been tampered with too much.

On top of this the continuity of the revival has become too overbearing in other areas. For instance the Time Lords are now at the end of the universe in hiding and want the Doctor dead. There’s no way you could have them in it again without having to deal with that story (and indeed the fall out of their war with the Daleks which still hasn’t been resolved from The Time of the Doctor.)

So with this in mind I think the best thing to do is to snip New Who away from the shows canon.

I would make Julian Richings the 9th Doctor instead of the 14th. I wouldn’t cut New Who out completely however.

I’d reveal that New Who and Classic Who take place in alternate universes to one another, with similar histories up until a certain point when they diverged.

This way you could still have New Who characters and monsters such as the Weeping Angels, but they would be the Old Who universe versions of them. You could even have New Who characters cross over into the Old Who universe from time to time.

For instance I’d love to see Captain Jack accidentally fall through a portal to the Classic Who universe and meet Julian’s Doctor. You could even have him be trapped in this universe and become a tradition for Netflix Doctors to meet (as he should have been for revival era Doctors.)

You could even do a story where the Doctor from New Who crosses over into the Classic Who Doctors universe and both have to take on a combined threat. (Personally I’d like to see Capaldi as the Doctor in this story, after the absolutely appalling way he was treated by the BBC, it would be good to see him in the role again.)

To be fair you wouldn’t have to come out and say that New Who isn’t canon to the Classic era. Just that it was an alternative universe to THIS version. You could then let viewers decide which one they wanted to be the true sequel, and which they wanted to be the alternate universe to Classic Who.

I think that Classic Who deserves to be seen as its own work. As I have said before its like the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes novels. Those novels are the only true canon for Sherlock Holmes. There have been hundreds of alternative sequels to Holmes, but NONE of them are official. Its all up to the reader to decide which if any later non Doyle Holmes stories are canon.

Now Classic Who isn’t like Doyle’s Holmes stories in that its not written by one person, but it still followed a consistent core characterisation for the Doctor, and overall style (serialised stories, focus on monsters etc) for the entire series.

The changes behind the scenes were gradual, and many of the people who helped create the lore and characters remained involved right until the end, such as Terry Nation who had input and final say into every Dalek story until the end, or Barry Letts, the co-creator of the Master who still approved of and helped to cast the Anthony Ainley incarnation.

New Who however comes decades later and has NO ONE involved in the original involved in its production. Thus for me its not really got any right to decide the definitive story of what happened next any more than any piece of fan fiction.

Having an alternative sequel would establish that Classic Who is like the Doyle version of Holmes, IE the only real canon, with everything else, New Who, the hypothetical Netflix Who, and any other potential sequels all being different people’s ideas of what happened next, with the viewers and fans being allowed to choose which, if any version is the true sequel.

This will also take the pressure off of any sequel, and allow the writers to actually end their versions of the Doctors story. It would also be better for New Who in the long run, as it would allow many of its changes to be less controversial, as they would no longer be the only canon.

Make a Romana Spin Off

The Netflix version of Doctor Who would establish that Time Lords do NOT change gender when they regenerate to finally free the show from the shackles of the female Doctor question. (As well as the regressive left. Even if you think a female Doctor could work without their influence, it needs buried for the next few decades at least until this crap dies down.)

However to those who do still genuinely want to see more female heroes and don’t just want to spite male viewers, (which would sadly rule out Mr Tardis, Claudia Boleyn, and Whovian Feminism.) A good compromise for everybody would be a Romana tv series.

Romana could easily be brought back into Netflix Who for a two part story that would set up her own series. Personally I would abandon the “Romana as President” idea and just have her travelling in E-Space.

If done right Romana the series could be every bit as good as Doctor Who. She has her own entire universe, E-Space to explore, and the writers could establish a new rogues gallery made up of monsters and villains from E-Space.

If done right the show could run for decades, as Romana was only on her second life when we last saw her, so that would give us at least 11 new Romana’s. If each actress did 5 years then that would be 55 years, whilst if they only did three years each like the majority of the Doctors, then that would still be 33 years!

Ironically with this in mind, Romana the series would give you more female leads than a female Doctor ever would. A female Doctor even if it hadn’t been a total disaster would never have given you potentially 55 years with a female lead. The Doctor would presumably have turned back into a man at some point. Even if the next two after Jodie were women, then the people who grew up with Tennant, Tom Baker, Matt Smith etc would eventually try and produce a Doctor similar to them. Romana however who always turns into a woman, if done right could run for decades and decades.

Also as Romana would be more of a blank slate for the writers to experiment with than the Doctor, as we have seen considerably less of her life and personality than the Doctors. Unlike the Doctor we could also explore her past and upbringing too, as Romana isn’t dependent on being mysterious like the Doctor.

There are dozens and dozens of actresses who would make fantastic Romana’s. Almost too many to mention, but here are some of my favourite choices. (You could cast all of these actresses as various different incarnations.)

Jenny Agutter, best known for her roles in Call the Mid Wife, An American Werewolf in London, and Logans Run would be an exceptional Romana. I could see here as a strong, no nonsense, authoritative figure.

In contrast Ingrid Oliver (best known for her role as Osgood) I can see being a very fun, sweet natured and lovable Romana.

Rebecca Mader, who is best known for her role as the Wicked Witch Zelena in Once Upon A Time meanwhile would be a fabulously eccentric, over the top, dashing Romana who could rival any Doctor in terms of having a large, dominant, over the top personality.

Amber Benson, best known as Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, would be a wonderfully kind, empathetic, sweet natured and lovable Romana.

Katie McGrath meanwhile, best known as Morgana in Merlin would give us a darker, more ruthless and sinister Romana.

There are so many possibilities to be explored in a Romana spin off series and we would have a good chance of seeing them realised as a spin off version of a Netflix version of Doctor Who where the Doctor is always male.

Conclusion

Doctor Who in its current form is on its last legs, but that doesn’t mean the franchise itself is dead. If it takes these steps then I think it can pull itself back in just a few years. By the 60th anniversary we could be celebrating Julian Richings glorious reign as the Doctor and wondering who will be next, without any political dogma, just like the good old days.

Sadly however if it goes on the way it is, whilst I don’t think Doctor Who will ever die completely, we will be in for a new very long hiatus. This time it will not have ended on a high like in 1989 however.

Thanks for reading and tell me how would you fix Doctor Who?