You would have thought that the older Tom Baker would have remembered this, unless Gallifrey is going to come back again! I wouldn’t put it past the Fitzroy Clique to reuse that story arc.
In the previous articles we’ve looked at how the mantras of “all change is good” ,”William Hartnell morphed into Patrick Troughton and that was a change, so this is the same,” “Doctor Who is all about change” destroyed the core identity of Doctor Who as it meant that the Doctor could be anyone, and anything (a recent retcon of the series by Russell T Davies revealed that the Doctor can even regenerate into animals.)
In this article we will be exploring, somewhat paradoxically how the revival has also suffered from becoming too repetitive and how this is linked to its lack of respect for the shows past.
Ironically for a show that tries to justify its ever increasingly disastrous creative decisions with “it’s all about change”, the 21st century version of Doctor Who has become one of the most formulaic and predictable genre series in almost every respect.
It’s companions, story arcs, villains, even its Doctors to some extent are all just slight variants and rehashes of the same characters, themes and stories again and again.
The reason for this is because the writers ironically don’t practice what they preach and are scared to break out of what they think is a winning formula. (It was back in the 00s, but we are now almost 20 years on. That would be like if 80s Who was still being filmed in black and white.)
Added to that their obsession with rewriting Doctor Who’s past with things like the Hybrid Prophecy, the Timeless Children, gender bending regeneration and the Master being in love with the Doctor etc, has become their only way of keeping the show “fresh” and original. Ultimately however the majority of the shows stories are still just the same old drek we’ve seen dozens of times before, except now the Doctor is a girl, or the Master is a girl so that means it must be really fresh and exciting right?
Ultimately the way you keep a show fresh and exciting is by having the character go on new adventures, new types of stories and have them encounter new types of characters and villains.
That was how Classic Who reinvented itself. It changed the types of stories the Doctor went on, from historicals to base under siege, to spy and espionage thrillers, to gothic horror, yet underneath it all, it always kept the Doctor the same character fundamentally.
The same is true for any long running series. Look at Angel, the spin off from Buffy (which I just recently finished rewatching.) It went from a supernatural crime noir series, to a Prisoner style series about Wolfram and Hart trying to break Angel, to a supernatural soap opera, to a series about its lead running an evil law firm.
Throughout it however the character of Angel, though going through natural developments, still always remained Angel, a heroic Vampire with a soul.
The makers of New Who however it seems have it the wrong way round. They think that the core character, who serves as something for the long time viewers to latch onto, should be changed to the point where they are completely unrecognizable, whilst the stories can just keep being the same, boring old ideas from 2007 without any kind of variation. (That would be like in Angel had remained a crime noir series for 5 seasons, but the character of Angel had one season been retconned into being a Werewolf, the next an actual Angel, the next a God, etc.)
Added to that if you keep obsessing about rewriting the characters past, then it means that you will end up constantly keep retelling the same stories. For instance season 9 and 12 of the revival both give us different accounts of the Doctors origins. The classic era meanwhile, most of the time would fill a gap in, like why the Doctor ran away in The War Games, and then leave it at that. The writers would decide to go on and tell new stories, or fill in other gaps about the Doctors life and as a result didn’t spend two whole years on the same question. Fair enough Genesis presents us with a different account of the Daleks origins, but as we have been over, the first Dalek story didn’t really show us the Daleks origins, just gave us a vague second hand account. Furthermore after Genesis no one bothered to explore the Daleks origins again, because what would be the point? We had seen that story now, move on to something else.
Sadly however the Fitzroy Clique have become too focused on the wrong thing, and as a result New Who even without the politics, the fan rage against the destruction of the Doctors character, is just simply a tired and boring show for most viewers in the following ways.
“Remember a time when the return of the Daleks was a big deal as they hadn’t been around for a few years?”
The overwhelming majority of New Who seasons have featured either the Daleks, the Cybermen or the Master, or some combination of them as the main villains.
Season 1: The Daleks
Season 2: The Daleks and the Cybermen.
Season 3: The Master
Season 4: The Daleks and Davros
Specials: The Master and Rassilon
Series 5: The Alliance, the two main members of which are the Daleks and the Cybermen.
Series 6: Finally a new villain.
Series 7: The Great Intelligence
Series 8: The Master and the Cybermen
Series 9: There is no main villain per se, but the story arc still revolves around the Daleks and the Master and the Time Lords.
Series 10: The Master and the Cybermen
Series 11: Tzim Sha
Series 12: The Master and the Cybermen.
Out of 12 series, just two feature a new villain, whilst only three don’t feature the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Master or some combination of those three villains. In fact out of the last 5 season finales, only two haven’t featured the Master and the Cybermen teaming up.
Furthermore the monsters themselves I find have often become somewhat formulaic in terms of their role in the series. Before the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Master all represented very different threats to the Doctor.
The Daleks were an evil he could never stamp out. They were an empire who covered the galaxy. Even if the Doctor saved one planet from them, a hundred more would still be under their control at any given time. “We have been delayed not defeated, the Daleks are never defeated.”
The Cybermen were in contrast a desperate, dying race, struggling to survive. They had reached the point of extinction as an organic race, and had prolonged their lives as machine creatures. Now however they were reaching extinction again and seemingly couldn’t prolong their lives any longer. In a way they were more sympathetic as they just wanted to survive. Also in contrast to the Daleks, they didn’t view those they conquered as being inferior creatures. On the contrary they converted them in the hopes of learning from other life forms.
The Day of the Daleks
CONTROLLER: If only you would let me recruit more human security guards, I DALEK: Humans are treacherous and unreliable! CONTROLLER: Not all humans. I have served you faithfully. DALEK: Do not dispute with the Daleks! Obey without question! CONTROLLER: Very well.
The Tomb of the Cybermen
CONTROLLER: We have decided how you will be used. KLIEG: Yes? CONTROLLER: You are a logician. Our race is also logical. You will be the leader of the new race. KLIEG: You will listen to my proposals then? CONTROLLER: Yes, we will listen, but first you will be altered.
See the difference between them?
Both monsters were also used differently in terms of how they were scary. The Daleks lacked a physical presence as they were small, pepper pot shaped, vulnerable, and therefore they would always be scary in large numbers. They would also often be put in a powerful position, or given lackeys who obeyed them like the Ogrons, or if they were few in number, we’d get a chance to see how they manipulate people around them.
The Cybermen meanwhile up close had a tremendous physical presence. If one of the monsters cornered you it was terrifying, as there was no way you could even defend yourself against it. As a result the Cybermen were often used in tight, claustrophobic settings in Classic Who such as in the sewers in The Invasion and the icey tombs of Telos where they could be lurking around any corner and there was no escape.
The Master meanwhile was a different type of enemy in that he had a more personal grudge against the Doctor, was more manipulative and sought to bring about his own universal order.
Now in all fairness to Russell T Davies I think he did do a lot new and interesting things with the Daleks. Even Steven Moffat I feel was able to find a new take on the monsters in some of his stories too. (Ironically I think a lot of the new series writers did a better job with the Daleks and some other villains than the Doctor himself.)
Still the villains overuse and the fact that they constantly have to keep being used in the big, grand finales have gradually caused them all to slowly become the same bland, generic supervillains to the point where by the end of the Chibnall era, there’s hardly any difference between the three of them.
All three have at various points in the revival been turned into villains who are the last of their kind, and are desperately trying to rebuild their fallen empire. (The Daleks in Parting of the Ways, the Master in Last of The Time Lords, The Cybermen in Nightmare in Silver.)
All three have been responsible for the destruction of Gallifrey and the Time Lords at different points. (The Daleks in the 9th Doctors era, the Cybermen and the Master in Chibnalls era.)
The Cybermen’s desire to turn people into members of their own kind was eschewed completely in their latest appearance, where the monsters simply wanted to destroy all life in the universe, much like the Daleks. The Master meanwhile similarly wanted to destroy all life in the universe too. (Which is extremely out of character as the villain is normally a total coward who would never risk his own life.)
At the same time the Daleks have also become too earth centric like the Cybermen too. In the classic era, the Cybermen were interested in the earth more because it was their twin planet. The Daleks meanwhile though invading earth in two stories (The Dalek Invasion of Earth and Day of the Daleks) were often shown to be warring with other species throughout Classic Who.
Their first story sees the monsters battling with the Thals, The Chase features their conflict with the Mechanoids, Daleks Master Plan features their dodgy alliance with other alien races to conquer the Galaxy, Planet of and Death to feature the Daleks fighting with and enslaving other alien races (the Spirodons and the Exxilons) whilst Destiny revolves around their war with The Movellans.
All of this helped the Daleks to feel like a wider threat than the Cybermen, as humanity were just one of many races they had enslaved and warred with. In the revival however, other than the Time War, that is only fleetingly glimpsed, (and a tiny blink and you’ll miss it cameo of the Movellans.) We haven’t seen any other alien species the Daleks have either enslaved, are allied with or are at war with like the Ogrons, the Thals, the Draconians, The Exxilons, the Movellans, the Varga’s, the Aridians, the Delegates of the other galaxies, the Spirodons etc.
Furthermore the revival also doesn’t play to each monsters unique strengths either. Both the Daleks and the Cybermen are usually just depicted in the exact same way, as a massive army sweeping across the land. There’s no attempt to try and play to the Cybermen’s strengths by having them attack the heroes in tight claustrophobic settings, or show a planet under the Daleks rule. The Daleks and the Cybermen will both often just fly through the air, zapping everything in sight and then all get blown up, or swept away at once.
Even the Master gets this treatment too somewhat. His manipulative nature, though played up in The Sound of Drums to some extent, is eventually abandoned so that he too eventually just unleashes a massive army of monsters. Similarly The End of Time and Death in Heaven also both simply see the Master unleash an army like the Daleks and the Cybermen.
Then there is the fact that many of all 3 villains stories take place on modern earth, specifically modern day London too.
In the classic era a grand total of just two Dalek stories took place on modern earth in 26 years. Resurrection and Day (and even then that was only partly in both stories, Evil also takes place albeit very briefly in its first episode.)
In the revival however 6 Dalek episodes have taken place entirely in modern day earth (whilst 4 more, The Parting of The Ways, The Magicians Apprentice, The Day and Time of the Doctor have taken place partly on modern day earth.)
All but four meanwhile (Asylum of the Daleks, Into the Dalek, Bad Wolf and The Witch’s Familiar) have taken place on earth in general. In the classic era, only 5 Dalek stories in total took place largely or entirely on earth (Two 60s era Dalek stories Invasion and Evil, one 70s era Dalek story, Day and two 80s stories took place on earth. Even then Evil of the Daleks only takes place partly on earth. Parts of The Daleks Masterplan and The Chase take place on earth, but as a whole both stories take place largely on alien planets.)
With the Cybermen meanwhile ironically only three stories in 26 years took place on modern earth (and even then Attack only partially takes place on earth,) and only one took place in London. With New Who meanwhile only Nightmare in Silver and their recent season 10 and 12 appearances don’t take place on earth.
All 3 villains have more or less merged together as bland, generic doomsday villains who now have largely the same motivations, the same method of attacking, scaring the viewer (arriving in huge armies), their stories have largely the same locations, they are also often thrown together too. (Every Cyberman story since 2014 has featured the Master, and prior to that 4 Cybermen episodes feature Daleks.)
See what I mean?
This wouldn’t even be as bad if these three villains not only didn’t keep showing up every single year, but they kept being the main villains of every single season too. Do you know that the Classic series once went 5 years without using the Daleks from Troughton to Pertwee? (It also had two more gaps of 4 years each without the pepper pots.) The Cybermen meanwhile were absent for 5 years in Pertwee’s time and later 7 years from Tom Baker to Peter Davison? In fact including these gaps and the 3 years they missed with Hartnell, there are twice as many seasons without Cybermen than with them in the Classic era (can you say the same thing about the revival?)
The Classic era also didn’t feature the Master for the first 7 years either, yet New Who it seems is completely dependent on these classic villains?
Obviously I am not saying don’t use the classic villains at all. The Daleks, Cybermen and the Master when used properly are fantastic villains, but it can’t come across as anything but lazy when all 3 are trotted out almost every single year as the main antagonists.
Rather than focusing on changing the Doctors sex or species, a better way to bring about change to Doctor Who would be in creating new and iconic villains. Other than the Weeping Angels, so far no new series villain has become as iconic as any of the classic series major villains. (The Silence could have, but their arc more or less petered out.)
None have even had the strength to carry a series. It’s not because the new series villains are poor. On the contrary I think a lot of New series villains like say The Beast could easily carry a full series and become just as iconic as classic era villains like say the Sontarans. Ultimately however I think that the writers of the new series either don’t care enough to develop their new antagonists, or are perhaps too scared to try something new ironically when they should in this instance.
Now for the record I have enjoyed many of the companions in the revival. The likes of Billie Piper, Freema Agyeman, Karen Gillan and John Barrowman were all excellent in their roles, and have all gone on to have fantastic careers on both sides of the Atlantic.
That said however when you look at the companions story arcs, their backgrounds and even just their relationship with the Doctor, you can see that the revival once again falls into a formula.
All of the companions barring a very few, Jack, River and Nardole are from 21st century earth.
The majority of them are attracted to or in love with the Doctor. (Rose, Martha, River, Jack, Amy, Clara.)
Several of the female companions have a wimpy, boyfriend, who becomes the secondary companion of the Doctor, and is jealous of the Doctor, but who eventually proves himself a hero in the end. (Rory, Mickey and Danny.)
Several of the female companions have a more sympathetic father figure and a more aggressive mother figure who hates the Doctor as she sees him as a bad influence. Nevertheless at the end of the series, the Doctor and the mother will reach an understanding. (Rose, Martha, Donna.)
The companions story arc will usually be the following. The Doctor notices there is something odd about her. (The words Bad Wolf keep appearing, he keeps meeting her, there is something on her back, there are cracks in her bedroom, there are multiple versions of her etc.)
In all instances this will be because in the finale the companion will get super powers, be revealed to be the most important person in all of creation and save the entire universe from one of the Doctors archenemies.
Finally the companion will often have to be ripped from the Doctor too. She can’t just leave on her own accord (apart from Martha.) There will have to be some over the top, sci fi explanation for why she can never see him again. (Different universe, can’t travel backwards in time, can’t see her again without her burning up etc.)
However in all cases the writer doesn’t have the guts to actually kill the companion, so she still has to live a happy, wonderful life, it’s just that the Doctor can’t see her anymore. Rose still lives in a mansion with her David Tennant clone, Amy and Rory live a wonderful life together in New York, Donna gets happily married and gets a winning lotto ticket, Clara gains super powers and her own TARDIS.
Not all of the companions follow every single aspect of this template, (though some do like Clara.) All of them however will follow at least a few of these tropes to the point where the companion is now more of a stock character than ever before.
It is true that a few companions in the classic era were dull, uninspired characters who weren’t really developed well such as Dodo.
Still at the very least the classic era for the most part always tried to make the companions backgrounds and relationship with the Doctor different. Take a look at the 4th Doctors era alone.
You have Sarah Jane a journalist from modern day earth who has a strong friendship with the hero, Leela, a savage warrior woman from another world who tends to clash with the Doctor, Romana a Time Lady who is an equal to the Doctor in intelligence and Adric a young boy from another universe who the Doctor develops a strict mentor/student relationship with, Teegan who is a reluctant companion, and finally Nyssa who looks up to the Doctor, but has a much warmer relationship with him than Adric.
Even the 2nd Doctors era gives us a wide variety of companions in terms of backgrounds and relationships with the Doctor. We have Ben and Polly who are merely friends with the Doctor, and who come from modern day England. Then we have Jamie who is from the past, and who becomes more of a willing accomplice to the Doctor, as he has a similar desire for adventure and recklessness. Victoria meanwhile is more vulnerable and younger and has more of a father/daughter relationship with the Doctor, whilst Zoe on the other hand is from the future and talks to the Doctor as an equal due to her scientific background.
The original series ironically despite what the media tells us, often made more of an effort to at least make its companions different, where as the revival is still essentially just reusing the Rose Tyler template after 15 years.
Aside from the companions story arcs more or less being exactly the same, the shows other major story arcs are all very similar and repetitive too.
Series 1, 2, 3 and 4 all feature a monster or villain from the Time War whose main aim is to take over the earth and rebuild his fallen race and empire there. The Dalek Emperor, the Cult of Skaro, The Saxon Master, Davros and the Daleks. The Specials even reuse this idea with Rassilon and the Time Lords.
Also all season finales of the Davies era, apart from Journey’s End feature the villain trying to turn humans into monsters (the Emperors Daleks, the Cybermen, the Master race, whilst the shock twist in Last of the Time Lords is that the Toclafane are humans, much like how the shock twist in The Parting of The Ways is that the Daleks were humans too.)
The Matt Smith era meanwhile relies heavily on the Doctor learning he is about to die. The specials see the Doctor learn about a prophecy that he will die “Your song is ending.” In season 5 the Doctor discovers that his TARDIS will blow up at a specific date in the future. In season 6 sees the Doctor learn that an astronaut is going to shoot him at some a specific date in the future at lake Silencio. Finally season 7 sees the Doctor learn that he will die in a future battle on Trenzalore.
Season 9 and seasons 12 both tease us that the Doctors origins are not what we thought, and reveal the identity of something that is only referred to by a mysterious title. “The Hybrid,” “The Timeless Children.” Both finales then feature the Doctor back on Gallifrey, where the Time Lords are portrayed as monstrous and we discover this mysterious something is the Doctor, and our perception of him has been changed forever.
The Master and the Cybermen have also been featured as the villains, working together in 3 out of the last 5 finales, whilst 5 finales in total feature aliens invading the earth. The Stolen Earth and the season 11 finale meanwhile both feature aliens stealing planets.
Finally in what is perhaps the laziest bit of writing in the entire franchise, series 12 saw the Doctor reduced to the last of his kind again. The first 7 years of the revival saw the Doctor cope with the Time Lords having been wiped out, whilst the 50th saw all of the Doctors team up to save the planet. Killing the Time Lords off again 7 years later not only almost seems comical after everything the Doctor went through to save them, but also smacks of “we honestly don’t know where to take this character, so lets revisit the same story arc from 2005 because it worked back then.”
On top of this the revival also tends to reuse certain episode types as well. To date there have been 9 episodes of the revival set in Victorian London. On top of that there have also been a number of episodes that see the Doctor meet a historical figure who helps the Time Lord battle an alien threat, only for the Doctor to then show them that they will be remembered, or at least lecture the audience about it.
The Unquiet Dead, The Shakespeare Code, The Unicorn and the Wasp, Vincent and the Doctor, Rosa and even the recent Tesla episode all follow the same basic plot. This isn’t always a bad thing mind you as Vincent and the Doctor I feel is one of the strongest episodes of either series, but still when you have so many other aspects of the revival that are similar it does start to look as though the Fitzroy crowd aren’t really trying to think up new stories and ideas.
It’s not always a bad thing if a writer reuses certain ideas. Both Terry Nation and Robert Holmes reused certain themes and concepts. Also it’s not as though Doctor Who hasn’t become formulaic for certain periods in the past, such as the Troughton era that relied too heavily on base under siege stories, or the Pertwee era that became too caught up in invasion earth, spy and espionage stories.
The difference is however that these periods never lasted as long, because new blood would always come in and shake things up. New Who meanwhile has featured the same basic ideas, from last of the time lords, to Daleks, Cybermen, The Master always being the main villains, to companions being the chosen one, from modern day earth, fancying the Doctor for close to 15 years now.
The reason for that is because they are all following the same cult like mantra of “Doctor Who is all about change” but are all focusing on changing the wrong things. They are focusing on changing time honored traditions and pieces of Doctor Who lore to keep it fresh, whilst peddling out the same tired ideas that they still think are current and trendy.
The result is a show that is making no one happy. Fans are furious that the lore is being disrespected with The Timeless Children, whilst casual viewers have not surprisingly adopted an attitude of “seen one Doctor Who, seen them all.” Which for a show about a man who can travel literally anywhere is quite sad.
In the next edition of this series we will be looking at the negative effect the shows toxic fandom have had on the series.
Elena suddenly felt the ground beneath her feet give way. The small castle that she and that hideous abomination were hiding in began to fade away into nothing but darkness. In a last ditch attempt the mass of tormented souls that had been pursuing Elena tried to reach out and grab her, but she jumped into the black abyss that was appearing ahead of her.
Both she and the monster fell through an endless darkness as the last of the castle faded away into smoke.
For how long they fell, they weren’t sure. Time didn’t seem to exist in the abyss they found themselves in. In the very distance however, Elena could see what looked like a tiny window, in reality, it was the frame of the painting she had been pulled through. She pulled herself towards it as much as she could and though it seemed to get further and further away at first, just as all seemed lost she suddenly found herself right in front of the window frame and crawled through it. As the mutant looked back, she saw the abomination that had chased her falling through the endless darkness, not even attempting to flee. In the darkness it was finally free from Scratchman’s control, and unlike Elena, the monster had no desire to escape back into the hell it came from. In this darkness will was the only thing that mattered. As there was no space or matter, when Elena tried to use force to escape through the portal it didn’t work, but ironically as soon as the portal began to fade her terror made her will strong enough to be brought towards it.
The alien knew this, but didn’t care. An eternity through nothingness was still preferrable to a second under Scratchman’s cruelty.
In this void the pain and memories of what they had lost didn’t seem to bother the creature as it sank peacefully into the darkness.
Once Elena had made her way through the portal and back into Scratchman’s castle she started to think the monster had been right not to bother. All around her were hideous monstrosities who had crawled out of the paintings. Both Scratchman’s victims who had been twisted beyond all recognition, and their tormentors who had followed them, fighting and tearing at each other. The hall itself had also vanished and was now replaced by a massive cavern made from mangled flesh and bone. In the very distance Elena could see what looked like several creatures working together in torturing a Demon. It was in fact the Demon that Scratchman had left in control of the paintings, who had earlier captured Elena.
The creature pitifully begged it’s former victims to show clemency which of course fell on deaf ears. Just as before Elena wisely stayed out of the fighting and tried to make her way through the bloodbath to find the Doctor and Yarox.
The Doctor’s attack on Scratchman had only distracted him for a few minutes, but in that time his will was distracted his entire world, or rather what was left of it had been thrown out of order. Several pocket dimensions he had created, such as the paintings had collapsed, the structure of his castle had been stripped to it’s bare bones. (Literally. The foundation of the castle was made of the corpses of the billions Scratchman had slaughtered.)
Even outside his castle, the entire landscape had been ravaged. The land split open, and the lake of torment began to flood the land. The armies fighting outside Scratchman’s castle were swept away in a tidal wave, with only a few Harpies and some of Scratchman’s Demons managing to fly away.
The waves very nearly toppled the castle itself and burst through it’s foundations, flooding the inside. Elena was barely able to escape by climbing up a nearby wall, which she was able to do easily as many of the bones were sticking out of the walls.
She was one of the few survivors to crawl or fly to safety up the castle’s walls. As Elena looked down she saw all of the Demons and their former victims suffering together in the burning green waters as they were washed away.
Scratchman was able to save the Doctor and Yarox from being swept away by the flood as it broke through the walls into his room, by lifting them through the air with his telekinetic powers.
“I don’t know why you bothered” The Doctor said defiantly.
“I’m still not going to help you.”
“Oh I know Time Lord. I’ll have to find a way to break your machine instead. You are too dangerous to be allowed to live, but well I think a little dip in my lake is too good for you. Look at the trouble you’ve caused. I have even less time to make it out of this world now. No I think I have just the right punishment in mind for you.” Scratchman said as he slowly morphed back into his humanoid form.
Scratchman carried the two time travellers down a long hall that was flooded with the lake of the damned. Along the way several of Scratchman’s most loyal minions called out to him, but he didn’t listen.
When they finally reached the end of the hall it was a gigantic silver room, with a huge hole in the centre and monitor on the wall. The water it seemed was incapable of flowing into this area. It just stopped at the entrance.
Scratchman lowered himself to just beside the hole whilst he held the Doctor and his companion above it.
“You see Time Lord it is not just this universe that sustains me. Some of the previous realities I conquered I keep around as small pockets of existence like this one. I have too. I can never tell how long it will be before I overrun each universe. I’ve been trapped in this godforsaken reality for so long now however I’ve had to eat through most of my reserves. Still these are the last of the realities I claimed as my own. They are kept alive through a special supply of energy, even your little trick couldn’t hurt them. They sustain me.”
“Don’t worry though I wont just throw you in. Where’s the fun in that? Since I might not be getting out of this, I might as well enjoy myself don’t you think?”
Scratchman dropped the Doctor and Yarox into the hole. Below was a long, silver, yet dark corridor.
“This is a little anti climactic Harry?” The Doctor said.
A massive fire ball came hurling itself down one end of the corridor forcing the Doctor and Yarox to flee. As they ran further down the corridor, the roof suddenly disappeared.
Up above was nothing but blackness, but the Doctor and Yarox could hear screams and roars all around them. The fireball itself seemed to be screaming.
The Doctor and Yarox reached the end of the corridor where there was a portal, that looked like a hole in the ground, that led to one of Scratchman’s pocket dimensions.
The Doctor looked into the portal and saw a dimension that appeared to be nothing but a gigantic wasteland, with a huge tree in the middle. Several damned souls were trying to climb up the tree, which was covered in jagged, spiked branchses. The souls were cutting themselves on the branches the higher they climbed and were screaming, yet seemingly had no choice but to keep climbing.
“Ah you’ve reached the remains of one my favourite hell dimensions, you get the gist of the game now, if you can get out of my little maze I’ll let you go, well I’ll kill you quickly at least, well quicker than I would have. If not suffer in one of my many layers of hell.”
The Doctor helped Yarox to climb over the wall, after which Yarox then helped to pull the Doctor over, whilst the fire ball vanished down the hole into the hell universe below.
On the other side of the wall was another fire ball that forced the two time travellers to flee up the corridor.
“It’s like we’re trapped in some gigantic, nightmarish pinball machine.” The Doctor said.
As the Time Lord and his companion turned down the nearest corner, they saw a gigantic Iron Dog, with blood and flesh dripping from its fangs. The creature charged at the two time travellers, who both jumped to either side of the wall, narrowly dodging the abomination.
They then ran ahead of it together to the end of the corridor, which ended in three more corridors.
Picking one at random the Doctor and Yarox ran down the centre corridor, only for a gigantic fireball to come rolling down the other end.
“I really hate those things.” The Doctor said as he and Yarox ran back down the way.
When they reached the end of the centre corridor again, the Iron Dog was waiting for them. Roaring and hissing, as the Doctor tried to help Yarox climb over the wall, suddenly from above a gigantic griffin like creatures emerged from the darkness and grabbed the Doctor in it’s talons. Yarox tried to pull the Doctor back down, but the Dog pounced on Yarox. The Griffin carried the Doctor high above the maze, which was absolutely enormous web of corridors, filled with fire balls, creatures and other dangers.
The Griffin dragged the Doctor to another pit at the end of a corridor and dropped him down it. The Doctor however managed to hold on the edges of the hole as he fell.
Below he could see this pocket dimension, or layer of hell, was a gigantic lake of fire, over which there was a huge suspension bridge between two large cliffs. The Doctor could see that several people were being forced to walk from one end of the bridge to the other. Each time they crossed the bridge however hideous Griffin like creatures, similar to the monster that had brought the Doctor to the pit in the first place would attack them, and force most of them into the fire below.
The Doctor tried to crawl back up, but each time he did the Griffin would fly back down and claw at him.
Yarox meanwhile was able to wriggle free from the Iron Dog when it bit into his back as the creature (which stood over 7 feet tall) only grabbed a flap of his clothes which when he pulled it ripped, allowing him to then slide under the monster undetected.
Yarox then ran down the right of the 3 corridors. Once he reached the end of it he came across two large wooden doors without any handles. He tried to push them open, but suddenly the doors started to pull open at either side, revealing the two doors to be a mouth, filled with razor sharp teeth.
The mouth which dribbled green, acidic saliva started to snap shut furiously and moved down the corridor after Yarox. Unfortunately at the other end the Dog was already waiting for him. With nothing left to lose and in a rush of adrenaline, Yarox jumped at the Dog as it leaped at him. Grabbing onto it’s head, he jumped over the beasts head and onto it’s back.
Whilst it was distracted trying to shake him off, the Dog failed to notice the wooden mouth that charged at him. Within a few seconds the two doors lined with razor sharp teeth had closed around the Dog’s head, ripped it off and crushed it into powder. The two doors then crushed and consumed the rest of the animal, whilst Yarox made his way down the left corridor.
Elena meanwhile had managed to make her way to Scratchman’s control room. Crawling along the walls of the rapidly crumbling castle, she could see that the water stopped at the silver corridor and crawled along towards it. Once she was near enough she then jumped onto the metal corridor.
Elena could see Scratchman watching the Doctor and Yarox struggling in his twisted game on the massive computer screen. Scratchman was hysterical with laughter at the two time travllers plight.
Elena knew it was pointless to try and attack Scratchman. There was no way she could hurt him, and she’d probably vaporize herself if she touched him.
Even if she tried to help the Doctor then Scratchman would still see her on his monitor. Still she couldn’t just leave him dangling over one of Scratchman’s worst layers of hell.
Elena quickly jumped down the hole into the maze. There she ran down the corridor until the roof disappeared. She then seeing a fireball heading in her direction jumped up to the top of the wall beside her. It took her a few goes, and it was only on her last attempt before the fire ball reached her, that Elena managed to grab the top of the wall with her finger tips, and pull herself up before the fireball consumed her.
Balancing herself on the top of the thin wall, Elena looked all over the maze, which did resemble a gigantic pinball machine with giant flaming pinballs running down almost every corridor. In the distance she could see the Griffin hovering over the Doctor.
Wasting no time, Elena jumped from the top of one wall to another until she reached where the Doctor was. Catching the Griffin off guard with a powerful kick to the head, she managed to send it flying over the top of the nearest wall, before helping the Doctor up.
“Elena, I honestly thought I’d never see you again, then again, I didn’t think I’d ever seen anything again dangling over that abyss. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, where’s Yarox?”
“I don’t know we got separated in this overgrown pinball machine, come on we need to find him.”
The Griffin suddenly re-emerged from behind the wall furious causing both the Doctor and Elena to flee, though Elena was able to land a good kick onto the monsters chest first.
The Doctor and Elena both called out for Yarox across the maze.
“Doctor? Elena? You’re both alive. I’m over here. Two corridors down.” Yarox shouted.
Elena and the Doctor tried to run down the nearest corridor in Yarox’s direction, but it was blocked by two skeletons holding two shields with Scratchman’s human form on them, smiling.
Elena tried to kick the shield but she suffered an electric shock, whilst the Skeletons were unaffected. As the Doctor helped Elena up, he saw the Skeleton’s as well as Scratchman’s face on both shields laughing hysterically.
With the Griffin not far away, the Doctor and Elena realised that they didn’t have time to try and fight through the Skeleton’s and so the Doctor helped Elena over the wall, but on the other side was red water rather than a floor. Elena jumped over to the top of the wall on the other side, after helping the Doctor up.
Unfortunately when the Doctor prepared to jump over, a gigantic snake like creature emerged from the water. Hissing and snapping at the Doctor, Elena kicked the monster from behind, distracting it and allowing the Doctor to jump over, though he landed on his stomach over the wall. Whilst his feet dangled over the red water, another snake like creatures head began to emerge, but Elena pulled herself and the Doctor over to the other side before they could do anything.
As soon as they landed on the other side however, two fireballs from either direction came charging at them.
“Oh give us a break.” Elena said.
“I think you’ve forgotten where you are supposed to be”. Scratchman said.
Again the Doctor helped Elena up, but before she could return the favour, the Griffin returned and grabbed the Doctor.
A tug of war ensued with Elena only barely holding on to the Doctor. Fortunately the two fireballs below colliding caused a mine explosion which shook knocked the Doctor, Elena and the Griffin backwards.
The Doctor and Elena quickly ran down the nearest corridor, but at the end of it was another hole which led to a very different type of hell dimension.
This dimension was nothing more than a hideous swamp of black tar, though at the centre of the tar was a giant throne, atop which a massive Demon with horns and a pig like face sat.
“Erlik has been so desperate to torture the Time Lord in his swamp. Looks like he’ll get his wish after all” Scratchman laughed.
A fireball blocked off the way back, but the Griffin flew towards the Doctor and Elena.
In desperation the Doctor attacked the Griffin and grabbed it by the talons. Elena soon joined in and together the two of them were able to pull the Monster down for a few seconds before it flew away, with both still holding onto either claw.
Whilst the Griffin struggled to kick them away in the air, the Doctor got a good look around and saw Yarox running down a nearby corridor from another flaming ball.
He and Elena then jumped away from the Griffin and landed in front of Yarox.
“Doctor, Elena” he said with joy.
“We’ll talk later” the Doctor said as he ran away from the fireball.
The three time travellers ran down the long corridor, but on the right hand wall, the three were distracted by a what looked like a door to another one of Scratchman’s pocket dimensions.
The three saw a woman standing in the doorway, though to the three of them she appeared very differently. The Doctor saw her as a hideous Demonic hag, whilst Yarox saw her as the most stunningly beautiful woman he had ever seen with flame red hair, and piercing green eyes. Elena meanwhile saw a relatively ordinary woman.
The Doctor was the first to break out of the trance and quickly pulled his two companions out of it.
They soon reached the end of the corridor, which was another portal on the ground. This time it led to a version of hell that appeared to be nothing but a Frozen wasteland. As the Doctor prepared to help his two companions up the nearest wall again, the walls around them suddenly grew to over 60 feet tall.
“Not very sportsman like Harry” The Doctor said.
“Again I think you’ve forgotten who you were talking too? Be glad I gave you a chance for as long as I did.”
The Doctor and his two companions tried to push at the walls as hard as they could, but it was no use. As the fireball hurled towards them they had no choice but to jump through the portal into Scratchman’s frozen wasteland below.
Scratchman burst out laughing.
“Poor Doctor. If this had been any other time I would have given him more of a chance, but ah well time is short. He brought it on himself.”
Scratchman turned around causing the water flooding his castle to retreat and the walls to turn to fire again.
“Let’s just hope his little machine is smart enough to realise I don’t appreciate or respect stubborness.”
In the wasteland below the Doctor struggled to move the cold was so biting. His people the Time Lords could withstand the cold to a much greater extent than human beings, but even he was beginning to pass out. Around him Elena and Yarox were both completely unconscious.
“Elena, Yarox.” The Doctor said weakly. “Please, we have to move, find shelter or we, we” He collapsed face first into the snow.
The latest episode by Chris Chibnall not only completely destroyed the lore, but more or less defeated the whole point of the show. Originally I was going to cover this in the second part of my what ruined Doctor Who article, which I will still be finishing this week.
However I felt this subject deserved its own article. (Note obviously this has delayed King Kong by just a few days. Don’t worry though Professor Fang and The Circus Master will still be on schedule this week. It’s not every week you see the death of a 56 year old series, so it is special circumstances.)
In this article I will be briefly exploring why Chibnalls latest retcon’s have ruined the series, and perhaps how this can be retconned out.
Why the Timeless Child is a Retcon too far
It’s hard to know where to begin dissecting this trainwreck of an idea?
For those lucky enough to miss Chibnall’s latest episode, it was revealed that the Doctor was originally a little girl called the Timeless Child from another universe who had the power to perpetually regenerate. She was found on another world by an alien known as Tecteun, who belonged to a race known as the Shobagans, the original inhabitants of Gallifrey.
After The Timeless Child was taken to Gallifrey, she was experimented on by Tecteun until she was able to extract the child’s powers of regeneration, which was then spliced into every single Shobagan, creating the Time Lords.
The Timeless Child meanwhile was then experimented on further. The Time Lords would brainwash her/him and force them out into the universe as their agent. Whenever the Timeless Child reached the end of her/his 13th life, they would regress her to being a child again and wipe their memories of all of their previous lives to keep up the ruse that the Timeless Child was just another Time Lord.
They would keep doing this over and over again for billions of years, with the cycle of 13 regenerations from Hartnell to Smith just being the latest.
Aside from just being a ridiculous story, this more or less breaks the very foundation of Doctor Who in a number of ways.
To start with we now know pretty much everything about the Doctor. The character had to always remain somewhat mysterious (Clues in the title. Doctor Who?). Now it’s true that over the decades, writers and producers have revealed little bits and pieces about the character, but no one has gone as far as Chibnall.
There’s no Who left in the Doctor anymore. We now know that all of the Doctors were just programmed into being who they were by the Time Lords.
This leads onto my next point, that this latest plot also robs the Doctor of his agency and makes him nothing more than a tool for the Time Lords.
For over 50 years we were led to believe the Doctor was a renegade from the Time Lords. He had left their race because he wanted to explore the galaxy and discover new life forms and cultures (though there may have been other reasons for leaving Gallifrey, which helped to add to the mystery around the character.) However his strong sense of morals caused him to interfere when he had too.
It created a nice dynamic between the Doctor and his people where on the one hand, he was a maverick that broke their laws, whilst on the other at times they need him to fix problems for them. As the Time Lords had spent so long in isolation, then the Doctor knew more of the universe than they did, and so he was always the first person they would call if something threatened them.
Now however the Doctor was always a tool sent by his people to interfere in other planets? Worse than that, all of his own actions were just a result of him being programmed to be that way by the Time Lords, but not knowing it because his memories were wiped.
Stealing a TARDIS, his moral code, even developing a fondness for earth, these were all simply the result of the Time Lords brainwashing the Timeless Child to be a hero?
We don’t actually know who the real Doctor is now. 56 years worth of development was just the life the Time Lords had created for him, similar to the Chamelion Arch creating a false life for John Smith.
(The fact that Jo Martin’s TARDIS was a blue police box shows that even that detail of the Doctors life, was as a result of the Time Lords. The only explanation is that the Time Lords for some reason liked that shape, and so the Doctor’s must have subconsciously recreated it in that form for them in An Unearthly Child. It’s too big a coincidence otherwise.)
Before the Doctor was special among his people because he was more adventurous, now its solely because he is a magic being sent from another universe and brainwashed.
Ironically however whilst turning the Doctor into nothing more than a tool for the Time Lords, this development also makes the Doctor into too important a figure.
Now the Doctor is essentially a god from another universe. Again part of the Doctors charm was that he was something of an under dog, despite being a highly advanced alien.
He was a loser among the Time Lords, a bum who basically just wanted to live an easy life, but had a strong sense of morals.
Now however he is a god sent to us from another universe and conditioned to be the greatest person who ever lived, and the founder of Time Lord society.
It’s true that New Who has been guilty of God Moding the Doctor in the past, but these elements have always been criticised by the majority of fandom and viewers. Even then however, loathe as I am to defend him, Steven Moffat never destroyed the Doctors status as a renegade, and outcast from his society.
There is also the grave insult towards William Hartnell, the actual first actor to play the role of the Doctor.
Now Hartnell isn’t the first. He is simply the 107838463746346738743897439467379th, though that’s probably too small a figure. (Remember in The End of Time, Rassilon said Time Lord history was several billion years old. That means logically that the Doctor who created their society, must be billions of years old too.)
In all fairness to Chibnall he is not the first person who has toyed with the idea of pre Hartnell Doctors. Andrew Cartmell planned a similar idea, whilst as far back as the first regeneration from Hartnell to Troughton, the producers were going to reveal that the Doctor had changed his face multiple times in the past.
Then there are the notorious Morbius Doctors from the 1975 story Brain of Morbius. In this story Morbius and the Doctor have a mind wrestling contest, where we see images of the previous Doctors flash up on screen. After William Hartnell however several previous faces pop up too.
The difference with these retcons or attempted retcons however is that none of them were official. The Cartmell Masterplan was quickly shot down by John Nathan Turner and never brought to the show itself (exactly for the reasons that JNT felt it would ruin the Doctors character by revealing too much), whilst the scene of the previous Hartnell Doctors in Power of the Daleks was quickly cut from the script. Even the Morbius Doctors was deliberately left vague. Those faces could easily be previous versions of Morbius. (I always just assumed they were personally. Hinchcliff also said that he only ever intended to hint, not conform, that those faces could be the Doctor as well.)
Ultimately no producer felt that they had the right to definitively add in Pre Hartnell era Doctors, as ultimately it could be seen as disrespectful to reduce the man who created the characters performance to just being one in a long line.
Some fans have tried to defend this latest retcon by using the tired, debunked old argument of “Doctor Who is all about change.” Well I will be tackling this argument in a greater detail in What Ruined Doctor Who Part 2.
For now though I will just say that you cannot justify a creative decision by saying “well someone did something in 1966, so that means its okay for me to do something now.”
Furthermore changes in canon in the past were not always the same.
When we first met the Doctor in the Hartnell era, he was more of a blank slate. We did not know who where he came from, why he left Gallifrey (other than the vague hint he couldn’t go back.)
When it was revealed that he was a Time Lord, that he could regenerate, those weren’t retcons. They were simply filling gaps in. Once they were filled in, no one would bother to go against them. They would add, maybe fill in another gap (like how often the Doctor can regenerate, or that they can give Time Lords more regenerations if need be.)
Its the same with any long running character. Once a gap has filled in and become part of their identity over time, then its hard if not impossible to rewrite them.
For over 5 decades the Doctor has been a Time Lord. A mountain of spin off material has been made about Gallifrey, entire story arcs have revolved around his relationship with his people, even among the general public, the Doctor is known to be a Time Lord, the same way that Mr Spock is known to be a Vulcan, and Superman is a Kryptonian.
To change that now, and pretend that this is the same as a writer revealing the Doctors people are called Time Lords after just 6 years, when we didn’t know who his people were at all, is completely dishonest.
Ultimately this retcon will not last. Chibnall has gone too far this time. It will be retconned out sooner or later. There is no way for the franchise to go on with the Timeless Child as the Doctors official backstory.
The Lazy Destruction of Gallifrey
Another major development of Chibnall’s latest offering was the destruction of Gallifrey.
Surprisingly this hasn’t been covered by most commentators and fans.
Gallifrey was destroyed once before during the Time War story arc, but again this was different.
Gallifrey’s destruction in The Time War happened off screen and so there was always a possibility of it returning.
Furthermore at the time, whilst I never thought it was a particularly good idea, at least it was new and innovative.
This time however it almost feels like a parody. The entire 50th anniversary revolved around Gallifrey being rescued, the Time Lords being restored, and even showed us a future Doctor who assured us that Gallifrey would be back.
Now all of that has been undone, and what for? So we can revisit the same story arc from 2005-10, except it’s not as effective now.
There’s no Time War for future writers and spin off material to play around with. Now its just the Master who wiped out all of the Time Lords (which by the way HOW did he do that, and WHY when he had turned good as Missy?)
Furthermore this time we saw Gallifrey melt into nothing but dust. There is no way back. No future writers can play around with Time Lord mythology now.
No writer was ever so arrogant as to completely finish a large part of the lore in quite the same way (Remembrance for instance still showed us Davros escaping.)
In this respect Chibnall has just further dragged the show down a pit.
Ironically he’s managed the worst of both worlds. In terms of change, he has damaged the identity of the character and series in a desperate attempt to do something new, yet he has also recycled the same tired ideas.
Lets see the series finale leaves the Doctor as the last of his kind again, it also features the Master and the Cybermen working together for the third finale, and focuses on rewriting the Doctors past like Hellbent.
Is it any wonder mainstream viewers have jumped ship?
The show needs to get out of this obsession with rewriting its past. The Fitzroy Crowd have an obssession that in order to do good Doctor Who, you have to smash up the canon, again founded on the fact that the people who established the continuity made some changes.
This quote from Paul Cornell
To be a good writer, you have to smash things up. To make great Doctor Who, especially, you have to destroy something someone values with every step. Those footsteps of destruction will, in a few years, be cast in bronze and put on a plinth for the next great story to destroy.
Perfectly sums up the mentality that led to the Timeless Child.
The show needs to get out of this mindset if it is to survive. You don’t have to rewrite what has gone before to keep a show fresh, and you cannot compare changes now, after 50 plus years of a characters established identity, to changes made when the character was more of a blank slate.
How Do We Write The Timeless Child Out
Well there is no one way to write out the Timeless Child, as it is fiction there are several, but my preferred method is this.
As regular readers of this blog will know I have decided to split Classic Doctor Who and New Doctor Who into two separate universes.
I feel that even without the Chibnall era, they are totally incompatible. For me Classic Who and New Who take place in two alternate universes, with a similar history up until a certain point, explaining the cameos from Classic era Doctors in New Who, but ultimately their histories went in a different direction.
To me this is the only way forward for Doctor Who. I think that Classic Who deserves to be seen as a completed work in its own right, much like the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle version of Sherlock Holmes.
Any sequels that come along should be set in alternate universes to one another, allowing them all to be linked, but ultimately its up to viewers as to which if any take place in the same universe as the original.
For me after this version of Doctor Who finishes (which will likely be soon,) then it should be rest for a few years, after which the next Doctor should be the 9th Doctor. Once this version reaches the 13th Doctor, then that’s that. When the Doctor is dead, then he will be dead for good. No resets.
Then when that version finishes, the next version should feature a new 9th Doctor, and then when this Doctor reaches the 13th Doctor, or is cancelled then the next sequel should follow on from a new 9th Doctor and so on.
All of these sequels can then be connected by having the Doctor from the previous version cross over into the universe of the latest. (For instance one episode of the hypothetical Doctor Who 3, would have Peter Capaldi or David Tennant’s Doctors cross over from an alternate universe into the New Doctors universe.)
However Chibnall’s ghastly Timeless Child makes this solution hard, as now New Who is so disconnected from the original, that its incompatible even as an alternate universe version of the same character!
I think this is a shame as there is a lot of good in the first 10 years of New Who that shouldn’t just be completely disregarded. (I say that even as someone who isn’t particularly fond of the revival era.)
It would be a shame to junk that completely, so I think the thing to do is to separate the Jodie era as an alternate universe from the rest of New Who.
I don’t like to do this. Its one thing to have two different productions be set in two different universes, but when you use the multiverse format to split up the same production, that’s when things get problematic, as future writers can end up chopping one story up too much to explain away any continuity blips.
Still these are special circumstances. There has never been a retcon this big and damaging even to the fundamentals of Doctor Who. I yearn for the days of Missy now.
Still how do you fit the Timeless Child even into the DW multiverse?
Well I see it like this.
The Timeless Child was a Time Lord from another universe. The New Who Universe to be specific.
We know from Hell Bent that in that universe, Gallifrey will fall billions of years from now at the end of the universe.
We see this when the ruins of the planet persist until literally the last night of the universe, when Ashildir is staying in them when the 12th Doctor visits her. (This is not possible if Gallifrey was blown to dust by the Master.)
We don’t know how the Time Lords fell in this universe, yet. Lets just assume that it was when the rest of the universe began to collapse they suffered the fate of all species.
The last of the Time Lords however, sent a special Time Lady through a portal to escape.
The Time Lords created her just before their planet fell, with there only being enough power to send through one. She not only could regenerate perpetually, but she contained a Matrix within her mind that contained all knowledge of the history of Gallifrey of that universe.
The role of this girl would be to find a primitive planet, and build up its society to be like Gallifrey using the knowledge and history contained in her mind, ensuring that Gallifrey would exist forever in some form. This special child was named The Timeless Child by the Time Lords before they sent her through to the other universe.
The Timeless Child however was found by Tecteun as soon as she entered her reality.
Tecteun as we know took the Timeless Child back to her home planet and experimented on her, where she not only took the powers of regeneration from the Timeless Child, but she discovered the knowledge in Timeless Child’s head.
Using this knowledge, Tecteun and the others learned about the Time Lords from the other universe and built their society based on their culture, becoming Time Lord knock offs themselves. They then conditioned the Timeless Child to be like the Doctor from the previous universe (who they learned about from the knowledge in her head.)
Some of her endless regenerations even came to look like the Doctor from the New Who universe (explaining the brief flashback of the Tenth Doctor from that universe, and Jodie morphing from Capaldi.)
Ultimately however the Timeless Child’s history is mostly different, explaining things like the Jo Martin Doctor.
So with this in mind it goes like this.
Classic Who (1963-1989) is N-Space.
New Who (2005-17, or rather up until Capaldi shouts I WILL NOT CHANGE in the snow) is M-Space.
Chibnall era Who is Y-Space.
Any future sequels can be their own universes.
To me this is the best solution to getting round the Timeless Child and excising Chibnall Who from both the revival and the original.
Well its official now, Jodie Whittakers era has been a disaster. DVD sales are down, merchandise is virtually non existent, and the shows viewers have dropped almost every week since her first episode to under 4 million.
That’s with all the publicity, support and promotion the show could have, and it being placed in the best time slot. (Not only is Sunday night less competitive, but the show is also being shown in January, the best month for any tv show.)
Naturally fans have begun to hurl accusations at certain individuals and groups for ruining this once most wonderful of series.
Chris Chibnall, Jodie Whittaker and the SJW boogey men tend to get the most of the blame. I used to hold the SJWs solely responsible, but in truth now I think they were merely a symptom of the greater problems with the entire 21st century version of Doctor Who.
Ulltimately the 21st century version of Doctor Who never showed any respect to the original. It never attempted to carry on its story arcs, characterisation of the Doctor or other characters like the Master, the Daleks etc.
It was always in essence a remake, which would have been fine, except that it insisted on being a sequel in order to cash in on the originals huge success.
Sadly however unlike other fandoms that generally tend to reject unfaithful adaptations, Doctor Who fans have been quite unique in rolling over and taking the vandalisation of their favourite series.
Over the course of this miniseries, we will see how a particular fandom incrowd were able to dominate all areas of the Doctor Who franchise, not just the television series. We will see how this incrowd didn’t have the shows best interests at heart, how they nurtured a kind of self loathing fanboy mentality and spread lies, such as “Doctor Who is all about change, so all change is good”: and how these lies ultimately destroyed the very core concept of Doctor Who.
The Fitzroy Crowd and their takeover of the franchise
Throughout the 90s when Doctor Who was off the air, a fandom incrowd began to take over all forms of Doctor Who related media. The book range, the magazine, the audios. This incrowd have often been referred to as the Fitzroy Crowd, as they all used to congregate at the Fitzroy pub. They included Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat, Paul Cornell, Nicholas Briggs, Mark Gatiss and Chris Chibnall.
The Fitzroy Crowd, contrary to popular belief were not the only people interested in reviving Doctor Who throughout the wilderness years. Terry Nation the co-creator of the Daleks pitched a version, as did Leonard Nimoy, the actor and director best known for playing Spock in Star Trek. Steven Spielberg even expressed an interest in the brand at one point.
“Leonard Nimoy is a very pleasant, courteous, soft-spoken and generous man, who had already invested a great deal of time in researching Doctor Who. He had accumulated a fairly extensive collection of videotapes, covering all seven incarnations of the Doctor. We spent a fruitful couple of hours discussing the very basis of the show – what makes Doctor Who Doctor Who – as well as the psychology of its hero, companions, and various off-the-wall casting ideas.”
-From the Nth Doctor book.
The Fitzroy Crowd however I feel had a slight advantage over the others as they had connections within the BBC. (Steven Moffat’s mother in law is Beryl Vertue, whilst Russell T Davies was close friends with Julie Gardner before making the revival.)
Of course that’s not to say it was entirely nepotism as to why they were handed the brand. Davies and Moffat had both produced award winning, successful shows prior to working on the new series. As Terrance Dicks himself said, getting ahead is both who you know, and what you know.
Still ultimately I think its fair to say that Davies and Moffats connections might have given them more of an edge than say Leonard Nimoy, who though more famous, would have undoubtedly been looked down on by the heads of the BBC, as the star of a silly sci fi series. (The heads of the BBC were known for their disdain for the genre in the 90s and 00s, which also undoubtedly contributed to Doctor Who’s long hiatus.)
Still the Fitzroy crowd in hindsight I don’t think were really the right people to bring the show back, despite the massive success of the revival at first. To me the Fitzroy crowd have always been too cliquey and refused to ever allow contrary voices to get a look in.
This article from Lawrence Miles about Paul Cornell sums up the Fitzroy Crowd’s attitude towards their critics.
“But if all this monkey-posturing sounds absurd, then let’s put in the context of the late ’90s / early 2000s. You may remember a time, in the days before “Doctor Who fans” meant thirteen-year-olds, when the Virgin / BBC novels actually seemed important. The authors certainly thought they were important, and pride was their most valued possession. After all, the reason I gained a reputation as an unhealthy influence was that I broke what Keith Topping called “the unspoken code”, the Omerta-like law which held that New Adventures writers should all stick together in the face of fandom and not publicly criticise each others’ work. I say “Omerta”, but in practice, they behaved more like Medieval overlords than mafiosa: the elite have to form a united front, because otherwise, they’ll be revealed as weak, flabby individuals and the peasants will get ideas above their station. Oh, and you’re the peasants, by the way. When the new series began, those authors who were promoted to scriptwriter-level went from “overlords” to “royalty”, which is why my heartless attack on Mark Gatiss was received with the same shock as if a small-time landowner in the Middle Ages had just referred to the Prince of the Realm as a big spaz.
You think I’m exaggerating…? Then consider this. When Paul Cornell took me to task for the social faux-pas of having opinions, he seemed appalled that I was incapable of respecting the natural hierarchy, and asked whether there was anybody I ‘bent the knee’ to. Bent the knee…? What is this, geek feudalism? When I told him that I had no interest in serving or reigning, he asked me: ‘Do your followers know that?’ I found it horrifying that anyone could even think that way, and I still do.”
Now Lawrence Miles is in all fairness a biased source against the Fitzroy Crowd. He had a very big public falling out with most of them in the 00s, but still when you look at their interactions with people on twitter, or what the likes Davies himself has to say about his critics it becomes obvious that there is at least a grain of truth to Miles statements.
“I do worry about being surrounded by yes-men. You’re right, it happens. […] I don’t think it’s happened to me yet. In the end, just as good writers are hard to find, so are good script editors, good producers and good execs. When you find good people like Julie and Phil, their sheer talent cancels out the risk of them yes-ing. I suppose the danger is not RTD And The Yes-Men, but a triumverate of people who are so similar that contrary opinions don’t get a look-in.”
Russell T Davies- The Writers Tale
With this in mind it becomes obvious that Doctor Who has become the vision of one fandom elite in all areas. The show, Big Finish, the books. Anyone who dislikes anything these people have to do with the show is cast out as a pariah from the fandom. Worse these people will never give up the brand it seems. When one of them stops working on the show, they will hand it over to one of their friends (who all think the same, as can be seen with Moffat and Chibnall.) As a result of this for all their talk of the show is all about change, it has become stagnated over the past 30 years to a greater extent than ever before.
Still a bigger problem lies in the fact that this fandom elite who everybody must “Bend the Knee too,” don’t actually care much for the original series at all. They have prevented it from returning as itself, peddled lies about the original that no one dare question, and have changed what the Doctor is in popular culture.
Anyone who disagrees with their opinions, like Doctor Who is all about change, a female Doctor is the best idea since Hartnell changed into Troughton etc. Then you are cast out of the fandom and franchise as a heretic.
The Fitzroy’s Crowd’s disdain for the original
Steven Moffat and Chris Chibnall claim to be lifelong fans of the original, yet they turned Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado’s characters into what you see above. Note: I’m not having a go at the person who did the drawing which is fine, just the men who made it possible for lesbian porn to be inspired by the man behind Worzel Gummidge and the Noodle Doodle Man.
Now I don’t think that the Fitzroy Crowd hated the original series and wanted to actively destroy it. I think they all probably did watch the classic era as children and have a nostalgic love for it, but ultimately I don’t think any of them have ever watched it since it was first aired.
Chris Chibnall outright admits in this interview here that he has never watched the classic era since it was on tv.
I think the same is probably true for the rest of the Fitzroy Crowd. You can tell by their opinions of the Doctor, and their analysis of the show that they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re trying to piece Doctor Who together from memory when they were children, and because nobody dares to question their opinions on anything then it becomes received wisdom.
For instance take a look at Moffat’s analysis of the character of the Doctor.
“We know him to be a sort of academic aristocrat who one day, on a simple moral imperative, erupts from the cloisters and roars through time and space on a mission to end all evil in the universe, unarmed and,if possible, politely.
Consider for a moment — as you would have to if you were casting this part — what kind of man makes a decision like that? He’s profoundly emotional (it’s a profoundly emotional decision), he’s idealistic (unarmed?? Not even a truncheon??), he feels the suffering of others with almost unbearable acuteness (or he’d have stayed at home like we all do when there s a famine or a massacre on the news), he’s almost insanely impulsive (I don’t think I need explain that one) and he is, above all, an innocent — because only an innocent would try to take on the entire cosmos and hope to persuade it to behave a little better.”
No one who has even a basic understanding of the Doctor would come to that conclusion. The Doctor it is said multiple times left Gallifrey because he wanted to explore the universe. He wanted to discover new life forms, new planets, learn the secrets of the universe as a scientist. He did NOT set out on a mission to save the universe. Furthermore far from being someone who feels the suffering of others, there are many times where the Doctor has to be forced into helping others. The Third Doctors entire era is practically him being forced to help others.
The Time Lords exile the Doctor to earth because they see it as being vulnerable to attack. He is put there to protect it as much as it is a punishment. The Doctor however still tries to leave during his exile, even though he knows the earth needs him. He even tries to leave during two crisis’! The Fourth Doctor similarly has to be forced and threatened with death into solving problems such as during the Key to Time story arc.
GUARDIAN: There are times, Doctor, when the forces within the universe upset the balance to such an extent that it becomes necessary to stop everything.
DOCTOR: Stop everything?
GUARDIAN: For a brief moment only.
GUARDIAN: Until the balance is restored. Such a moment is rapidly approaching. These segments must be traced and returned to me before it is too late, before the Universe is plunged into eternal chaos.
DOCTOR: Eternal chaos?
GUARDIAN: Eternal as you understand the term.
DOCTOR: Look, I’m sure there must be plenty of other Time Lords who’d be delighted to
GUARDIAN: I have chosen you.
DOCTOR: Yes, I was afraid you’d say something like that. Ah! You want me to volunteer, isn’t that it?
DOCTOR: And if I don’t?
DOCTOR: Nothing? You mean nothing will happen to me?
GUARDIAN: Nothing at all. Ever.
(The Tardis materialises amongst the ruins and the Doctor rushes out. Thunder rolls.)
DOCTOR: Come out, meddlesome, interfering idiots. I know you’re up there so come on out and show yourselves!
(Sarah sneaks out cautiously with a torch.)
DOCTOR: Messing about with my Tardis. Dragging us a thousand parsecs off course.
SARAH: Oi, have you gone potty? Who are you shouting at?
DOCTOR: The Time Lords, who else? Now, you see? You see? They haven’t even got the common decency to come out and show their ears.
SARAH: They’re probably afraid of getting them boxed, the way you’re carrying on.
DOCTOR: It’s intolerable. I won’t stand for any more of it.
SARAH: Oh look, why can’t it have just gone wrong again?
SARAH: The Tardis.
DOCTOR: What? Do you think I don’t know the difference between an internal fault and an external influence? Oh, no, no, no. There’s something going on here, some dirty work they won’t touch with their lily white hands. Well, I won’t do it, do you hear
The next segment is from Spearhead From Space where the Doctor already knows aliens have landed on earth.
Ultimately the Doctor is a hedonistic character. Someone who just wants to live life by his own rules and hates being forced to do anything he doesn’t want to. He does still have a strong moral sense, so if he sees a problem, most of the time he will interfere. (Though many times the Doctor is also just trying to help himself after his curiosity has gotten him into trouble.) Still he is not someone on a mission to save the universe.
As for being unarmed, this is yet another gross misunderstanding of the Doctors character. The Doctor is a scientist first and foremost who wants to simply explore, so he naturally doesn’t like weapons. Still far from being idealistic, the Doctor is practical and understands that sometimes he has to use weapons to protect himself and the people around him.
Case in point.
DOCTOR: Professor, you don’t happen to have an elephant gun, do you?
LITEFOOT: Elephants? Why on Earth do you want an elephant gun?
DOCTOR: We’re about to embark on a very dangerous mission.
LITEFOOT: Well, I’ve a Chinese fowling piece if that’s any good. Used for duck, mainly.
(The Doctor looks at the long-barreled weapon.)
DOCTOR: Made in Birmingham. Yes, that’s the main requirement. Could you get me a small boat?
Steven Moffat also said that he wanted to recapture the dynamic of Pertwee’s Doctor and Delgado’s Master with Gomez/Capaldi (I’ll give you a minute to laugh at that) by depicting the Doctor and the Master as friends.
Moffat said that not once did Pertwee and Delgado play the Doctor and the Master as anything but friends.
Here’s the quote.
“I was looking back at the old Jon Pertwee/Roger Delgado ones and what’s fascinating about that is that they only ever play it as friends. They never, ever play it as enemies at all. They’re just two gentlemen having fun with each other. The Doctor’s best friend is a murdering psychopath, that’s actually quite fun.”
Here are some actual interactions between Pertwee and Delgado.
MASTER: I hope I’m not interrupting anything important.
DOCTOR: No, no, indeed not. You’ve come here to kill me, of course.
MASTER: But not without considerable regret.
DOCTOR: How very comforting.
MASTER: You see, Doctor, you’re my intellectual equal. Almost. I have so few worthy opponents. When they’ve gone, I always miss them.
DOCTOR: How did you get in here.
MASTER: Oh, don’t be trivial, Doctor. I see you’ve been working on the Nestene autojet. My own small contribution to their invasion plan.
DOCTOR: Vicious, complicated and inefficient. Typical of your way of thinking.
MASTER: Now, come, come, Doctor. Death is always more frightening when it strikes invisibly.
DOCTOR: Tell me, how do you intend to activate these flowers.
MASTER: Oh, by a radio impulse which the Nestenes will send. I shall open the channel for them. We’ve distributed four hundred and fifty thousand of these daffodils, so when four hundred and fifty thousand people fall dead, the country will be disrupted.
DOCTOR: And in the confusion the Nestenes will land their invasion force.
MASTER: Exactly. It’s a shame that you can’t be here to enjoy the chaos and destruction with me. Goodbye, Doctor.
(Jo walks in just as the Master was about to shoot the Doctor. As the Master is distracted, the Doctor grabs something from the bench.)
JO: You were quite right
DOCTOR: Wait! Don’t shoot.
MASTER: Doctor, you do disappoint me. We Time Lords are expected to face death with dignity.
JO: Oh, no!
DOCTOR: Don’t worry. He’s not going to kill me.
MASTER: That is your last mistake.
DOCTOR: If you fire that thing, you will never be able to leave this planet.
MASTER: You’re bluffing on an empty hand, Doctor.
DOCTOR: I’m not bluffing and my hand, as you can see, is not empty. If you kill me, you will destroy the dematerialisation circuit from your own Tardis. You recognise it, I feel sure.
MASTER: Where did you get that.
See how the Master is willing to kill him and the Doctor has to genuinely bluff his way out? Hey maybe this is just one out of character moment for Delgado?
MASTER: You realise, of course, that you’re a doomed man, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Oh, I’m a dead man. I knew that as soon as I came through that door, so you’d better watch out.You see, I’ve nothing to lose, have I?
MASTER: Enough! Azal, destroy him!
AZAL: Who is this?!
MASTER: My enemy and yours, Azal.Destroy him!
AZAL: This is the one we spoke of. He too is not of this planet.
MASTER: He is a meddler and a fool.
AZAL: He is not a fool, yet he has done a foolish thing coming here. Why did you come?
DOCTOR: I came to talk to you. DOCTOR: To try and make you listen to me.
AZAL: Why should I? I see no consequence of value.
MASTER: Then kill him. Kill him now!
AZAL: Very well.
(Azal aims his hand at the Doctor.)
The Time Monster
DOCTOR: Greetings to you, Krasis. Any friend of the Master’s is an enemy of mine.
MASTER: Oh come, Doctor, must we play games? I take it you have something to say to me before I destroy you?
DOCTOR: Yes, I most certainly have.
MASTER: Miss Grant?
JO [on scanner]: What’s happened to the Doctor? You must help him!
MASTER: Ah, he’s beyond my help, my dear. He’s beyond anybody’s help.
JO [on scanner]: You mean that thing, that, that creature really swallowed him up?
MASTER: Ah, that’s a nice point. Yes and no. Yes, it engulfed him. No, it didn’t actually eat him up. He’s out there in the time vortex and there he’s going to stay.
JO [on scanner]: Then he is alive?
MASTER: Well, if you can call it that. Alive for ever in an eternity of nothingness. To coin a phrase, a living death.
JO [on scanner]: That that’s the most cruel, the most wicked thing I ever heard.
MASTER: Thank you, my dear. Now, what are we going to do about you, though? You’re an embarrassment to me. As indeed is that antiquated piece of junk of the Doctor’s. Now let me see
JO [on scanner]: I don’t really care anymore. Do what you like, but just get it over with.
MASTER: Your word is my command. Goodbye, Miss Grant!
(The two Tardises move in and out of each other in the vortex. On the scanner, Jo’s image sways then blurs as the two time machines finally separate.)
The Sea Devils
DOCTOR: How do you know about them?
MASTER: Oh, from the Time Lord’s files.
DOCTOR: More stolen information?
DOCTOR: Well, why do you want to contact them?
MASTER: Those reptiles, Doctor, were once the rulers of this Earth. And with my help, they can be so again. DOCTOR: I still don’t see why you want to help them. What can you possibly gain?
MASTER: The pleasure of seeing the human race exterminated, Doctor. The human race of which you are so fond. Believe me, that’ll be a reward in itself.
The Mind of Evil
JO: But I don’t see why you’re so upset. If you give him back the circuit and he hands over the missile
DOCTOR: You just don’t understand, do you, Jo? Once he gets that circuit back he’s free to roam through time and space. We’d never catch him.
JO: Then you’ll just have to give in. The Master’s got the missile and all we’ve got is this wretched machine.
DOCTOR: Jo, will you stop stating the obvious. What did you say?
JO: I said all we’ve got is this machine.
DOCTOR: Well, that’s it. That’s the answer. We’ve got the machine and we’ve got our friend, Barnham.
JO: I don’t understand.
DOCTOR: With a little help from you, old chap, we can destroy this machine and the Master at the same time.
[The Master’s Tardis]
MASTER: Ah, Doctor. I was afraid you’d be worried about me, so I thought I’d let you know that I’m alive and well.
[Prison Governor’s office]
DOCTOR: I’m extremely sorry to hear that.
Colony in Space
DOCTOR: Now you stay here! I’ve got to try and stop this senseless killing.
MASTER: It won’t do any good, Doctor. They won’t listen to you. It’s always the innocent bystander who suffers eventually.
DOCTOR: And what’s that supposed to mean?
MASTER: (leveling a gun) I’m afraid you’re both about to become the victims of stray bullets
Frontier in Space
(The Master is in the cage with Jo.)
MASTER: Why? What’s his plan?
JO: He wanted to get to the flight deck. He was outside the ship when you made your course correction!
MASTER: Was he now. How very unfortunate (laughs). By now he’s probably thousands of miles away, swimming around in space by himself. But just in case he isn’t, you come with me, Miss Grant. Come on.
Claws of Axos
MASTER: Stop him! Don’t you understand. He’s committing suicide and he’s taking us all with him! He’s doing this for Earth, not for you. He’s putting you all in a time loop and you’ll never get out of it! Never!
DOCTOR: Well, it’s perfectly simple, Brigadier. A time loop is, er. Well, it’s a time loop. One passes continually through the same points in time. Passes through the same. Yes. Well, the Axons said they wanted time travel and now they’ve got it.
FILER: What about the Master.
DOCTOR: Well, I sincerely hope he’s with them.
DOCTOR: Well, I can’t be absolutely sure. I was pretty busy at the time. But I’m ninety percent certain though.
FILER: How much.
DOCTOR: Well, pretty certain. Well, I suppose he could have got away. Just.
Yep the Master and the Doctor were never portrayed as enemies in Delgado’s time. Except in literally every single Delgado story!
It is true that the two were meant to have been friends years ago, and the Doctor does express some regret at how the Masters turned out. Also in Colony in Space the Master offers to let the Doctor help him build his better world.
However the Doctor and Masters past friendship is actually only mentioned in a grand total of one story of the entire classic era, the Sea Devils. It is never presented as interfering in eithers feud with one another in the present. Both may have regrets, but both are perfectly willing to kill the other if need be from the start and the more their feud goes on, the more they develop a genuine hatred for each other that eclipses their former friendship.
Furthermore in Colony in Space the Master’s offer to the Doctor is less about the Doctor and more about his beliefs in building a better galaxy.
The Master throughout the Delgado era wants to rule over planets like the earth because he believes that under his rule he can make them a better place.
AZAL: I answered your call because the time was come for my awakening. The time has come for the completion of the experiment or its destruction.
MASTER: Then fulfill your mission by granting the ultimate power to me. Who else is there strong enough to give these humans the leadership they need?
DOCTOR: I seem to remember somebody else speaking like that. What was the bounder’s name? Hitler. Yes, that’s right, Adolf Hitler. Or was it Genghis Khan?
MASTER: Azal, I have the will. You yourself said so.
At first he thinks that the Doctor can help him build this better world, as he is on a similar wavelength (another renegade Time Lord.) When he finds out that the Doctor will not only never help him, but is actually a bigger threat. The Master becomes determined to destroy the Doctor, which leads to their feud intensifying.
Moffat however has clearly never watched these stories since the early 70s but remembers vaguely that Delgado and Pertwee were friends in real life and assumes it must have been that way on the show. This explains his ridiculous reading of their relationship. Two guys who regularly tried to shoot each other, blow each other up, stab each other etc, were just two old gentlemen having a laugh!
Similarly the Doctors phobia about guns as we have seen is something that no one who actually watched the show could possibly think. Chris Chibnall openly said in a recent interview that the Doctor never throws punches or fires bullets.
It’s not like these are isolated incidents. Part of Jon Pertwee’s entire Doctor was that he was an excellent fighter.
Then there was the moment the Fitzroy crowd actually came third in a Doctor Who trivia quiz.
Clearly the Fitzroy crowd have no knowledge of or interest in the Classic Show. They liked it as children, and they like some of the ideas and characters such as the Daleks, but ultimately they see Classic Who as a boring, embarassing, dated old show that they fixed.
See here for Moffat’s opinions of the show in the 90s.
“Back when I was in my early twenties, I thought Doctor Who was the scariest programme on television. I had one particular Who-inspired nightmare which haunts me to this day — except it wasn’t a nightmare at all, it was something that happened to me on a regular basis. I’d be sitting watching Doctor Who on a Saturday, absolutely as normal… but I’d be in the company of my friends!!
Being a fan is an odd thing, isn’t it? I was in little doubt — though I never admitted it, even to myself — that Doctor Who was nowhere near as good as it should have been, but for whatever reason I’d made that mysterious and deadly emotional connection with the show that transforms you into a fan and like a psychotically devoted supporter of a floundering football club, I turned out every Saturday in my scarf, grimly hoping the production team would finally score.
Of course my friends all knew my devotion to the Doctor had unaccountably survived puberty and had long since ceased to deride me for it. I think (I hope) they generally considered me someone of reasonable taste and intelligence and decided to indulge me in this one, stunningly eccentric lapse. And sometimes, on those distant Saturday afternoons before domestic video my nightmare would begin. I’d be stuck out somewhere with those friends and I’d realise in a moment of sweaty panic that I wasn’t going to make it home in time for the programme—or worse, they’ d be round at my house not taking the hint to leave — so on my infantile insistence we’d all troop to the nearest television and settle down to watch, me clammy with embarrassment at what was to come, my friends tolerant, amused and even open-minded.
And the music would start. And I’d grip the arms of my chair. And I’d pray! Just this once, I begged, make it good. Not great, not fantastic —just good. Don’t, I was really saying, show me up.
And sometimes it would start really quite well. There might even be a passable effects shot (there were more of those than you might imagine) and possibly a decent establishing scene where this week’s expendable guest actors popped outside to investigate that mysterious clanking/groaning/beeping/slurping sound before being found horribly killed/gibbering mad an episode later.
At this point I might actually relax a little. I might even start breathing and let my hair unclench. And then it would be happen. The star of the show would come rocketing through the door, hit a shuddering halt slap in the middle of the set and stare at the camera like (and let’s be honest here) a complete moron.
I’d hear my friends shifting in their chairs. I could hear sniggers tactfully suppressed. Once one of them remarked (with touching gentleness, mindful of my feelings) that this really wasn’t terribly good acting.
Of course, as even they would concede, Tom Baker (for it was he) had been good once — even terrific — but he had long since disappeared up his own art in a seven-year-long act of self-destruction that took him from being a dangerous young actor with a future to a sad, mad old ham safely locked away in a voice-over booth.
Which brings us, of course, to Peter Davison (for it was about to be him). I was appalled when he was cast. I announced to my bored and blank-faced friends that Davison was far too young, far too pretty, and far, far too wet to play television’s most popular character (as, I deeply regret to say, I described the Doctor). Little did I realise, back in 1982, that after years of anxious waiting on the terraces in my front room, my home team were about to score — or that Davison was about to do something almost never before seen in the role of the Doctor. He was going to act.
Let’s get something straight, because if you don’t know now it’s time you did. Davison was the best of the lot. Number One! It’s not a big coincidence or some kind of evil plot, that he’s played more above-the-title lead roles on the telly than the rest of the Doctors put together. It’s because-get this!-he’s the best actor.
You don’t believe me? Okay, let’s check out the opposition, Doctor-wise (relax, I’ll be gentle).
1. William Hartnell. Look, he didn’t know his lines! (okay, fairly gentle. It wasn’t his fault) and it’s sort of a minimum requirement of the lead actor dial he knows marginally more about what’s going to happen next than the audience. In truth, being replaceable was his greatest gift to the series. Had the first Doctor delivered a wonderful performance they almost certainly would not have considered a recast and the show would have died back in the sixties.
2. Patrick Troughton. Marvellous! Troughton, far more than the dispensable, misremembered Hartnell, was the template for the Doctors to come and indeed his performance is the most often cited as precedent for his successors. Trouble is, the show in those days was strictly for indulgent ten-year-olds (and therefore hard to judge as an adult). Damn good, though, and Davison’s sole competitor.
3. Jon Pertwee. The idea of a sort of Jason King with a sillier frock isn’t that seductive, really, is it? In fairness he carried a certain pompous gravitas and was charismatic enough to dominate the proceedings as the Doctor should. Had his notion of the character been less straightforwardly heroic he might have pulled offsomething a little more interesting. His Worzel Gummidge, after all,is inspired and wonderful.
4. Tom Baker. Thunderingly effective at the start, even if his interpretation did seem to alter entirely to fit this week’s script. (Compare, say, THE SEEDS OF DOOM and THE CITY OF DEATH. Is this supposed to be the same person?) I think I’ve said quite enough already about his sad decline so let’s just say that it’s nice to see him back on top form in Medics. Well, is was while it lasted.
5. Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. Miscast and floundering. Neither made much impression on the role and none at all on the audience. Or at least on me.
Is it because Davison doesn’t fit the established, middle-aged image of the Time Lord — even though, with twelve regenerations the Doctor must be a rather young Gallifreyan with, we know, a definitively youthful, rebellious outlook? Is it that some fans had actually latched on to tackier, more juvenile style of the earlier seasons and actually missed that approach? Whatever the explanation, if it’s possible for anyone to watch something like KINDA and not realise the show was suddenly in a whole different class then I find that slightly worrying. Perhaps — no definitely — there’s something about being a fan that skews your critical judgements.”
Now in all fairness to Moffat he did refute some of these criticisms. People’s opinions change over time (my opinion of New Who has become more negative for instance in the last few years.) Still I can’t help but think that Steven Moffat deep down still feels this way towards the Classic era.
Look at his depiction of the First Doctor in Capaldi’s last story. Here he rewrote the First Doctor to be a sexist, sexual braggard!
This is a shameful misrepresentation of the character to 21st century audiences. The first Doctor was never depicted as a sexist. His era actually featured many strong, brave female characters such as Barbara and Sara Kingdom, both of whom the Doctor never treated as inferior or less than the men around him.
The Doctor could be condescending to Susan, but that was because Susan was his grand daughter and 15 years old! The Dalek Invasion of Earth depicts the Doctor as still viewing Susan as a child only to realise at the end that she is now a woman, and has outgrown him. The line about how she needs a jolly good smacked bottom, is meant to be embarassing as it shows the Doctor still viewing Susan as a troublesome little girl.
Moffat however completely takes it out of context and has the Doctor say the same thing to Bill, a 20 something woman he has never met before! This almost makes the Doctor look like a dirty old man. It’s one thing to still view your teenage grand daughter that you raised as a little girl, its another to walk up to an obviously adult woman you don’t know and threaten to spank her! (The fact that he earlier boasted about the members of the fairer sex he’s known, like Al Bundy would, just makes it worse.)
Steven Moffat is far from the only member of the Fitzroy crowd to trash the original.
Russell T Davies outright said that the original was an utter joke until he and David Tennant came along.
It’s hard to express the joy of that. For 20 years, this thing was a joke. It was slightly embarrassing admitting liking it. In fact, very embarrassing. You’d see comedians taking the piss out of it. It would crop up on I Love the 60s shows, where they would make it look like rubbish. And to see it being what it always was in our hearts is just amazing. You mentioned it in the same sentence as James Bond. My God, that’s impossible!
Can you feel the love Russell T Davies has for the original series?
Mark Gatiss similarly said in a recent interview that if the revival had not come along, then the original would have been forgotten about as it didn’t hold up to modern audiences.
With “fans” like this, who the fuck needs haters? Seriously what can a hater do to the original that the Fitzroy Crowd haven’t? Say it doesn’t hold up? Insult its characters and the actors who played them? Create a narrative that the original was a total joke that has been accepted by the press?
I think most of the Fitzroy Crowd simply saw the show as being a potential cash cow that could further their careers. Russell T Davies for instance originally pitched Torchwood as a series before Doctor Who called Excalibur, but when it was rejected he decided to spin it off from Doctor Who.
The narrative is often that the Fitzroy Crowd were all big shot writers who were taking a risk in producing an embarassing old show like DW.
Sadly the rest of fandom buys into their lies, but the truth of the matter is that whilst Doctor Who in the 90s was no longer a mainstream series, it was still a huge brand.
I myself grew up in the 90s. I was born in 1991 after the original series finished. I was introduced to it through video releases and I was far from the only person my age who enjoyed it. Plenty of my friends enjoyed the original series and I was never teased for liking it. Obviously everyone’s experience is different and I don’t doubt some people were ridiculed for liking it.
Doctor Who is a sci fi and fantasy series, and sci fi and fantasy sadly have a negative stigma attached to them. Even today with the record breaking success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sci fi is still seen as a niche genre in some respects.
Yes shallow morons on panel shows (tv made by idiots for idiots) laughed at Doctor Who in the 90s, but that doesn’t mean that millions of other people didn’t like it.
Incidentally even today people on panel shows and other comedy series still ridicule Doctor Who. Look at this clip from the Australian version of Gogglebox where they absolutely ridicule the 21st century Doctor Who.
If this above clip was from a 90s show then it would be used as proof that nobody ever liked Doctor Who during that decade by the Fitzroy Crowd. Face facts, the type of people on these shows are never going to love Doctor Who. If its a fad for a short while, like during the Dalekmania craze, or when it was first brought back during the Tennant era, they might say they like it for a short period, but ultimately they will always view sci fi as a silly, childish genre.
During the 90s Doctor Who still had a larger following than the overwhelming majority of genre series (save possibly Star Trek.) In 2002 when the British public were asked which old series they would most like to see come back, Doctor Who topped the poll with the majority of the vote( beating out Blackadder, Fawlty Towers and Dad’s Army.) Most of the people who voted were under the age of 20, and therefore born during the time of Doctor Who’s supposed decline.
Jump to 5:20 to see the Radio Times poll.
In 2002 the Doctor was also voted the greatest tv character in a poll for SFX magazine, beating out various characters in then current, popular series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Farscape among others.
Furthermore every single Doctor Who story that existed was released on video during the 90s and the 00s. If there had been absolutely no demand for them, why would the BBC (who had no love for the series) release obscure and poorly recieved stories like Underworld?
Even compilation videos like the Pertwee Years were best sellers. See here. Jump to 4 minutes in to see Pertwee talk about its success.
Its worth noting that even today Classic Who still maintains a devoted audience. Every single year Classic Who outsells New Who on DVD.
See here, the best selling tv series on DVD and Blue Ray in the United Kingdom for both 2015 and 2017. Classic Who ranks considerably higher than New Who for both years.
Once again its clearly mostly young people who are buying Classic Who DVD’s as the rest of the top ten tv series are all modern programmes.
Furthermore anything Doctor Who related on television was a massive success during the 90s too. Dimensions in Time, the notoriously reviled Eastenders crossover shown in 1993, pulled in over 13 million viewers. The 96 movie contrary to popular belief was not a flop either. It received a positive critical reception at the time and pulled in over 9 million viewers (almost as many as Rose, the first episode of the revival.)
Its also worth noting that until Voyage of the Damned, the first episode of the 4th series of the Russell T Davies era; Rose the first episode of the new series was also the highest rated.
So clearly Classic Who still had a massive following and does still hold up to modern audiences. Obviously I’m not saying that Classic Who could still be a mainstream series (What show from even the 90s could still be shown on primetime mainstream television?) Still to people who love sci fi and fantasy of which there are millions, Classic Who holds up as much as any other genre classic.
Furthermore given how fondly in was remembered by the general public, who’s to say that a more updated version of Classic Who with better practical effects couldn’t have pulled in millions of viewers too?
Far from being a dead show that Russell T Davies was taking a risk bringing back, it was a sleeping giant that he and the rest of the Fitzroy Crowd monopolised for themselves, used to boost their own careers and launch their own projects such as Torchwood/Excalibur.
Among the other ways the Fitzroy Crowd have attempted to down Classic Who’s success is claiming that it never had an overseas following, and that women never enjoyed Doctor Who until they came along.
The narrative is that Doctor Who was NEVER popular abroad until the Steven Moffat era. Critics and fans will often make out that Doctor Who was totally obscure in places like America until Matt Smith, which is demonstrably not true.
Doctor Who first caught on in America in the late 70s, early 80s. At one point in the 80s its popularity in America was greater than it was in Britain! In America DW’s viewers from 1984 on were over 9 million, whilst they generally tended to hover at 7 million in the UK (until the 86 cancellation where they dropped.)
The Doctor Who fanclub of America was also the largest in the world throughout the 80s.
The shows popularity faded in the late 80s due to the BBC raising the prices of the stories to the point where no one could afford to buy them. This was part of the BBC’s calculated attempt to finish the show in the late 80s. (Which also included slashing its budget, giving it no publicity, putting it opposite Coronation Street etc.)
Still it nevertheless remained a cult favourite in America on a par with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Lost In Space. The character of the Doctor (or rather the 4th Doctor) became recognisable to the general population, as did other icons from the series such as the TARDIS and the Daleks.
There were many loving references to the series on American tv in shows such as the Simpsons and Futurama throughout the 90s and 00s. (The character of Leela was partially inspired by and named after Leela from Doctor Who.)
Even to this day whenever an image of the Doctor is used on America tv it’s almost always Tom Baker rather than any of the New Doctors.
Even when Sheldon is talking with his girlfriend called AMY, then its still Tom Baker they use as he is more recognisable.
Its hilarious that even with these references we routinely get told that Doctor Who only caught on in America from the New Series onwards.
Aside from America, Doctor Who also had large cult followings in Japan, Australia and New Zealand. It was in fact shown in over 80 countries around the world.
The revival has not actually enjoyed more popularity in America than the classic era. Both are cult series in America that have enjoyed success by the standards of cult series, but neither are what you would call mainstream hits. (New Who’s viewing figures at the height of its popularity in America were barely over 2 million.) However New Who’s success is beefed up by the media, whilst Classic Who’s is done down to the point where fans who don’t know any better, assume the classic series was completely obscure Stateside until Moffat came along.
It was harder to sell series to other countries and develop followings abroad during the time of the Classic series too. No streaming service, no internet, and no channels like BBC America. A series had to actually be sold back then, and for Classic Who to be seen in 80 countries and make the millions it did for the BBC was incredible.
As for female fans, well its true that the classic era of Doctor Who was overall more of a guys show. On average men prefer sci fi to women. The reason for this is most likely because sci fi is generally perceived in popular culture to be an action genre, and men on average prefer action movies.
Actual genre fans know that sci fi can come in various different forms, but still the stigma persists and so women on average are not drawn to the genre as often as men.
Still women do need escapism and fantasy too. I think that whilst there is a grain of truth to it, the idea of women not liking sci fi is greatly exaggerated and is perhaps more of a self fulfilling prophecy.
Doctor Who meanwhile I think was able to overcome the stigma of being just an action series for women, due to the fact that its leading man was certainly not a conventional action lead. Even in Pertwee’s time. At a first glance, Pertwee who is much older is not going to seem like a conventional leading man. Doctor Who’s massive mainstream popularity from the 60s to the 80s also ensured that it became a part of British popular culture like few other genre series, and thus was more accessible to women.
Throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, Doctor Who was a family show, watched by fathers, mothers and little boys and little girls. On the 1970s Documentary, Whose Doctor Who, which is collected on the DVD release of The Talons of Weng Chiang; just as many young girls are interviewed as young boys, and just as many mothers are spoken to as fathers as representatives of DW’s core audience.
The competition winner from Doctor Who magazine was on set today, a 15-year-old girl. When I was a kid, 15-year-old girls didn’t watch Doctor Who.
A surprising number of American Whovians are women. Joan Paquette a legal secretary from Boston is attracted to Doctor Who’s bumbling charm and mastery of the impossible. Says Graphic Designer Jan Scuza of Cambridge Mass, the Doctor is a humanist hero who fulfills a need in our technological society. Notes Barbara Shewchuk 28, a stenogropher from Bridgeport, Pa “The fact that Doctor Who cares about all life forms shows that you can trust him”
-Extract from Time Magazine in the early 80s.
Throughout the 90s when DW became more niche, then most of its fanbase did tend to be men in the UK. In America however throughout the 80s and the 90s, over 80 percent of its fanbase were young women. (Remember that in America it was more popular in the 80s than it was in the UK.)
Once again however these female Classic era fans are erased from history just as often as 90s era fans like me are because we don’t fit the Fitzroy did it all narrative.
Now just to be clear I am not trying to do down the Fitzroy Crowd’s success. Classic Doctor Who had a huge audience in the 00s, and Doctor Who was still a big brand. Still had the revival not captured the publics imagination on its own steam, then the nostalgia for the original would have faded within a year or so. Added to that the revival has managed to develop its own cult following in places like America, made up of many people who never saw the original series. It also has to be said that Matt Smith is unquestionably the second most recognised Doctor in America too after Tom Baker. Chances are if its not an image of Tom Baker they will use for the Doctor, it will be one of Matt Smith.
I’m more than happy to give the revival the success its due. The problem is however that the Fitzroy Crowd have not been happy to give the original credit for its success. The narrative that they have created is that the original was only ever a niche thing, liked by nerdy men (not that there is anything wrong with that!) Until they came along.
It would be like if Chris Nolan came along and said that nobody had ever heard of Batman until he directed The Dark Knight. The reason for this however is because it helps the Fitzroy’s lies to become more accepted by the fandom, as it becomes a case of “Well if it wasn’t for us then the show would just be an embarassing little niche thing, only liked by nerds, so you have to go along with everything we say.” Which leads onto my next point.
Self Loathing Fanboys
The curse of any fandom is the self loathing fanboy.
The self loathing fanboy will usually be from a more upper middle class background, and will have been teased by people when he was younger for liking sci fi. As a result he will be desperate above all else for it to be accepted and the most popular tv show on earth.
Now fair enough we are all like this to some extent. We all seek acceptance, and we all want the things we love to get their due.
Still the self loathing fanboy is so desperate for acceptance that he will be happy to make any concessions to what he thinks are the it crowd, just to see his favourite show, character, be popular.
Whilst there are self loathing fanboys in every fandom, Doctor Who is sadly rife with them for many reasons.
Ironically a large part of that is because Doctor Who was more successful than most other genre series, and because it later received a far worse treatment from the media.
Most genre series are lucky to last a few years. Firefly, Dollhouse, Randall and Hopkirk deceased, were all axed after one year, whilst even the likes of Star Trek, Lost in Space and Blake’s 7 all only lasted three or four years.
The likes of Buffy, and Xena meanwhile were able to have decent runs, but they were shown on very small channels and only ever became big cult series. Joss Whedon even said that if Buffy were shown on a mainstream channel, its viewers would have seen it cancelled (as was the case with Firefly that was shown on a larger network.)
Classic Who however was shown on the mainstream British tv channel in the best time slot. It was one of the most popular British televisions series in general throughout the 60s and the 70s and even the early 80s. Unlike other sci fi series, which sadly are depicted as being just a thing for young men in the media. Doctor Who broke down all barriers. Mothers, fathers, little boys and little girls, and old grannies and grandfathers all gathered round to watch it.
When the show became more niche in the 90s, its fans weren’t equipped to handle it. All big franchises popularity waxes and wanes over the years. (No one can remain at the top forever. This is why the most important audience to get are the cult audience who are going to stick with you no matter what.)
Take a look at Batman. Batman was a huge sensation in the 60s, only to drop back to obscurity until the 1989 film after which it was a sensation until the late 90s, only to fade again until the Nolan movies. It then went through another bad patch after the Nolan movies until the Joker in 2019.
Throughout it all however the character has remained a recognizable part of popular culture and maintained a devoted fanbase who have kept him alive.
Doctor Who was exactly the same throughout the 90s and the 00s, but sadly unlike Batman fans, DW fans weren’t equipped to deal with it. Batman had after all begun as a more niche character, so when he went back to being one, Batman fans attitude was “well we were fine before, we’ll be fine now.”
The same applies for Star Trek fans. Star Trek until the 80s was a niche thing, and after its mainstream popularity died in the 00s, their attitude again was “we got by in the 70s we can do it again.”
With Doctor Who however because it never had a period of being niche before its cancellation, they just couldn’t cope. They couldn’t bare it just being another cult series (even if it was the most popular cult series alongside Star Trek!) They couldn’t bare the thought that more casual viewers might not be as interested in it anymore, now that it wasn’t current.
In all fairness to Doctor Who fans however, the show also did have a harder time from the media in the 90s and 00s than say Star Trek ever did.
From the 90s on, most comedians, particularly in Britain were cowards. They only ever went after targets that the media said were safe to go after, from celebrities that the papparazzi were harrassing, to religious groups that were safe to poke fun at, to unpopular political leaders.
In order to appear edgy however these comedians would be ridicously nasty to these easy targets.
I have already written an article exposing these comedians cowardice and bullying nature.
If you have the time please check this articlr out. I talk about their shameful treatment of Doctor Who towards the end, but I’d recommend reading the other sections to get an idea of how these bullies work.
Sadly due to how much the BBC and the media hated the classic series, then it became an easy target for these hack comedians. Their treatment of it, much like their treatment of other vulnerable targets such as Amy Winehouse went beyond the pale. It’s one thing to make a light hearted joke about a show being nerdy, or cheesy as is often the case with Star Trek. It’s another to get the person who actually killed the show on to laugh and sneer at it, and make out that it was just a laughing stock.
I totally understand why a lot of Classic Who fans felt bad at this awful treatment, but you have to always look at things in a measured way. Yes these bastards may have been able to sneer at True Who in the 90s, but 30 years after it finished, Doctor Who is still one of the best selling series on DVD, whilst almost all of these panel shows that mocked it are long forgotten.
Sadly however it seems that Doctor Who fans let the bullies win. They were so desperate for the show to not ever be niche again, that they were willing to go along with any trend that they thought might make it popular.
Obviously all fans want their franchise to be successful, but there is a fine line between updating something in a practical way, and selling it out, which sadly the makers of New Who crossed from the beginning. Sadly however they were able to bully a lot Classic era fans into going along with it under the justification of “if you don’t support this we’ll go back to the 00s/90s”
As a result Classic Who fans didn’t defend the show’s traditions and lore until it was too late. Jodie Whittakers Doctor represents the final straw. There is absolutely nothing of the original left in her anymore, so fans have finally started to complain (then there is also the fact that Jodie isn’t popular either.) Still its come too little, too late..
From the start Who fans should have held the Fitzroy Crowd accountable for fucking with the lore and traditions of the character, but we didn’t.
When you look at how fans of other franchises reacted when their characters and traditions were being messed with compared with Doctor Who fans, its embarassing.
Star Trek fans complained when a Beastie Boys song was used in the trailer, because they felt it wasn’t staying true to the tone of the series.
Doctor Who fans meanwhile actually supported turning the Master, the Doctors archenemy from this.
Again not having a go at the person who made this video. I never like to punch down, which picking on a random fan whose never done anyone any harm, and just makes videos as a hobby would be, but I think this vid is the best example of what Moffat did to the character, to contrast with the True Who portrayal of the Master. I suppose the maker of the video should be happy, that this is the best representation of Missy/12’s relationship I could think of online.
That would be like if Khan had been played by Sarah Silverman, and had been rewritten into being in love with Captain Kirk and sang “I’M FUCKING CAPTAIN KIRK” in the style of her I’m fucking Matt Damon song.
Do you think for one second that Star Trek fans would be happy with that? Do you think they’d say such ludicrous things as “Sarah Silverman channelled Ricardo Montablan when she sange about fucking Kirk” or “There was always a sexual subtext between Kirk and Khan, only homophobes don’t acknowledge it.”
As it was Trekkies were unhappy with Benedict Cumberbatch being cast. Cumberbatch gave a good, serious performance, and didn’t turn the character into a joke like Missy, but Trekkies were still unhappy with him in the role simply because he wasn’t a natural fit for the role of Khan.
Similarly look at the shit Jared Leto got from Batman fans for his performance as the Joker. Leto’s Joker whilst certainly not one of my favourites, was at the worst bland and fairly unremarkable.
That’s still better than Missy, who as I have been over before literally threw out absolutely everything about the character of the Master.
The Masters main motivation is to conquer the galaxy and make it fit his vision, hence why he calls himself THE MASTER, the clues in the fucking name Moffat. Having a version of the Master not want power is like having a version of the Joker who isn’t a clown, or a version of Magneto who doesn’t bend metal
Yet Moffat knew so little about the character he did just that.
DOCTOR: (About the Masters plan to take over the galaxy.) You’re risking the total destruction of the entire cosmos.
MASTER: Of course I am. All or nothing, literally! What a glorious alternative!
DOCTOR: You’re mad! Paranoid!
MASTER: There, Miss Grant. I think we’ve seen the last of the Doctor. Buried for all time under the ruins of Atlantis. You know, I’m going to miss him. JO: He’s not finished. I just know it. MASTER: Of course he is. JO: No, you’re the one who’s finished! Do you think that, that creature out there will ever let you control it? MASTER: I do so already. He came when I called. You saw that yourself. JO: Like a tiger comes when he hears a lamb bleating. MASTER: Nicely put, my dear. You know, that was worthy of the late lamented Doctor himself. You know, I could kick myself for not having polished him off long ago. Just think of the future. Dominion over all time and all space. Absolute power forever. And no Doctor to ruin things for me.
MASTER :Think of it, Doctor, absolute power! Power for good. Why, you could reign benevolently, you could end wars, suffering, disease. We could save the universe.
MASTER: Rassilon’s discovery, all mine. I shall have supreme power over the universe. Master of all matter!
DOCTOR: You’re quite right. One mistake now could ruin everything. MASTER: I know that, Doctor, and it could happen so easily. DOCTOR: What do you mean? MASTER: The universe is hanging on a thread. A single recursive pulse down that cable and the CVE would close forever. Even a humble assistant could do it. DOCTOR: You’re mad! (The Master produces his weapon, then switches on the tape recorder to broadcast his message to the universe.) MASTER [OC]: Peoples of the universe, please attend carefully. The message that follows is vital to the future of you all. The choice for you all is simple. A continued existence under my guidance, or total annihilation. At the time of speaking, the DOCTOR: Blackmail. MASTER: No, Doctor, I’m merely reporting the state of affairs. I have it in my power now to save them or destroy them. DOCTOR: You’re utterly mad. MASTER: Back, Doctor. The proceedings must not be interrupted. It’s mine. The CVE. It’s all mine. DOCTOR: Only while that cable holds.
MASTER: A turbulent time, Doctor, in Earth’s history. DOCTOR: Not one of its most tranquil, I agree. MASTER: A critical period. DOCTOR: You could say that. MASTER: Oh, I do. The beginning of a new era. PERI: Doctor, do you get his drift? DOCTOR: I’m afraid I do, Peri. PERI: He wants to pervert history. DOCTOR: Not that the Prince of Darkness here would see it as perversion. MASTER: Maudlin claptrap. The talents of these geniuses should be harnessed to a superior vision. With their help, I could turn this insignificant planet into a power base unique in the universe. DOCTOR: And you intend to use the Rani’s bag of tricks to achieve this egocentric scheme. MASTER: You are indeed a worthy opponent. It’s what gives your destruction its piquancy.
Now take a look at Missy, the female version of the Masters attitude to gaining ultimate power. In her first story Dark Water/Death in Heaven, she gives up an indestructable army of Cybermen to the Doctor (without a failsafe) and says.
DOCTOR: All of this. All of it, just to give me an army? MISSY: Well, I don’t need one, do I? Armies are for people who think they’re right. And nobody thinks they’re righter than you. Give a good man firepower, and he’ll never run out of people to kill. DOCTOR: I don’t want an army! MISSY: Well, that’s the trouble! Yes, you do! You’ve always wanted one! All those people suffering in the Dalek camps? Now you can save them. All those bad guys winning all the wars? Go and get the good guys back.DOCTOR: Why are you doing this? MISSY: I need you to know we’re not so different. I need my friend back.
In what universe is that the same character? One is willing to destroy the universe to gain ultimate power, the other says she doesn’t need an army? Missy never makes any other attempt to gain power over the galaxy in her entire time on the series.
That alone is enough to make her stand out from the others (leaving aside the whole sex change.) Moffat also fucked up the Doctors relationship with the Master.
True Who story, The Deadly Assassin
MASTER: Escape? Escape is not in his mind. Now he is hunting you. GOTH: It was a mistake to bring him here. We could have used anyone. MASTER: No, we could not have used anyone. You do not understand hatred as I understand it. Only hate keeps me alive. Why else should I endure this pain? I must see the Doctor die in shame and dishonour. Yes, and I must destroy the Time Lords. Nothing else matters. Nothing
New Who story, Dark Water.
MISSY: You know who I am. I told you. You felt it. Surely you did.
DOCTOR: Two hearts.
MISSY: And both of them yours.
DOCTOR: Clara. Clara. Clara. I’ve got to get Clara!
(The Doctor runs to the lift door.)
MISSY: Oh, Clara, Clara, Clara! You know I should shoot you in a jealous rage. Now, wouldn’t that be sexy?
On top of that, Missy embodies NONE of the Masters other character traits like his hypnotic nature, his manipulative streak, his signature weapon the TCE that shrinks people.
I’d say she is the Master in name only, but even then she’s not.
Yet poor old Jared Leto and Benedict Cumberbatch get raked over hot coals for simply not being as charismatic as Ricardo Montablan, Mark Hamill, Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson, and Cesar Romero? Meanwhile some Doctor Who fans actually praise Steven Moffat for properly capturing the Masters character, and the writer himself was even able to single out Missy as one of his greatest triumphs?
The reason for that is again because all a lot of Doctor Who fans care about is that the show is popular. Back in 2014, before the backlash against identity politics really began, a lot of fans felt that was what the kids were into, so they went along with it. (The makers of New Who are still under that delusion, hence why the show is crashing and burning.)
The Fitzroy Crowd are the ultimate self loathing fanboys. They were all embarassed to admit they liked Doctor Who to their snobby friends in the industry. (Moffat more or less admits in the quote I posted above.)
None of them had any respect or confidence in the format, and all were more interested in telling their own stories.
Sadly however they were able to dupe fans by playing on their collective self loathing and overwhelming desire for Who to be successful, and the result is ironically that the show is now in a worse position than ever before.
Not only did it sell out to the wrong fad, but now its hard to say what Doctor Who is anymore because its identity has been broken and twisted.
In the next article we will dissect the final lie the Fitzroy Crowd perpetrated “Doctor Who is all about change” and debunk that myth once and for all.
The fifth Cyberman story of the Classic era, the Invasion was also a story of many firsts and helped to introduce a formula to the series that would endure for many more decades to come. It would also mark the Cybermen’s final appearance for five years in the show.
Escaping from the land of fiction, the Doctor, Zoe and Jamie arrive near the moon in the latter part of the 20th century. After evading an alien missile fired from the earth, the trio arrive in the English countryside. In their escape the TARDIS is damaged, causing its exterior to turn invisible.
The Doctor decides to contact his old friend, Professor Travers (who had earlier helped him deal with the Great Intelligence in two seperate instances.)
When the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe arrive at Travers place however, they discover that he is away with his daughter Ann, and has left the home in the care of his colleague Professor Watkins and his neice Isobel.
Isobel informs them that Watkins has gone missing whilst working for International Electronics which has quickly become the leading electronics company worldwide.
The Doctor and Jamie decide to investigate its main office, but are quickly discovered and brought to the company’s managing director Tobais Vaughn.
Though Vaughn ensures the Doctor that the Professor is simply dedicated to his work and has no time to see anyone, the Doctor quickly becomes suspicious. After the Doctor leaves it is revealed that Vaughn is working with a Cyber planner.
The Doctor and Jamie are soon captured after leaving the meeting by two strangers and taken to meet their commander, Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart, who had previously helped the Doctor defeat the Yeti’s in the underground. They discover that since the Yeti invasion, Lethbridge Stewart has been promoted to the rank of the Brigadier of UNIT, a special taskforce designed to track down alien or paranormal threats.
The Brigadier asks or the Doctors help in investigating International Electronics, with the previous UNIT operative who investigated the company having gone missing.
Isobel and Zoe soon decide to investigate the company themselves after getting fed up of waiting for the Doctor and Jamie to return. They are quickly captured however after Zoe destroys a robot receptionist, whilst the Doctor and Jamie are also abducted after trying to rescue them.
The Doctor and Jamie are taken to the company’s countryside base where they meet Doctor Watkins who informs the Doctor that not only is Vaughn working with mysterious allies, but that he is forcing him to help build a weapon of some kind.
The Doctor is able to summon UNIT for help, as well as locate Zoe and Isobel. A UNIT helicopter then rescues the Doctor, Zoe, Jamie and Isobel, though doing so alerts Vaughn to the danger UNIT poses to his plans.
Back at UNIT HQ the Brigadier shows the Doctor pictures of alien space ships outside of Vaughns base, conforming that he is working with aliens. When the Doctor and Jamie later investigate they discover that Vaughn is working with the Cybermen.
Vaughn is able to halt UNIT’s investigation by forcing, (through mind control) a retired general at the Ministry of Defence to impede UNIT’s plans.
The Brigadier briefly leaves for Geneva control to try and get help. Meanwhile it is revealed that the device Vaughn has been forcing the Professor to build is a weapon against the Cybermen, with Vaughn hoping to control them after their invasion of earth.
The Cyberman he tests the weapon on however is driven insane and flees into the sewers, where the rest of the Cybermen are beginning their invasion. Zoe, Isobel, and Jamie are almost killed by the Cybermen in the sewers after they go there to try and obtain proof of the monsters existence, but they are saved by UNIT in the nick of time.
UNIT meanwhile are able to rescue the Professor from International Electronics. From the Professors accounts, the Doctor is able to deduce that the Cybermen intend to send signals through devices produced by International Electronics which will pacify the human population, allowing the Cybermen to convert the entire population easily.
The Doctor is able to shield his companions and the UNIT staff however from the Cybermen’s mind control device using depolarizers, which block the Cyberman’s signal.
UNIT are able to overcome the Cyber invasion force in London, which prompts the Cybermen to cut their losses and destroy the earth using a Cyber megatron bomb.
Vaughn agrees to help the Doctor after the Cybermen betray him and uses his weapon to help the Doctor and UNIT battle the Cyber forces on earth. Vaughn is killed in the final battle, though the Doctor and UNIT are able to destroy the Cyber megatron bomb after which the Russians destroy the Cyber mothership with their rocket.
With the invasion foiled, the Doctor, Zoe and Jamie depart in the Tardis.
The Invasion is I feel a somewhat overlooked story. Its arguably the most important serial from the late 60s alongside The War Games. Whilst the War Games may establish the exiled to earth story arc, The Invasion sets the template not just for Pertwee era UNIT stories that were to follow, but the majority of invasion earth stories as well. Even up to the revival. The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky for instance essentially recreates the dynamic between Vaughn and the Cybermen, with the Sontarans and Luke Rattigan.
The Invasion also marks the first time in Doctor Who that modern technology is utilised by an alien menace to take over the earth. Other stories to explore this theme include Spearhead from Space with the Autons, and The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky.
Whilst a lot of the stories tropes and basic plot may seem somewhat basic to modern viewers as a result of being emulated so frequently. Overall I think the Invasion still holds up due to how well its realised.
Douglas Camfield who directed the Invasion was definitely one of the series strongest directors (if not the strongest) and The Invasion plays to many of his greatest strengths as a director.
Douglas had a real talent for action and the Invasion has some of the most over the top and creative action scenes for Douglas to work with. From the Doctors escape via helicopter (which is sadly missing) to UNIT’s showdown with the Cybermen in the streets of London, which rivals the Yeti’s fight in Covent Gardens in terms of how explosive it is.
At the same time however Douglas plays to the Cybermen’s strengths as villains too. The Cybermen always work best in more closed, claustrophobic environments where there’s no way you can outrun, or outfight them if they corner you. The scene of the insane Cyberman cornering Jamie, Zoe and Isobel is one of the most frightening and memorable moments with the monsters, as the main characters terror is prolonged when the monsters slowly advances towards them.
The Invasion is also responsible for one of the most striking and memorable images of the original series too, when the Cybermen march in force in front of St Paul’s Cathedral. Like the Dalek Invasion of Earth before it, the Invasion wonderfully contrasts an every day icon from a famous city with an unearthly creature.
Whilst the Invasion has plenty of action, all of its characters are given enough attention to the point where we feel like we get to really know them.
Isobel and Zoe have great chemistry with one another, though there are some cringey “women’s lib” moments between Isobel and the UNIT soldiers that come off as more demeaning to women than empowering. Its always better just to have strong female characters, than talk about it. Still overall for the most part Isobel is a likable and capable character that helps move the plot along, rather than hinder it.
Having said that however I wish that they had been able to use Professor Travers and Anne in the role of the Professor and Isobel as was originally intended. Travers had a great chemistry with the Doctor, whilst Anne was one of my favourite guest characters in any 60s Who story. She would also have been able to take a more proactive role in helping the Doctor due to her background as a scientist. Still Isobel and the Professor are adequate replacements who quickly establish their own rapport with the Doctor and his companions.
Nicholas Courtney meanwhile gives a very strong performance as always as The Brigadier. Though the character had appeared in The Web of Fear before, this marks his first time in the more familiar role as the head of UNIT (as well as UNIT’s debut as well.)
Courtney and Troughton’s chemistry is more straight forward and friendly than Pertwee and Courtney’s, which at times is actually more enjoyable to watch, though it doesn’t have quite the gravitas that the end of say the Silurians does.
The appearance of the Brigadier also marks one of the first story arcs in the shows history too. The Invasion is very much a sequel to The Web of Fear. It doesn’t just reference previous events, but shows the consequences of them too, with the Great Intelligence’s invasion having led directly to the creation of UNIT.
This wasn’t the first time that toriginal series tried to build up a story arc. The Cybermen themselves followed a story arc through the destruction of their planet, but this story nevertheless helps to build the continuity and lore of the show to a greater extent and make it feel like the one ongoing story, rather than just loosely connected adventures.
Tobais Vaughn is one of the shows most memorable villains, thanks in no small part to Kevin Stoney’s stellar performance. His characterisation is fairly straight forward. Misguided genius who thinks he can guide humanity with the help of aliens, but there are plenty of wonderfully nasty little moments, such as his torture of the Professor that really show how hateful he is.
In some ways Vaughn can be seen as a precursor to the Delgado Master. Both have the same motivation of wanting to take over the earth because they believe they can make it a better place, though deep down both are really just egomaniacal, power hungry and petty. Both ultimately just enjoy having power over other people, as seen with Vaughn’s sadistic treatment of the Professor. Both also fulfill the same role of being the devious humanoid villain working with an alien race that they think they can manipulate and then dispose of, only to be betrayed themselves.
I also love the fact that though Vaughn helps the Doctor defeat the Cybermen at the end of the story, he still doesn’t really acheive redemption as he only helps the Doctor because he hates the Cybermen. Even when he does the right thing, its for the wrong reasons.
The Cybermen are also brilliantly handled in this episode. Their designs are impressive, they are shown to be formidable in their final battle with UNIT and the story tries to do new things with the Cybermen, unlike the Wheel in Space which was sadly just a retread of the Moonbase.
The Invasion shows a much more manipulative side to the monsters, whilst also exploring the idea of their emotions being restored after conversion, which is an interesting idea and again one that would be explored in future stories.
The idea of the Cybermen taking control of everyday technology and using it to turn on people is also a nice extension of what the monsters were originally meant to represent, of our technology turning inwards and destroying us. Whilst some critics have complained about their lack of dialogue, personally I think this made the creatures more effective. For me the Cybermen always be quiet as they are meant to be emotionless cyborgs. The later bombastic Cybermen of the 80s, though fun seemed far more out of character.
Having said that is a shame that the Cybermen are once again invading the earth. Unlike the Daleks I don’t think the Cybermen where ever able to branch out and become a galactic threat, which sadly undermined their menace. The monsters are also introduced just a bit too late into the story too.
Overall the Invasion is a classic, highly influential story and definitely one of the best of Patrick Troughton’s final season.
Notes and Trivia
This story bares many similarities to the Daleks Master Plan. Both stories mark the final appearance of the main villain of their respective Doctors eras (The Daleks were the main villains of the Hartnell era, whilst the Cybermen were the main villains of the Troughton era.) Both fittingly are much longer than the monsters other appearances (The Invasion is 8 episodes, whilst Masterplan is 12 episodes.) Both feature the main villains working with a human villain played by Kevin Stoney who is killed by the monsters at the end. Both also star Nicholas Courtney in a heroic role, and finally both stories were also directed by Douglas Camfield.
This marked the final appearance of the Cybermen for 5 years. They did not appear again as Terrance Dicks, the script editor for the Pertwee era hated the Cybermen, and hated working with Kit Pedler their creator, who wanted too much control over the scripts.
(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
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?’
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.
Written by John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch. Directed by Terence Dudley
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?’
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.
Written by Andrew Smith. Directed by Peter Grimwade
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…‘
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…
STATE OF DECAY. Written By Terrance Dicks. Directed by Peter Moffatt
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…’
“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…
Written by Stephen Gallagher. Directed by Paul Joyce ( assisted by Graham Harper )
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’?
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
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…’
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
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?’
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.
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. (Who would go by his old English name. 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
Doctor Who Meets Scratchman could still work as a film, even after all this time. 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 machine.
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
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.
It’s 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 it’s fair to say that she is not one of the most popular incarnations of the Time Lord to say the least.
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.
It’s 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
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.
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 himself. 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, 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.
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. It would seem fitting with this in mind to get another legendary horror actor to play it today.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
Alternate universe versions of N-Space’s greatest hero, the Doctor.
The creation of N-Space led to the unintended creation of an infinite number of parallel universes. The histories of only a few of these universes are known, and even then virtually none of them are known in as great detail as N-Space’s history. Still the history of some of these alternate realities have helped to inspire many famous works of fiction in our universe and in this article we will briefly be looking at the history of these universes as well as how they differ to N-Space.
All of these universes will repeat themselves endlessly just like N-Space, and it is believed that just like N-Space they will follow largely the same history each time. Many of these universes histories are linked with N-Space as their inhabitants have crossed over into N-Space and vice versa.
We will also be examining what works of fiction these events inspired in our reality.
The greatest hero of Z-Space, Doctor Omega, during his first mission to Mars.
This reality followed a similar history to N-Space in a number of ways. Just as in N-Space the Time Lords rose up to become the most advanced species in the universe thanks to Omega’s work (with Omega becoming lost just as in N-Space.)
However many major races from N-Space did not exist in Z-Space. The Daleks and the Cybermen did not exist as neither Mondas or Skaro formed in this universe. The Sontarans and the Rutans meanwhile wiped one another out in their war very early in their history.
Life would also develop very differently on both Venus and Mars too. On Mars two sentient Octopoid creatures evolved, the Cacocytes and the Macrocephales.
The two races became engaged in a war with one another for many years which eventually destroyed the surface of their planet. The Macrocephales however would emerge as the dominant life forms (thanks in no small part to Doctor Omega who aided them at a key point in the war.)
The Macrocephales would later invade the earth in the 1910s. They would slaughter millions of innocent people, before being driven off by diseases of the earth. Doctor Omega after discovering what happened to earth would later lead a group of the greatest scientists to Mars to destroy the aliens forces before they could launch a counter attack (as well as free Cacocytes from under their rule.)
Some of the Macrcephales would escape however and later establish themselves on a far away planet. In time they would go on to become a major power in the universe, conquering and enslaving millions of worlds.
The Martian invasion whilst setting the human race back at first would ultimately lead to them becoming far more advanced than their counterparts in N-Space.
The human race would not only become more united after the Martians attack, but they would also establish contact with Cacoytes who would help humanity rebuild and reach greater heights of technology by the 1960s than mankind in N-Space had by the 2360s.
Just as in N-Space a race of Dinosaurs had evolved into sentient humanoid creatures. Unlike in N-Space however these creatures would all adapt to life under the ocean. They would place themselves into suspended animation only to be awoken in the mid 40s.
These sea reptiles who would be disparagingly referred to as the Newts would be persecuted by humanity before waging a war on them which lasted for 20 years, before a peace treaty was reached between both races.
Humanity would later have further troubles in the early 21st century when robots they had constructed to help them turned on, and attempted to exterminate the human race. Mankind would be forced to work with the Newts to defeat the robots (with the Newts giving humanity shelter under the ocean during the war when the robots virtually wiped the out on the surface.)
Still despite these setbacks, humanity would persevere until the end of Z-Space.
Just as in N-Space the renegade Time Lord known as the Doctor was born and left Gallifrey at round about the same time as the N-Space Doctor did in his life. He also left alongside his grand daughter Susan.
The two had the same life as their N-Space counterparts, until the Z-Space Doctor visited Quinnis in the 4th universe. The 4th universe was a reality that ran parallel to Z-Space. Alternate versions of the 4th universe ran parallel to various other universe (including N-Space.)
In Z-Space’s version of the 4th universe, the TARDIS was destroyed. In N-Space’s version of the 4th universe, the Doctor briefly lost the TARDIS but was able to regain it before it was damaged.
Sadly however the Z-Space Doctors beloved TARDIS was ripped apart, but he would save one tiny piece of it, a piece of metal called stellite, which he would use to teleport himself and Susan to the safety of earth (a planet which Susan had developed a fondness for.)
In early 20th century earth the Doctor would build a new time machine from the last remnant of his old TARDIS, which he came to christen The Cosmos.
Eventually the Doctor (who went under the alias of Doctor Omega on earth, named after his childhood hero, and the founder of Time Lord society, Omega) would build another Time Machine, which he would call the Cosmos.
Doctor Omega would initially travel with two earth men, the sensitive and creative Denis Borel, and the strongman Fred. His grand daughter Susan had opted to stay on earth having grown attached too it, though she would join her grand father sporadically for adventures throughout all of his incarnations lives.
Just like the Doctor of N-Space, Doctor Omega (he would continue to use the alias for the rest of his life after his initial stay on earth) would develop a great fondness for humanity and save it from various threats throughout its entire history.
Doctor Omega unlike the N-Space Doctor would not live throughout his entire 13 lives. He was killed on his 8th life for good.
First Doctor Omega
Similar in personality to his N-Space counterpart in some regards, this Doctor however was more humble, kind hearted and tolerant than his N-Space counterpart was at first. It is believed that being stranded on earth after his stay in Quinnis helped to mellow him, and make him more understanding of humans and other races.
The First Doctor Omega however was still very strict and had a no nonsense attitude towards solving his problems. Like the Doctor of N-Space he was utterly ruthless in dealing with his enemies and had a similar moral code.
The First Doctor Omega carried a huge sense of guilt over his role in the creation of the Martian invaders, the Macrocephales and became determined to wipe them out for good. They were his bitterest and most dangerous enemies.
The First Doctor Omega’s companions consisted of Denis Borel, a wealthy, creative, yet somewhat anxious and cowardly individual, and Fred, (who the Doctor and Susan had saved on a previous mission to earth.)
Doctor Omega would also travel with a young robotics expert named Katey who grew up during the great robot wars. Her knowledge of robotics would prove valuable to the Doctor time and time again.
Doctor Omega would also travel with a young woman called Xeria from a planet named Collosus. Collosus was an earth colony where the greatest warriors from earth lived. It was the harshest and most difficult of all the earth colonies to live on. Xeria however had never really fitted in. She was naturally a more sensitive and artistic young woman who was only too happy to travel with Doctor Omega.
Omega would also travel with a young martian named Tiziraou who became his longest serving companion, travelling with him throughout the rest of his first incarnations life, and many of his later incarnations too.
Second Doctor Omega
This Doctor Omega had a greater sense of humour than the original, and was considerably more reckless and at times even immature than his predecessor. He had a child like enthusiasm for exploring the universe and developed a much closer relationship with his companions than the first Doctor Omega.
He inherited Tiziraou from his predecessor, though he also travelled with various companions of his own.
The Second Doctor Omega would also travel with a woman from Venus named Isleia, and Alvin, a man from earth’s future in the year 1 billion who had been desperate to explore the universe.
The Second Doctor Omega’s final companion meanwhile was a young girl named Malisa who he first met a prison planet. Malisa had been falsely imprisoned by her brother for the murder of their father. Sadly Doctor Omega would never be able to prove her innocence.
Third Doctor Omega
In contrast to his immediate predecessor, this Doctor Omega was a lot younger in appearance and also a tremendously physical incarnation. All of the Doctor Omegas much like their N-Space counterparts were skilled fighters, but this incarnation was the best fighter of all of them.
This incarnation was a lot stricter with his companions and in a further contrast to his predecessor, he was completely humourless. He was also one of the most ruthless of all the incarnations of Doctor Omega with his companions often clashing with his methods.
This Doctor Omega travelled with Tizarou and three companions of his own. The first was a young woman named Lascia who came from the largest planet in the known universe, which had been invaded by various other races for its large resources.
The second was a scientist named Geria who had been kidnapped by the military who forced her to work on advanced weaponry for them or else they would slaughter her family. Ultimately they killed her family anyway once she was of no use to them. Alone and heartbroken, she could not return to her people who hated her for building the weapons. She would happily join Doctor Omega.
Doctor Omega’s final companion throughout his third life was an African American burlesque performer from New York named Alisha.
Fourth Doctor Omega
A more pompous, arrogant, and conceited incarnation overall. The Fourth Doctor Omega was also at the same time far more compassionate than any of his predecessors too. This Doctor Omega was very vain and took a great pride in his appearance. He was also a very physical incarnation like his predecessor
He was the longest lived of all of the Doctors incarnations. It was during this incarnations life that the Doctor tragically lost Tizarou after a battle with the Martians. This Doctor would also travel with Susan for the longest period of time as well.
His other companions included a young alien woman trapped on earth after her ship crashed there called Melezari, an immortal woman named Kaseia who had been brought back to life as part of an experiment which left her an immortal. Another of the 4th Doctor Omega’s companions was Selia, a young woman who had been raised by the Newts under the ocean. He also travelled with Amy Borel, the daughter of one of his original human companions.
Fifth Doctor Omega
Much younger in appearance than his predecessors, this Doctor Omega was the most ruthless and hard. Not one to suffer fools gladly, this Doctor could be very sarcastic and biting even to his companions. He was also the first incarnation to be captured by the Time Lords. He was able to escape from the Time Lords however with help from a renegade Time Lady named The Rector who wanted to see the universe and hoped that Doctor Omega could help her see the stars. Sadly The Rector would be killed in a battle with the Martians in a way where she was unable to regenerate which left the Fifth Doctor Omega devastated.
His only other companion was a former peasant named Elisr whose village had been torn down by the Vikings.
Sixth Doctor Omega
More straight forward, heroic and kind hearted than his predecessor, this Doctor was also despite being in an older body a very physical incarnation and an excellent fighter.
This Doctor travelled with a human woman named Alice whose colony had been conquered by a hostile race of aliens, who then sent her into a dangerous area of space as a test subject, after all of their vessels had failed to return.
He also travelled with a Cacoyte woman named Isxlir.
Seventh Doctor Omega
A more impish, sly and cunning version of the Doctor. This Doctor was also among the most ruthless too his enemies.
His companions included a young woman from the streets during the robot war named Rebecca, and a young socialite looking for adventure named Vicky.
Eighth Doctor Omega
The final incarnation of Doctor Omega. This version was a more tormented, conflicted incarnation who deeply regretted the mistakes his earlier selves had made, and worked hard to overcome them. He was killed whilst defending his people the Time Lords.
Works inspired by Z-Space
Doctor Omega, War of the Worlds, Time Machine, The City and the Stars, Star Maker, War of the Newts. R.U.R.
The Tenth Doctor of M-Space
A universe with a very similar history to N-Space, but different in a number of key ways. Many of the most influential races of N-Space such as the Daleks, the Time Lords, the Cybermen, the Sontarans and the Ice Warriors also existed in M-Space, albeit with different histories to some extent.
The Doctor was born in this reality too and went on to be a great hero just as in N-Space. Romana also existed in this universe and later became the President of Gallifrey in her second incarnation.
M-Space’s history differed from N-Space’s from an early point in Davros’ life. One fateful day in M-Spaces history, Davros decided to go out and play with his friends, (which he didn’t do in N-Space.)
After playing with his friends, Davros became lost on a mine field only to later be saved by a future incarnation of the Doctor.
After saving Davros, the Doctor installed an important lesson in the young Davros’ mind that mercy sometimes could be an advantage.
Years later when the M-Space Davros created the Daleks, he programmed the ability to understand pity and compassion into their brains, which his N-Space counterpart never did.
As a result of this when the Daleks overthrew Davros in M-Space they spared him and the other Kaled scientists in the bunker. Thanks to Davros and the scientists help, the Daleks were able to escape the bunker a lot faster, and with Davros as their prisoner they were able to make use of his scientific genius to a greater extent too.
Davros would later escape and try to create his own Dalek army on Necros just like in N-Space but his attempts would be easily crushed. Davros was never able to split the race into two factions, like in N-Space.
As a result of these differences the Daleks were able to advance a lot faster and become rivals to the Time Lords before the Doctor was even born. The Time Lords would be forced to up their game in M-Space. They would perform various modifications to their bodies in order to better fight the Daleks which would not only leave them stronger, but also allow them to weaponise the process of regeneration, with the excess energy being capable of destroying an entire space ship at full power.
However there were many unintended side effects of these modifications to regeneration, with the process being much more severe. Many of the Time Lords of M-Space actually felt that their different incarnations were actually different people.
Whilst the conflict between the Daleks and the Time Lords only ever led to a cold war in N-Space, in M-Space it led to a full scale galactic war, that would be referred to as the Time War.
The Time War very nearly destroyed all of creation, and though the Time Lords were able to survive thanks to all 13 incarnations of the Doctors actions, for years the Doctor incorrectly believed he had destroyed his own people to defeat the Daleks.
Despite the differences to the timeline, the Doctors first 8 incarnations were all similar in appearance to those from N-Space. It was only following the Time War that his incarnations became radically different to their N-Space counterparts.
The Doctor of M-Space was however always a somewhat more emotional and unpredictable individual overall compared to his counterparts from N and Z-Space.
He also was known to engage in romantic relationships with humans unlike all other known versions of the Doctor.
This Doctor eventually met his end in a battle with the Cybermen at the end of his 13th life. (There was a rumour started that he was revived afterwards and regenerated, but these were proven to be false.)
The Doctor of M-Space dies a heroes death fighting against the Cybermen.
The Master of M-Space meanwhile was a totally different individual to his counterpart from N-Space. The villain who became the Master of N-Space was not born in M-Space, and another Time Lord eventually became the renegade known as the Master instead.
The M-Space Master was driven over the edge when he stared into the untempered schism as a child and saw the whole of time and space. From that day on he heard a constant drumming in his head which tormented him, and drove the Time Lord to lunacy.
The Doctor of M-Space had a much closer relationship to the Master as a child and regularly tried to help him. Later after the Master regenerated into a woman, the Doctor would successfully rehabilitate the evil Master/Missy, but sadly she was killed by her earlier self.
The Doctor of M-Space would travel to N-Space many times and work with his N-Space counterpart.
The two first met when the Daleks of M and N-Space worked together along with the Daleks of Y-Space to create a weapon that could destroy all universes. The three Daleks, though despising each other for being different, agreed on a truce to destroy all other life forms first, and then when they were the only life forms left they would war with each other.
The Doctors of all three universes were forced to work together to destroy them (The Doctors of N and M-Space were both in their Tenth incarnations.)
The two established a friendship and would regularly work together afterwards. One of their most notable missions saw the Master of N-Space capture Missy (whilst the 12th Doctor was keeping her in his vault.) The Master of N-Space would attempt to create a clone of creatures from her DNA, as Missy had been given a virtually limitless supply of regenerations, which the Master of N-Space wanted to discover the secret of, both to prolong his own life, and create a race of creatures that could constantly repair their bodies.
Fortunately the two Doctors working together were able to rescue Missy, and together the three of them were able to foil the N-Space Masters plans.
“I hear you’re banana’s well I’m much worse”. The Master from N-Space captures Missy from M-Space.
One figure from M-Space who would go on to play significant role in N-Space’s history was Captain Jack Harkness. A great hero of M-Space and one of its version of the Doctors greatest friends. Jack crossed over into N-Space many times and became friends with the Doctor of N-Space. Jack met every incarnation of the Doctor of N-Space and later became a member of the Time’s Champions.
Works inspired by M-Space
Doctor Who (2005), Some Big Finish Audios (others are inspired by N-Space), Titan Comics.
This reality had a similar history to N-Space and M-Space, but it diverged from the end of the 8th Doctors life. In this reality the Time Lords were destroyed in a Time War with a malevolent race known as the Enemy.
Works Inspired by V-Space
Various Doctor Who Novels
In this reality the Time Lords, and the Daleks never existed, whilst the Sontarans and the Kaveetch wiped each other out early in their conflict.
The Silurians meanwhile would flee the earth in this reality unlike in N-Space. They would settle in an area of space known as the Delta Quadrant where they would become known as the Voth.
The Mondasians meanwhile only partially converted themselves before ultimately abandoning Mondas and fleeing across the galaxy, before eventually settling in the Delta Quadrant.
There they became the Borg, one of the most dangerous races in all of D-Space.
In this reality life developed on the planet Vulcan (in N-Space, Vulcan was a barren rock incapable of supporting life after it had been struck by an asteroid shower not long after its formation.) The Vulcans went on to become one of the most advanced races in all of D-Space and major allies of humanity.
Earth’ s history went differently in D-Space too. Sir Reginald Styles conference in the 1970s led to a third world war in D-Space which led to the deaths of millions. However mankind would recover and advance to a far greater extent than the humanity of N-Space from that time, and form the Federation with the Vulcans.
The Doctors of both N and M-Space would crossover into this reality many times and work with many of its most major figures such as Captain James T Kirk and Jean Luc Picard (both of whom also crossed over into N and M-Space, establishing friendships with both Doctors.)
Works inspired by D-Space
Star Trek franchise
In this reality the Doctors history was exactly the same as his history from N-Space up until his battle with the Master over the eye of Harmony in his 4th life.
In this reality the Doctor was able to capture the Master after their battle over the eye of harmony and handed him over to the Time Lords. The Celestial Intervention Agency however did not kill the Master as they wanted to make use of the Masters intellect, so they removed his mind from his decaying body and placed it in an android body.
This android was then sent to accompany the Doctor. If he ever did anything to harm the Doctor, his body would shut down. The Master agreed simply to prolong his own miserable neck. The Doctor meanwhile was forced to agree to these terms or else the Time Lords would take the TARDIS from him and strand him on earth again.
The Doctor and the Master though not liking each other would make an effective team together, and they would later be aided by Romana on the quest to obtain the Key to Time.
The Doctor and Romana would just as in N-Space fall in love with each other, but sadly Romana would later be killed in a battle against the Daleks.
In this universe, the Doctor was not able to stop the Daleks from obtaining Davros during the Movellan wars. As a result of this, with Davros help it was the Daleks who broke the stalemate and won the war. After wiping out the Movellans and gaining access to Davros’ mind, these Daleks became far more powerful than the Daleks of N-Space and were able to launch a surprise invasion of Gallifrey. (As well as devastate the earth and nearly wipe out humanity, changing its history greatly)
The Doctor, the Master and Romana working together would manage to foil the Daleks invasion of Gallifrey. During the invasion, the 4th Doctor was mortally wounded causing him to regenerate into his next incarnation. Sadly however Romana would be forced to sacrifice herself to stop the Daleks and save Gallifrey.
The 5th Doctor and the Master would continue on more adventures before eventually picking up a new human companion named Alison Cheney. Sadly their adventures together are not known after this point.
Works inspired by Q-Space
Scream of the Shalka
The Second incarnation of the Doctor of Y-Space
In this reality the Doctor left Gallifrey at an earlier point in his life when Susan was just a child. He also left with another grand daughter, Barbara, that he didn’t have in N-Space.
Here the Doctor visited Y-Space’s version of Quinnis and just like in N-Space and Z-Space he lost the TARDIS. Just as in N-Space he was able to get it back, but it was damaged in the process and the Doctor was mortally wounded, triggering a regeneration.
The Second Doctor would then be able to make one stop in his damaged TARDIS to earth in the 60s. Going under the alias of Doctor Who he was able to acquire the equipment he needed to repair the TARDIS (causing it to take on a different appearance inside.)
Under the alias of Doctor Who, he, his two grand daughters and a human named Ian would go on adventures together fighting that realities version of the Daleks.
Works inspired by Y-Space
Doctor Who and the Daleks, Daleks Invasion Earth 2150AD
The evil Doctor of K-Space.
In this reality the Doctor had a similar life to his N-Space counterpart up until his first adventure with Ian, Barbara and Susan. In the jungle the first Doctor murdered the helpless caveman Za with a rock (in N-Space and M-Space, Ian managed to stop him in time.)
This had a negative effect on the Doctors psyche. He came to believe that murdering even innocent people for his own ends was acceptable if it saved his and Susan’s lives.
The Doctor would later betray Ian and Barbara in the jungles to die before escaping with Susan to Skaro.
On Skaro the Doctor and Susan would be captured by the Daleks just as in N-Space. Though they managed to escape, just as in N-Space the Doctors fluid link was taken from him by the Daleks and he was unable to take off.
The Doctor tried to convince the Thals to help him steal it, but they refused.
The Doctor would instead make a deal with the Daleks in exchange for the fluid link and helped them exterminate the Thals much to Susan’s disgust. The Doctor would then take over the Daleks after discovering their power source and turn them into his army. He was terrified of the Time Lords finding him.
The Doctor would use the Daleks to attack Gallifrey (after abandoning Susan) before taking it over. The Doctor would then use the Time Lords and the Daleks together to help him conduct his amoral experiments across the universe. He would become the most evil and hated villain in the entire universe. The Doctor of K-Space would be opposed by his grand daughter Susan who became a renegade from his new Time Lord empire and would eventually manage to kill her evil grandfather.
Works inspired by K-Space
King Kong Escapes
The likes of the Doctor, Dan Dare, Godzilla, and the Planet Express Crew are known to exist in many other universes, though sadly these universes histories are only barely known.
Many have speculated that our universe could exist as part of the multiverse N-Space created too, though there is currently no concrete evidence for this.