Doctor Who: The Fire of the Daleks: Part 2

Image result for Dylan MoranImage result for remembrance of the daleks

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where there any survivors.”

“We don’t know yet.”

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

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

Asica’s blood ran cold.

“How, how could it get by.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Doctor was the first to wake up.

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

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

“Where is the Dalek.” She shouted

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

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

Suddenly the room began to shake again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the Dalek headed across the wasteland it tried to contact the mothership through its own in built communicator.

“COME IN MOTHER SHIP, COME IN.”

A voice came in, though the line was very weak and crackling.

“GIVE YOUR REPORT.”

“I HAVE MADE IT TO THE HEGLOZIAN SURFACE! THE SHIELD WILL BE ELIMINATED IN DUE TIME!”

“EXCELLENT! ONCE THE INVASION HAS ELIMINATED MOST OF THE HEGLOZIAN FORCES THE PLANETS SURFACE WILL BE CLEANSED THROUGH FIRE! HEGLOZIA SHALL BE A NEW.”

The line started to break up.

“A BLUE BOX HAS BEEN SIGHTED ON THE PLANET! ALERT ALL DALEK UNITS!” The drone said, only to be met with more static before the line cut off. It was hard for the signal to be broadcast through the forcefield, but the Dalek knew its task and set about accomplishing it.

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes thanks to you three.” Asica snapped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Its over.”

“Finally! Even I couldn’t take it another second. No one deserved to die like that. Not even a man like him.”

The man is question was Tyresia, leader of the terrorist origanisation Heglozia First. Heglozia First were devoted to ending the war with the Daleks in order to preserve the planet. They foolishly believed that their leaders were just as responsible for the conflict as the Daleks, and hoped to persuade them (through violent means.) To settle their differences with the Daleks.

Their most heinous crime had been the sabotage of a war vessel, the Osteria, which caused it to explode before taking off. Over 2000 young men and women were lost their lives in the explosion. There were no survivors. Tyresia had himself orchestrated the sabotage.

Nevertheless Tyresia’s own executioners could not help but pity him in his final moments. The lack of resources meant that they were not allowed to use guns and waste ammunition to execute the prisoners. Instead a lethal form of chemical called Ixeri was used, which would kill its victims slowly and painfully over the course of several hours. It wasn’t just a lack of resources as to why this chemical was used however. The king wanted it to be used as a form of terror. Any disloyalty to the king was met with execution by Ixeri.

The executioners had been forced to slaughter many innocent men and women. When Tyresia had been brought in, for once they were happy at the prospect of executing someone who deserved it. Still now that the grissly deed (that had taken over two hours) was done, the two executioners had instead come to the conclusion that no one deserved to die from Ixeri.

“The king should be made to see just how that poison eats people from the inside.” One of the executioners said as he carried Tyresia’s putrid, stinking corpse from the table.

“I sometimes think it would be better if that entire forcefield just collapsed on us.” The other said as he mopped up the mess created during Tyresia’s death throes.

Suddenly the two men were alerted by screams. The executioner carrying Tyresia’s corpse dropped it and ran to the window. Outside to his horror he could see the guards one by one falling to a Dalek.

“My god one of the Daleks is here.”

“What? That’s not possible? What would it want here anyway? To kill all our criminals?”

“”I don’t know but we have to get out of here now!”

The two men were not soldiers. The only reason they were in this position was to avoid having to fight in the war. Every day they regretted it and contemplated going off to fight against the Daleks and die an honourable, yet completely pointless death. Ultimately however their fear of the Daleks always won out and they instead decided to sacrifice more innocent lives in the hopes that they could wait out the war. (Regardless of how hopeless that seemed.)

The two men ran down the long corridors filled with prisoners, most of whom were there for minor crimes, such as stealing resources to feed their families.

Most of the prisoners were asleep, but a few were woken up by the commotion. One of the prisoners a young man reached out and grabbed one of the executioners as he ran past. He managed to pull the executioner right up to the bars and hold him in place by placing his arm around his neck.

“Please help me” the executioner shouted to his friend, who without a seconds hesitation ran away.

“You coward. We were in this together.” He shouted after his former comrade.

“Tell me, what’s going on? Why are you two leaving? Where are all the guards? Answer me!” The prisoner shouted.

“There’s a Dalek outside. I don’t know what it wants, but its coming in here.”

“A Dalek that’s not possible, unless our forcefield’s down. If it is, why bother running?”

“What else can we do?”

Outside the Dalek had slaughtered almost all of the guards. Only 4 out of 50 in total remained. As the last 4 survivors ran for cover the Dalek hovered about twenty feet in the air and blasted a hole in the prison wall before entering. The Dalek made its way into the room the main generator was kept in. The generator controlled all of the doors in the facility. It was also capable of electrifying them if the prisoners got too close.

The Dalek killed two of the three soldiers guarding the generator, (with the other fleeing in panic) before placing its sucker arm on the generator. The 4 soldiers outside regrouped and continued to fire desperately at the creature to no avail. The soldier who fled returned. Having given into his fear for a moment, he returned in shame to try and make up for actions. The guard attempted to grab the metal monster from behind and pull it off the generator, but he wasn’t able to move it a fraction of an inch!

The Dalek was able by linking its own software with the generator to override the electronic locks on every door in the prison and open them. Once it was finished the Dalek spun round, knocking the soldier off its back.  The Dalek then exterminated the last of the guards below, before turning to face the guard it had knocked down, who it cornered against a wall.

“HUMANOIDS KILL HUMANOIDS. THE DALEKS ARE UNITED THAT IS WHY WE ALWAYS TRIUMPH!” The monster said before exterminating the guard and leaving the area.

The criminals were easily able to overrun the few remaining guards in the prison who they literally tore apart with their bare hands. The executioner who had been abandoned’s neck was broken by the criminal who had restrained him. The other executioner meanwhile was beaten to death by a crowd, made up of people whose loved ones he had either personally killed, or people he was due to execute. Though the executioner fought back at first, he soon realised it was pointless and gave in to the prisoners. In his final few moments he was relieved more than anything else to finally be free of the nightmare his existence had become.

To Be Continued

Doctor Who Season 18 Review

Image result for Tom Baker season 18

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

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

Season Credits : –

Produced by John Nathan-Turner

Executive Produced by Barry Letts

Scripts edited by Christopher Hamilton Bidmead

THE LEISURE HIVE

Written by David Fisher. Directed by Lovett Bickford

Plot

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEGLOS

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

Plot

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

E-SPACE TRILOGY

FULL CIRCLE

Written by Andrew Smith. Directed by Peter Grimwade

Plot

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

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

Review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

E-SPACE TRILOGY

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

Plot

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

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

Review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

E-SPACE TRILOGY

WARRIOR’S GATE

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

Plot

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

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

Review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plot

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plot

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE END

Why I Want A Doctor Who Meets Scratchman Film

Related image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Scratchman has potential

Image result for doctor who meets scratchman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Opinion Of The 2019 Scratchman

Related image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for doctor who rotten tomatoes

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

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

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

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

Who Would I Cast

Related image

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

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

See here.

The Doctor

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

And his companions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scratchman!

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

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

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

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

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

Related image

Mrs Tulloch

My Own Version Of Scratchman

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

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

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

Big Finish’s Scratchman

Related image

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.

 

 

Doctor Who: The New Universe: Part 2

Related image

The Doctor struggled with all his might to pull free from the beasts iron grip but it was no use.

“Go all of you, you’ll be killed if you don’t. No point in all of us being eaten by that thing.” The others refused to leave. In Dana’s case it was out of loyalty to her friend, in Sleera and Laragesh’s case it was out of fear. Whilst he may not want to admit it, Sleera knew that the Doctor was his best bet of making it through this nightmare alive. The Time Lord had already demonstrated incredible skill and cunning which seemingly surpassed all of his team mates. Though even with the Doctors help, Sleera knew their odds weren’t good.

The monster was clearly toying with its prey like a cat would a mouse. It was strong enough to pull the Doctor out in seconds, but it wanted to extend his torment for as long as it could.

Eventually even Laragesh and Sleera realised it was hopeless and ran. Sleera tried to pull Dana away, but she didn’t give up for a second and still pulled on the Doctor with all her strength.

Suddenly a barrage of lasers struck the monsters face causing it to let go of the Doctor. As the Time Lord sprung back to his feet he saw 15 more people standing beside Laragesh and Sleera.

They were all wielding weapons much larger than either Laragesh or Sleera’s weapons.

“Well don’t just stand there run you fool.” One of them who was clearly the leader shouted as he and the rest ran back towards the lift. The monster however having recovered from the pain reached its massive clawed hand into the room again. This time the Doctor and Dana managed to dodge it (barely.) Sadly one of the team a young woman, was not as lucky. The monster managed to wrap its grotesque fingers around her. In contrast to how it slowly pulled the Doctor out, the monster, overcome with rage, wasted no time and crushed the poor woman to death in an instant. Whilst it was busy gnawing on her crushed corpse the others hurried back to the lift.

Once there the leader of the team pointed his gun at the Doctor and Dana. “Who are you? I didn’t see either of you on the database? You’re not dressed like scientists? What are you doing here.”

The Doctor sighed. “Oh look not this again, if I was really in league with those this thing, would, would” the Doctor suddenly felt a bit faint. He stumbled about a bit before the leader of the team pushed him against the wall.

“I don’t care if you’re in league with those things or not, you’re still trespassing. Tell me why are you here.”

The Doctor regaining his composure shoved the solder back.

“Now look” the Time Lord said in a firm tone. “I thank you for saving my life, but I will not be treated like a common criminal. Fact is you should be damn grateful I happened to stop by as I’m you’re only chance off this.” The room suddenly began to shake. The giant monster hadn’t given up on its prey just yet and was now tearing through the side of the facility to try and get them. It could smell its intended victims from miles away. The monster was not just pursuing the Doctor. It had caught scent of the team and had attacked them earlier too, managing to catch three at once when it struck its hand through a window. The rest of the team had only managed to escape the beast because it became distracted after picking up the Doctors scent.

“Can we please just get out of her before that thing eats us!” Dana screamed more out of frustration than fear.

“I quite agree” the Doctor said as he used his sonic screwdriver to open the lift doors. They all barely managed to squeeze into the lift just as the wall began to break down. They were all desperate not to be the last one left!

The leader of the team sent the lift to the 14th level almost at the very bottom of the facility.

The 14th level was a massive hangar, littered with more mangled corpses and smashed equipment. At the centre of the room was a large red hatch. “We need to get there to regroup NOW” the leader shouted in panic as he pushed past the others.

The hatch was so massive, the leader needed a few others help to open it. As soon as it opened however a massive spiked tail cut clean through the leaders chest and pulled him below.

As the others backed away from the hatch suddenly they all noticed several hideous creatures emerging from the shadows and climbing down the walls from around them.

These creatures were again different to any of the others the Doctor and Dana had encountered. They had short squat, dark blue bodies, goblin like faces with pig snouts, bright red eyes, and tails about three times longer than their bodies, each of which ended in a spike. They all had massive hard shell shells on their backs.

The monsters scuttled down the wall and the floors like crabs at a tremendous speed. The team opened fire on the beasts, but it was no use as their lasers simply bounced off of their shells. There were about 100 or so of the abominations in the room.

“They laid a trap for us. They knew we would come here” the Doctor said to himself.

The creatures used their tails, which could move at a lightening fast speed to strike at their enemies. Two of the team were disarmed whilst a third had his throat cut open. Dana tended to the wounded man, but it was hopeless. He was dead before he hit the floor. Dana picked up his weapon and started firing at the monsters, but not being trained how to use the weapon, her fire was more scattershot. Still Dana accidentally struck one of the broken down pieces of equipment causing a mini explosion, powerful enough to send several of the monsters flying and scatter some of the others.

The monsters completely surrounded their prey from all angles, seemingly cutting off all hope of escape. One member of the the team named Clavetch, in sheer desperation tried to run through the monsters. At first he managed to catch a few by surprise and knock them off balance, but one of the monsters wrapped its tail around him, and hoisted the poor soul into the air. He screamed at the rest of the team to help him, but there was nothing they could do. Apart from Sleera they didn’t even notice he was gone as they were too busy trying to hold off the monsters themselves.

The creature repeatedly slammed Clavetch against the wall, face first. It broke his nose and several of his teeth before throwing him violently to the floor. As Clavetch desperately tried to crawl to safety, the monster brought its tail down through both of his hands, one after another, breaking them both, before repeatedly slashing his back.

It then impaled him through his right leg. The monster finally hoisted Clavetch through the air a second time and dangled him over more of its kind who started to claw and bite at his face and torso. One of the monsters stuck its hand through Clavetch’s chest and started to pull. A tug of war with Clavetch’s mangled body ensued which resulted in the soldiers body being pulled into two pieces.

Three more of the soldiers had tried to escape down the hatch, firing down the hole at the monster in there, but its tail simply batted the guns out of their hands and wrapped itself around the neck of the man nearest to the hatch which it then snapped.

Whilst the tail was distracted by the other two hapless soldiers, the Doctor seized his chance. Thinking quickly he started to push the hatch back down from the other side on the monsters tail. He needed help to move it however, and so he shouted out to Dana who helped him close it on the monsters tail.

The monster let out an ear piercing scream and tried to push the hatch back up, but fortunately two other soldiers jumped on top of the hatch alongside the Doctor and Dana, which caused it close completely and sever the monsters tail.

The Doctor then started to pull the hatch open, though again he had to have help from Dana and the others.

“Get in now” the Doctor shouted to the others who were still pointlessly trying to fight off the hordes of monsters around them. They all dived down the hole, though one of the team was impaled by one of the monsters tails as she tried to flee.

The Doctor was the last to go down, though as usual Dana wanted to the be the last, still the Doctor forced her to go down ahead of him.

The Doctor and Dana started to close the hatch once they were inside, but two tails from the monsters above soon swung down and started to attack them. The monsters couldn’t quite see where they were going however, as they were still a few feet away from the hatch.

The Doctor and Dana pulled as hard as they could at the hatch to come down on top of the two tails. In desperation one of the tails did manage to slash Dana across the arm but it was only a minor wound, and she didn’t let the pain deter her. The monsters quickly pulled their tails from the hatch, not wanting to lose them like the earlier beast had.

Meanwhile below, the other members of the team alongside Sleera and Laragesh were distracted by the monster whose tail the Doctor had taken off.

Without its tail it was considerably less dangerous, but the thick armour on the abominations back still protected it from their weapons.

The monster ran at the team who scattered, but it managed to pursue one of them to the end of the room. The others kept firing at the monster, but it did no good. Once it had cornered its prey, it stood back on its hind legs and pinned its victim against the wall.

“Stop that won’t do any good” the Doctor said to the team who ceased their fire as they saw their team mate was already dead.

“Dana, follow my lead” the Doctor said as he ran at the monster and grabbed one arm from behind. Dana grabbed the other arm, but despite pulling with all of their strength they weren’t able to tear the beast off of the lifeless carcass it was devouring. The monster threw the body on top of Dana and turned to face the Doctor. The Doctor managed to dodge the monsters attacks and again went round the monsters back. This time however he stepped on what was left of its tail. The monster had kept the tiny half of its ripped tail stuffed under its shell before, but after the Doctor and Dana had distracted it, it let its tail down.

Whilst the monster was briefly overcome with the pain in its tail the Doctor grabbed it from behind by both of its arms, and spun the monster round to face the team.

“Quick shoot it now” the Doctor said as he briefly held the monster in place. The team were only too happy to oblige and opened fire on the beasts soft stomach under its shell. Its orange blood and guts splattered all over the floor as the lasers cut through its flesh. The Doctor then kicked the monster face down to the floor where it writhed for a few seconds, spitting out more blood and groaning, before finally breathing its last.

The Doctor helped Dana up. The body the monster had thrown at her’s guts and throat had both been torn out and she was now covered in them.

“Remind me to take 58 showers when we get back to the TARDIS.” She said as she tried to wipe the blood and entrails off.

In the background were the sounds of the monsters from above clawing, banging on the hatch and screaming in frustration.

“Don’t worry” said one of the team to the Doctor and Dana. “They’ll never get inside. The hatch is made from the strongest material in this galaxy.”

Another one of the soldiers, a young woman knelt over the body of the man the beast had killed, weeping.

“I’m sorry” Dana said as she tried to comfort the woman who shoved her away.

The surviving members of the team meanwhile began to search the room for supplies as well as check the computer screens by the wall.

“Do you mind telling me where we are” the Doctor said, somewhat stumbling over his words as a great fatigue suddenly came over the Time Lord.

“This is a shelter” one of the soldiers, who had clearly taken over as the new leader of the team said.

“It was built in the case of emergencies. The hatch, the walls and the floors are made from Ratiam, the strongest metal in this entire galaxy. We can also monitor most of the other rooms in the facility from in here too.”

The Doctor was skeptical. “If nothing can get in why didn’t any of the scientists hide in here.”

“It appears that when the first wave of those creatures appeared in the facility, they teleported in instantly. The poor souls didn’t have time to run or flee.”

“Then what killed the monsters?”

“A security system. It releases a toxic chemical that is designed to attack any creature that is not a native of this galaxy. The chemical is alive, to some extent and its programmed to recognise any hostile alien intruder. There are many other forms of security in here of course, but it appears these creatures were able to disarm them all except for the poison.  We only found out about it recently when we managed to hack the last of the files above. It was also how we found out about this place.”

The Doctor and Dana both looked somewhat worried. “A bit careless of you don’t you think? What if there is just a friendly alien passing by.”

“Trust us, no friendly alien is able to just pass by this facility. There’s too much at stake here. For many centuries we were under attack from creatures beyond our galaxy who wanted to gain access to our technology. This was the best way of protecting it. Of course there is a different security system to take care of intruders from this galaxy. You can never be too careful.”

“Well” the Doctor said as he started to feel a pain in his chest. “I think you need a new system. Those monsters have still managed to overrun you facility, and me and Dana are both dying.”

“What do you mean”, the new team leader asked?

“We’re aliens. We’ve both started to feel a bit faint since we got here. At first I thought it was just you know, because we’d been chased, beaten and almost devoured by heinous monsters, but it turns out we’ve been poisoned too.”

The soldiers all pointed their weapons at the Doctor and Dana. (Save for Laragesh and Sleera who just sighed at having to go through this again.)

“Where are you from? Who sent you?” the new leader barked.

“I’m Doctor and I’m from Gallifrey and this is Dana, she’s from earth. Though if I said I’m from Telos and she’s from Skaro would it have made a difference.”

Dana sighed at the Doctors attempts at to diffuse the situation with humour. “I think he forgets that I can’t regenerate too when he keeps insulting people with guns.” She thought to herself.

“These people may be aliens, but trust me, they’re here to help us. I don’t know how or why but you can trust them” Laragesh said as she tried to lower the leaders weapon.

Sleera interjected “He also has the only way off this planet.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well as I said before I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that giant creature we faced on the upper level destroyed your ship. I don’t think there were any survivors. I’m sorry.” The Doctor said a little bit more gently than before.

The soldiers were shocked. The team had all worked together for many years. They had been hailed as heroes of the galaxy. It had been a long while since they had dealt with something that could even threaten them. To be placed in this situation felt like a terrible nightmare.

Laragesh spoke. “I didn’t want to believe it either. My little brother was on the vessel. We all knew the risks when we signed up, but still I can’t accept it.” She started to cry. Dana was the first to comfort her. The soldiers weren’t used to seeing their team mates break down like this. They weren’t sure how to react.

The Doctor spoke to the others. “I’m sorry for all your losses, but right now if you don’t want to die at the hands of those, things, up there you’ll need to help us find a cure for the poison.”

The leader wasn’t convinced. “Why? We could just wait for the poison to kill the monsters above and then call for a rescue ship.”

“We helped you escape up there and you’d just let us slowly die” Dana said angrily.

“You were just helping yourself out. Besides it would be suicide to try and escape through that sea of creatures up there.”

“What if those creatures find a way to cure your plague? The first batch didn’t, but maybe this group have learned their lesson. Also what if they send a third group? You don’t know where they came from or just how many there are? What if they get hold of a weapon in the facility that could harm the other worlds in the galaxy? You can’t just sit in here and hope for the best.” The Doctor said angrily.

“Those creatures are animals” the Leader protested.

“You know that’s not true. They’ve already outwitted us. Your previous leader already paid a heavy price for underestimating those monsters. They’re intelligent. I don’t know to what extent, but they are most certainly not animals. Savage yes, but for all we know they could be smarter than you or me. ”

The leader was visibly scared. “Even if what you say is true, how do you expect me to help you get through that lot out there.”

“Well I have a plan, but I need to know if there is a cure for this bacteria or if at least one of the labs still has functioning equipment. Failing that we could always get back to the TARDIS and go somewhere else. Our odds aren’t great but we have to try.”

“There is a cure. The researchers here don’t like to take a life unless they absolutely have too. In the lower levels there is a cure for the bacteria, a shot that kills the bacteria cells, but again you’ll have to get through those horrors outside.”

“No problem” the Doctor said as took the previous leaders gun which caused the others to point theirs at him

“Don’t worry. I’m not going to hurt you. These rifles. I have a way of turning them into bombs. We can use it to scatter those things above. Though after that I must admit we’d be on our own with no weapons unless one of you heroes comes with us?”

The Doctor was met with a silence. “Fine I’ll go on my own, but I hope that at least one of you will show me the exact level.”

“I’m afraid not, Doctor.” The leader said pointing his gun at the Time Lord. “You opening that hatch is a risk to all of us. No one is leaving here.”

“So what? You’re just going to sit back and watch us die?”

“Why should I care about either of you? You still haven’t told me how you got in here. As far as I’m concerned you’re enemy spies. I can put you both out of your misery right now if you want. Other than a few twinges in your chest though, the poison isn’t a painful death. Its designed to sneak up on you.”

“Well I’m not going to just sit back and take it” the Doctor protested which caused the leader to fire at him. Though the Doctor managed to dodge the blast the other soldiers were shocked.

Laragesh got in the way of the Doctor and Dana. “Taresk what on earth are you doing? You can’t just shoot this man”

Taresk then fired just beside her.”I mean it. I am not going back out there. Look at what those things did to us. We are going to wait here for the poison to take effect on those monsters. Anyone tries to open that hatch I’ll kill them.

Just then the Doctor kicked the gun out of Taresk’s hands and quickly knocked him out with a bit of Venusian karate.

“He’ll be out for a while. Thank you Laragesh.” The Doctor said.

“I didn’t agree with his methods Doctor, but I’m afraid I’m not sure any of us will be willing to help you either.”

“In that case you might as well have just let him shoot us” Dana said bitterly.

“She’s right you know. You were sent here as a rescue team, yet you’re just going to leave two people to die. Besides I’m not asking you to help me anyway, but please let us leave. I have to do everything I can to try and help Dana, I brought her here.”

“You didn’t bring me anywhere Doctor, I came here on my own accord. I’d do the same again. You’re not to blame at all.” Dana reassured the Doctor. “However” she joked “Having said that, it wouldn’t hurt to get the TARDIS fixed if we make it out of this.”

“Well at any rate we should be going now, please just give us two guns and we won’t trouble you any more.”

The soldiers looked ashamed of themselves. They felt like miserable cowards, though to be fair to them, these creatures were unlike anything they had ever faced before. Even the Doctor himself didn’t think much of his or Dana’s chances against the creatures, which was why he wasn’t really pushing for any of the soldiers to help him, just to let him leave the shelter.

Sleera however to the Doctors surprise would be the first to offer his help. Sleera’s offer wasn’t so much out of nobility however. The Doctors warnings had gotten through to him. He was particularly worried about what the Doctor said about the monsters gaining access to the secrets of this facility. For all he knew they were using them to attack the empire. There may not even be anywhere for him to escape too. This Doctor guy seemed to know what he was talking about, Sleera thought to himself. Even if he is a conceited, condescending know it all.

After Sleera offered to help, the woman who until now had simply sat over the corpse of the fallen soldier offered to help too. Her name was Reosa. She was the oldest member of the team, being well over 600 years old. The fallen soldier was in fact her son. She had begged him not to join the team. Unlike the others, who she regarded as being nothing more than glory hounds and show offs who had never faced real danger, she always was wary of a real threat emerging in the galaxy. Despite her age she was not the team leader, simply because she refused the offer.

Reosa did not like to be in charge of other people. She actually preferred to work on her own, but was willing to put up with others if they didn’t get in her way.

Reosa was willing to help the Doctor and Dana, not simply for altruistic reasons either, but because after what had happened to her son, she didn’t care anymore.

“Well I can hardly let Sleera go without me” Laragesh said as she went to join the Doctor and the others. The Doctor however, much to Laragesh’s surprise, stopped her.

“No” the Time Lord said firmly. “As much as I hate to admit it, you’re commander was right. This is the safest place, and some of you need to stay here in case I don’t make it back. Besides we’ll need someone here to check the monitors for us. It can be very frustrating to turn a corner and not know if there’s a giant monster waiting to eat you. You lot can at least give us a heads up.”

“Okay fine” Laragesh sulked. She and Sleera had always had the closest bond of anyone in the team outside of her and her little brother. She couldn’t bare the thought of him going out alone. Still she could see that the Doctor was right. She could be more help to him in here. She didn’t even say anything to Sleera. The team never liked to show any weakness, but he knew how much she cared for him, as he did for her.

The Doctor went to fetch Reosa’s son’s weapon. Dana could see that Reosa was upset by the Doctors somewhat callous nature, and put her hand on Reosa’s shoulder to comfort her. Reosa was a little unsure of this gesture at first, but this time she didn’t rebuff Dana’s attempts to comfort her.

After adjusting the weapon weapon the Doctor shared his plan with Dana, Reosa and Sleera.

“I’m going to open the hatch. Reosa, Sleera, I’ll need you to fire on the monsters at first before I can get a good distance out.  Aim for the tails. They’re a quick target, but they’re the monsters weak point. ”

Dana, Reosa and Sleera helped the Doctor to open the hatch from below. The Doctor and Dana managed to push it backwards onto two of the monsters behind the hatch, crushing them, whilst Reosa and Sleera started firing on the monsters from the front, aiming for their tails.

Reosa managed to sever two of the beasts tails which briefly sent some of the others scurrying in panic.

The Doctor and Dana each held one of the guns the Doctor had turned into bombs. Dana was the first to use hers. She threw her bomb in front of her, at a massive machine, about ten feet away behind the sea of monsters.

Having remembered how unstable the equipment was when she shot it earlier and hoped to provoke a larger explosion. She knew it was dangerous, but there was so many of the monsters, seemingly more than from before and they were closing in fast with no way of escape (the hatch had been closed behind them.)

Sure enough the bomb created a massive blast, so big it even knocked the Doctor, Dana, Reosa and Sleera off of their feet.

All of the monsters next to the machine were killed instantly whilst those on the periphery were still knocked out, or thrown several feet across the room. Even those on the outskirts began to flee back up the walls.

The Doctor was the first to get up and quickly roused Dana who had been knocked out by her own bomb. Sleera was more badly hurt. His arm had been fractured in the blast, but he managed to fight through the pain and still fired his weapon at the monsters as they started to come back. Reosa meanwhile being the farthest away from the blast was mostly okay. Her weapon had been knocked out of her hand however, and when she tried to reach for it, one of the monsters quickly batted it away with its tail and nearly struck Reosa who was only able to barely get out of its way.

“Sorry Doctor, there was just so many I, I can’t believe I was so reckless” Dana said as she struggled to get herself back up.

“No time for that now Dana, come on while they’re still scattered.”

Dana’s blast had managed to kill most of the monsters blocking the way to the elevator, but there were still more and more crawling down from the walls on either side. The Doctor, Sleera, Dana, and Reosa ran as fast as they could towards the elevator, dodging the monsters tails, with Sleera also firing indiscriminately at the creatures.

They managed to make it to the elevator, with hordes of the monsters in pursuit. The Doctor however was able to scatter them again by throwing his bomb right into the centre of the crowd of beasts. This time the creatures attempted to flee, and most of them managed to escape the blast. The Doctor’s bomb only managed to get about 4 or 5 of the creatures, though it still did knock a few more off of their feet at least.

Whilst the Doctor and the others were distracted however, one of the monsters managed to crawl down the wall just above the elevator and wrapped its tail around Sleera, causing him to drop his gun.

Sleera screamed in pain, but by the time the Doctor, Dana and Reosa had turned round, the monster had already hoisted him about ten feet in the air. Dana who was the closest to the gun Sleera had dropped, picked it up and fired at the monster. She didn’t have a perfect aim, but she still managed to hit its tail and wound the creature enough to drop Sleera, who fell on his fractured arm.

Reosa helped Sleera up whilst the Doctor started to operate the elevator.

The monster that had grabbed Sleera quickly descended from the wall beside the Doctor, but both Sleera and Reosa grabbed it from behind before it could pounce on the Time Lord. They struggled against the monsters strength, but Dana managed to shoot it in the tail, severing it this time. Whilst the monster was distracted from the pain, Sleera and Reosa managed to pull it on its back, allowing Dana to open fire on the beasts stomach, killing it.

“Come on” the Doctor shouted as the elevator doors swung open. The foursome managed to make it in just in time as the hordes of ravenous monsters descended on the elevator doors. With no time to spare the Doctor sent the lift to a higher level. At random, he picked the 4th floor.

“We made it, I can’t believe it” Dana said through heavy gasps. Sleera meanwhile tried frantically to get through to Laragesh on his communicator, but there was no response.

The doors suddenly swung open to reveal a long black corridor.

The Doctor was the first to explore, as always. There were a few remains of scientists scattered throughout the 4th floor. One of them, a soldier at the very end looked embedded in the floor up to his chest.

“Come in, come in” Sleera shouted. “Don’t let me down now.” He said as he started to worry if something had gone wrong in the shelter.

Reosa meanwhile spoke with the Doctor. “This isn’t the right level for the cure, we need to head to the 6th floor”.

The Doctor at first didn’t answer. He was too distracted by the figure stuck in the floor. Suddenly however the entire team were distracted by the sound of something huge lumbering outside.”

“He’s back” the Doctor uttered quietly in fear. “We need to get to the lift now.”

“Yes, like I said the cure is on the 6th floor Doctor.” Reosa said sharply.

“Right sorry about that, I was a bit distracted by the dead body welded to the floor.”

The room started to shake and the four started to run. Just as they did however, Sleera suddenly heard a noise coming from his communicator.

“Sleera, come in Sleera!”

He quickly responded.

“Get out of there now. Its coming your way.”

“Yes thank you for your timely interruption, we are fleeing from that giant freak.”

“Its not the giant, its coming from beneath you. Stay away from the lift!”

Suddenly a hand came bursting out of the floor, right in front of the lift, Stopping the Doctor, Dana, Reosa and Sleera in their tracks. The hand was black and ended in long, thin claws. Interestingly enough however, the hand did not actually break the floor. It seemed to phase through it.

A creature, standing over 7 feet tall, and completely black and featureless, except for a mouth filled with 3 sets of long, blood stained teeth stood in front of them.

Reosa, (who had taken the weapon off of Dana in the elevator.) Tried to shoot the beast, but its body became transparrant, causing the laser to fire through it. The monster then briefly became flesh before grabbing Dana, after which they both vanished through the floor in a flash.

Below Dana fell roughly 10 feet, but before she hit the hard metal floor, a similar creature caught her in its arms.

It lowered her slowly to the ground, allowing her to see ten more similar creatures behind it. The room was covered in blood and the mangled remains of various soldiers who had been pulled under to the same gruesome fate.

To be continued.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor Who: The New Universe: Part 1

Related image

“Come in, come in” Resla shouted frantically through her communicator to no response. Her team had been searching this godforsaken place for close to two days now and had found nothing but a string of corpses, not just of the scientists they had come here to rescue, but of various different kinds of strange creatures. These beasts were unlike any known life forms in this part of the galaxy. Their bodies were also in contrast to the scientists, completely preserved. The scientists bodies had been torn apart and mutilated.

Still the team had found no answers so far. They had covered the entire facility, though they had still not managed to hack all of the files of the facility yet. There was also one room the team hadn’t been able to explore at the very bottom of the facility, sealed by two 20 foot tall steel doors.

According to the notes from the scientists who had worked here, even very few of the staff had any idea of what was in the room. Resla’s team had been unable to find a way in. There was no code for them to hack, their guns, even on full setting didn’t even make a mark on the doors. Resla’s team had spent roughly 8 hours trying to find a way through the door that seemingly contained the ultimate secret of Paskelia 5, (which had practically built up this entire galaxy from scratch.)

Now however their attention had been diverted to their team mates. Reksian, who was part of the group that had decided to search the upper area had sent out a distress warning to the entire team. He was only able to mumble out a few incoherent words however before the line cut off again.

Another voice soon came through Resla’s communicator. It was a woman’s this time named Sele. “Please help us” the tinny voice screeched through a crackling line.

“It, it, it came crashing through a wall. Its gigantic. We managed to seal ourselves in here, but its outside, please, we’re on the 2nd floor. Help us!”

Just then a crashing noise came through the communicator followed by blood curdling screams and the sound of gnashing, and stomping.

The rest of the team quickly hurried to the second floor except for Resla. Almost as soon as the message had finished the doors to the abandoned area had begun to open. The others didn’t care anymore, but Resla was so transfixed on the light shining from the room that she had to see what was in there. The others didn’t have time to convince her and so they quickly headed to the upper levels, whilst Resla made her way into the room. Resla had always been the inquisitive type. She had only joined the security team because she felt it would be the easiest way to see the wider universe.

It was extremely foolish of Resla to even think about venturing in there alone, but she couldn’t help herself. When she entered the room, Resla saw that it was completely empty except for a large, floating, glowing ball in the centre. It must be some kind of energy source she thought. As Resla looked more closely at the sphere however she could see that it was more than that. Suddenly what appeared to be a figure emerged from the ball. It looked completely different to the corpses of the aliens in the upper levels. It’s body was bipedal and completely dark, whilst its skin looked both slimy and rock hard. Its body was covered in jagged spikes at various parts, whilst its arms, of which there were four, were long, and thin. The four fingers on each of the four hands ended in massive sickle like claws . Its mouth was massive and filled with gigantic razor sharp yellow teeth, many of which were broken or looked worn down. It had three beady little green eyes, each of which had 4 red, strip like pupils. There were no other facial features on its flat oval shaped face. The top of the head meanwhile was covered in a tuft of grey, dirty, thinning hair, which ran down the back of its head, entire body and back legs.

The monster cornered Resla who held her gun up to it in defence. It just stared back at her however. “I must be just as strange looking to it” she thought. “I hope he’s as scared of me as I am of him.”

The monster garbled something at her in a strange language, but she couldn’t make it out. As she backed away ever so slowly, the creature suddenly lunged at Resla, claws outstretched, hissing and snarling. It moved so fast, Resla couldn’t make a shot in time. The alien batted the gun out of her hand and quick as a flash, it slashed her across the stomach. The wounds weren’t deep but they stung so severely that Resla was brought to her knees.

The monster then wrapped its hands around Resla’s entire head and began to squeeze hard. Resla had never felt a force like it, but she fought through the pain and managed to grab the knife from her leg holster and stabbed into the monsters arm.

The creature doubled back in pain and yanked the knife out of its arm. Its blood splashed to the floor. The blood was thick, yellow and instantly dried rock hard when it hit the floor. It also stank so badly Resla nearly choked. Whilst the monster was groaning in pain, Resla quickly grabbed her weapon and emptied several rounds straight into the beasts chest. A normal shot would have been powerful enough to tear a hole in a human’s chest. With the monster however several shots only created flesh wounds, but Resla kept on firing and eventually the beast crashed to the floor, completely lifeless.

Resla staggered to the door. She was still in agony from her wounds. The flesh began to sizzle and boil and her legs gave way before she reached the doors. As she tried to hoist herself up a second time however, the sphere started to act up again.

It began to ripple, and expand. Bolts began to fire from it, strong enough to scorch the metal floor. Resla was worried the sphere would explode but instead another creature identical to the first come through. Just like the first it instantly went for Resla but she brought it down with several more shots .

Using the last of her strength, Resla got to her feet and stumbled out the two doors, but once she had made it out, the sphere became more erratic and this time dozens of similar monsters came out of the sphere and descended on Resla who fired on the beasts. She managed to bring down a further 3 of the abominations, but it was hopeless as more and more came pouring out and cornered her against a wall.

Dana was jolted from her peaceful slumber by the droning sound of the cloister bell. The journey’s from planet to planet, or time to time in the TARDIS were completely unpredictable. Sometimes they could take hours, sometimes they could take weeks.

Dana didn’t mind though. The TARDIS itself was like the best 5 star hotel she had ever stayed in. You could spend your life in there and never get bored. There was a massive library filled with books from all over the universe (though the Doctor seemed to have a particular fondness for earth literature. All his favourite things seemed to come from that planet.) There was also a massive swimming pool, tennis court, cinema, and most surprisingly of all, a giant garden. The garden contained the most beautiful flowers and plants gathered from all over the universe (and indeed many other universes.) The view above the garden meanwhile was a simulation of the Hiestra galaxy which the Doctor considered to be the most beautiful sight he had ever seen (or rather he did in his 9th life. He often changed the view every regeneration.)

Dana loved going to the garden with a good book, and a good bottle of wine, both from the Doctors collection (his taste was impeccable Dana thought to herself) and having a nice quiet evening looking up at the stars. The Doctor in contrast however was never good at amusing himself over the course of the long journeys. Sometimes he would paint in the garden with Dana, and he enjoyed spending long hours talking with her over his collection. Still if the journey was any longer than a couple of days, the Doctor would get very impatient. He was never mean but he could very short and grumpy.

How ironic that he’d spent all of this time gathering all of these wonderful pieces of art and literature yet he hardly ever looked at any of them. He probably had over the centuries mind you, Dana thought to herself. Dana kept forgetting that the Doctor was over 1000 years old.

Dana enjoyed the adventure and discovery of her life with the Doctor too, but at times his enthusiasm could rattle her. Whenever they arrived somewhere new and she wasn’t in the control room, he would rattle the cloister bell constantly until Dana arrived, and this time was no different.

“Honestly” he grumbled under his breath. “What takes her so long, we’ve been travelling for ages.” (In reality it was only two days)

Dana came bursting into the console room more than a little angry. “You don’t have to keep ringing that blasted bell. ”

“Well you do seem so absorbed in that damn book of yours you know. I didn’t think anything could pull you from it!” The Doctor snapped back.

He realised that he had gone too far. In her own way Dana was just as anxious to see where they had landed as much as he was. Even though it had been 3 years Dana still held out hope of finding her sister. Sadly 3 years on and they were no closer in anyway to finding her.. The Doctor had tried his best, but there was nothing he could do. As he told Dana when she first joined him, the odds were billions to one that they’d find the aliens that took her that fateful night.

Dana didn’t mention it much anymore as it was too painful. Still the Doctor understood that deep down Dana could never let her sister go and that the long journey’s were actually harder for her. The garden, and the books were just her way of escaping.

“I’m sorry Dana that remark was thoughtless of me.” the Doctor said softly. Dana didn’t feel upset. She knew his bark was worse than his bite.

“That’s okay Doctor, just please only use that bell in emergencies like its supposed to.”

“Well we’re here now. Though where here is I don’t know, but that’s part of the fun.” He said as he opened the doors and ran out, barely able to contain his excitement. Dana quickly followed. She didn’t know whether to admire his boldness or get frustrated at his recklessness.

Outside the TARDIS was nothing but a forest. The woods didn’t look that much different to those on earth and the sky was pitch black. The Doctor searched his endless pockets for a watch. He pulled out various items from a packet of jelly babies, to a harmonica to what looked like a metal donut (which was actually a delicacy on the planet Mesjara) before finally finding a torch.

“I do hope there’s intelligent life here. There’s so little of it in the universe” the Doctor said as he pointed his torch through the dark cobweb like woods for any signs of life.

The Doctor marched on ahead, not even telling Dana to come with him as he trampled over the thick undergrowth. Dana was more eager to talk about her latest book. Described as the great romance novel of the 57th century. Dana had started reading it not so much because she enjoyed the story, but just because she was fascinated in looking at what passed for entertainment thousands of years in the future, and how much society had changed too. (Dana came from 20th century earth.)

The Doctor was only to happy to discuss the arts with Dana. Whilst exploration would always be his first love, he did have a huge appreciation for the arts too.

“I always keep meaning to take you to your planets future Dana. A lot of people, don’t want to know their own worlds future, but you seem quite keen.”

“I’ve always thought the most interesting periods to read about are the last ones I’d actually want to visit” Dana said as she struggled through the dark and tangled woods.

“True” the Doctor replied as he shined the torch ahead, desperate to see any signs of life. “There are a lot of historical figures from your past and future I admired greatly when I first read their work, and then I met them. A word to the wise don’t ever have dinner with Plato. He eats like a pig.”

“Well I suppose they weren’t renowned for having great manners back then”

“That’s still no excuse. I’ve had meals with Uxeres, who have six mouths and eat their mothers that were more pleasant and polite. At least they knew how to use a napkin.”

The Doctor was always obsessed with good form, which was rather ironic considering not only did his social skills leave a lot to be desired, but the Doctor himself also looked very shambolic too.

He dressed in very fancy clothes. He wore an old pitch black frock coat from what looked like the late 19th century, a frilly shirt and some checked trousers.

However his coat was extremely battered and almost dirty looking, whist the shirt was messy and unkempt.

His thick dark hair was also extremely messy and all over the place. Dana even referred to him as a scruffy dandy when they first met. Dana herself meanwhile had a much more toned down and contemporary look. Her hair was jet black, massive and curly, whilst she always tended to wear the same battered blue leather coat.

The two tended to stand out in most times and places they visited, but neither particularly cared, regardless of how much trouble it might get them into.

The two time travellers continued to explore these strange alien woods hours through the woods not seeing any signs of life. The Doctor would search under every rock on the planet if he thought he could find a new insect no one had ever found before.

Dana had to stop for a minute she was so tired. The Doctor didn’t even notice she had stopped until he was about ten feet away.

“Oh Dana you should just tell me if you wanted to rest you know, you don’t want to get lost in these woods.”

“Sorry Doctor, I just couldn’t go on any longer. This planet doesn’t look like its up to much to me. Then again I’d probably say the same about earth if we landed in the middle of a desert. We should probably head back to the TARDIS, just to get a good bearing on where exactly we are. I mean we could be 1000 miles from any kind of civilisation. If there even is one. Doctor?”

Unfortunately the Time Lord wasn’t paying attention to his companion. He had noticed what looked like a shinning light in the distance. He started to climb a tree to get a better look at it. As far as the Doctor could see it looked lime some kind of vehicle, though quite unlike any he had ever seen before. Some of the trees below however appeared to be shaking and one even fell over. The Doctor also spotted what looked like a large mountain on the far side of the forest too.

“What is it Doctor?” Dana said in frustration. “Are there signs of life.”

“I think so? It looks like a craft. Though whether its from here I don’t know. To think its occupants could be staring down at us thinking we live here.”

The Doctor jumped down from the tree. Dana could see he looked a little worried. “I think it might have been fleeing from something. We need to tread carefully”

“Well that would be a first” Dana said jokingly. The two crept through the woods silently, trying to keep their heads down when suddenly they were both jolted by a loud screeching noise that came piercing through the black woods.

The two couldn’t see anything however in the pitch black, but the Doctor could also hear very faintly the sound of something big coming their way.

“Stay here” he told Dana firmly whilst he climbed up a nearby tree. Almost as soon as he reached the top however he instantly dropped back down again with a look of absolute horror on his face.

“We need to get out of here. Now.” The thumping sound suddenly became louder as did the screeching noise again. The Doctor and Dana ran through the woods in fear, but the stomping sound became louder and louder. As the Doctor looked back he could see what looked like an immense figure in the distance. The trees, the branches, and the darkness however made it difficult for him to get a good sight of what exactly was after them, and even the Doctors curiosity wouldn’t make him stick around.

The Doctor and Dana ran as fast as they could, but the noise became louder and louder until eventually Dana had to push the Doctor out of the way of a falling tree.

When the Doctor looked up he could see the figure much more clearly, towering above the two petrified Time Travellers.

It stood about 80 feet tall. Its skin was bright green and hairless, whilst its body was long and slender. Its arms which each ended in three clawed hands were muscular yet very thin. Clearly it was built for speed despite its massive size. It was bipedal, whilst its face was long. Its lipless mouth was permanently locked into the shape of a permanent grin filled with 4 layers of teeth. The monster had three giant eyes at the very top of its long thin face, whilst a row of spikes ran down from the top of its head, right down its back.

The Monster lowered its body over the Doctor and Dana who huddled together in absolute terror. Suddenly the spaceship came into view above the monsters head. It fired repeatedly on the brute, who quickly turned to face its new enemy and fired an electric beam from its hands. The beam narrowly missed the ship

The Doctor and Dana quickly ran in the opposite direction whilst the monster and the ship fought. The ship was able to dodge the monsters reach, but its fire was also not doing any damage to the creature either. One stray blast from the ship however caused part of the forest to catch fire which quickly spread.

The two time travellers were forced to run in another direction to escape the blaze, but they soon come upon a dead end. They had arrived at the mountain. It was so large and the sky was so dark that they couldn’t see what was at the top of it.

Still it looked like the only way ahead. Between the monster and the fire there was absolutely no way they could go back. “You ever rock climb as a little girl?” the Doctor asked Dana.

“Of course, but look at that size of that thing there’s no way we can.” Before Dana could even finish, the Doctor was already climbing. He stopped and looked down at her. “Well aren’t you coming?” Dana let out a frustrated groan before joining him.

The two didn’t look back, though they could hear the sounds of forest burning, the monster screaming and trees being knocked over. It was even harder to climb in the dark, but they only had to climb a short distance before making it into a ledge which led into a cave. The Doctor was the first to make it to the ledge and as he went to help Dana up he saw the vehicle crashing to the forest floor on fire. The monster had managed to land a lucky hit and now the crew had paid for it with their lives. The Doctor couldn’t bare to look at the mass of flames on the forest floor that had once been a beautiful craft. He had no idea who the crew of this mysterious vessel were and now he never would, but they had saved he and Dana’s lives.

He hurried Dana into the cave as the jungle lit up around the mountain. The Doctors torch allowed them to see where they were going in the cavernous, seemingly never ending tunnel ahead.

The monster meanwhile managed to make its way out of the flames and back into the deeper forest. It hadn’t forgotten the Doctor and Dana. It was a lot more intelligent than the Doctor had assumed. It searched through the jungle for signs of the two strange creatures it had encountered and eventually stumbled upon the TARDIS. Not sure what to make of this strange blue box, the monster struck it with all its might. To its surprise however, nothing happened!

How can that even be possible? It thought to itself. Nothing could withstand the pressure of its blows. It let out a scream in frustration and struck the irritating blue box again, twice as hard. Still nothing. The monster continued to pound on the TARDIS only for nothing to happen. It picked it up and tried to squeeze the TARDIS in its hands only to tire itself out. It then threw the TARDIS on the floor and jumped up and down on it over and over again, only for the infuriating blue box to still be completely unscathed. Finally the monster picked up the TARDIS and threw it over 100 feet across the forest. It was sure if there was anything hiding in it, then it couldn’t have survived that.

The two time travellers treaded very slowly and carefully through the tunnel to try and find a way out. They still tripped over various rocks however, as the Doctors torch didn’t do much to light up the way ahead.

When they were deep into the cave however Dana tripped over something large. “These damn rocks” she blurted out in anger and frustration. As the Doctor helped her up he shone his light on what it was she tripped on and could see it wasn’t a rock.

It was the remains of a person. He had been ripped in half. Only the upper body remained, whilst one arm looked as though it had been chewed off. The other arm was completely mangled meanwhile, whilst both the upper torso and face where covered in long, deep claw marks.

Dana wanted to be sick at the sight of the cadaver, whilst the Doctor stared at it intently.

“There are humanoid life forms on this planet, or there where. Interesting.”

Dana looked at him in frustration. “Is that all you can say. I can barely look at it.”

“I don’t enjoy looking at it either my dear,  but the discovery of possibly a new race, even posthumous is always of interest. There’s nothing we can do for this poor soul, but whatever did this could still be around. I suggest we move as quickly as possible.”

The Doctor and Dana moved very closely together, both constantly looking round for a monster. The Doctor managed to spot the corpse of what looked like a humanoid creature in the distance thanks to his torchlight. The creature had reddish skin and was quite small and slight in frame. The Doctor shone the light closely on its face. It’s small pointed head appeared to have been smashed in with great force. He wanted to examine it further but Dana didn’t want to even look at it.

“Its dead Doctor. Why do you care.”

“Now who is the callous one. For all you know this creature could have been a civilised, intelligent life form that met an unfortunate end. Either way I want to find out.”

The Doctor headed towards the corpse, but as he went to examine it, its arm suddenly twitched. It was alive!

“Its okay, its okay” the Doctor said as he tried to make the creature comfortable in its last moments. The creature tried to lift one of its arms towards the Doctor and neither he nor Dana were sure at first if it was trying to attack the Time Lord or not. Instead however he it was simply reaching up for help and once she realised it wasn’t a threat Dana held its hand gently.

The alien choked and spluttered before finally breathing its last. Dana felt somewhat guilty at being so callous the creature, but the Doctor told her not to worry. “To be fair we still don’t know whether it would have been hostile or not if it was healthy” the Doctor said.

The Doctor shone his light deeper into the cavern and caught sight of a second creature deep in the distance. From what he could see this creature was a lot larger, though not as big as the one outside. It stood about 9 feet tall and appeared to have much thicker, blue hide. Its face was small and goblin like, with two horrible, beady little red,eyes that shone through the darkness of the tunnel. The creature appeared to be holding a large club that was covered in a thick blue substance, undoubtedly the previous creatures blood. This new monstrosity had not noticed the Doctor and Dana as it was too busy licking its latest victims blood from its club. The Time Lord told Dana to slowly back away, as he searched the caverns nearby with his light to see if they were safe.

Unfortunately however Dana stepped backwards into a hole and fell about 15 feet below. As she fell her scream startled the monster, but the Doctor quickly followed her before it could get a sight of him in the darkness.

Both the Doctor and Dana fell into a small pit that was about 10 feet wide and at the left end was a relatively small hole, big enough for a person to fit through. The Doctor decided to investigate it, but not before making sure Dana was alright. He helped her to her feet.

“Sorry Doctor.”

“Well I can hardly throw stones in terms of stumbling into trouble. Besides its my fault. I was only shinning the light ahead. There’s no way we can climb up its too steep, but there’s a small hole I’m going to check. Please stay here.”

Dana interrupted.

“I’ll go with you Doctor, if you run into trouble you’ll need help as always.”

“Oh alright. But please keep an eye if that thing decides to follow us down the hole.” He said in a somewhat churlish tone.

The Doctor and Dana managed to squeeze through the hole, one after the other. The hole was about 6 foot high on the wall of another small room which was connected to three tunnels. The Doctor went ahead down the centre tunnel, shinning his light. They only got a few feet down it when suddenly a roaring sound came bellowing down the corridor. The Doctor and Dana slowly crept backwards the way they came careful not to make a noise, but the noise came again and the Doctor could see a figure emerging from within the dark. Both the Doctor and Dana ran the way they came, arriving back in the room.

Suddenly more roaring and screeching came from down the other two corridors as well. “We’re cornered. Like rats in a trap.” Dana said frantically.

The Doctor told Dana to get back into the cave they had fallen into. “Are you crazy? They’ll corner us.”

“There’s a chance they might not have seen us, we have to take it.”

The Doctor helped Dana get up through the hole and then she helped to pull the Doctor into it. They stared intently out of the hole until a figure emerged from the first of the three tunnels. To the time travellers surprise it looked like an ordinary man.

He was wearing some kind of strange uniform and seemed to be badly hurt. He stumbled to the ground, struggling to get his breath back. The Doctor tried to crawl through the hole again to help him, but before he could he saw 6 hideous creatures emerge from down the other two tunnels.

These creatures looked identical to the one on the upper tunnel that had been carrying the club only here they appeared even larger. The poor man was in such pain he didn’t even notice the brutes as they surrounded him. Before the Doctor could do anything the monsters were on the soldier.

The Doctor quickly crawled back in and stopped Dana from pointlessly jumping out.

“There’s nothing we can do Dana. He’s dead! If you go out there those things will kill both of us.”

Dana looked away as the monsters started to devour their victims mangled corpse. The Doctor meanwhile continued to observe. He found the sight repulsive, but was curious about their feeding habits. The monsters didn’t seem to be just simple beasts who were feeding to survive. They seemed to be performing some kind of ritual. They smeared the victims blood over their faces and started doing what looked like a strange dance over the corpse before tearing more bits and pieces of flesh off the corpse.

The Doctor and Dana were forced to remain in their cave for a couple of hours until the monsters had finished. Every second was torture. The Doctor and Dana weren’t sure if the monsters knew they were hiding in here or if one of the monsters from above would fall into their cave. At one point the Doctor thought he heard shots being fired above, but they quickly died down.

After a few hours when there was literally nothing left of the wounded man but a few blood stains, the monsters walked back down the tunnel.

Still the Doctor and Dana waited for a short while before escaping through the hole. They went down the corridor the man had come down as the monsters had left up the other two.

The Doctor and Dana walked down the corridor for ages stumbling over more mangled corpses along the way, as well as the body of one of the grey creatures.

Finally they reached the end of the tunnel which led to a large room, where there was a gigantic, glowing, blue strip of what looked like pure energy, right down the middle. The Doctor threw a rock into the blue strip only for it to bounce off.

“There’s a force field around it” the Doctor said as he investigated the new, strange anomaly. He saw behind the strip was a massive control panel, and beside it was a grey door.

“I wonder who created this” The Doctor said as he stared at the shinning light intently.

“It can’t have been those savages. They were just animals.” Dana replied.

“No I wouldn’t have thought so, but appearances can be deceiving. Just because a race is highly advanced, doesn’t mean that it has to be peaceful sadly.” The Doctor said with regret.

Suddenly growling noises came down from the other end of the tunnel. One of the blues monsters had followed them.

“Damn” The Doctor shouted in frustration. “I was wanting to get a good look at that control panel.”

The Doctor and Dana rushed to the door that was electronically locked. The Doctor quickly whipped out his sonic screwdriver and started to fiddle with the lock, whilst Dana stared back intently at the tunnel. Dana could see the shadow of a figure begin to emerge on the other side. The monster had obviously been stalking them for quite a while, waiting until it could corner them. It was a lot smarter than she thought, and a lot more cruel.

Finally Dana heard a clicking noise and turned to see the door swing open.

“Ah there we are” the Doctor said proudly. “Did you ever doubt me?”

“Well”

“Just get inside!”

The Doctor shut the door behind him and used his sonic screwdriver to lock it again. On the other side of the door was a stair case which seemed to go on and on at both ends. The Doctor instinctively ran up the stairs. The Doctor had no idea if that way was safer but he wanted to get to the top of the mountain as he figured that would be his best chance of figuring out what was happening on this strange planet.

The monster started pounding on the door, and it didn’t take long to tear it down despite the fact that the door was solid steel (or a similar substance) and over 4 inches thick.

The Doctor and Dana had a good start on the monster however and were able to maintain it as they hurried frantically up the stairs. The two time travellers managed to reach the top where the Doctor again used his sonic screwdriver to try and open the door.

“Doctor, I don’t mean to hurry you but.”

“I’m trying Dana, I could do with less distractions,” the Doctor said, visibly terrified as even he wasn’t sure he would make it this time.

Still the Doctor managed to overcome his fear and open the door just as the monster had reached them, but when he tried to shut the door behind the monster struck at it, sending the Doctor flying about 6 feet on the other side. On the other side of the door was a foggy cliff edge. In the hours the Doctor and Dana had spent in the cave, it had become daylight outside, but the fog was so thick, Dana couldn’t see much ahead of her.

Dana ran to help the Doctor, but the monster caught up with her and grabbed Dana from behind by her arms. She tried to struggle free but it was hopeless. Dana had never felt a force like it. The beast started to pull on Dana’s arms. As she screamed in agony she could hear the monster making a strange noise. It wasn’t like its earlier roar. It was almost as though as it was laughing at her pain!

The Doctor quickly got to his feet and grabbed the monster by one of its arms. He tried to pull on it, but it made no difference. The creatures strength was virtually limitless. The creature got irritated however and batted the Doctor away, sending him flying another 5 feet backwards, closer to the edge of the cliff.

The Doctor got up, still dazed from the hit, but he couldn’t give in now. The Doctor was an excellent fighter. He was a master of so many different fields simply because he had the time. He had lived for 100s of years, and had a machine that could enable him to visit the greatest experts and masters of every subject and field. As a result the Doctor was a world class fighter, physicist, biologist, marksman, fencer, technician, cook, decorator, and painter though he had still never learned to play tennis properly. It was on his to do list though.

The Doctor had taken on opponents much stronger and larger than he before, but this creature was several times stronger. He’d be lucky to hurt it!

Still the Doctor tried. The brute swung at him but the Doctor managed to dodge it and delivered a punch with all his might into the beasts chest. The creature didn’t even wince!

The Doctor had speed on his side and continued to dodge the monsters attacks whilst delivering more punches, as well as a few kicks. He even used Venusian Karate, but none of the Time Lords attacks did anything. Realizing he wasn’t getting anywhere the Doctor managed to run past the beast to try and help Dana up. Dana was still lying on the floor in pain. Had the monster kept pulling for just a few moments more it would have ripped both her arms out of their sockets.

The Doctor tried to help her up, telling her to run. Even if he wasn’t going to make it out he was determined she was.

The monster however placed its arm around the Doctors neck from behind. Frantically, the Doctor repeatedly elbowed the beast in the stomach. Once again the Doctor didn’t hurt the beast, but the constant flurry of punches was enough to momentarily knock the beast off its balance a little, allowing the Doctor to push its arm away from his throat. The Doctor then rammed into the monster. Using his entire body weight, the Doctor managed to knock the beast a few feet backwards towards the cliff edge. Unfortunately the monster however managed to regain its footing and quickly overpowered the Doctor. It grabbed his arms and squeezed them so hard the Doctor was instantly brought to his knees. It then delivered a flurry of punches to the Doctors face and chest. Even the Doctor who had been in more than a few fights in his time had never been hit with such force.

The Doctor lay on the floor beaten, bloodied and too weak to even lift a finger. The monster picked him up, lifting him over its head whilst roaring in triumph. The Doctor with his last ounce of strength, kicked at the monsters head, but it did little more than annoy it. The beast managed to bite onto the Doctors foot and sank its fangs into it. The Doctor screamed and tried to pull his foot free, but the more he pulled, the more his foot was pulled into its mouth.

Fortunately before the creature could tear off his foot, Dana, having regained her strength grabbed one of the largest rocks she could and thumped the monster in the stomach. It still didn’t hurt it that much, but it startled it enough to drop the Doctor on Dana. Dana gently pushed the Doctor off her and grabbed her rock. She hit the beast in the face before it could strike at her and continued to hit it in the face with her rock over and over again. She was so overcome with rage she just couldn’t stop. She managed to draw some blood from the monsters face, with Dana at first being too fast for it, but eventually the monster was able to regain its composure and grabbed Dana’s arms. Just as it had done with the Doctor, it squeezed them, causing her to drop her weapon and fall to her knees. The monster then grabbed her by the throat and started to life her above the ground.

The Doctor however used this opportunity whilst it was distracted, to ram the monster with his entire body. Catching it off guard, the Doctor not only caused it to drop Dana, but also managed to send it tumbling a few feet backwards and off the edge of the cliff. The Doctor himself almost went with it, but he stopped himself at the edge of the cliff with his hands. He couldn’t see what lay at the bottom, or where the monster had fallen too as the fog concealed it, but they were up very high; possibly at the very top of the mountain.

The Doctor took a minute to get his breath back. He was so weak from the beating he felt like passing out.

“Why did you interrupt. I could have taken beaten him in a few minutes” the Doctor joked. “I’d have drowned him in my own blood.”

The Doctor coughed whilst Dana got a good look at his wounds.

“You need to rest Doctor. You’re in no fit state to go anywhere after that.”

“Nonsense Dana, I’ve been through worse in my time. I just need a minute or two to catch my breath. Besides on this planet it looks like you can’t afford to stay in one place too long.”

After a minute or too the Doctor was back on his feet, though he still needed some help from Dana to walk at first. The two time travellers walked through the foggy path ahead. They could barely see anything and frequently stumbled over rocks, or possibly something else. After a few minutes the Doctor and Dana came across what looked like two gigantic steel doors. The Doctor got out his sonic screwdriver, but as he got closer he could see that the door was already open. Its lock appeared to have been ripped off. The Doctor tried to pull the door open, but the doors were so thick he needed help.

Inside there was a long corridor lined with corpses of scientists and strange alien creatures. Some were similar to the two monsters they had seen in the cave, but others were unlike anything even the Doctor had seen before.

“I’m going to rate this as one of my least favourite planets we’ve visited” Dana said as she shook her head.

“Yes I don’t think I’ll be visiting here as often as your world.”

They tip toed over the corpses and got further down the corridor. There were several doors on either side of the corridor, but they all led to small rooms that were similarly littered with corpses. The scientists bodies were all mangled beyond recognition whilst the creatures bodies were preserved which intrigued the Doctor.

The Doctor recognised a symbol on the nearest wall. He had to rack through his memory for a bit, but then it hit him.

“Of course, we’re in the galactic research facility of Paskelia 5.” The Doctor exclaimed.

“Where?”

“Ah yes I should explain. I have been here before. It was a while ago though. Probably several of your lifetimes. This centre was the ultimate symbol of peace in the Marisha Galaxy, a galaxy trillions of light years from yours. The Marisha Galaxy was wracked by a galactic war, which destroyed billions of worlds. Eventually however, the last few surviving species called a truce. They then built this facility here, where the greatest minds from all of the races would work together for the good of the galaxy.”

“You say you’ve been here before.”

“Yes I was for a brief time a member of the team during the early days when they were helping worlds ravaged by the war. I didn’t stay here long.”

“Why am I not surprised” Dana said with a smile.

“Yes well you know me. To be honest the facility didn’t even really need me. They made incredible breakthroughs. They built a war ravaged galaxy up to a great and unified power in less than a century.” The Doctor started to trail off. He couldn’t help but rattle through all of the great experiments he had been lucky enough to witness or be a part of.

“They made sure that no race in this part of the galaxy went hungry ever again through advancements in cloning. They were able to clone several hundred tons of meat from the single cell of an animal. It was genius. Enough meat for everyone, and no animals had to die in the process. They also found a way to strengthen the immune system of so many different species, you see”

“Eh thank you Doctor” Dana said before he could launch into a lecture that would have probably gone on for hours. “Whatever good these people were responsible for, clearly this place has sadly changed since you were last here.”

“You’re not saying you think they created these monsters? I’ve not been away that long that they would go from fixing the problems of the galaxy to creating those abominations.”

“Well do you think they were invaders then? Here to gain access to the secrets of this place?”

“Possibly, but even then it doesn’t seem likely. This place is guarded by the full force of this entire galaxy. No something else has happened here. I don’t know what but I’m going to find out.”

Dana suddenly started to feel faint and nearly fell to the floor, but the Doctor was able to catch her in time.

“Dana what’s wrong?”

“I, I, I’m okay Doctor, I think I was just feeling a bit faint after everything that’s happened. Thank you.”

The Doctor gave her a concerned look, before Dana reassured him that she was fine again.

The Doctor and Dana searched through the corpse laden corridors, and explored each room they came across for another half hour or so finding nothing of interest. In each room were remains of experiments as well as the people who worked on them, both completely unrecognisable from what they once were.

Finally Dana stumbled upon what looked like a security room complete with monitors of the various floors. Most of the monitors were out however, but Dana could see on one of the screens, what looked like two people, a man and a woman, trapped in a small room. They were both wearing the same uniform as the unfortunate soul in the cave who had been torn apart by the grey creatures. The man was pointing a gun at the door, whilst the woman appeared to be frantically calling for help on a communicator.

Dana called to the Doctor who was inspecting the corpse of a strange looking creature in the hall.

“Look those people are in danger. They’re on the second floor, we need to help them.”

The Doctor however simply stared at the monitor for a few seconds longer.

“Doctor! Come on we have to do something!”

“Oh I quite agree, its just that what can we do to help them? Whatever’s cornered them will probably tear us to pieces as soon as we get down there.”

“Well we can’t just leave them.”

“No, no you’re right, I’m just thinking about what will be waiting for us down there” he said in a concerned tone. The Doctor ran out into the corridor to a corpse wearing the same uniform as the people trapped on the second floor. Beside the corpse was a strange, rifle like weapon. The Doctor picked it up and checked to see if it was working.

“Ah good it still has power in it. Of course I’d rather not use this” he said with contempt.  “Still if we have too, its best to be prepared.”

The two time travellers made their way to the nearest lift, which despite the desolate state of the place, still had power in it.

When they reached the second floor they found it littered with corpses just like the first floor.

The Doctor and Dana headed down the long corridor, with no signs of any creature. There were a few doors on either side and the Doctor and Dana briefly checked each room, but again they found nothing.

At the end of the corridor, they found two massive steel doors with deep scratch and bite marks all over them.

As the Doctor examined the doors he felt a drop of slime fall on his shoulder. Both he and Dana slowly looked up, only to see two hideous creatures clinging to the roof above them.

These monsters again looked different to any of the others the Doctor and Dana had encountered so far. They were white and covered in thick, black, hairy spots all over their bodies. They had 6 tiny bright red eyes all gathered into a little cluster on their foreheads, and a long green hair that stuck up on the top of their heads. They had three sets of teeth in each of their four mouths, one on the head, another in the chest, and two on the palms of their hands which both reached out for the Doctor and Dana. The back feet were nothing but long black, and flexible spikes that dug into the ceiling.

The two monsters jumped at the Doctor and his companion, but the Time Lord managed to dodge his and push Dana out of the way.

The Doctor pointed his weapon at the two monsters and told them to back down.

“We won’t hurt you, if you don’t hurt us, we just want to know what happened here.” He said firmly.

The monsters appeared to laugh at the Doctors words before lunging at him and Dana.

With no choice the Doctor opened fire on the both of them, and even though it created a small wound on both beasts, it ultimately did nothing to hurt or slow either monster down.

The monster knocked the gun out of the Doctors hand and then placed its hands on both of his shoulders. It sunk the teeth on its hands through his clothes and flesh, bringing the Doctor to his knees in pain. The monster then attempted to thrust one of its hands into the Doctors throat, but overcoming the agony he was in, the Time Lord managed to grab the beasts hand using both of his. He barely held it in place, mere centimetres from his throat.

Dana ran for the gun, but the other monster grabbed Dana in a bear hug, and started to bite her back with the teeth in its chest.

She struggled and struggled but the monsters strength was too great. The Doctor meanwhile was barely able to hold back the beasts hand, as its other hand bit deeper and deeper into his shoulder. In sheer desperation the Doctor bit into its arm. The monster was caught completely off guard and the Doctor was able to pull his shoulder free and punched the monster in the face, knocking it back slightly.

The Doctor then went for the other monster. Grabbing it from behind, he pulled the monster off of Dana before it could do any serious damage, though the beast quickly overpowered the Doctor. Dana however again grabbed the gun and fired several rounds into both monsters whilst the Doctor slipped away from them. The Doctor quickly grabbed the gun from Dana and pushed her behind him, whilst he started fiddling with the weapon.

“What are you doing”.

The two steel doors suddenly opened and the two survivors Dana had seen on the monitor emerged carrying similar weapons to the Doctor. They had been alerted by the sounds of the Doctor and Dana screaming in pain.

The monsters instantly turned their attention to the two newcomers, hissing and smiling with a sadistic, perverse delight.

The two survivors started shooting at the monsters, but their weapons didn’t hurt the beasts any more than the Doctors had. Before the creatures could attack the two survivors, the Doctor jumped one of the monsters from behind.

He placed his rifle around its neck and pulled it back, before throwing it several feet down the corridor. The other monster turned to fight the Doctor, but with a quick bit of Venusian Akido he managed to flip the monster over his shoulder and into the first monster, knocking it down.

The Doctor then quickly hurried his companion and the two strangers into the room behind the two steel doors. He then threw his rifle into one of the monsters hands, confusing it for a few seconds, which was all he needed to use his sonic screwdriver to shut the two steel doors.

“Get back right” the Doctor exclaimed just before a massive explosion on the other side of the steel doors knocked him 5 feet backwards and completely unconscious.

Dana rushed to the Doctors aid, and managed to wake him in just a few seconds. When he awoke, the Doctor instantly jumped to his feet and admired his own handy work.

“Ah good it worked.”

“What did?” Dana replied, completely puzzled.

“Simple, the gun wasn’t enough to hurt those brutes on its own, so I tampered with its power source. I caused it to overload which created a mini explosion, though I had to be sure I could get us a safe distance of course. I had no choice. They would have killed us. You understand.”

Whilst the Doctor and Dana were distracted, the male survivor hit the Doctor on the back of the head with the butt of his gun, knocking the Time Lord to the floor.

The female survivor meanwhile searched outside. The doors had been affected by the blast so severely that all she had to do was tap them and they fell backwards. The charred remains of the monsters were scattered all down the hall.

“Odd way to say thank you”. Dana sniped at the survivor.

“I don’t know who the hell you both are. You’re not researchers. As far as I’m concerned so how did you get into this top secret facility that few people even know exists!”

“Ah well, I am actually a former researcher here” the Doctor said confidently as he jumped up. “Though granted then I looked a lot different. Completely different in fact. Actually I looked so different you wouldn’t recognise me at all but I.

“SHUT UP” the male survivor shouted furiously as the female returned. “The blast took care of those creatures, though it won’t be long before more of them come. We need to get off this planet right now.” She said.

“How? We haven’t been able to contact the ship all night. I think they’ve left us.”

Thinking back to the ship he saw crash in the forest, the Doctor interrupted.

“You’re doing your ship mates a disservice. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but.”

“What are you saying?” the male survivor growled as he shoved his gun into the Doctors chest.

“The ship was destroyed. One of the creatures in the forest tore it apart.” The female survivor became visibly upset. Tears began to appear in her eyes, though she tried to cover it up. The male survivor turned to her for a second to see if she was okay, but a second was all the Doctor needed.

With lightening speed he kicked the gun out of the male survivors hands, whilst Dana  started wrestling with the female survivor.

The male survivor tried to fight the Doctor, but the Doctor easily brought him down with a quick punch to the gut and then another to the jaw.

Dana meanwhile managed to overpower the female survivor and get her into an arm lock, whilst the Doctor picked up the gun he had kicked out of the male survivors hands and pointed it at both of them. Dana released the female survivor.

“I’m sorry about that, but neither of us are here to hurt you. It might sound unbelievable, but I did work here, possibly centuries ago. Still we’re here by chance and whatever is going on, we want to help.”

The survivors didn’t believe either of them.

“You’re just trying to trick us,” the male survivor sneered at the Doctor. You’re lying about the ship too. You’re trying to break us, make us think there’s no escape from your monsters.”

“You moron” the Doctor said losing his patience. “Why did I just blow them up. I could shoot you now, and I am sorry but I am not lying. I saw a ship get destroyed by one of those monsters. It was gigantic.”

“You want information out of us, so you’re trying to trick us, its not going to work, the male survivor protested.

The female however actually started to believe the Doctor.

“Come on Sleera” she said “He just saved our lives. Also look at how those creatures have attacked us. Not once have they wanted to know who we are, or where we came from. Why would they? We’re defenceless against them. They laugh at our attempts to fight back. If he wanted to kill us, we’d be dead.”

Sleera considered this for a while and then agreed reluctantly with her.

“Thank you young lady.” The Doctor said proudly. May I ask your name?

She frowned. “I still don’t trust you, but we don’t have a choice”

“That’s a good way of looking at it. Remember we can’t trust you either.” Dana said sharply.

“Well” the Doctor interrupted “whatever the case I’d like to know what you are doing here and if there is anything I can do to help.”

The female survivor paused for a few minutes. She still wasn’t sure if she could trust these two strangers, but after a short while she started talking.

“My name is Laragesh. I am part of a rescue mission that was sent to the centre of Paskelia 5 after it was cut off from the governments of the other worlds. Our security force was decimated by the planets edge and so we were sent in. There were over 700 of us sent on the mission. Now as far as I know we are the only two left.”

Where did all of these creatures come from? What are they? The Doctor said more out of curiosity than anything else.

Laragesh continued, somewhat angry at the Doctors lack of concern for her team mates. “We don’t know. Our first guess was that they must have been created here, but we searched through the labs and notes and didn’t find anything to suggest the creation of these monsters. This facility as always seemed to be working towards the benefit of our galaxy, though there was one area.”

“Yes”

“There was a room at the very bottom of the facility. There’s no way any of us could get there however. Its swarming with hundreds of these monsters. I’d very much doubt that’s where they’re being made though. You couldn’t cram two whole armies worth of hundreds of different types of monsters into one tiny little room.

“Well” the Doctor interrupted. “Just because something is small, doesn’t mean it can’t contain something immense on the inside.”

Dana meanwhile was more interested in something else Laragesh had said.

“What do you mean” she said with concern. “two armies?”

“The first wave of monsters were killed before we got here. We don’t know how, but it seems the last of the scientists to be slaughtered managed to find a weapon of some kind that killed them all instantly. Perhaps it was some kind of poison or something, but we didn’t detect any toxins in the air. The second wave came whilst we were investigating the base.”

The Doctor thought about this as he searched around the room for any clues. “I still say the secret lies in the lab at the bottom of this facility. We have to get there, monsters or no monsters. I don’t think for one second that the fine people here would create these monsters to harm the galaxy, but well, sometimes science can be a gamble, lets just say that.”

The Doctor picked up Laragesh’s communicator that she had dropped in frustration earlier.

“Let me see” the Doctor said as he tinkered with the device.

“Its broken” Sleera said disparagingly. “One of the monsters batted it out of my hand. I managed to pick it up again, but it couldn’t pick anything up. Or maybe there wasn’t anything to pick up.”

“Ah there” the Doctor exclaimed somewhat smugly. “Fixed it, the speaker had been disjointed but I managed to pop it back in place.”

The Time Lord gave Sleera a smug look before adjusting the machine. There were a few more minutes of static before a voice came through.

“Hello, do you read me. Please someone, help us.”

“Hello this is Sleera” he said as he snatched the communicator off of the Doctor, who turned to Dana and said “Well that’s just rude as well as ungrateful.”

“Please tell us where you are?”

“We’re on the 8th floor, we managed to get away from it, but be careful” the machine suddenly cut off.

“Well looks like we’re headed to the 8th floor” the Doctor said with regret.

Sleera however hesitated for a moment. “I’m, I’m not sure” he said nervously.

“SLEERA” Laragesh said in disbelief.

“I’m not afraid, but I honestly don’t see what we can do to help them. You saw what happened to our platoon. I think we need to get out of here.”

“Where to?” the Doctor interrupted.

“I told you your ship was destroyed. You’re only way off is my vessel, and the only chance you have of getting to it, is if there are as many of us as possible.”

“Who are you anyway? Why are we even listening to you, you’re an intruder here.”

“Oh lets not go through that again, look I’m going to go and help you’re friends down there, you can either join us, or stay up here alone and be easy to pick off. Well?”

Knowing there was no way he could convince Laragesh, and not wanting to be alone if any more of those monsters returned, Sleera reluctantly agreed and the four unwilling companions descended to the 8th floor.

The 8th floor was the largest yet. It was a massive lab containing huge machines, all of which had been broken. Surprisingly however there were far fewer corpses here. There was a massive window at the end of the room which had been smashed open. Outside the forest the Doctor and Dana had arrived in could be seen. It appeared to be all there was outside the mountain. There were certainly no other signs of civilisation.

The foursome searched the room for any signs of life and at the far side Doctor saw a small steel door that had been sealed shut. At the back of the room meanwhile was another door that appeared to be ripped off of its hinges.

The Doctor tried to open the steel door with his sonic screwdriver, whilst Laragesh and Sleera inspected the other room.

Suddenly the room began to shake. Dana who had been inspecting one of the corpses looked up and saw the same giant monster that had pursued her and the Doctor in the forest earlier. It had climbed up the entire mountain to get to the facility!

The Doctor hadn’t noticed it. He was too busy trying to crack the lock that he hadn’t even taken much notice of the tremor.

The monster was fixated on the Doctor who was closer to it. Dana tried to shout to the Doctor, but it was too late. Before she could even open her mouth, the monsters arm reached in for the Time Lord. The Doctor fortunately managed to dodge it in time, but as he tried to run towards Dana, the beast managed to knock him to the floor. It then grabbed hold of his leg and started to slowly pull the Doctor towards it.

Dana ran to the Doctor and tried to pull him free but it was no use. She screamed at Sleera and Laragesh for help. The two ran back into the room and first tried shooting at the monster which accomplished nothing, and then tried to pull the Doctor free from its grip.

Sadly however their combined strength was no match for the beast. The Doctor could see a sadistic smile appear on the giants face. It knew there was nothing the Doctor could do to escape it and it was enjoying every second.

To be continued

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Moonbase Review

Related image

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

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

Plot

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trivia

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tenth Planet Review

Image result for tenth planet

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

Plot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for tenth planet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Influences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes and Trivia

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