Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Story 30 - The Power of the Daleks

In which Ben and Polly find themselves confronted by a possible imposter in the TARDIS. The Doctor, suffering from some mental confusion and memory loss, claims that he has been "renewed". He has developed a penchant for stove-pipe hats and the recorder.
The ship materialises on the planet Vulcan - home to a colony from Earth. In the mercury swamps, the Doctor encounters a man who is suddenly shot dead. His badge shows him to have been an Examiner from Earth. A security team, led by Bragen, takes the travellers into the colony. As he has the badge, the Doctor is assumed to be the Examiner - who was invited here by Deputy Governor Quinn. There is mounting disquiet in the colony, and he fears a revolt against Governor Hensell. The Doctor discovers that scientist Lesterson has found a crashed space capsule in the swamps, and it is now housed in his laboratory. The Doctor recognises the design. That night, he, Ben and Polly go to the lab and enter the capsule. Inside are two inert Daleks - and an active Dalek mutant.

Lesterson has removed a third Dalek which he is trying to reactivate. He believes it to be purely robotic - and a potential labour force for the colony. His assistant, Janley, is a leading member of the rebel group plotting revolution, and she sees the Daleks as possible weapons for their movement. The Doctor's warnings that the Daleks represent a threat are not heeded. The Dalek pretends to be friendly and offers to help the colonists. It offers to build for them new and more efficient meteorite protection.
The rebels, whose leader is unknown, abduct first Polly then Ben. Quinn is arrested by Bragen  - accused of sabotaging the communications system and the murder of the Examiner, whose body has now turned up. He finds himself accused of being the rebel leader.

The Daleks, totally trusted, take the resources they are given to set up a production line to create more of their number. Lesterson is almost driven insane when he discovers this. The rebels launch their attack. They try to use the Daleks - but find them working against all the humans. Hensell and Janley are amongst those killed, as the Daleks exterminate everyone who crosses their path. Bragen is unmasked as the rebel leader. The Doctor uses the Dalek power source against them - creating an overload which destroys them all. Bragen is shot dead by one of his own followers, Valmar. Quinn takes over the leadership of the survivors of the colony.

This six part adventure was written by David Whitaker and broadcast between 5th November and 10th December, 1966. The scripts were actually given a final polish by Dennis Spooner, uncredited. Sadly, the story no longer exists in the archives though the soundtrack is available. There are a few brief clips as well as some off-screen cine-film which fortunately covers some of the new Doctor's first moments.
The story is significant chiefly for the first appearance of Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor, and the programme's first proper glimpse of the insides of the Daleks.
Troughton has yet to work out who his Doctor is going to be. There is a hard edge to him - the gentle humour still some way off. With Ben and Polly captured and off screen for an episode apiece (Craze and Wills having holiday weeks), the new Doctor has to carry much of the story.
He has been "renewed" - helped by the TARDIS. He speaks about himself as "he" and at one point sees the First Doctor looking back at him from a mirror. His clothes are different, though based on his predecessor's. I assume we are supposed to think he is a smaller man in the same costume, now too big for him. His ring no longer fits either, and - despite its attributes - he simply dispenses with it. As well as his new-found love for the hat and recorder, he also starts referring to a 500 year diary. His memory has been affected by the change but he recognises the Dalek capsule as having something to do with a piece of metal he has in his pocket - a piece of Dalek lock.

Principal guest actors are Robert James as Lesterson, and Bernard Archard as Bragen. James will return as Hieronymous' chief priest in The Masque of Mandragora, and Archard will play Marcus Scarman in The Pyramids of Mars. James, in particular, gives a wonderful performance as an obstinate scientist whose reason begins to crumble when his certainties are challenged and he realises he has been duped.
Other performances of note are Peter Bathurst as Hensell (he'll return as Chinn in The Claws of Axos), Pamela Ann Davey as Janley, Richard Kane as Valmar and Nicholas Hawtrey as Quinn.
The Daleks are very well served in this tale - making it one of their strongest appearances. In many ways, Whitaker knew his creations better than Terry Nation and realised what worked best for them. In this, they start off devious and sly, infiltrating the minds of key colonists and then the colony itself. A soon as they are strong enough, they emerge from their capsule in huge numbers and begin to kill everyone - rebel and loyalist alike.
Episode endings for this story are:

  1. The Doctor and his companions have found their way into a hidden compartment in the capsule and found two deactivated Daleks. Behind them, a Dalek mutant slides under a panel.
  2. The Doctor is trying to warn the colonists but he is drowned out by the Dalek which proclaims "I am your servant..." over and over.
  3. Lesterson is concerned that the Daleks seem overly pleased to be given a power source...
  4. Dozens of new Daleks roll off a production line as a horrified Lesterson looks on.
  5. "Daleks conquer and destroy. Daleks conquer and destroy". Repeat. 
  6. As the TARDIS dematerialises, a wrecked Dalek's eye-stalk feebly rises up...

Overall, a very strong start for the new Doctor. He's not quite the Second Doctor we will come to know and love, having a few abrasive edges. Possibly the best Dalek story ever.
Things you might like to know:
  • Patrick Troughton was working in Ireland on a Hammer historical film - The Viking Queen - when approached by the BBC to take over from William Hartnell. He was initially reluctant - never liking to remain in one part for too long. He also preferred character parts to leading roles. However, his sons' education needed paying for and it was going to be regular work, so he agreed to take the part.
  • Despite the fact he has just regenerated, the Daleks recognise the Doctor - so this incarnation will meet them at some point prior to this in their history. The year for this story is often given as 2020, but never on screen. It comes from a TV trailer.
  • The exterior of the Dalek capsule is clearly seen on screen, yet its interior is far bigger - so dimensionally transcendental like their time machines.
  • Amongst the bric-a-brac of the TARDIS, the Doctor finds Saladin's dagger (reference to The Crusade) and he mentions having met Marco Polo, as little continuity reminders.
  • David Whitaker had already written about a planet Vulcan in 1964's The Dalek Book. He placed it within the Solar System. 19th Century astronomers thought there was a planet Vulcan in close orbit to the sun, to explain the movement of Mercury.
  • Doctor Who gets a planet Vulcan some months before Star Trek's rather more famous one.
  • This story heavily influenced Mark Gatiss when he came to create the Dalek Ironsides for The Victory of the Daleks. He even uses some of their lines. "I am your servant" becomes "I am your soldier"; "Would you like more liquid?" becomes "Would you like a cup of tea?"; and the line "We are the new race of Daleks" appears in both stories.
  • The Hyde Fundraisers have been working on a re-imagined version of this tale. You can see the first part here:

Happy Hall-Who-een...

For me, Halloween is about the spooky and the creepy - rather than the monstrous and alien. The fear quotient has certainly risen since the series returned in 2005, thanks not only to the calibre of writing, but also the quality of cinematography and lighting. Here are ten spookily atmospheric moments which particularly stand out.

1. The Unquiet Dead.

Lots of ghostly goings-on in only the third story since the programme's return. A particular highlight is the pre-credit sequence when we see the newly reanimated Mrs. Peace stumble towards the camera, bathed in a ghostly aura. Charles Dickens and ghosts go hand in hand. Dickens with flying sharks, not quite.

2. The Empty Child.

Kids have always been extremely creepy when utilised in ghost stories (just watch The Devil's Backbone or the BBC's 1970's adaptation of M.R. James' Lost Hearts). Moffat's first contribution to the new show gives us the gas-masked "Empty Child". We first see him at a distance on a roof at night-time. The visual is spooky, but the added vocal adds so much more to the effect.

3. Tooth and Claw.

It's not the Werewolf that's scariest in this - it's the Host in cellar of the earlier scenes, before the Moon comes out, that I find spookiest and disconcerting. Black eyes and whispery voices do it every time.

4. The Shakespeare Code.

You can't have Halloween without witches, and this story gives us three - including one on a broomstick. The story is more of a romp, so they could have been handled in a more scary way.

5. Blink.

One of the scariest Doctor Who stories ever. The Angels are at their best in the environs of an old abandoned house. Lots of very creepy moments in their debut tale. We associate angel statues primarily with graveyards, so they're scary before they even start doing anything.

6. Midnight.

Scripting, a claustrophobic set, and exceptional cinematography all combine to make another extremely scary story. Plus the amazing performance by Lesley Sharp as the possessed Sky Sylvestry. A very disquieting tale with loads of spooky atmosphere.

7. Day of the Moon.

Because of their skeletal appearance, the Silents are a very creepy creation. Put them in an abandoned building and they are in their element. They're nowhere near as effective in other contexts.

8. Night Terrors.

A whole story based on childhood fears and nightmares. The Peg Dolls are at their most effective when just glimpsed or heard - their voices a corruption of children's laughter. One of them sidled up to me at the Convention earlier this year. Despite being surrounded by people and knowing it was an extra inside, the heart still raced a bit...

9. Asylum of the Daleks.

I'm thinking specifically about the reanimated corpses of the spaceship crew. I'm really surprised they didn't get into trouble over this being shown at a relatively early hour. Scared the hell out of me.

10. The Angels Take Manhattan.

Not the Angels themselves, though they always look best in creepy old buildings. The Cherubs are the things which stand out in this for me - especially that sequence with Rory trapped in the basement. Again, it is the subversion of a child - or childlike being - which disconcerts.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Chronology of the Cybermen

What better way to mark the 46th anniversary of the Cybermen (episode 4 of The Tenth Planet was broadcast on 29th October 1966), and to mark this blog reaching that self-same story in its on-going review of the classic series, than for me to proffer some thoughts on Cyber-Chronology.
Back in the earliest days of Tardis-Musings I posted on the "Continuity of the Daleks" (which I'm pleased to say has been my most popular post to date). Then, I ignored the new series as the post-Time War Daleks have a chronology all of their own. I acknowledged the complications of time travel and the discontinuities that ever-changing production teams inevitably bring. It is not that much different with the Cybermen...
As of Attack of the Cybermen, the metal monsters did not have access to time travel (they had to steal someone else's time capsule - and the Sixth Doctor blew that up). Earlier stories - and subsequent ones - certainly imply access to some kind of time travel ability - until you consider the Cybermen's assertion that they met the Doctor on Planet 14 (The Invasion). I have a theory about this, which I will come to shortly.

Our first sight of the Cybermen is in The Tenth Planet. That story is clearly set in December, 1986, as we get a view of a calendar in Snowcap Base. Their origins are stated - they are the inhabitants of Earth's long-lost sister planet, Mondas, which was thrown out of the Solar System thousands of years ago. They became the creatures they are due to the need to survive their peripatetic wanderings through space.
They are quite primitive beings - with cumbersome cybernetic additions and recognisably human parts.
How could more advanced Cybermen be around in London (and other cities) in the 1960's (or 1970's - depending on your views about the UNIT dating conundrum) and pre-Roman Colchester? Time travel - or something else?

A much more advanced - technologically - force of Cybermen attack Earth via the weather control station on the Moon in the Spring of 2070 (The Moonbase). There is no mention of why there are Cybermen around when they were all seen to be destroyed in the previous story. Hobson acknowledges that there used to be Cybermen, but they were all wiped out ages ago - reference to The Tenth Planet - or to stories as yet unmade at this point? The Cybermen are sent flying into space - so not necessarily destroyed (unless that comet-like thing Polly notices is them - in which case it looks as if they're headed for the Sun).

Sometime later - perhaps during the 22nd Century - some archaeologists visit the planet of Telos. We discover that the Cybermen are entombed here. They haven't been seen for a long time and are assumed to have died out. Of course, they are just "resting" - awaiting a fresh infusion of new bodies to augment and make like themselves. Apart from their footwear, they're pretty much the same design as those seen in the previous story. It is implied that the original Cybermen from Mondas colonised this planet - explaining where The Moonbase ones might have come from. They are refrozen in their tombs - but not destroyed.

So far, so chronological. Their next appearance is in The Wheel In Space. They are of more advanced design (more streamlined bodies) but Zoe clearly states that she comes from the period around the year 2000 - so before The Moonbase. Despite the more advanced appearance there is no indication of time travel - so might they have come from somewhere else? There is only one spaceship in evidence - and that gets blown up by the Wheel's X-Ray laser (augmented by the TARDIS Time Vector Generator).

Soon after, we get The Invasion. Irrespective of the UNIT dating issue, this story either takes place in the 60's or 70's. Mondas, with its very primitive Cybermen, doesn't show up until 1986. Time travel - or from somewhere else? The Cyber-Director states that the Doctor is known to them from Planet 14. An unseen adventure? The Sixth Doctor DWM comic strip The World Shapers posits this to be Marinus. I say it is simply Telos. Here's where you get to hear my Planet 14 theory - and I think it is an obvious one.
The Cybermen are creatures of pure logic. They're not going to give planets nice, interesting names. They would simply number them. I contend that Planet 14 is the 14th planet they have colonised. There are at least 13 other Cyber-worlds - and it's from them that some of the different Cybermen we have seen hail from - hence the different degrees of technological advancement. Different Cybermen on different worlds have evolved in their own ways. The Invasion ones are able to launch an attack on Earth whilst their more primitive forebears are still swanning around the galaxy. Cybermen from different colonies know of each other through some sort of collective memory / control function.
It is suggested that the head of one of these Cybermen found its way into Van Statten's museum in Dalek - though the design is actually from the next story - set centuries after 2011.

Similar Cybermen appear next in Revenge of the Cybermen. This is set circa 2875 (worked out by Paul Cornell, Keith Topping & Martin Day in their Dis-Continuity Guide - so don't blame me). There has been a great Cyber-War - which came to an end with the discovery of their susceptibility to gold.

The roots of that war appear to form the backdrop to events in Earthshock. An alliance against the Cybermen is being put together in the year 2526. This no doubt involves the Draconians as well as Earth.
It is Cybermen from this period who are snatched up by the Dark Tower's Time Scoop (The Five Doctors).

Around this time, the Cybermen on Telos have dispensed with lurking and have managed to get hold of someone else's time capsule - to enable them to go back to 1985, divert Halley's Comet to devastate the Earth, and so prevent Mondas from being destroyed when it turns up a year or so later. Despite a slavery to logic, the Cybermen do have an unfortunate tendency towards over-thinking problems. The Doctor prevents them using their captured time technology further and blows up their tombs, control centre - and their Controller (shooting him first for good measure).

Another group of Cybermen turn up in 1988 Windsor, intent on seizing the Nemesis statue - made of the Gallifreyan living metal, validium. These may be Telos Cybermen, who have used the time technology before the Sixth Doctor destroyed it - or they have come from another colony world.

In other news, 2007 sees an entirely parallel development of Cybermen, created by John Lumic of Cybus Industries, on another Earth. These Cybermen will escape that world, cross the Void and attack our Earth later the same year. Sucked back into the Void, where space and time have no meaning, a small group will escape - turning up in Victorian London. The Tenth Doctor throws them back into the Void - along with their Cyber-King - and this event will be one of those that doesn't survive the Eleventh Doctor's rebooting of the Universe. Nor does their attack via Torchwood Tower in 2007 - as neither Amy nor Van Statten remember Daleks. The parallel Cybus Cybermen are the ones who participate in the Pandorica Alliance, but ultimately this version is merely a Cyber-cul-de-sac. We can only assume that the fact they are around Stonehenge in the Roman era is down to time travel technology - but borrowed from other members of the Alliance, probably the Daleks.

Our Universe Cybermen finally reappear in the form of the 12th Cyberfleet in A Good Man Goes To War. They are of much more advanced appearance than anything we have seen before - implying they hail from a time long after the Earthshock to Silver Nemesis ones. The technology on show available to humans also suggests we are in the far future, beyond any of the previous Cyber-tales. (River Song chronology is all over the place, of course - thanks to her Vortex Manipulator).

And finally we get to Closing Time. These are not Cybus Cybermen. For a spaceship to be buried under a Colchester department store, it must have crashed there before the Romans founded the city - more likely in prehistoric times. There is no way that Mondas Cybermen - even those evolving on a colony world - could develop that early - so pretty much proof positive that the Cybermen from the far future do finally have some kind of time travel capability.
So here goes my Cyber-chronology:

  • 65 Million years ago (give or take a day or two) - the Cybermen, hurtling back from the 26th Century, accidentally wipe out the dinosaurs and help give rise to Mankind.
  • Prehistory - a spaceship from the far future crash-lands in primitive Essex. 
  • 102 AD - parallel world Cybermen travel back from the future with the Pandorica Alliance. At least one of them has been set as guard before this, but it has been trounced by a local Iron Age warrior.
  • 1851 - parallel Cybermen pop randomly out of the Void and build a Cyber-King. Event deleted.
  • 1960's / 70's - Cybermen from a colony world try to invade Earth thanks to Tobias Vaughn.
  • 1985 - future Cybermen from Telos try to attack the Earth using time travel - and convoluted Cyber-continuity.
  • 1986 - Mondas returns to the Solar System, only to be be destroyed.
  • 1988 - Cybermen from Telos or another colony world try to grab the Nemesis statue.
  • 2000 - Cybermen from a colony world launch an attack on Earth via the Wheel.
  • 2007 - Cybermen are created on a parallel Earth.
  • 2007 - parallel Cybermen emerge from the Void on our world. They battle Daleks. Event deleted.
  • 2070 - Cybermen from another colony (possibly Telos) attack the Earth via the weather station on the Moon.
  • The Cybermen vanish from the galaxy.
  • 22nd Century - Earth archaeologists visit Telos.
  • The Cybermen re-emerge and start terrorising the galaxy.
  • 2526 - an alliance is formed on Earth against the Cybermen. They try to wreck it - only to travel back in time and wipe out the dinosaurs - along with poor old Adric.
  • Telos is back in business and the Controller plans to avert the destruction of Mondas. The colonial Cybermen aren't doing very well - and think that the survival of their ancestors may add to their development in some way.
  • Cyber-war and creation of the "Glitter Gun". The development of a Cyberleader class - denoted by black head markings. Cybermen defeated.
  • 2875 - A lone Cyber-ship contingent determines to ignore the emotion of "revenge" and destroy all that's left of Voga.
  • Far future - the Cybermen have finally consolidated their power and have at least 12 fleets, controlling huge sectors of space. They have time travel technology, but one of their ships crashes in prehistoric Essex. Rory kicks the backside of the 12th Cyberfleet. That's love for you - not that a Cyberman would ever understand...

Sunday, 28 October 2012

That Was The Week That Was 28.10.12

It has been announced that this years's BBC Children In Need will feature a specially filmed sequence as well as a trailer for the Christmas Special. The sequence has been reported in various places as a prequel - but the wording on the official BBC statement doesn't actually say this. The annual charity event takes place on Friday 16th November. You may recall that last year Matt Smith stripped off and auctioned his costume.

Many happy returns to Matt - as today is his birthday. He was born on 28th October 1982 - so that means the big 3-O. On Friday he attended the MCMExpo London ComicCon, where he celebrated early with a bit of TARDIS cake.

Ashley Walters may have given us the title for his episode next year. Stephen Thompson's story is, at least provisionally, called "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS". Of course, no titles are set in stone and can change up to the last minute (The Power of Three was still "Cubed" a couple of weeks before Series 7 Part 1 commenced.
Matt Smith gave away part of the same title earlier, and Walters has said that we would be seeing a lot more of the ship - so whatever it ends up being called, the TARDIS seems to feature prominently.

Monday saw the release of the Special Edition of Claws of Axos. The picture quality is a huge improvement and there is a very good documentary attached. The highlight is without doubt the piece on John Levene, where Toby Hadoke spends a weekend in Salisbury with the man himself. It is a fascinating piece and we learn a great deal about the actor who was - and in many ways still is - Sergeant Benton. Worth buying the release just for this.

Things to look forward to this coming week are the first episode of RTD's new children's adventure series, Wizards vs Aliens (Monday CBBC 5.15pm). The Series 7 Part 1 DVD is released the same day.
Thursday 1st November sees the return of the short-lived Doctor Who Insider magazine. This was intended for the US market but ran out of steam after 9 monthly issues. Having it on sale in the UK from issue 5 didn't help. The new issue is advertised as a Winter Special - suggesting it may get a quarterly release rather than return as a monthly publication.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Story 29 - The Tenth Planet

In which the TARDIS materialises near the South Pole in December, 1986. The Doctor and his companions go outside to explore - unaware that they have landed above an underground space tracking station called Snowcap. The commander, General Cutler, has them brought inside. His main concern at the moment is the safe return of the Zeus IV space mission. The capsule is off course - the reason for which is the arrival of a new planet in the Solar System. The Doctor knows what this is and predicts imminent arrivals from this Tenth Planet. Initial images show a familiar pattern of oceans and continents - those of Earth - but inverted. The Doctor had also predicted this.

The base is soon taken over by Cybermen, who have travelled from the new planet - which they identify as Mondas. This is the Earth's long lost twin, which was thrown out of the Solar System thousands of years ago. The people of Mondas replaced organs and limbs of flesh and blood with those of metal and plastic in order to survive their wandering through space. Emotions were eradicated as weaknesses. They have now piloted the planet back to Earth. Their intention is to absorb the Earth's energy. The population will be invited to become like them - or be eliminated. Ben destroys one the Cybermen and steals its gun. He gives it to Cutler, who uses it to destroy the others. The Zeus IV is destroyed, but a second capsule is launched to investigate the new planet. Onboard is Cutler's son. Cracking under the pressure, and now with his son at risk, the General decides to deploy the awesome Z-Bomb against Mondas. This may cause devastation on Earth as well.

The Cybermen attack in force and land all over the Earth. Ben sabotages the Z-Bomb. The Cybermen recapture the base and Cutler is killed. The Doctor, whose health seems to be deteriorating rapidly, and Polly are held captive in a Cyberman spaceship. The Cybermen prove susceptible to radiation and fuel rods from the base reactor destroy several. The Doctor had earlier cautioned that no-one should take any action against Mondas. The planet begins to absorb too much energy and starts to break up. With their power source not yet transported to Earth, the Cybermen collapse. They and Mondas are destroyed.
The Doctor hurries back to the TARDIS. He collapses onto the floor as Ben and Polly arrive. They are shocked to see his features blur and change into those of a complete stranger...

This four part adventure was written by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis (episodes 3 & 4), and was broadcast between 8th and 29th October, 1966. The fourth episode is infamously missing, though the regeneration sequence survives. There are some off screen cine-film sequences from the missing episode, and the soundtrack exists.
The Tenth Planet is significant for two things - the introduction of the Cybermen, and the first regeneration (though the term was never used at the time).
It is without doubt one of the smartest decisions ever made in television - to exploit the Doctor's alien nature and give him the ability to renew himself into another body when he grows old, sick or is seriously injured.
We have Innes Lloyd and Gerry Davis to thank for helping to keep the programme alive to this day.

In recognition of his failing health, William Hartnell is given a light workload in his final story. He is absent from episode 3 altogether - the Doctor having collapsed. It is not certain if his health is failing naturally or if he is being affected by the energy drain caused by Mondas. At one point he simply states that his old body is wearing a bit thin. It may be that he has prolonged this particular physical incarnation too long and regeneration is overdue. The TARDIS seems to play a role in the process.
Whilst Michael Craze carries the action (and gets some of Hartnell's lines in part 3), some of the Doctor role falls to Snowcap scientist Barclay - played by David Dodimead.
Principal guest star is Robert Beatty, a Canadian actor who played American parts in British TV and films from 1939 to 1987. He died in 1992. Beatty plays Cutler, a tough, no nonsense man who starts to lose his grip when confronted by a series of extraordinary events - including the almost certain death of his son.

The Cybermen are eerily effective. This particular design is seen in this story only. They have human hands - to remind us that they were once like us. The face is a blank skull-like cloth mask. When they speak, the actor holds his mouth open and Roy Skelton provides a curious sing-song voice, like a computer tape speeding up and slowing down. The iconic handlebar headpieces, and the accordion-like chest units, which fulfil heart and lung functions, are quite crude and cumbersome additions.
Kit Pedler got the idea for the Cybermen from his concerns about spare parts surgery. What if someone took the process too far and replaced everything. At what point might you no longer be considered human.
The Cybermen have replaced emotion with logic. They believe themselves more efficient than humans and superior. From their earliest appearance, they think everyone should want to be like them - and they are prepared to carry out the process against your will - as they know what is really best for you. Simple logic.
Episode endings for this story are:

  1. Two soldiers are sent to investigate the TARDIS. The Cybermen attack and kill them. We see a human hand turn one of the bodies over, but when we see the face it is a blank mask.
  2. The Snowcap radar operator announces that a huge fleet of spaceships is heading for Earth.
  3. The Z-Bomb is about to launch. Ben had earlier tried to sabotage it, and isn't sure if he has done enough. The rockets fire...
  4. The Doctor is lying on the floor of the TARDIS when Ben and Polly arrive - and they see him change his appearance...

Overall, the first of the base under siege tales, which I happen to like. The Cybermen get off to a great start. A lot of their potential will be squandered by subsequent writers and production teams - even unto their most recent appearance. He may have little to do, but Hartnell has some fine moments in the first two episodes. A complete Part 4 is, beyond doubt, the Holy Grail of Doctor Who.
Things you might like to know:
  • The caption roller writer on this story has a bad day or two. We have Kitt Pedler, Gerry Davies, and music by Byron Grainer.
  • Gerry Davis had to rewrite episode 3 at the last moment as Hartnell fell ill just before recording.
  • Michael Craze had sustained an injury to his nose shortly before filming. When he got a bit of polystyrene snow up his hooter - thrown by production assistant Edwina Verner - it aggravated the injury. Craze did not bear a grudge. Readers, he married her.
  • Though seen in the closing seconds, Patrick Troughton does not get a credit. Peter Davison is the first Doctor to get a credit at the end of his predecessor's final story.
  • The Big Finish audio Spare Parts forms a prequel to The Tenth Planet. It gives an explanation for Mondas leaving the Solar System. Events of this story are heavily referenced in Attack of the Cybermen.
  • In 1990 a Mr Roger Barrett claimed to have a copy of episode 4. The BBC prepared for a VHS release. They hedged their bets by getting Michael Craze to record two introductions - one with the episode still missing and one with it found. It transpired that Mr Barrett didn't exist - nor, sadly, did the episode.
  • On leaving the programme, despite health concerns, Hartnell did not go into retirement. He went straight into a rather disastrous pantomime of Puss In Boots. He had hoped to be the Doctor in this but the BBC refused permission. He appeared instead as a cobbler - but did wear the Doctor's ring. He made three TV appearances, including an episode of the popular BBC police series Softly, Softly: Taskforce. His last TV appearance, before coming back for The Three Doctors, was in 1970. William Hartnell passed away at his home in Kent on 23rd April, 1975. If you want to know more about Bill, check out the biography Whose There, written by his granddaughter Judith Carney.

Assimilation Squared Issue 6

My copy arrived this morning. Naturally, don't read further if you are still waiting for yours...

Things start to move forward as we approach the final two issues.
The TARDIS and Enterprise teams meet a group of Borg on a remote planetoid - Tau Lee. The Borg explain how their alliance with the Cybermen came to break down. Both sides started out with the understanding of how their technologies could complement each other and make them stronger and more efficient. However, each side didn't trust the other and were looking at ways to gain the upper hand. The Cybermen proved superior, when the Cyber-Controller found a way to access the Collective's Executive Routines in their Core Memory. It could basically shut down the Borgs' higher decision-making functions - rendering them inert. This group has only been left unaffected as it is part of a maintenance sub-routine.
The Borg use an assimilated Starfleet Captain as their envoy - an old friend of Riker's.
The Doctor formulates a plan of action, First of all, they will need a large amount of gold to use against the Cybermen. For this, they go back to the water planet from Issue 2 - Naia VII - which has large gold reserves.
The other part of the plan is to reinstate the Borgs' higher functioning. The Cyber-Controller has deleted everything - so a copy of their Core Memory must be obtained from the past, to effectively reboot them. The Doctor needs precise space-time co-ordinates for a known Borg Cube location - and he is given the details of the Battle of Wolf 359.
He, Amy and Rory travel in the TARDIS to the Borg Cube - where they encounter Locutus of Borg...

As of last issue, I thought things were moving very slowly. Whilst there is still a distinct lack of action - and Cybermen - things do now seem to be hotting up. Since the Cybermen returned in 2006, their susceptibility to gold has never featured. Seems it is still a weakness for the newer design.
Whilst ST:TNG episode Best of Both Worlds is again directly referenced, A Christmas Carol is also referenced with a mention of Sardick.
One on-going gripe of mine is the realisation of Rory. Some of the likenesses are superb - but you rarely see anyone who looks remotely like Arthur Darvill whenever Rory features.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Double O Eleven...

A British cultural icon, beloved across the globe, which has lasted for 50 years. Action and adventure, supervillains (one in particular who keeps getting killed but still comes back - played by several actors), and implausible gadgets. Ladies covered in gold...
An iconic swirling tunnel image after the pre-credit sequence. And that sublime music...
He's a loner, a maverick, who plays by his own rules.
Changing actors periodically to keep the franchise fresh and reinvigorated. One pour soul only getting a single outing, mind you. A Northern one, a Scottish one. Sometimes they come back after they have left.
The first one you saw is usually your favourite. Younger fans tend to favour whoever the latest one is.

Who am I talking about?...

To celebrate the release of Skyfall, the latest James Bond film, here's a look at Bond / Doctor Who crossovers.
Bond goes back to 1953, when Ian Fleming's first novel featuring the British secret service agent was published - Casino Royale. Fleming got the name from a book - "Birds of the West Indies" by the ornithologist James Bond. He was a "twitcher" himself, and had been involved with the the secret service in WWII.
However, the 50th anniversary relates to Bond in the cinema. It was in 1962 that Sean Connery brought the character to vivid life in Dr. No. A former male model and milkman from Edinburgh, he once appeared on stage with Barbara Wright actress, Jacqueline Hill. His son, Jason, appears as Jondar in Vengeance on Varos. Jason would go on to play Fleming in a 1990 drama.
Terry Nation was obviously a big Bond fan. As well as writing for the numerous ITC sub-Bonds, when he created the Space Security Service for Mission to the Unknown and The Daleks' Masterplan he gave them a "licence to kill".

Original story editor David Whitaker was also a fan, apparently, as he wrote a certain story called Enemy of the World for Patrick Troughton's Doctor, which is pure Bond. We have a supervillain - Salamander - who wants to take over the world, and has a weapon hidden in a secret underground base that can trigger earthquakes and volcanoes. It is a story that crosses continents and includes sequences involving chases with helicopters and hovercraft, plus trendy sixties heavies kitted out in their boss' particular choice of latex uniform.
Helicopter pilot Astrid is definitely a pseudo Pussy Galore.
The director is future producer Barry Letts, who has admitted that he was trying to do Bond - but on a shoestring budget.
A year or so later, Kevin Stoney most certainly has a touch of Bond villain about him when he plays Tobias Vaughn in The Invasion, but it's the Pertwee era - Letts again - when Doctor Who gets most like Bond.

Every overview of the Third Doctor's tenure mentions Bond. There's the physical action - Venusian Aikido - the chases with various forms of transport, often unusual ones, and the gadgets. Chief of the latter is, of course, the Sonic Screwdriver. Bond has his Q-Branch wristwatches that seemingly do everything, and the Doctor has his screwdriver.
Those chases include the use of motor boats, hovercraft, gyro-copters, hydro-bikes, and the Doctor's own personal "Aston Martin" with built-in special features - those vehicles commonly known as "Bessie" and the "Whomobile".
A lot of this was down to Pertwee himself, but Bond was the defining cultural character when it came to adventure in the 1970's - certainly from a British perspective.

Do you remember the helicopter exploding when it hits the heat barrier surrounding Devil's End in The Daemons? That little bit of footage is actually lifted from From Russia With Love.
The Master is often referred to as a Moriarty to the Doctor's Holmes. He could equally be a Blofeld to the Doctor's Bond.
He is at his most Blofeld in The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords. A supervillain who actually gets to take over the world (not just dream about it) and rules it from his high-tech base in the sky.

When the Doctor worries about wearing his unlucky tuxedo in The Lazarus Experiment, Martha reassures him by saying that he looks like James Bond - which does the trick.
The ultimate Bond / Doctor Who crossover is probably the appearance of a Bond actor in Who. Timothy Dalton, of course, played Rassilon in The End of Time.

Some time ago, I did a post on Carry On... actors who have appeared in Doctor Who. Well here is a list of the Who actors I've spotted in the Bond movies. These are the credited ones. There will be a fair few extras and stunt artists as well. If there's anyone I've overlooked, do drop me a comment. Let's start with the Sean Connery years...

No-one in Dr No from what I can see, but when we get to From Russia With Love we have George Pastell (Tomb of the Cybermen) and Francis de Wolff (The Keys of Marinus and The Myth Makers).
Goldfinger features Honor Blackman (the Vervoid section of Trial of a Time Lord) and Burt Kwouk (Four to Doomsday).
Thunderball has George Pravda (Enemy of the World and The Deadly Assassin), Philip Locke (Four to Doomsday) and Andre Maranne (The Moonbase).
You Only Live Twice only has Ronald Rich, who is in The Time Meddler and Mission to the Unknown.

Connery handed in his Walther PPK and it was picked up by George Lazenby. His sole contribution to the franchise is On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It features George Baker (Full Circle), Bernard Horsfall (The Mind Robber, The War Games, Planet of the Daleks, The Deadly Assassin), Catherine Schell (The City of Death) and Diana Rigg - soon to be seen in the second half of Series 7.
Connery returned to the role for Diamonds Are Forever, which features Joseph Furst (The Underwater Menace).

The Roger Moore era begins with Live And let Die. It features Roy Stewart (Tomb of the Cybermen and Terror of the Autons).
The Man With The Golden Gun appears to be Who-free.
The Spy Who Loved Me has Shane Rimmer (The Gunfighters), George Baker (again), Edward de Souza (Mission to the Unknown) and Cyril Shapps (Tomb of the Cybermen, Ambassadors of Death, Planet of the Spiders and The Androids of Tara). Jeremy Bulloch (The Space Museum and The Time Warrior) makes the first of three consecutive appearances in the films as Q's assistant.
Moonraker - Who-free.
For Your Eyes Only guest stars Julian Glover (The Crusade and The City of Death) as the villain of the piece. The unnamed (for legal reasons) Blofeld-type character at the start - who gets dumped down one of Battersea Power Station's chimneys - is John Hollis from The Mutants.
Octopussy has Stephen Berkoff (The Power of Three) as one of the principal baddies.
The final Roger Moore film, A View To A Kill, features David Yip (Destiny of the Daleks).

Into the brief Timothy Dalton era and we have The Who-free The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill, which features Christopher Neame (Shada).

Pierce Brosnan's first film, Goldeneye, introduces a new Miss Moneypenny - played by Samantha Bond (from two of the Sarah Jane Adventures).
Tomorrow Never Dies features Geoffrey Palmer (The Silurians, The Mutants and Voyage of the Damned), Colin Salmon (Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead), Jonathon Pryce (The Curse of Fatal Death), Hugh Bonneville (Curse of the Black Spot), Pip Torrens (Human Nature / Family of Blood) and Colin Stinton (The Sound of Drums). Colin Salmon's is a recurring role - as M's assistant.
The World Is Not Enough features John Cleese (The City of Death) as R - Q's future replacement.
I didn't spot anyone in Die Another Day.

Taking us bang up to date, the Daniel Craig era began with Casino Royale, which features Joseph Milson (Maria's dad in the Sarah Jane Adventures) and Tom Chadbon (The City of Death and the opening section of Trial of a Time Lord).
Couldn't see anyone in Quantum of Solace (is that anywhere near the Arc of Infinity???) but I know that Helen McCrory (Vampires of Venice) is amongst the cast of Skyfall.

A couple of non Eon Production tangents - the 1967 Casino Royale spoof has Bernard Cribbins (Wilf Mott from Voyage of the Damned to The End of Time) and Dave Prowse (The Time Monster).
Connery's third return to the role - the Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again has Derek Dedman (Stor in The Invasion of Time) and the alternative Miss Moneypenny is Pamela Salem (Robots of Death and Remembrance of the Daleks).

Which Bond is my Bond? They all have their merits but it's the original for me...
And finally, don't you wish you were James Bond...?