Monday 29 July 2013

Landmarks No.21

Terror of the Zygons.
This has recently gained a new significance for now being the first story to feature the Zygons, rather than the only one - as it was for such a long time.
I have mainly chosen it as a landmark story, however, due to the fact that it represents the final fling for UNIT. (A Highland Fling and that).
Yes, Harry and Benton are both in The Android Invasion, but they are really badly served in that - spending more time as evil doppelgangers, and poor Benton is last seen lying flat out on the floor. If it wasn't for the "selling cars" comment later, he could have been dead for all we know.
No, this is the last of the proper UNIT stories, with the final regular appearance of Nicholas Courtney's Brigadier. He'll be a school master next time we see him.
Very much the end of an era - and what a great story to bow out on.

TARDIS Cat Flaps...

From the BBC news website today...

That Was The Rant That Was 28.7.13

A couple of very important statements from the BBC this week. The first is that the 50th Anniversary story will receive a simultaneous broadcast globally - meaning, of course, that whilst we in the UK get to see it on a suitably cold and foggy Saturday evening (my weather predictions are a damn sight better than the Met Office's), others will see it early in the morning or late at night depending on your time zone.
The other announcement pertains to that troublesome Comic-Con trailer. The fact that the BBC had to release such a statement at all shows you the strength of feeling about this - and has lead to a more general concern about just how special this anniversary year is actually playing out.
The BBC are at pains to assure us that the trailer was only shown at Comic-Con, San Diego, and is not generally available in the US - as some people did think this was some kind of US vs UK thing.
The fact still  remains that the trailer's content can be freely commented upon / described - just not actually watched, which seems a bit daft to me. I appreciate events such as Comic-Con should get exclusives - but why can't an exclusive be time limited? As in you get to see it first and everyone else has to wait (but does get to see it eventually - i.e. a week or so later). Doctor Who seems to be the only "product" at Comic-Con where there seems to be a deliberate attempt to prevent presentations being broadcast. I thought it was about selling things to the widest possible market - not just a few hundred people in a room, a lot of whom are bloggers, journalists and so forth, and not necessarily producers and show-makers.
I could have sworn that when the Superman - Batman  crossover movie was announced, the image was released to the world. Henry Cavill et al did not say "Here's the image, but -  by the way - you're not allowed to show it to anyone".
For me, Steven Moffat does not come out of this very well. He seems all too quick to threaten. When the finale was leaked early on US Bu-ray a few months ago, it was "Don't leak or you won't get a special clip". This time round, "Leak, and I won't give Comic-Con another exclusive ever again".
Sheer petulance. Is the BBC really going to skip Comic-Con in future?
They've shown us some key Dalek images and we've read about the other scenes - Ten experiencing "sonic envy" and repeating Troughton's comments on seeing the Pertwee TARDIS etc - so why not just stick the blessed thing on the official site? It's not like we're asking them to stick the whole bloomin' synopsis on wiki.
Which brings me to the general concern about just how special this year has been so far.

  • We've had a Prom - London based - which sold out in seconds and is not anything that hasn't been done before. We've also got to wait to see it broadcast.
  • We've got a Convention lined up - London based - which has also sold out in seconds. 
  • We have the BFI screenings - London based - which have very limited availability to the general public. The 8th & 10th screenings have been announced. Wasn't there a 9th Doctor?
  • The 8 episodes broadcast this year were actually stolen from last year (we only had 5 episodes in 2012, remember) - robbing Peter to pay Paul, as the old saying goes. Moving things around to make it look as if you're getting more than you think is nothing more than a cynical ploy.
  • BBC DVD seems hell bent on ripping us off left, right and centre - delivering a Series 7 box set that some people will have waited over a year for (only to find they could have bought the Parts 1 & 2 sets already and got the same material - and they need to track down Widow / Wardrobe separately anyway); The Tenth Planet released early alongside loads of vanilla releases (some poor quality) of previously released stuff for a lot of money; Terror of the Zygons released early (for a lot of money) as a vanilla release along with, amongst other things, a plastic figure with one Doctor's head simply stuck on the body of another; and No Completion - in that we don't know what unnecessary "Special" Edition the second episode of The Underwater Menace will be stuck on next year. It had better be an individual release with the missing two episodes animated.
I strongly suspect that, rather than Anno Domini 2013 being a special year for the programme, November 2013 will be a special month for Doctor Who - because a flurry of activity around then will be really what it all boils down to. And remember, Series 8 won't be on TV until autumn 2014 - and then probably only half a series yet again.

Saturday 27 July 2013

Zygons DVD Cover - Region 1 have the above cover image on their site. In recent years, the Region 2 version has carried the same main image as Region 1- so we should assume the UK release will be the same - though Broton will lose the top of his head. Such a shame there is no sign of a CGI Skarasen. Maybe in the 50th?

Story 76 - The Ark In Space

In which Harry has trouble with the helmic regulator. Instead of a quick demonstration trip to the Moon, the TARDIS materialises on a space station in the far distant future. The section of the station they have arrived in has lost power. Sarah almost suffocates when trapped in an airless compartment. The Doctor restores power - inadvertently reactivating a lethal defence system and transmatting Sarah to another section. She is put into suspended animation. The Doctor deactivates the defence system then he and Harry set out to locate Sarah. Harry spots a large green creature, like a grub, which disappears into the infrastructure. They discover that the station is being used as an Ark - holding thousands of people and animals in suspended animation. Harry discovers the corpse of a gigantic insect creature - a Wirrn. With power restored, some of the crew begin to revive. First is Vira - Chief Medtec. The Doctor must inform her that she and her people have overslept by thousands of years. They are survivors of solar flares which ravaged the Earth's surface. Vira helps to resuscitate Sarah. She discovers that one of the technicians, Dune, is missing - his pallet empty. The Doctor notes a slime trail leading up to it. The commander, Lazar - but known as Noah - has trouble reviving due to a technical fault. The Doctor traces this to the solar stacks - and discovers that they have become home to Wirrn larvae.

Noah is worried that the newcomers will upset their finely-balanced gene pool. He goes after the Doctor, who he suspects of sabotage. He refuses to heed the Doctor's warnings and shoots him with a stun gun. When Noah goes to the stacks, he is bitten on the hand by one of the larvae and infected. Another crewmember named Lycett is revived. When he first sees Noah, he gets the impression of a hideous creature before him. Noah later kills him. He is beginning to mutate into a Wirrn. He demands that Vira and the others depart from the Ark and leave the sleepers for the Wirrn. Two other crew revive - Libri and Rogin. The Doctor links his mind via the Ark systems to a piece of membrane from the dead Wirrn's eye. This enables them to witness the last moments of  the creature - how it broke into the Ark, was fatally wounded by the defence system and cut the power. It then opened Dune's pallet...

The Doctor deduces that the Wirrn are similar to Eumenes - a species of wasp which lay their eggs in host bodies. The Wirrn also absorb the memories and skills of their victims. Libri is killed by a larval Wirrn. The creatures have full knowledge of the Ark's systems and use these against the Doctor and his friends. He must devise a way to save them - and the thousands of sleeping humans. Attempts to appeal to Noah's humanity seem to fail. They eventually decide to use the power supply of the transport rocket - Sarah carrying a power cable though the airducts to prevent the newly hatched Wirrn from cutting it. The Wirrn suddenly launch an attack on the rocket, and Rogin sacrifices himself to launch it into space with the entire swarm aboard. The rocket explodes, and they realise that Noah had engineered this - his humanity prevailing at last. Without the rocket, Vira will have to transmat the waking humans to Earth. There is a fault with the system. The Doctor agrees to travel down to Earth to fix it, and Sarah and Harry insist on tagging along...

This four part adventure was written by Robert Holmes, and broadcast between 25th January and 15th February, 1975. It is the first story to be credited to Philip Hinchcliffe as producer.
It has a complicated writing history. Barry Letts decided to help Hinchcliffe, and launch the new Doctor, by setting up a number of stories for this season. A Dalek story had been commissioned from Terry Nation, and a Cyberman one from Gerry Davis. To save on costs, two stories would use the same sets. A story called Space Station was commissioned from Christopher Langley. It would be made alongside The Sontaran Experiment as a six parter - the four part Space Station getting the studio days and the Sontaran story getting the location work. The space station sets would be reused for Gerry Davis' story. Langley's story proved unusable, and veteran writer John Lucarotti was asked to devise a replacement using the same setting. The final story title is his, and it was he who decided to make the station an ark carrying the last remnants of humanity. His monsters were a dual race called the Delc, comprising headless drones and bodyless superiors. Rewrites were needed but Lucarotti lived on a boat in the Med and was unreachable. With only a handful of weeks to go, Robert Holmes stepped in and rewrote the story himself using only some of Lucarotti's elements.

Holmes takes the first Quatermass story as one of his inspirations (as he had the second one for Spearhead From Space). Carroon had returned to Earth with the absorbed memories and experiences of his colleagues, and both stories have the reveal of a horribly mutated arm as a cliffhanger.
Guest artists are Wendy Williams as Vira, Kenton Moore as Noah, and Richardson Morgan as Rogin.
Moore had featured briefly as a  Roboman at the beginning of The Dalek Invasion of Earth (watch it on DVD with the production subtitles switched on and you'll see they don't recognise him). Morgan had appeared in The Web of Fear.
The three regulars are all very well served, each having a good share of the action. Harry, especially, could have easily been sidelined, but Marter gets a lot to do and some lovely - mostly humorous - lines.
As well as Holmes' dialogue (including the famous "Homo sapiens..." speech delivered by Tom Baker), the sets by Roger Murray-Leach are the stand-out feature of the production. The Wirrn are not very well realised - never really convincing as organic creatures.
Episode endings for this story are:

  1. Looking for something to resuscitate Sarah, Harry opens a storage locker and a giant insect emerges...
  2. Noah has killed Libri. He pulls his hand from his pocket and it is now a green mass - no longer human.
  3. The Doctor is confronted by Noah, now a full grown Wirrn All that is left of him is part of his face, which dissolves away.
  4. The Doctor and his companions transmat to Earth, leaving Vira to prepare her people for the recolonisation of the planet..

Overall, an excellent story. Well written and well made by all concerned. RTD claimed it as the best Classic Series story, and Moffat the best Fourth Doctor adventure. The Hinchcliffe- Holmes era starts here.
Things you might like to know:
  • The first episode features the series regulars pretty much all to themselves - the first instance since 1964's The Brink of Disaster.
  • Lucarotti gave each episode an individual title - (1) Buttercups, (2) Puffballs, (3) Camellias, (4) Golfballs - referring to elements of his original script which they contained.
  • The male computer voices heard in this story are by Peter Tuddenham - best known for voicing all the Blake's 7 computers.
  • The TARDIS gets quite forgotten about after the opening scenes. The Doctor ignores it as a power source, place of safety or means of travelling down to Earth. The way this season will be structured, we won't see it again until the final episode of Revenge of the Cybermen.
  • What appears to be a bit of poor editing in Part Three - the corridor confrontation between Noah and the Doctor and Vira - is explained in an interview with Kenton Moore on the Special Edition DVD release. He just seems to disappear and drop his gun, but there were intervening scenes where he pleads with Vira to kill him. Hinchcliffe thought these scenes too strong for the audience and cut them.
  • It's fun watching out for the pallet-bound extras who blink and open their mouths.

Friday 26 July 2013

A DVD Disappointment

Details of the UK release for the Complete Seventh Series box set have now been released. The US version has been advertised for release on 24th September, but the UK one won't be in the shops until 28th October.
Only four stories get audio commentaries, and all the extras appear to have been released already on the Series 7 Volume 1 & 2 releases (prequels and Pond Life). No word of any new, exclusive scenes.
Also, The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe is missing, making it the only story not to feature on a box set - so you'll have to get hold of that separately. It's currently on Amazon for £3.37.
Instead of waiting until the end of October, you can get Series 7 Part 1 for under a tenner, with Part 2 around £15.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Landmarks No.20

Genesis of the Daleks.
Dalek history will never be the same again.
With the Time Lords sending the Doctor to Skaro - to the time of the birth of the Daleks - the seeds of the Time War are sown.
Many see this story as rewriting established Dalek continuity. This is mainly due to the Daleks and Thals giving a different version of the war and the mutation of their respective races - one which makes no mention of Davros or Kaleds.
You can look at it two ways. When I devised a Dalek chronology I placed this story at the beginning (obviously) but then had all the other Davros stories coming right at the end of their pre-Time War continuity. They created an empire, the empire collapsed, and so they resurrected Davros thousands of years later to help them.
You might equally argue that the Doctor's meddling here somehow creates a new Dalek continuity - meaning some of the Davros-free Dalek stories never happened.
One bit of continuity that is shattered is the original creation of the Daleks, as conceived by David Whitaker and Terry Nation for the 1960's comics. Skarosians were small, blue-skinned beings, and a scientist named Yarvelling created the Dalek machines.
Whilst Davros is a memorable creation - a fantastic combination of design and performance - the character will lead to a diminution of the Daleks themselves, reduced to the role of "heavies" in the last few stories in which they appeared. RTD wisely allowed them to re-establish themselves as a force for evil in their own right - holding Davros back for an end of series guest appearance.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Smith, Tennant, Hurt... and McGann?

File this under speculation. According to the new issue of Radio Times (27th July to 2nd August), quoting a "reliable source" Tennant is not the only returning Doctor in the 50th Anniversary Special. One of the pre-2005 surviving Doctors is also expected to feature. As we now know that it features the Time War - Daleks seen battling Time Lords in the trailer which the BBC refuse to let licence payers see - McGann would surely be the best bet.

Monday 22 July 2013

SFX's Comic-Con trailer teasers

These have been reported by the SFX website, who have seen the trailer for the 50th Anniversary story.
No spoilers - but please do take note of the distinctly Gallifreyan symbol in the background of the above image...

• It opens with the Eleventh Doctor saying, “I've had many faces, many lives. I don’t admit to all of them. There’s one life I've tried very hard to forget.”
• It’s epic of scale, with plenty of explosions.
• Rose Tyler makes an appearance, as does Clara.
• The Doctor dangles from a TARDIS over Trafalgar Square.
• There are Daleks in it…
• …and Zygons.
• Doctors 10 and 11 wiggle their respective Sonic Screwdrivers at each other
• They also have a very similar way of sitting down.
• John Hurt’s Doctor says, “Great men are forged in fire.”
• Doctor 10: “For once I would like to know where I’m going.”
• Doctor 11: “No, you really wouldn’t.”
• Doctor 10′s not keen on what Doctor 11′s done with the TARDIS.
• John Hurt’s Doc is “looking for the Doctor”.

A trailer was also screened for An Adventure In Space And Time - which featured Cybermen as well as the Daleks. The TARDIS Yearometer is seen settling on 1963.

Daleks Confirmed For 50th

The BBC officially confirms what has long been expected - that the Daleks will be appearing in the 50th Anniversary story.

Saturday 20 July 2013

Story 75 - Robot

In which UNIT investigates a series of bizarre thefts, whilst the Doctor recuperates from his regeneration. The thefts are all of advanced technological items, and the Brigadier is perplexed as to how they were carried out. Electrified fences have been ripped down, vaults torn open. The one common factor is that all the stolen items are the work of the Thinktank group - a secretive organisation comprising top scientists who carry out work for the British Government. Sarah sees the opportunity for a story - a piece on the group. The Brigadier obtains a day pass for her. She meets the Director, Hilda Winters, and her assistant, Jellicoe. One thing she wants to know about is Professor Kettlewell's recent high profile departure from Thinktank. He was an expert in the field of robotics. After being told that the experimental K1 robot was dismantled, Sarah discovers that it is still at Thinktank. To demonstrate that it is harmless, Miss Winters orders it to attack Sarah - but its prime directive prevents this. Sarah shows concern for the creature.

The Doctor, meanwhile, is in the care of Lt Surgeon Harry Sullivan, on secondment to UNIT from the Royal Navy. He tries to make off in the TARDIS but Sarah convinces him to stay and help the Brigadier. After selecting a new outfit - including an overlong multi-coloured scarf and wide-brimmed hat - he deduces that the thief is probably some kind of huge robot. He also realises that the stolen items are the components for a powerful energy weapon - a Disintegrator Gun. On hearing of Sarah's experiences at Thinktank, he decides to investigate the organisation. Miss Winters claims that the robot had to be dismantled after the incident with Sarah earlier. The Doctor visits Kettlewell and learns that he left Thinktank due to differences of opinion with Winters and Jellicoe. He wants to pursue research into new, cheap energy production. He warns that if Thinktank tried to tamper with the robot's prime directive, it could drive it insane. The Doctor is later lured back to Kettlewell's lab where he is attacked by the robot. He is saved by Sarah, as the robot seems to respond to her.

The robot next steals the launch codes for the world's nuclear arsenals, which were in the safekeeping of a British civil servant. Sarah investigates the Scientific Reform Society, a fascistic group who want to run the planet along scientific, rational lines. Most Thinktank personnel are members. Kettlewell is revealed to be still working with Winters and Jellicoe, and Sarah is taken hostage, along with Harry - who had been sent into Thinktank under cover. Winters and her people retreat into an impregnable bunker, from where they plan to blackmail the world's governments. If their demands are not accepted, they will activate all the nuclear weapons. The robot stands on guard with the Disintegrator Gun. Kettlewell helps Sarah escape when he realises Miss Winters is prepared to use the weapons. The robot accidentally kills its creator, and collapses. UNIT break into the bunker and stop the missile launch sequence and arrest Winters and Jellicoe. The Doctor and Harry go to Kettlewell's lab in search of a weapon to use against the robot - a metal virus. The Brigadier shoots the robot with the Disintegrator, but this causes it to absorb the energy and grow to colossal size. It picks up Sarah and goes on the rampage. The Doctor uses a solution of the metal virus to destroy it. Sarah is saddened at its destruction - as it had been abused by evil people. The Doctor offers her a trip in the TARDIS and, when he refuses to accept what the ship can do, Harry is invited to join them.

This four part adventure was written by Terrance Dicks, and was broadcast between 28th December, 1974, and 18th January, 1975.
It is the first story of Season 12, despite being filmed concurrently with The Planet of the Spiders as part of the previous season. Lis Sladen is on record as saying that at times she was confused as to which story she was filming.
It is the final story to be produced by Barry Letts, and the first to be script-edited by Robert Holmes (though he had been carrying out this role uncredited for a while).
As such, Robot has a very "Pertwee era" feel to it - despite launching the new Doctor, Tom Baker. We are Earthbound, and UNIT plays a prominent role. There is another dodgy organisation - akin to Operation Golden Age.
Terrance Dicks invented a "tradition" whereby the outgoing story editor got to write the script for the next adventure. He took as inspiration the classic movie King Kong (1933) - most noticeably in the final episode when the K1 robot grows to enormous size, but also in the creature's almost romantic affinity with the female lead.
A couple of years previously, a female villain had been vetoed by Letts' superior, but now it was acceptable. Miss Winters (Patricia Maynard) becomes the first villainess since Maaga in 1965's Galaxy 4. The Bond films had featured female baddies from the very beginning (though a woman would not be principal Bond villain until 1999).

Other guest artists include Alec Linstead as Jellicoe, who had already appeared in the programme as Sgt. Osgood in The Daemons, and Edward Burnham (The Invasion) as the wild-haired Prof. Kettlewell.
Ian Marter, who had been first choice for the part of Mike Yates, and had featured in Carnival of Monsters, finally gains a recurring role in the programme. It is common knowledge that the production team were considering an older actor to play the Fourth Doctor, and Harry Sullivan was introduced to cope with the more demanding physical action scenes.
The star of the story is the robot itself - designed by future Oscar winning designer James Acheson. It is a brilliant design, though proved to be a nightmare for actor Michael Kilgariff to operate. All credit to him for suffering for his art.
Episode endings for this story are:

  1. Suspicious, Sarah has sneaked back to the robotics workshop at Thinktank. A wall panel opens and the huge robot bears down on her.
  2. The Doctor is lured back to Kettlewell's home and finds it is a trap. The robot is here, and it has orders to kill him. He is knocked to the ground...
  3. The robot appears at the bunker entrance. If UNIT do not withdraw, it will destroy them all...
  4. The Brigadier arrives in the UNIT lab with an invitation of lunch at the Palace for the Doctor - just as the TARDIS dematerialises. He will let the Palace know that the Doctor might be a little late...

Overall, not a bad little story. A solid introduction for Tom Baker, with a lot of humour in his early scenes. One of the greatest robot costumes ever. Such a pity about that Action Man tank...
Things you might like to know:

  • For many years, the robot costume was housed in the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) on London's South Bank. It was visible from outside, and Terrance Dicks reports he used  to pop along and admire "his" robot. I saw it there many times myself. It is now at the Cardiff DW Experience.
  • Benton gets a promotion - to Warrant Officer. The end credits still have him as a Sergeant, however. He'll always be Sergeant Benton to us.
  • All of the location filming is done on video rather than film - due to all the CSO work that would be required for Episode 4. Unfortunately, because of the robot's shiny surfaces, parts of it do tend to disappear from time to time as the camera picks up the reflected CSO colour (yellow in this case).
  • References to the past to watch out for include the Doctor having the TARDIS key in his shoe (as in Spearhead From Space), detonating another minefield with the Sonic Screwdriver (The Sea Devils), and mentions of Sontarans, dinosaurs, Skaro and Alpha Centauri.
  • This story is believed by some to be tied into The Face of Evil. It is wondered when the Doctor, in his fourth incarnation, can have encountered the Mordee Expedition. The theory goes that he slipped away from UNIT HQ whilst still not recovered from the regeneration - hence why he made such a hash of fixing Xoanon and his lack of memory about doing it.
  • An actor named Colin Baker was considered for the role of Jellicoe. Lord only knows what happened to him...

Thursday 18 July 2013

Landmarks No.19

The Ark In Space.
It might not be the first Tom Baker story, or Robert Holmes first script editing job, but this story marks the beginning of the immensely popular Hinchcliffe-Holmes era.
Robot - written by Terrance Dicks, produced by Barry Letts, and featuring UNIT in a prominent way - is obviously the last hurrah of the previous era.
One just can't imagine Pertwee delivering the famous "Homo-sapiens..." speech.
The monsters might be a bit B-Movie in realisation, but they are really nasty things. They lay their eggs in peoples' bodies, and the larvae eat their victims from the inside out, absorbing their knowledge (and memories in some cases).
Hinchcliffe and Holmes obviously share a taste in  Cronenbergian body horror. This will become much more evident as they get into their full gothic, grand guignol stride.
Hinchcliffe points out in quite a few DVD commentaries that he found "possession" stories particularly fascinating.
Some great guest performances, and a special mention must be made of Roger Murray-Leach's innovative sets.
The story also marks Ian Marter's first proper companion outing, as the lovable Harry Sullivan.

In the shops later this year

No news yet on the UK releases but the Complete Series 7 DVD / Blu-Ray is expected in the United States on 24th September. I assume it will be in British shops on the 23rd (DVDs always being released on a Monday).
If previous years are anything to go by, the series soundtrack might well be out the same day.

And are advertising a Complete Nu Who Blu-Ray boxed collection, along with a Universal Remote Control Sonic Screwdriver, all for $314.98.
A UK version is promised.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Landmarks No.18

The Time Warrior.
Significant for a number of reasons.
First, and most importantly, it introduces Lis Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith.
Then there is the first appearance of the highly popular Sontarans.
The Time Lord homeworld is named for the very first time.
Pseudo-historicals are still quite rare up to this point, but the success of this story means they will become a mainstay of the programme.
Strange to think that we came so close to having a different Sarah Jane. Instead we were blessed with a brilliant character beautifully realised by Lis. Her success will lead to one of the Nu Who spin-off series - providing a natural home for the Slitheen as well as fantastic new characters that would not be out of place in the parent series - such as the Trickster and Androvax.
Only a few days ago, we had a Sontaran presenting music at the Royal Albert Hall. I do worry a bit that the menace of the race has been lost with the creation of Strax. Kevin Lindsay is the best example of the species we have ever seen. A great performance and a brilliant mask / make-up job.
The name of the Doctor's home planet - Gallifrey - is revealed almost in passing, without fanfare.

Sunday 14 July 2013

That Was The Week That Was 14.7.13

Big event of the week has obviously been the Doctor Who Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. Last night's was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 - see my review. The second event was held this morning. I am assuming they were identical.
Wonderful that the Classic Series was recognised, and not just a Murray Gold Greatest Hits package.
Talking of Mr Gold, if you have been looking for the Series 7 soundtrack, it is expected later in the year. Previous soundtracks have been released simultaneously with the series DVD box set - of which we have heard nothing so far. I assume it will hit the shops in time for Christmas - meaning the first half of the series will have waited more than a year to be released (for those who don't like the Volume 1 & 2 purchases and prefer to wait for the box set that's a very long wait).

No news on the new Doctor yet, despite a dubious rumour that they would be revealed at the Prom. Apparently Moffat has clarified his position a little by saying that he will supervise the new Doctor's first year at least - possibly Series 9 as well. He pretty much confirmed we will have to wait until Autumn 2014 for Series 8. Just so long as they don't split it again. Half a series per year is unacceptable. Splitting the series last year was a big mistake in my view as momentum was broken, and having episodes shown in Spring once again meant poor overnight audience figures.

Some images have been posted from the French Comic Con, taken from An Adventure In Space And Time - with Hartnell & Foreman from the Pilot episode, and Waris and Verity.

Someone in Yorkshire has created a huge maze featuring a Dalek and images of the First and Eleventh Doctors. The Sixth helped to publicise it, along with a couple of his oldest foes.

The first volume of Troughton telesnaps was released by DWM on Thursday. I already had these from their earlier Classic Comics / DWM releases - but those were of sometimes poor quality.
Tomorrow sees the release of the Spearhead From Space Blu-ray. For people who want to see Nicholas Courtney's moustache glue, obviously. There are a couple of special extras - retrospectives on the lives and careers of Jon Pertwee and Caroline John. Hopefully these will get another release on Special Editions, for those of us still living in an SD world.

Saturday 13 July 2013

The (Audio) Prom Review

I missed out on tickets for this year's Doctor Who Proms, and the lure of Battersea Park in the sunshine (31 degrees) was too much to keep me away from trying to queue for any last minute tickets.
Instead I settled down with some nice cold beers and listened to the proceedings on BBC Radio 3.
No doubt there will be various clips released on You Tube on the morn, and the official website is going to release a couple, so I did  not have the visual experience to enjoy (there will be a showing on TV later in the year). Therefore the music was divorced from the numerous big screen clips, and we didn't get to see the various monsters wandering amongst the promenaders.
The first thing I would say is that I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of classic Who represented. At 9.10pm, Peter Davison came on stage to introduce a medley of music from the Classic Series - including the original 1960's Cyberman march (reused by the Yeti in The Web of Fear), Dudley Simpson's lush score for The City of Death, and items from Peter Howell and Mark Ayres who were on stage. Just prior to this, Jenna Coleman announced that Dudley was in the audience.
After some Dalek music, with Nick Briggs again verbally tormenting conductor Ben Foster, Carole Ann Ford took the stage to talk about the earliest years of the programme. She then introduced music from the last series finale.
Earlier, we had quite a few of our favourite Murray Gold pieces, including I Am The Doctor and All The Strange, Strange Creatures. There was a Companion piece suite covering Rose, Martha and Donna themes.
Other music from the last series included the song from The Rings of Akhaten, a suite from The Angels Take Manhattan, and The Impossible Girl (or Clara's theme).
Most of the introductions were presented by Madam Vastra and Strax.
At 9.44 Matt Smith and Jenna introduced the newly composed Song For Fifty. "Doctor Who - The Opera" can't be too far away. The piece actually ended with the words "Happy Birthday To Who".
The Prom ended, as it only could, with Vale Decem, followed by the latest arrangement of Ron Grainer's theme music.
No audience participation item this year. There was a short pre-filmed sequence at the start of the concert with the Doctor and Clara in the TARDIS a few streets away from the Royal Albert Hall - having failed to get tickets. They transported themselves into the auditorium (which was supposed to displace two of the audience naked into the street) but ended up in the orchestra pit.
A marvellous two and a half hours, and I look forward to seeing how the visuals fit with the glorious music.

Landmarks No.17

The Three Doctors.
To open the 10th Anniversary Season, the previous incarnations of the Doctor are brought together to meet the current TARDIS incumbent.
We visit the Doctor's homeworld for the third time.
The creation of the Time Lords is fleshed out a little as we learn of Omega's involvement in giving them their time travel capability.
We now take multi-Doctor stories a bit for granted, but this was the first, and arguably the best. Later such stories feel more shoe-horned. The 50th Anniversary story will feature more than one Doctor, but they are only going back to the last (still extremely popular) one, plus adding a new, unseen, Doctor into the mix.
Barry Letts had been approached by fans many times, suggesting a story which would bring back Hartnell and Troughton, but he had always dismissed the idea. With the 10th Anniversary, the idea suddenly seemed too obvious to ignore any longer.
We first visited the Time Lord homeworld in 1969's The War Games, and it was briefly glimpsed again at the beginning of Colony In Space. We spend quite a bit of time there in this story, though only get to see the main control area. Despite the frequent references to the Doctor's people over the last couple of years, the planet is still unnamed at this point.
Omega turns out to be a solar engineer from the dawn of the Time Lords. He detonated a star to create the energy source that allowed them to begin their time travel experiments. Unfortunately he perished in the attempt - or so the Time Lords thought.
Another first for this story is that it marks the Brigadier's (and Benton's) first trip in the TARDIS. It seems surprising that, despite working at UNIT HQ for about three years, neither had ever been invited aboard before to take a look round.

Friday 12 July 2013

The Monster Collection DVDs - Details

The BBC has finally released details for those Monster Collections, which were originally advertised for a July release but are now due in the Autumn.

The Dalek Collection includes The Daleks and Asylum of the Daleks.
The Cybermen Collection includes Tomb of the Cybermen and Rise of the Cybermen / Age of Steel.
The Master Collection includes Terror of the Autons and The End of Time Parts 1 & 2.
The Davros Collection includes Genesis of the Daleks and The Stolen Earth / Journey's End.
The Sontaran Collection includes The Time Warrior and The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky.
And the Silurian Collection includes The Silurians and The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood.

All vanilla releases, RRP £10.20. Good for beginners only, of course.

Thursday 11 July 2013

David Bradley Is The Doctor

Just how wonderful is this picture... Personally, whilst I can't wait to see Tennant again, I think I'm more excited about this production than the actual 50th Anniversary episode...

The Troughton Telesnaps Volume 1

What to look for in the shops tomorrow. Of course, this era of the programme was particularly hard hit by the junking of TV episodes - no episodes surviving at all from Power of the Daleks, The Highlanders and The Macra Terror - so buy this and enjoy along with the audio soundtracks.

Wednesday 10 July 2013

While I Was Away...

So what did I miss over the last week?
First of all, we had the royal visit to the Doctor Who studios - Prince Charles seen above recruiting new staff. Strax would make an ideal wet-nurse for the impending third in line to the throne.

The details for the big November convention have been released. Each day has the same line-up (as with last year's Cardiff event) but you only get Tom Baker on the Saturday. Prices are a far more reasonable £45.

The reconstruction of the original TARDIS console, built for An Adventure In Space And Time, has now been set up in the Cardiff DW Experience. The new Cybermen and the Ice Warrior are amongst the other new exhibits. I am planning a trip there soon, so will report on the changes since my December visit.

A special Fourth Doctor collection is being released at the end of this month - including a vanilla release for Terror of the Zygons. There is a bit more to it than the Regeneration box set. BBC shop have it for £62.99. There are only 5000 of them up for grabs. Personally, I'll wait for the Autumn Zygons release.

Finally, a couple of forthcoming attractions. Saturday sees the Doctor Who Prom broadcast on Radio 3 between 7.30 - 10.00pm.
Tomorrow should see the release of the Second Doctor Telesnaps from DWM - Volume 1 - covering the Ben & Polly stories.

Monday 1 July 2013

Short Break...

Just to say that I am going to be away for a few days, so don't expect any updates for the rest of the week. Normal service resumes as of Tuesday 9th July. See you then.

Landmarks No.16

Day of the Daleks.
After a break of some four and a half years the Daleks return to Doctor Who, appearing in colour for the first time.
Unfortunately that is about the only landmark aspect to this story.
It is well known that this story, written by Louis Marks, was originally Dalek-free. Seeking something big to launch the new season, the Daleks were added late in the day. Producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks had to wine and dine Terry Nation in order to use them (according to one of their favourite anecdotes).
Sadly, their inclusion is quite unnecessary and they are underused. The voices are terrible (prompting their replacement by Nick Briggs on the Special Edition DVD release).
The final battle scenes are underwhelming, to say the least.
Paul Bernard will prove to be one of the least inspired directors for the programme.
Worth watching for an admirable performance by the late Aubrey Woods as the Controller.