Thursday 30 July 2015

Know Your Cybermen No.14

The Pandorica Opens (2010).
More of a cameo this one, as the Cybermen form part of the Pandorica Alliance that aims to trap the Doctor and prevent him from destroying the universe. However, one Cyberman forms the main threat in the middle of the episode. These are still the Cybus Cybermen.
One has been left at Stonehenge to guard the Pandorica, which is located in a secret chamber beneath. At some point this sentinel has fallen foul of the local Iron Age tribesfolk. It has been decapitated and has lost an arm. How long this Cyberman has been there is hard to work out. Stonehenge is already very ancient by 102 AD. If built to mark the location of the Pandorica, then it has been guarded for a couple of thousand years.
The severed body parts have a life of their own, and the body can function without the head.
The head is lying in the stone circle but manages to make its way down into the Underhenge. Pipes and cables which connect the head to the body are able to pull it along the ground, and one can fire a drugged dart. The head can open at the front, down the middle, to reveal the humanoid skull within - so the Cybermen no longer simply transfer the brain. The head attempts to clamp itself around Amy's head - to replace the old skull.
The arm has an in-built weapon, and it seems to have some sort of sensory apparatus, as it is able to identify movement and target it.
The headless Cyberman is able to reattach the head, but is later destroyed by the Auton-Rory with a sword through the chest.
Later we see a trio of Cybermen, one of whom is a Cyber-Leader, when the Alliance make their presence known to the Doctor. This is the same type of Leader seen in Army of Ghosts / Doomsday, with only the "handles" on the helmet painted black.
Apart from a couple of static fairground exhibits seen in Nightmare in Silver, this is the final outing for the Cybus Cybermen.

Story Notes: 

  • As well as the unexplained length of time the Cyberman has been guarding the Pandorica, and why the Alliance wait for 2400 years before springing their trap, it seems odd that neither the Doctor, nor River, nor Amy - who have been studying the circle for some time - have noticed the Cyber-head lying only a few feet away.
  • For a change, Paul Kasey is not lead Cyberman in this episode. This is due to those other members of the Alliance being around. Kasey plays the Judoon instead.
  • The Cyber-Leader's mouth can be seen to light up even when it isn't speaking. (The Dalek Supreme's dome lights do the same - so obviously there were some script changes after the filming had taken place).
  • Initially an actor who had lost his arm was employed to play the headless, armless Cyberman, wearing a green mask. When the footage was reviewed, the director was unhappy with the camera angles and it was reshot. The amputee actor was unavailable for this, so CGI was used to remove the arm as well as the head on another actor.

Monday 27 July 2015

Story 135 - The Caves of Androzani

In which the TARDIS materialises on the desolate world of Androzani Minor. Exploring, the Doctor notices signs of recent human activity, as there are wheel tracks leading to and from a nearby cave. He and Peri go inside to look around and she falls down a slope in the dark. Her fall is broken when she lands in a mass of vegetation. The Doctor helps her out, and both find they are covered in a sticky substance exuded from the plant. Venturing further into the caverns, they find a stock of weapons, and evidence that someone has been here very recently. Suddenly a squad of soldiers appears and they find themselves under arrest - accused of being gun-runners. They are taken to the base of General Chellak. Here they learn that government forces from Androzani Major have been waging a long campaign against a terrorist named Sharaz Jek. This scientist has an android army, and he has been stopping supplies of a substance called Spectrox from reaching the home planet. Spectrox slows down the aging process, and is therefore in great demand. Chellak notifies Trau Morgus of the arrest. He resides on Major, and is the ruthless head of the Sirius Conglomerate. Though a businessman, his power is such that he is more influential than the government, He is paying for the military campaign. Morgus is keen to see the captives, but quickly loses interest - which puzzles the Doctor. Chellak's lieutenant Salateen is left to prepare the Doctor and Peri for execution by firing squad.

Once the sentence has been carried out, it is found that the prisoners have been replaced with android replicas. The Doctor and Peri have been taken to Sharaz Jek's base elsewhere in the cave system. Here they meet the real Salateen - who has been captive for months. It is a perfect android copy who has been working with Chellak, to monitor his actions and spread disinformation. Jek wears a mask as he was disfigured some years ago in one of the periodic boiling mud-bursts which erupt on Minor. This was down to treachery by his business partner - Trau Morgus - who wanted to seize the monopoly on Spectrox production. Jek is supplied with weapons by a sadistic gun-runner named Stotz. He is unaware that Stotz is really working for Morgus. In supplying him with guns, the military campaign against him is justified and supported by the government back on Major. When Morgus learns that the President is planning to start negotiations with Jek, he kills him in a faked accident in order to keep his double-dealings secret.
The Doctor and Peri are both feeling unwell. When Salateen finds out he informs them that they are suffering from a deadly disease - Spectrox Toxaemia. This is caused by contact with raw Spectrox - the vegetable substance which Peri earlier fell into. Salateen finds this ironic, as Jek kidnapped Peri in order to keep her as his companion. The only known cure comes from the milk of the Queen Bat - a creature which dwells in the lowermost caverns. The Doctor escapes, and narrowly avoids being attacked by a savage reptilian creature called a Magma Beast. He then falls into the hands of Stotz and his comrades.

Salateen manages to escape with Peri, and Chellak discovers that he has been harbouring an android spy for the last few months. Salateen offers to lead Chellak to Jek's base, and the android copy is sent off on another mission as a diversion. Unfortunately, their plans have been overheard by the android. A trap will be set for the attackers. The android abducts Peri and takes her back to Jek. Stotz takes the Doctor to Major in his spaceship, but he escapes and locks himself in the control room. He pilots the ship to crash-land back on Minor. Morgus decides to travel to Minor to take charge of the campaign. He secretly plans to join Stotz on his own raid on Jek's base - Stotz has worked out its rough location - and they will seize his Spectrox stocks for themselves. After he leaves, he discovers that his assistant has taken over his company and provided the government with evidence of all his criminal activities, as well as sequestering all his ill-gotten wealth. A mud-burst begins. Jek informs the Doctor of the location of the Queen Bat, as he is in love with Peri and wants to save her. Stotz kills his comrades so that he and Morgus will not need to share Jek's Spectrox. The real Salateen is killed in an ambush, and Chellak dies in the mud-burst. Morgus and Stotz break into Jek's bunker. Stotz is killed by the android Salateen after fatally wounding Jek. Jek kills Morgus, then dies in the android's arms. The Doctor gains the bat milk and retrieves Peri, taking her back to the TARDIS. There is only enough milk to save Peri. As she recovers, she sees the Doctor regenerate...

This four part adventure was written by Robert Holmes, and broadcast between 8th and 16th March, 1984. The final story of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison, it is also significant for being the first story to be directed by Graeme Harper, and it is the first Holmes script in 5 years. Of course, it is also our first sighting of the Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker.
Holmes' last outing was The Power of Kroll back in 1978 / 79 - a story which features elements that are refined in Caves. Producer John Nathan-Turner had been very resistant to using writers from before his time, but Script Editor Eric Saward was a huge fan of Holmes and fought for him to be used. The elements from Kroll that are apparent are the gun-runner, and the fact that the principal villain is behind the supply of weapons to his own enemy - as an excuse for then wiping them out.
We also have the twin planets (or planet and moon in the case of Kroll) - one densely populated and the other the source of something the main planet wants.
Two influences on the story are Dune and The Phantom of the Opera.
Harper had earlier directed some of Warriors' Gate when its credited director was temporarily sacked, but this is his first proper directing credit. The influence of his mentor - Douglas Camfield - can be felt throughout.

There is a first rate cast on view. Trau Morgus is played by John Normington, and he is one of the greatest villains the programme has ever seen. Normington will be back in The Happiness Patrol, as well as Torchwood's Ghost In The Machine. Jek is Christopher Gable - best known for stage musicals, plus the film version of The Boyfriend. Salateen is Robert Glenister, who had previously played Peter Davison's younger brother in the sitcom Sink Or Swim back when he first became the Doctor. He has to portray both the real Salateen and the android replica. Lucky that the real one can be just as cold and detached as the fake one. Stotz is Scots actor Maurice Roeves, who was based in the USA at the time. His number two, Krelper, is Roy Holder. He was in The Land That Time Forgot with Anthony Ainley, and Psychomania, with Ian Marter and John Levene. Chellak is Martin Cochrane.
Episode endings are:
  1. The Doctor and Peri have been dressed in scarlet robes and tied up in front of the firing squad. The troops open fire and they slump forward, dead...
  2. The Doctor has escaped from Jek, but he now finds himself trapped in a cavern with a savage Magma Beast bearing down upon him...
  3. The Doctor is determined to save Peri at any cost, and so sends Stotz's spaceship hurtling towards the planet...
  4. Peri is shocked to see a new man dressed in the Doctor's clothing. He tells her that he has changed - and not a moment too soon...

Overall... Well, what is there to say that hasn't already been said. It is no surprise this features in top ten listings. Between 2009 and 2013 it was officially the fans' favourite story. (It slipped down to 4th place in the DWM 50th Anniversary Poll). We can forgive the Magma Beast in the same way we forgive the Skarasen and the Giant Rat. Brilliant script, great acting, and a tense, funereal tone throughout.
Things you probably know but we'll go over again anyway:
  • Harper's initial thoughts on casting Jek veered towards the pop world. He wanted David Bowie or Roger Daltrey.
  • Ian Holm and Ronald Lacey were considered for Morgus. Harper has claimed that he wanted Diana Dors and her husband Alan Lake (Underworld) for Timmin and Morgus.
  • John Normington's asides to the camera were the result of a mistake - him misunderstanding a stage direction. They looked so good Harper kept them in.
  • Colin Baker is the first Doctor to get a word in immediately after he has regenerated. His predecessors all had to wait until their first full episode. Unfortunately, what he does have to say makes him sound like a right sarcastic sod.
  • As with his very first appearance (in the fourth episode of Logopolis) Davison gets only second billing for his last episode. A bit of an insult I feel, but JNT has already moved onto his new Doctor.
  • The hand-held computer used by Morgus' devious assistant Krau Timmin (Barbara Kinghorn) is clearly a TV remote control.
  • Nicola Bryant is seen to visibly bounce when she falls into the Spectrox nest.
  • When the android guard sees the Doctor's two hearts via X-Ray, Davison is clearly wearing them around his neck, as none of the rest of his physiology gets X-Ray'd.
  • The Doctor's decorative vegetable is finally explained. It turns purple in the presence of certain gasses, whereupon the Doctor eats the celery.
  • The Master and all the Fifth Doctor's companions appear as he is about to regenerate. These were all specially filmed cameos. The appearance of Nyssa gained her creator Johnny Byrne a fee.
  • We should be thankful that all four scripts overran. One scene cut would have shown a lot more of the Magma Beast, as the Doctor had to fight it to get to the Queen Bat in Part Four.
  • We've never been back to Androzani (Major or Minor) but the inhabitants are still exploiting natural resources in The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe.

Saturday 25 July 2015

TARDIS Travels No.31

This covers the David Tennant Specials, plus two further adventures we witnessed that took place during this period. Only 7 stories, but quite a bit of TARDIS action - though much of it is reserved for Ten's swansong.

Journey 501: Chiswick, London, 2009, to Central London, 24th December 1851.
The TARDIS materialises somewhere in the City, near one of the street markets and close to the Thames.

Journey 502: London, 25th December 1851, to London, 2010.
The Doctor parks the TARDIS in the grounds of Buckingham Palace - something he suggests he has done more than once before. UNIT have it transported to the road tunnel where the No.200 bus had vanished with the Doctor on board.

Journey 503: London 2010 to location unknown, 2010.
The TARDIS tries to materialise in Ealing but some power prevents it from doing so. It eventually arrives at the hotel where Sarah Jane Smith is about to be married. This is out in the country, so the exact location isn't identifiable. The Trickster strands the Doctor, along with Luke, Clyde, Rani and K9 in a separate time zone to where the TARDIS is. It is located in the hotel's reception area.

Journey 504: Hotel in England, 2010 - reception area to function room.
The TARDIS breaks into the time zone where the Doctor can regain access. It leaves before the others can join him - and Clyde gets dosed with Artron Energy when he touches it.

Journey 505: Hotel in England, 2010 - function room.
With the Trickster vanquished once more, the TARDIS materialises fully in the function room back in normal time, where Sarah has been left broken-hearted.

Journey 506: Hotel to Ealing, London, 2010.
The TARDIS travels to Sarah Jane's attic. Luke, Clyde and Rani get to have a look around the console room - but are banned from taking a trip.

Journey 507: Ealing, London, 2010, to Mars, 21st November, 2059.
The TARDIS materialises on Mars, a short walk from Bowie Base One - the first manned station on the planet. The Doctor is shocked to learn of the date - as today is the day that the base is destroyed along with all its occupants.

Journey 508: Mars - surface to Bowie Base One - 21st November 2059.
The Doctor sends the robot Gadget to bring the TARDIS into the base.

Journey 509: Mars to Earth, 21st November 2059.
Presumably somewhere in England - possibly London. The Doctor has meddled with a fixed point in time by saving three of the Bowie Base crew. Adelaide Brooke ensures future history will not be altered by committing suicide.

Journey 510: England, 2059, to England, 1562.
The Doctor goes on a picnic with the young Queen Elizabeth, which is rudely interrupted when their horse proves to be a disguised Zygon. The location is unspecified but it can't be far from London.

Presumably the TARDIS is moved to the Tower of London by the Queen's guards, as it is there when the Doctor and Elizabeth get married.

Journey 511: London, 1562, to Gallifrey, date unknown.
The Tenth Doctor joins the Eleventh on Gallifrey, at the barn where the War Doctor is planning to use The Moment.

Journey 512: Gallifrey to near orbit, date unknown.
The Tenth joins all of the other Doctors in sending Gallifrey into a pocket universe to evade destruction by the Daleks.

Journey 513: Gallifrey orbit, date unknown, to London, 2013.
The TARDIS travels to the Undergallery at the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, where the three Doctors make their farewells.

Journey 514: Undergallery, London, 2013 to the Ood-Sphere, 43rd Century.
The Doctor lists a number of activities he has got up to since Ood Sigma had appeared to him in London, 2059. Only marrying Queen Elizabeth is seen. He may even be joking about some of these unseen travels. Ood Sigma states that a century has passed since the Doctor and Donna visited.

Journey 515: Odd-Sphere, 43rd Century, to London 24th December 2010.
The TARDIS arrives at the site of the prison where the Master has been reborn but it is far too late to stop him.

Journey 516: London - Broadfell Prison to Chiswick, 25th December, 2010.
The Doctor goes to the street where the Nobles live to meet with Wilf.

Journey 517: Chiswick to countryside near London, 25th December, 2010.
The Doctor and Wilf travel to the mansion belonging to millionaire Joshua Naismith. The Doctor hides the ship by moving it into a separate pocket of time, so that it won't fall into the Master's hands.

Journey 518: Naismith Mansion to Chiswick, 26th December 2010.
The dying Doctor takes Wilf back home - promising they will meet one last time before the end.

Journey 519: Chiswick to unknown location, England, 2011.
The Doctor saves the now-married Mickey and Martha from a Sontaran at an unknown location. Later, the Eleventh Doctor will reveal that he visited all of his companions at this time - though they were not always aware of it (Jo Jones wasn't).

Journey 520: Unknown location, England, to Ealing, London, 2011.
The Doctor saves Luke Smith from being run over by a car, and bids a silent farewell to Sarah Jane Smith.

Journey 521: Ealing, 2011, to location unknown, date unknown.
The Doctor travels to a bar somewhere in space, where he sets Captain Jack up on a date with Midshipman Alonso Frame. Unless young Mr Frame can travel in time, this must be around 2011. Jack was seen to leave Earth after the death of his grandson and the break-up of Torchwood.

Journey 522: Date and location unknown to England, 2011.
The Doctor goes to a book signing by Verity Newman - great grand-daughter of Joan Redfern. Her book tells of Joan's encounter with a time-traveller in 1913.

Journey 523: England - location unknown to church, location unknown, 2011.
An unseen journey is mentioned - as the Doctor went back and met Geoff Noble and borrowed £1 from him. Donna and Shaun Temple have just got married. The Doctor says farewell to Wilf and Sylvia Noble.

Journey 524: England - location unknown - 2011, to Powell Estate, London, 1st January 2005.
The Doctor's final farewell trip takes him back to the Powell Estate, at the beginning of the year when he will first encounter Rose Tyler. He sees her, but ensures she does not get a good look at him.

Journey 525: Powell Estate, London, to Earth orbit, 1996.
The Tenth Doctor's final journey. He regenerates, the process wrecking the ship.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Know Your Cybermen No.13

The Next Doctor (2008).
The thirteenth outing for the Cybermen, but hardly unlucky as they get to be the villains for the 2008 Christmas Special.
These are still the Cybus Cybermen created by John Lumic on the parallel Earth. When last seen, they had all been sucked into the Void between the universes and according to Rose Tyler, at the conclusion of Series 4, this realm was now lifeless. Somehow this group have managed to escape the Void, ending up in Victorian London. It seems that a piece of stolen Dalek tech permitted this. These Cybermen are identical to what we have seen over the last two years, the only significant addition being a new version of the Cyber-Leader. This has the same transparent brain case that the Lumic-Controller had, and the upper section of the face plate is totally black - not just the handlebars.
These Cybermen use devices called Info-stamps to download information - the tube-shaped stamps inserted directly into a slot behind the Cybus chest logo. If this compressed data is fired into their heads, it destroys them. When the same thing happens to a human, the information makes him believe he is the Doctor. The Cybermen have constructed a dreadnought-class spaceship in a chamber beneath the Thames - the Cyberking (see "Know Your Cybermen - Spaceships"). Children abducted from local orphanages are employed to complete it. It is controlled by a human - but Miss Mercy Hartigan's mind is able to override Cyber-control and she retains her self-will. The Doctor uses the Dalek tech - a dimension vault - to send the Cybermen and the Cyberking back into the Void.
This whole event is one of those which gets deleted when the universe gets rebooted during the real Next Doctor's time.
One other addition to Cyber technology is the Cybershade. Large black shaggy creatures, they have copper face masks based on their Cyber-masters' features. The Doctor speculates that they have been created from animals - possibly dogs or apes - but they are human sized (and shaped) with human-like hands, so must be some sort of animal / human hybrid.

Story Notes:

  • At one point the Cybermen were to have appeared in the closing moments of Series 4. A pair of Cybermen were to have appeared from nowhere in the TARDIS then vanished - leading the Doctor to come to London, 1851, intentionally. This scene was filmed (and can be seen as a DVD extra on the Series 4 box-set), but writer Russell T Davies decided to close with the Doctor mourning the loss of Donna.
  • Because David Tennant was going to go off to play Hamlet at Stratford, this story was filmed as part of Series 4. Previous Christmas Specials had been filmed prior to their following series. This meant that a teaser trailer could be shown a whole 6 months before the story would be broadcast. 
  • Listen out for Miss Hartigan's "Excellent" - in honour of the 1980's Cyber-Leaders.
  • The other Doctor's companion is named Rosita - Spanish for Little Rose - one of many elements designed to maintain the mystery of who David Morrisey's character really was.
  • This was the last episode made before the programme went High Definition. Despite being made for Series 4, it was released as part of the Tennant 2009 Specials DVD box set, where it was upscaled to HD.
  • The clips we see of the previous Doctors come from the following stories: The Time Meddler, The Ice Warriors, Terror of the Autons, City of Death, Arc of Infinity, The Mysterious Planet, Time and the Rani, The Movie, Parting of the Ways and Human Nature.

Saturday 18 July 2015

Story 134 - Planet of Fire

In which both Turlough and Kamelion are skulking around the TARDIS. The ship materialises on the island of Lanzarote, which puzzles the Doctor as the co-ordinates have been changed. Turlough has detected a mysterious signal which he has tried to keep hidden from the Doctor, whilst it looks as if Kamelion made the course change. The Doctor traces the signal to the harbour where an archaeological expedition has just raised some artefacts from a wreck on the sea-bed. One of the items is a golden rod with a pattern of over-lapping triangles on it. This is alien in origin, and one source of the signal. In charge of the expedition is Prof Howard Foster. His step-daughter Perpugilliam - Peri - Brown is bored. She wants to join some friends on holiday but Foster refuses to let her go. He strands her on their boat so that she will miss her flight. She decides to swim to shore, taking the golden artefact with her as a bargaining tool against Foster. Peri gets into trouble and Turlough has to swim out and rescue her. He sees the golden artefact, and reveals that he has a mark on his arm identical to that on the object. He leaves her in one of the TARDIS bedrooms. The Doctor returns to the ship, which suddenly dematerialises. It is homing in on the source of the strange signal. It arrives on the volcanic planet of Sarn. The Doctor and Turlough go out to explore. Peri wakes up and meets Kamelion - now in the form of her step-father. She believes it is him, until his skin turns silver. He then transforms into the Master.

Sarn is home to a civilisation which worships the god Logar, who dwells in the mountain of fire. There is a small group who deny this, and are in conflict with the community's elders, who are led by High Priest Timanov. He has influence over the real leader - the Chosen One, Malkon. Malkon was given this position as he was found as a baby near the volcano, and has a mark on his arm of over-lapping triangles... When the Doctor arrives, he is at first taken to be a messenger from Logar, who is predicted to arrive. Peri steals a TARDIS component from the console to prevent Kamelion taking control of the ship and she runs off with it. Kamelion - still in the form of the Master - gives chase. The Master is nearby, but his mental control over the android occasionally slips and Kamelion's skin turns silver, or he turns into Prof Foster when close to Peri's influence. Timanov sees him in his silvery Master form and realises that this must be the true messenger they have been expecting, as the messenger is supposed to shine like silver. This allows the Master to gain some control over the community. Kamelion turns them against the Doctor and those who don't believe in Logar. This group, led by Amyand, are more interested in science and technology. Kamelion attempts to have them all burned in a cave, but Turlough has identified the technology of this planet and is able to stop the flames. There are ancient machines which can control the volcano that is supposed to be where Logar dwells. He has one of Amyand's supporters take him to a forbidden area close to the volcano, where they find the wreck of a spaceship. Turlough reveals that this came from his home planet of Trion, and once carried him, his father, and his younger brother.

Peri finds her way to the Master's TARDIS and finds the evil Time Lord in reduced circumstances. An experiment with his Tissue Compression Eliminator has left him shrunk to only an inch or two in height. He had made contact with Kamelion in order that it could come here to rescue him. The volcano is capable of producing a gas named numismaton, which burns with a cold blue flame. This has restorative properties. The volcano threatens to erupt, and so Turlough uses the distress signal in the crashed ship to alert his homeworld. He tells the Doctor that his father was a political prisoner on Trion. Sarn was used as a prison planet for those exiled. The Trions will evacuate the locals before the volcano destroys them. It was a Trion scientist in a heat-resistant suit who gave rise to the legends about Logar and its messenger. Malkon is shot and wounded when he rebels against Timanov. Turlough saves him by bathing him in the numismaton. He informs the recovered Malkon that he is his brother. As he has the same mark on his arm - a Trion criminal brand - and he is the elder sibling, he is able to take control over the community and has them prepare for evacuation. Timanov, his faith shattered, refuses to leave. In the control room of the volcano, Kamelion brings the Master's TARDIS to stand where the numismaton will burn. The Doctor manages to damage the android. It knows that it will always be open to malign influences and so asks the Doctor to destroy it. He uses the Master's weapon on it. The numismaton begins to flow and the Master returns to normal size. The Doctor turns off the gas flow - and the Master appears to be incinerated. The Trion ship has arrived, and Turlough learns that he is able to go home a free man. He decides to do so, now that he has been reunited with his younger brother. He says farewell to the Doctor, who is now joined by Peri.

This four part adventure was written by Peter Grimwade - his final work on the programme - and was broadcast between 23rd February and 2nd March, 1984.
It was intended to write out Kamelion, the Master - in this form at least - and Turlough, and to introduce new companion Peri. To take the last point first, it was felt by producer John Nathan-Turner that having an American companion would help sell the show in the USA where it had a reasonable following that could be built upon. Actress Nicola Bryant is, of course, English, but had shared digs with an American and could manage a passable accent. As it was, it was the Britishness of the series that the Americans loved.
In the same way that the Delgado Master had been exclusively Jon Pertwee's nemesis, so it was decided that the character as played by Anthony Ainley should now be rested for a while as Peter Davison was about to move on. There had been thoughts about revealing his true connection with the Doctor - in the same way that the proposed Third Doctor / Master finale would have done. Then, it would have been that the Master was really the dark side of the Doctor. Here, he was going to be his brother. In the end, it was decided not to have any such reveal.
As stated in my look at the previous story, Kamelion was supposed to have been written out in a Dalek story which would have followed The King's Demons, but he had been left wandering unseen through the TARDIS corridors since his introduction. Here was the opportunity to get rid of him.
The story is also significant for being filmed overseas, something which JNT hoped to attempt every season. The location for Planet of Fire is Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. It plays both itself in the opening episode, and the planet Sarn. In some ways this is a bad move, as it seems unlikely that the Trion artefact should turn up on Earth in a place that looks identical to Sarn. Some other type of locale might have made the shift to Sarn more notable.

One obvious inspiration for this story is H Rider Haggard's She - with its life-prolonging flames.
The principal guest artist is Peter Wyngarde, playing Timanov. best known from the ITC spy-fi series Department S and its spin-off Jason King. In a relatively minor role, as Sorasta, is Barbara Shelley - a regular from the Hammer films. Malkon is played by Edward Highmore, and Amyand is James Bate. Prof Foster is Dallas Adams, and Gerald Flood returns to voice Kamelion.
Episode endings are:
  1. Peri looks on in amazement as her step-father turns into the Master...
  2. Kamelion urges the Sarn elders to sacrifice the Doctor and the other unbelievers, and they are pushed towards the cave where they will be burned alive...
  3. In the Master's TARDIS, Peri finds a miniature control room in a box, and within is the tiny Master himself...
  4. Turlough has decided to return to his own planet. The Doctor invites Peri to join him in his travels...

Overall, not a bad story. It has a number of tasks to perform and carries them out well enough. Misguided religious zealots are a bit of a sci-fi cliche, however. For once, the Master has a plan that actually makes sense - he just wants to be returned to normal and hopefully exploit other properties of the numismaton gas. The location work certainly helps make it more watchable.
Things you might like to know:
  • Peter Wyngarde makes an appearance in JG Ballard's autobiography, as both were confined to a Japanese internment camp when Shanghai was taken over by the Japanese in 1941. This was when he was plain Cyril Goldbert. Wyngarde's career suffered in 1975 when he was arrested for "cottaging". This ruined his on screen reputation as the ultimate ladies man. Other genre roles of note include General Klytus in the Flash Gordon movie, where his face was concealed in a mask throughout; a couple of appearances in The Avengers (including the Hellfire Club inspired A Touch of Brimstone); and he was one of the numerous Number Two's in The Prisoner
  • Dallas Adams' career also fell victim to his sexuality, as he had been involved in a high profile gay palimony case. This led the tabloid press to criticise his casting in this story. He died of an AIDS related illness in 1991.
  • Edward Highmore is the father of Freddie, who starred in the Tim Burton version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The two played father and son in a version of Jack and the Beanstalk.
  • JNT's petty feud with Peter Grimwade led to him not being invited to Lanzarote for the recce - despite flagging up the fact that he had difficulty writing for locations he did not know. The pair did have a reconciliation, and a further historical script by Grimwade was considered for Colin Baker's Doctor.
  • As mentioned, this was Peter Grimwade's final contribution to Doctor Who. He was first credited on the programme back in 1970 - when he was Production Assistant on Spearhead From Space. After leaving the show, he wrote an episode for ITV children's show Dramarama - "The Come-Uppance of Captain Katt" - which is about a TV sci-fi character. It was based on his experiences of working on Who. He also wrote a novel for WH Allen named "Robot", which has a number of Doctor Who references. He died of leukemia in 1990.
  • Director Fiona Cumming provided a special edition of this story for its DVD release. Running at 75 minutes, with new CGI effects, it also includes a new prequel - showing the crash of the spaceship carrying Turlough's family.
  • The trip to Lanzarote allows Peter Davison the opportunity to change his costume - with different trousers and a snazzy waistcoat. 
  • Junior Ensign Commander Vislor Turlough's service number is 9/12/44 - which just happens to be JNT's birthday.
  • When the series returned to Lanzarote for the Series 8 story Kill The Moon, the BBC were happy to let the rumour that it was a sequel to this story run.
  • This is the only Fifth Doctor story not to feature Janet Fielding. 
  • Mark Strickson has returned to the role of Turlough for the Big Finish audio range. He is best known these days for directing natural history films and his work with the late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

TARDIS Travels No.30

David Tennant's last full season as the Doctor, but before we get to that there is the small matter of Time Crash. The conclusion of Last of the Time Lords saw the Doctor go straight from dropping off Martha back at home to colliding with a ship called the Titanic. Except, in the Children In Need special we saw that the journey was far from straight-forward. The TARDISes of the Fifth and Tenth Doctors manage to end up inside each other. This could blow a whole in the universe the size of Belgium, but the Tenth Doctor remembers what the Fifth Doctor saw that averts this - the Fifth Doctor having seen what the Tenth Doctor does. Wibbly-wobbly...

Journey 475: London, Spring 2008, to Titanic, Earth orbit, 25th December 2008.
The TARDIS is in mid-flight, with the defences down, when it hits the spaceship Titanic. The shields being down is probably due to the extensive repairs that would have been needed to dismantle the Master's Paradox Engine. After making repairs to seal the breach, the ship then materialises in a storeroom on the vessel.
Once the Titanic has been struck by meteoroids, the TARDIS is cast adrift in space and makes its own way down to Earth - a defence mechanism akin to the old Hostile Action Defence System.

Journey 476: London, 25th December 2008, to London, Spring 2009.
The Doctor parks the TARDIS close to the HQ of Adipose Industries, as he wants to investigate the firm.
Journey 477: London to London, Spring 2009.
The ship is later seen in an alley. It could not have been there earlier in the story as Donna has parked her car here - and she would surely have spotted the TARDIS.

Journey 478: London, 2009, to Pompeii, Italia, 23rd August 79 AD.
En route to Pompeii, the Doctor does a fly-past over Chiswick so that Donna's grandfather can see that she found who she was looking for.
The TARDIS materialises in the storage area of a market trader, who sells it to local marble merchant Caecilius, who in turn has it transported to his home. The Doctor was aiming for Rome. Reminds you of someone, that Caecilius...

Journey 479: Pompeii to Pompeii, 24th August 79 AD.
The Doctor forces Donna to leave with him, but she manages to convince him to save Caecilius' family, so the ship rematerialises back at his house.

Journey 480: Pompeii - city to environs, 24th August 79 AD.
The Doctor takes Donna and the Pompeian family to a hillside overlooking the doomed city.

Journey 481: Pompeii, 79 AD, to Ood-Sphere, 4126.
The TARDIS materialises in the frozen wastes near Ood Operations.

Journey 482: Ood-Sphere, 4126, to England, 2009.
It must be at least 6 months since he left Martha on Earth, for her to be already established with UNIT. The Doctor gets a call from her, which brings the ship to the Atmos factory.
The TARDIS is briefly teleported to the Sontaran spaceship in orbit above the planet.

Journey 483: England 2009, to Messaline, 24th July, 6012.
The TARDIS suddenly takes off on its own - homing in on the Doctor's semi-Time Lord daughter Jenny. It arrives before she is created - thus bringing her about and creating a paradox. Donna works out the date thanks to her having temped as a librarian.

Journey 484: Messaline, 6012, to London, 2009.
The Doctor and Donna take Martha home. Bad bit of parking that - up on the kerb...

Journey 485: London, 2009, to Eddison Manor, England, 8th December 1926.
Well, they certainly had extremely mild winters back in the 1920's, didn't they? Maybe the Vespiform can generate its own micro-climate around it...

Journey 486: Eddison Manor to Harrogate Hotel, December 1926.
The Doctor and Donna drop the amnesiac Agatha Christie at the hotel where she will be discovered after having gone missing. Weather's lovely up here as well for the time of year...

Journey 487: Harrogate Hotel, England, 1926, to The Library, 51st Century.
The TARDIS materialises in The Library, which covers an entire planet. They are in the Biography Section. It isn't a Sunday, as the Doctor avoids them. They have come here in response to a message received on the Psychic Paper - which turns out to have come from a certain Professor River Song...

Journey 488: The Library, 51st Century, to Midnight, 27th Century.
The Doctor and Donna arrive at the leisure complex on the planet Midnight. One of the rare occasions in the New Series when the TARDIS is never seen at all in the episode.

Journey 489: Midnight, 27th Century, to Shan Shen, date unknown.
The TARDIS materialises in a street market on this planet which has a Chinese culture.
The Time Beetle causes Donna to experience an alternative time-line in which the Doctor died fighting the Racnoss - as he never met her. UNIT take the TARDIS and Rose Tyler, who has crossed from the parallel Earth, employs it to send the alt. Donna back in time to ensure history isn't corrupted.
Rose's reappearance in this universe causes the TARDIS to translate all writing as "Bad Wolf" - including its own signage.

Journey 490: Shan Shen, date unknown, to London, 2009.
The Doctor races back to Earth - only to find that everything appears to be quite normal. Soon after, however, the ship is left adrift in space when the planet vanishes from under it.

Journey 491: London, 2009, to the Shadow Proclamation, 2009.
Presumably still in 2009. The Doctor goes to seek the help of the oft-mentioned Shadow Proclamation, and learns of the other missing worlds. The Shadow Architect intends to use the TARDIS as a weapon in the war which will be waged against whoever is responsible for stealing the planets.

Journey 492: Shadow Proclamation to Medusa Cascade, 2009.
The significance of the missing bees leads the Doctor and Donna on a trail to the Medusa Cascade.

Journey 493: Medusa Cascade to same, 2009.
The telephone signal boosted through the Sub-wave Network, Sarah Jane's super-computer Mr Smith and the Torchwood Hub allows the TARDIS to break through the temporal barrier the Daleks have created to screen themselves and the missing planets.

Journey 494: Medusa Cascade to London, 2009.
The TARDIS materialises in the city. The Daleks have the ship transported up to the Crucible after the Doctor's abortive regeneration. It is then dumped into the heart of the Crucible, with Donna still aboard, to be destroyed by Z-Neutrino radiation.

Journey 495: Dalek Crucible to Medusa Cascade, 2009.
Before it can be destroyed, the newly created human Doctor pilots the ship to safety.

Journey 496: Medusa Cascade to Dalek Crucible, 2009.
The human Doctor and Donna return to the Dalek vessel.

Journey 497: Dalek Crucible to Medusa Cascade, 2009.
The TARDIS leaves the Crucible before it explodes and tows the Earth back to the Solar System. Throughout the Classic Series, there was never any question that the TARDIS needed to be piloted by more than one person. In 2005, RTD said that the reason the ship flew so erratically was that it was actually designed to be flown by 6 pilots - hence the six sides to the console. Here we see all six sections being operated simultaneously for the first time.

Journey 498: Earth orbit to London, 2009.
Presumably London, as Sarah Jane would need to get home for Luke. She, Jack, Martha and Mickey all jump ship here.

Journey 499: London, 2009, to parallel Norway, 2009.
Jackie isn't pleased to find they are back in Norway again - at Bad Wolf Bay. The human Doctor leaves to live with Rose.

Journey 500: Parallel Norway, 2009, to Chiswick, London, 2009.
To save her life, the Doctor has had to wipe Donna's memories of him and their travels together. He takes her home to her mother and grandfather.