Friday 31 May 2024

N is for... Nemesis

When a piece of living metal crashed to Earth in 1638, landing near the town of Windsor in England, it was found by the ruthless Lady Peinforte. She was an adept of the occult sciences, which she employed to achieve power and influence. She fashioned the silvery substance - validium - into a statue of herself in the form of Nemesis - the Greek Goddess who symbolised retribution and who punished those guilty of lack of respect towards the Olympians.
Validium originated on Gallifrey - invented in the Old Times as a sentient weapon of awesome power, designed to defend the planet. The statue was able to tell Peinforte something of its origins - and of the Doctor. 
He tracked it to Windsor 1638 and fought with Peinforte for control over Nemesis.
Winning the struggle, he launched the statue into space in a rocket sled after first removing its bow and arrow. This prevented it from achieving critical mass and reduced its influence. However, the rocket merely went into a slowly decaying Earth orbit. Each passing, every 25 years, resulted in troubled times on the planet below.
Lady Peinforte employed a mathematician to calculate when and where it would fall back to Earth - learning that this would be on 23rd November, 1988, just outside her home. She used her magic to travel forward in time with her manservant Richard to retrieve the statue - unaware that she was actually being manipulated by an ancient evil force known as Fenric.
Nemesis was also being sought by a Nazi war criminal - De Flores - and his army of mercenaries, and a force of Cybermen - all seeking to harness its potential for destruction.
It would regain its full powers once the bow and arrow were reunited with it. De Flores possessed the bow, and Lady Peinforte the arrow.
The Cybermen eventually won the statue. Refusing to accept this, Peinforte tried to physically possess it - only to be absorbed by it. The Cyber-Leader ordered Nemesis to rendezvous with its fleet, but the Doctor had already pre-programmed it to destroy the spaceships. 
Once this was done, it was to return to Gallifrey.

Played by: Fiona Walker. Appearances: Silver Nemesis (1988).
  • One version of the myth of Helen of Troy has Nemesis as her mother, rather than Leda.
  • Originally the punisher of those guilty of hubris, her name has come to refer to retribution for any crime.
  • Whilst Walker, who portrays Lady Peinforte in the story, played the statue in some scenes, a polystyrene model was also used.
  • Front-axial projection gave the statue its glow.
  • It is suggested by dialogue that it was the Second Doctor who first encountered Peinforte and the statue in 1638. It's never explained how he came to have the validium in the first place - or why he allowed it to orbit the Earth for 350 years rather than getting it back to Gallifrey.
  • Mention of it is conspicuous by its absence in any of the 21st Century episodes dealing with the fall of Gallifrey in the Time War.

N is for... Neman

Proctor of the ruling court on the planet of Traken. He was in charge of the Fosters who tended the palace and its gardens. This world was ruled by a Keeper and a circle of Consuls.
An avaricious and ambitious man, he was not averse to accepting bribes. When Consul Kassia fell under the malign influence of the Melkur - a calcified alien - she used Neman to capture the Doctor and her own husband, Consul Tremas. 
The Melkur became Keeper of Traken after Kassia's death, and it promoted him to succeed her. It transpired that the creature was actually the disguised TARDIS of the Master.
Neman was kept under his control by an irradiated collar which could inflict pain.
When he failed to recapture the Doctor and Tremas, the Master compelled the latter - under his hypnotic control - to shoot Neman dead for this failure.

Played by: Roland Oliver. Appearances: The Keeper of Traken (1981).
  • Neman was the name of the villain in this story, before writer Johnny Byrne was asked to incorporate the return of the Master. Byrne must have liked the name, as it featured in other unused scripts.
  • Oliver has also used the name Oliver Roland in his lengthy television career, which began in 1968. Amongst other things he has featured in soap operas (EastEnders, Coronation Street, Brookside) and crime dramas (Inspector Morse, Midsomer Murders, Vera, Inspector Lynley Mysteries, The Bill, Juliet Bravo) over the years. His last TV credit was the daytime medical soap Doctors in 2018.

N is for... Nelson-Stanley, Bea

Elderly resident of the Lavender Lawn nursing home, visited by Sarah Jane Smith and her young companions. Clyde Langer was paying a call on another resident named Mrs Randall, who told them that the home was being haunted by a ghostly nun.
Intrigued, Sarah Jane began investigating along with Maria Jackson. She was surprised to hear Bea mention Sontarans, and it transpired that she and her late husband, Edgar, had encountered the aliens in the Middle East during an archaeological expedition just after the war.
However, Bea suffered from Alzheimer's Disease, and only had brief moments of lucidity. She suspected that the ghostly nun was seeking an ancient amulet which Edgar had dug up on one of his expeditions.
She had hidden this in a tree in the grounds, but then gave it to Sarah's son Luke for safekeeping. 
The nun belonged to a convent which had been taken over by an alien Gorgon, and the amulet was needed to open a portal which would allow the creatures to invade the Earth. Maria helped Bea remember how she and Edgar had combatted the Gorgon in the past.
After the aliens had been defeated, Bea was reunited with the amulet. Though it couldn't cure her condition, it did enable her to recall the voice of her late husband.

Played by: Phyllida Law. Appearances: SJA 1.2 Eye of the Gorgon (2007).
  • Law was considered for the role of Barbara Wright back in 1963.
  • Her husband, Eric Thompson, appeared in The Massacre.
  • Daughters Emma and Sophie are both famous actors. The three have worked together on movies Emma and Peter's Friends.

N is for... Nefertiti

18th Dynasty Queen of Egypt, who once accompanied the Doctor on one of his adventures. In 1334 BCE he had just helped her people combat giant alien locusts when he received a call for help. The headstrong Nefertiti elected to accompany him - finding herself on a Silurian space ark on a collision course with 24th Century Earth.
The Doctor put a team together to help divert this, including Amy and Rory and a big game hunter from the early 20th Century named John Riddell. She and the hunter had a fiery love-hate relationship but rapidly came to respect each other.
They discovered that the vessel had been invaded by a ruthless trader named Solomon, who had jettisoned the crew and planned to financially exploit the dinosaurs which it also carried. On discovering who she was, the trader offered to trade the lives of the Doctor and friends for Nefertiti. She agreed, in order to save them. The Doctor was able to rescue her, and Solomon was destroyed trying to flee the ark. Once safely diverted to another planet where the dinosaurs could be released, Nefertiti elected to stay with Riddell in Africa, 1902.

Played by: Riann Steele. Appearances: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (2012).
  • Nefertiti (c.1370 - c.1330 BCE) was the wife of the Pharoah Akhenaten. It is believed that she may have ruled in her own right after his death, before the ascension of Tutankhamun. 
  • The tomb intended to hold her mummy was never completed, and her body has never been positively identified - though some unidentified female mummies have been proposed as being hers.
  • The iconic bust of Nefertiti, in the Neues Museum in Berlin, is one of the most famous of ancient Egyptian artefacts.
  • Steele appeared alongside David Tennant in the RSC production of Hamlet, has been a regular on medical drama Holby City, and featured in the MCU film Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Wednesday 29 May 2024

Inspirations: Closing Time

Unlike previous series since 2005, Steven Moffat decided to forego the usual two-part finale and produce two separate stories to conclude his second year in charge. Series 5 hadn't been a conventional two-parter anyway.
Closing Time is, first and foremost, a sequel to The Lodger. Gareth Roberts' Series 5 episode had seen the Doctor temporarily stranded on Earth and having to adapt to normal day-to-day living. Part of that had involved him standing in for new pal Craig at his place of work. Roberts takes this element and expands it into a full story.
"What would happen if the Doctor got a flat", becomes "what would happen if the Doctor had to hold down a job?".
Rather than plant the Doctor into an identical set-up - the same flat and Craig in the same relationship - things have moved on. He's living in a new house in Colchester, and has a baby. There's less room in the story for Sophie, so Daisy Haggard is reduced to a cameo role topping and tailing the episode. The actress had only limited availability anyway, as she was appearing on stage in London at the time.
The episode is all about what Craig and the Doctor get up to in her absence, with her fretting about how he will cope whilst he manages very well indeed, thank you - helped by the Doctor.
The baby was originally going to be girl, named Grace - later Tess.

Roberts based the interaction between the Doctor and Craig on that between the Second Doctor and Jamie.
(On entering Craig's new house, the Doctor comments: "You've redecorated. I don't like it" - a phrase coined by the Second Doctor, and used by others since).
The episode becomes a companion-lite story, with Craig fulfilling this role. Amy and Rory only feature in one scene and don't interact with the Doctor.
The name of the perfume she advertises - "Petrichor" - derives from one of the things Idris put into Rory's mind in The Doctor's Wife. It's the smell of earth after rainfall.
The reason for the Doctor's visit to Craig is that he is revisiting old friends as he thinks he is nearing the end of his life - just as the Tenth did in The End of Time Part II.

The setting of a department store came about after a police station, hospital and a supermarket had been considered. The latter was problematic as too many brand names would appear, and there was little narrative justification in the Doctor and Craig continually visiting a police station. Hospitals had featured several times already. A department store setting had formed the basis for the first version of The Faceless Ones, before shifting to an airport.
Roberts wanted a double name for his store - like Swan & Edgar or Marks & Spencer. Sanderson was named after a character in a book he had just read, whilst Grainger was one of his old teachers.

For the main threat we have the return of the Cybermen - in their first full episode of the Moffat era. He had featured them as part of the Pandorica Alliance, and then as part of the pre-credits sequence of A Good Man Goes To War. Moffat is on record as stating that they are one of his favourite monsters, and he will use them a lot - appearing in the penultimate episode of five of his six seasons.
Roberts gets to bring back the Cybermats - seen only in two Troughton stories and Tom Baker's Revenge of the Cybermen, their last appearance. (The Doctor actually quotes his earlier self from that story - "Not a rat. It's a Cybermat").
They were going to appear in Silver Nemesis, and Mike Tucker even created a new prop, but it ended up being dropped. His Cybermat can be seen in the (More Than) Thirty Years in the TARDIS documentary, menacing Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant.
For their new design, it was decided to accentuate the fact that these were converted animals, so they were given sharp fangs.
The exact nature and origins of the old Cybermats were never very clear.
A working title for the story was "Three Cybermen and a Baby" - a play on the name of the popular 1987 film starring Ted Danson, Steve Guttenberg and Tom Selleck.
Initially a lone converted human guarded a pod, inside which was a Cyber-Controller and a pair of Cybermen.

The Doctor plans a trip to Exedor. This name was made up by Roberts from Exxilon and Aggedor, from Season 11.
The door to the Cybership is said to be made of disillium - a metal first mentioned in Carnival of Monsters.
Mention is made of Star Trek - making it a fictitious TV programme in this universe. A Series 14 episode suggests instead that it isn't. (Around this time there was a crossover comic book series featuring the Cybermen and the Borg).
Once the Cybermen have been defeated - emotions being fatal to Cybermen from The Invasion to The Age of Steel - we have a coda with River Song which links into the final episode. This shows her being abducted from the Luna University and becoming the "Impossible Astronaut".
Next time: it's all happening at once, quite literally...

Monday 27 May 2024

What's Wrong With... Warriors' Gate

One of the most problematic productions of the classic series, this story saw the director dismissed at one point, only to be reinstated later. Paul Joyce saw himself as a bit of an auteur (as had Lovett Bickford on The Leisure Hive). The high pressure, time constrained, environment of a BBC electronic studio simply wasn't the place to experiment the way he wanted to - so he quickly fell behind schedule. There were problems with the set (and allowing the camera to film off it), and he hadn't prepared a camera script which might have kept him on track.
These behind the scenes problems don't translate to the screen, fortunately.
Warriors' Gate does have the reputation for being somewhat hard to follow, however - thanks to the non-linear nature of the Tharils. They are able to move through time, taking others with them.

In State of Decay, Tom Baker wanted to have a scene where the rebels throw a load of spears at the Doctor through the open TARDIS door, and he then emerges with all piled up in his arms - implying he has caught them all.
This was vetoed as being a bit too silly, and making the Doctor out to be a superhero. Interestingly, in this story we have the Doctor come under attack by a Gundan, defending himself with a handy weapon.
We cut back to him and he's holding a whole pile of broken weapons. It's as silly as the vetoed scene, but presumably was passed by producer and script editor in that it doesn't make him out to be the superhero.

The Privateer crew are a little too incompetent and lazy to be believable. How can they not know how there own big gun works?
They're supposed to be ruthless slave-traders, but you wonder how Rorvik puts up with them - or indeed how he came to a captain.
If the Privateer regularly captures Tharils, how come they got lost this time? They must make the journey between the different universes a lot. Is it just this particular CVE that's different? If so, it isn't explained.
Why do the Time Lords not know about the time-sensitive Tharils? Why have they allowed them to be enslaved by Rorvik and his buyers?

How did the enslaved humans manage to create the Gundans? We're not told of the timescale between the different periods, but it would be nice to know how one society led to another.
Why do the Tharils leave the spaceship after it has blown up? Couldn't they have done this before when there was less risk to themselves?
Why is the domain of the Tharils monochrome, when people who inhabit it do so in colour? Why was the banqueting hall not monochromatic?
Romana defends the Doctor from Rorvik by... slapping him rather feebly with a clipboard.
She and Adric manhandle Dwarf-Star alloy as though it were plastic - despite it supposedly weighing tons.
Is E-Space really going to furnish Romana with everything she needs to build a TARDIS, even if K-9 does have the blueprints?
VFX are good - apart from the metal wire holding the Gateway model together being exposed in slow motion.
At least with Leela's departure, they cobbled together a reason by having her fall in love with Andred. Romana's fails to get any effective build-up - simply deciding entirely out of the blue that she's going to give up her whole universe to help people she's only just met - one-time slavers themselves, who we haven't had a chance to work out if they can be trusted or not.

Sunday 26 May 2024

73 Yards - A Review

The odd title had already been explained before the episode made it to the screen. It was the distance maintained by a strange woman who begins trailing Ruby after she and the Doctor have disturbed an odd structure of string, bones and stones - a fairy circle - found in the grass near the TARDIS landing site.
The Doctor then inexplicably vanishes for the rest of the episode. (It was designed to allow Gatwa to finish work on Sex Education).
We're in proper Wales this week - it's not playing another part of the world or another planet for a change. 
RTD2 stressed in interviews in advance that he wanted to celebrate his homeland, We get about 30 seconds of praise, before he then presents us with rude and obnoxious staff and customers of a rural inn, followed by an insane right-wing Welsh politician. The only nice person Ruby meets in Wales is an English woman (this week's Susan Twist appearance).
Not quite what the Welsh tourist board might have been hoping for.

The action leaves Wales anyway, with London being the main focus of the latter half - which coincides with a big problem with this episode.
A promising "Folk Horror" instalment is being set up, with the spirit of Mad Jack resurrected in a remote country location. We're already being freaked out by the black-clad, grey haired lady whose following Ruby - someone capable of causing people to flee in terror.
It's all shaping up nicely when... 

Turns out it was all a joke by those lovely Welsh people, and we've just wasted a huge chunk of the episode on a wild goose chase. Hugely frustrating.
The story now switches to the mad populist politician, played by Aneurin Barnard. His character - Roger Ap Gwilliam  - is introduced in a really, really clumsy fashion, as the Doctor just happens to mention his name to Ruby.
The episode has now taken on elements of Turn Left in a major way, as we see how Ruby lives for many years after the Doctor has disappeared from her life - including having an encounter with UNIT, just like Donna. 
Older Ruby never really convinces. She just looks the same but with a different wig. We know that they can do old age make-up very well these days, so not sure why they avoided it. (When she does get to be much older, it's a different actor).
The Ap Gwilliam part of the story is a lot less interesting than the lost potential of the opening section.
It's basically stolen from Stephen King's The Dead Zone.
The manner in which he is defeated - Ruby manipulating the unknown woman to reach a place right next to him - is at least a clever way of resolving things (avoiding the usual self-sacrifice / assassination attempt).

Another frustration is that we never learn how this situation came about. There's definitely no sci-fi explanation. Instead it all seems to derive from supernatural causes - the breaking of the fairy circle.
We don't know what the woman is saying to scare people away - to the extent that Ap Gwilliam resigns the Premiership, and Kate Stewart abandons Ruby, as does her own mother.
We don't know why the Doctor disappears. 
We don't know how Ruby can end up travelling back through time to stalk her younger self in the first place.
There's no indication that any of this is going to be revisited later in the series, so it's all being left intentionally vague.

Another gripe from me is the underuse of the two big guest artists. Barnard only shows up half-way through, whilst Sian Phillips is confined to the false-start inn sequence.
As I said - frustrating. 
What makes it watchable, however, is the atmosphere and the mystery of what is going on, and how things will link up and resolve themselves. 
In other words, it's great on first viewing - but once you know what's happening, and how things are going to be left unanswered, it might prove to be one of the episodes you are least likely to revisit.

Ruby creating snow features yet again. Susan Twist plays another character (but this time Ruby begins to realise she's seen her before. Is she connected to Ruby, or is it to the Doctor? The problem is that we first saw her before Ruby joined the series, and here she appears when the Doctor is absent).
We also see the return of UNIT, who we know play a significant role in the finale. As this is a Turn Left-style timeline, Ruby will have to meet Kate for the first time all over again.
A phrase of the Doctor's has been picked up on - "the war between the land and the sea". He's describing the Welsh coastal landscape, but this title has also been bandied about as a possible spin-off series, featuring Sea Devils / Silurians.

Saturday 25 May 2024

Episode 118: The O.K. Corral

Young Warren Earp has been gunned down by Billy Clanton, who has come to free brother Phineas from the jailhouse...
Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson, meanwhile, are with the Doctor at the saloon, investigating the murder of Charlie the barman.
The Doctor is surprised to find himself being deputised, as the Clantons still think that he shot the gun from Seth Harper's hand. 
Wyatt's brother Virgil then arrives, and they and Bat head back to the jailhouse - leaving the Doctor holding a gun once more.
The Clanton brothers arrive home and find their father waiting for them, accompanied by Johnny Ringo, Kate and Steven.
On hearing that his sons have killed an Earp, Pa Clanton states that war has now been declared and there is no going back.
Warren is still alive when found by his brothers and is able to tell them of what happened before he succumbs to his wounds. Virgil and Wyatt tell Masterson that they will step outside the law if necessary to bring the Clantons down.
Virgil rides out to the Clanton ranch to challenge them to a gunfight at Tombstone's O.K. Corral the next day. Steven hopes to return with him, but Pa Clanton refuses to let him go.
Ringo insists that he will accompany the Clantons. He has no intention of fighting fairly, planning on attacking the Earps from behind.
Back at the jailhouse, the Doctor is told of Steven's whereabouts. Holliday arrives and informs the Earps that he will be joining them the next day.
The Doctor wants a peaceful resolution, and is told that he can go alone to the Clanton ranch to try and talk them into surrendering.
When he arrives there he finds everyone but Pa and Steven gone. Pa is convinced that his sons will win with Ringo by their side - but is shocked to learn that Holliday is also going to be there with the Earps. Steven, meanwhile, manages to warn the Doctor that Ringo will be accompanying the Clantons.
When he returns to town he is able to pass this information onto the Earps and Holliday.
The following day, both parties converge on the Corral. Ringo seizes Dodo and tries to use her as a human shield, but he is shot dead by Holliday. The Earps kill Billy and Phineas - and they and Holliday together gun down Ike Clanton.
The following morning the Doctor and his companions are gathered by the TARDIS when Holliday and Kate arrive to say farewell. The dentist reveals that a reward has now been placed on his head, and he will have to move on. He gives the Doctor a copy of the wanted poster as a souvenir. After they have gone, the Doctor elects not to keep it. They enter the ship and depart.
A short time later, the TARDIS scanner shows them a bleak and uninviting rocky landscape. However, the Doctor announces that he knows exactly where they are - in a time of great peace and prosperity. As he prepares to explore, they fail to notice a fur-clad figure, armed with primitive weapons, observing the ship...
Next week: Doctor Who and the Savages

Written by: Donald Cotton
Recorded: Friday 6th May 1966 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:50pm, Saturday 21st May, 1966
Ratings: 5.7 million / AI 30
Designer: Barry Newbery
Director: Rex Tucker (but see below)
Additional cast: John Raven (man on scanner)

The Gunfight at the OK Corral is one of the best known incidents in the history of the "Wild West". Like the Western genre of films and TV shows they inspired, most dealt with crime and criminals, and those who fought them, making legends of the likes of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Jesse James or Billy the Kid.
The story formed the backdrop to two major Hollywood movies: 1957's Gunfight at the OK Corral, which starred Burt Lancaster as Earp, and Kirk Douglas as Holliday; and 1946's My Darling Clementine, with Henry Fonda as Earp and Victor Mature as Holliday.
By now you will have read that events on the day of the gunfight did not match exactly with those depicted in this Doctor Who episode, and the nature of some of the characters was quite different.

As far as the lawmen were concerned, the lead was Virgil Earp. He was full-time Marshal of Tombstone. His brothers Wyatt and Morgan helped him as they were recruited as temporary assistant Marshals.
It was Virgil who decided to enforce the laws which the Clanton brothers - as members of the larger Cochise County Cowboys gang - were breaching. Rather than their cattle rustling, murders and stagecoach robberies, the tipping point was actually the carrying of weapons, prohibited by three separate local laws.
It was Virgil who therefore triggered the events at the O.K. Corral.
As a friend of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday joined the Earps in their decision to take action. All had long-standing grievances with members of the Cowboys, individually or as a group - so this was simply bringing long-simmering tensions to a head.
On the night before the gunfight, Ike Clanton and Holliday confronted each other in the Oriental Hotel and this lead to them challenging each other.
The following day - Wednesday 26th October 1881 - the rival groups formed up, intent on settling their differences. The Cowboy side comprised Ike and Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury, and Billy Claiborne.
The rivals met at the O.K.Corral, where Ike and Frank had stabled their horses that afternoon. Each side claimed the other fired first - either Billy Clanton or Wyatt Earp. Virgil targeted Frank McLaury first as he was the more formidable gunman and posed the greatest danger.
Ike Clanton was actually unarmed and ran off, along with Billy Claiborne, who also claimed to be unarmed.

The gunfight lasted only a minute or so, and by its end Billy Clanton and both McLaury brothers were dead. Virgil and Morgan Earp were wounded. Holliday suffered only a minor injury.
All very different to the events of this episode, which features three Clantons who all die, with the "lawmen" all unscathed.
With so many rival survivors, varying records of what happened that day exist - depending on what side you were on. Nationally, the press was on the side of the Earps, but local sympathy was actually with the Clanton side. When the dead trio were posed in their coffins at the local undertakers, prior to burial in Boot Hill, a sign declared they had been murdered.
Ike Clanton initiated murder charges against Wyatt and Holliday, leading to a legal hearing on the case. The pair were acquitted of any crime.

Ike Clanton continued his life of crime in another part of Arizona, and was shot dead by a constable in an ambush in June 1887.
Brother Phineas survived to January 1906. Captured in the same action which saw Ike killed, he spent a short time in prison (only 18 months of a 10 year sentence). His eventual cause of death was pneumonia.
Doc Holliday died as a result of his TB just a few months after Ike Clanton, aged 36.
The real Kate died a week short of her 90th birthday, in 1940.
"Pa" Clanton - Newman Haynes Clanton - was actually dead by August 1881. He and four others were killed in an ambush by Mexican soldiers near the US-Mexican border.
Wyatt Earp ended his days in California, dying aged 80 in 1929. He earned a living mainly through gambling and sports promotion, especially from boxing and horse racing. He also became associated with the early days of Hollywood, making friends with screen cowboys Tom Mix and William S Hart, director John Ford, and advising on Western movies.
Badly injured in a failed assassination attempt a couple of months after the infamous gunfight - an act of revenge by associates of the Cowboys - Virgil Earp eventually died in 1905 after contracting pneumonia.
Brother Warren actually lived to the age of 45, dying in an ambush in 1900.
Like Warren, Bat Masterson never featured in the actual gunfight, being absent from Tombstone at the time. He eventually became a journalist, dying in New York in 1921.

The Gunfighters might not have been the final purely historical Doctor Who story, but it was the last to feature genuine historical figures combined with an actual historical event.

Rex Tucker and a single cameraman visited Callow Hill Sandpit, Virginia Water, on Sunday 1st May to film the shots of extra John Raven as the primitive-looking man who was to appear on the TARDIS scanner - the link into the next episode.
On the same day, Peter Purves and Jackie Lane were to be found in another sandpit, in Oxshott, filming scenes for The Savages.
There was a delay in recording on Friday 6th May, as the armourer turned up late. This was the second time this had happened, so Tucker lodged a formal complaint.
There was no reprise from the previous episode, the episode opening with a shot of the Doctor, Bat and Wyatt standing around the covered body of Charlie - concealed as an extra was being used to save hiring David Graham to play a corpse.
A large part of the episode was on film - the footage of the gunfight itself, recorded at Ealing between Tuesday 29th - Thursday 31st March.
The final recording break of the evening allowed Purves and Lane to change out of their cowboy / girl outfits. A small section of TARDIS console room was used.

Instead of the usual episode title being trailed on a caption at the end of the instalment, the following week's entire story title appeared. Innes Lloyd had decided to drop the individual episode titles and start using overall story ones - something which was being done behind the scenes anyway. Previous script editors had drawn up lists which gave such overall titles.
We won't see the return of individual episode titles until 2005, though the opening episode of Invasion of the Dinosaurs will feature a one-off amended name.
The end credits of The O.K. Corral are significant for another reason - the lack of any director credit.
Tucker had an argument with Lloyd over the editing of the episode. When overruled by the producer, he asked to have his name taken off the finished programme.
This was his final involvement with the show.

As you can see from the ratings, this episode saw a further fall in the number of viewers watching, and those who did watch clearly weren't enjoying what they saw.
Unfortunately, producer and script editor in interviews would misrepresent these figures to suggest that this was the least watched Doctor Who story to date, justifying their decision to discontinue the purely historical stories in favour of sci-fi adventures. This was taken up by certain influential fans in the late 1970's who continued to spread the misinformation - despite the ratings being available in the archives. These fans contributed to Doctor Who Weekly / Monthly, and so the error was perpetuated and spread further afield.

The viewing figures were undeniably poor - but not as bad as was being made out. The real problem was the Appreciation Index figure. A BBC studio-bound Western simply wasn't enjoyed.
The Gunfighters isn't the disaster it is often made out to be. It has some lovely comic performances, especially from Hartnell.
Since being released on VHS and then DVD, it has been reassessed in a more positive light - but still ranks low in polls of the Hartnell era. That annoying Ballad has to share much of the blame.

  • The ratings continue their decline, now falling below the 6 million mark. Even worse, the audience appreciation figure falls to a new low of 30. 
  • This is the first time we see the story title structure Doctor Who and the... appear on screen. Often adopted by Radio Times, it had generally been used on scripts and production paperwork up until this point.
  • Thursday 19th May saw the publication of a negative article by Bill Norris in the trade paper Television Today. The headline says it all:
  • Sydney Newman wrote to Lloyd on Monday 23rd May - congratulating him for the production, but stating that he thought the whole idea of a Western had been misconceived in the first place. He particularly disliked the Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon.
  • 192 viewers contributed to a BBC Audience Research Report on this closing episode. Only 11.4% of the potential TV audience had watched. The majority of respondents thought, like Newman, that even considering such a story had been a mistake in the first place. The script was described as dull, and there were complaints about the level of violence. The accents were once again criticised.
  • There was one positive note in the Report, however - the performances by Hartnell and Anthony Jacobs were highlighted.
  • The press and public response, and the Report in particular, prompted Lloyd and Gerry Davis to push ahead with phasing out the purely historical stories at the earliest opportunity - something both had been considering since they arrived.

Friday 24 May 2024

Story 291: Fugitive of the Judoon

In which the Doctor discovers a terrible truth about her own past...
Ruth Clayton is starting a new career as a tour guide in the historic city of Gloucester. It's her birthday, and husband Lee will collect her cake from a local café owned by a man named Allan, who has always carried a torch for her. He is quite obsessed, and has even amassed a file on Lee in an attempt to drive a wedge between them.
Unbeknownst to all, a Judoon spaceship has arrived in orbit above Earth and its commander - Pol-Kon-Don - has targeted the city. 
In the TARDIS, the Doctor's companions are concerned about her recent subdued behaviour. As they try to get her to talk about this, an alarm sounds - warning them of the Judoon presence. They have set up a forcefield around the centre of Gloucester, but the Doctor is able to get the TARDIS through, materialising at the back of Allan's café. On learning that aliens have arrived, Lee rushes off to find his wife. 
As the Doctor, Yaz and Ryan leave the café, they fail to spot Graham being teleported away.
Ruth is confronted by a platoon of Judoon, who are searching for someone - scanning individuals in the area. She witnesses an old friend killed when they try to walk through the forcefield.
The Judoon track their fugitive to the café, where they kill Allan when he challenges them.

Ruth goes home to find a panicked Lee packing hurriedly to leave. The Judoon home in on their flat, as does the Doctor, who has identified a strange energy signal.
She uses her psychic paper to convince the Judoon that she has legal status here, ordering them to hold back whilst she investigates the property. The commander gives her a few minutes before they move in.
Graham, meanwhile, has found himself on an alien spaceship, where he is confronted by a brash American - Captain Jack Harkness. He initially thinks that Graham is the Doctor, as that was who he was trying to teleport. The spaceship comes under attack by its owners, as Jack had stolen it.
In the flat, the Doctor discovers an alien artefact hidden amongst Lee's belongings. The Doctor has scanned him and Ruth but they show as human. Everyone decides to split up, with the Doctor taking Ruth to the nearby cathedral whilst Lee keeps the Judoon busy. Yaz and Ryan go outside to further delay them - only to be teleported to Jack's ship.
Lee is left alone to confront the Judoon, who are joined by a woman named Gat. It is clear that Lee knows her. As he is not the fugitive they seek, the Judoon refuse to arrest him - but Gat shoots him dead anyway.

Jack tells the Doctor's companions that he will get them back to Earth shortly, but they must give her a warning. She is to beware a lone Cyberman and deny it something it seeks. They are then teleported back to Earth.
At the cathedral, the Doctor and Ruth are traced by the Judoon. On learning of Lee's death, Ruth suddenly attacks Pol-Kon-Don, displaying martial arts skills which surprise her, and shock the Doctor. She even snaps off the Judoon commander's horn - a mark of great disrespect.
They escape and reach Ruth's car. She is experiencing strange flashbacks to a building - a converted lighthouse on the coast where she used to live. Knowing it to be significant for what is going on, they head there.
The Doctor finds a grave belonging to Ruth's parents which she is curious about. She begins to dig down, and is shocked to discover a buried Police Public Call Box.
In the house, Ruth has been hearing voices, and is compelled to seek out a fire alarm button. She smashes it.
As the Doctor ponders the presence of what appears to be her TARDIS, Ruth emerges from the house, her personality quite changed. She announces that she is the Doctor, and this is her concealed TARDIS.
Once they have gained entry to it, the Doctor realises that she is indeed a Time Lord - her identity hidden by a Chameleon Arch. Ruth is adamant that she is the Doctor, and the pair wonder why neither can remember the other. 

Now that she is no longer protected by the Arch and the TARDIS reactivated, the Judoon identify the ship and beam it onto their craft.
The Doctor discovers from Gat that Ruth is indeed an incarnation of herself. She is also Gallifreyan - an officer with a group known as the Division. She has been hunting for the Ruth-Doctor.
From what they say, the Doctor realises that the fugitive Doctor originates from her past, rather than some future incarnation which she initially thought. This makes her existence all the more puzzling as she has no memories of her. She is able to show Gat that Gallifrey no longer exists as she shares her memories of her recent visit, though she refuses to believe this.
The Doctor then witnesses her other self seemingly trick Gat into destroying herself. She fires a weapon which has been programmed to reverse its blast. The Ruth-Doctor points that she did warn Gat not to shoot, but the Gallifreyan refused to heed her warning.
The spaceship has now moved out of Earth orbit, and the Doctors point out that the Judoon no longer have jurisdiction here. Both Doctors return to Earth in the fugitive Doctor's TARDIS, where the Doctor is reunited with her companions.
Back in her own TARDIS, they warn her of their meeting with Captain Jack and his warning. Attempts to get the Doctor to talk are thwarted by another alarm sounding - indicating multiple threats across the globe...

Fugitive of the Judoon was written by Vinay Patel and Chris Chibnall, and was first broadcast on Sunday 26th January 2020.
It's clear that the things people remember this for - Captain Jack and the Fugitive Doctor - are Chibnall's contribution, so Patel doesn't really add a great deal.
The episode introduces Jo Martin as the Fugitive Doctor - a previously unknown incarnation who predates the First Doctor as portrayed by William Hartnell.
It's hardly original, Steven Moffat having created the War Doctor for Day of the Doctor, after Christopher Eccleston refused to return to the series. He was explained as a Doctor who had gone to war, and therefore been psychologically suppressed by the Doctor as he had taken up arms. As a man of violence, he didn't even deserve the name of Doctor for what he had done.
As such, the War Doctor could be accommodated in canon by fans without too much of a fuss. It pushed all the new Doctors along, numerically, and had implications for the 12 regenerations rule, but it was always known that ways round this would be found when the time came.
Chibnall's actions were far more controversial, in that he undermines the entire history of the programme to date. The Hartnell Doctor was no longer the first. There was at least one incarnation before this - the first non-male / non-white in story-telling terms.

We are also introduced to a new Gallifreyan group called the Division, who appear to be militaristic and interventionist, coming across as some sort of security force.
The problem with creating prequels, as any fan of the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises could tell you, is that they are extremely difficult to shoe-horn into established lore. It's near impossible without breaking something somewhere else.
ST: Enterprise struggled to include fan-pleasing aliens whom we knew weren't encountered by Starfleet until ST: The Next Generation, whilst ST: Discovery shows technology far in advance of the original 1960's series. Revenge of the Sith does not provide a seamless segue into A New Hope.
Here we are expected to believe that the Division have singularly failed to identify and capture the Doctor in any of her subsequent incarnations, despite being time-travellers. (The same problem arose with Torchwood - another prequel mess-up as the organisation stupidly failed to capture the Doctor in any of his many visits to contemporary Britain, even during his lengthy exile).
How could Gat be "time-locked" to early Gallifrey and not be aware of its destruction - known to the Doctor in her "present"?.
We also have the problem of the Police Box-shaped TARDIS. It is an unquestionable fact that the TARDIS took on different shapes under the First Doctor prior to becoming stuck in its iconic form only after Totters Lane. We may not have seen this, but the Doctor and Susan clearly state it.
Are we to believe that the TARDIS became stuck as a Police Box twice?
Then there's the issue of the First Doctor and Susan leaving Gallifrey in The Name of the Doctor, in a TARDIS which is suggested by Clara - highly unlikely to be the one used by the Fugitive Doctor.

As well as Martin, who was a regular on Holby City, we have Neil Stuke playing husband Lee Clayton. He is scanned as human and was presumably the Fugitive Doctor's companion, and has been fulfilling a role similar to that held by Martha whilst the Tenth Doctor was John Smith. His origins are never fully explained - other than he was some kind of soldier.
Stuke came to fame mainly through comedy roles, the first of which was the sitcom Game On. He played boss CJ is the ill-advised remake of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.
Playing Allan is Michael Begley. He previously portrayed Mulligan, one of Captain Avery's crew in The Curse of the Black Spot.
Gat is Ritu Arya, who has appeared in Humans and The Umbrella Academy.
The lead Judoon is played by Paul Kasey, as he had done in Smith and Jones and other Judoon appearances. Nick Briggs inevitably provides the vocals.
The other significant thing about this episode is its re-introduction to the parent series of Captain Jack, as played by John Barrowman. He had not been seen since the final instalment of Torchwood: Miracle Day.
Having first appeared in a Steven Moffat story, return appearances were often expected throughout his tenure as showrunner, and indeed some stories did toy with having him back - such as him being one of the gang the Doctor put together in A Good Man Goes to War.
His mention of a lone Cyberman introduces a new element to the overall season story arc.

Overall, it's a frustrating episode. Perfectly fine as a stand-alone adventure with the Judoon, but it's the implications for the entire history of the series that cause disquiet. The feeling is that it is a seismic change which has damaged rather than enhanced the programme, and was really quite unnecessary. The War Doctor showed that you could take big risks and shake things up with the show, without unduly upsetting fans. (And it did upset fans - and has continued to do so ever since). Non-fans would have had no interest whatsoever in any of this.
Things you might like to know:
  • A working title for this story was Semper Fidelis - the Latin motto of the city of Exeter, as this was its original location.
  • The story was originally intended as the very first of the Jodie Whittaker / Chibnall era - meaning that the latter wasn't always intent on his first season having no continuity to previous stories.
  • In this earlier version, Ruth would have been a future Doctor and instead of a husband had a grown son who knew her true identity. There were no Judoon involved. A new alien race called the Karreg took their place.
  • To conceal his return, Barrowman was credited as "Roy Lester" in advance paperwork for the story. This is an anagram of "Rose Tyler".
  • To explain his presence in Cardiff, he told everyone that he was carrying out renovations to his house there - work which he actually undertook in the end.
  • His scenes were filmed by a different director. The spaceship location was Clifton Cathedral in Bristol, with the altar disguised.
  • Whilst filming did take place in central Gloucester, the fight with the Judoon actually took place in a Cardiff church - St German's. Gloucester Cathedral has allowed filming - it features in the Harry Potter films.
  • Pol-Kon-Don was named after fan Paul Condon who had recently passed away. He was a friend of Chibnall's.
  • This Judoon differs from others in that it has a mohawk hairstyle, and is said to be female.
  • There's a shot of the Doctors at the TARDIS which clearly shows the back of the prop - something which hadn't been seen since the days of the classic series. Not a deliberate homage.
  • The West Usk Lighthouse near Newport can be hired out as accommodation and as a wedding venue. The accommodation is no longer in the lighthouse itself, but in an adjacent cabin.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

N is for... Neeva

Shaman, or priest, of the Tribe of the Sevateem on a primitive unnamed planet. The Sevateem were the descendants of an Earth space mission which had crashed here generations ago. The name Sevateem was a corruption of "Survey Team". As tokens of his authority, Neeva wore the tattered remains of a spacesuit and wielded pieces of technology, their true purpose long forgotten. 
Neeva held considerable power in the community, which was led by the chief Andor. They saw their purpose in life as the rescue of their deity, Xoanon, from a rival group known as the Tesh. They dwelt beyond a mountain on which was carved the face of the Evil One.
When Leela blasphemed against Xoanon, Neeva had her banished from the village - and then secretly sent men to kill her. He later lied to the tribe about the Doctor's death.
Shortly after arriving on the planet, the Doctor had discovered that the face on the mountain bore his own features. He had visited the spaceship crew not long after they had crashed here, and used part of his own personality to repair their computer - Xoanon. 
It had actually developed its own personality, which came into conflict with this - driving it mad. It deliberately kept the Sevateem and Tesh (Technicians) separated as part of a eugenics experiment.
It also kept contact with Neeva through the discarded technology, manipulating the tribe through him.
This included a number of unsuccessful rescue attempts to breach the mountain.
When the tribe finally succeeded in getting to the spaceship which held Xoanon, Neeva's psychosis prevented him from being taken over by the computer. He used a Tesh weapon to fire upon the machine, killing himself in the process. 
However, it distracted Xoanon long enough for the Doctor to reset it.

Played by: David Garfield. Appearances: The Face of Evil (1977).
  • Garfield had previously portrayed the alien Von Weich in The War Games. He has also voiced the Master for Big Finish.

N is for... Navarino

A fun-loving alien species who used metamorphic technology in order to visit other planets incognito for pleasure. In their natural form, they resembled huge purple starfish, covered in suckers.
The Doctor and companion Mel encountered a group who transformed themselves into Earth people, dressed in 1950's style. They were participating in a Nostalgia Tours holiday to Disneyland to experience Rock & Roll music. The company were notoriously unreliable, and the Doctor had to rescue their spaceship - made to look like a period tourist coach - when it collided with a communications satellite.
Driver Murray and the rest of the Navarino found themselves instead enjoying a weekend at a holiday camp in South Wales.
Unfortunately, amongst the tour group was a member of the Chimeron race, who were being hunted to extinction by the ruthless Bannermen. They landed as the Navarino tourists were trying to escape. The tour coach and its occupants were vapourised.

Played by: Johnny Dennis (Murray), Leslie Meadows (Adlon), Anita Graham (Bollitt). Appearances: Delta and the Bannermen (1987).
  • Another member of the tour group is Keilor (Brian Hibbard) who informs the Bannermen of Delta's location. It is not clear if he is also a Navarino. As he is already dressed in 1950's period costume on the spaceship, he may well be.

N is for... Nathan

A young man who was passenger on a No.200 bus at Easter, 2010. This vehicle passed through a wormhole as it travelled through a tunnel under the Thames, and the passengers found themselves on an alien planet. Fortunately, amongst their number was the Doctor, who had been tracking the space-time anomaly.
Unemployed, and planning to spend a quiet night in watching TV, Nathan's evening now saw him helping to free the bus from the desert sands in which it had become stranded on the world of San Helios.
Impressed with the way he handled his ordeal, the Doctor later recommended that Nathan be considered for a role with UNIT.

Played by: David Ames. Appearances: Planet of the Dead (2009).
  • Ames was best known for a regular role on medical drama Holby City.
  • He is a frequent performer with Big Finish, in particular the Bernice Summerfield range.

N is for... Natasha

Daughter of the scientist Arthur Stengos, who was an old friend of the Doctor's. She and a medic friend named Grigory broke into the Tranquil Repose funerary complex on the planet Necros when she became suspicious about the circumstances surrounding her father's death. She was right to be suspicious as they found his tomb empty - his body replaced with a dummy.
In a nearby laboratory they discovered a transparent Dalek casing, in which Stengos' head was housed. He was being physically and mentally transformed into a Dalek by the "Great Healer" who ran the complex. This was actually Davros, who was creating a new army of Daleks from the bodies stored here - a force loyal only to him. (The waste products were being sold to a neighbouring business, which used it as a foodstuff).
Stengos urged his daughter to kill him, which she did.
Trying to flee, she and Grigory were captured and tortured by Takis and Lilt, senior attendants at Tranquil Repose. They were freed by the assassin Orcini, who had come to kill Davros.
Sent by the Doctor to destroy the laboratory, both were killed when a hovering Dalek materialised and ambushed them. 

Played by: Bridget Lynch-Blosse. Appearances: Revelation of the Daleks (1985).
  • The novelisation of the story has Natasha and her partner succeed in destroying the lab only to be attacked by a group of Daleks as they flee - with Natasha killing herself rather than be caught and potentially turned into one of the creatures like her father.
  • Lynch-Blosse also appeared in Chris Boucher's Star Cops.
  • She gave up acting after only a short period, to become a jazz singer.

Tuesday 21 May 2024

S14 Ratings - the story so far

As you can see from the above table, the UK viewing figures for Series 14 are far from spectacular. The series actually managed to lose 0.2 million viewers in the space of an hour on its opening night...
The fact that the Eurovision Song Contest followed should have seen the audience increase instead of drop - but that annual event also suffered a massive drop of nearly 25% from the previous year. (Partly due to politics, partly because it's turned into some sort of freak show).
The above figures include those who have watched the new episodes from midnight on the Friday. It was hoped that this would significantly boost the figures, but historically viewers of the BBC i-Player only account for around 15% of the audience total.
(The decision to launch at midnight was entirely down to pleasing Disney, no matter what RTD2 claims, and I don't think it's done the programme the slightest bit of good in the UK).

Most worrying of all, episodes have traditionally picked up a lot more viewers over the following 7 days, as people get round to watching stuff they've recorded at the weekend through the week.
The third column shows that this isn't happening to any significant degree this year.
The other obvious thing to note is the steady drop in the overnights. Word of mouth on Boom has been positive - but will that translate into people who haven't caught it yet deciding to give it a go, or have the first two, rather atypical, episodes put people off?

The good news is that audience share remains high, and the first two instalments managed 10th and 12th places for the week across all channels, beating some soap opera episodes.
We also don't know what the international situation is. It's in the Top 10 (just) on the Disney+ Most Watched list at the moment, as you can see below.

It's somewhat worrying that old episodes of series they don't even make any more are higher...

Individual figures don't mean a lot these days, as viewing patterns have changed so much. We also have to consider other factors such as how late in the year the series has started (it really ought to have launched soon after Christmas, as the weather in Britain the last two weekends has been hot and sunny - even in Scotland).
The most important thing to watch is how the viewing figures change over time. (Finales always do well, but what will episodes 4 - 7 look like?).
When he launched the series in 2005, RTD held Dalek in reserve as a "tent-pole" episode. If the series flagged after the opening episodes, the return of the Daleks would give the show a mid-season boost. I'm not sure he has anything like that in his arsenal this time round.

Monday 20 May 2024

Inspirations: The God Complex

Steven Moffat had considered a story set around a huge, seemingly deserted hotel as a possible first Christmas Special. A woman staying at the luxurious hotel over the festive period would find that her family and all the other guests had vanished, and she was alone until she met the Doctor. Moffat even had an idea of who he might like to play the woman - Helen Mirren.
The inspiration had been Moffat's own stays in hotels, which he often found disorientating.
Moffat passed the idea onto Toby Whithouse - suggesting that the hotel should instead be run-down and that the rooms keep changing. The story was originally intended to occupy the sixth slot of Series 5.
The changing rooms and the corridors resembling a maze led inevitably to thoughts of the Minotaur.

The series had already featured the legendary half-man, half-bull on more than one occasion. The Doctor and Zoe had encountered the mythical creature in The Mind Robber, and then he and Jo Grant had met a real Minotaur - created by the Chronovore Kronos - in ancient Atlantis.
Former Script Editor Anthony Read, who favoured adapting works of literature for Doctor Who stories, later contributed a sci-fi adventure based on the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur - The Horns of Nimon
Rather than simply ignore the resemblance, Whithouse elected to explicitly make his Minotaur a relative of the Nimon.

Both the original myth and Read's adventure had seen the Minotaur being fed sacrifices, and this is carried on here.
Whithouse came up with the idea that the people who had once worshipped the creature had grown apathetic and turned their back on this religion. They therefore cast it out in a form of prison which would float through space, occasionally bringing sacrifices to it to continue to feed it.
He did not want the Minotaur to be purely evil, however. Knowing that people had to die to feed it, it had over time come to hate its existence and wanted to die itself. This would make it a sympathetic monster.

The nature of the hotel settled on a 1980's design - as this was the time when Whithouse had stayed in hotels on childhood holidays.
He was also inspired by the cult ITV series Sapphire and Steel, which had featured its characters trapped in seemingly mundane environments (such as the roadside café in the final story).
The story title is a play on words - in the same way that Tony Read had played with the term "power complex" in his story - it's both Soldeed's state of mind and the Nimon's lair.
A "god complex" is a psychological condition in which a person has an unshakeable belief that they are infallible - always right and can do no wrong. As well as having a story about a being which feeds on faith, it is also a god - albeit a redundant one - which lives in a labyrinth (or complex) of corridors.
Gibbis the Tivolian was created to act as a mirror to the Minotaur. He and his people exhibit the opposite of the "god complex" - being conditioned to fail and be perpetually conquered.
In the initial drafts, Gibbis was a human character named Edward.
The religious character was originally going to be a devout Christian, but this was changed to make them a Muslim to give the group more diversity.

The idea of the bedrooms containing personal fears came later. The executive producers were worried that the hotel setting might prove boring for viewers after a while, and so it was suggested that the rooms could feature bizarre characters - clowns and gorillas as well as people - to add some visual variety.
Whithouse had been thinking a lot about Hell and Purgatory / Limbo after writing the opening episode of his third series of Being Human, which had featured characters in a form of limbo.
The appearance of Weeping Angels was purely a cameo decision. 
The Doctor gets a room of his own, and it is obviously No.11. This was always going to be left open for fans to debate what it might contain, until Moffat revisited it for his final Matt Smith episode.
Amy's room, containing young Amelia Pond, was No.7 - the age she was when she first encountered the Doctor.

Cameos of a different kind were the photographs on the hotel walls of previous victims. These were simply standard publicity pictures of various creatures, plus members of the crew - including producer Marcus Wilson.
The reveal of the true spacecraft environment was inspired by the holodeck in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
As part of the overall season story arc agreed with Moffat, Whithouse included the idea of the Doctor deciding that his adventures were going to get Amy and Rory killed, and it might be best to part company - helping facilitate this year's Doctor-lite episode.
Next time: Are you being converted? The Cybermen find the concept of Love mind-blowing in a sequel to The Lodger.

Saturday 18 May 2024

Boom - A Review

Boom is the first story of the new RTD era to be written by someone else - and it's by Steven Moffat. He is, of course, his original replacement as showrunner and the writer from his earlier tenure who scored the biggest hits as far as awards and many fan polls went. 
(This isn't a one-off, by the way. We've just heard this week that he's actually written the 2024 Christmas Special - a big thing, as showrunners have always kept the series opener, finale and festive specials for themselves).
Moffat was inspired by a sequence which appears in the opening episode of Genesis of the Daleks. Newly arrived in the middle of a battlefield on Skaro, the Doctor treads on a landmine. He's rescued by Harry Sullivan, and the whole scene lasts only a couple of minutes. Edited versions of the story have omitted this sequence altogether, as it doesn't contribute to the overall plotline. It's just scene setting, providing a bit of threat early on in the episode. 
Moffat takes this concept and runs with it for a whole episode.

Like the 1975 Dalek story, the TARDIS arrives on a bleak alien world which is in the middle of a long-running war. The combatants include our old friends the Clerics, from the Matt Smith era. 
The Doctor rushes off to help someone - and promptly steps on a fancy landmine.
The person whom the Doctor was going to help has already been killed by that over-used threat, the well-meaning medical apparatus. "Killing with Kindness" was already old-hat back in Moffat's day. He used it twice in a single series.
The dead man is named Vater, as in the German for father, and much is made of parenthood throughout.

Other Moffat tropes include a grotesque manner of death, and mention of the weapons manufactory of Villengard. (But wasn't it already established that this was destroyed by the Ninth Doctor - and we saw it in ruins in Twice Upon A Time).
The companion is killed - only to be brought back to life. 
Fish fingers and custard get a call. Just surprised we never heard anything about timey-wimey.
Moffat often likes to include fairly annoying children - despite no-one else enjoying this. This one is particularly annoying. And there was absolutely no reason for her to be there. Bringing a child into the middle of a war makes no sense whatsoever.
The love affair between the two Clerics is particularly saccharine as well. Episodes these days simply do not allow us enough time to invest emotionally in such roughly sketched characters.
The Doctor's suggested solution to the problem is lifted from Mummy on the Orient Express - end a conflict by surrendering.
Also from the Capaldi era we get mention of "the moon and the President's wife...".
It's a Moffat compilation album - but not necessarily his greatest hits.

Moffat takes a pop at capitalism, artificial intelligence and organised religion. 
The Clerics are too hidebound by dogma to think and act for themselves. They are also so incredibly stupid that they haven't realised that they don't actually have any enemy here. They're fighting their own weaponry, which kills them as well in order to prolong the conflict and ensure that they have to buy more weapons.
It's delivered in rather broad strokes. Another problem with the 45 minute format is the need to message very loudly. There can be little time for subtlety either.
Which is all a bit of a shame as it's actually a strong story - superior in my mind to the the new RTD stories.
Certainly nice to see Gatwa having something decent to get his teeth into. I've argued since Christmas that we will only get to judge him as a Doctor once we saw him deal with heavier material.

We got our first look at Varada Sethu, who will be joining the series next year as companion. I haven't read any reviews or interviews of the episode at time of writing, so don't know if her presence has been explained. Is it another case like Freema Agyeman's, where a guest artist impresses and is quickly snapped up to play a regular, or is this another "Soufflé Girl" situation? The fact that she plays someone called Mundy when the current companion is Sunday...*
Susan Twist's appearance this week was as the robotic Ambulance interface, and we had a repeat of the snow falling when something significant happens to Ruby.

So - big improvement over what has gone before this year. I would have rated it higher had it dispensed with the schmaltz. Just ditching the kid would have helped. 
I strongly suspect that certain sections of fandom, who haven't been impressed with Series 14 so far, are wishing that it was Moffat who had come back, rather than RTD.

*It has since been announced that she will be playing a new character, and was cast as such a year after making Boom.

Episode 117: Johnny Ringo

The Doctor looks on helplessly from the jailhouse as Steven is threatened with being lynched by the Clanton brothers...
He desperately wants to go outside but Earp and Masterson refuse to free him. As the sheriff talks to the Clantons, Earp quietly slips out of the jailhouse by the back door. He knocks Phineas Clanton out cold and frees Steven. The mob are forced to disperse.
Charlie, barman of the Last Chance Saloon, tells everyone that the Doctor is not Holliday - as he has just witnessed the gambling dentist gun down Seth Harper.
Phineas has been arrested, and Earp no longer has any reason to keep the Doctor locked up so lets him go. He wants to leave the town immediately, but discovers that Dodo is no longer at the hotel.
Charlie tells him that she left town with Holliday and Kate.
Ike and Billy head for home to consult their father. Pa Clanton decides to call on the services of the notorious Johnny Ringo, and despatches his sons to locate him.
Holliday, Kate and Dodo have booked into a boarding house in a neighbouring town.
Later that night, Johnny Ringo arrives at the saloon in Tombstone. He learns of recent events from Charlie - whom he then feels compelled to shoot dead since he recognised him and seemed keen to tell Earp that he was in town.
The following morning, Dodo attempts to force Holliday into taking her back to Tombstone by holding a gun on him. He tells her that he was planning on returning anyway. She faints when she realises that he came close to shooting her with a concealed gun.
The Doctor and Steven meet Ringo at the saloon. On learning that Steven wants to find Dodo, and that she is with Holliday, the gunfighter agrees that the Doctor's companion can ride out with him to find them.
At the jailhouse, Earp's younger brother Warren has arrived. The Doctor informs them and Masterson of Charlie's death, and tells them of Ringo's arrival, having recognised him from his 'Wanted' poster.
After Holliday and Dodo have ridden off, Ringo arrives and encounters Kate. It transpires that she used to be his girlfriend, until she hooked up with Holliday. His hatred for the dentist is personal.
Warren is left in charge of the jailhouse as Masterson and his brother leave to go with the Doctor and view Charlie's corpse.
Ike and Billy Clanton seize the opportunity to spring their sibling. Billy shoots Warren when he tries to stop them, leaving him dying on the floor as they escape...
Next episode: The O.K. Corral

Written by: Donald Cotton
Recorded: Friday 29th April 1966 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:55pm, Saturday 14th May 1966
Ratings: 6.2 million / AI 36
Designer: Barry Newbery
Director: Rex Tucker
Additional cast: Laurence Payne (Johnny Ringo), Reed de Rouen (Pa Clanton), Martyn Huntley (Warren Earp).

After glimpsing him on a poster last week, this episode introduces a new villain - even getting the title to himself. The ironic thing is that, whilst he is a genuine historical character, Johnny Ringo had nothing whatsoever to do with the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
John Peters Ringo was born in Indiana in May 1850, of Dutch ancestry. He committed his first murder during the Mason County War in Texas in 1875 / 6, and was later associated with the Cochise County Cowboys gang. This operated around Tombstone and included members of the Clanton family.
His involvement with them led to his contact with Holliday and Wyatt Earp. The latter suspected him of the attempted killing of his brother Virgil, and the murder of brother Morgan.
At one point, when the Earps were on the wrong side of the law (as they often were), Ringo was deputised and joined a posse to hunt Wyatt down.
On 4th of July 1882 Ringo was seen riding out of Tombstone heavily drunk. A few days later he was found dead from a single gunshot wound to the temple. He was seated in a grove of trees. It has always been assumed that he committed suicide, though there are rumours that Holliday or Wyatt Earp had tracked him down and executed him.

The Cochise County Cowboys were a rough association of outlaws who engaged in cattle rustling, stagecoach robbery and murder along the Mexican border. Pa's name was Newman Haynes Clanton. He had three sons involved in criminal activity - Phineas (b.1843), Ike (b.1847) and Billy (b.1862). The Reuben whom Holliday is said to have killed in The Gunfighters never existed. 
The gang also comprised the McLaury brothers, Tom and Frank, who were the Clantons' neighbours. They are omitted entirely by Donald Cotton. Other figures like Ringo and Billy Claiborne were temporary associates. Claiborne will also be left out of the Doctor Who script despite having more right to be there than Ringo.
The gang had free rein for several years, aided and abetted by corrupt lawmen, until the arrival of Virgil Earp as Sheriff of Tombstone, who was determined to put them out of business - which set everyone on the path to the infamous Gunfight.

Peter Purves and Jackie Lane missed the Wednesday and Thursday of rehearsals as they were attending Ealing to carry out pre-filming for The Savages.
The day before, Tuesday 26th April, saw a press release from the BBC announcing that both would be leaving Doctor Who over the next couple of stories, to be replaced by new characters named Ben and Polly. Purves had another five episodes to run under his contract, and Lane seven.
During recording, the usual "Written By..." caption was amended to simply say "By...".
Gunshots in the episodes so far had been achieved through sound effects only, with actual guns being fired only in the Ealing filming. For this episode, blank rounds were fired in studio off camera for when Ringo shoots Charlie, and Billy shoots Warren Earp. Sound effects were still used for Holliday's off-screen shooting of an unknown person at the boarding house.

After two weeks of humorous material, things definitely take a darker turn in the third instalment - coinciding with the arrival of the title character. The episode opens with a threatened lynching - something which was certainly not confined to the past in 1966.
We then have the sequence where Ringo shoots dead the friendly, though slightly annoying, Charlie, just because of a figure of speech, then Billy Clanton guns down the young Warren Earp, a relative innocent whom we've only just met.
The Clantons had been presented as somewhat inept criminals up to this point, but now we see the cold-hearted murderers that they really are - important for what will be happening in the final episode.

Contrast this with the killing of a complete unknown by Holliday at the boarding house, which is played very much for laughs. He tells Kate and Dodo that he has run into an old friend in the dining room - someone who has just lost his appetite...
There's other humour to be had still, such as Dodo's farcical attempt to get the dentist to take her back to Tombstone. 
Hartnell gets the line: "Now don't be ridiculous. Doc Holliday's a great friend of mine. He gave me a gun, he extracted my tooth. Good gracious me, what more do you want?".
The Ballad, which remains irritating, does have the odd funny verse, such as "So pick him up gentle / Pick him up slow / He's gone kind of mental / Under Earp's heavy blow".

  • The ratings continue to fall, but manage to stay above the 6 million mark. The appreciation figure, however, drops to a new low.
  • Johnny Ringo was broadcast 5 minutes later than usual due to live coverage of the FA Cup that afternoon.
  • One actor whom Innes Lloyd was keen to work with was Patrick Troughton, and he was approached by Rex Tucker for the role of Johnny Ringo in this story. Unavailable, the producer would have something else to offer him soon after...
  • Future guest artists John Carson (Snakedance) and Philip Madoc (The Krotons, The War Games, The Brain of Morbius and The Power of Kroll) were also under consideration.
  • Laurence Payne will return to the series to play Morix in The Leisure Hive, and Dastari in The Two Doctors.
  • A 1960 US TV series titled Johnny Ringo saw him give up his life of crime to become a sheriff, presenting him as a hero figure. Amongst the regular cast was Terence De Marney, who will be appearing in The Smugglers) and Lost In Space's Mark Goddard.
  • Reed de Rouen was also an author and script-writer. One of his science fiction stories - Split Image (1955), about a mirror Earth - proved very successful.
  • In 1970 de Rouen collaborated with his friend Jon Pertwee on a Doctor Who script - "The Spare Part People". It involved Cambridge University scientists being abducted to a city hidden beneath the Antarctic ice, with the Doctor posing as an academic in order to be taken himself. The culprits are a dying alien race who need spare parts from humans to survive. The Brigadier would have joined him. Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks opted not to commission it. The scale would have been hard to realise on a BBC budget, and it didn't fit their plans for the series at that time. Pertwee tried reworking the story to include the Master, but eventually dropped the idea.
  • Martyn Huntley had featured twice in the series before this - as one of the crazed Earth spacemen in The Sensorites, and as the Roboman encountered by Ian and Larry in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
  • Finally (courtesy of artist Oliver Arkinstall-Jones) - if The Gunfighters had been directed by Sergio Leone...