Doctor Who: Initial Reactions to Under the Lake

October 6, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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So despite a promising first episode I ended up being quite disappointed with the series nine premiere overall because of how The Witch’s Familiar failed to deliver. But now we’re back in the swing of things and Toby Whitehouse has now come along with his first two part story. I’ve enjoyed his previous efforts but am not sure how many of them I’d call classics. This episode however, well let’s just say that calling it a classic might be putting it mildly. Yes, I really enjoyed this episode. And if the next episode manages to keep this up then Under the Lake and Before the Flood will easily become my favourite Twelfth Doctor story (a spot currently held by Mummy on the Orient Express) but I won’t commit to that just yet as I have to see the second half. I probably mentioned before how difficult it is to review what is essentially half a story so please bear with me as I try my best to discuss Under the Lake. So let’s start off with the basic premise and that is that an underwater base is under attack by ghosts. Nothing confusing, just straight forward ghosts. We don’t have a full explanation as to what they are yet but I like that there are little hints here and there such as the fact that they can’t penetrate the Faraday cage (probably something to do with the fact that they are transmitters of some kind) and that they can only interact with objects that are metal. So the ghosts are great in this and I’m looking forward to seeing where they take the ghost idea when they introduce time travel into the story next week. Now then, as a base under siege story I was sort of reminded of The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit only underwater but thankfully the similarity doesn’t spread too far and this one does end up doing it’s own thing which is great. The sets are wonderful and I like the dirty look the corridors have to them but I don’t find them as claustrophobic as those in The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit which is a shame but I guess you can’t have everything.

Just as a side note, I would definitely recommend watching this at least twice as I picked up quite a bit more on a second viewing and also ended up enjoying it more. For example, I was able to work out that Lunn was spared by the ghost because hadn’t seen the symbols whereas before I hadn’t picked up on that and no doubt that plot threat will play into the next episode. I also found that it flowed much better than I originally thought but I’m not quite sure why that ended up being the case. But anyway, let’s now talk about the crew of the base, one of whom was of course deaf. When I first heard this I thought her inclusion would just be a gimmick and feared that it would slow the story down but actually she ended up being very well utilised in the story and both Cass and her interpreter, Lunn, were very likeable characters. I’d also imagine that Cass was very much an inspiration to the children watching who were deaf. So well done to Toby Whitehouse and actor Sophie Stone for that. But as great as Cass was I can’t help but love O’Donnell just that little but more. I did initially fear she was going to be a copy of Osgood when she had that fangirl moment towards the start but she actually ended up being very different thankfully and I look forward to seeing what they’ll do with her next week. Bennett on the other hand was a bit dull as a character but at least the have time to fix that. Moran and Pritchard were the red shirts here but it’s nice that Toby Whitehouse made them fairly rounded characters before they died.

Now we come to the Doctor and Clara who were both great in this episode. Admittedly Clara didn’t have too much to do but since many episodes in series eight were dominated by her I’m fine with the Doctor taking the lead again. Plus, now that they’re split up she’ll probably have more to do next episode. I think they’re scene together in the TARDIS was quite nice but the main stand out was the flashcards and it’s great that you can go back and read the other ones despite them being only a minor detail in the story itself. There’s even a Sarah Jane Smith reference in one of them. Unfortunately I’m going to have to stop being positive for a moment as I will now discuss the only real negative about this episode, the cliffhanger. In isolation, it’s not too bad but given that Moffat’s done the whole idea of the Doctor dying to death (we had it in the previous story for crying out loud) I just felt a bit fed up with it at this point. Also, I don’t feel it was shot very well. Having the Doctor’s ghost slowly advance towards the camera would’ve been far more effective in my opinion.

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Overall, of course I loved this one and although I was negative about the cliffhanger I have faith that Toby Whitehouse will be able to change my mind about this next week. So there’s not much else to say beyond me giving this one a well deserved ten-out-of-ten. Now I only hope that Before the Flood can live up to this story and that Toby Whitehouse will provide a satisfying conclusion, and given how well thought through this one was I don’t see why next week should be any different. Anyway, those are just my opinions so be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Doctor Who: Initial Reactions to The Witch’s Familiar

September 29, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Last week I was more positive about Doctor Who than I had been in a while, I thought that The Magician’s Apprentice was an incredible episode and I still think it is. It’s not flawless by any means but it was a solid start and I was looking forward to seeing how they’d continue with what they’d set up here. Fast forward to now and I am, unfortunately, disappointed with how The Witch’s Familiar turned out. While it’s not a bad episode by any means I just feel that it fails to live up to my expectations which were understandably high after The Magician’s Apprentice. Let’s start off with the elephant in the room, the Doctor usurping Davros from his chair. While a story this dark does require comic relief I feel that it could’ve been done in a better way than this. It undermines Davros as a villain, it doesn’t move the plot forward whatsoever and it takes time away that could’ve been used to flesh out that conclusion. Admittedly the dodgems line was funny but the scene was so jarring tonally that it just left a bitter taste in my mouth. Also, the Doctor just took away a dying mans life support so that he could go for a joy ride, that is not in character for him at all. Admittedly we did have a similar scene last week with the Doctor playing a guitar but I felt that worked better as it didn’t undermine the villain and didn’t seem too out of character for the Doctor.

Anyway, let’s be a bit more positive now and talk about what did work such as Missy. Still not the biggest fan of hers but it felt like this episode knew what to do with her. She was downright evil but you couldn’t help but love her for it. She wasn’t trying to take over the universe or anything like that, she was just messing with the Doctor but in a far better way than in Death in Heaven. Trapping Clara in a Dalek and then trying to get the Doctor to kill her was genius and was the most tense scene I’d experienced in Doctor Who for a long time. My heart was racing and the Doctor had a look in his eye that showed he could’ve done anything. It was also a nice call back to Asylum of the Daleks and it was wonderfully played by Jenna Coleman. Clara and Missy also had quite a nice double act going on earlier but the comedy didn’t jar with the tone unlike a certain other scene which I won’t go on about again.

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The Dalek sewers were an interesting idea and the sequences in them were quite well done. The design as great too and the way that Missy defeated the Dalek down there was quite cool too. Not so sure about her accent there though. I also think it was nice that they weren’t just a background detail and that they actually came into play in a big way at the end there, being a key part of the resolution itself. Plus, the revolting sewers line was great. The only problem with their involvement in the resolution is that it makes Davros seem rather foolish to have overlooked them. That and the fact that the Daleks can fly so most of them could have easily escape the destruction of the city. Another minor problem is Colony Sarff really intriguing last week but this week there was no explanation as to what exactly he was and he’s ultimately a repeat of the Whispermen, a very good idea but nothing really beyond that.

Another thing that annoyed me is that the episode never tackled the moral dilemma that should’ve been at the heart of it all: is it right to kill a child who will grow up to be a mass murderer? The last episode set that up so nicely but this episode threw that idea away. The older Davros scenes seem to have slipped too. Last episode Steven Moffat understood Davros perfectly and his speech about the Daleks at the end proved that. This episode, he doesn’t completely ruin him by any means but he misses the potential that was there from last time and makes this feel like just another Davros episode as there are no real consequences. Davros makes a full recovery and what was that whole thing about the Daleks getting regeneration energy? The threat there was never really explored because too much time was being wasted and because of this I just ended up not really caring. The Daleks honestly posed no threat at all here and their plan only really came in to play right at the end of the episode, quite shocking given that it’s the second part of a two part story. We never got an explanation as to why there were classic Daleks there either which is annoying. Then there was a prophecy randomly thrown in there which I totally missed the first time around. I mean what in the world was that all about? Hopefully it’ll be explained at some point as part of an ongoing arc or something.

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Overall, The Witch’s Familiar has a lot wrong with it and while it pains me to do this I can give it no higher than a six-out-of-ten. It was too disconnected from the previous half and failed to live up to it as well. The two parter as a whole felt like Steven Moffat was just throwing too many ideas at a wall and seeing what would stick and so what we end up with is a rather poorly constructed but somewhat enjoyable story. Hopefully Toby Whithouse can do better next week with the first of another two part story, Under the Lake. With ghosts and time travel it certainly seems promising but until we see it next week be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Doctor Who: Initial Reactions to The Magicians Apprentice

September 22, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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It’s been a long wait but Doctor Who has returned at last and with it so have my posts about the episodes following their broadcasts. It’s now been over ten years since the series came back in 2005 and the ninth series has just kicked off with The Magician’s Apprentice, an intriguing title which does seem to have a lot to do with the actual episode. It’s also the first of a two-part story and it looks like we’ll be getting quite a few of them this series. The series eight finale was the first two-part story we’ve had in a long while and now they appear to be back with a vengeance. This is one of things that excites me about series nine as I feel that having two-parts really allows a story to breath and allows for more time to give a satisfying and unrushed ending, something a lot of stand-alone episodes seem to struggle with. However, two-part stories aren’t always the easiest to review as I’m ultimately only review half a story at a time. But I’m not going to let that stop me as I actually really enjoyed this episode and I want to discuss that. Yes you did read that last bit right, I really did enjoy this episode. It’s probably one of the best Doctor Who stories Steven Moffat’s written in a long while. And here’s why.

Well for one thing it feels a lot like a finale in terms of scale, which is something that a lot of people have commented on. But at the same time as feeling like a finale it also doesn’t have any overarching plot threads leading up to it so it has less to tie up and so it be enjoyed a great deal more on it’s own. But I’m not just talking about scale in terms of it being set in loads of different locations stretching all the way across the galaxy. I’m talking about scale on a personal level as well, namely for the Doctor. Speaking of the Doctor, I quite like the direction they took with his character in this episode as it appears to be much more balanced where are last series he appeared to be all over the place. He’s becoming slightly more like Tom Baker but he’s still retaining many of his defining characteristics and overall I’m quite happy with this new direction as long as they don’t loose what made him work in the first place.

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Now for one of the biggest surprises of the episode, the reveal of Davros. At least it would’ve been a surprise if the thing hadn’t leaked a while back. Never the less, it was exciting to see it come to life and those opening minutes leading up to the child’s name being revealed were breathtaking. I do feel that the soldiers death should’ve been a bit slower though, rather than just a sudden pull down beneath the ground. The whole idea of having a young Davros though feels very much inspired by Genesis of the Daleks but at the same time it doesn’t feel like they’re retreating that same ground. Then we get the reveal of the older Davros, once again played phenomenally by Julian Bleach, and that was something I was not expecting but I’m really happy to have him back. Also, I think we’ve finally found a proper villain who Moffat can write well for. He’s made Davros as devious as he was back in Genesis of the Daleks and I think that’s great. I only hope that he can keep this up in The Witch’s Familiar and not do what Death in Heaven did with Missy, who I will discuss in due course. It’s also nice that Davros isn’t planning anything big (that we know of) but he’s instead just getting as much enjoyment out of his final days of life by ruining the Doctor’s. Now that’s just downright evil. But then again, he could just be faking it and either way I don’t think I’d mind. It was also a nice touch to have Davros using his hand to lift up his head, it’s just one of those little things that does a lot to enhance the story.

Now on to Missy (it’s amazing how much there is to talk about in this episode) who appears to be going more in the direction of being an anti-hero in this story. However, she could just as easily be up to something. While I do think it would be truer to the character to have her be up to something I feel that if she were then there might end up being a bit too much going on in the next episode. As for Michelle Gomez, I feel that she was much better in this than she was last series. Maybe it’s because there’s no more mystery as to who the character is so she’s just free to be the Master or maybe it’s because she’s has more time to get settled in to the role. It’s nice that Missy describes her relationship with the Doctor as simply a friendship (an infinitely more complex friendship than anything on Earth) rather than a romance which had been hinted at rather too much for my liking last series. She is still a bit too overly sexual for my liking though. Anyway, now let’s talk about Colony Sarff who we’ll hopefully find out more about next episode. In this one he was quite a good villain, if a little single mined at times but the reveal of the snakes and the way that was done was wonderful. Now you’ve probably noticed that I’ve avoided talking about a certain topic and that is Clara. I’ve been saving her for last so that I can talk about that that cliff-hanger but first is Clara herself. She was alright, I guess. She played her part well but this story seems to be all about the Doctor and I’m fine with that given the amount of attention she got last series. Hers and Missy’s deaths though (while obviously fake) were never the less well used, mainly for their impact on the Doctor, leading him to point a gun at a young Davros in the final moments of the episode. Those moments were a bit too quick for my taste but I do like the dilemma it poses there.

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Overall, I think The Magicians Apprentice is the best series premiere since the show came back. Admittedly I wasn’t sure what to think about it the first time but after watching it again I really enjoyed it and would give it a strong nine-out-of-ten. While it does dip a bit in the middle with the Doctor’s guitar solo I can’t really deduct more than a point for that and the rest of the flaws were just minor things really. I didn’t really talk about the Daleks as I’m saving them for next week as they were hardly in this episode and speaking of next week, I have high hopes for The Witch’s Familiar and hopefully it will deliver but until we find out for sure be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Doctor Who: Looking Forward to Series 9?

July 21, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Around this time last year I did a post on the build up to series eight explaining everything we knew about it so far. Now I’m going to be doing the same for the upcoming series nine by examining the recent trailer we got from comic-con as well as all the other information we’ve been drip-feed by the BBC over the past months. The first thing to quickly note is something that came along towards the end of the trailer, the release date. So it’s now been confirmed that series nine will be starting on the nineteenth of September which is almost a month later than series eight started last year and will also mean a very short gap between the finale and the Christmas special. It also looks like we’ll be getting a lot more two-part stories which is fine by me as I feel that quite a lot of one-part stories end up having rushed endings and being just plain unmemorable. Now onto one of the two-part stories themselves, The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar which will kick start the series in September. They are written by show runner Steven Moffat and directed by Hettie MacDonald. The Doctor and Clara will of course be back along with Michelle Gomez as Missy, making a swift return after her inclusion in the series eight finale. Hopefully she’ll have a better plan this time. Also confirmed for this story is Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart along with Clare Higgins who previously appeared in Night of the Doctor as the High Priestess of the Sisterhood of Karn and after looking at some scenes in the trailer I wouldn’t be all too surprised if she was playing this role again.

Next up is another two-part story, this one written by Toby Whithouse and directed by Daniel O’Hara. While we don’t have any titles for the individual episodes it has been confirmed that this is a “ghost story” and so I’m guessing that many of the ghost like monsters in the trailer are from this story. It also appears to be set on an underwater base and it’s a story I am quite looking forward to as I love the sort of horror this story appears to be going for. The fifth episode is The Girl who Died by Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat which appears to be linked with the sixth episode, The Woman who Lived by Catherine Tregenna, but it appears that they are not being counted as a two-part story. The inter-linking presence in both of them is Masie Williams’ character who appeared at the end of the trailer and very little is known about her other than she will apparently be giving the Doctor the right sort of hell. The episodes, both directed by Ed Bazalgette, appear to be set in two different periods of history with featuring Vikings and mysterious robots which can be seen in the trailer. Clara has also been spotted wearing a space suit and it appears some hugging will be going on in at least one of these episodes.

Kill the Moon writer Peter Harness is back for episodes seven and eight which are currently untitled but we do know that they are directed by Daniel Nettheim. What else do we know? Well we know that the Zygons will be making a return along with Osgood in some way, shame or form. Kate Stewart will also be back once again and thanks to this story involving a great deal of location work we appear to know a lot more about this story than we do most of the others. However, I won’t be diving too deeply into that but I will say that it appears that the Zygon’s plan involves children in some way which can be seen in the trailer when a Zygon kidnaps a child at the park. I moderately excited about this story as while I do love the Zygons I feel that they weren’t handled too well in Day of the Doctor and I’m not totally sure I have much faith in Peter Harness after Kill the Moon. There’s very little to say about episode nine other than it will be written by Mark Gatiss. Episode ten on the other hand we can talk about as it features the return of Rigsy who previously appeared in Flatline. It’s written by Sarah Dollard and directed by Justin Molotnikov (who may or may not be directing episode nine as well) and will also apparently be playing about with the idea of reality. Rachel Talalay will be back for the two-part series nine finale written by Steven Moffat and it is apparently very different from last year’s and Rachel Talalay herself has said that episode eleven is a big challenge for her. That’s all we have for the episodes themselves but in terms of characters it’s been claimed that the Doctor and Clara’s relationship is very different to what it was back in series eight. It’s said that they’re much more comfortable with each other now and are now in their glory days, exploring the galaxy and meeting all the wonders of the universe together.

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So then, it seems like some great stuff is on the horizon. However, I am trying to keep my anticipation in check as I said similar things last year about series eight and ended up being at least slightly disappointed by almost everything in that series apart from Peter Capaldi and Jamie Mathieson. Anyway, hopefully the inclusion of many more two-part stories will allow the storylines to be more developed and engaging and I also hope that tonally it will live up to the dark hue that the trailer gives off. So then, what are you most looking forward to seeing in series nine? Please leave your thoughts below while we wait for The Magician’s Apprentice to arrive on the nineteenth of September, now less than two months away…

The Seven Faces of Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks

April 18, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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So here we are at last at the end of our journey through the classic series. Last week we looked at the turmoil that was the Sixth Doctor’s era and now we take a look at the aftermath of that. Sylvester McCoy’s first year as the Doctor wasn’t exactly what one would describe as universally praised and the show was very much still trying to rediscover itself at that point. In the following two year however it knew what it was and took the Doctor in a much darker direction than he’d ever been in before, portraying him as clownish and silly on the outside but dark and manipulative on the inside. Unfortunately, tough scheduling and a poor reputation meant that not many tuned in to watch this new Doctor as thus he only lasted three years. The precise reason as to why the show was cancelled at the end of the eighties is unclear but during the wilderness years that followed the fandom was kept alive by novels, audio dramas, comics and a one off TV movie before the programme’s eventual return and reinvention with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper by his side as Rose. Anyway, the story I have chosen to represent these final years of the original series is Remembrance of the Daleks which was written by Ben Aaronovitch, directed by Andrew Morgan and featured Sophie Aldred as fan favourite companion Ace. I thought it was a fitting choice as the story has a strong feeling of coming full circle which is quite poet as this final review also brings us full circle by looking at another Dalek story. It also shows just how manipulative the Doctor can be and you can find out why that is in the synopsis that follows.

It all begins in nineteen-sixties London where the Doctor has some old business to attend to. Back in his first incarnation the Doctor left something behind and has now returned to put it to good use. That something is the Hand of Omega and he’s not the only one who’s after it. Two factions of Daleks have also arrived to claim the Hand of Omega and the two quickly start a civil war in the heart of London. The Renegade Daleks, the original Daleks who obey the Dalek Supreme, eventually capture the Hand of Omega but the Doctor is able to manipulate events so that it instead ends up in the clutches of the Imperial Daleks, the new race of Daleks who obey their creator Davros. It is then revealed that the Hand of Omega is actually a device used by ancient Time Lords to customise stars and that Davros plans to use it to turn Skaro’s sun into a source of unimaginable power. The Doctor tricks Darvos into activating the Hand of Omega which then turns Skaro’s sun into a supernova, destroying Skaro in the process. The Hand of Omega then returns and wipes out the remaining Daleks on Earth. With the Daleks seemingly completely wiped out, the Doctor and Ace move on to their next adventure.

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Now I’m going to start off by saying that I absolutely love this story and it’s one of my favourite Dalek stories of all time. I mean it’s a Dalek civil war and what’s not to love about that. This means that the second half of the story especially is very action heavy and there are loads of great actions scenes done with some very real and very large explosions. Some may argue that the classic series was all wobbly sets and poor effects but this story proves otherwise. Some of the effects are still very much of their time such as the Hand of Omega but that doesn’t mean they’re as bad as a lot of people make them out to be. While they’re by no means perfect they still work quite well. Probably the most breathtaking moment is the landing of the Dalek Shuttle in the school playground which was actually lowered by a crane which means it is very much real and it looks much better for it. But this story isn’t all flash and no substance, there is very much a plot behind there too and it’s a strong one at that. It added some mystery to the Doctor’s character that hadn’t been there for quite a while and also linked back into the shows history in a way which didn’t feel irritatingly forced. The pacing is also very well constructed as well and builds up over time rather than either being constant or all over the place. This means that when you get into the second half while it is most definitely quicker it’s not necessarily noticeably so because it has sped up over time. There are also some nice little slow moments which aren’t necessarily crucial to the plot but just compliment the piece as a whole and give it an element of humanity. My favourite scene is one of those moments which is the Doctor having some tea in the cafe. The conversation he has with the cafe worker is very well written and the cafe worker himself is really well characterised despite the fact that he does not actually play any role in the overall storyline whatsoever. It’s nothing much but I personally love it.

And with that said it now seems like the perfect time to move on to characters and there are quite a few to talk about here. Ace is going to be our first port of call as she is one of the most (if not the most) well developed companion in all of Doctor Who and she is played wonderfully by Sophie Aldred. It’s only her second story and she’s already settled in very well and has a wonderful dynamic with her co-star Sylvester McCoy that continued to grow following this. She’s very much a fun loving kid in this story and is yet to mature like she would in the stories that followed but that is far from a bad thing as something called character development and both sides of the character are likeable. In this we get to see her beat up a Dalek with a baseball bat which is something no other companion can claim to have done and overall she is just a joy to watch. Next up we have the Seventh Doctor himself and this is the first instance where we get to see his much more dark and manipulative side. Sylvester McCoy does a very good job portraying this side of the Doctor but there is still a fun side to the character so there is a sense of balance as well. Then we move on to the supporting characters such as Group Captain Gilmore, Rachael Jensen and Allison. These three are wonderful together and serve as a bit of a call back to the Third Doctor’s era as there’s the military leader, the scientific advisor and the assistant and so the dynamic is pleasantly familiar while the characters themselves are very unique. Another supporting character is Mike Smith who is very much there to provide an interesting subplot for Ace and while all that is nice it does feel a bit rushed in the first half but that’s made up for by the wonderful scene where Ace finds out he’s a traitor. Although after that he begins to feel a bit superfluous to the plot although at the same time I feel that getting rid of him there would’ve felt too sudden and messy. And finally there’s Davros who is kept hidden right up until the end which provides a nice little surprise when you’re least expecting it (although admittedly it is a little easy to predict) and it’s also good that he’s kept out of proceedings up until then to allow the Daleks themselves to dominate their own story for once as a lot of Dalek stories before this focused a little too much on Davros but thankfully this one is a nice change of pace. However, some could argue that it may be a step too far in the other direction.

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In conclusion, Remembrance of the Daleks is undoubtedly a ten-out-of-ten because it has the right balance of basically everything that’s important in a Doctor Who story. It’s one that comes highly recommend by me and I think that it provided a fitting end to this blog series that I thoroughly enjoyed writing and I hope that you thoroughly enjoyed reading. Now we continue the long wait for series nine which looks to be shaping up quite well but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

The Seven Faces of Doctor Who: Attack of the Cybermen

April 11, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Colin Baker is probably the most controversial actor to ever play the Doctor. He was of course the Sixth incarnation of the beloved Time Lord and was much more unstable than his predecessors ever were. It was originally intended that over the years his character would grow and mellow but unfortunately his time came to a premature end and thus he never had the chance to do this. There are many different reasons as to why this period of the shows history was such an unstable one. It is common knowledge that the higher-ups in the BBC at the time were not fond of the programme and were on the look out for any opportunity which would allow them to cancel it. Eventually they got that chance at the end of Colin Baker’s first full year as the Doctor but the outcry of fans managed to get this revised to a hiatus and when the series did return it was put on trial in more ways than one. The trial had proved successful enough for the series to continue but unfortunately it was not successful enough for Colin Baker to be allowed to stay. The classic series never quite recovered from this turmoil that had plagued it at this time and it was eventually cancelled three years later. So then, what story have I chosen to represent this period of unrest? Well I choose none other than Attack of the Cybermen which was written by Paula Moore (or so the credits say) and was directed by Matthew Robinson. For those who are interested it was Colin Baker’s second story in the role of the Doctor and Nicola Bryant’s fourth in the role of companion Peri Brown. Now then, something tells me you all know the drill by now so let’s not waste anytime and get on to the synopsis.

Continuing on from where the last story left off, this one begins with the Doctor still in the process of recovering from his regeneration. The TARDIS picks up an alien distress beacon and the Doctor heads to Earth to investigate. Following the distress beacon leads him and Peri into the sewers of London where they discover the presence of the Cybermen. They then return to the TARDIS but are followed by the Cyber Leader who orders the Doctor to take them to Telos, the adopted home world of the Cybermen. He also informs the Doctor that the Cyber Controller, who was once thought destroyed, is very much alive and is waiting for them on Telos. Once on Telos Peri manages to escape and runs into the native Cryons who were almost wiped out by the invading Cybermen. Meanwhile, the Doctor learns that the Cybermen have captured another time vessel and intend to use it to change time so that their original home planet, Mondas, was never destroyed. He then realises that the Time Lords must have manoeuvred him into this situation to protect the web of time. The Cybermen then imprison him within a refrigeration unit which contains a highly volatile substance which explodes at high temperatures. He uses a bit of it to destroy the guard outside and rigs the rest up to take out Cyber Control itself. The Doctor then meets up with Peri and the Cryons who help him destroy the Cybermen guarding the TARDIS. They then escape just as the substance self ignites, destroying Cyber Control as well as the Cybermen’s stolen time vessel. With the web of time now safe the Doctor and Peri continue with their travels.

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Now then, this story is about as polarising as the Sixth Doctor’s era itself, making it the ideal choice to represent this era. On the topic of the story itself it used more than a few elements from the show’s past and in my opinion it used way too many. The return to the scrapyard in Totters Lane was simply an unnecessary call back to An Unearthly Child; the plot links with The Tenth Planet are both forgivable and forgettable; the return to Telos makes the story seem like a poor remake of The Tomb of the Cybermen; the Cybermen in the sewers is actually a nice reference to The Invasion simply because it’s subtle; and finally there’s the return of mercenary Lytton who last appeared in Resurrection of the Daleks and I quite like what they did with his character here. Now one or two of these in a story is a nice reward for long term viewers but when there’s this many all it does is alienate most of the casual viewers and annoy most of the long term fans. Now the idea behind all this was that those who didn’t like the Sixth Doctor in his first story would come back to see all the familiar elements in his second and hopefully warm to this new incarnation in the process. And in that respect it did kind of work as the viewing figures were fairly high but unfortunately a lot of people felt that the quality, especially in the second part, was low. Another major complaint a lot of viewers had was the level of violence shown, and I can’t help but sympathise with this complaint even if I don’t agree with it. There is a scene where two Cybermen completely crush Lytton’s hands as a way to get him to talk and as a one off it works quite well. So while I see why people have a problem with this scene I personally don’t. It’s a bit like the “don’t cremate me” line in Dark Water where I can understand why there are complaints it’s just that I don’t have a problem with it myself. In fact even when I was younger I didn’t have a problem with this scene. The scene I did have a problem with though was when the Doctor gunned down a group of Cybermen in the control room. Since then I have grown to accept this but at the time I felt that it just wasn’t a thing the Doctor would just casually do. However, this is far from my biggest flaw in the story as you’ll soon learn.

However, before I reveal my biggest flaw with the story I first wish to talk about the characters involved. Now we’ve already talked a bit about the Sixth Doctor so why not start with him. As previously mentioned he wasn’t the most popular of Doctors for a lot of reasons and none of them are really Colin Baker’s fault. Now since this story is so early in his era it doesn’t show him in the best light as he has still yet to mellow out at this point and is very brash at times. Now to be honest I don’t mind him in this and while it took a while for me to warm to this initially prickly portrayal it wasn’t long before I learned to appreciate him for the Doctor he is. Next up is his companion Peri Brown who is supposed to be American but unfortunately Nicola Bryant’s accent sometimes noticeably slips back into her natural British one. I’m sure there are some out there who’ll probably find the accent offensive but she certainly didn’t have the easiest of jobs and this was quite early in her time before she was able to perfect and refine the accent. But on the whole her character is quite likeable and a suitable character for the Sixth Doctor to bounce off of. Then we have Lytton who’s character is nicely expanded upon here and who’s death actually means something to the Doctor because of how badly he initially misjudged him. Lytton himself is also a lot of fun and has a great double act with Griffiths. There is some wonderful dialogue between the two and in fact one thing this story does very well is dialogue. There are some real gems of it in this story, especially in the first half and Lytton gets almost all of the best ones. Unfortunately not all of the characters are great in this and one in particular is the Cyber Controller. He’s a little on the tubby side which makes it hard to take him seriously but he also pales in comparison to the Cyber Leader who is supposed to be him subordinate but nevertheless has a much more powerful presence in all of his scenes. On the whole this story doesn’t do the Cybermen justice but that’s not its biggest flaw in my eyes. The biggest flaw is that the story lacks focus. There’s far too much going on and while some people like that I personally do not as it distracts from the main story line. So much so in fact that I’m not even sure what that is.

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Overall, Attack of the Cybermen is not one of my favourite although I have heard people say that they love it and so I thought I’d include it because of that. However, that’s not going to stop me from giving it a five-out-of-ten which is by far the lowest rating up to this point. However, you’ll be happy to know that we’ll be ending on a much higher note next week with the Seventh Doctor story Remembrance of the Daleks where a Dalek civil war is raging in nineteen-sixties London but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

The Seven Faces of Doctor Who: Snakedance

April 5, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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After an unprecedented seven year run it was at last time for Tom Baker to step down from the iconic role of the Doctor and to replace him producer John Nathan-Turner choose Peter Davison. His casting had proved quite controversial at the time with Davison being far younger than any of his predecessors but this didn’t mean he wasn’t an established actor. Quite the opposite in fact as he was very much a popular figure in the early eighties due to his appearances on many highly regarded shows such as All Creatures Great and Small. But none of this could’ve fully prepared him for the immense challenge of following up Tom Baker who had been playing the role for so long that many of the younger audience members couldn’t even imagine anyone else playing the part. So how did he do it? He did it by being completely different to his predecessor in almost every possible way. He also bought a much more human and flawed element to the Doctor which is probably why so many fans of the new
series end up going to Davison first when they begin to explore the classic series. Another difference between him and his predecessor was that he didn’t stay nearly as long, leaving after only three years in the role. This was partially because of advice he received from Patrick Troughton but also because he felt the quality had sipped greatly in his second year, and many fans would agree with this statement. Funnily enough the story I ended up choosing is from this year but don’t worry, it’s one of the good ones. Snakedance was written by Christopher Bailey and it was a sequel to his previous contribution to the series, Kinda. So why did I choose this and not Kinda? Well mainly because Kinda was quite experimental and this is much more representative of the Fifth Doctor’s era as a whole. It also featured Sarah Sutton as Nyssa and Jannet Fielding as Tegan and was directed by Fiona Cumming. I think that’s all I’ve got in terms of general behind the scenes info for this story so not wishing to bore you any further with useless facts let’s more on to the synopsis.

The story kicks off with the TARDIS landing on the planet Manussa which causes Tegan to have a strange nightmare. After questioning her about it the Doctor deduces that the Mara which once controlled Tegan’s mind is trying to assert itself again. While Nyssa watches over Tegan the Doctor explores and discovers that Manuassa is the birthplace of the Mara although the legend of its return is now treated by most as just a load of nonsensical superstition. The Doctor also deduces that the Mara was originally created through a group of minds meeting in the Great Crystal and believes that the Mara will try to use this to come in to being again. Meanwhile, Tegan takes fright and Nyssa loses her amongst the crowds. She then meets up with the Doctor again and informs him of this. The Mara then takes full control of Tegan and then does the same to the Federator’s son, Lon, who knows how to acquire the Great Crystal. The Doctor and Nyssa then go out into the desert beyond the city and find Dojjen, one of the few people on Manussa who believes the legend of the return, who shows the Doctor how to resist the Mara. He then returns to the city where Lon and Tegan have already gained possession of the Great Crystall. They place it in the appropriate place which causes it too feed off of the fear of the people of Manussa and thus allow the Mara to manifest itself as a large and deadly snake. The Doctor is the only one able to resist this which allows him to interrupt the manifestation of the Mara, causing the snake to die and Tegan and Lon to be freed. The Doctor then comforts a distressed Tegan and assures her that the Mara has at last been destroyed.

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Now while this story does technically feature two companions Tegan is very much sidelined during this due to the Mara inside her which allows the much underrated Nyssa to get some time in the spotlight for once. Nyssa is a favourite of mine so any extra attention put on to her is more than welcome. Sarah Sutton’s performance is great and the character herself stands up to the Doctor more than usual in the first half of this story. But Sarah Sutton’s isn’t the only fantastic performance here, far from it in fact as the guest cast is breathtakingly good which causes the regulars to raise their game and become even better than they normally are. One of the guest cast members is Brian Miller which gives us a nice link to our previous story, The Masque of Mandragora, as he is the widower of the late Elisabeth Sladen who of course played Sarah Jane Smith in that story. Here he plays Dugdale and does such a wonderful job with the role that makes it such a great shame that his acting career never really took off. An actor who had better luck with his career afterwards was Jonathan Morris who plays Chela here who almost acts like an extra companion to the Doctor in the latter half of the story.

Then we have Martin Clunes and Colette O’Neil who have a wonderful double act as Lon and his mother Tanha. But that’s not to say their acting abilities aren’t just as good when separated. Martin Clunes especially excels whether he’s with Colette O’Neil or not and his performance is arguably even more enjoyable when Lon is under the control of the Mara. It’s a shame about that ridiculous costume the production team made him wear at the end though. However, the guest cast isn’t all this story has to offer as it also has a fantastic plot which reveals more about the monstrous Mara rather that just continuing on with what they had at the end of the previous story. Here we learn about how the Mara came in to being and while that takes away some of the mystery it still adds to the monster itself. There is also a very nice world created here however I feel that a little bit too much time was wasted in creating it as it all involved a lot of exposition whereas the world in Kinda very much told itself and while there was some exposition there it was very much restricted to what was absolutely necessary. There’s also the issue that visually it doesn’t really get the feeling of this great world across that I feel the script was aiming for. Now while the market place worked well enough for the first few episodes the climax in the cave just didn’t really have this sense that it was supposed to be a massive celebration. Now obviously they didn’t have the budget nor the technology back then to make this work too well by nevertheless I feel this could’ve been done a lot better. On the bright side, the snake has improved greatly since Kinda but still leaves a lot to be desired.

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In conclusion, Snakedance is a fun story with a strong cast helping to support a great script, even if it’s a little ambitious. It’s getting an eight-out-of-ten from me but will my ratings remain so high when we move on to the Sixth Doctor’s era next week. You can find out next week when I review Attack of the Cybermen but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

The Seven Faces of Doctor Who: The Masque of Mandragora

February 21, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Tom Baker played the fourth incarnation of the Doctor for seven years and what an amazing seven years they were. And since he played the part for such a long time a lot of changes took place which means it’s hard to pin down a definitive story for his Doctor. Nevertheless, I still had to decide on a single story to represent this Doctor’s era and so after a large amount of indecisiveness I settled on The Masque of Mandragora. It comes from towards the end of his second full year as the Doctor and is Elisabeth Sladen’s penultimate adventure as the much loved Sarah Jane Smith. It is also the final story to be written by Louis Marks who had been writing for the series since William Hartnell was the Doctor and it was director Rodney Bennett’s last contribution to Doctor Who as well. I choose this story because it is probably the most balanced Fourth Doctor story as it is not as dark as stories such as Genesis of the Daleks but it’s also not as silly as others like City of Death. And now let’s not waste anymore time and move on to the synopsis.

The Masque of Mandragora begins with the TARDIS being dragged inside the Mandragora helix. The Doctor and Sarah manage to escape but end up bringing part of Mandragora with them to fifteenth century Italy. Here the Duke of San Martino has recently been assassinated by his brother Count Federico and the court astrologer Hieronymous. Now the only thing which stands in the way of Federico and the throne is the young prince Giuliano. The Doctor and Sarah both end up captured, the former by Count Federico and the latter by the mysterious Brotherhood of Demnos who intend to sacrifice her. The Doctor is accused of being a spy and sentenced to execution but is able to escape and he then rescues Sarah from the brotherhood. Hieronymous is then revealed to be the leader of the brotherhood who have been given great powers by Mandragora. Mandragora intends to use the brotherhood as it’s bridgehead on Earth so that it can send humanity back into the dark ages. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Sarah meet up with Giuliano who is concerned for the safety of his people. All three are then captured by Federico who intends to execute them but the Doctor convinces him to instead investigate the brotherhood. While doing so Federico is killed by Hieronymous and Giuliano can now safely take the throne of San Martino. The Doctor is then able to drain away Hieronymous’s power and put an end to Mandragora’s bridgehead leaving Earth safe once again.

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The Masque of Mandragora is, of course, a wonderful story and a very rich period piece. The sets and costumes are amazing and it truly does feel like Renaissance Italy. But perhaps what makes it authentic most of all is the location footage which, by the way, is seamlessly edited in with the studio work. Now of course they couldn’t go to Italy on a Doctor Who budget so instead they went to the tourist village of Portmeirion in Wales which stands in beautifully. Now onto Tom Baker’s brilliant performance as the Doctor and it really is wonderful here. There were times later in his era where he had a tendency to go a bit over the top but here he is under control. Of course he has to send it up just a little to make it entertaining but it’s not done so much as to make it difficult to believe in. There’s a wonderfully alien response to the death of the count and his humour during this scene has never raised a single eyebrow. But when the Sixth or Twelfth Doctors make a callous remark then all hell is raised for some reason. Obviously there has to be a limit but I’m just trying to put it into a bit of perspective, that’s all. Now enough ranting, let’s get back to the topic at hand which is this story. Alongside Tom Baker is Elisabeth Sladen who gives a superb performance as Sarah Jane Smith. The two work so great together (although I personally prefer her alongside the Third Doctor) but they also spend a lot of this story apart which allows Elisabeth Sladen to do some interesting stuff away from Tom Baker’s shadow.

Funnily enough there is a link between this serial and the previous one we looked at as Tim Pigott-Smith who plays Marco in this also played Captain Harker in The Claws of Axos. It’s an upgraded role for him as he plays Prince Giuliano’s loyal advisor and the two have an interesting double act going on between them. But more interesting than both of them though is Count Federico who is probably the best villain of the piece despite having no powers whatsoever. It’s all down to the performance and the writing and while both are fairly strong with the other villains they all just fall short compared to Federico. It is perhaps part of the reason why the last episode isn’t as entertaining as the others due to his death at the end of part three. The other reason is probably because the ending is a bit of a mess. For some it can completely ruin the story while others won’t mind it all too much as the rest of the story is good enough to overshadow it. Nevertheless it is a rather anti-climatic end to the story and while it’s not terrible it’s just not any good when compared to the quality of the rest of the piece. Now then, let’s take a few steps away from the ending and instead talk about the monster of the piece, Mandragora itself. There’s a nice idea behind it and it’s great to have a monster which isn’t really tangible but is still deadly. The special effects used do quite a nice job and they really do give an otherworldly feel to Mandragora but the voice of Mandragora is rather dire and the laugh is too over the top to be taken seriously. Luckily, these two elements don’t have too much screen time with the primary vocal point for Mandragora being Hieronymous. He’s very much your stereotypical villain but that does not take anything away from Norman Jones’ great performance. It was also a nice twist to have him revealed as the main antagonist of the piece as well as he was originally seen as a foil for Federico but then became a so much more.

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Overall, The Masque of Mandragora is a brilliant example of Doctor Who save only for the rather disappointing ending. So then, it’s an eight-out-of-ten from me and I’d say it’s definitely worth a look if you want to start exploring the Fourth Doctor’s era. Next week we’re moving into the eighties with the Fifth Doctor story Snakedance where a creature known as the Mara takes control of Tegan’s mind but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

The Seven Faces of Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos

February 14, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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After being exiled to Earth at the end of his Second incarnation this new Doctor played by Jon Pertwee brings more than a few changes with him. The programme is now broadcast in colour, UNIT play a much more vital role, the Doctor becomes more of a man of action and that’s just a few of the many changes which came along when the show entered the seventies. The Claws of Axos is the story I choose to represent this era of the show as it comes from the second year of Jon Pertwee’s time as the Doctor and is thus from a time when the show had decided what it wanted to be after a rather experimental first year. Alongside Jon Pertwee’s Doctor the serial also features Katy Manning, Richard Franklin, John Levene, Nicholas Courtney and Roger Delgado as Jo Grant, Mike Yates, Sergeant Benton, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and the Master respectively. Now that is a rather large regular cast based upon Doctor Who’s standards but it made sense to have this set up with the involvement of UNIT as they wouldn’t change their key staff every story and it gave an almost family feel to the whole thing. In fact this group of regulars is often described as the UNIT family. Another interesting thing to note about this story is that it is the first to feature TARDIS interior scenes since Patrick Troughton’s swan-song, The War Games. It is the first of many stories to be written by the dynamic duo of Bob Baker and Dave Martin who would later to go on to create everyone’s favourite robot dog K9. The director meanwhile is Michael Ferguson who also directed our previous story, The Seeds of Death. Now before we look at the synopsis let’s talk about why I choose this story as opposed to any of the other fan favourites from this era. Simply put it’s because there is a lot going on and it rattles along at a similar pace to the new series and so I felt that it’s probably a good place to start for newer fans who want to look back at the classic series. Now then, I think now is the right time to move on to the synopsis for this story so let’s take a look at that.

Unlike most stories this one doesn’t start with the TARDIS landing on Earth but instead with a strange spaceship doing so and UNIT heading off to investigate. The beings within, the Axon’s, claim to be peaceful and have landed to refuel their ship. They also offer a gift, Axonite, which has the power to duplicate any molecule. However, they are really all part of the same entity as their ship, Axos, and it has been lured to Earth by the Master so that it can destroy drain all the energy from Earth to feed itself with. The Doctor grows suspicious of the Axon’s seemingly benign intentions and goes to investigate. Meanwhile, Chinn, an official from the ministry of defence, has his own men take over the affair and arrest those from UNIT so that he can keep all the advantages of Axonite for Britain rather than the whole world. However, Chinn’s plan is foiled and distribution of Axonite goes ahead as originally planned. Unfortunately this means that Axos can now feed on the energy of the entire planet which means the Doctor, who now knows the truth, has to race against time to stop it. He tricks both the Master and Axos and uses his TARDIS to trap them in a time-loop but while he is able to escape it the Master is too which mean he survives to fight another day. So while the Earth may be safe from Axos the Master is still at large and dangerous.

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Now then, if I had to choose just one word to describe this story then it would probably have to be psychedelic. Now you should not be put off by this description as there’s a lot more to the story than just that but the scenes within Axos are very much dominated by strange effects and colours which gives them a very psychedelic feel. Luckily for those who don’t like that sort of thing (I myself don’t mind it) those scenes are few and far between. The story itself has lots of twists and turns and a lot of scenes are crucial to the overall story which is good unless you’re writing up the synopsis for it, so what you read above is a very basic outline of quite a complex story. It really does feel like writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin gave their all for this story and while some ideas don’t end up being executed so well you just have to admire the sheer ambition of them. In fact ambition is one of the key things this story has going for it, it has it in abundance. But what about the characters who inhabit this complex story that Bob Baker and Dave Martin have created. Well I think it’s on fit and proper to start of with the main character, the Doctor, who is wonderfully played by Jon Pertwee. Now while his action hero side is shown off all to much in this story his intelligence is. He has his standard outrage at the actions of a political figure which can sometimes get a bit annoying but in this story they are totally justified and Chinn is quite an irritating character anyway so he definitely deserved to be shouted at by the Doctor. That’s to say I dislike Chinn’s presence in the story, far from it in fact as his annoying nationalist views allow many of the other characters to shine. One of these characters is FBI agent Bill Filer who strikes up a nice friendship with Jo and overall I find him to be quite likeable. Now I’m not from the US so I can’t really judge his accent but I’ve heard quite a few say that it’s rather bad. It’s going to be different from person to person as to whether it puts you off his character or not, some may even find it offensive. But to me it’s not all that bad and I actually quite like the character.

The UNIT regulars however, mainly Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton, are very much pushed into the background for a lot of this story. Even Jo suffers a bit but to a much lesser extent. The Brigadier on the other hand gets a great scene where he has to make a deal with the devil and work alongside the Master to save the world. Not only that but he also has to make the choice between saving the Doctor and Jo or the world. It’s a lot of heavy stuff and Nicholas Courtney of course performs it brilliantly. Beyond this however he doesn’t get to do a whole lot but these moments are so amazing that they basically make up for it. Our final character of note is of course the Master who is superbly played by Roger Delgado, the first and (in my honest opinion) the best. Admittedly the story would probably have functioned just as well without him but it’s nice to have him there anyway, mainly because of Roger Delgado’s sublime performance who brings out the best in every actor he acts opposite. One last thing I’d like to discuss before I conclude this review is the Axon’s. They’re a very solid idea for a monster and it’s rather a surprise that they haven’t returned at all. But Peter Capaldi has said he’d like to face off against them at some point (even though Steven Moffat doesn’t seem too keen on the idea) so you never know what might happen.

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In conclusion, The Claws of Axos isn’t perfect but a lot of merits and a pace similar to that of the new series. It was a tough call but I’m afraid it’s only a seven-out-of-ten from me but it’s a very strong seven and is still most definitely recommended by me, especially for those who are fairly new to the classic series. Up next is The Masque of Mandragora where the Fourth Doctor and Sarah take a trip to renaissance Italy but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

The Seven Faces of Doctor Who: The Seeds of Death

January 31, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Today we continue our look back at Classic Who and shift the focus onto the Second Doctor played by Patrick Troughton. This week’s story is The Seeds of Death which features Frazer Hines as Jamie McCrimmon and Wendy Padbury as Zoe Heriot alongside Patrick Troughton’s unforgettable incarnation of everyone’s favourite Time Lord. For those of you who don’t know Patrick Troughton is my favourite Doctor and despite some tough competition from the likes of Tom Baker he is still managing to hang on to the top spot on my list. I choose this story because it shows both his silly and his serious side more-or-less equally and it also follows the format typical of many stories from his era. It is of course a base-under-siege story and while it does have some differences to the standard base-under-siege format it is still essentially what it boils down to. It is also the second appearance of the Ice Warriors who were primarily brought back because it was cheaper than making an entirely new monster but also because they had proved popular in the first appearance. The writer of said first appearance, Brian Hayles, was also bought back to write this sequel although script editor Terrance Dicks ended up rewriting the majority dues to issues with the original scripts. Michael Ferguson was bought on to direct the story and that is pretty much all the behind-the-scenes stuff in a nutshell so I think it’s about time to move on to the nitty-gritty of the story itself.

Starting off with the précis (which is basic a posh word for synopsis) for The Seeds of Death, the story begins with the TARDIS landing in the late twenty-first century where a revolutionary teleportation system called T-Mat has superseded all other forms of transport. It is controlled from a base on the moon but when all contact is lost the Earth enters a state of crisis. Unbeknownst to those on the planet bellow, the moonbase has been invaded by a group of Ice Warriors who plan to send seed pods to Earth which will spread oxygen sapping spores and end all life. With no other way to reach the moon, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe pilot a rocket to there and discover the presence of their old enemies. They then manage to rescue the surviving technicians and teleport back to Earth using T-Mat, but the fungus is already taking effect and there seems to be no way to stop it. After some experimenting, the Doctor finds that the fungus can be destroyed with ordinary water and then goes to the weather control bureau to make it rain. Unfortunately, an Ice Warrior had been sent on ahead to destroy the weather controls but the Doctor is able to rig up a solar-radiation device to kill the Ice Warrior with. He then fixes the weather controls and causes it to rain, destroying all of the deadly fungus that was suffocating the planet. However, an Ice Warrior fleet is moving in and a signal is being transmitted by the Ice Warriors on the moon to direct them there. Earth then sends a satellite up which is transmitting the same signal to lure the Ice Warrior fleet off course and into an orbit which will send them into the sun. The Doctor then heads up alone to disable the signal on the moon so that the Ice Warriors will all follow the false signal but while he is successful he is also captured by the remaining Ice Warriors. Tired of waiting, Jamie follows on after the Doctor and then saves him from the Ice Warriors, dealing with them in the process. with all the threats to Earth now dealt with the Doctor heads off in the TARDIS with Jamie and Zoe, but it’s far from the last he’ll see of the Ice Warriors.

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On the whole this story is surprisingly well made given the moderately troubled pre-production and low budget and the effort that went into making this clearly shows in the end product. Obviously it’s not flawless but given what they had to work with they came out better than expected. The sets themselves look very sleek and futuristic but in that classic sixties way. It very much shows what route they thought we were going to go down in the future but now it seems like we’re heading in a completely different. As for the costumes, they are also rather simplistic and while it does make the majority of the male cast members look like rather tacky superheroes the performances thankfully draws the audience’s attention away from the costume and makes them instead focus on the acting and the story. As for Mrs Kelly, one of the few female members of the cast, she’s given a much nicer costume which really stands out as high quality when compared to the costumes worn by those around her. As for the Ice Warriors the general design is pretty much the same as what we saw in their original story, The Ice Warriors, only here they look much more tight and for the most part less tacky. The lip sinking doesn’t match up that well but luckily they don’t have much lines as most are said by their leader, Slaar, who has an entirely different design. He is much more sleek and almost snake like compared to the standard Ice Warriors’ more turtle-like look. He even has a great hissing voice which is reminiscent of a snake. The character is written very well and Alan Bennion gives a great performance. Director Michael Ferguson is definitely aware of the productions strengths and limits but by no means does he play it safe. He takes risks which ultimately pay off and his decision to keep the Ice Warriors hidden for the first episode though use of point-of-view shots was pure genius. There’s also a very nice low angle shot of an Ice Warrior with the sun in the background, it works so well as you can’t make out an of the Ice Warriors features and it gives a real sense of menace.

Interestingly enough, the Doctor doesn’t come in to the story until about half way through the first episode which means that there’s a fair amount of time setting up the characters and the plot even before the TARDIS lands which is nice. One of these characters is Fewsham who ends up helping the Ice Warriors for most of the story. But not out greed or a lust for power but simply because he doesn’t want to die which might not be the most commendable of attributes but it’s certainly realistic. He does, however, die a hero and makes up for his past mistakes which is a nice bit of character development even though it’s a bit predictable. Another great character is Gia Kelly who is one of the few female characters is the story but she is much stronger than most of the men. She doesn’t let anyone push her about, even her superiors, and is very much focus on getting the job done right. Now The Seeds of Death is very much the Doctor’s story (despite Patrick Troughton being on holiday for episode four) but that doesn’t mean that Jamie and Zoe are left with nothing to do and they are given quite an active role in the proceedings actually. It’s also interesting to note that they spend most of the story together whereas some stories like to split the main characters up to drive different strands of the story before reuniting at the end. Here they do split up fairly often but always met up again fairly quickly and practically everyone gets a chance to act opposite each other which is great.

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Overall, The Seeds of Death is another great story which is arguably more relevant today than it was back then. It’s all about space travel and how we should be exploring the stars which is something we seem to have given up on these days and are too focused on making our lives easier. Admittedly we don’t have anything like T-Mat to do this but there are loads of other luxuries in today’s world that we could quite easily live without. So it’s a nine-out-of-ten for me on this one and next week we’ll be moving on to the Third Doctor with The Claws of Axos, an absolute romp of a story featuring UNIT and the Master but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

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