Nobody said it was easy (copperbadge) wrote,
Nobody said it was easy

I totally forgot to post the Three Things About Classic Who yesterday, so here it is! We're on series ten, which spanned 1972-1973, and as ever it is long and image heavy.


Episode One in four parts: The Three Doctors
By "The Bristol Boys" (man I love that nickname) Bob Baker and Dave Martin, who were last seen writing The Mutants, which was a pretty good episode.


971. There is an astronomer of some kind consulting with UNIT, and he's been talking about cosmic rays going wrong. At one point, presenting his research, he says "This is what really put the tin hat on it." I died of lol. And then he tries to show some readings to the Brigadier, who proudly says "The Doctor's the man for those."


973. There is a rainbowy oozy alien-y thing eating people! And cars! Apparently in an attempt to get to the Doctor -- OH SHIT ALIENS MADE OF GUMBALLS.

3a. The Doctor, on the run from the oozy thing and the gumball monsters with Jo and Benton, has had to call the Time Lords for help. The Time Lords, who are under siege and managing things rather poorly on Gallifrey if you ask me, have decided that the best person to rescue the Doctor is...THE DOCTOR. Two of the Doctor, in fact, so they send the First and Second Doctors to help him. Patrick Troughton looks frankly quite weird in colour, but it's charming how pleased Benton is to see him. William Hartnell (who had apparently been criticising the show's recent direction but still jumped at the chance to reprise the Doctor) wasn't healthy enough to actually perform on set, so they filmed him and put him on the TARDIS monitor. This turned out to be Hartnell's last performance, as he died in 1975.


974. Well, the oozy thing got its wish; it nabbed the (third) Doctor and Jo as the Doctor ran out of the TARDIS to draw its attention, and they've ended up in a quarry on an alien planet. Benton wants to grenade the oozy thing; UNIT does love its grenades.

975. The Brigadier's reaction to seeing the second Doctor is FUCKING PRICELESS. Slooooooow double take and then quiiiiiiet freakout. Then he goes around introducing Two as Three's assistant and looking smug about it. To his credit, when Two hauls him into the TARDIS a bit later, he take it well; he merely looks around and then demands to know if this is what the Doctor's been spending his UNIT budget on. This is like a TRULY AWESOME FANFIC.

976. Benton: "What're we gonna do now?" Doctor: "Keep it confused. Feed it with useless information -- I wonder if I have a television set handy." DOCTOR I HART YOU. It is weird but I have more faith in Two than in Three. He just does All-Knowing Day Saver so much better than Pertwee. Not that I don't like Three, I just trust Two more, despite him being arguably a much bigger asshole.

3a. "Superior intelligence and senseless cruelty simply do not go together." For real, Doctor? You were innocent once, huh?


977. The (third) Doctor has been brought into the rock quarry World Of Antimatter to meet Omega, who is one of the ancient team of Time Lord scientists who invented time travel. They did this by blowing up a star, apparently. Whatever works, I guess. Anyway, the supernova trapped Omega in a black hole, while the rest of Timelordia went on to honour and revere him. And now he wants revenge. Man, some people are just never happy.

978. He does have an awesome helmet, though.

979. I cannot get over how hilarious the Brigadier is in this. The oozy thing has now eaten the entire UNIT HQ, zapping it to the rock quarry world of Antimatter, but the Brigadier thinks they've been zapped to Norfolk somehow. When told they're a little further away from that, he worries that if they're in a different country it could be construed as an invasion.

3a. The Doctors, meanwhile, have discovered "singularity", the central source of Omega's power. It is, apparently, a humidifier. For discovering his sacred humidifier, Omega is going to punish them by sending them to THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON THE ROCK QUARRY HIS MIND, where Three has to slow-motion wrestle a monster. Real slow motion this time, though, not fake slow motion like last time. The fight choreography is actually rather impressive and it's well-shot, too.


980. Omega, because he created the world they're all trapped in, can't leave without the world collapsing, and once the world collapses his transport beam to Earth is hosed. So he's decided to shove the Doctor(s) into his place as MASTERS OF ANTIMATTER, and make his escape. Pause for thought, and you will see a possible flaw in this plan.

981. At one point the Doctors finally try to remove the supercool mask from Omega's head and find out there's nothing underneath: Omega's body is gone, and all that remains is his force of will, keeping him "alive". Omega has spent the whole episode being pretty overblown, actingwise, but his shriek of pain and despair when he discovers this for himself is really quite bone-chilling.

982. The Doctors agree to stay in the rock quarry World Of Antimatter with Omega, to keep him company, if he'll send everyone else home. Omega agrees, and the Brigadier gets everyone else through the gateway to Earth before saying his own farewell.

Oh Al. It'll be okay, kiddo, I promise. (And it is; they blow up Omega with a generator or something, and arrive home right after the Brigadier, fearing the Doctor lost forever, admits he was a "Wonderful old chap. Both of him.")

3a. Wikipedia tells us that Troughton and Pertwee enjoyed the antagonistic bickering set up between the Second and Third Doctor so much that they used to keep it going, mock-competing with each other when they attended cons together. Man, that must have been fun to watch.


Episode Two in four parts: Carnival of Monsters
by Robert Holmes


983. The episode opens with a bunch of green aliens unloading what look like Christmas presents, and then shooting at each other. It's all very 2001, I have no clue what's going on, and then we cut to a boat. I don't know.

984. The Doctor is on his first independent TARDIS adventure since the War Games -- all the others have been on commission from the Time Lords -- and he is hilariously out of practice at it. He's positive they're on an alien planet, despite all signs pointing to them being on a cargo vessel to Singapore.

985. JESUS there's a giant fucking sea monster threatening the boat.

3a. We keep cutting back and forth between a boat in the 1920s being threatened by fucking sea monsters (and stuck in a time loop) and a bunch of blue aliens talking in the third person a lot. The blue aliens are legitimately pretty funny -- they're playing host to a pair of humanoid entertainers, and are totally baffled by the idea of "performing to amuse". Amusement is prohibited!


986. A GIANT HAND JUST NICKED THE TARDIS. I want to know whose hand that was! Whether it was an actor or whatever. The hand, within the episode, belongs to Vorg the Entertainer. The TARDIS somehow landed in his tiny zoo that he carries around with him, and the boat is part of that.

987. I thought Vorg was rather fun, but he controls his miniaturised zoo of SENTIENT BEINGS with an agrometer, which makes them aggressive for lulz. Uncool.

988. The Doctor and Jo, who apparently have been drinking stupid juice, have failed to escape from the miniature zoo and instead are wandering round all the different compartments where various alien species are being kept. Someone should ban the Doctor from saying "We'd better have a look around."

3a. There's a lot of shots of shoes in this. Not that I can blame the director, the Doctor's boots are awesome and I want a pair.


989. HOLY SHIT ANOTHER GIANT FUCKING MONSTER. The Drasigs eat anything, hunt by scent, and are on the trail of Jo and the Doctor. They are pretty scary, very well made for puppet monsters.

990. The Doctor claims to have caused a ban on the Miniscope machine that contains Vorg's zoo -- he persuaded the council of the Time Lords that they were an affront to the dignity of sentient life. Intriguing, seeing as we don't know when or how this happened.

991. Well, fabulous, the Drasigs have escaped and got into the Human section and are eating the Human ship. And trying to eat the Doctor. And getting dynamited by the ship's crew!

3a. Meanwhile, in the outside world, the blue aliens have decided to hold a civil war. Well, one of them has, anyway, and he thinks the Drasigs should get free so that he can prove the president was too soft and liberal about allowing aliens onto their planet. The president is, incidentally, his brother.


992. The Doctor has escaped the miniature zoo and been returned to normal size, and has totally told off the blue aliens. For this, Vorg the Entertainer thinks he must be a carnie, which really in some ways is not far wrong. And then he tries to talk to him in Polari. Have I ever mentioned how I love Polari? I LOVE POLARI. (Incidentally, the Doctor as a carnival barker and ringmaster would make a great AU.)

993. The Doctor has built some kind of Save The Day Machine, but then it broke as he was being sent back into the mini-zoo. Vorg is trying to repair it, and in so doing asks his assistant-slash-girlfriend to put her finger on one part of the machine, which then zaps her painfully. "Good, that must be the live port" he says. Vorg is a sociopath.

994. Jo's job in this episode is apparently to be unable to run very far or move around much.

3a. The Save The Day Machine Works, the Drasigs are vanquished, and they all lived happily ever after. Except Vorg, who was probably eventually executed for being a serial killer. At least, I like to think so.

Episode Three in six parts: Frontier in Space
by Malcolm Hulke


995. WELCOME TO THE 26TH CENTURY! Humanity is one of two great empires in space, the other being the Draconians, who have tiny pointy heads. Also, the Doctor was almost just in a traffic accident when his box nearly collided with a human spaceship. He might need to get his headlamp checked.

996. Someone is using an audio tone to make people hallucinate that ordinary things -- like Jo and the Doctor -- are things they most fear. In the Crew's case, that means the Draconians. The Doctor is quite perplexed by how stupid all the humans are acting.

997. The "Frontier In Space" is the borderland between Draconian space and Earth space, like a Neutral Zone, and of course they're about to go to war because the Earth forces say the Draconians are raiding their ships, and the Draconians say the Humans are raiding their ships, and I suspect neither is strictly true. Also, the Earth ship currently about to be raided by "Draconians" is carrying bulk flour. Gluten is clearly highly prized in the future.

3a. "Doctor, what are you doing?" "I'm reversing the polarity of the ultrasonic screwdriver's power source." I think including the screwdriver makes it count as a DOUBLE SHOT.


998. OGRONS. Do you guys remember the Ogrons? No, neither did I, but they're big monster mercenaries who worked for the Daleks a while back, and are probably the ones wreaking all this havoc.

999. The Doctor and Jo have been brought to Earth as spies for the Draconians. It does look suspicious when you keep ending up on spaceships without being able to explain how you got there. The Earth President is convinced that the Doctor is a spy, and says to the Draconian ambassador, "Some servant of the Draconian Empire employed them!" to which the Doctor responds, "Madam, I can assure you that I've never been employed by anybody." It's an untruth for a cheap laugh (he is UNIT's science advisor after all) but I did laugh, so well done Doctor. :D

1000. HEY LOOK, we're in quadruple digits!

3a. I actually really like the Draconians' makeup, it's pretty awesome and well-executed.


1001. This episode is one of those political ones where there's a lot of talking going on, which in one sense is fine, but in another sense is kind of annoying, because I'm here to see the Doctor kick ass, and the Doctor's not even in most of the scenes to locate asses, let along kick them. It's difficult to care, a bit, because the setup was telegraphed fairly obviously from the start -- the Draconians and Humans have an uneasy truce, and someone is trying to break it by inciting anger between the two factions.

1002. I don't normally ship Jo/Doctor, but honestly now.

1003. The Doctor has been sent to the moon, which is a penal base where political prisoners are sent without trial and for life. Wow. Great job, Humanity.

3a. OH LOOK. IT'S THE MASTER. Gee, I wonder if he's behind all this. COULD IT BE? On the other hand, he's gathering up Jo and (eventually, one presumes) the Doctor under the guise of a planetary representative from one of Earth's colonies, which is claiming Jo and the Doctor as prisoners.


1004. The Master has come to collect the Doctor from the moon penal colony, and mentions that he has his "accomplice" under lock and key. I think this is one of the few times so far that a companion has been a direct hostage for the Doctor's cooperation, and it's happened a LOT in this episode.

1005. OH NOES, the Doctor has escaped from the Master and got to the outside of the ship, where he's in a space suit and clinging on for dear life -- but the Master's made a sudden turn and the Doctor's left floating out in space. It's okay though, 'cause he blew himself back to the ship by unhooking his air nozzle and using it like a rocket booster. Jeez, you'd think being a Time Lord and all he'd have used a safety chain or a bungee or something.

1006. Meanwhile, outside, there are two model spaceships about to mate! Awww.

3a. And then the Draconians took over the ship, and now the Master is locked up in the cage with the Doctor and Jo. LOL, poor sulky Master.


1007. Uhhhh wtf, there's a totally new opening credits theme. The credit sequence itself isn't new, but the music sure as hell is. I was totally confused by this until I looked it up on Wiki and found out that it was a new composition that the BBC brass didn't like, so it was yanked; I just happened to get a file containing the early "rough cut" of episode five, in which the new theme remained intact.

1008. The Doctor, Master, and Jo have been taken to see the Draconian emperor, and FORTUNATELY FOR THEM the Doctor has visited Draconia before and is a local legend, so the Emperor listens to him first instead of just shooting him on sight. At this point, while I understand that they are also trying to stop a war, I really would just like the Doctor to find his TARDIS and bomb out of there. It's a really pretty ill-written episode, overall; the plot depends on people being stupid, and on a series of unlikely lucky events. On the other hand, it was written as an allegory for the Cold War, according to A History Of Time (Travel), so maybe people just plain are that stupid.

1009. The Master is after the Doctor and Jo and the Prince of Draconia, who are bound for Earth. IT'S A CHASE! A CAR CHASE IN SPACE! A SPACE CHASE! And whoa, the Doctor is actually holding and firing a gun to repel the boarding party from the Master's ship. That's...rare.

3a. There's a really great moment in this part of the episode where a mystery is solved: for four and a half episodes we've been told that the commander of Earth's military forces "started" a war with Draconia twenty years before. We don't know how or why. Then, when the Prince of Draconia is brought before the commander and the president of Earth, it all comes out: the commander fired on a Draconian ship that had been sent to meet them, destroying it. He claims his ship was crippled, and the Prince retorts that theirs was too, which is why they didn't answer his communication calls. The commander asks why they sent a battle cruiser, since both ships were supposed to be unarmed, and the Prince replies that it was the most elegant ship they had for a member of the royal family to travel in, and the missile ports were empty. The commander is coming to the realisation that he started a war by mistake, which is a powerful thing, but all we really get to see of it is an anxious look to the side as understanding hits. I wish we'd had a bit more about this, and I think the writer probably did too. (For a really interesting exploration of a very similar theme, Babylon 5 is your man.)


1010. LOL, Jo has been put in prison by the Master but it has a dirt floor, so she's decided to dig her way out; the funny part of this is that the dirt floor is very obviously garden centre potting soil, with those little white bits you get in it that dissolve and nourish the plants. Apparently they were planning on growing begonias in the cell...

1011. I can't be bothered, this part was really boring. There's a space fight between the Draconians and the Humans, Jo digs herself free of the potting soil, the Doctor catches up with the Master, and OH SHIT THE DALEKS SHOWED UP. OH SHIT THE DALEKS.

1012. This episode ends on a cliffhanger -- the Doctor, injured, has nevertheless escaped with Jo to the TARDIS and is trying to warn the Time Lords about the Daleks. Technically this links together two six-parters, which is intentional. A Brief History Of Time (Travel) tells us that Barry Letts, the producer, wanted to beat the twelve-episode longest-ever record held by The Daleks' Master Plan, but was warned off it by Douglas Camfield, who'd directed Master Plan. Nice of Camfield, I think, or perhaps he was worried he'd get saddled with the thing again; apparently the difficulties of filming a really long episode are considerable. But also apparently, if you have two different directors, it's not so bad!

3a. Frontier in Space seems to have been, if not a direct influence, then at least strangely linked to future science fiction imagery -- I've referenced the Babylon 5 parallel above, and I couldn't help but note there is also a game of three-dimensional chess going on in one of the episodes:

Methinks we're starting to see the impact classic Who had on the generation of writers who brought us most of the science fiction of the nineties; or perhaps if three-dimensional chess existed in Star Trek TOS, we're seeing transatlantic scifi crossbreeding (kinky!).

Station Break: The Passing Of A Master

Frontier In Space was Roger Delgado's last appearance on Doctor Who, and the Master's last appearance for three years. I suspect the delay was in part to honour the memory of Delgado, who died in a car crash on the 18th of June, 1973.

The Master would eventually return several years later in The Deadly Assassin, but would not become a regularly recurring villain again until The Keeper of Traken, during which the part was passed to Anthony Ainley.

Rock in peace, Master.

Episode Four in six parts: Planet of the Daleks
by Terry Nation (TERRY NATION. Though rumour has it someone else did most of the writing. Still. TERRY NAAAATION.)


1013. The Doctor has a bed in the control room. *eyebrow* Okay then, Doctor. Badly injured, he's fallen asleep and told Jo to record everything in "the log" (which looks a bit like a Walkman) and that he was likely to sleep for some time. She's doing a rather good job of it, credit where due.

1014. The TARDIS has landed on a jungle planet somewhat ill-built by the scenic department. Not that I mind a little suspension of disbelief, but they really should try not to give close-ups of the spatter-painted styrofoam posing as rock.

1015. The Doctor has reawakened, but Jo has of course wnadered outside and been IMMEDIATELY CAPTURED. Way to go, Jo. On the other hand, one of her captors is qualified in space medicine, LOL, so they're willing to try and help the Doctor. Even though they're not in space!

3a. OMG, THEY'RE THALS. THALS! Thals used to be forest-dwelling nordic types from the First Doctor era, and they wore vinyl trousers. They've come up in the world since then! And are not just fighting Daleks. They're fighting invisible Daleks.


1016. The Thals have crash landed on a planet full of things that want to kill them, including a fungus that is currently eating Jo alive, and the aforementioned invisible Daleks. Fortunately they've found the Doctor, and had a nice little cultural exchange where he claims to be the Doctor of Legend who helped the Thals destroy the Dalek city (true). I love it when the Doctor shows up again in cultures that have declared him a legend. It makes the folklorist in me all tingly.

1017. I like Pertwee, but his "I am in pain" faces never fail to make me LOL. It's the one thing he's really bad at.

1018. On the other hand, this is a striking visual, the Doctor walking down the hallway ahead of two Daleks. It's like something out of a noir film.

3a. Jo, fortunately, has been rescued from her own ineptitude by an Invisible Survivor Of The Dalepocalypse, whose people were wiped out when the Daleks invaded the planet they're currently stranded on. Meanwhile, the Doctor is planning to REVERSE THE POLARITY for great win and escape from the Dalek holding cell he's in.


1019. Well, we're back to black and white film for this part, although apparently there is a colourised version of episode three out there somewhere. I'm kind of enjoying the black and white, frankly. It beats reconstructions, anyway.

1020. The good news is, a second mission from the Thals has arrived and can save the crashed spaceship. The bad news is, they're actually there because apparently there's a secret army of ten thousand Daleks somewhere on the planet.

1021. Everyone's been captured! Or broken in! Or broken out and then back in! I don't even know.

3a. The Doctor is planning to escape from the Dalek stronghold by trapping hot air from a refrigeration unit with a plastic tarp and floating himself and four other people up a shaft. I'm sure the physics of this can't be right.


1022. What the hell do you know, the Doctor's impossible plan worked. SHOCKED! The Daleks, unfortunately, have ANTI GRAVITY DISCS that allow them to fly. Although if they're going to fly up airshafts after the Doctor, they really should watch for falling rocks...

1023. AS SHOULD JO. She just got brained with a ROCK FROM NOWHERE while trying to defuse a bomb. DEUS EX ROCKINA. Still, she managed to blow up some Daleks out of it.

1024. So, the planet they're on has a core of liquid ice that erupts occasionally like volcanoes do, and of course this means the planet gets very cold at night. Except there are rocks that store heat, and you can stay warm if you stay near them at night! MMM, SKIENCE.

3a. As creepy as the Daleks are, the mechanised voices do bring with them a serious downside: the Daleks can't really engage in the kind of casual dialogue others can, because the writers know full well that the voices are grating and can be hard to understand. So the Daleks tend not to "talk" so much as "report", which in theory is what they would do but in practice is the most irritating kind of information dump.


1025. The Daleks are planning to germ-bomb the planet with something that will kill off all non-inoculated life, and meanwhile a rogue Thal has decided to bomb their main refrigeration unit, which will unthaw the Dalek army. ALSO THERE ARE SCARY ANIMALS IN THE JUNGLE.

1026. I kind of love the molten ice conceit, especially since they're using a pool of molten ice to totally pwn a Dalek. Unfortunately, Three is a little less bright than One, and so instead of tricking them into the pool, they grab the Daleks bodily and haul them in. Which admittedly must be pretty satisfying.

Station Break: The Dalek In The Pond

The Daleks from Planet of the Daleks do resemble the Dalek Inna Pond discovered last year. The eyestalk's the right length, the head-lights are the right size, and the rings around the "neck" are in the right proportion (they're not evenly spaced, as the rings are in earlier and later Daleks).

The problem is that at this point there wasn't exactly budget for a whole whack of Daleks. By the time of this episode there were only three remaining operational Dalek props from the sixties. They did build seven more wooden "extras", according to the Doctor Who Wiki, but they weren't functional as "costumes" that performers could wear and operate. So I'm pretty sure someone would have noticed if any of the Daleks' heads had gone missing.

The other problem is that the Dalek in the Pond was found near Beauliu, Hampshire, about ninety miles southwest of the filming site for Planet of the Daleks, which was in Redhill.

At any rate, the "extra" Daleks that were built for this episode ended up being used for parts as bits of the original Daleks fell off or broke, so that by the eighties the original Dalek costumes were mostly made of spare parts. The old Daleks were finally retired and new Daleks brought in for Revelation Of The Daleks, a Colin Baker episode from 1985.

Now, in Revelation of The Daleks, they did film on location in Hampshire, though quite a ways from Beauliu and the pond in question looks a bit bucolic and isolated for an impromptu rubbish tip. It's entirely possible a Dalek lost his head in Hampshire during this filming, but given that they'd just made new Daleks, I should think it would have been reported or looked for.

On the other hand, apparently new Daleks were also built for Remembrance Of The Daleks, the next Dalek serial a few years later. So perhaps the head was lost during Revelation, and perhaps they never found it.

I have to say, of all the hilarity in the original article about the Found Dalek, my favourite part is: The local council collected the rest of the junk we pulled out, but we”ve kept the dalek head and are getting a dalek expert to have a look at it. A DALEK EXPERT. I want to be a Dalek Expert! Does ITT Tech offer a course in Dalek Studies?

So we still don't know when the head went missing. It's possible it was lost during Planet, or during Rememberance, or that it was nicked out of a bin when the head was replaced with a newer one from the spare-parts props.

Or we could just go with Occam's Razor: Jack did it.

1027. AND THEN someone throws a coat over the Dalek's eyestalk and it screams I CANNOT SEE, EMERGENCY! and I lol.

3a. I'm not entirely sure what's going on at every point, but I do know that nothing good comes of putting on purple fursuits like the planet's natives wear and infiltrating the Dalek home base.


1028. You know, given that this "Dalek Army" is a carefully arranged diorama using toy Louis Marx Daleks, it's still pretty startling and scary. It's not like modern CGI manages to give any more of a shock to the system, I think.

1029. Thals dig Earthlings. It are a fact. I'm pretty sure Ian was hooking up with one of the Thals last time, and this time one of them, Latep, has totally fallen for Jo.

1030. And then they defeated the Daleks with an erupting ice volcano. SKIENCE BRINGS THE AWESOME!

3a. The Doctor's been very...not didactic precisely, but mentor-like in this. He gets to give some interesting speeches on bravery, and one about war:

When you get back to Skaro, you'll all be national heroes. Everybody will want to hear about your adventures. So be careful how you tell that story, will you? Don't glamourise it. Don't make war sound like an exciting and thrilling game. Tell them about the members of your mission that will not be returning. Tell them about the fear. Otherwise your people might relish the idea of war. And we don't want that.

Episode Five in six parts: The Green Death
by Robert Sloman (and Barry Letts)


1031. This episode is supposedly a discussion of environmental issues, which again was not something a whole lot of people were talking about in mainstream media in the early 70's -- though I'd like to point out that Doctor Who was doing it as early as 1964 with Planet Of The Giants. According to A Brief History Of Time (Travel), Letts and Dicks, the producer and script editor, asked Robert Sloman to write a script about environmentalism, and this is the result. This is also Katy Manning's last episode as Jo, which I am both relieved and trepidatious about.

1032. Holy shit, I was laughing a little at the terrible greenscreen in the scene where the mine worker was riding a cart up a shaft, but the next time we see him he's glowing green, dead, and hanging onto the alarm lever to warn the rest of the miners away. Jesus.

1033. There's a brilliant scene near the start where Jo's getting up in arms about oil drilling and the Doctor's going on about visiting Metebelius Three, and they're talking over and around each other, and it's just genius. It really shows how comfortable they are with each other, and I'm not fond of Jo but it's nice to see her and the Doctor getting on. Just in time for her to, you know, leave. *sighs*

3a. "Doctor, it's exactly your cup of tea! This fellow's bright green, and dead." LOL, Brig. LOL. Though we are finally seeing some of what I'd hoped we'd see in my last post-mortem -- the Doctor is using UNIT as his home base, but he's traveling again, and the tension this creates for him when the Brig and Jo want to go to South Wales to investigate the oil drilling, while he wants to go to Metebelius Three, is a tangible and troubling thing.

"I wouldn't like to have to order you, Doctor."
"I wouldn't advise you to try."


1034. Jo's gone to hang with the hippies who want to shut down the oil drilling and then gone down an abandoned mine, the Doctor's desperate to help the Brigadier after having had a terrible time of things on Metebelius Three, and the Brigadier has an awesome coat.

1035. The Brigadier is PISSED OFF. These oil drilling punks won't help him get down the mine to save Jo, and they're lying liars who lie, and it's got to be hot in that coat. So while he runs off to Newport for some cutting tools for *handwave* saving Jo, the Doctor is breaking into Global Chemicals to see what he can find out. And is immediately caught by a supercomputer. Job well done, Doctor.

1036. Of course, the problem with being an evil supercomputer is that you have to get the meatbags to carry out your orders, and the humans serving the evil supercomputer are no match for the Doctor's Venusian Aikido.

3a. I'm pretty sure that the one thing you're supposed to do when you're down a mine shaft is wait for help to arrive. And if help does not arrive and you do wander off, abandoning the miner you're with because he's sick and pressing on alone without any knowledge of the mine system is...yeah, not so bright, Jo.


1037. MAGGOTS! The cave is full of maggots! Some of which, so Wikipedia tells us, are made of inflated condoms. So at least you know they won't give you VD.

They also have teeth, though, so watch yourself.

1038. The Brigadier and the head of Global Chemicals are arguing about the Brigadier's right to investigate the mine, and the Brig says he can have someone from the Cabinet come down if necessary. The head of Global Chemicals, Stevens, retorts "You have friends in high places, do you? Well so do I!" and summons the Minister of Ecology. OH NOES. THE TERRIBLE POWER OF THE MINISTER OF ECOLOGY! Unfortunately he put the PM on, and the Brig was forced to fold. This is the kind of situation in which Torchwood would come in handy, Al!

1039. And now, having got the Doctor and Jo out of the mine and given up on investigating it, everyone goes back to the hippie "Nut hut" that King Of Hippies Dr. Jones runs, and he and Jo flirt about the Amazon while the Brig looks awesome in a tux. And after dinner, Jo and Dr. Jones cuddle by the fire and the Doctor and Brig go off to the lab to "examine an egg" the Doctor picked up in the mine. Sure, guys. Examine that egg. Examine it hard.

3a. Okay I just have to say this and get over it: everyone's hair in this is awful. Even Al's. I wish it were otherwise, but it's just not.


1040. Things you shouldn't do: bring an evil green maggot egg into your home and then leave it unattended. Because then the maggot hatches and tries to eat your companion!

1041. The Doctor wants to study the maggots. The Brigadier wants to blow up the mine. Hands up, anyone who's shocked? The problem with this is that there's not much tension in it. Unlike in modern television where blowing something up just tends to make the problem worse, when the Brigadier blows something up that motherfucker stays blown up. (Okay, I recant: they did not stay blown up this time, which could be some kind of precedent-setting action paving the way for future disastrous blowing-ups.)

1042. Yates has been sent undercover to Global Chemicals as a government representative because, well, I'm not really sure, but the Brigadier is a sneaky bastard and maybe he's just covering his bases.

3a. The "boss" of Global Chemicals communicates to Stevens, the head of the company, solely through a computer screen showing a soundwave line indicator thingy. Which naturally leads one to believe it is just a robot. Aaaaand VALIDATED, because at the end of this part we find out it IS. "I am the boss! I am all around you! MWAHAHAHAHAHA" or words to that effect.


1043. Since blowing them up once didn't work, and ten rounds rapid failed (but means you should do either half a shot or two shots, I haven't decided), the Brigadier has hatched a new plan: grenades, thrown from helicopters. FLAWLESS. Except for the part where Jo went out maggot-hunting and then Dr. Jones followed her and now they're sheltering in a mine while, outside, UNIT bombs a bunch of two-foot-long maggots back to the hell from whence they came. Which also did not work. The Brigadier is 0 for 2 and frankly I'm beginning to worry about him.

1044. The BOSS computer is trying to brainwash the Doctor, but the Doctor of course is having none of it and instead is calculating Pi. He did try to break BOSS with a riddle, but apparently the plot required that BOSS not be broken just yet.

1045. LOL Yates just tried to help the Doctor escape, and for his troubles he got Venusian Aikido'd by the Doctor. Yates does tend to get the short end of the stick, because shortly after helping the Doctor to escape, he's captured and then brainwashed by BOSS into attempting to kill the Doctor. The Brigadier is perhaps understandably pissed about his favourite subordinate officer trying to kill his boyfriend.

3a. This is, unfortunately, the start of a long, slow slide for Yates, which is a shame because I genuinely like him as a character. The show starts it, eventually getting rid of Yates for reasons I haven't yet ascertained, but I'm sure we'll get there next season. The novels -- almost invariably unkind to former companions -- attempt to complete his character assassination. I may actually be forced to pick up one of them (something I swore I wouldn't do) just to see if he actually gets a happy ending. Though given that the novel is called "Happy Endings" I should damn well hope he does.

Mike Yates, you are awesome.


1046. Doctor, I know you're dense, but when the Brigadier comes into your lab and says he's off for a bite to eat, he wants to know if you want him to bring you a snack. You are rubbish at keeping subs, absolute rubbish.

1047. They have FINALLY figured out that the toadstools the hippie commune was growing kills the maggots, but they didn't get to one of them in time, and it transformed. Thus the Doctor and Benton are about to be menaced by what appears to be a muppet who had a horrible encounter with a flamethrower. Fortunately, the Doctor fucking PWNS it by hitting it with his coat, and that's the end of that.

1048. BOSS has decided to take over the world using the internet. Dude, did he learn nothing from WOTAN? Hypnotising humans into being evil never works, and it doesn't work in this case either, because the Doctor deprograms Stevens and Stevens blows BOSS the fuck up. Explosions, in the end, always get the job done.

3a. Unfortunately, blowing up BOSS won't stop Jo from marrying her Dr. Jones (MOST AWKWARD PROPOSAL EVER with the Doctor standing in the background) and rambling off for the Amazon to save the Earth one protein-rich caterpillar at a time. Thus departeth another Companion, but take heart! Sarah Jane is on her way, and the Brigadier, as ever, remains true.

Station Break: Global Conspiracy

Alongside doing one of the best Doctor Who comedy sketches ever, The Pitch Of Fear, Mark Gatiss has both written for and performed in New Who. He wrote The Unquiet Dead and The Idiot's Lantern, which were not stellar episodes but were workmanlike pieces it's hard to find fault with, and he played Professor Lazarus in The Lazarus Experiment.

He also wrote and starred in a feature for the DVD release of The Green Death, a "documentary" about the fictitious event entitled "Global Conspiracy".

Rock that stache, Gatiss.

The basic premise of Global Conspiracy is humorous -- an overdramatic journalist who covered the Green Death the first time round returns to Llanfairfach to investigate a new spate of, well, maggots. The documentary jumps back and forth between 1972 and "present day", with the usual results these kinds of satires produce: a reasonably amusing misinterpretation of what was actually going on.

I did LOL at the Brigadier and his "crack team of almost ten soldiers", and it was fun to see some of the actors reprising their roles -- Stevens and Dr. Jones both showed up again, Stevens as the Director General of the BBC (for grate lulz) and still under the thumb of BOSS.

And thus endeth Season Ten -- if you count the Documentary, several decades after it began...


While I was doing the research on the Pond Dalek for the Station Break above, it occurred to me that for all we've rebuilt, there's still a lot of information we don't have. I think there's probably more available than what exists online; I've read enough in enough places to know that there are records somewhere in some BBC filing room that aren't accessible to the public, and that's fine. Aunty Beeb doesn't want to talk about it, I can dig that.

What intrigues me, though, is how much of what we do know, especially of earlier seasons, is based on fan work. These days we have DVD extras and confidentials and press releases and a much faster, more efficient way of communicating information; the Doctor Who Wiki isn't exactly something we could have easily accessed or even assembled before the internet. At the time these early episodes were being made, if you didn't get your news from a zine or the Radio Times, you didn't get any news.

Doctor Who has had generations of fans, though, and there's a strong historical link between then and now. People still visit the on-site filming locations used in the sixties and seventies. There are photos at the Location Guide which are of sites from 1972 filming but were taken in 2009. Apparently out there in the ether there's a guide to the quarries of Doctor Who and you can do a driving trip of them (misswinterhill informs me that Bessie, the Doctor's yellow roadster, is on the cover). I've spoken before about fan reconstructions, many times.

All of this seems to foster a feeling of ownership, a sense that there has been so much canon, touched by so many hands, that nobody but fandom really can own the show. Who owns the Doctor? He was designed by committee, pushed through by Sydney Newman, produced by Verity Lambert, originated by William Hartnell, portrayed by ten other men (more, if you count some AU Doctors I haven't got to yet), and written by dozens of different writers spanning nearly fifty years of filming. When the BBC didn't care about the show, and even deliberately destroyed episodes that directors and producers asked them to keep, fans rebuilt or restored them. It was revived by Russell Davies and is currently produced by Steven Moffat. That's a lot of people standing behind the Doctor. The single constant has been the consumer -- the fans.

There's a sense that someone like me, coming to the show as a fan in 2007, has a share in a title to something that began in 1963. It's a real implication of inheritance, especially since most of the people who currently work on Doctor Who and its satellite productions (including the novels and comics, as well as spinoff shows) are fans as well. In the Torchwood gag reel from season one, there's a clip where John Barrowman's mobile goes off in the middle of filming a scene, and his ringtone is the Doctor Who theme. David Tennant's childhood adulation of the Fifth Doctor is a plot point to one of the Children In Need specials. And those are just the actors; RTD and Steven Moffat have both talked about watching Doctor Who as children too.

I don't think I'm really treading new ground here in terms of my post-mortems, and I'm not sure what that means for how we treat the show, whether we treat it differently from other shows. After all, for some fans it really does begin with Nine. But I think the depth and constancy of the fandom must be attributed in part to the knowledge that Doctor Who exists as a work outside of its original locus.

Given all this, I'll be intrigued to get to the New Series and find out just how it all went down when the revival was announced. I'm sure fans have kept records of that, anyway.
Tags: three things about classic who
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