From the Beginning: The First Doctor

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Doctor Whoovie - Posted on 04 June 2009

I thought I would recreate this thread on the new Forum for those of us which have recently undertaken watching our beloved show from the first episode, in order.

Doctor Whoovie's picture

I have commented on this story previously (website V2) but remembered something that struck me as odd when I watched it.

The TARDIS landed with the front windows open! This was obious on a) the model used for materialization and b) on the full size prop used with the actors in front.

This struck me as very odd, as it meant it was deliberate (actually making a model with the windows open).

Equally odd, was the fact that the windows were shut at the end of the story when they are leaving Susan behind.

Are there any other instances of the TARDIS windows being open?. I can't think of any, but am not familiar with most first Doctor stories which follow this one, or many of the second Doctor Stories. This being the reason I decided to try and watch everything through from the beginning.

Did we do this one already? I can't recall. Anyway it's not as good as LAND OF THE GIANTS. How can it be? The music and effects are terrible when compared to LAND OF THE GIANTS and the characters in LAND have a much better background and pov. Anyway PLANET is not terrible but it's close and it's rep is bad but if you watch it one ep at a time, day by day, it's pretty good. I'm glad for once the story is a murder mystery or rather not really. THe mystery is how the man was killed. Barbara for some reason is thinking she's dying but doesn't tell anyone. Dumb. The sink scene is pretty good. The bad thing is that none of the "giant" Earth men interact with the "little peple" in PLANET and even the insect models look flat and boring. The sets are okay actually adna the sink is pretty well done. Susan overacts again but for once, her panic attacks, seem warranted. Again, I make this out to be poor but it's entertaining mostly due to Hartnell and Russell's acting and the unusual plot, even for DW>   

iwritesf's picture

I think this is a very uneven story as well, but have two nuggets to add: somewhere, I recall reading that this was a Season 1 story pushed back into season 2 - notice Ian is wearing his teacher's suit rather than some of the other clothing he chooses later; and, more interestingly: the story is 3 episodes but had been cut down from 4. I think this leads to most of the dropped threads, odd passages, etc.  It's like a designed story with a missing episode! Of course, this might make it move more quickly, but it's definitely rocky.

On a side note, since the insecticide is capable of killing *everything*, I always thought, for one reason, that's how the Doctor and company survived - as they certainly would have been eaten by insects otherwise.

Second odd note: why is Barbara cured when she is returned to her normal size? If she's taken on a lethal amount of insecticide while small, why isn't the insecticide also increased proportionately when she's returned to full size? Weak writing, I guess.

Overall, a valiant effort, however!

Doctor Whoovie's picture

I quite enjoyed this story even though it was short and simple.
Again, I was not familiar with the story, but given the fact that I knew Vicki became a companion, it was clear that Bennent couldn't survive to the end of the tale. I therefore guessed the key point of the ending, pretty early on.

I liked the Koquillion costume (seem to have seen it a lot over the years) so was ultimately dissapointed to see that the Dido species were human (I would use the phrase humanoid, except that they weren't, they were definately human).

One of the wacky things about DW at this time and probably all the others is that...nothing is really what it seems or is explained enough. The Didoians: were they human at one time? Are they now? Are the two that do in the killer still alive? Are they ghosts? The whole thing is played out as if they are more than human, more than alive, as if they are ghosts or something supernatural. I love how the Doctor fell asleep when he was materializing the Tardis! Hartnell can get away with so much as his Doctor was getting on in years. I also love how Ian and Barbara interact with him now, so much less tnesion and more amusement at his oldmanness. And to me, he just seems slightly alien and not at all fully alien...very much an old crankly man who likes the people he is with but doesn't often want to show it. And Vicki and he just get on so well. It was...all...very comfortable...for now. And ther'es nothing wrong with that. 

Doctor Whoovie's picture

This was a great story. Yet another story which I was completely unfamiliar.

I was surprised how this switched between farce and deadly seriousness (slavery, tongues being cut out, Rome burning to the ground).

This story was great light relief showing nicer, more gentle side of the Doctor. I found Vicki likable in this story, as I did not take to her character particularly in the Escape.

Costumes were great, but the sets were a bit lackluster, just drapery for the most part.

I felt let down by some of the Story. The galley part was pretty weak and then the arena scene versus the lion just never materialized.

It was most amusing although 'all road lead to Rome', the paths never crossed.

What surprised me most was the fact that Tavius was ultimately good, I was sure bretral was coming at any moment.

Nice to see Doctor Number One doing some swordplay.

barnabeee's picture

The Romans is great fun! And almost unique, in fact, in that it really is Doctor Who as an out and out comedy/farce! And its such fun!

Anyone who hasn't seen it is in for a treat when it shows in on DVD (in the US!) shortly! Hooray!

Announcing A Who York Evening with... Louise Jameson (Leela) Tuesday November 3, 2009 Tickets on sale at Follow us on Twitter
Doctor Whoovie's picture

Okay, I might be opening myself up to the wrath of all here, but I have to start by saying I hated this.

This has to be the most boring story I have watched in the Hartnell era to date. The costumes and sets were obviously
ground breaking at the time and they were trying do do real sci-fi, as had never been done on British TV before, however it seems to me that the narative was just pants.

I had to watch the third episode about three times before I made it through without falling asleep.

In the making of documentary, they said that the 'grubs' had been added to the story at the last minute to try and add some more narative. I think that was the problem, there just wasn't enough story in there to support a 6 part adventure, perhaps 4 parts would have been better.

Although it wasn't stated on any of the material I watched I suspect that the cost of costumes and scenery was such that they had to make it span 6 episodes so that they could afford to do it.

Anyway, I hated this one. Any other points of view?

Now it's on to the crusade, which I have listened to as an audiobook read by William Russell, but have never watched.
Look forward to some more Loose Canon reconstructions.

dimpleswho's picture

I have to completly agree with you here. I have only seen this story twice, because it is very hard to watch it. I love the Hartnell era, especially with the Doctor's and Vicki's compatible relationship, but it was indeed hard to watch. I myself have fallen alseep to it, which disappoints no end as a Whovian, but the reality of how badly realized this story is, stands for itself.

Idiom's picture

I'm just about to finish Keys of Marinus so will post on it soon! Is it ok to post images here?

Idiom's picture

The Keys of Marinus Parts Three to Six: SPOILERS!

Part Four: Another nonsense, plot-free episode but you know what? With its knights frozen in ice, its (sex?-)crazed trapper pursuing Barbara around the table and its various instances of slow leg rubbing, I enjoyed this. Silly but tremendous fun!

Part Five: Great set up and then the return of the Doctor like a breath of fresh air and I realise why I’ve been struggling with this story. Early programmes (just as the most recent series) had a tendency to run a few weeks without the Doctor and, boy, do we miss him when he’s not there. Interesting to see Ian powerless and dependent on the others for a change, giving Barbara and Susan the opportunity to use their initiative. Good to see the story being given some leg room and run over into episode six.

Part Six: Loved seeing Ian with his Chinese top and his Marinus Fur coat – gradually collecting things from his different adventures. Well, you would, wouldn’t you? And then everything wrapped up? Well, sort of in a completely futile way, what with the whole reason that the keys were searched for in the first place, conveniently gone by the end of the episode... but I won’t spoil it completely.

Overall: the first story that I’ve struggled with. I think that it had to do with various reasons: the stand-alone stories covered in one episode and so not being given the time to develop fully, William Hartnell’s absence for much of the time, the one too many plot inconsistencies, and then there’s the special effects and the line fluffing – things which I usually find charming but this time kept pulling me out of the story. And it wasn’t just William Hartnell stumbling over his lines (at least that could be written off as a character trait), it was every other male actor. Mind you, seeing the Voord trip over his own flippers at the end was almost (if not quite) worth the price of admission.

Five out of ten from me.

KEYS I actually liked all the way through but found I didn't really miss the Doctor when he wasn't there, don't know why. I mean I always like it when he is there but I found the companions able to hold the show up for an ep or two, I mean there were three of them. JNt should have learned something from this but anyway...liked the story...

RESCUE: I like this does'nt make sense does it? Vicki didn't know Bennett wasn't the killer? And why wouldn't he just kill her? Did he want a witness to back up his story? I thought the Doctor and Vicki's relationship got off to a great start and their scenes together are touching without being coy. Hated that Barbara killed that beast but it did add some tension and drama.

THE WEB PLANET: Well I too felt this was overlong...when I watched it all in one go. Recentlly I watched it ep by ep and with an open mind (if you had my mind you'd want it open too) and thinking it would be funny with all the technical faults (I had a copy of the DW Error Finder). I a watched it one ep at a time and found that they had indeed created an alien world. A very alien world...perhaps for the first and only time. Nothing is human in this but of course you need to suspend disbelief...  

 THE ROMANS was another I entered into with an open mind and wiht the thought to watch only one ep at a time. It was on the first time I viewed it in the 80s during a channel's intermittent Colin showings so I really wanted to see Colin! Oh my! Needless to say times change and I'd rather see any Hartnell than any Colin story but never mind...ROMANS nowadays in viewing it ep by fact, I enjoyed the first ep so much I watched another one or two. It's not bad. It's not terribly funny but there are some menacing scenes especially as Ian and his ally escape but have to leave Barbara in Nero's grip....literally. The slapstick doesn't work much but ti does'nt take away from the rest and a historical is purely refreshing in ANY era of DW. If you look at this as a part of DW history and try to take it for what it  a's not that bad. I love that the travelers are there for a long time (as in MARCO POLO), that the TARDIS fell down a hill or something, and that they stay in a house vacated by the owner. There is danger and quite a few deaths going on and Hartnell is just...amusing throughout and even seems to fight well in one or two scenes, I think. The Doc and Vicki are getting along; Ian and Barbara seem to be having a romance of sorts and things just seem so...dangerous and yet relaxed all at once. It's like...well, like traveling in a time machine should be...IMO of course   


dimpleswho's picture

The Rescue: In response as to why Bennett kept Vicki alive is what he said himself- Yes he wanted a plausible alibi via Vicki so she would support his story on the events that happened on the ship and on the planet. It was an elaborate plan but necessary that he did not return to Earth by himself. Otherwise the authorities would be more than suspicious.

Doctor Whoovie's picture

This was another enjoyable story with two episodes recontructed by Loose Canon. In contrast, with previous stories this seemed a little rushed in 4 episodes. I recently listened to the audiobook of David Whitaker's novel of this story (read by William Russell) which was greatly expanded over the televized material. The added background on the novelization significantly adds to this story and I would recommend reading or listening to it.

When starting out on this excercise to watch everything from the beginning, I had thought that watching the historicals would be a chore whilst the 'sci-fi' episodes would be the highlights. The more I watch, the more I realize that in general the historicals are of very high quality and the futuristic/sci-fi episodes are often the poorer ones.

I was slightly disturbed to see all the 'blacked up' English actors in this story, but I guess that is just a sign of how times and attitudes have changed in the last 45 Years. Julian Glover and Jean Marsh were pretty good but seemed to be only in the story for a few minutes.



Doctor Whoovie's picture

This was another new story to me and was not quite what I was expecting. The whole time slip thing seemed very woolley to me, and just convenient to the story, rather than making sense. Still fairly enjoyable, of the last three stories I think I have enjoyed it the most, since I hated the Web Planet, and the crusade seemed slightly weak when compared to the novel of the same title.

I spotted a young Boba Fett in there though.

It strikes me that the Doctor has a closer relationship with Vicki than he did with Susan. I must admit I thought she was going to leave at the end of this story, I was suprised when she boarded the TARDIS. Her character has really grown on me after a rocky start in 'the rescue'.

Altough the Doctor seems to have really mellowed and I have started liking him more(the change seems to have happened for me through DIOFE/The Rescue/The Romans), I have realized that Ian and Barabara are about to leave and for me they (particularly Ian) are still the real heores of the show at the moment. I wonder how I will see it once they are gone? Although I know Peter Purves will join, he is a Blue Peter presenter in my mind.

Anyway, 'The Space Museum' seems to be a solid Sci-fi story which seems a little derivative today, but may have been highly original in its day.

I have been traveling from TX to Belgium, so watched all of  'The Crusade' and 'the Space Museum' on the flight. Managed the first two episodes of 'The Chase' as well but need to catch up on the remaining four in the next couple of days. 


A young Boba Fett? The actor?

What do you mean you watched this on the plane? How?

Just wondering.

What struck me about the novel the CRUSADES was how dangerous the past seemed especially to Ian and Barbara, and the tv story gets there in a few scenes but then...just peters out somehow in ep4 or the later part of ep3. It all just...sort of ended. I liked the novel though and the tv episode. It was not bad. DW was then, truly a time travel show. Some of the supporting cast got too much time I thought, including Glover and Marsh, with DW threatening to sideline the main cast and become some kind of Shakespeare like play which it could not be, of course. I'm glad they tried it and sometime they still should try something like this again. I'd give them credit if they did but no, nowadays, we'll get the insect bugs from the planet Frogasdealiaprkcoriscus. Anyway not a bad story but a little slow. I do like how they played up the intrigue and how the Doctor uses his wit and mind to trick Richard's right hand man. But Richard himself...was really a villain in some of the things he did. None of that was played up. It should have been I felt. The Doc and Vicki have a grand old time in a way. The novel was darker and rightly so.

SPACE MUSEUM: a strange one. It starts out like TWILIGHT ZONE and when do any time trap things ever make sense. Watch the old 1960s movie TIME TRAVELERS and you will see an endless time trap that goes on over and over and over, a brilliant media presented time loop in a way. Here, the story keeps that going and I'm not sure it's ever fully resolved seriously or in a good way but whatever. Ian gets very militant here and good for him. These aliens were so evil and blood minded. Vicki also instigates a riot...and in a fun frolikcing kind of way until one of the allies she is with, a young man gets killed. That scene struck me and struck home that DW is still a dangerous show with danger all around and that anyone could get killed and this would come out a lot later in the Hartnell stories but that poor young guy that helped Vicki just got shot before her and our eyes. Scary and sad. Of course, she reacts but two scenes later he's forgotten I think. SM has a bad rep but truth is, it's not that bad at all. And most of it makes sense even if there are some cliches. I love that Barbara wants to rescue someone in a gas filled museum and that she seems to be the stronger one when compared to a young man alien. This might be one of the first "let's start a revolution" stories. The sets are bizarre and appropriate and I love Hartnell in this one more than in most. He's always good but here he's just terrific, trying to bluff the Moroks and ...hey, notice THE TIME MACHINE thing there? Anyway when he realizes he's in over his's just great. And for once in this era, the humanoid aliens seems very deadly and ruthless.       

Doctor Whoovie's picture

HI Chase,

Yes, Boba Fett (in ESB and RTJ) was played by Jeremy Bulloch who was Tor in the Space Museum. A Quick check of IMDB reveals he was also Hal the Archer in the Time Warrior.

I watched it on the plane by ripping them onto my ipod touch before I travelled. As documented earlier I have been watching most of these early episodes on my ipod whilst working out at the gym. Though i could have just as easily put them on the laptop (though the batteries would have only made it through the crusade, I think.

It did strike me whilst watching this thar Moroks did indeed seem very like Morlocks.

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Kind of forgot about this when I was typing before but I found that Vicki's language was pretty acronistic in this episode. After all the talk about teaching machines etc. Her descriptions and expectations about 'dusty' museums and Attendants telling you not to run or touch the objects, seems to place her in a late 20th century time frame in England. I thought it would have been better if it was Barbara or Ian who had made these type of observations/comments.

Doctor Whoovie's picture

[Some spoilers] though I knew all of them before ever watching this story.




Well I enjoyed this story, paricularly from Episode 3 onward. I really loved the bits on The Empire State Building and the Marie Celeste. It was curious that Peter Purves made a cameo as the farm boy from Arkansas before appearing in the latter episodes as Steven Tyler.

I guess this made hime the first companion, that appeared as another character in Doctor Who before becoming a companion. I guess many original viewers may not have noticed since a month elapsed between his appearances, a different accent was used and he was sporting a beadrd. As far as I can tell the list of reurning actors who became companions (travelled in the TARDIS at some point) is:

Peter Purves - Morton Dill then Steven Tyler

Nicholas Courtney - Bret Vyon Then Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart

Lalla Ward - Princess Astra then Romana

Eve Myles - Gwyneth (Cooper?) then Gwen Cooper

Freema Agyeman - Adeola (Jones?) than Martha Jones

(and Finally)

Karen Gillan - Soothsayer and now New unamed Companion

Had any of the other companions appeared in the show as another character prior to their closer association with the Doctor?

Back to the chase, I was slightly disturbed that the Dalek's time machine not only travelled in time but was also bigger on the inside than the outside. In Doomsday, this was an atribute that was claimed to be 'Timelord Technology'.

As a Dalek enthusiast I noticed that that this was the first time that slats appeared on the shoulders, previously they had bands. In this design a lower band was present in addition to the slats.

There also seemed to be a fair number of new dalek appendeges, Seismic detectors, electrodes etc. This adds a bit of interest and completely dissappeared in the Pertwee through McCoy era's but has been seen again in the revived series.

I quite enjoyed the Mechanoids, but there appearance seemed very brief considering the number of them that seemed to be built and the effort that must have gone into them. I suspect that this was Terry Nation's attempt to make a new 'villian' that was as popular as the Daleks. I must say that I found their voices particularly hard to understand and had to go back over some of the dialogue to determine what was actually said.

I found the leaving of Ian and Barbara rather abrupt at the end, but enjoyed the end section where it was established they got home safetly and were enjoying themselves. In my mind they got married and lived happily everafter. I must be a sucker for David Whitaker's books were there was a much stronger attraction going on between them.

The Doctor's reaction was completely in character, though it was nice for him to finally admit he would miss them. His relationship with Vicki is touching and I will be sorry when she eventually leaves.

I also enjoyed the walking fungi, the effect was pehaps a little cheesy but at least they tried.

Overall, a good story, if a little bitty, there was really three sections to this, however the story stretched things used lots of different locations and sets, monsters and characters. Many six parters seemed stretched reusing sets and creatures, this seemed the exact opposite tearing through many locations, monsters and costumes.

Overall, one of my preferred stories so far.

So onwards to the Meddling Monk, another story of which I am completely unaware, but is spoken of with high regard, so I am looking forward to it.

Hopefully I'll get though it on my 2.5 hour flight from Chicago to Austin which I'm waiting to get on to.

Idiom's picture

Now that I've seen this I can reply to your post. Whereas we don't see completely eye to eye on the story, I still enjoyed a lot of it. I 100% agree with you about Barabara and Ian and will miss their characters. I'm going to read: The Face of the Enemy by David A. McIntee soon. This apparaently catches up with the pair after they have left the Doctor and examines how their time with him affected them. I'm looking forward to it as the Delgado Master also appears!

Colin Baker appeared as Maxil and he later became the Sixth Doctor, second companion to Peri. :) 

THE CHASE:  I might have posted this elsewhere but here goes: the worst Hartnell story but not unwatchable because IT'S FUNNY AS SHIT!  I mean it. By the time one reaches ep6, with the Mechanoids at one point saying what sounds like, "Crap," as the Daleks attack them, the travelers (FIVE OF THEM!) set fire to their cell then try to escape out the balcony with some kind of wire...Steven runs back into the fire to save his beloved Teddy Bear doll (has his mind snapped from being incarated?), the Doc yells frantically (his fireworks went off with a smal fire cracker power), Steven's leaving means the wire he let go almost falls and almost makes Vicki fall off the wire she's over the edge and clinging onto---Barbara yells and grabs Vicki and almost goes over the edge too---and Ian puts his hand down her skirt or pants to try to hold her's just too much NOT to laugh at! The atroious Empire State scene is also pretty funny, earlier...a fat woman's feather gets in the way of her face and her glasses....a fat man blocks the camera, the tour guide seems most interested in a good looking woman, and Morton Dill has to be the worst character/actor ever! It's all poorly filmed, poorly directed and poorly acted, all for what? Laughs? They got those from me. If only TRIAL, TIMELASH, TIME AND THE RANI and PARADISE TOWERS were this funny. They're just bad, this is just so bad it's funny. The haunted house bit: Poorly edited, filmed and scored. And scripted. Vicki runs into the Dalek time machine in front of them and they don't know she's there. Daleks cannot tackle a Frankenstein robot. Frankenstein robot has no clothes on only bandages but later he does. THe Doc, Barbara and Ian leave wtihout knowing Vicki was safe...and then wonder about it. There are also awful bat sounds, bat reffects, shadows, things referred to that don't happen, things that happen that make no sense, creaks that make Ian jump and more. How awful and how totally hilarious! By ep 6 if you don't laugh your ass off, you never will at anything in DW.    IMO of course

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Well Chase,

I kind of disagree, I enjoyed the Chase quite alot. Although much of the action near the end (and in the time chase interludes) was cheesy, I found it no more so than in many other of the Hartnell stories.

The solutions in many of modern Who stories seem corney also, so no change in 45 years.

Perhaps the Chase, is a little like Love and Monsters, it is either loved or hated. I felt the whole story was a romp, good fun and a fitting goodbye to Ian and Barabara, although the Ian getting hit over the head joke was getting boring (I can think of at least 3 instances but I'm sure there are more).

As I said above my biggest problem with the story was that the Daleks didn't just build a time machine, they built a Tardis (bigger on the inside).

Doctor Whoovie's picture

This was an interesting story. For me it is the first hint at what we have now. i.e. a historical episode with a sci-fi twist in it, as opposed to the previous historicals which merely place our heroes in a certain period in history with just the natural intrique of the day.

The Meddler is not mean spirited and obviosly want to help the injured Saxon. Likewise I do not think he would have killed the Doctor, Vicki or Steven, just get them out the way until he's done.

Got to say the brash nature they gave Steven is a little annoying (though different from his behavior in the Chase), I hope his character will settle down in the coming episodes. Vicki is great but keeps saying things that place her from the Sixties rather than the Future.

I found the whole story, a little slow and got to the end of episode 4, thinking that very little had actually happened. There was some nice farce with everyone missing each other between the village and the monastry. The twist at the end was good. I think I recall that the Doctor does meet the Meddler again, so that should be interesting. As with the Chase, this season just has two many people being hit over the head (another two in this story).

So now I have watched the first 2 seasons, only twenty eight  or so more seasons to go (plus a movie and some specials).


I think a lot more reconstructions are coming up in the near future.


I actually liked LOVE AND MONSTERS but haven't seen it more than once and have no real desire to but I also like THE CHASE but because it's so bad. I mean it's bad. The production is bad, the story is bad but in hindsight a chase through time is an exciting idea but here it's just played for comedy is laughable but for all the wrong reasons. Very laughable IMO>

TIME MEDDLER: Not sure I agree. I liked this one and I think it is the basis for much of the later stuff, TIME MONSTER, the whole Master thing, KING'S DEMONS, MARK OF THE RANI, and others. I didn't find it boring at all and found the companions to be funny and interesting. For once we deal with them trying to find food and wonderng what would happen to them if the Doc is gone for good. I like how the two interact with the townspeople, with Stephen defending Vicki. Vicki would seem to have the upper hand being the longer comp.  I also found the Doctor/Monk rivalry interesting in that the older looking Doctor had the upper hand part of the time but the Monk...he seemed more selfish to me than anything else. He really caused the deaths and suffering and...was that village woman raped? The Doctor has a good rapport with one of the village woman. More could have been done with the Vikings themselves and the danger of being in that time. I found the dialog sharp and witty enough and it was interesting to see the other TARDIS, something we're too used to now but taken from the POV of the time...that this was the first other TARDIS we saw and the first of the Doc's people that we saw...this is really well done and entertaining. 

Idiom's picture


Ahh, the Aztecs. What’s not to love? This was the first Hartnell story that I ever saw and I was struck then, as now, by its freshness, excellent supporting characters and just sheer good story-telling. I have to agree with Doctor Whoovie about the sheer quality of the historical adventures and am really hoping that, even if for just once a season, Mr. Moffat will reinstitute this tradition (I mean to say, not every single time period in history can be under threat of alien invasion, can it?).

The Aztecs shows us how just by becoming embroiled in the politics of the time period visited, the time travellers can become caught up in adventures and situations as exciting as the pure sci-fi episodes (if not, as in the case of these early stories, more exciting). I love the educational aspects of the episodes which are not shoved unsubtly down your throat but introduced as and when they should naturally arise in the narrative. The Doctor’s carving of a wheel which puzzles those who see it, for example.

Of course, the Aztecs is Barbara’s story. And about time too as I have felt that she has been underutilised up until now. Here we see how a history teacher might actually act when she has the chance to change history. But we also see the full extent of her  strength of character and resolve. This is Barbara’s story but that is not to say that the other three main characters are ignored. Each play a strong role in the main story. Susan’s 1960’s school girl refusing to accept the way in which the Aztecs treat their women, Ian’s rivalry with Ixtar, the Doctor making mistake after mistake (one of which leads him to get engaged!). All leading up to an exciting climax during which the crew escape by the skin of their teeth!

Anybody wanting a good starting point to get you into the First Doctor could do worse than to begin here. 10 out of 10!

Yes there's little to point out bad about the AZTECS. It has tension among the crew, historical danger, and good costumes. The sets, however could be better and I feel it would have been improved if it had been in color...maybe. FEATHERED SERPENT had a fresher feel to it but then again that was made in 1976 and 1978. This was as good it could have been given the time. Ian's fight was not as bad as I first thought it was and in having viewed it recently it was quite good. It would have been better if we could have seen the faces during the battle but maybe that was to cover up the stuntmen? The background during the fight was what it was: some kind of mural painting or something. It made the fight look like part of a stage play. This is where recent developments in effects and computers help or would have helped. I like Barbara's dilemma and which of us wouldn't want to try to do what she did? And it doesn't end "all well it ends well" so her meddling did nothing but cost a good man to have to run away and hide...if he survives. The Doc is so understanding in that last scene and I love how the characters have to work together to get back into the tomb and the TARDIS. The whole thing is well acted and well done. And the efforts to get back to the TARDIS fail and fail until it ..well, doesn't. The Doc is pretty funny in this and in that last scene I wondered why not get in the TARDIS and have that chat, it was much too dangerous maybe to stay outside but in the tomb. In any event, later the Doctor feels that some history can be changed so that rather negates some of the impact of this but on first viewing and aside from future events for the Doctor, this is very, very good. If only historicals could have kept this up and even today there are none. NONE. No real historicals done on DW. There are always aliens and monsters. I guess they want to keep ratings so they stay away from this. And the historicals need to be done accurately not for comedy. This is the way to do it. For another example watch THE MASSACRE.

Doctor Whoovie's picture

It is interesting that both of you think that the Aztecs has very few flaws, and now I tend to agree with you, but I didn't always think this. Why, well I think it is because it is a character driven story.

I bought this on DVD when I saw it cheap several years ago. When I watched it I was not at all impressed. I think the main reason was that since it was a character driven episode and I had not watched (or read) any first Doctor stories for about 2 decades (except for Dalek Invasion of Earth), I was not really interested/vested/familiar with the characters of our travelling heroes.

When I re-watched it recently, having viewed the series from episode one placed me in a different mindset when I saw this and had plenty of background and interest in the TARDIS crew.

I am interested to know whether your opions were formed after seeing this in the series as a whole context, or after seeing this as part of a random collection of episodes.

I think that the random release method for the classic DVD titles causes this kind of problem all the time. I much prefer when consecutive stories are released together and the is some kind of continuity of viewing available. e.g The beginning boxset, New Beginnings boxset, Key to Time, Trail of a timelord, E-space trilogy etc.

Conversly, I am not so kean when they release boxsets of non-continuous but 'themed' stories. e.g. Beneath the surface, Davros collection, bred for war etc.

Yes I see what you mean. I must say I enjoyed it far more, indeed almost all of DW, I enjoy far more when I see it as a pack of related episodes rather than unrelated stories, Thus the last time I watched it was in order, more or less iwht the stuff around it and thus I see what you mean. I was more into Barbara, Ian, Susan and this Doctor. Watching it  isolated, it's not as good and that can be said about MOST DW, if not all. Even CITY OF DEATH, well maybe not CITY OF DEATH but I get what you mean. It is like one long story, which is why I feel the bad stuff (I won't go into my list again) brings it all down, especialy when there's so much bad stuff in a row and it's teh fault of one writer or so...




Forum previews are now optional when posting messages. You can now save without previewing what you wrote. So no more 'friggin' previews if you choose not to preview.

Idiom's picture

When I first say the Aztecs, it was the first Hartnell story, I'd ever seen. Everything that I knew about the first Doctor up until that point had was from the Target novels (which as a young boy, I loved incidentally). It may have taken me an episode to warm up to the characters but I have ton say that my experience was different from Doctor Whoovie's and I loved the story the first time that I saw it.

However, I do agree that watching in order from the beginning adds a whole new dimension. Yes, the characters grow, their relationships deepen. Susan has stopped being annoying for me, I love watching Ian walk round in his top from thirteenth century China in the Keys of Marinus. As the bonds between the two halves of the Tardis crew strengthen so my interest in them grows. Yes, I am enjoying this thoroughly.

Troy Baker's picture

I particularly like this as one of the best stories for Barbara. It's one of the few times a companion tries to alter history to improve things, and unfortunately she failed miserably.

Like you it took me a while to warm up to some of the earlier companions but by this time Barbara had found her footing and became a memorable character in the show.


Just a note:

During this time the actors were taking vacation time while the show was going. In this story Carol Anne Ford was gone for two episodes and was seen in pre-recorded clips for the story. During "The Keys of Marinus" Willaim Hartnell had taken his break, in "The Sensorites" Jacquline Hill took her break and in the story after that ("The Reign of Terror") William Russell took his break.

Idiom's picture


I’ve done well this week – an episode a night and I’ve worked my way through the Sensorites. I wasn’t sure during the first episode whether I’d like this or not but my doubts were soon swept away by the claustrophobic feel of the spaceship and the eerie cliffhanger to episode one. Another great story with enough twists and turns and groups to make the story interesting (although I feel that the story could have done without episode two, which felt a little padded for my liking).

Some thoughts:

·         Loved the look of the Sensorites themselves, like bipedal fish with beards. I also liked the timid, nervous nature of these creatures who almost couldn’t stand extremes of any kind

·         The TARDIS lock burnt out?! What?

·         Susan showing signs of telepathy but the Doctor not?

·         The growing bonds between the TARDIS crew (The Doctor calling Ian: My Boy) who really work as a team now and the shock turnaround in the Doctor’s attitude at the end of episode six

·         A nice example of sixties racism as Carol declares that she can’t tell one Sensorite from the other but then it seems that even the Sensorites can’t seem to tell each other apart, thus the use of sashes to distinguish rank and individual

·         Peter Glaze played the Third Elder – was this the same Peter Glaze from Crackerjack? The more I think about it, the more it really seemed like him despite the Sensorite mask.

A strong and interesting story overall. Another  recommendation but as discussed in the postings above probably more enjoyable when seen as part of the first season as a whole. 8 out of 10.

Next: Vive la revolution!

Idiom, I'd have to agree with you there. I think the SENSORITES is really the set up for WHO as we know it now in many ways. I love the points you made about the story itself. It also set up some really strangeness for Susan which was never really fulfilled later on and the Doc and Susan relate well and one can tell that he cares for her but that she wants to be a woman and not a teenager. The aliens look fantastic and the spaceship stuff in the first two or so eps is really good. There is some creakiness to the entire thing but that's to be expected.

Just today I showed some students FATHER'S DAY and they thought the show was from the 1970s! And they thought the effects looked terrible compared what we have "now" and when I told them it was a show from england they said, "Say no more."  As if they thought...well never mind. SENSORITES in that frame is really rather ahead of its time in the city, the ship, etc but in another vein it's really in FLASH GORDON (the good one from the 1930s and 40s in  movie chapter format with Buster Crabbe) format.

The last ep or so is rather tedious in THE SENSORITES and well, it's rather all longish but in a way not really dramatic in the ending, still I loved it. There's a lot to recommend it and for the first time, it really feels like an alien planet, or in DW's case, part of an alien planet. I really liked this story though and everyone seems to ahve a part to play in it and it is really enjoyable. I'd give it the same rating.   

Oh the one thing I t hought was really cheesy was: wasn't there supposed to be a monster in the waterworks or the mines and we only hear it and never see it. Even FLASH GORDON would ahve shown something. Even a shadow or do we see that? Anyway though, sometimes not seeing a monster is more imagiative but here it's just cheesy.  

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Well, the Chumblies what can one say! Cute Dalek wannabees. Maybe I'll build one after I finish my Dalek, though it will have to come after the K9, the TARDIS, the War Machine and the Mechanoid (Just joking about the last three - as they are too big to store).

It seemed to me that this whole story was a moral tale about racism with a bit of 'beauty and the beast' thrown in i.e. "don't look at me, I'm too horrible.". However, it seemed to me that there was an unintended sexist undertone - Women are unreasonable, manipulative and evil (but we all know that Kiss- just joking!! )

Interesting comment from Peter Purves at the beginning of the Loose Canon recon, about how the scripts were stiil being written for the original TARDIS crew at this point and that he got Barbara's part. Which was why he was beaten in the fight with the Drahvin. I wonder who got Ian's lines/actions? Vicki??

I must say I was a little surprised that everyone was kind of okay about leaving the Drahvin to die in the last episode, there seemed very little soul searching or guilt.

I am not taking to Steven too much, which is surprising as I grew up watching Peter Purves several time a week on Blue Peter and was looking forward to these stories. His character is just to brash, wreckless and ready to blame others (as I write this I have just finished the third part of The Mythmakers - so the comment is applies to more than this episode and the Time Meddler). With Vicki I disliked her in the first story, but quickly grew fond of her, I don't find this happening with Steven, even though I want to like him. He certainly is not areplacement for Ian.

Overall, this was a middle of the road story, not brilliant, not terrible. The Rill were interesting and the Chumblies quite cute. Not too taken with the Drahvin though.

Idiom's picture

I think we pretty much agree on this one!

Yeah, I tend to forget about this story when saying that the only bad story in Hartnell's time was THE CHASE. This one can be equally bad at times. It's very old hat: the Amazons in space vs the ugly but kind monsters who can't breath like us. It's very pre Flash Gordon and the desert planet, if photos and recons can be taken into consideration is also old hat but well visuallized, probably.

The recon and the audio and the rest all show one thing: lots of dead time is given over to Chumblies moving about, examining, etc. It seems to move at a snail's pace and really even once put me to sleep. The whole story is sleep inducing especially in eps 1 and 2. It does pick up a bit in ep3 and 4 and yeah, they leave the bints to die which is as it should be. Tough, too bad so sad for them. They were evil.

Hartnell, it must be said, is in top form in this but I feel the same way as you do about not just Steven but Vicki as well. Vicki seems to me in this to be annoying and grating, Steven arrogant and tough armed and not in a good way. He was not endearing in this but in some of the later ones, he is IMO. Vicki just seems ..wrong in this so maybe she had Barbara's lines or Ian's. As for saying an alien female can't overpower a male Earthlings...that's sexist isn't it? Perhaps Ian was also to be overcome by a female alien Dravhin. Which brings me to one silly point of my own: the alien "clones" of Maaga or whatever her name is: do they remind anyone of the female clone guards and warriors of Servalan in BLAKE'S SEVEN? they do me. I know what I mean.

From what we can tell the Rills were interesting looking and ugly but it is nice to have an alien race that cannot breath our air. I'm not sure which came first LOST IN SPACE's THE GOLDEN MAN or this but both show that the pretty, handsome looking beings can be the evil ones and the ugly not so good looking beings can be the allies. All in all, not as bad as THE CHASE and it holds together story and plot wise but oh boy, does it move slowly at first...and it's not exactly filled with dynamic ideas OR performances except for Hartnell. His old man Doctor is at the fore and his guardedness with the female aliens at first makes me think he knew all about how evil they were from the outset. Brilliant that.      

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Well I suppose this is a bit of a change. No regulars but Daleks and Varga Plants! I know this is meant to be a teaser for the Dalek Master Plan, but did folks really remember it five weeks later? Was it my imagination or was it stated (erroneously, I presume) that the Daleks came from the Solar System?

One gets the feeling that Mr T Nation really doesn't get the whole scale thing of Solar Systems, Constellations, Galaxy, Universe etc.

Star Trek at least always claimed everything went on within our Galaxy and didn't enter into the mind boggling distances of Intergalactic travel. But to think that Galactic Leaders (of other Galaxies) would be concerned by the affairs of a 'small blue-green planet' somewhere in the outer spiral arm of the Milky Way, seems quite remarkable.

The Varga plants were fun but overall this episode ranks no more than average.

STAR TREK also got stuff wrong I think but no matter, didn't they travel to the edge of our galaxy once or twice?

Whatever, MISSION TO THE UNKNOWN does it's job but this job could have been done in ten minutes tops or even five minutes. As it stands, it's boring sci fi, boring to the point of wanting to go to sleep. The characters are stock, wooden, 1950s types who don't hold my attention at all and the mission fails and the set up is...dull. Like I say, it did it's job. Terry Nation thought he could do a show based around some of these characters? NO wonder it didn't take off. Dalek stories, to be good, really good, have to have some characters that are quirky or interesting and this has none of that. And the Daleks, even though they kill off one or two people, don't even seem that dangerous there. A good idea, having a prelude a week or two before the actual story starts just doesn't rock.    


Idiom's picture

Yes, I found it amusing that this huge war council wanted to take over Venus, Mars and the Moon. Why?

Doctor Whoovie's picture

I recently listened to the audiobook of this story. Whilst I found the novel a little acronystic (It was told from the point of view of Homer (who manages to get blinded during the story and talk about games of Rugby!!))

However, I found the televized story (or rather the Loose Canon reconstruction) somewhat empty after the novel's rich detail. In someways this seems almost farsecal, like the Romans, with all the Heroes avoiding fighting and Cassandra's Doomsaying, however that is tempered by the brutal deaths of many of the protaganists, particularly Paris and King Priam.

Alas Vicki has departed, she seems to have only joined the TARDIS crew for a short while, but a study of IMDB reveals that it was 37 episodes ago. How time flies when you average about 10 episodes per week.

After disliking the character intensely in her first story, I am wishing she doen't have to leave, particularly since I haven't taken to Steven at all. I liked the little touch of her being renamed Cressida and staying behind for Troilus. If I ever find time I need to dig out my 'Complete Shakespeare' and reread 'Troilus and Cressida' bearing in mind that it is really Vicki from the 25th Cenury (I wonder if her Dad was called Buck?).

Is it well known why Vicki left? Was Maureen O'Brien tireed of the role, or did the BBC not like the character dynamic (if so I think they were wrong)? For that matter is anyone privey to why Susan, Ian and Barbara left?

Not much point in trying to like Katerina (doesn't seem a very classical name to me - more Russian! Though the interweb reveals it is a greek variant of Catherine). Actually as I type this I am on episode 7 of the Dalek Masterplan, so I have already seen her shift off This Mortal Coil.

Overall, I enjoyed this but think I preferred the novel. I found this the case with 'The Crusade" also, however I think the Crusade Novel was much better written.

Yet again, I am enjoying the historicals better than the science fiction (Galaxy four and Mission to the unknown in this case), however this was not quite up there with the best (Marco Polo, The Aztecs, The Romans).

Onto the twelve part Epic, The dalek Masterplan.


Listening to the audio was boring. The reconsturctions (that's right there are two) are so much better. For one thing, putting a face to the charcters gave me them more depth and more room to feel something for. I think the wit comes across more when you see the faces, also the entire story seems to balance, better than the ROMANS I thought, the humor, wit, and tragic stuff that is about to happen. In fact, someone once wrote that the humor moves along until the evil end but I didn't see it that way. I felt the humor was always there among the charcacters who were all quite intense in a way that Nero wasn't in THE ROMANS, he was fluff through out and almost never scary or intense save one scene where he kills a guard near Barbara. In this, almost everyone has motives that are scary and annoying and selfish but then they have another side too. They love their families.

I also found Vicki's predicament interesting. Did she really Trolius? I don't think she did but I think she did something to save him and then...wanted to let him know she wasn't terrible for lying to him and yet she did it. And also didn't save his family or even try to warn them, I don't think. She left thE TARDIS with almost no one protesting, certainly not the DOctor. He seemed almost, in t he recon, to ahve given himself up to the fact that the "child" as he calls her, had to go to prevserve her own faith, give up her own guilty feelings, and keep time intact or something. Truthfully I'm not sorry to see her go. She was never my favorite charcter and in GFALAXY FOUR i wanted her to go then and there. I do think she had a great rapport with Hartnell and added something which when lost, gave the series a darker, more intense deatlhly tone. SOMeone once said the Trolus was probably gay and they wouldn't last anyway but whatever, her departure was many layered and complex, moreso than in the novel, which to me was a curioius thnig. Smart at times, stupid at others, and frankly boring if you're looking for action adventure time travel.

This story is much better than I first thought. The audio does not do it justice, nor does the book. But the reconstruction makes one feel each death, slightly laugh at each joke or sarcastic comment from the guest cast and sukrprizingly feel for Vicki in her predicament in wanting Trolious to know her true intent...I think that's what it was but whatever it was, she was in a predicament. I don't htink she really wanted to go but she wanted him to know she didn't do something terribly mean to him which I think she did.  

DarthSkeptical's picture

Yeah, it is pretty well known why Vicki left, although in fairness there are two competing views.  The one I choose to believe is that O'Brien simply came up against the largely destructive force that was John Wiles, who fired her.  The other is the more "civilized" view adopted by Wiles' apologists, who suggest that there were creative reasons not to extend her contract.

She complained during "Galaxy 4" — where Wiles was essentially, if not titularly, in charge — that her lines were awfully stiff.  As we know from latter day interviews with Peter Purves, this is because "Galaxy 4" was a fairly old script in the pipeline, pre-dating his involvement in the show.

For comparison, "Galaxy" was formally commissioned 10 days before its precedent, "The Time Meddler".  But the writer of "Galaxy" was asked to provide story ideas six months prior — indeed before Vicki was even on the horizon. So, sure, he may have been formally commissioned only after it was known that Vicki was to be included, but he really didn't have a handle on the TARDIS crew for which he was writing.  Added to this problem was the fact that it had passed through two story editors, Dennis Spooner and Donald Tosh.  Anyone who's listened to "Galaxy 4" would have to agree that the characterizations of the regulars were, in fact, "off".  Still, Wiles didn't like her complaints, and so she became the first casualty of the Wiles era.

Was she fired?  Or did she exit after her contract came to a graceful end?  Both, in fact, are true.   During the 1960s, the companions were largely hired on a story-by-story basis.  Sometimes, it would be for two or three stories.  But it definitely wasn't for an entire season, as would become standard practice in the 1970s.  So, in a sense, actors never quite knew how long they had until the Beeb would give 'em the boot.  Still, under Lambert, O'Brien had shown steady progress.  With her third contract, issued at the time of "The Crusades", she had gotten a raise.  When she got to "Galaxy 4", she was firmly contracted her to the end of "Myth", and she had a further 20 episodes, at the BBC's option, after that.  In fact, this was the biggest proposed extension of her contract during her entire tenure on DW.   It was clear that Lambert, the commissioning producer of "Daleks' Master Plan", intended for Vicki to be a companion for that epic.  Indeed, Lambert had Terry Nation start scripting "DMP" under the assumption that Vicki was going to be there.

But of course, Lambert wasn't the actual producer of that epic.  Wiles, fully producer by the time of "Myth", chose not to take the BBC's option on O'Brien.  So, in a sense, she wasn't fired.  Her contract merely expired. Indeed, Donald Tosh argues precisely this in an extra feature on "The Romans", saying that Wiles thought Vicki was simply inappropriate for "DMP".  

But in another sense, she was of course fired.  I mean, let's look at known facts here.   O'Brien got her revised contract which expanded her option on July 30, 1965.  At the same time, Wiles informed Nation that he'd have to rewrite the early episodes of "DMP" to account for the exit of Vicki an the entrance of Katarina.  In my view, what happened was that Wiles sugar-coated the contracts with the promise of 24 new episodes, thereby ensuring that she would sign them and unwittingly seal her doom.  The offer for 20 new episodes beyond "Myth" was never, I think, genuine.   As I read the timeline, the contracts were redrawn so as to allow for the claim that she was let go at the end of her contract.  But she was in fact "legally fired".   

The one thing that definitely can't be said is that O'Brien chose to leave of her own accord. 

Have a lemon sherbet. It'll quench your thirst.

Idiom's picture

The Reign of Terror: Spoilers!

Yet, again the first season delivers a cracking historical adventure set during the period of Terror following the French Revolution.

One problem that the series as a whole has always suffered from is inventing new and original reasons for why the crew don’t just run back to the TARDIS at the first sign of trouble and get the hell out of there. Here, our heroes are separated from each other (the Doctor believed dead in a fire) and spend most of the next six episodes trying to get together again. I enjoyed this as a narrative device for the main reasons that it felt credible but also made good use of all of the main cast members.

All, with the exception maybe of Susan. Whereas Barbara has grown during the last few stories and the writers have actually began to use the fact that she is a history teacher to help the viewers understand the historical context to the adventures or to provide an alternate viewpoint, Susan on the other hand seems to have reverted to the prototype Doctor Who companion. She does little in this adventure but swoon, scream and grab cling to Barbara. This for me is a shame, because the character could have been so much more.

Anyway, for once this six part adventure didn’t feel too long and the episodes crack by at a tremendous pace. I enjoyed episode six particularly with Ian and Barbara in disguise and the appearance of Napoleon Bonaparte. I also liked the scene in the TARDIS at the end where the friends reflect on the nature of their historical adventures and peace seems to reign in the Time Machine once more.

We discussed earlier in the thread whether or not watching the series in order had improved our enjoyment of various stories. I have to say that this is particularly true of this story. I listened to it last year and although quite enjoyed it, struggled to get through all six parts. This time, I romped through , looking forward to each new episode, enjoying how the series, which has now well and truly found its stride, goes from strength to strength.

Excellent. 9/10.

I found REIGN to be variable but I enjoyed all the eps. with parts 1 and some of 2 very serious, 3,4, and some of 5 a bit silly but enjoyable and funny and the last eps with a man shot in the face, quite creepy in the way it was filmed and heard but not seen! Hartnell is in top form as are all the regulars. I must admit the terror of this time period is conveyed well as is the filth in the cells and the various factions that went on at that time and it's all well done. I am amused as how Hartnell keeps the DOctor both mysteerious, old, funny, and adorable but even then he just uses a small amount of THree Stooges violence. The sets are adequate this time and give a real sense of place and time. I never found all the back and forth tedious and in fact, found the various locations and characters quite interesting as well as the Doctor playing dress up. The whole thing amounts to a really good historical and tense as well as beliveable. IMO 

Idiom's picture

Season One Overview

This first season of Doctor Who scores  a 9 out of 10. The quality of the story telling overall has been exceptional and even though a life-long Doctor Who fan, before I started I was intially afraid that I would struggle in parts. The opposite, in fact, has happened and my enjoyment has grown with the development of the main characters.

The science fiction stories were well told, on the whole, with the best, in my opinion, of course, being the Daleks’ first tale and the weakest, to my mind, the Keys of Marinus saga (Terry Nation taking both extremes there!) which suffered from not having enough time to tell the story which it wanted to.

The historicals have been excellent (and just like Dr Whoovie – I have preferred these) with the best being the Aztecs and the worst the last three episodes on an Unearthly Child.

The characters have grown, becoming  fleshed out over the season, with the Doctors irascibility and unpredictability gradually being tempered by a strong sense of morality, and Ian and Barbara relaxing into their roles as wanderers of the fourth dimension and now actually enjoying their travels with the Doctor. The only character who seems to have suffered in terms of long-term development has been Susan, for me. She began the series as an interesting combination of British teenager from the sixties and alien outsider but by the Reign of Terror seems to do little more than scream at the sight of rats and hang on to Barbara at every turn. Shame, because she could have been so much more.

The supporting characters were well-written, and added a real sense of community to the times and places which the travellers visit.

The whole series felt like one coherent story to me, a fact aided by the cliff hangers at the end of each episode but also each story leading into the next.

I’m not sure why I should be surprised at just how much I’ve enjoyed this, but I am, and I’m bristling to move on to season two.

I agreee with everything you said but I would probably put MARCO POLO above the AZTECS but as they're so different in almost every way...except wnating to get back to the TARDIS and being historicals...

One thing to notice is that UNEARTHLY CHILD (great  first ep) may not be a historical at all. Certianly the production team thought of it as our past as in ONE MILLION BC the movies but...if you look closer it might not be Earth at all that they're on! Which is imaginative to think it might be a human colonized planet or these might be aliens! Just a thought.

Hartnell excells in all these stories, his performance does not hinge on anything over the top (EDGE OF DESTRUCTION comes close but even over the top, he does  a great job and makes the Doctor fascinated, fascinating, mysterious, admiring, bold, brash, and at times wrong as only an old man can be wrong and in spirit, he's sometimes WRONG as with treating Barbara and Ian so coldly in the first story and in this ---but so much in the Daleks). In THE DALEKS, he seems like a human old man, getting sick before the others and not at all like an alien. Yet...there's always that something that Hartnell, even if the scripts don't, suggests that the Doc is not quite human but not quite an alien so far removed from an old man. Brilliant that. ANd his flubs are just adorable and funny...whether or not he meant them. In MASSACRE as he plays someone else, he makes no flubs as that other character, which might suggest that he did the flubs, mostly, on purpose as part of the Doc's old man nature.

Susan: yeck! She has her moments but overall they blew it as she could have been so alien, so strange and had some powers as hinted at in THE SENSORITES. Instead, she's supposed to be the teens' audience identification character but then she's so young in an older body, it seems as she's 16 supposedly (but liek most things in DW it's open to interpretation) and younger kids might not really identify with that and she's so whiney...who likes that? She's also a screamer, a worrier, and a perpetual victim. As the first companion, I guess that's okay as she sets up the screamer thing and worrier thing and complaining thing for future Peri's, Mel's and Jo's and Victoria's of the world. She must have some knowledge of science as Zoe did in future stories but she's justs sort of there and truthfully the actress isn't all that good.

Ian: that's more like it. Really the hero and he's not bold and brash and not conceited or even James Bond-ish. In fact, he seems like the best charater, the most real, the most down to Earth and the most fit to survive and he cares about all the others, even the Doctor, who he seems to develop a grudging amusement over. He so obviously loves Barbara right from the outset and seems protective of her and Susan...and the actor is so up for all of it. Even does well in the strange EDGE OF DESTRUCTION.

Barbara: has her great moments but can be reduced to a blithering, idiot, screamer, whiny, annoying stubborn fool! but then again in these situations wouldn't you? SHe can also be conceited and in your face, a nag in space. Yet, she also has many many sympathetic scenes in all the stories. In fact, I'd have liked AZTECS more if she wasn't your face. I think the actress is a good one and I'm fond of her and seeing her literally wasted in MEGLOS bothered me. Too bad she couldn't have come back as Barbara.

The execution overall is great. KEYS OF MARINUS with the rubber skin suited Voord is probably the worst in execution but even that has atmosphere, acid sea, pryamids, jungles, a trial done right, mystery, and so many diffrent aspects of the Doctor, from legal to plotter to victim, that there's so much going on, it resembles the season in micro. I believe the companions even start a rebellion in this. Thus, the AZTECS and the other stories around it set up DW for the future and the show seemed very stretcheable. A GREAT SEASON.                  

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Spoiler Alerts  ...  If you haven't managed to watch this sometime during the last 43 year (as I hadn't) this post may contain information you don't want to know ... but hurry up and watch it before the Sun prints the details.

Well an Epic, if uneven story, I think it could have been an excellent 8 parter with only the good stuff left in.

The Companions

Katrina - what a shame she was only in the Tardis for 3 episodes, there was no chance to get to know her and it was interesting having a complete niave/innocent as a companion, thinking all scientific/electronic equipment was the work of the Gods. All though it  could be argued that Leela came from a similar non-advanced culture, she was much more worldly in other ways (i.e. killing, survival of the fittest etc.).

Bret Vyon - He was great, I especially like the way that he started of as an 'enemy' before mutual trust was established with the TARDIS crew. I immediately liked him (although I wonder how much this has to do with the fact that the character seems very similar to the Brig). What a shame he is only around for a couple of episodes before Sara kills him.

Sara Kingdom - Another great companion who starts of as an 'enemy'. I had forgotten to add her to my previous list of companions who started of as another character (Joanna in the Crusade). A very 'avengers' type of female lead though which I'm not sure we saw again until 'Leela' who didn't mind a fight. What a horrible way to die, though it did make me think of the Master aging the Doctor in 'The Sound of the Drums'. Although at the time I suspect the aging scene at the end of 'She' (1965) may have been more fresh in people's minds.
I need to go and re-listen to the recent Sara Kingdom companion Chronicle to see how they managed to get over the fact that she died during her first encounter with the Doctor.

Steven Tyler - After having disliked the character since his introduction, I finally warmed to him in this story, perhaps it was that life threatening injuring in teh Mythmakers changed him. He seemed to make much better judgement calls in this story and became the more 'mature' companion in this story, leaving Sara to be the brasher (i'm not following orders companion).

The Enemies

Mavic Chen - Well there was no doubt that he was the realy bad guy in this story, totally betraying his own planet/race/species for (not exactly clear for what) vague power. He appears to become more deranged as the story progresses, expecting the worst from the other galactic leaders, loyalty from his security services and truthfullness from the Daleks. Given that he is a manipulator, expects the others on the council to be double-crossing, why does he expect the Daleks to honor any deals they have made? What a strange way to hold a pen for writing? BTW what race was he meant to be? The name sounds Chinese/Asian but the skin coloring seems wrong (I know everything is in Black and White, but I was envisioning him with blue skin tones).

The Galactic Council - nice bunch of varied alien costumes here. It is a shame so few episodes have survived, as it looks like quite an effort was made to have various species move in strange ways - Liked the bouncy alien. Overall the Council chamber scenes reminded me of the Alien managerie on platform one in the 'end of the world' 

The Daleks - The Daleks seemed almost unnecessary in this story. Although they were the foil for Mavic Chen, they were not a overwhelming source of Evil that typifies them in most stories.
However this lack of presence overall in the story is made up for by the scenes of DALEKS WITH FLAMETHROWERS - Yeah, we need more of this.

The Monk - Nice to see him back. Again he just appears to be mischevious rather than Evil. His revenge is to strand the Doctor, not kill him and leave his TARDIS with some hope of escape. He even says he'll come back and rescue them. When he 'betrays' the Doctor and Co. to the Daleks in Egypt, it is as if he cannot help himself, rather than plotting their downfall (The Master would be much more calculating about it).

The Varga plants - great idea, shame they are not really realized to their full potential. I think Big Finish used them much more effectively in the Dalek Empire (2?).

The Story

I'm sure that I am not the first person to notice this but Terry Nation seems to re-use a lot of his ideas. I think that many of them may have occurred here before he re-used them later but here is a list of what I noticed.

1. The comlete story second half of the story seems to be a reworking of 'The chase', Dalek Time machine chases the TARDIS over various time period s and worlds in an episodic manner. I guess the Monk was thrown into the mix to provide a little variation (which time machine is appearing on the scanner). I must say I was expecting a scenario where the Daleks were unaware two time macine were at the destination and they are temporarily distracted chasing the wrong one.

2. The Penal colony planet - This was reused as Cygna Alpha in Blake's 7

3. World with invisible aliens attacking the Daleks in a Hungle - Planet of the Daleks

I disliked the whole, Feast of Steven Episode as it seemed like unnecessary filler, likewise the prison planet episode. Katrina's death also seemed unnecessary, it would have been simpler if they had just not brought her from Troy. Does anyone know the motivation by bringing her along.

The cricket match landing and the New Year celebrations also seemed like filler material. Overall this reminded me of some of the Pertwee episodes where chases were inserted to pad out the story.

The gravity power incident was quite interesting and it was convenient that Steven was encased in a force field when he was shot by the Daleks. However, this was a little more believable than the Doctor's ring and the alien Sun having 'certain properties' which allowed the Doctor to undo the Monk's meddling with the Tardis lock.

The Reconstructions

Although I enjoyed the surviving episodes greatly, the Loose Canon reconstructions were on the whole excellent, the use of CGI Daleks and limited animation was good. The only episode I found poor was the aforementioned 'Feast of Steven' which seemed much more confusing than anyof the others, the use of silent movie titles rather than the more commonly used scrolling text made that part of the story difficult to follow.


A great Sci-fi story which was made over long by the  inclusion of about 3-4 filler episodes which slowed things down in the middle. The gaining (and death) of two great companions and one who's greatness was never allowed to show.

 Probably an 8/10 (but add an extra 1 for Daleks with flamethrowers)

Now for some shorter stories and hopefully a lower rate of companion consumption. 

That was a great post. I loved how you detailed all the stuff from DALEK MASTERPLAN. I agree with almost all of what you wrote. I really liked this story. I did when I read the archives years ago, I did when I heard the audio versionS, and I liked it when I saw the reconstructions. I think as a massive 12 parter it just keeps on going and has time to develop situations and characters. I don't know why they put in Katarina. It could be they felt she'd be a good companion and then realized how limiting a companion she would be. It could be she was always going to get killed off to show how dangerous the Doctor's world is/can be. In fact, I think the Doc forgot to close the door and that is what lead to Katarina's death---not closing the door when he should have lead to the criminal getting board the ship in the first place but the Doc said it was because he didn't know much about these ancient type spaceships.

Katrina was a limited and limiting character but it would have been nice to have someone from the past leanring and changing. Her death scene and the stuff before it was nicely tense and serious and indeed, made things deadly dangerous. Sara Kingdom starts out cold and menacing and then gets sympathetic, having just obeyed orders from what seems like a controlling Federation (could be the start of the Federation from BLAKE'S 7, which is also said to have come from the eventual history that came from THE SURVIVORS --the original you might say). She then mellows to the point of not being able to take care of herself and was a cut out companion, still Jean Marsh imbibes so much personality in her that...well, she's intersting throughout. Still having had one comp kill the other never happened before or since! Maybe Capt Jack will get killed off by Donna or something? No? No. Anyway Bret was a good companion as well, getting into it with the Doctor more than once. And wasn't there a TARDIS forcefield in this one? And wasn't Steven somehow taken over? Was he infected or somethng? I can't recall but I recall Steven bluffing the Daleks in order to escape into th TARDIS and using the forcefield. Also: Wasn't there a chair that made people stick to it in the console room?

In any event, I like THE CHASE aspects here. Here, it's much better than the unfunny funny stuff from THE CHASE like the Empire State Building sequences or the stupid hitting Ian by mistake on the Marie Celeste or that wretched silly so bad it's funny Haunting House fair. Eygpt seemed dangerous enough but was moreso due to Mavic Chen and the Daleks being there and neither having much care for the locales. Hartnell in white hat is super again especially when he hands over the fake Core to Mavic Chen. The Monk is a welcome addition to the canon and the story and as you say, I can't add anything to what you said, but as you say, he's not totally evil, just mishievious and plotting and wants to get his own back, almost like a sissified Batman villain. Only much much better. Sara and Steve even seem amused by him but Steven gets annoyed with him. In some strnage way, the Monk almost feels like a psuedo companion!

Sara's death was shocking and I don't know why the Doc let her stay to "help" him. Near as I can see, she isn't helping him carry the Core at all, therefore dies for no reason whatsoever. ANd if one flick of the switch can turn if off...or did it just burn out? why couldn't the Doctor figure it out. I mean I am pretty sure one of them puts the Core in reverse and sends the Daleks back to embryos so why couldn't switching it the other way have saved Sara? Maybe the Doc didn't know it could do that.

The real low point of the whole Hartnell era must be that 1920s sequence in Hollywood. It's cliched, boring, stupid, silly and not remotely realistic or funny. It makes no sense and at times, it borders on offensive and almost retarded. I DO like the scenes in the present when the Doc gets involved with the policemen and Sara tries to fix the TARDIS thingie on top (the navigation thing?). That was nice but the Holly wood stuff is total garbage and seemingly at times prejudice.

Mavic Chen goes way over the top in his death scene but he's slowly losing his mind it would seem. I couldn't tell one alien from the other and ...they did get set free to leave and wanr the rest of the universe? Anyway none of them were consistent from ep to ep and the spaceships looked pretty good to be honest. In a Flash Gordon kinda way. Hartnell does a great job sneaking around.

 I liked all this and this story had a lot of time to develop and it was all the better for it and the Daleks seemed dangerous to me in this and all the characters seemed well developed. Too bad longER stories in the future wouldn't do this---ala TRIAL OF A TIME LORD. Although the INVASION did.     

Doctor Whoovie's picture

 Anyway Bret was a good companion as well, getting into it with the Doctor more than once. And wasn't there a TARDIS forcefield in this one? And wasn't Steven somehow taken over? Was he infected or somethng? I can't recall but I recall Steven bluffing the Daleks in order to escape into th TARDIS and using the forcefield. Also: Wasn't there a chair that made people stick to it in the console room?

Okay Chase, having just watched the whole thing I can answer these questions with some degree of confidence.

1. Steve charges the fake taranium core with gravity energy from the 'liberated' Dalek spaceship, despite warnings from Sara and the Doctor not to do it. Although the process works for energizing the core, Steven is nearly killed, as he recovers he is stunned and unable to communicate and enclosed in a gravatic force field. This saves him from a point blank shot for a Dalek gun, but then dissapates.

2. The Doctor states that the TARDIS force shield operates on a principal similar to that which protected Steven.

3. Both the Doctor and Sara indicate that Gravity drives are old dangerous technology. Steve is from centuries earlier than Sara and says it was a common place spaceship power supply when he flew. This is quite strange considering they are in a Dalek ship and every where else in the Story it is implied that Dalek technology is in advance of that of the humans and other races (with the exception of TimeLords - The Monk and Doctor.

4. The Doctor has a 'magnetic chair' which can restrain people in the TARDIS - although there dosn't appear to be a requirement that iron or steel be present on the parts of the person whom is being restrained. Bret is held in this until he convinces Katrina toi release him.

 The Monk is a welcome addition to the canon and the story and as you say, I can't add anything to what you said, but as you say, he's not totally evil, just mishievious and plotting and wants to get his own back, almost like a sissified Batman villain. Only much much better. Sara and Steve even seem amused by him but Steven gets annoyed with him. In some strnage way, the Monk almost feels like a psuedo companion!

Indeed, I think at one point Steven even asks if they are not going to go back to get the Monk. i.e., check he is okay.

Chase -
Sara's death was shocking and I don't know why the Doc let her stay to "help" him. Near as I can see, she isn't helping him carry the Core at all, therefore dies for no reason whatsoever. ANd if one flick of the switch can turn if off...or did it just burn out? why couldn't the Doctor figure it out. I mean I am pretty sure one of them puts the Core in reverse and sends the Daleks back to embryos so why couldn't switching it the other way have saved Sara? Maybe the Doc didn't know it could do that.

Sara's death was about duty. She thought she was expendable for the safety of the Solar System. She went back to make sure that the Doctor suceeded, it wasn't worth the risk that he might not make it.

With the benefit of forty years of hindsight into Docotr Who, the modern viewer may not be surprised that the aging phenominon didn't kill the Doctor, however at the time of broadcast, I'm sure many viewers must have been surprised that the Doctor didn't wither and die even more quickly than Sara.

To answer your question about the device, it stops because the taranium power supply burns out.

The real low point of the whole Hartnell era must be that 1920s sequence in Hollywood.

That good, because I'd hate to think anything worse was coming up.

Mavic Chen goes way over the top in his death scene

And this would differ from the Master (john Simm), Davros (Gooderson, Wisherson or Molloy) or Omega (Thorme) in what particular aspect? 

Chase -
the Daleks seemed dangerous to me in this

Only when they had flamethrowers Smile

One note is that the mice scene for some reason reminds me of HITCH HIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY!

Idiom's picture

Planet of the Giants: SPOILERS!!

What  a strange story and an even stranger choice for the season opener for season 2. For any new viewers who joined Doctor Who at this point, this would have been a distinctly atypical adventure, not really fitting with either the sci-fi or the historical category. A very strange choice for a story – you can go anywhere in time and space so what do you do? You send the TARDIS crew to twentieth century earth (presumably) but shrink them down to less than an inch high. I vaguely remember hearing that this was a possible story choice for season one, maybe even the season opener (now that would have been an even stranger choice). Some thoughts:

·         Excellent props and scenery including a giant sink and a very well done giant fly (better than the fly in The Green Death over ten years later).

·         Why is Ian dressed in a suit all of a sudden? I preferred it when he wore clothes that he collected from the various times and places that the crew had visited. Hints of adventures that the TARDIS crew have had between The Reign of Terror and Planet of the Giants perhaps?

·         Interesting plot device to use the insecticide to ensure that the majority of the insects didn’t have to move.

·         Also good to see the travellers working together to make sure that the bad guys get their just desserts.

·         Interesting to see that the end of episode two differed from the beginning of episode three – if you haven’t noticed then look to see where the plug ends up after the scientist washes his hands.

·         At the end, if the seed shrank and the poison molecules shrank then why didn’t the dirt shrink on the crew’s hands and faces?

·         Apparently the Doctor and Susan had visited Berlin during the war. I love these little references back to past adventures.

Apparently, the last two episodes were merged to leave the story with three rather than four parts to help the pace. Struggling a little with this, I feel that this was probably a good move overall. Only a 5 out of 10 for me. But I’m so looking forward to the next story.

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Idiom, I think my initial impressions of this episode were similar to yours. On the old website I had posted

Watched this last week, overall was quite a weak story. I am not entirely sure how original it would have seemed at the time, but the whole giant prop thing seems over done these days.

It struck me that the TARDIS crew were not actually necessary for the plot at all.
Forester kills Farrow. Makes a phoney call to Whitehall. Telephone operator realizes it isn't really Farrow and ulitmately gets the police to go and investgate. Our Heroes are merely observers.

The insecticide only seems to be present to ensure that none of the props - Worms, ants etc have to be realistically animated. 
I would concur with the score a 4 or 5 out of 10 for me.
DarthSkeptical's picture

Yeah, the basic idea of "Planet of Giants" was one of the earliest story outlines in DW history.  It was actually advanced by C.E. Webber, the true author of the episode, "An Unearthly Child".  It was supposed to be the opening adventure, until Sidney Newman put the brakes on. (Although he criticized the story on grounds of narrative and characterization, the real problem was that it just couldn't be shot at Lime Grove.)  In the end, Webber's first part of what was then called "The Giants" was grafted onto Anthony Coburn's "300,000 BC", thus partially explaining the odd "join" between part 1 and parts 2-4 of the serial now known as "An Unearthly Child".   Frankly, I'd have preferred something to do with miniaturization than something to do with cavemen as my first bite of the DW apple.  

Of course, there's a big difference between "The Giants" and "Planet of Giants", as Webber's original idea was much more of an action/adventure (the Doctor and crew get lost in Ian's science lab), whilst "Planet" under Louis Marks had evolved into an ecoterrorism rant.  I for one would love to see something like Webber's original "Giants" finally be made.   Course, by now, it already has been, in the form of "Honey I Shrunk the Kids".  A cheeky metafictional reference to the Disney series of movies would make more palatable any similarities.  Still, the idea of miniaturization isn't a bad one, and is much more feasible, technically, than it was in the early 1960s.

As is, though, POG has some good stuff in it (notably the morality of big business and some interesting problem-solving), and some really bad stuff that's been effectively unremembered by later DW (the aforementioned "science" of Barbara's deliverance from poison, and the "fact" that opening the TARDIS doors in-flight causes its inhabitants to shrink).

Have a lemon sherbet. It'll quench your thirst.

I've probably said this twenty million times before: LAND OF THE GIANTS is so much better than PLANET but tha'ts perhaps not a fair comparison as LAND was made in the US (1968 but started filming in 1966)and PLANET was made in the UK years before (1964?63?) although when you look at the years it's not as many as you might think. The travelers never appear together with the giants in PLANET but in LAND they do and it's all the better for it. The sets may be good in PLANET but better in LAND and the plot makes a bit of sense I guess. The inspector stops by on holiday, the killer doesn't really have a good plan to get rid of the body and Barbara, well, for some reason, doesn't want to tel the others she may be infected by the poison. The Doc also tells them not to look at the cat while he's looking at it...right in the eyes. Still it is possible to enjoy this story as the foursome work together to stop the killer. Has the effects been up to it, the story might have had some exciting squences ala HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS or LAND but ...watched one ep at a time, it's not bad and the sink bit is quite good. I liked it much better when I recently saw it then when I first watched it, perhaps aware of its shortcomings. Hartnell makes this much better than it has any right to be and even Susan seems quite okay. It also makes for a change that it takes place on present day Earth and I like the worm discovery. Not too bad and I'd give it a higher rating than I usually do or than Idiom gave it. Maybe 6 or 7 out of 10. Just for trying and Hartnell of course.    

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Spoilers Alert!!!!!


Well this was a somewhat mixed story. I thoroughly enjoyed the first three episodes. Which had a great level of mystery and intrigue, but was sorely dissapointed by the concluding episode.

The fact that the Abbot and the Doctor look and sound identical (but are in fact seperate people) just stretches the suspension of disbelief too far. I like Steven believed that the Abbot had to be the Doctor and the great mystery was what could he possibly be up to? Therefore revealing that he wan't the Doctor after he is killed by the crowd merely gives lets down the suspense built up over the preceeding episodes without the satisfaction of a plot reveal.

Steven does get to sow his metal in this story, spending most of the time 'doing the right thing'. It was a shame that 'Anne Chaplet' was not taken aboard the TARDIS rather than Dodo as she seemed a good character (though it was odd to hear a French servin wench with a Northen English dialect). The actress seemed familiar, a quick inspection of IMDB reveals that she was played by John Hurt's first wife, Annette Robinson.

I disliked the way the Doctor decided to 'run for it' once he had reconnected with Steve and just left the characters to get on with the slaughter. By the time it had finished one was left with the feeling that nothing had been accomplished but a lot of needless chasing around.

Probably a 7/10 for the first three episodes, dropping to a 5/10 for the final one.

Idiom's picture

Again we agree on most points. For me the Massacre is the one that just got away - almost the 3rd season's Aztecs or Romans but some curious plot points let it down.

I cannot agree. I think taken for what it was from the era it was in and made, the MASSACRE is as good as the show can get in the past. I like that there are no alien monsters. The Doctor wants to visit a friend, and that's all. He can't change time all the time and he knows that. Even his friend is killed I believe, making this trip more dangerous than seven space trips into the future. The Doctor that gets involved: is he right in doing so? Is he really saving people or giving a cost to the timelines? He's always on about not changing time but he does it all the time and that nonsense that he knows what he's doing is bullcrap. He doesn't for he makes as many mistakes as his companions. It is a cold time traveler that survives and protects the universe but it's not a hero and the Doctor is played as both. I still cannot believe he didn;t try to keep Ann with them either but I'm not sure she'd have made a good companion. Steven's dilemma is a good one and I like it. I like him in this. The double thing I can ignore. It's been done, worse, even on this show but done better too elsewhere. Here, it's not too bad and gives me a chance to see Hartnell in  a new role and to be  honest it's hard to imagine it is the same actor doing both roles as he's fantastic in both. The tension of the time is felt and I really like the entire thing except that awful Dodo arrival scene. I do like the speech the Doctor makes when he thinks Steven has left him. Steven then forgets about a child being hit by a car (Was it bad?) and runs into the TARDIS worried a policeman is on the way to find it. Dodo runs in to get help for the kid and forgetrs about the boy too. I hope he wasn't badly hurt. A poor ending. The dialog in the entire thing was well done except in this scene. I like the guest characters too, and both sides are portrayed well with the horror of religion being used as politics and self aggranizement. I 'd give it a 7 out of 10 or maybee even a 9 out of ten.  

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Well for the first two episodes of the story it seems like the TARDIS has landed on the Golgafrincham's B Ark, because it is universally populated with awful b-movie actors. The level of overacting by the humans is just unbelievable.

The only nice touch in the story is returning to the same place (though one presumes it has actually moved through space over the centuries) 700 years later for a separate yet connected story.

I found both parts of the story quite weak (typical 1960's sci-fi twaddle) but at least the acting in the second half was slightly less OTT.

It is good to know that in the fucture cataclysmic disasters will not kill us, but merely turn us into non-corporeal super beings.

Another 5 out of 10.

BTW Dodo seemed to be wearing and Adric style tunic for most of the story, though I don't find her as bad as I was expecting from the recent companion poll voting. Previously I had only seen her in the War Machines, where her character cannot be fairly judged.

Doctor Whoovie's picture

I had been looking forward to this story, as I have often heard people talking enthusiastically about it. However, I found it somewhat long and un interesting.

Essentially, the Doctor was out of the story (I have read that this was because Hartnell's contract had ended and the producer intended him to reappear as a different actor - Ultimately the shows management was replaced and Hartnell's contract extended).

This left us with Dodo and Steven in a series of overlong 'puzzles'. These all seemed to be drawn out too long, it would have been better if the toymaker's side only resorted to cheating if our heroes were about to win, rather than just cheating from the outset.

Why does the toymaker, want to play the games if the other side has no chance of winning, he states he is tired of this world and would like to move onto the next one.

The Doctor's solution from escaping the final dilema  was the only truely great good moment in the story.

The mystery of the toymaker is interesting but is ultimately never explained in later stories (unless the Big Finish version of the unmade Colin Baker stories has a big reveal in it).

Nice to see Carmen ('allo 'allo) Silvera as the queen of hearts/clown/cook.

I am finding the serials of series three a bit weaker in general than the two previous series. 

This story, the CELESTIAL TOYMAKER could have been so much more but maybe the team didn't want to scare children too much. As it is, it's a strange story and I'm glad that DW can tell a story that so surreal, a bit babyish, a bit oddball, and plenty strange. I'm also glad for a chance to change and make it so that this isn't just a space fantasy but a truly otherworld dimension and Gough and Hartnell together are magical. Still it is a bit dull and slow in places and could stand to have been trimmed by an episode. It is really one of the first surreal places the crew visit. Gough also makes one feel as if he really has the power he talks about but...a lot of this is not explained even down to the Toymaker's toys or maybe it is and I wasn't paying attention. Somehow I can't be too hard on this story as it really is unique and if you focus on it too much, it's very very disturbing. IF you don't, it's just Steven and Dodo playing games while the DOctor plays trilogic games invisble some of the time. I like that Steven was willing to sacrifice himself and it was truly upsetting that Dodo's sympathy for Cyril made her lose and have to go back to the start...and she could lose her life for that moment of being human and caring! That's scary! Still, the sameness of the episodes is annoying and one ep in particular, maybe 3, has the kitchen sequence...that was really poor. All in all, for trying I"d have to give this a 5 or 6 out of 10.       

MythicDocWho's picture

There has been a few novels to explain the relationship between the Toymaker and the Doctor, as the Celestial Toymaker serial and novelization indicates they have met before. This encounter is later elaborated upon in the novel Divided Loyalties --DWM 408 has a great article on who, what the Toymaker is. He has the ability to create a fantasy land and test those he draws into his world via games. If they lose then he gets to keep them as his playthings. It is interesting to note that in instances like this, where the Doctor answers a signal he enters sideways outside time and space, i.e. The Mind Robber, or Battlefield--that the world is a mental projection of the Toymaker and when the participants win like Steven, Dodo and the Doctor the realm is destroyed, but the Toymaker stills exists somewhere and can later pull together another realm and continue his games. He has been likened to the Eternals i.e. 5th Doctor story "Enlightenment"




-- Anthony S Burdge Myth Ink Books Editor/Publisher

Editor The Mythological Dimensions of Doctor Who
The Mythological Dimensions of Neil Gaiman
The Friendly Horror and Other W

I guess what I'm about to say about DL is that I hate it mostly because of the way it treats Adric but honestly, once you take the shadows and that whole TWILIGHT ZONEy feel away from the Toymaker, you've left with a big bore. Micheal Gough, the actor, inbibed him with great sense of menace even while smiling at you. What I really hate is that there is so much flashback where the Doc loses to the Toymaker at the expense of two friends, I believe, i'ts long and rambling and boring. I don't really like other writers' interpretations of the Doc's past  and hated INFINITY DOCTORS and the like. I guess having had so many ideas in my own head, as we each probably do, about the Doc's past and Gallifrey's past, I don't want those ruined by stuff that I don't see fitting into that. For example, Gallifrey and the Doc's history have been alluded to and talked about but never fully and that forms a basis for what I thnk about them in my own schema and thoughts and even fan fic. Then someone else comes along and lays it all out for me and it's...not as good most of the time. It's less imaginative when someone comes and tells you that the Daleks went from A to B than if you have to figure out that A leads to O as with THE DALEKS and GENESIS OF THE DALEKS. Most of the biggest WTF moments in DW and the spinoffs have lead to the best fan fiction and the best future novels and audios. ANd just plain ole thoughts about DW. BUt they've also given us some of the worst novels and spnoffs and short stories. I mean just how long is LUNGBARROW? And is it any good? Really?

I guess I also dislike Gary Russell for the suggestion that Adric smells and the general awful way the character is treated. If he hated Adric so much why not just set this after Adric died (or rather was saved in the FASA Role Playing Game or the stupid Big Finish crap?)? No, he did it to mock the character and treat him with disrespect unlike the excellent COLD FUSION. As much as I used to want writers to use Adric (and several SHORT TRIPS have excellently used him and sensitively), nowadays I want them all to just keep their hands off (BOY THAT TIME FORGOT proves why, what a piece of S-Ht).

Anyway the Toymaker is a wonderful idea and villain but if used correctly. That novel made from the unmade script, THE NIGHTMARE FAIR is just bad. Sorry, I love Graham Williams and his entire era but even though he wrote that, it's not a good Toymaker story. The Toymaker has to be manipulative, sneaky, and with just a hint of menace lurking under a calm, outwardly polite exterior. He does feature in one of the 8th Doctor comics and has a terrific cliffhanger with the 8th Doctor but I can't recall one bit of the rest of that story. He's returned a few times over the years and one early DW Magazine story had just the Toymaker conning another and the man loses to him I think. That's scary and a bit of a downer. I love this villain but he has to be used correctly, much like the Rani was used just her debute story.      

Idiom's picture

I think I even started my post in the same way. Very disappointing!

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Well, I found this the opposite of the Massacre, I was not particularly impressed with the first three episodes, but thuroughly enjoyed the final one.

Dodo was great in this story, but I found Steven annoying and wet (he certainly is no Ian). In fact Dodo reminded me of Jessie from Toy Story 2.

Doc Holiday was a great character, up to no good, yet likeable. Everyone else was unsympathetic, including the Earps. Hartnell was pretty good in this Story and took the Doctorly stance of violence never solves anything.

A 7/10 but mainly for the final episode.

This story seems to be played as a comedy, however, there's a lot of death as in THE ROMANS, moreso here I'd say. Some of it seems very dangerous especially to Steven, who CAN'T be an Ian against gun toting gunslingers who can kill him in an instant. TO be fair, he survives as best he can. Dodo gets kidnapped or something and she's pretty good in this story, much better than in THE TOYMAKER story. Doc Holiday was well done and the other cowboys seem to be playing things completely straight. For what it's worth, I found all of them pretty believable as killers who can shoot straight. I also, once I got used to it, didn't mind the singing interludes. It was diffrent that 's for sure. I also like the piano playing sequence and the jail stuff. Hartnell is hilarious when he says, "People keep giving me guns and I'd wish they wouldn't!"  

There's so much else going on here I didn't find it boring and in fact, for the UK in the 60s, this is not a terrible western. I give the story credit jsut for trying probably a 6 or 7 out of 10. And a child visitor to the set became the producer of the McGann TV MOVIE. Philip Segan may have had a relative working behind the scenes here.       

Doctor Whoovie's picture

So a return to a more classic Sci-Fi story. Fairly enjoyable, although it does seem a little slow. It reminded me a little of of Brave New World (No children in either society!), but nothing exceptional (good or Bad) a definite improvement on some of the preceeding stories.

And so farewell episode titles. Hello story titles with part numbers. (until 2005 when we will go back to episode titles)

Also farewell Steven Tyler. I have not really taken to him, as well documented above (can it really be 44 episodes since you joined in the Chase?). I watch with some humor as Dodo asks the Doctor if they will see him again. The Doctor replies that with the nature of Space and Time travel you never know. I am thinking that in the Doctor's head, he is thinking 'No, cause I'm going to dump you as soon as we next land'.

It was nice that Steven, didn't leave because a) the Doctor had kicked him off the ship b) they had got him home c) He fell in love with some girl that he had met for about 20 minutes.

And so onto the War Machines to round out Series 3. I watched this 4 or 5 months ago before starting my from the beginning marathon. It will be interesting toi see if my perspective has changed when I rewatch the DVD.

When I first heard the SAVAGES on audio, I couldn't make it through the entire story and never finished it. Then I watched, years later, the reconstruction. I was able to see more of what supposedly went on and able to hear the grand music. THe music in this is, like the story, so traditinally sci fi/fantasy, that it's hard not to like it. I also like the idea that one of the aliens got the Doctor's personality into him. It was well done, even if cliche. The gas sequence is pretty terrifying, Dodo and Steven do a great job of being companions and the aliens seem powerful enough to have followed the Doc's travels! I also like the pursuit in the cave sequeence, mostly due to the music but for once the companoins are chasing someone else through a cave, in fact they are chasing an alien baddie (maybe a baddie, I also like the idea that not everyone in this is traditionaly evil but more politically motivated) through a cave : a reverse of the cliche of DW and sci fi in general. And isn't there  a scene where the humans have to smash the entire set inside the alien contorl room? That was nice! Steven's leaving scene was strange as if the Doc just foisted Steven onto the aliens and Steven wanted to stay, maybe looking for an out as he would probably have died if he stayed on too long. In fact, despite a few rough edges, I liked Steven. I mean what comp , male, would go back into a fire to save  a stuffed Teddy bear!?     

On first viewing of THE ARK, I was bored. I mean having read and watched sci fi for years, the ideas here are just too too old hat. On second viewing, quite recently and one ep at a time over time, it was much better. I mean what struck me is that the Doctor acts like a medical Doctor and is all the more better for it. Dodo seems concerned and the fate of the Earth is a nice touch. The aliens are pretty different to be worth something and their gun ray fights were a bit tedious butr interesting in that I think the sympathetic ones were killed along iwth the good ones. WHat I noticed is that the inteference of the TARDIS crew made things worse in many ways here but I guess that was reversed in the end.  The statue makes an impact. Not much else does in this but the idea that the TArdis lands in the same place but a future time from whre it was was also new to this show so that's worth mentioning. I also think the jungle set made an impact and this might be the first time (although maybe THE DALEKS had some children) that we see many children among the future crew. But please get better clothes for our future generations! :)

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Although I have watched this recently (within the last six months) I enjoyed re-watching it. I think that this DVD is really well done. I particularly enjoyed the 'one foot in the past' feature with Tony Benn visiting the Post Office Tower (now the BT tower).

It seems to me that this story is the blue print for much of the rest of Doctor Who. i.e. it was the first story in a contemporary setting with contemporary companions with a menace about to take over the world (the staple of the Pertwee UNIT years, much of the T Baker era, the McGann Movie, and the majority of the Ecclestone and Tennant serires).

I know that 'planet of the giants' was the first story in a contemporary time period, but I don't count it since the Doctor et al. only interacted with outsized props and rear projection images.

The story has been done many times, 'meglomaniac computer takes over the world', but to my knowledge this is one of (if not the) earliest one. The others that spring to mind are 'the Forbin Project', 'the Demon seed', 'the Terminator' and of course '2001: a space oddessy' (although HAL only took over the mission, not the world). Of course it doesn't really seem like the war machines could really take over the world ,but they were really good at smashing through piles of wooden boxes. I noted with some irony that there guns (powered by CO2 fire extinguishers) set things on fire!!

I did find everyone calling our hero "Doctor Who' somewhat annoying although I can live with it.

I found Dodo's departure unsatisfactory. Other than this story (where she was under hypnosis ) and her annoying introduction at the end of 'the massacre' I have found here an agreeable companion. I think that her poor performance with the audience and in our ongoing companion poll is more down to the fact that she appeared in the worst stories of the Hartnell era.

So it was the changing of the birds, out goes 'extinct old Dodo' and in comes 'Pretty Polly'. That's interesting given that she spentds most of the story under 'evil hypnosis' control too. It definately feels that with this story the production crew are trying to restart the show. Latch onto a promonent current event (the opening of the GPO Tower) and replace the companions with young and trend characters.  The story seemed to have everything thrown in for good measure: Mind control, Meglomaniac Computer taking over the World, Death Machines, Battles with loads of soldiers, lots of Death and destruction.

A good solid 7/10 for this one I think. 

 I agree with most of what you wrote. Dodo could be good but she could also be very, very bad, mostly in THE ARK, where the actress does not all. Here, her leaving is just...strange. At first, I didn't like it but your review made me think about DW in general. If Dodo' s leaving were more dramatic, more in line with the story or even visually presented...then, this might not be the thing that it is and I like it the way it is. Strange that it could have been so much better but...DW being DW fans can write articles, stories, and others things about Dodo's departure and that's part of why I like DW. It's just so oddball, at times brilliant, at other times the worst thing or things you've ever seen and then there's  alot in between like Dodo's leaving. It leaves room for speculation...

I happen to think Polly and Ben, although to understand them, especially Ben, I had to turn on the DVD subtitles almost all the time, are terrific companions, young and trendy or not. Not sure Ben is very trendy for the time but I like them a great deal and having a couple with the Doctor instead of a single female or a single male, is a new slant althought they are a couple in the first stages of their coupling. I thought when Matt Smith's companions  were first announced the team was going to have a couple but I'd bet RTD talked Scott M out of that. Now it's just the long haired red haired girl. BOOOOO!

Anyway the story is nothing new at all esp for written Sci Fi, it's as old as hats, speaking of which I like the Doctor in his hat and I like the idea of him in a trendy night club or bar. I like that he sends Ben on a mission, not to mention his de-hynotizing of Dodo and I like how he stands before a war machine when everyone else, military included, is running for cover. And he uses his ring! Brill! I think his Doctor has even more presense in modern day settings than in the far off/historical/ pplanetary ones. Hartnell is without a doubt one of the best, if not the best Doctor (next to Tom Baker of course). Here he does the entire range of his repitoire: angry, hostile, warm, surprised, powerful, weak, etc.

The War machines themselves, if you turn on the DVD text you'll find the bloopers of the people being seen inside them, running from them when they are set fire etc. That said, the killing in this is a bit shocking especially in the control room when the man possessed Krimpton is shot down...either by Wotan, the military or Brett! I can't recall but I do remember it being a bit...shocking as Krimpton wasn't evil, just a brainwashed victim. Brett was too but he seems to get away with it all...without knowing what is going on.

The other shocking scene is the man who is beaten to death...orginally the possessed men were to kill him with sharp weapons! Of course, Ben gets away with just being taken over or something or just held in a be freed by a possessed but fightin it Polly.

Sir Charles and the Doctor interact like the Brig and the Doctor and this sort of makes me think of UNIT stories anyway: as men battle the threat with heavy firepower...often losing. There's also a huge men to men fight with quite a few losses on both sides. And location shooting of the tower...and a mad computer as in GREEN DEATH.   

Anyway this story is most entertaining...still I like the pics of pre-Ben Mike Craze...

Idiom's picture

Just read this review after posting mine and am amazed at how many sentiments there are in common. Oh yes, Great Minds and all that...

Loved the birds comment!

Doctor Whoovie's picture

So ends season three. I have to say although it had a great highlight (Masterplan), it had a lot of lowlights (Galaxy 4 and the Ark through the savages) and the rest seemed Mediocre.

I thought that perhaps, I was suffering from fatigue in my marathon, but after reading literature about the series it appears that after 'the Dalek Masterplan' public sentiment at the time was similar to my opinions. Of the three season's so far this was the overall weakest. Here is my Season ranking so far

place                      Season                    Highlight                        Lowlight
1st                          One                     Marco Polo                     Edge of Destruction
2nd                         Two                 Dalek Invasion of Earth        The Space Museum
3rd                         Three                The Dalek Masterplan               Galaxy 4

I think I will try and order the seasons as I go through them rather than trying to insert the later ones based upon my current feelings.

Doctor Whoovie's picture

As much as I tried to like this story, I'm afraid I just found it boring. The reconstruction I watched was often confusing about what was actually happening and I had to rewatch certain parts multiple times. Perhaps I will invest in the BBC audiobook of this and see if I like it any better. It's quite funny that the only clips that survive are all the death scenes exised by the forgein censors.

Anyhow between this story, 'the gunfighters' and the rather unsatisfactory ending of 'the massacre', it is no great surprise to me that only one more true historical adventure was made. This is a shame as there were many quality ones earlier (Marco Polo, the Romans, The Aztecs). The genre may have been killed of merely by having a consecutive set of sub-par scripts.

Also some irony in having the Doctor's first eye candy assistant play a 'lad' in her first fully fledged adventure. I certainly found Ben's Cockney Chappy character somewhat annoying.

A 4 or 5 out of ten for this one.

And so onto the Tenth Planet. 

Oddly enough I hated this on soundtrack only. There are TWO reconstructions for some of the stories, mostly THE MYTHMAKERS and THE SMUGGLERS. The second type uses other actors to recreate, say Ulysseus or the pirates, even some loose animation. And those are the recons that work best for stories that seemed boring before. To be honest, SMUGGLERS is not a bad story at all and I liked it when I watched that second recon. It just moved faster was faster paced and put Hartnell, again, in a situation that he had to get out of, by lying, manippulating, and fooling...and he was brilliant, in over his head, trying to get back to his friends and/or the TARDIS, this is how DW should be...but I supposed all takes on the Doc are welcome including the master time trickster he became with the 7th Doctor, although for all HIS planning he was often in over his head as well. In the second recon, the fights were much better and the overall visual look was rather good. And the past is just as dangerous as proved by the amount of deaths here. There is also a good sub plot in the man who was helping the smugglers, turning against them. I can't recall if he lived or not but I thnk he did.

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Although this is a favorite story on mine (thanks to the Target novelization) I had never watched it.

I really enjoyed the story, but was a little put out that Hartnell wasn't present in his second to last episode (was this a sign he was really ill? or that he had fallen out with the producers?).
These early cybermen really were kind of cluncky (and if I'm not mistaken had ordinary human hands)

The Good

I really enjoyed the way the titles were done and the little jingle added over the music. Polly and Ben are shaping up as good companions (though I still find Ben's Cockney annoying). The dead cyberman bodies were interesting for the time (and no gold was required). The location of the base at Antartic was a good setting.

The Bad

Okay, the science in here is really bad. Earth's 'twin' planet being identical except upside down. It can move towards the Earth and it's gravity interfere's with earth orbiting spacecraft, yet the gravity changes have no impact upon the Earth or the Moon (i.e. ripping the planet apart, Tidal waves etc etc.)

Most troubling of all is Mondas's power draining effect. This must be natural, because if it were due to cyber technology they would either a) turn it off before Mondas explodes b) built it so that it could be shut-off before even bothering to approach the Earth.

The Curious

I have heard it said of the new series, that there are story problems because it obviously doesn't occur in 'our world'. i.e. We know that the earth has never been moved to another part of the universe ('the stolen Earth), We know that a poisonous atmosphere has never been created by catalytic converters (The poison Sky), We know spaceship have never been reported in central London (Aliens of London, The Christmas invasion).

However, this episode place classic Who in that same alternate universe. We know there were not moon landings in the 1980's. We know a new planet was not seen in the sky in 1986. We know that there was not a mysterious worldwide energy drain in 1986 either. So this story obviously, doesn't occur in 'our timeline'.

Of course, this highlights the problem of 'historic' stories and 'sci-fi' stories. In the 'historic' stories history cannot be changed, events must play out as intended. However, it always strikes me as curious that the Doctor has encyclopedic knowledge of Earth's history, but only retrospectively. He never anounces, well we cannot stop the cyberman/Dalek invasion of the Earth because it is common knowledge that it occurred in the year XXXX.

Another thing that reminded me of the modern series was the cybermen them selves. They appeared in groups of three or four. All of these would be destroyed then another group numbering three or four would appear to replace them. Some budgetary constraints never change.

Having heard that 2 Entertain are doing more stories with animated episodes to replace those which are missing, I hope that this story is next on the list because a) only one episode is missing (the important regeneration one) b) it is a seminal story both for the first regeneration and the introduction of a classic monster c) There would be consistancy in animating all the missing cybermen episode (the Moonbase could round of the trilogy where only two episodes are missing).

Overall an 8.5 out of 10, easily the best story since the Dalek Masterplan.

Okay there's one major difference between POISON SKY (which I loved btw), JOURNEY'S END (which I pretty much hated on first viewing) and the others on the NEW show and the TENTH PLANET. The TENTH PLANET is supposed to, at the time of airing, take place in the near future. The NEW show has all these things taking place in the present day and then changing the universe of the series for good...or as in the case of the dumb Master story LAST OF THE TIME BORES, not at all or maybe a little bit (I think the human beings are still destined to becomes the disgusting Toclafane--that's an UP story line for you!). So in my book TENTH PLANET does not do what these others have done and for that matter, if you count them up, the First Doctor era did this type of thing what, maybe twice if you count WAR MACHINES and TENTH PLANET. The Tenth Doctor error has done it most likely over ten times!

Onto the other stuff: I like that Ben doesn't want to really kill the Cyberman that falls into his trap. I like his bravado here. There's alot of things that don't make sense and for those you can check out ABOUT TIME 1. Polly makes a great companion here and what there is of Hartnell is rather good, however in the very last scenes on the Cybership he looks...somewhat wide eyed and out of it and this seems put on and maybe more over the top than he's EVER been.

Another thing about TENTH PLANET: the Doctor's actions DID doom the Commander's son...he somehow survives anyway and it's all explained. However, the Commander becomes the villain and is about to kill the Doctor...and for good family reasons! That's a twist and to add to that further, the commander, whom one would expect to be the ally of the Doctor and he almost so was, is the enemy and he's killed by the Cybermen, who save the Doctor!

Yeah, there's alot  of  bad science. Years ago when I first saw this, I thought it was a lot of men in uniform looking at screens and looking dour in the face and there's a lot of that but I guess I don't mind it as much as it seems, one ep at a time, so a 50s-60s way, almost like DOPPLEGANGER aka JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN or Gerry Anderson, done BBC cheapo. Still i't is not a bad story and seeing Cybermen in the snow is chilling and  scary and the way they talk is...unique. I'm glad they don't talk that way in every ep but here, i't is different and first it's a bit funny too.         

Doctor Whoovie's picture

And so I have watched the 132 episodes of the Hartnell era in the last 151 days (one day over 5 calander months), which averages at slightly more than six episodes per week.

Prior to this endevour, I had seen the Unearthly child (first episode only), the Daleks (thanks to a BBC2 re-run), the Aztecs (DVD last year), the Dalek invasion of Earth (DVD 3 years ago) and the War Machines (DVD, this January). I had also read the Targent novelization of the 'Tenth Planet'. This was the full extent of my first Doctor exposure (except for the Three and Five Doctors).

So what did I discover. Well for the first two seasons, the programme should have been called the 'Ian and Barbara journey through  Time and Space' not 'Doctor Who'. They dominated every story as far as I'm concerned and after they left I think that the show struggled to find itself again.

Although I really liked Vicki, she was a great substitute for Susan, not Barbara. Likewise Steven just could not fill the gap left by Ian. This may have to do with the fact that the storylines had been written for the original characters and the new companions were handed out the lines and roles, as the situation presented. I suspect that this meant the new characters couldn't establish themselves well, as all their lines were someone elses leftovers.

Ultimately, the two comapions from the future (Steven and Vicki) did not sit as well with the viewers, as those from a contemporary time did. At the end of Hartnell's tenure, I think we saw the producers try to address this with Dodo, then Polly and Ben. Strangely enough, I think that the show may have fared better with companions from the future, namely Bret Vyon and/or Sara Kingdom (both of whom were very strong characters like Ian).

With regards to the Doctor, I'm afraid that he still seems like a grump old Uncle to me, who often goes out of his way to agrivate his travelling companions. Although he mellows as series three progresses, he is still grumpy. The number of lines which Hartnell manages to fluff is really quite amazing, easily 3x all the lines fluffed by all the other actor combined.

To be honest, I think if the Beeb had not replaced Hartnell at this point the show would never have made a fifth season, as the second half of the third season saw was floundering terribly, after a solid first and second series relying of Willaim Russell and Jacqueline Hill.

So I am glad I watched everything and am glad for the really good stories in there, which for the record, I believe to be:

1) The Daleks
2) Marco Polo
3) The Keys of Marinus
4) The Aztecs
5) The Dalek Invasion of Earth
6) The Romans
7) The Chase (yes Chase, it's in my best stories list)
8) The Dalek's Masterplan (well most of it)
9) The War Machines
10) The Tenth Planet 

This is not bad as it is about 1/3 of the total number of stories.

And so onto the Second Doctor (whom I have had even less exposure to)

Mr. Magister's picture

Great concise summary.  I'd never thought of the Ian / Barbara effect before, but you certainly have a great point as to why the series slacked abit after their departure and why Stephen and poor Dodo never seemed to measure up.  What manner of media did you use for your evalulation of Marco Polo (just curious).

I'll try to follow this thread a little more closely for these nuggets.

Mr. Magister

Doctor Whoovie's picture

I viewed Marco Polo via the Loose Canon reconstruction, which I would say is the best reconstruction I have seen to date. They noted that this story had many more production photos available than any other story, this may be why it worked so well.

I have found the LC reconstructions vary greatly on a story to story basis. The have variously used re-enactments (Galaxy 4), CGI (one of the dalek stories) in addition to the stills and telesnaps. Reproduction quality has varied also (the smugglers was unwatchable) but this is to do with the VCR reproduction rather than the quality of the original reconstruction. On the whole I have preferred the Loose Canon recons to the others I have seen (Butterfly effect and Elphane).

For those stories available as photonovels on the BBC website, listening to the audiobook version whilst manually flicking through the photonovel has been satisfying too, although there is a tendancy to spoil surprises by advancing the pictures before the audio has progressed far enough. None the less the photosnap picture quality ofn the BBC website typically exceed the reproduction quality of the same images used in the video reconstructions.

I do see what you are saying or rather writing. I too like Ian and Barbara, Ian probably more as I think Russel is a better actor but whatever. The thing is that DW to be what it became and is today, it had to change and if it survived through the loss of Susan, Ian and Barbara it could survive almost anything (except mid 1980s poor scripts) or any change. Much of what covered for changes in cast...the team didn't think what became the narrative of the show rather than the rip off stories that filled the series later on...

Vicki's coming and going, Steven's coming and being for a short time the only male companion and even carrying a few episodes himself, Susan's sad departure and telepathic nature (which came and went fast as did Nyssa's later on), and the Doctor's erratic nature all came from here. Then we got the UNIT type stories later on (well only one or two in WAR MACHINES and TENTH PLANET) was clear Dodo didn't work at all and then we got the first of the blondes that Doctor was so fond of in Polly and she was really hip and forward...the first of her type...although she ends up just making tea or coffee some of the time. 

Hartnell's flubs: I don't imagine that all of them are accidents. I think he imbibed his Doctor with these purposely. Notice how he doesn't do them when he's someone else in MASSACRE.  

For the stories there are, to me, only one or two bad ones. GALAXY FOUR is almost unwatchable today merely because it kept making me fall asleep. Also that Hollywood 1920s ep during DALEK MASTERPLAN was one of the worst of the entire Hartnell series if not the entire series but the rest of that long, long story kept me attending. It should have set the precedent for longer stories such as FRONTIER IN SPACE into PLANET OF THE DALEKS or WAR GAMES and INVASION. And it did. And it made the Daleks dangerous after THE CHASE made them jerks.

Ahh, yes THE CHASE. It will always be for me, MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE material. It's so bad, it's funny. I mean Mechanoids saying, "Crap," is just too funny and ep6 is a hoot.

Thing is Barbara and Ian as much as I liked them couldn't stay and keep the quality going. To be honest, the least interesting, IMO, First Doctor spinoff novels are the ones with Barbara and Ian...there was only so much that could be further done with them although I rather liked the recent COMPANION CHRONICLE with Ian and First Doctor on the sailing ship to Australia. That was grand (or maybe it was New Zealand). Point is that things had to change and change made the show what it is...for better or worse and I think it's for better to be honest.  If one does not read the news reports, one would never know when or if a comp is leaving or to be killed off, if a new problem is created by an old advesary or if the Doc is about to change his body and face...if Ian and Barbara stayed to the end, it wouldn't be the same and it would not be as good as their leaving was...not sure that makes sense  but there  you ahve it. 

Idiom's picture

What an absolutely fabulous story.

I grew up with the latter years of Jon Pertwee and then Tom Baker, and the first I knew about any other Doctor – before I even got my copy of the Making of  on my seventh birthday was the Peter Cushing version of the Dalek Invasion on TV when I was about six. In glorious technicolour (we hadn’t long had a colour TV) and looking so much more polished than the TV show at the time, it blew me away. I loved it and for years whenever I thought of the First Doctor, it was Peter Cushing that I saw in my mind’s eye.  It took me another thirty years until I got around to seeing the original version. And I loved it as much.

If ever a story deserved to have a big screen version made of it then it was Dalek Invasion. With its huge panorama of events across invaded Britain (a scenario which can’t have seemed so remote to a World which was still only less than 20 years after the Second World War), its focus on the Resistance (if you’ll pardon the clumsy phrasing, I never could resist films or books about the French Resistance) and finally, the first change to the main cast with Susan leaving, it is a story for me with few faults.


The Slither – but even this wasn’t so bad during a second viewing.


The story really benefits from location filming and the scenes of Barbara, Jenny and Dortmun in a deserted London were suitably eerie and made me think of similar scenes from The Omega Man and 28 Days Later. At first, I wasn’t sure about the music used during these scenes – a vicious drum beat that drowns out any other sound, but later realised that this worked perfectly, adding to the dramatic tension and creating a further sense of emptiness within this once bustling metropolis.

The main cast were used well; dividing them into three and sometimes four different groups helped to maintain the dramatic flow and the pace. I particularly enjoyed Barbara’s relationship with Jenny (who was being considered as the new companion), overcoming the latter’s suspicious and spiky exterior).

The Doctor here demonstrating that sense of cold and deadly purpose that manifests itself strongly over the different incarnations throughout the years (particularly in the Tenth Doctor’s persona). There is a time at the beginning of the story when, kidnapped by the Daleks, he demonstrates a frailty but this is overcome quickly after his escape and he naturally resumes his role as leader, giving those who follow him a sense of direction, purpose and hope.

The Robomen, cold zombie-like, even the hats stop looking silly after a while and their deadly, unnatural nature and the way in which they move and speak in unison begins to unnerve.

Susan, or more particularly, the manner of her departure. Her growing relationship seems natural rather than forced or undeveloped (see Leela and Andred!) and the final scene is given the time it deserves on screen with her grandfather’s very touching speech to her (I just wish that we could have seen that return sometime over the years that followed). The TARDIS disappears in front of her eyes, leaving her standing with one foot bare, looking vulnerable and alone.

A truly great 10 out of 10!

Idiom's picture

A curious little story this with a lot to recommend it and a few parts that left me scratching my head in bewilderment.

I liked:

·         That the story didn’t ignore the departure of Susan and that the Doctor was shown to suffer some kind of emotional fallout

·         Vicki, for the most part, but I have yet to really see what makes her different from Susan: both young, both slightly out of phase with the twentieth century. Still Maureen O’Brien does a good turn.

·         The cliff-hangers – both of them were great and I love it when one story segues directly into the next.

·         I rather liked the Koquillion look and the theme to the appearance of the aliens on Dido or was the mask supposed to be a representation of the ‘sandy’ creature?

·         Bennett’s reason for doing what he did – it was believable and, therefore, helped the story to ring true.

Head scratching moments:

·         Why have a mystery story when there are only two suspects (one of whom you know will be joining the regular cast)

·         The Doctor knocks on Bennett’s door, hears Bennett tell him not to come in and responds by breaking the door down for no apparent reason. ??!!

·         Who were the two guys at the end – were they survivors from the planet? Where did they suddenly appear from? I thought at first that they were some kind of effect of the judgement room, that it brought out the guilt from those judged there – manifested the victims physically. But then I saw them ripping up the control panels at the end and realised I was wrong. Preferred my idea.

Still good to see a new companion – the first of many and nice to break the historical/scifi pattern by having two scifi stories in a row. 7 out of 10: Enjoyable but really not on a par with the previous story.

Now, I can finally go back and start reading Doctor Whoovie’s posts!

Idiom's picture

Quote from Chase: “The Doc and Vicki are getting along; Ian and Barbara seem to be having a romance of sorts and things just seem so...dangerous and yet relaxed all at once. It's like...well, like traveling in a time machine should be...”

I really like this point which Chase makes as it sums up just how I felt about the Romans. What a splendid story. I have been so impressed by so many of the Hartnell stories up until now and had never seen the Romans. In fact, after looking at some of the mixed reviews (something I must learn not to do), I was preparing myself not to like it at all. How wrong I was. This has jumped right up there into my all time list of favourite stories.

I really liked:

·         The beginning – jumping a month forward after the end of the previous episode and the TARDIS covered in vines and mysterious, looking much like one of the ancient ruins which Rome would one day become.

·         The fact that the crew have been there for a long period of time. More and more it is something which bugs me about later stories that the Doctor lands, has an adventure and buggers off again in the space of 24 hours or less. And yet if all of the Doctor’s stories are to be believed about the friends he has made throughout history and the skills which he has learnt then he must have spent some time staying put in a particular space and time. Don’t get me wrong, I know that narratively watching the crew have a nice time for 25 minutes may not make for the best viewing but to allude to this time or to imply that some time has passed before an adventure naturally occurs gives the stories more of a sense of realism. I think that’s what I liked about the beginning to School Reunion, for example.

·         The time travellers wearing the clothes of the time. Just a personal thing but I always like this.

·         The weave of humour and darkness worked really well for me and wasn’t at all jarring. In fact, I felt that the lighter moments highlighted the tension at other points in the story. When Barbara and Ian are enslaved there is a real sense of foreboding, as if this time their luck had finally run out.

·         The Doctor – he’s a new man without Susan – maybe not having somebody refer to him as Grandfather all the time has breathed new life into the old fella. Action hero, mischief maker and just like his tenth incarnation, actively seeking out and enjoying the adventures that he finds himself in. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Doctor chuckle so much.

·         Ian and Barbara at last seem to be displaying signs of the relationship which we have suspected (hoped) would happen between them. And about time. Loved the fridge jokes and the mock fights. Loved the scene where he steals a jug from the villa as a Roman souvenir.

·         Again a fine cast of supporting characters with strong motivations.

·         Just about everything! Except...

What I didn’t really like:

·         In a word, Vicki. What was the point of her in this story? It really does seem that a third companion is just one too many for a four-part story. She spent the whole story playing the spare wheel, demonstrating no real personality and haing little to do with the main plot development. It’s a shame. I’m not saying that I don’t like the actress, it’s just that she is used badly in my opinion.

But a resounding 10 out of 10. Again. Loved it! Go and buy it and watch it immediately!



daveac's picture

Just letting you guys know that these posts are being read.

The Planet of the Giants was of of my favs.

Cheers, daveac


Idiom's picture

Why not give us a rundown of your top Hartnell stories, Dave?

Idiom's picture


Idiom's picture

Like some very weird ballet intertwined with elements of the Magic Roundabout and directed by Ingmar Bergman, watching The Web Planet really must be some kind of rite of passage for a Doctor Who fan. Golly, but that was hard work.

Trying not to be too harsh and seeing it through the eyes of the time in which it was made, this story is a very brave concept indeed to have tried to realise. A truly alien story set on a completely alien planet with no humanoid characters apart from the main cast. But it’s just that, well, neither the costumes nor the plot really live up to the concept.

We’re Doctor Who fans, I know, and us oldies can put up with wobbly sets and crap costumes as long as the story line was strong and, in general, the former invariably were (bar the historical) and the latter nearly always was. It is this, more than anything, which has seduced me about the Hartnell series – the fantastic writing. However, this story just didn’t cut it for me. It suffers even more as it follows on the back of the Romans and Dalek Invasion, both of which I couldn’t get enough of. But, whereas as the Dalek Invasion packed a dramatic punch, I found more self caring nothing whatsoever for the moth-eaten Menoptera and their Mexican Bean jumping relatives, the Optera. I know that we’ve all complained a lot about the Human-centric focus of the new series, but really I do feel that we need some kind of human or humanoid representatives to create some kind of emotional investment in the story (and if we don’t have that then the story better be that damn good that it makes up for this lack). And whereas the Romans sparkled with witty dialogue among the main characters, even that was missing from the Web Planet.

When I first began my trek through the First Doctor’s stories, I made the conscious decision to watch no more than one episode a day. In this way, I felt, I could watch the stories as they were intended and, also, it would help me with the more boring stories (I would only ever have to get through 25 minutes in one sitting). I can honestly say that 95% of the episodes I have seen so far have left me wanting to watch another straight away. However, not so here. I really struggled (against falling asleep most of the time). Sorry, I’m sure that there are plenty of fans of this story out there but I just didn’t get it. 2 Out of 10.

Thank God it’s a historical next!

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Just catching up on your post. Although you put your thoughts down more elegantly than I did. I think we are in complete agreement about this story, in that we want to like it, can recognise some ground breaking work in effects and mood seting, but that ultimately it is too slow (and down right boring). I'm kind of glad that it wasn't just me that felt this way.

It is ironic that this story has one of the highest viewing figure of any classic Who serial (I think that one episode may have the highest ever Who audience level).

Thus I think it is easy to argue for current Who, that just because The Next Doctor, Journey's End and The Last of the Time Lords got high viewing figures, it doesn't mean that they were any good.

Idiom's picture

Wow! I never knew about the viewing figures. Of course, it could be that seen through the eyes of the viewing public at the time and with more of an ability to suspend disbelief, this was seen as a perfectly good story. For me, however, it just hasn't stood the test of time, whereas so many of the other stories have.

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