A visual round up of the second decade of my Doctor Who blogging project. The 1970′s was the era of Pertwee and Baker, of mini-skirts and go-go boots, frilly skirts and long, trippable scarves.
Posts Tagged ‘fourth doctor’
Rewatching it recently with my family I was struck by the first episode in particular – how familiar all its beats were to me despite it being so unlike almost any other Doctor Who story ever.
There are three stories going in parallel. Firstly, the dark, irritable Fourth Doctor teaching Adric about block transfer computation (or alien maths as I explained it to my eight year old, don’t judge me!) and deciding to Move On With His Life After Romana. Never mind that Romana left him a whole serial ago, this is the story where we see the Doctor dealing with his loss, gazing mournfully into her room and muttering about how he always meant to fix the chameleon circuit with her (not to mention that when he needs to jettison a room, he chooses hers APPARENTLY AT RANDOM YEAH RIGHT).
Shada is the best known and more deeply beloved of any Doctor Who story that no one has ever actually watched.
Intended to screen as the final story of Season 17 (which had begun with the introduction of Lalla Ward as Romana II in Destiny of the Daleks), Shada’s production was cancelled partway through filming because of a strike at the BBC.
Perhaps under other circumstances it might have been forgotten, a footnote in the show’s history. But there were many elements which came together to form a kind of mythology about how magical this story was, and what a terrible loss it was to Doctor Who fans, that it continues to enjoy a kind of semi-canonical status.
1978 is not only the year in which I was born, but it also produced one of my all time favourite eras of Doctor Who. Having left Leela behind on Gallifrey to indulge in her gratuitously discreet romance with the guard Andred (in one of the most derided leaving scenes of all time), the Doctor was happy to put his feet up, but the universe had other ideas.
The White Guardian, one half of the two greatest powers in the galaxy, has given him a quest, to assemble the crystalline, transformative segments of the Key to Time. He also provides the Doctor with a new ‘assistant,’ the glamorous and snooty Romana (Mary Tamm).
We’ve had intelligent companions before, and companions who are close to being the Doctor’s intellectual peer (Zoe and Liz being the main examples), but this is the first time that a companion was set up as being the Doctor’s superior in most things.
The Hand of Fear, Sarah Jane Smith’s farewell story of the classic series, is a favourite of mine, and I’ve never really stopped to think about why. In many ways it feels like a very ordinary story, ticking a lot of the boxes of Pertwee-Baker Earthbound serials, without even a UNIT chappie or two to liven things up.
I think that a big part of the appeal of this one for me is that the story revolves around Sarah as the companion, and has a greater effect on her than most of her later stories had. It might be paced like the old show (and how), but it has a gleam of what we would get in New Who – stories where the companion’s feelings and reactions to things were basically the point of the plot.
A new production team, a new TARDIS team, everything old is new again! Tom Baker’s Doctor is still seen as the definitive take on the character, and 1975 was the beginning of a swell of mainstream recognition for the show such as had not been seen since the Dalekmania days a decade earlier. It’s telling that to many casual viewers and non viewers, “the one with the scarf” is the Doctor they remember.
Tom Baker strode into the role like he had been born to play it, bringing a wave of genuine eccentricity which only added to the idea that the Doctor was an alien, favourite uncle and naughty schoolboy all rolled into one.
It’s hardly surprising that many fans remember a story from 1975 as the start of their devotion – not only were some of the best stories of all time screened in this year, but viewers were treated to nearly two whole seasons of Doctor Who.
Yes, I listened to most of these in the last fortnight. Because reasons.
The Emerald Tiger (main range)
The new range of Fifth Doctor plays with Tegan, Turlough and an older post-Terminus Nyssa are the ones I associate most closely with my transition from occasional listener to serious subscriber. Which is odd because while I have enjoyed them and what they had to offer, I haven’t adored them with the fierce passions I feel for the plays featuring Seven-Ace-Hex or Eight-Charley, Eight-Lucie, Six-Charley, Six-Evelyn and Five-Peri-Erimem. Instead, I’ve viewed them more as an intellectual enjoyment, revisiting one of “my” classic periods of the show.
Not so with this latest (the third) trio of this particular TARDIS team. I adored all three plays, enjoying the characters and their interactions, and the excellent, excellent scripts. Sure, Janet Fielding is still dialling up the ocker about 3 notches too high compared to her 80′s accent, but she’s still putting in a more restrained performance than either Old Tom or Paul Darrow in the Blake’s 7s, so I’m going to give her a pass on that.
Here we are again, my twice-yearly review of the “current” monthly releases from Big Finish that I have heard. As usual I’ve been listening to plenty of backlist titles too (I’m still not caught up on Jago and Litefoot and Bernice Summerfield, for example, as well as series like Graceless, so won’t listen to the current releases any time soon even if they are doing alluring things like casting Arthur Darvill), but given that I do listen to a lot of the current range as they are released, it’s nice to put it in some sort of chronological order.
There really are a lot of them, so I’m splitting the post into two quarters, or it would be the world’s LONGEST audio review. I may consider doing them monthly after this, which means fewer reviews as I don’t always manage to listen to everything in the month it’s released (I’ve only just been able to catch up with some plays of the last 3 months because my subscription had lapsed and I couldn’t afford to resubscribe for a while).
I heard today that Nicholas Courtney recently passed away peacefully. He was 81. My condolences to his family and friends – in the larger community of Doctor Who fandom, he was greatly loved and respected, which is really the best thing any of us can leave behind.
While he had a long and varied acting career, the role he will most be associated with is Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in Doctor Who. Courtney first stepped into the part in 1968 in The Web of Fear, and most recently in 2008 reprised the character in “Enemy of the Bane,” in an episode of spin off show The Sarah Jane Adventures. That’s forty years!
The Web of Fear and its sequel, The Invasion, both worked as a kind of audition for the UNIT concept, which was to be a central hub of the show in the 1970′s. As first Colonel and later Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Nicholas Courtney was the chap who had to deal with Yeti invading the underground, and then Cybermen taking over London. The Doctor was more of an annoyance than anything to him, though he became an ally pretty quickly, and performed what could have been a fairly uninteresting guest role with great charisma and warmth.
Like most people, I fell in love with the Brig during the Jon Pertwee Years. When Doctor Who was relaunched in 1970, in colour and with a new style and format, Pertwee’s Doctor was matched not only with a girl assistant, but with a family. UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) was based on the idea that, if the Earth gets invaded by aliens quite as often as Doctor Who tends to suggest, surely there should be some kind of military force set up to combat said threats. This organisation, Lethbridge Stewart himself and Sgt Benton had all been introduced during the Troughton Years, but became the centrepiece of the new look version of the show.