Doctor Who? The Fourth Doctor

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After the departure of Jon Pertwee from the role of the Doctor, Tom Baker began his tenure as what is probably the most memorable incarnation of the Doctor to date. Abandoning his capes and frills in favour of a battered fedora and 12 foot scarf Tom Baker was in the role from December 1974 until March 1981 and saw in some of the show’s most radical changes.

The Fourth Doctor

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The Fourth Doctor

The Fourth Doctor was much different than his predecessors, for a start he was much younger in appearance, and his temperament was much different as well, prone to rambling monologues with a fondness for jelly babies and a little false modesty this Doctor was definitely a man of his own creation.

After fighting a giant robot bent on using the worlds stockpile of nuclear weaponry to wipe out humanity The Doctor chose to leave earth taking with him reporter Sarah Jane Smith and U.N.I.T doctor Harry Sullivan. They travel through time and space, meeting Sontarans, Cybermen, giant slugs, and even witness the birth of the Daleks at the hand of their creator Davros. After returning to earth Harry stays rejoining U.N.I.T after fighting the Loch Ness Monster. The Doctor and Sarah Jane return to space meeting various monsters including Morbius, an exiled Time Lord who led an uprising.  Not long after this Sarah Jane leaves the Doctor so that he can return to Gallifrey.

Upon returning to Gallifrey the Doctor is implicated in the assassination of The Lord President, the plot it turns out to be a ploy of the Master, at the end of his regeneration cycle, decaying and emaciated, The Master tried to access the power of the Eye Of Harmony (a black hole that powers the Time Lords ability to time travel) but is thwarted in the attempt by the Doctor, who becomes president of the Time Lords in the process.

Running from Gallifrey the Doctor meets Leela, a savage from a primitive planet and the two travel together for some time, being joined by K-9 a robot dog with a laser in its nose. The three travel together for some time until The Doctor returns to Gallifrey to undertake his presidential responsibilities and fend of an invasion from the Vardans and The Sontarans. Lela remains on Gallifrey as the consort of gurard captain Andred, with K-9 remaining also.

The Doctor sets out with a new model of K-9 in an attempt to discover and then destroy the Key of Time, Joined by the Time Lady Romana the pair travel together for some time. After regenerating once Romana and the Doctor continue their travels, getting caught up in the Dalek Movellan war and an art forgery ring involving taking masterpieces from the past. The pair actually leave the universe, becoming trapped in a parallel dimension where they pick up a young stowaway Adric, before returning to their home dimension Romana and K-9 Mark II decide to remain behind.

Back in his home universe, the Doctor and Adric travel to Traken where the Doctor discovers a plot by The Master to once again gain limitless universal power. On Traken the Doctor meets new companion Nyssa whose fathers body is taken over by the Master, in this new body The Master departs Traken swearing revenge on the Doctor.After picking up another stowaway Tegan the Doctor then begins  Working with the Master to stop the decaying of the universe, successful the Master then betrays the Doctor pushing him to his death, and a new regeneration.

Tom Baker is still to this day who most people see as the embodiment of the role of The Doctor, often quoting him as the definitive. He had the longest run and the best writers of the show’s history, and I would have to say that he just made the part so much fun. And I can say from personal experience, having met the man once, (his autograph sits on a shelf in my man cave) he seemed like a really nice man.

Stand Out Serials

  1. Genesis of The Daleks: This serial gives us the deepest look into the history of the Daleks since their creation. We meet their creator, Davros, a brilliant scientist who is the product of his own environment, the biggest advances in science and medicine usually come about in war time, and this really is shown here with the Daleks, they are the result of endless war, and are designed purely for extermination.
  2. The Deadly Assassin: Political intrigue and the biggest insight into the world of the Doctor, I often favour the stories set on Gallifrey, because I like learning about the history of the Time Lords, especially their early days and this along with maybe two or three others from the original run are really the only information we have on the past of the Doctor and his people.
  3. State of Decay:  In a show that makes use of history and myth it amazes me that it took so long for the Doctor to encounter Vampires.

Dishonourable Mention

  1. The Ark In Space: The story itself wasn’t bad, but really gets me about this story is that the monster is made out of painted bubble wrap.

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    Bubble wrap is fun, not scary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join again soon for more on the wonderful worlds of The BBC’s Doctor Who.

This is the fourth in a series of posts relating to the BBC’s long running show Doctor Who.

Doctor Who? The Third Doctor

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At the Beginning of the Seventh series we were introduced to a new Doctor veteran actor Jon Pertwee, who took over the role from Patrick Troughton.

The Third Doctor 

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The Third Doctor

Again we could see that The Third Doctor was a different man altogether, where the Second Doctor was sort of a cosmic hobo of small stature, The Third Doctor was a tall chap with a keen eye for elegant flowing fashion, favouring frilled cuffs and jabots, velvet suits and bows and some pretty awesome silk lined travel cloaks. Trapped on earth this Doctor was determined to stand out from everyone else.  This Doctor had a flare for gadgets and technology, often tinkering with bits from the Tardis in an attempt to break his exile, as a means to gain the materials and resources he needs The Doctor allies himself with the United Nations Intelligence Task Force (U.N.I.T) a military force set up as a counter measure for alien incursions led by the Doctor’s old friend Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart.

In his early days as the Doctor we are introduced to new companion Dr Elizabeth (Liz) Shaw (On secondment to U.N.I.T from Cambridge) as the Doctor aids U.N.I.T against monsters such as The Auton’s and The Silurians as well as seeing our first glimpses of any parallel earths.  After Liz Shaw returns to her studies at Cambridge, the Doctor is introduced to his new lab assistant Jo Grant, and we meet the Doctor’s oldest friend and deadliest enemy the Master, a rogue Time Lord obsessed with becoming the master of all creation, he plagues the Doctor and U.N.I.T throught all of the ninth series and much of the tenth. As well as facing the such creatures as the Sea Devils and striking an uneasy alliance with the Ice Warriors of Mars. The Doctor then meets his gravest challenge yet, a legend from Time Lord history that endangers all of creation and only the Doctor can save himself. This marks the first (possibly third if you follow time travel theory) that the Doctor has met his other incarnations. After defeating this crisis the Doctor is granted his freedom, but returns to earth after battling the Daleks and Master Once more. After Jo Grant leaves the Doctor to marry he is joined in his adventures by reporter Sarah Jane Smith.

With Miss Smith by his side, the Doctor fights his way through The Sontarans, The Daleks, Dinosaurs in London before finally coming to the end of this life fighting against the Giant Spiders of Metebelis Three. He regenerates right before the eyes of The Brigadier and Sarah Jane Smith.

Jon Pertwee stared in 128 episodes as the Doctor between January 1970 and June 1974 with 24 serials in total. Pertwee saw the show through its first major milestone (10 years) but also saw its biggest changes since its inception, being set primarily on earth rather than space was one major change, but also moving from black and white into colour. We also saw the Doctor’s primary mode of transport shift from Tardis to car, The Doctor made use of a canary yellow roadster named Bessie (bearing the licence plate Who 1) and then later the Whomobile a hovercraft that could also fly (come on its 2017 where’s my flying car)

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Bessie The Doctor’s Car
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The Whomobile

 

Stand Out Serials 

  1. The Terror Of The Autons: Introducing companion Jo Grant and the Master, this time using the Auton’s to pursue his own dastardly ends. The Master offers a glimpse into the Doctors world, and asks how the perfect race of Time Lords can produce such an evil psychopath.
  2. The Three Doctors: The first time we see the Doctor interacting with his past selves, its nice to see that the internal conflicts between who we were and who we are given voice, and it is something that I can relate to. There is definite disdain shown from the younger Doctor for who he becomes, whilst the older Doctor can’t help but show condescension for his younger self.
  3. The Dæmons: I like stories about people messing with the occult in order to gain power, so when the Master, posing as a priest, starts messing with extra dimensional demons to further his own ambitions of power, you get a story that it one of the all time Doctor Who greats.

Dishonourable Mention

  1. Reversing The Polarity Of The Neutron Flow: A catchphrase used during the Third Doctor’s era was “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow”. The phrase was Pertwee’s way of dealing with the technobabble that he was required to speak as the Doctor. Terrance Dicks (series scriptwriter) recalls that he had used the line in a script, and Pertwee approached him about the line. Dicks had feared that he would have to remove it, but Pertwee stated that he liked it, and wanted to see it more often. It got to the point where variations of the phrase were used throughout the rest of Pertwee’s tenure and beyond.

Doctor Who? The Second Doctor

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At the end of the second serial of the Fourth Series William Hartnell bowed out of the titular role submitting the mantle of the Doctor to Patrick Troughton.

The Second Doctor

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The Second Doctor

The second Doctor was a different beast all together, where the First Doctor was quietly confident with a rigid and dignified bearing, the Second Doctor was a flapping, over excited little man who was almost a sort of cosmic hobo in appearance, sporting un-ironed shirts, a tailcoat that was 3 sizes too big, a tie that was always askew, trousers fastened with safety pins and a fur coat that was held together with a piece of string.   And whilst the First Doctor was more at home with the quiet of a good book, the Second would endlessly annoy his companions with unintelligible renditions on his trusty recorder.

After regenerating before the eyes of his companions Ben and Polly (A sailor and secretary from swinging 60’s London) the Doctor and his friends find themselves involved in an adventure pitted against the Daleks while Ben and Polly and sceptical of this new man claiming to be the Doctor. After defeating the Daleks and regaining the trust of Ben and Polly, the trio where travel to Scotland following the Battle of Culloden (1746), where they are Joined in their travels by Jaime McCrimmon an 18th Century clan piper. They go on to Cybermen on the moon, The Macra, The Daleks again and are introduced to the Yeti and The Ice Warriors of Mars, as well as the man who will become the Doctors closest and most long lasting friend Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart, the founder of U.N.I.T.

After the departure of Ben and Polly and the introduction of astrophysicist Zoe Heriot in the serial wheel in space the Doctor, Jaime, and Zoe went on to fight the Kroton’s, the Cybermen and Ice Warriors once more and even the Master of The Land of Fiction, The company meet a foe that even the Doctor cannot best, A renegade Time Lord know as the War Chief, who is abducting human armies from various points in time, and making them fight in order to gain the ultimate army to conquer any point in time and space. The Doctor (a fugitive himself) contacts the Time Lords surrendering himself to return the captive humans to their rightful homes.

The Time Lords who are sworn never to interfere in the affairs of other races place the Doctor on trial, he defends himself saying that he has only interfered for good and to save innocents. Agreeing with this the Time Lords see that earth is most vulnerable to attack from outside influences, so as punishment for the Doctor’s crimes he is exiled to earth, with his knowledge of time travel erased from his mind, and a new regeneration forced upon him, the Doctor agrees and his companions are sent back to their rightful places in time and space and the Doctor begins his exile.

Troughton stared in 118 episodes (21 serials) from 1966-1969 with three subsequent appearances during his lifetime, Troughton possibly had the hardest time of any Doctor, how do you replace the original (look at new coke) but Troughton managed to bring his own uniqueness to the role, he didn’t try to simply play a younger version of William Hartnell, but was his own man, and the show was the better for it, this is why it is such a shame that much of the Second Doctor’s run was junked by the BBC and now only exists in dribs and drabs with only 6 out the 21 serials existing intact, and whilst audio recordings and animated reconstructions exist, something is of Troughton’s original performance and chemistry is lost.

Stand Out Serials 

  1. The Enemy Of The World: A sick and twisted dictator who rules the world, but is seen by many as noble saviour, who also happens to look like The Doctor? What could be better, the Doctor and friends work with rebels to take expose the corruption of the evil Salamander, the only bad part of the serial is Troughton’s teensy bit racist mexican accent.
  2. The Web Of Fear: This serial introduces us to the Brigadier, a stalwart of the whole series, it also marks the second appearance of the Great Intelligence and the Yetis, this time in the London underground,.
  3. The War Games: Whilst I feel that this serial could have been shorter (whilst not the longest, a 10 part serial is still a lot to take) it sheds the most light on the Doctor, mentioning for the first time his race and introducing yet another meddlesome Time Lord, in the War Chief, who I feel was a precursor to the more villainous and long lived Master. It also marks Patrick Troughton’s last regular appearance as the Doctor before being replaced by Jon Pertwee

Dishonourable Mention 

  1. The Questionable Relationship Between The Doctor And Jaime: It really is the first time that the Doctor seems to actually love one of his companions, he has definitely cared for companions in the past, even though he did leave his own granddaughter in a nightmarish dystopia with only one shoe, but with Jaime it seemed something more, from eccentric hand holding to tender embraces, the Doctor’s relationship with Jaime may be innocent and it may be my sick mind reading something that isn’t there, but you tell me.

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Join again soon for more on the wonderful worlds of The BBC’s Doctor Who.

This is the Second in a series of posts relating to the BBC’s long running show Doctor Who.

Doctor Who? The First Doctor

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There is a new series of Doctor Who starting on Saturday. You have no idea how excited I am about this. Doctor Who is my favourite TV show and my absolute number #1 fandom (followed closely by Marvel Comics). Doctor Who is the longest running sci-fi series in the world, with over 800 individual episodes spanning 54 years marking it as the BBC’s longest running drama.

The show focuses on The Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, who chooses to flee the conformity of Time Lord society in a stolen Time Machine come spaceship (The Tardis) and sets out to see a universe that he has only read about.  The Time Lords of Gallifrey are imbued with a unique gift, that when they are approaching death, they are able to regenerate, taking on a new body and personality to match.

The First Doctor 

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The First Doctor

When the series opens we find the Doctor aged in his 600’s an old man still in his first incarnation (portrayed by the redoubtable William Hartnell), on the run from his own people and travelling with his granddaughter Susan, the Doctor is hiding in 1960’s London, where is Granddaughter is enrolled at the local comprehensive, Coal Hill School. It is here where the Tardis (designed to blend with its environment) malfunctions and is stuck as police public call box after landing in the totters lane junkyard. After garnering concern from her teachers, Susan is followed back to the Tardis, where his secret discovered, the Doctor and Susan run again, taking her teachers with them, thus beginning this adventure in space and time. Encountering things such as cave men, moth people, romans, space miners, and Marco Polo, not to mention the villainous Daleks, a cyborg race hell bent on spreading racial purity throughout the universe, the Doctor loses friends, and gains new companions, leaving his granddaughter to start a family in a Dalek destroyed future London, it is when he encounters the Cybermen for the first time, that he absorbs a lethal amount of radiation, but instead of dying he regenerates in the 2nd doctor.

William Harntell stared as the doctor in 133 episodes (29 serialised stories) from November 1963 and October 1966, with a few cameo appearances after the role was taken over by other actors (it is a time travel show after all). This whole era was characterised as Hartnell’s grumpy old man demeanour (in spite of only being in his 50’s at the time), and what marks Hartnell as my favourite Doctor is that he played the role with such a brash, insulting, almost arrogant nature that you want to hate him, until you see that little mischievous glint in his eye, and you realise, that he is playing a time lord (said to arrogance and pomposity personified), but one that would definitely be a bit of a pariah or outcast among his people.

Stand Out Serials 

  1. The Unearthly Child: The first serial which sets up the whole adventure of Tardis, Time Lord and Teachers. This sees The Doctor And Susan’s secret discovered, and at the risk of being found by their own people flee into the past and wind up in prehistoric earth and the middle of powerplay over the creation of fire.
  2. The Romans: This story sees the doctor and companions taking a holiday in the ancient roman empire, While the Doctor and new companion Vikki wind up in the court of Nero, with the doctor mistaken for a famous musician. Other companions Ian and Barbera are sold into slavery, with the two parallel stories culminating in the great fire of Rome.
  3. The Time Meddler: This is one of my favourites as it introduces us to the character of the Monk, another renegade of the Doctors race, and its this first glimpse that we get into the doctors past that makes is fascinating, as throughout the series the Doctor is shrouded in mystery, at this point we assumed that the Doctor created the Tardis, but to discover another (with working camouflage) in the hands of someone trying to manipulate time for their own benefit left a great deal of unanswered questions for audiences to ponder.
  4. The Daleks Masterplan: I’ve only actually heard the audio recordings from this serial, as only 3 episodes still exist on film, but it is one of the longest serials and is the fourth to feature the Doctors arch enemies the Daleks, and the second to feature The Monk. This serial is where large scale space opera was conceived, with a complex plot and multitudes of characters, set on earth, set on space, set in the past and the future, I would go as far as to say that without this serial we wouldn’t have things like Star Wars, because it was the first to really go all out.
  5. The Aztecs: This one makes the list because it is the first time that it’s really brought home in the series that you cant change the past. The Aztecs butchered thousands in the name of their religion, and nothing the Doctor’s companions did made one bit of difference to the whole thing, and it sets up one of the key tropes in science fiction, which is that trying to change the past will not work, the universe doesn’t want it to (the best way to avoid alternate reality fiction, is the line used in later series, “The Universe Compensates”).

Dishonourable Mention 

  1. The Web Planet: This has to have a mention, because I’ve seen it about five times from beginning to end, and I still have no idea what was happening. There are moth people and giant beetles and a lot of prancing about. My initial thoughts about the serial is that the producers must have been smoking something pretty powerful, and then my second thought was that it was the 60’s so my thought was probably right.

Join again soon for more on the wonderful worlds of The BBC’s Doctor Who.

This is the first in a series of posts relating to the BBC’s long running show Doctor Who. 

The Best Pie Fillings

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I’m having a chicken and gravy pie for lunch. Savoury pies really are one of the greatest inventions of human achievement. So as my salivary glands begin kicking into overdrive here are some of the best pie fillings in no particular order.

  1. Chicken and Mushroom
  2. Steak and Ale
  3. Minted Lamb
  4. Chicken, Bacon and Asparagus
  5. Steak and Kidney

Pie as a dessert however is a horrible foreign abomination (with the exception of Mince Pies) and should not even be contemplated. The same goes for square pies, pies should be round, I remember going on a family holiday to Cornwall where the pies from the local fish and chip shop were square, it doesn’t change the taste, but it is still wrong.

In Defence Of The Phantom Menace

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I’m going to get a lot of flack for this but please hear me out on this. Today I purchased a copy of Rogue One on DVD, but instead of popping it in the DVD player I decided to do the whole Star Wars saga, not including the cartoons and godawful Ewok movies. As this years Star Wars Day (May the Fourth get it) falls on election day (where I will be working harder than Jabba The Hutt’s roll on deodorant) on went the Phantom Menace and even before I got off the start menu, I was thinking how much I hate Jar Jar Binks.

And that was the problem, I was judging the whole film on this one annoying character. The story is actually pretty interesting, an unseen faction pursuing a political agenda through a war, which makes it sort of like House Of Cards in space, and this helps to flesh out the Star Wars universe. At times it does seem like BBC Parliament is covering the Galactic Senate, but again that goes a long way towards fleshing out the scope of this universe.

The action and effects serve in typical sci-fi style but my major qualm is that this supposedly takes place some 30 years before A New Hope, but the ships and weapons look more advanced and a lot sleeker, I know this is down to the advances in CGI and film technology, but from my point of view it would be like seeing a mobile phone in a film set in the 1960’s so that does tick me off a little, but is something I can live with. The pod race sequence is something that I have fond memories of from my childhood, not to mention the battle scene/ space battle/ light sabre three duel at the end.

Now on to the characters, we get a young Obi-Wan and his mentor Qui-Gon Jinn (played by able actors Ewan McGreggor and Liam Neeson respectively) who each portray a Jedi Knight acting as ambassador’s and later bodyguards and whilst their characterisation is a little 2 dimensional, you don’t really need to know more, because the films focus is on little Anakin Skywalker and Natalie Portman’s Queen Amidala. One missed opportunity however was Darth Maul, this bad dude could fight, and looked mean as all hell and whilst Ray Park’s fighting prowess really was put to good use, it just seems such a waste to have killed him off in the way he was (I can see why he was reincarnated in various spin off media).

But then it just comes back to Jar Jar Binks (and in fairness every other Gungan) from the voice and speech patterns to the overall clumsiness, to the just plain being stupid, Jar Jar is someone that you are automatically going to dislike, you are going to hate him and really just love to do it. Which makes it a little bit of a fitting end that you can pretty much lay every bad thing in the Star Wars universe at his feet thanks to his creating the Empire and all.

Whilst it is definitely the week point of the saga as a whole it still holds up as a film, I just think that it had to live up to the original trilogy and that was why it was judged so harshly, how could anything live up to those three films, and this is why I think the new films have it somewhat easier, as after the prequel trilogy the bar was set relatively low, thus giving the new films the appearance of excellence.