Episode 133 – “The Tenth Planet” – Part 03

And here we are. This is the final, the very last, existing First Doctor episode. It’s such a shame that more stories aren’t intact, and an even greater shame that some don’t exist at all.

Anyhow, it’s been a long voyage, but we’re just about done, so let’s get to it!

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Polly want a Cyberman?

Pretty much immediately, the Doctor passes out, and will be unconscious for the rest of our episode. You know, I’m kind of amazed that Hartnell was walking around alive at all by this point. To paraphrase Pratchett, he wasn’t so much at Death’s door as he was inside the hallway, admiring the carpet and commenting on the drapes. I suppose it kind of works that the Doctor is down, given what goes down in the next episode, but it still detracts a bit.

Meantime, the commander of the South Pole base has decided that it’s time to trot out a doomsday weapon, which seems a bit of an overreaction, but there you are. I do also have to mention that not only was there a black guy on the spacecraft that blew up in the last episode, but there’s also one in the headquarters of the UN (or whatever it is). It’s nice to have a bit of color in the series.

I’m…very puzzled about this z-bomb. Apparently if they use it to attack Mondas, it could dump tons of radiation onto the Earth (?), and cause the planet to go supernova (?!). To call this confusing is a bit of an understatement. I’m also a little confused as to why there’s such a weapon at a base at the South Pole.

Polly and Ben are understandably concerned and try to stop all this. Ben gets put into custody and Polly gets assigned to make coffee. Ben, naturally, escapes fairly quickly and embarks on a plan to sabotage the scheme to bomb Mondas.

Up the surface, the Cybermen are massing in an attack that must’ve used up a huge percentage of the season’s costume budget. The humans at the base have sensibly decided to defend it using captured Cyberman weapons. This repels the attack rather quickly.

Ben gets caught tampering and is rather aggressively flung some distance! He’s ok, though, and the plan to attack Mondas continues unabated.

One can somewhat empathize with the base commander. He’s not some evil, bloodthirsty bad guy; he just wants to save his son’s life. Sadly, the plan he has in mind to do so will result in lots of badness. So that sucks.

And the last live-action episode of the First Doctor’s run ends with a missile launch!

Next time: Part four!

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Episode 132 – “The Tenth Planet” – Part 02

So the Cybermen have arrived! That great, terrible menace that…ok, let’s be honest. They just look goofy in their first appearance. So much so that it’s amazing they had a second.

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#itgetsbetter

As I sit to watch this, I realize that it’s really the last surviving Hartnell episode. Oh, he’s glimpsed briefly in the regeneration clip, and he comes back in “The Three Doctors”, but really…this is it, since he’s not in the next episode.

There’s a newcaster who says something about there not being a consensus on the fact that the landmasses on Mondas look the same as the Earth. Because…astronomers are idiots? It’s just a stupid line.

The Cybermen arrive, wearing cunning cloaks. They get revealed and the Cyberman music that comes into play in “Tomb of the Cyberman’ shows up. I’ve always liked that bit of music.

Much as I hate the extra-dimensional Cybermen that turned up in the 10th Doctor’s era, I gotta admit that the Mondas origin is just stupid. Another planet, orbiting on the same path, but more technologically advanced, and looking exactly the same as the Earth, but upside-down. How fucking dumb is that shit? I’m glad it gets barely mentioned later on.

It’s also kind of odd that this massive news event in late 1986 also never gets mentioned later on. But that’s just that stupid thing this show has of, “Oh, humans forget things all the time!”

I do like the Cyberman voices in this story. They’re sometimes a little hard to understand, but nowhere near as bad as what happened later on, and it is nice to have a somewhat alien inflection.

Meantime, up in space, Bernie Casey and his copilot are having a bad time of it. Or at least they are until their ship explodes, so that’s fun. We then have a “hilarious in hindsight” bit where Ben is criticizing a screwdriver for being useless.

He sets up a trap to blind a Cyberman using a movie projector. He does this and then takes the Cyberman’s weapon. Not bad.

Then back to the Cybermen, intoning, “You will become like us.” So basically we have the Borg well before the Borg. We also learn that the Cybermen don’t care about anyone other than themselves. Oh, they’re objectivists. Now I get it.

Next time: Part three!

Episode 131 – “The Tenth Planet” – Part 01

And so here we are, all these months later. When I started this blog, I knew that the biggest problem I’d face would be the Hartnell years. The First Doctor was occasionally hard to be around, and the large number of missing episodes, combined with a very different style of storytelling, would, I knew, make it somewhat difficult at times.

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Then there’re the wacky costumes, the cheap sets, the wrinkled backdrops…

But now here we are, at the end. The final Hartnell story. So…let’s get started!

We start off with a multi-ethnic spaceship crew launching off and mission control tracking them. Seems like they’re doing some sort of weather thing. Interestingly, one of the astronauts looks quite a bit like Bernie Casey, but isn’t. An actor from Bermuda, apparently. Neat! We then cut to a lot of stock footage, and finally arrive at an underground base, where there’s snow and ice, and a periscope.

Yes, we’re in Antarctica, and it turns out, we’re also in 1986. Not that it looks like any version of 1986 I remember, but there you are. Armed men come out from the underground base and take our heroes below.

One of the actors is doing an American accent, and he’s doing a pretty decent one; good enough to make me wonder if he’s an actual American. There’s also an Italian who sounds like the second coming of Captain Bertoelli. The base commander is also an American, and another one with a good accent (played by a Canadian, which explains that), who takes some time to mock the Doctor’s hair.

Everyone starts running around in a panic as we find out that a new planet has just sort of appeared in the solar system. That would indeed be a good reason to run around in a bit of a panic.

Up on the spacecraft, our astronauts are attempting some complex maneuvers, and wind up spinning out of control. We get some stock footage that was obviously taken from one of the early space missions showing the rockets firing. Neat!

“Space fatigue”. I think I prefer “space…madness…!” when it comes to my fictional maladies.

We peer at the strange planet through a telescope, and tit turns out to be the Earth, completely upside down. This is one of the more eye-rolling aspects of this story, and it really makes no sense. This is a second planet that used to orbit the sun on the same path as Earth. And it therefore looks the same, only upside down. Because…ugh. God, what a fucking stupid concept.

The Doctor somehow knows all about this odd planet, and voices his knowledge. This, of course, makes him a suspect in everything that’s going on.

We then see a spaceship landing on the ice and follow a couple people from the base as they go out to investigate the Doctor’s TARDIS. And then…the Cybermen! They show up, karate chop the soldiers to death, and look generally menacing, while also having human hands, which is kind of creepy.

Next time: Part two!

My Thoughts on Story 028 – “The Smugglers”

I didn’t go into this story hating it, or even mildly disliking it. I knew it had a reputation of crapness, but I gave it a chance.

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Watch this story, or we’ll shoot this girl.

As with some other stories, it’s hard to say where this one went wrong. The basic concept (the Doctor dealing with smugglers and pirates on the Cornish coast in the 17th century), is a good one. But something here failed, and I think it’s less the story than it is the reconstruction.

Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate the efforts by Loose Canon to make this story work. But the fact remains that they were working from poor audio source material and still photos. These two things don’t combine well, especially in a situation where there’s lots of action, as with the sword fights and the like. Having a sword fight that’s nothing but stills is less exciting than you’d imagine, and I’m guessing you’re not imagining it as being terribly exciting at all.

At some point I should get the Target novelization and read over that. Maybe it’ll be better than the version I saw here. But in the meantime, this must go down as one of my least favorite Who stories ever.

Cast
Others
Production
Writer Brian Hayles
Director Julia Smith
Script editor Gerry Davis
Producer Innes Lloyd
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer None
Production code CC
Series Season 4
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missing All 4 episodes
Date started 10 September 1966
Date ended 1 October 1966

Next story: “The Tenth Planet”

Episode 130 – “The Smugglers” – Part Four

Many things are ending here. This story ends, thank goodness. This is also the last fully-missing Hartnell serial, and this particular episode is the final reconstruction of the First Doctor’s era. I almost feel a little broken-hearted at that.

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“Stabbed through the heart, and you’re to blame! Darlin,’ you give Who a bad name!”

We get a bit of a resolution to the cliffhanger from last time, and then cut to a man on a horse in a field. Then we go back to the crypt, and I really still can’t understand much of the dialogue, which is a shame, as something is actually happening.

Then we cut to the beach, where boat stuff is happening. Sorry I can’t be more specific.

More stuff happens, and honestly, I’ve pretty much tuned-out. I’ve lost track of this story long, long, ago, and there’s nothing I’m seeing that’s making me interested in trying to catch up. One can only take so many “exciting” sword-fights made up of still photos before losing interest.

So with that in mind, let’s just say that the story ends, the Doctor and his friends leave, and we’re off to meet the Cybermen for the first time!

Next time: “The Tenth Planet”

Episode 129 – “The Smugglers” – Part Three

Here’s episode three. I motivate myself to continue by remembering that there’s only one more episode after this one! Hooray!

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And you might expect a #blacklivesmatter joke here, but no.

So…things continue to be happening, and I continue to have a tough time understanding exactly what’s going on. I’ve gathered that there’s a tax man who’s showed up, and people are denying that they tried to kill him.

We then cut to the Doctor, who’s sitting around doing card tricks. He seems to be trying to do fortune telling. I’m not sure why, though it’s probably a decent way to gain power over the gullible.

Apparently the black guy in this story is named Jamaica. That’s creative.

Meantime, Ben and Polly are trying to talk with some guy about…something. I can’t entirely say what. They’re interrupted by the arrival of the Doctor, which is for the best.

The Doctor gets threatened and then we go to a tense scene with Jamaica being killed by one of the bad guys. And…it’s in full video, which is a plus. A censor clip, I assume.

Ben seems to have found a way back to the TARDIS. The Doctor seems less-than-excited about all this. He has some moral obligation to stick around and lend a hand to prevent the local village from being destroyed.

A few more things happen, and we then cut to the TARDIS team standing around in a graveyard. Ben reads off some information from one of the stones which leads the Doctor to remember the riddle he’d heard back in episode one. Other people show up, and we have your basic tense confrontation which ends in violence and a video clip!

Next time: Part four!

Episode 128 – “The Smugglers” – Part Two

Time for part two of our epic story, and I’m somehow thinking, just from the screenshot I found, that this is perhaps not going to be the best story ever.

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Oh, dear.

The Doctor is being menaced by a guy with a knife, and I really have very little idea what’s going on at this point. I know there’s a treasure that’s being sought, smugglers trying to offload cargo, and something involving pirates. Thank you, TARDIS Wikia.

So the sound problem continues to be a problem, and the Cornish accents don’t help. I’m learning to understand them a bit, but man, is it ever a challenge.

Ben and Polly are currently imprisoned, but it looks like they’re putting forth some effort to change that. Polly plays sick, and two guys with accents I can’t understand have a conversation. So…I think Ben and Polly are out of jail now? Maybe they’ve joined up with the smugglers.

Meantime, at the sea, we have some guys tooling around on a ship. It’s in this scene that I learn the character Kewper is pronounced like “cooper”, so one who makes barrels. Not sure why the odd spelling, but maybe it’s a Cornish thing.

Not sure where the Doctor is at this point, either. He’s missing, at much is certain. Perhaps Hartnell needed one last vacation before filming his final, what, seven episodes? Six? I know he’s not in the third one in the next story. Man, that guy was a walking train-wreck when it comes to health.

Ah, and here he is, showing up at the very end. Well done!

Next time: Part three!