Tom Baker as Doctor Who

Tom Baker as Doctor Who

Sunday, 18 February 2018

476 The Invasion of Time: Part Three

EPISODE: The Invasion of Time: Part Three
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 476
STORY NUMBER: 097
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 18 February 1978
WRITER: "David Agnew" (a.k.a. Graham Williams and Anthony Read)
DIRECTOR: Gerald Blake
SCRIPT EDITOR: Anthony Read
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 9.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Invasion Of Time

"Resistance is useless. The Vardans have more power than we have dreamed of and more knowledge than we can hope for. You must submit the way I did when I first met them."

The shimmering alien invaders, named as Vardans, take control as the Doctor enquires as to if the redecorations of his office have been finished. The Vardans order the Doctor to find the great key. Finding the lead panelling in place in his rooms the Doctor is finally able to talk with Borusa his old teacher and confides in his plans. He tells him of the Vardans' plans and how the lead in the room shields them from their telepathic abilities. Andred catches Leela & Rodan escaping from the citadel, but rather than turn them in he helps them escape. In the Wilderness beyond the citadel Leela & Rodan are quickly captured by a tribe of outsiders who have rejected Time Lord society. Kelner sets a bodyguard over the Doctor with orders to report everything the Doctor does to him. The Doctor, Chancellor Borusa & Castellan Kelner meet with the Vardans, but Borusa refuses to obey them and is placed under house arrest. Kelner is ordered to crush any resistance and to produce a list of troublemakers. The troublemakers are expelled from the citadel. The Doctor is ordered to dismantle the shields surrounding Gallifrey. Andred decides the Doctor has betrayed them and follows him to the Tardis. K-9 is connected to the Matrix as Andred arrives and pulls a gun on the Doctor.

Is this the first appearance of the longer version of the end theme on a Tom Baker episode? I think so, it's the first time we've heard the middle bit for a while.

So.... the Vardans. Hardly in the episode and when they are they're a sheet of bacofoil jiggling around like it needs the toilet (thank you Liz). Not the world's most successful monster are they? But we know they're powerful telepathic superbeings: the Doctor's told us so. Liz is with me watching this and we both collapsed in fits of giggles as the Doctor opens his coat and says "do you know what this is?" to the guard? It's the Sash of Rassilon but the dialogue immediately makes you think the Doctor is indecently exposing himself!

3 Doctor 3 Outsiders

The Outsiders came is filmed at Beachfields Quarry in Redhill, previously a location in Frontier in Space & Planet of the Daleks. By this point it had also made it's first Blake's 7 appearance, in the fourth episode Time Squad as the planet Suarian Major. Blake's 7 would use it again in Deliverance, Hostage, Moloch, Power & Warlord, giving Beachfields a decent claim to be THE BBC Quarry.

Finally getting a major part in a Doctor Who story is regular supporting artist & stuntman Max Faulkner, playing outsider leader Nesbin. He'd previously been in The Ambassadors of Death as a UNIT soldier, Death to the Daleks as an Exillon, The Monster of Peladon as a miner, Planet of the Spiders as a Guard Captain, Genesis of the Daleks as a Thal Guard, a Crew Member in Planet of Evil, & The Android Invasion as Corporal Adams, which was his largest and most recognisable role to date, a Tribesman in Face of Evil & a Rebel in The Sunmakers as well as fight arranging Hand of Fear. This is his final Doctor Who role.

You can also see him in two episodes of The Prisoner as the First Horseman in Living in Harmony and the Scots Napoleon in The Girl Who Was Death, Space: 1999 as Ted Clifford in Ring Around the Moon, Survivors as Phil in Mad Dog, Blake's 7 as a Death Squad Trooper in Powerplay, The Day of the Triffids as Jo's Attacker inthe second episode, the James Bond film GoldenEye as a Guard at Helicopter Show and many, many more.

3 Nesbin 3 Presta

His fellow Outsider Presta is played by Gay Smith who, according to Wikipedia, is now a famous race-horse trainer in Australia!

One of the tribe of Outsiders in Mike Mungarvan. He'd previously been a Mutt in The Mutants and a Guard in The Face of Evil but we'll be seeing him much more regularly from now on as he plays a Druid in The Stones of Blood, a Gracht Guard in The Androids of Tara, a Dalek Operator in Destiny of the Daleks, a Plain Clothes Detective in Louvre in City of Death, an Arglin / Pangol Image in The Leisure Hive, a Citizen in Full Circle, Kilroy in Warriors' Gate,the u 1st Kinda Hostage in Kinda, Ranulf's Knight in The King's Demons, a Soldier in Resurrection of the Daleks, a Jacondan in The Twin Dilemma, an Extra in The Trial of a Time Lord: Mindwarp, the Duty Officer in The Trial of a Time Lord: Terror of the Vervoids, a Lakertyan / Tetrap / Genius in Time and the Rani and a u Poilceman in Silver Nemesis plus a Passer By in the new series story The Christmas Invasion. IMDB believe him to be the only actor to play a Dalek, in Destiny Of The Daleks, and a human killed by the Daleks, Soldier in Resurrection of The Daleks. In Blake's 7 he plays a Prisoner in The Way Back & Space Fall, an Alta Guard in Redemption, a Customer / Gambler in Gambit, a Helot in Traitor and a Rebel Technician / Federation Trooper in Blake, making him one of the few actors to appear in the first and last episodes of that series. He's in Fawlty Towers as a Hospital Orderly in The Germans, The Sweeney as a Constable in Victims and The Professionals as Will in Black Out.

One of the Time Lords in this episode, Laurie Goode was also a Mutt in The Mutants and returns as a Bandit in The Creature from the Pit, a Tigellan in Meglos, a Peasant in State of Decay, a Tharil in Warriors' Gate, a Sailor on the Shadow in Enlightenment and a British Unit Trooper in Battlefield. You can see him in The Sweeney as Laurie in Queen's Pawn and the Supermarket Manager in Trojan Bus, Survivors as a Looter in The Chosen, Blake's 7 as a Hi-tech Patient in Powerplay, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as a Jogger in Fir the Sixth, For Your Eyes Only as a Skier, Metal Mickey as a Barman, Star Cops as a Dealer in Little Green Men and Other Martians and the Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) remake as a removal man in Drop Dead.

Two days after this episode was broadcast the eighth Blake's 7 episode Duel was shown.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

475 The Invasion of Time: Part Two

EPISODE: The Invasion of Time: Part Two
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 475
STORY NUMBER: 097
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 11 February 1978
WRITER: "David Agnew" (a.k.a. Graham Williams and Anthony Read)
DIRECTOR: Gerald Blake
SCRIPT EDITOR: Anthony Read
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 11.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Invasion Of Time

"Even the sonic screwdriver won't get me out of this one!"

The Doctor is taken away for medical attention as the Time Lords argue if the Matrix has rejected him. The Doctor orders that Leela is to be cast out the citadel but she escapes. Borusa questions the Doctor's odd actions. She follows the Doctor as he walks through the capital and returns to the Tardis to confer with K-9 where they plot an Invasion. Leela meets Rodan who is in charge of Space Traffic control. Castellan Kelner detects the Doctors absence from the rooms where he's been resting but he has returned via the same secret passage he left through by the time Kelner & Borusa arrive. Kelner is ordered to find Leela and Borusa to summon the council. Rodan detects an alien fleet approaching Gallifrey and has the transduction barriers raised. However K-9 has been sent to destroy them and they fail. As the Doctor addresses the council he introduces them to their new masters as 3 shining alien forms appear.

2 y 2 z

There's some very erratic behaviour by the Doctor in this episode and, as his conversation with K-9 shows, he's up to something:

DOCTOR: What do you think?
K9: Too many variables for accurate forecast, master.
DOCTOR: Really? What variables?
K9: Humanoid illogical procedure, master.
DOCTOR: Like me?
K9: Affirmative.
(K9 puts his little red sucker probe against the Doctor's skull.)
DOCTOR: How am I?
K9: Cerebral circuits in order. Physiognomy dubious.
DOCTOR: Oh, I see.
K9: The risk you took would appear to have been justified.
DOCTOR: Good. Can we proceed then?
K9: Actions so far indicate a success probability along this path analysis, thirty nine point seven five.
DOCTOR: That bad, is it?
K9: Affirmative.
DOCTOR: Listen, I've discovered the location of the security control room. It's directly beneath the Panopticon area, level three zero.
K9: Then success probability increases to forty eight point three five.
DOCTOR: Well, that's not bad.
K9: Advise against any plan incorporating success factor below six five.
DOCTOR: Suppose I throw a mirror cast?
K9: Master?
DOCTOR: Shadow shift. Create a false image to Space Traffic Control.
K9: Suggest you reflect the transmission
DOCTOR: Shush. Suppose I reflect a transmission beam off the security shield, feed it back through a link crystal bank and boost it through the transducer?
K9: Couldn't have put it better myself, master.
DOCTOR: I don't think you could. Ha!
K9: Agree. Possibility of your explanation being better than mine, less than one percent.
DOCTOR: What? You are the most insufferably arrogant, overbearing, patronising bean tin.
K9: Master?
DOCTOR: Nothing. Someone once said that to me, once.
K9: Correction, master. Several people have said that about you.
DOCTOR: Thank you. Thank you very much.
K9: Thanks are not necessary.
DOCTOR: Well at least no one's ever called me smug!
K9: Correction.
DOCTOR: Listen. If you destroy the control centre after I feed in the Doppler effect and eliminate the red shift, the invasion must succeed, hmm?
K9: Probability of success would rise to ninety eight point two.
DOCTOR: Well, what's a couple of points between friends? Break the transduction field.
There's a lot of filling in time here with the sneaking out of the rooms, journeying to the Tardis and back again. I know this episode was written in a hurry so I'm not surprised to see some of the usual tricks being pulled out the bag to eat up time.

2 b 2 a

In the midst of this we have the Doctor trying to figure out a way out of the Chancellor's locked quarters and we get a line frequently quoted as the height of Tom Baker's silliness as he breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience directly:

DOCTOR: Even the sonic screwdriver won't get me out of this one. I have a problem. There is absolutely no point in having another door in the room if you don't have another key, hmm? QED. What? Latin. QED, Latin. Now, a key can either be lost or stolen, hmm? Therefore, ergo, you are the key, Borusa. Hmm? Palm print? No, that's too simple. Retina pattern? No. You must admit, you do like the sound of your own voice. Open sesame. I command you to open. Please. Palm print, no. Retina pattern, no. Voice print? As Borusa always said, there's nothing more useless than a lock with a voiceprint.
At which point the door opens!

Now I think the scene works, the Doctor's evidentially talking to himself. It also, indirectly, has some influence on a similar scene with a hidden door & unusual lock in The Five Doctors!

Then at the end of the episode we have the shock as K-9 destroys Gallifrey's defences and the Doctor surrenders his own people to alien beings.....

RODAN: The transduction barrier has failed. We are being invaded.
DOCTOR: Gentlemen, this is no ordinary meeting. I'm privileged to introduce to you your new masters!
We only get a brief glimpse of the invaders this episode but what we see isn't terribly great ..... But more on that next episode when we'll see more of them.

At the time this program was made Britain was going through a period of industrial unrest and militant unionism in the workplace. At the BBC a regular bone of contention was the Play School clock: Props said it belonged to them, the Electricians said it was their responsibility. Any hint of a disagreement elsewhere and this was used to bring the unions out on strike. In the run up to this story being made the near annual BBC strike occurred and as a result the need to get the BBC's Christmas programs recorded resulted in the number of studio sessions this story would need being cut from three to one. Director Gerald Blake shot the Tardis, Panopticon and Alien war room scenes here. Two of these, as I mentioned in the previous episode, don't look quite right: The Tardis is dark & cramped and the Panopticon very echoey. The team then decamped to the disused St Anne's hospital in Redhill where much of the rest of the "studio" work was done, including the Gallifrey corridor scenes and the Tardis interior work for episodes 5 & 6.

This would not be the last time strikes would effect Doctor Who: come back for more of the same to a lesser or, more frequently, greater degree on The Armageddon Factor, Shada, Enlightenment, King's Demons & Resurrection of the Daleks. One of these will end up being cancelled half way through while another is a remake of a story cancelled by strikes in a previous season.

One of the main problems I have with this story is the presence of Christopher Tranchell as Andred. Not because it's a bad performance, though it isn't the greatest, more because I associate him with presenting Play School when I was younger. It'd be like the new series having Justin Fletcher as the chief Time Lord guard in the new series! Tranchell had previously appeared as Roger Colbert in The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve and Jenkins in The Faceless Ones. He has an Out of the Unknown, The Sons and Daughters of Tomorrow where he played PC Wilkes, on his CV but sadly that's missing from the archives. He was a semi-regular in Survivors appearing as Paul Pitman in Spoil of War, Law and Order, The Future Hour, Revenge, Something of Value, A Beginning, Birth of a Hope & Greater Love. He later finds himself being given the cold shoulder by the BBC, allegedly for his left wing political leanings.

2 Andred 2 Borusa

John Arnatt becomes the second person to play Borusa after Angus MacKay portrayed him in the Deadly Assassin. Arnatt can be later seen in House of Cards as Sir Jasper Grainger in the first two episodes.

Milton Johns, playing Castellan Kelner, is putting in the sort of performance that wouldn't be out of place on one of the many sitcom appearances on his CV. He'd worked on Doctor Who twice before as Benik in The Enemy of the World and Guy Crayford in The Android Invasion, both directed by Barry Letts. He's one of a number of Doctor Who actors to appear in the Star Wars films playing an Imperial Officer in The Empire Strikes Back. MY DVD collection also has his appearances in Yes Minister: The Economy Drive as Ron Watson and The Professionals as a Clerk in No Stone. Toby Hadoke interviews him in Who's Round 136 and 137, the only episodes of the podcast where both participants are in collar and tie!

2 Kelner 2 Rodan

Rodan, who first appears in this episode although she is briefly mentioned in episode 1, is frequently credited as being the first female Time Lord, none having been seen in War Games, Three Doctors & Deadly Assassin. This does conveniently forget Susan, the Doctor's grand daughter! Rodan is played by Hilary Ryan. The only other thing I've seen her is The Professionals: Man Without a Past where she is Carol Forrest

If you're thinking the name Rodan sounds familiar then it is: it's the English name of one of the monsters in the Godzilla films.

Two days after this episode was broadcast the seventh Blake's 7 episode Mission To Destiny was shown.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

474 The Invasion of Time: Part One

EPISODE: The Invasion of Time: Part One
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 474
STORY NUMBER: 097
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 04 February 1978
WRITER: "David Agnew" (a.k.a. Graham Williams and Anthony Read)
DIRECTOR: Gerald Blake
SCRIPT EDITOR: Anthony Read
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 11.2 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Invasion Of Time

"I am here to claim my legal right. I claim the inheritance of Rassilon. I claim the titles, honour, duty and obedience of all colleges. I claim the Presidency of the Council of Time Lords!"

Leela & K-9 remain locked in the Tardis while the Doctor is outside in a spaceship conferring with a race of alien beings signing an agreement with them. The Tardis materialises on Gallifrey where the Doctor visits Chancellor Borusa and claims the presidency of the High Council of the Time Lords. The Doctor has the Castellan redecorate his rooms in Earth style, with the panels made of lead. Leela is taken to find clothes in preparation for the Doctor's inauguration where he will be introduced to the Matrix and take control of it. He is presented with the Sash & Rod of Rassilon, and charged to seek the Great Key. The coronet that connects him to the Matrix is placed on his head but the Doctor collapses in agony.

1y 1z

Ah, back to Gallifrey again. We were last here a year and a half ago during The Deadly Assassin, the story before Leela's introduction, when The Doctor was involved in an attempt by the Master to frame him for the murder of the President. During the story The Doctor put himself forward as a candidate for the presidency to escape a death sentance and it's this he now claims. There's been some changes since the Doctor was last here: his old tutor Borusa, then a Cardinal, has assumed the vacant Chancellor roll. Gone are Castellan Spandrell and guard captain Hilred replaced by Kelner & Andred respectively.

1e 1d

We also get a quick remind of one of the technological achievements at the heart of Time Lord power:

BORUSA: Then Gold Usher will formally introduce you to the Matrix.
DOCTOR: Ah. Just the Matrix.
BORUSA: There is no just about it. The Matrix is the sum total. Everything. All the information that has ever been stored, all the information that can be stored, the imprints of personalities of hundreds of Time Lords and their Presidents, their elected Presidents. That will become available to you. It will become a part of you as you will become a part of it.
DOCTOR: Yes, that's what I thought. BORUSA: But you know this already. Once before, you have entered into the amplified Panatropic computer.
DOCTOR: Yes. I didn't much care for it, either.
BORUSA: The APC net is only a small part of the Matrix.
DOCTOR: And when I've been introduced to the Matrix, will I have complete power?
BORUSA: More power than anyone in the known Universe, yes.
DOCTOR: I'll put it to good use. The best.
BORUSA: That is your duty.
DOCTOR: Oh, yes, quite, quite.
It's when he's connected to The Matrix that the Doctor collapses.

The Doctor is up to something right the way through the episode but at this stage we're not really sure what. It's a bit non committal on the identity of the aliens he's conferring with and who are watching him.

1f 1g

We get to see the Tardis bath room for the first time in this episode, which is in fact a big swimming pool, but a couple of the other rooms are slightly odd, noticeably the darkened console room and the echoey landing area where the footsteps can be heard.

This is director Gerald Blake's second Doctor Who story, returning to the program for the first time since 1967's The Abominable Snowman, which would remain the longest gap beween directorial assignments for the series.

Charles Morgan, who plays Gold Usher here, is the sole actor in this story to also have appeared in director Gerald Blake's previous Doctor Who: he was Abbot Songsten in The Abominable Snowmen. Charles Morgan was in the British science fiction disaster movie The Day the Earth Caught Fire, released two years to the day before Doctor who started, where he plays an uncredited Foreign Editor. He too was in Out of This World appearing as the Chief in the first episode Dumb Martian, which launched the series as part of Armchair Theatre.

A Gold Usher, I'm assuming it's a role rather than a person, appeared previously in The Deadly Assassin where he was played by Maurice Quick. Given that Time Lords regenerate, as seen by Borusa here, it could well be the same person!

A thought: imagine how different the serial would have been if Blake had also recalled Norman Jones, Khrisong in The Abominable Snowmen, instead of the similarly named Milton Johns and had him play Kelner instead?

1 Gold Usher 01 Gomar Savar

Two more of the Time Lord actors have even earlier Doctor Who form appearing in Hartnell stories: Dennis Edwards, Lord Gomer, was a Centurion in The Romans. He's got an appearance as a Village Elder in The Tripods to his name.

Reginald Jessup, Lord Savar, was the Servant in The Massacre. He'd previously been in Quatermass II as a Plant Technician in The Food and an Extra in Riot Sequence in The Frenzy.

There's a familiar face amongst the Gallifreyan Guards: Peter Roy He was a Greek Soldier in The Myth Makers, an Extra in The Highlanders, an Airport Police Sergeant in The Faceless Ones, a UNIT / Bunker Man in The Invasion, a Guard in The Seeds of Death, a Space Guard in The Space Pirates, an uncredited extra in Doctor Who and the Silurians, Technic Obarl in Hand of Fear, a Guard in The Face of Evil and an Extra in The Sun Makers. He returns as a Gracht Guard in The Androids of Tara, a Guard in The Armageddon Factor, a Policeman in Logopolis, an Ambulance Man in Castrovalva, a Man in Market in Snakedance and a Walk on in Resurrection of the Daleks. Like many extras at this time he has Blake's 7 form too appearing as a Citizen / Prisoner in The Way Back & Space Fall, an Alta Guard in Redemption, an Albian Rebel in Countdown and a Federation Trooper / Rebel in Rumours of Death. In the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy he plays the Limousine Chauffeur in episode 2. He's got a notable role in the James Bond film Thunderball where he played British Secret Agent 006. He has a less obvious appearance in Return of the Jedi as Major Olander Brit but that hasn't stopped the character from getting a Wookipedia page!

Giles Melville is an Extra somewhere in this episode if IMDB is to be believed. He was in Genesis of the Daleks as an Elite Guard and returns in Castrovalva as a Castrovalvan. He'd previously been in the opening Survivors episode The Fourth Horseman as Kevin Lloyd and makes two Blake's 7 appearances as a Star One Technician in, surprisingly, Star One and a Passenger in the fourth season heist caper Gold.

1 a 1 David Agnew

So who is this David Agnew who is writing this episode? Well he's not writer David Weir who was scheduled to write serial 4Z. Weir was an old friend of script editor Anthony Read, who had script edited & produced Weir's The Troubleshooters scripts. David Weir goes on to write the English translations of The Water Margin and Monkey. Weir came up with a script called, depending on who you talk to, either "The Killer Cats of Geng Singh" or "The Killers of the Dark". However when the production team received the script they discovered there were certain elements that would be difficult to film: a Wembley stadium sized arena is the one that's usually quoted. So at a late stage Weir's scripts were binned and Script Editor Anthony Read and producer Graham Williams locked themselves away and produced The Invasion of Time, sticking out under a regular BBC Pseudonym, David Agnew. This wouldn't be the last time that Williams, as Doctor Who producer, would help to put a script out under the Agnew name. The next time however he would have a rather more famous collaborator....

So we have a script ready to go. What could go wrong? Join us next week as we talk about the Play School Clock!

Two days after this episode was broadcast the sixth Blake's 7 episode Seek-Locate-Destroy was shown.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

473 Underworld: Part Four

EPISODE: Underworld: Part Four
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 473
STORY NUMBER: 096
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 28 January 1978
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Norman Stewart
SCRIPT EDITOR: Anthony Read
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 11.7 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Myths & Legends: The Time Monster, Underworld & The Horns of the Nimon

"The Quest is over. The Quest is over!"

Ah the Doctor & Leela have *fallen* out of the capsized minecart into the shaft. They are rescued by the Minyans and break into the P7E. The Seers go to consult the Oracle considering giving the Minyans the cylinders if they leave. The Oracle releases the cylinders, observed by the Doctor, and the guards negotiate a truce with the Minyans, returning Herrick & the race bank cylinders. The Doctor confronts the Oracle, which reveals it is the Keeper of the race bank and still has them. The Doctor retrieves the real Race Bank cylinders and flees. The cylinders given to Jackson are taken to the ship which prepares to leave, with K-9 rescuing the Doctor who has been trapped in a tunnel. The Doctor stops the launch bringing them the real Race Banks with K-9 revealing that the fakes are fission grenades. The Doctor is captured with the fakes being taken back to the P7E, but he is rescued by Leela. They flee with the slaves back to the Minyans ship which leaves just before the P7E is destroyed by the fission grenades. The Minyans leave for a new home planet with the surviving slaves as the Doctor returns to the Tardis with Leela & K-9, comparing Jackson to Jason....

Oh dear.

The Cliffhanger looked a mess anyway, it wasn't obvious what was going on till you see the Doctor & Leela hanging down from the hole. The Seers aren't explained, no "our secret is revealed we need not disguise ourselves no more". We get another Doctor arguing with a mad Computer, like the face of Evil.

4 a 4 b

And to top it all the ending resolution is a series of swapping duplicates round. No, it's a mess, in fact the entire story is a mess. You could lay some of the blame with Bob Baker & Dave Martin for the script but my feeling is that it's the implementation by first time director Norman Stewart that's really at fault. He's got another Doctor Who in the following season, The Power of Kroll, but I have little memory of that so I won't be judging him on that here. I will note that after that second story he returned to his former role as Production Manager/Assistant.

I've watched it, it's done, it can join The Sensorites & The Space Pirates on the "I never have to watch this again pile". It's a bit of a shame because through all this mess Tom is still putting in a watchable performance.

Underworld was novelised by Terrance Dicks in 1980. It was released on video in March 2002 and on DVD on 29th March 2010 as part of Doctor Who - Myths & Legends with The Time Monster & The Horns of the Nimon.

Two days after this episode was broadcast the fifth Blake's 7 episode The Web was shown.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

472 Underworld: Part Three

EPISODE: Underworld: Part Three
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 472
STORY NUMBER: 096
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 21 January 1978
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Norman Stewart
SCRIPT EDITOR: Anthony Read
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 8.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Myths & Legends: The Time Monster, Underworld & The Horns of the Nimon

"Do not worry. He has saved many fathers!"

I could just cheat, say I'd seen it and copy the synopsis from elsewhere? No? Oh well....

The gas clears allowing the Doctor to recover and Herrick to be rescued by his crew mates. The guards are overcome by the gas the Doctor has had sucked out the mines. Idas takes the Doctor & Leela to the citadel where the guards are about to sacrifice his father in a chamber nearly identical to the Minyan flight deck. They are captured as the enter the P7E, but Idas disrupts his father's sacrifice enabling them and some of the slaves to escape. They are rescued by the Minyans but Herrick is captured and interrogated by the Seers who reveal that while Guards & Slaves are true Minyans they have evolved. The Doctor & Leela hide in mine carts and are pushed toward the darkened entrance to the P7E

I watched it, I can't unwatch it. Still there was a bit of shooting this episode. But WORST CLIFF HANGER *EVER* - where was the drama there?

The whole thing is appallingly lit: I moan about things being too brightly lit but here it's hard to make out any details at all in a great many scenes, especially in the badly CSO'd tunnels. Oh for a bit more money to decamp to Chislehurst caves where the Mutants was filmed. The same is true of the Citadel itself, very under lit, which tries to hide, unsuccessfully, that it's a redress of the set for Jackson's ship, the R1C. Why bother hiding it as there's a blatantly good reason why it is the same set redressed?

3 a 3 b

Then we have the unmasking of the seers Ankh & Lakh. You're expecting them to be human beings just like the guards Rask & Tarn but they're some form of cyborg. Unfortunately the head design looks like a cross between something out of King of the Rocket Men, which at that time would be regularly shown on the BBC, and Wordy from Look and Read. You've got the Magic E song in your heads now, you can thank me later.

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And as for the dreadful lift music as the Doctor, Leela and Idas float down the shaft ...... ugh.

Some more Greek mythology for you: Idmon and Idas are two names taken directly from the Greek while the Oracle, presumably a computer, I really can't remember or care, is named after the ancient source of prophetic knowledge. The most famous Oracle was at Delphi and she was named Pythia, a name that will later resurface in the Gallifreyan mythology in the New Adventures Novels.

About the only good thing here is some continuity to the previous story:

LEELA: Revolution! Wait, Idas. Has no one ever thought of revolution? Has no one ever rebelled?
IDAS: My father did.
Leela obviously remembers what they did in The Sunmakers.

Two new actors this week, and we don't see either of their faces but we have seen them both before:

Frank Jarvis, Ankh, was a Corporal in DW: The War Machines and returns Skart in The Power of Kroll, the second and final directing job for this story's debut director Norman Stewart. Jarvis is best known for playing Roger in The Italian Job but also appears in The Sweeney as a Prison Officer in Contact Breaker and in The Professionals as Patterson in Look After Annie, Musgrave in Not a Very Civil Civil Servant and Dale in Stopover.

We saw Richard Shaw, Lakh, as Lobos in The Space Museum & Cross in Frontier in Space. His first brush with science fiction was in the late 1950s when he play Sladden in Imps and Demons, The Enchanted, The Wild Hunt & Hob, the third to sixth episodes of Quatermass and the Pit.

Amongst the uncredited Trogs we have John Cannon, a familiar face due to his appearance as Elgin in Hand of Fear part 2. He'd also been a Miner in The Monster of Peladon and a Passer by in The Talons of Weng-Chiang and returns as a Technician in The Pirate Planet, a Guard in The Armageddon Factor, a Guard in The Creature from the Pit, an Extra in Time-Flight, Striker's Helmsman in Enlightenment and Sir Raulf Fitzwilliam's 1st Servant in The King's Demons. His Blake's 7 include a Federation Trooper in Project Avalon, Cevedic's Heavy in Gambit, a Labourer in The Harvest of Kairos and a Federation Trooper in Children of Auron while he's got a Moonbase 3 appearance as a Technician in Castor and Pollux. He's got a Porridge to his name as a Prison Inmate in the superb A Night In, a Constable in Supersnout and a Policeman in Thou Shalt Not Kill for The Sweeney, Huey in It's Only a Beautiful Picture for The Professionals as well as an appearance in The Empire Strikes Back as a Holographic Imperial Officer and 3 episodes as a Legionnaire in Beau Geste for Douglas Camfield.

Two days after this episode was broadcast the fourth Blake's 7 episode Time Squad was shown.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

471 Underworld: Part Two

EPISODE: Underworld: Part Two
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 471
STORY NUMBER: 096
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 14 January 1978
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Norman Stewart
SCRIPT EDITOR: Anthony Read
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 9.1 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Myths & Legends: The Time Monster, Underworld & The Horns of the Nimon

"The Quest Is The Quest!"

The cannon penetrates the accreting mass and they escape, sighting & crashing on a planet that has formed round the P7E. The ship ploughs through the surface of the planet becoming wedged in more solid rock closer to the P7E. In the cave tunnels the Trog underclass mine under the guards, who in turn are the slaves of the Seers who serve the Oracle. The Minyans venture into the tunnels, followed by the Doctor & Leela, who meet escaped Trog Idas. Herrick encounters a guard, causing the guard's superiors to pump gas into the tunnels. The Doctor adjusts mining equipment to suck the gas out of the tunnels, but is overcome before he can finish the job.

Part 1 was slow and boring..... but nowhere near as bad as this. Just a bunch of wandering around in tunnels and pumping gas through them, in itself an awful effect. Dire.

The observant among you might spot that the guards weapons are Minyan shield guns, minus the shield......

2 2 2 1

James Marcus, Rask, was a peasant in the Doctor Who serial Invasion of the Dinosaurs. His CV includes UFO as a SHADO Operative in Mindbender, The Sweeney as Myles in Cover Story, directed by Douglas Camfield who obviously liked him because he used him again for the and The Professionals episode Take Away where he plays D.C. Jack.

2 Rask 2 Tarn

Godfrey James, Tarn, has a CV as long as your arm involving virtually anything I've ever watched. The earliest thing of interest in it is an appearance in Out of This World, the ABC predecessor to Out of the Unknown, where he was in the now missing episode Cold Equations as Perry. He was then in UFO as Game Warden Mitchell in The Square Triangle, The Sweeney as Charley Smith in Big Spender, Space: 1999 as the Alien Transporter in the excruciating The Rules of Luton, The Professionals as Ross Kilpin in No Stone, The Tripods series 2, episodes 2 & 3 as Commander Goetz and A Very Peculiar Practice as Sweet in May the Force Be with You.

Norman Tipton, on the left as Idas, is one of the few actors to play a supporting role in more than one episode of Blake's 7, appearing as Artix in Spacefall & Cygnus Alpha, which were broadcast on the Mondays before & after this episode. He can also be seen in Yes Minister: The Economy Drive as the Photographer. His father Idmon is played by Jimmy Gardner who was previously Chenchu in Marco Polo

2 Idmon 2 Klimt

Jay Neill, Guard Klimt, was previously a Pikeman in The Masque of Mandragora & Silvey in The Invisible Enemy. At the start of his career he made several appearances in Doomwatch as a Man in Project Sahara, Laing in The Battery People, a Man in By the Pricking of My Thumbs..., a Young Man in Flight Into Yesterday and a Man in Flood. He has a Yes Minister to his name as a Bodyguard in The Death List.

Two days after this episode was broadcast the third Blake's 7 episode Space Fall was shown.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

470 Underworld: Part One

EPISODE: Underworld: Part One
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 470
STORY NUMBER: 096
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 07 January 1978
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Norman Stewart
SCRIPT EDITOR: Anthony Read
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 8.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Myths & Legends: The Time Monster, Underworld & The Horns of the Nimon

"The Quest is The Quest!"

The Tardis stops on the edges of the cosmos where K-9 detects a spaceship nearby. Narrowly escaping a nebula that is sucking them in they materialise on the ship which the Doctor establishes is from Minyos. The Time Lords actions on Minyos, which led to the populace destroying their planet, led to the Time Lord policy of non interference. On the flight deck the aged Tala is injured as the ship is sucked into the nebula. The Doctor arrives and is attacked by Herrick. Leela goes to attack him but is stopped by the crew's pacifier ray. Tala is taken away to regenerate. They have been tracking a missing ship, the P7E which is carrying the future of their race. They have been on this quest for 10,000 years, regenerating many times. K-9 takes control of the ship and steers it out of the nebula. He reactivates many of the damaged systems, and the restored tracking system locks onto the P7E. They locate the ship in the nebula which the Doctor believes formed round her. They enter the nebula, but the weight of the ship attracts rock to it's hull dramatically increasing it's weight. They use the laser cannon to try to burn their way out but it starts to disintegrate

Slow and boring. Ugh. In some ways it reminds me of those Troughton episodes which attempt to show off the reality of working in space. But there is some nice stuff in here: The ship looks nice, even if I can't get a clear screenshot of all of it this episode, as do the shots of the rocks building up round it.

JACKSON: If that's where P7E is, that's where we go.
DOCTOR: But that could mean destruction.
JACKSON: No, Doctor, it'll mean the end of the Quest. If P7E went in there, so can we.
DOCTOR: But P7E didn't go in there. She couldn't have! She must have been there at the beginning and the nebula formed around her.
HERRICK: How does he know that?
DOCTOR: It's elementary physics. The still centre of a raging storm. P7E might be in there and she might be safe, but if you go in after her, it could mean destruction.
JACKSON: Doctor, if P7E is there, we must find her. That is our purpose. Destruction is a chance we take. The Quest is the Quest.
JACKSON: Main systems functional. Then why aren't we moving?
DOCTOR: Don't you know? What's the normal hull thickness?
JACKSON: Three metres twenty.
DOCTOR: K9! Present hull thickness?
K9 [OC]: Hull thickness seventy metres, increasing.
JACKSON: Seventy metres!
DOCTOR: We're being turned into a planet.
JACKSON: But that's impossible!
DOCTOR: No, it's not impossible, Jackson. It's simply gravity. This ship's a large, heavy object surrounded by smaller, lighter, objects. Our gravitational pull is greater than theirs. We attract them. They stick to us. It all snowballs.
K9 [OC]: Eighty metres, increasing.
DOCTOR: We're being buried alive. If it wasn't for this layer of debris, the asteroid belt would have smashed us to pieces. Still, you can't have everything, can you.
The theory behind that is scientifically sound too: Accretion Theory is how planets are believed to be formed and Doctor Who returns to this idea in the Christmas Invasion. For more buy The Planets on DVD.

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Against that the look of the ship and the feel of Dudley Simpson's music is very Blake's 7. Yeah, I'm sorry but I will keep harping on about it: the two series are intimately linked in feel at this stage of Doctor Who's production and indeed this episode is the first broadcast after Blake's 7's first episode, The Way Back, aired on 2nd January 1978.

As you'll see this story is essentially a giant rip off of any Greek Myth going. At the time Classics was still taught in schools so I suspect a lot of the viewers watching would have got it. The quest at the centre of the story is essentially the story of Jason and the Argonauts and the quest for the Golden Fleece and by this point the 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts, which features second Doctor Patrick Troughton, would have been airing on television regularly. Substituted for the Golden Fleece is Minyan Race Memory bank.... (Minyan = Minoan, as in Minotaur) Hmmm where have we seen a Race Memory Bank before? Hand of Fear, also written by Bob Baker & Dave Martin. Jason becomes Jackson, while Herrick, Orfe & Tala are adaptations of the Argonauts Heracles/Hercules, Orpheus and Talaus. Meanwhile elements of The Odyssey are also included: the quest taking a long time (10 years vs 10,000 years) and the objective being the P7E/Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. Odysseus himself has an on-screen Doctor Who appearance in The Myth Makers, where he was played by Ivor Salter.

You know for every source that Robert Holmes "paid homage to" it's surprising that he never went near Greek Myths. As far as I'm able to tell this story wasn't commissioned under his watch and is wholly the responsibility of incoming script editor Anthony Read, an experienced writer an script editor who was lured back to the BBC by producer Graham Williams. Interestingly when Read leaves the script editor's post and writes for the show he produces a tale based on another Greek myth: Theseus and the Minotaur becomes Horn of the Nimon.

A few episodes back I pointed out that we'd got halfway through the number of episodes broadcast in Tom Baker's stay as the Doctor. Well if you throw in the missing six episodes of Shada, which we'll be talking about at the start of May, that makes this episode, his 89th, the half way point in Tom's reign.

Settle yourself in: virtually the entire cast of this story have Doctor Who form or have done something interesting!

James Maxwell, here playing Jackson, has two episodes of Out of the Unknown to his name: he was in The Dead Past as Jonas Foster and The Fastest Draw as Peter Stenning. The Dead Past exists and can be seen on the Out of the Unknown DVD Set. He was also in the second series Doomwatch as Dr. Whittaker in The Iron Doctor which you can see on the Doomwatch DVD set. He has found infamy post mortem for allegedly haunting Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre!

1 01 Jackson 1 02 Herrick

Alan Lake, Herrick, was already well known as Diana Dors third husband. By this point he had appeared in Ringer, the first regular episode of The Sweeney as John Merrick. A few years later he'd guest star in Aftermath, the third season opening episode of Blake's 7 as Chel.

Jonathan Newth, Orfe, now has sci fi form appearing since this story in The Day of the Triffids, as Dr Soames, and Nightmare Man, as Colonel Howard, both of which have strong Who connections behind the scenes. He can also be found in The Professionals: It's Only a Beautiful Picture as James Tibbs

1 03 Orfe 1 04 Tala

Meanwhile the agent of Imogen Bickford-Smith, Tala, on hearing that Louise Jameson was shortly departing Doctor Who was quick to proclaim his client as the new companion! You can see her in Fawlty Towers:The Psychiatrist as the Girlfriend and she's in The Professionals too appearing as the Blonde in The Untouchables.

Tala starts the story as an old woman before regenerating into a much younger form:

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The Doctor has explained that his people had had some prior contact with the Minyans:

DOCTOR: It was what happened on Minyos that led to our policy of non-intervention.
LEELA: Huh?
DOCTOR: Yeah. Well, the Minyans thought of us as gods, you see, which was all very flattering and we were new at space-time explorations, so we thought we could help. We gave them medical and scientific aid, better communications, better weapons.
LEELA: What happened?
DOCTOR: Kicked up out at gunpoint. Then they went to war with each other, learnt how to split the atom, discovered the toothbrush and finally split the planet.
LEELA: So this ship must have got away before the planet was destroyed.
DOCTOR: Yes.
LEELA: That was a hundred thousand years ago. Nobody lives for a hundred thousand years. Do they?
It would appear as if the Minyans also obtained the ability to regenerate from the Time Lords too!

Five days before this episode was broadcast the Blake's 7 episode The Way Back was shown with the second episode Space Fall following 2 days after.