Sunday, 25 October 2015

410 Pyramids of Mars: Part One

EPISODE: Pyramids of Mars: Part One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 25 October 1975
WRITER: Stephen Harris (pseudonym for Robert Holmes and Lewis Griefer)
DIRECTOR: Paddy Russell
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
RATINGS: 10.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Pyramids Of Mars

"I bring Sutekh's gift of death to all humanity!"

vlcsnap-2015-04-12-19h32m15s230 In Egypt, Professor Marcus Scarman penetrates a tomb and after finding the mark of the eye of Horus is blasted with energy. After Sarah sees a psychic projection of a monstrous head inside the console room, The Tardis materialises in UNIT HQ's location but in 1911, the site of the priory that burnt down before the present building was constructed. They find a storeroom at the house filled with Egyptian artefacts. The house belongs to Professor Scarman and his old friend Doctor Warlock comes and confronts Namin, the Egyptian who has been living there supposedly on the orders of Professor Scarman. The Butler is murdered by an unseen assailant and when Warlock threatens to call the police Namin shoots him but is overpowered by the Doctor. He & Sarah rescue the injured Warlock and flee into the grounds. Warlock directs Sarah to the hunting lodge, where Scarman's brother Lawrence lives. While fetching him Sarah encounters a mummy walking through the woods. Namin searches for the Doctor & Warlock but is summoned back to the house. At the hunting lodge Warlock's wounds are treated and the Doctor intercepts a signal from Mars saying Beware Sutekh. Leaving the lodge and returning to the house they see a black robed figure emerge from a vortex within a sarcophagus and slay Namin.

NAMIN: All high, all powerful, most noble Lord, thy humble servant welcomes thee. Master, at last you are here. I, Ibrahim Namin, and all my forebears have served you faithfully through the thousands of years that you have slept. We have guarded the secret of your tomb. ALIEN: Stand. Look upon my face.
NAMIN: Great One, Lord Sutekh, I dare not.
ALIEN: Look. Is this the face of Sutekh?
NAMIN: Master, spare me. Spare me. I am a true servant of the great Sutekh.
ALIEN: I am the servant of Sutekh. He needs no other. Die. I bring Sutekh's gift of death to all humanity!
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A decent episode, with a fair bit of mystery built into it - what's happened to Professor Scarman and what was the face in the Tardis? - that isn't answered by the end.

This story Doctor Who has a go at plundering every Mummy film ever made, and there's been a fair few. There's something inherently frightening about Mummys lumbering round the place so it's possibly a surprise Doctor Who hasn't done something with them before now, although Tomb of the Cybermen takes a certain amount of inspiration from the idea. We've visited an Egyptian tomb before though in episodes nine and ten of The Dalek Masterplan but it was under construction at the time rather than been plundered for treasures like in most Mummy films.

The only raiding of ancient artefacts Sarah is doing involves the Tardis Wardrobe:

vlcsnap-2015-04-12-19h30m26s155SARAH: Hey, Doctor. Doctor, look what I've found.
DOCTOR: Hello, Vicky.
SARAH: What?
DOCTOR: Hmm? Where did you get that dress?
SARAH: I just told you. I found it back there in the wardrobe. Why, don't you like it?
DOCTOR: Yes. Yes, I always did. Victoria wore it. She travelled with me for a time.
SARAH: Well, as long as Albert didn't wear it.
It's a good job then that the Tardis then lands somewhere & when the dress doesn't look out of place!
SARAH:Oh, come on, Doctor. That's worth a smile, surely? What's the matter? You should be glad to be going home.
DOCTOR: The Earth isn't my home, Sarah. I'm a Time Lord.
SARAH: I know you're a Time Lord.
DOCTOR: You don't understand the implications. I'm not a human being. I walk in eternity.
SARAH: What's that supposed to mean?
DOCTOR: It means I've lived for something like seven hundred and fifty years.
SARAH: Oh, you'll soon be middle aged.
DOCTOR: Yes! About time I found something better to do than run around after the Brigadier.
SARAH: Oh, come on. If you're tired of being UNIT's scientific advisor, you can always resign.
A sombre nod to the Third Doctor's position which the Fourth somewhat moves away from as UNIT are removed somewhat over the course of this series. Of course if the original plan for this story to open the 13th season had gone ahead it would have carried on from the Doctor's last encounter with UNIT in Terror of the Zygons.
DOCTOR: We've materialised at the correct point in space, but obviously not in time. A temporal reverse? Some vast impulse of energy has drawn the Tardis off course.
SARAH: You're saying this in UNIT HQ, but years before I knew it?
SARAH: But it's so different. It can't be the same house.
DOCTOR: It must be the old priory. The UNIT house was built on the site.
SARAH: The old priory was burnt down, wasn't it?
UNIT has seemed to have had a settled headquarters the last few years with the exteriors, when first seen in The three Doctors, showing a country house. Since then we've only seen interiors but they've been pretty much the same in the subsequent appearances in The Green Death, Planet of the Spiders, Robot & Terror of the Zygons. The UNIT HQ location will reappear many years later in The Five Doctors.

This is the first time that anyone's mentioned it being a relatively modern 20th century construction. Nowadays a fact like it having been built on the site of a building that burnt down would have been slipped into a story somewhat previously. Of course mentioning it now gives us a good idea of where the story is going as Chekov's Gun strikes again.

DOCTOR: Of course, it would make an ideal headquarters for some paramilitary organisation. This room could easily be turned into a laboratory. Oh, hello.
Is the Doctor actually standing where his lab would be years later? Or just spouting nonsense to bluff his way past the butler?

We then get yet more name dropping from the Doctor:

DOCTOR: Why bother to lock an internal door?
SARAH: Maybe this wing of the house isn't in use. It smells musty enough.
DOCTOR: That isn't all must, Sarah. Some of it's mummy. French picklock. Never fails. Belonged to Marie Antoinette. Charming lady. Lost her head, poor thing.
What would a French aristocrat be doing with a picklock? Is the Doctor spinning another tall tale?

We've seen the Doctor visit France in The Massacre and The Reign of Terror. We know he met Napoleon Bonaparte from an anecdote in Day of the Daleks and since he didn't in either of those stories that's a third trip. Marie Antoinette's dates, 2 November 1755 – 16 October 1793, overlap with Napoleon's, 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821, so it's possible he met her, or acquired her picklock on the same trip he met Napoleon! The majority of the story's cast are in this episode (with several not progressing much further!) and most of them have other Doctor Who credits to their names. Peter Mayock, here playing Ibrahim Namin, returns in The Deadly Assassin as as Solis. When the DVD producers attempted to trace him to part in the commentary for this story it was discovered he'd died in 1998 but news of his passing hadn't reached the wider Doctor who and acting communities.

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Also is The Deadly Assasin, as a Timelord, is Michael Bilton who here plays Collins, the Butler. He's previously appeared as Charles de Teligny in Priest of Death & Bell of Doom, the third and fourth episode of the Massacre, the Doctor who debut for this story's director Paddy Russell. Bilton has also got an appearance in The Prisoner to his name playing the M.C. Councillor in It's Your Funeral.

vlcsnap-2015-04-12-19h57m15s118One of the mummies is Melvyn Bedford who was Reig in Planet of Evil, the previously shown story that was filmed after Pyramids of Mars. One of the other Mummies, Nick Burnell was in The Tripods as a Black Guard in episode 5 of the first series.

Others in the cast with genre connections include Peter Copley who plays Dr Warlock. He has not one but THREE Out of the Unknown appearances to his name appearing in the first series episode Stranger in the Family as Charles Wilson, the third series episode Immortality Inc as Hull and the fourth series episode Taste of Evil as Mackinlay. Sadly only his first appearance survived to be seen on the recent DVD release. He also has an appearance in the opening episode Terry Nation's 1975 series Survivors, The Fourth Horseman, as Dr. Bronson. This is somewhat amusing given who else is in the cast as we'll see next week.

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Ahmed, who we briefly saw at the beginning of the episode, is played by Vik Tablian who was Barranca and Monkey Man in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The name attached to the writing of this story is Stephen Harris, a pseudonym. The initial draft, involving the British Museum which is perhaps a more obvious setting for mummies, was written by experienced writer Lewis Griefer, who wrote The Prisoner episode The General. However problems with the story straying too far from the original concept arose, then Griefer was taken ill and finally left England for a teaching position in Israel he'd previously committed to, all of which necessitated a major rewrite from script editor Robert Holmes.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

409 Planet of Evil: Part Four

EPISODE: Planet of Evil: Part Four
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 18 October 1975
WRITER: Louis Marks
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
RATINGS: 10.1 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Planet Of Evil

"There are now two forces of antimatter aboard. I've got one, and the other one is Sorenson himself!"

The officer on the command deck, Reig, is attacked and killed, his screams summoning the crew allowing Vishinsky to save the Doctor and Sarah. Vishinsky argues with Salamar and relieves him of command. With Sarah's information the Doctor works out that Sorenson is becoming anti-matter. The ships internal hatchways are sealed. The Doctor searches Sorenson's quarters and finds the remains of the samples and Sorenson's solution. Sorenson finds him, and after they talk Sorenson, in a moment of clarity, takes the sample and goes to eject it along with himself. Salamar seizes the ship's neutron accelerator and stalks Sorenson. They clash with Sorenson killing Salamar and becoming fully mutated due to the neutron accelerator. The Doctor encounters duplicate creatures while he returns to the bridge. The Doctor goes to confront Sorenson. Stunning the real version he drag him into the Tardis which de materialises taking the Doctor, Sorenson & the samples back to Zeta-Minor. Sarah & Vishinsky attempt to repel the creatures on the ship. The Doctor forces Sorenson into the anti matter pool in the cave which causes the duplicates on the ship to vanish and stops it being dragged towards the planet. The anti-matter universe returns a cured Sorenson which the Doctor returns to the Morestran ship. The Doctor gives the professor a hint as to an alternate source of energy before he & Sarah leave in the Tardis for their appointment in London which they are 30,000 years late for.

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I come not praise Planet of Evil part four but to bury it in a deep dark hole. Preferably the one the monster emerged from on Zeta Minor. We open with a common theme for the story: Vishinsky and Salamar arguing. Vishinsky's finally had enough and takes charge but Salamar's response shows him up to be a spoilt brat in the playground:

VISHINSKY: Reig. If we hadn't been wasting our time down there.
SALAMAR: They caused it all.
VISHINSKY: How could they have caused this? We were with them. Attention. All crewmen report to assembly point immediately. Red alert! Red alert!
SALAMAR: Countermanded. Only I can give a red alert!
VISHINSKY: It's too late for any more mistakes, Salamar. I'm taking command.
SALAMAR: You'll regret this.
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This leads to Salamar grabbing the neutron accelerator:

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Now for such an important plot device in this episode it's not been mentioned before. Yes you can see them on set but you don't see what they are or what they do.... what do they do? What's their proper function? Are they, to use Star Trek terminology, a bit of Engineering on the Bridge? I think using "hang the gun on the wall in the first act" was in order here and they needed *Something* doing with them in the earlier episodes, perhaps successfully using them as a weapon.

Similarly where does the the forcefield gear come from? You could have shown that in an earlier episode being used to repel the monsters from the ship.

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The Doctor though has twigged who's really responsible:

DOCTOR: Keep away!
SORENSON: I require an explanation.
DOCTOR: Professor Sorenson, you're ill.
SORENSON: What do you mean, ill?
DOCTOR: You think you've discovered an oral vaccine to protect you against antiquark penetration, but you're wrong.
SORENSON: It worked.
DOCTOR: For a time, but it set up a cycle of chemical change. There's no way back, Sorenson. You've reached the point where your tissues are so monstrously hybridised that the next metabolic change could be the final one.
DOCTOR: There isn't much time.
DOCTOR: You and I are scientists, Professor. We buy our privilege to experiment at the cost of total responsibility.
SORENSON: The hypothesis was false.

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Sorenson here does seem to genuinely admit defeat and that he's wrong which may contribute to what happens later....

But before he can dispose of the anti matter the final transformation takes hold giving us some nice transformation effects, almost certainly straight from the Top of the Pops studio! The Doctor confronted by the creatures is also very nice.

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The creature's appearance has altered from earlier episodes: now they look much more like Sorenson:

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Faced with an inevitable companion question the Doctor resorts to quoting Captain Oates.

SARAH: Doctor, what are we going to do?
DOCTOR: Stay here with Vishinsky, Sarah. I'm going out now and I may be some time.

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Having captured the transformed Sorenson he transports him back to Zeta Minor. Unfortunately the obviously rubber looking restraint proves no obstacle!

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Is anyone else reminded of Inferno's Primords looking at Sorenson? There's some distinct parallels to be drawn between Inferno's Stahlman and Sorenson here: both obsessed scientists refusing advice to stop their quest to harness a new form of energy that the Doctor knows is dangerous!

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However, unlike Stahlman, Sorenson survives. The Doctor, perhaps acknowledging Sorenson's earlier admission of guilt, perhaps wishing to avoid earlier mistakes, pushes him in a different path for his quest:

VISHINSKY: Professor Sorenson! Are you all right?
SORENSON: Yes. Yes, I remember now. My researches. I've discovered a new source of energy.
DOCTOR: No, no, no, Professor. I think you'd abandoned that line. You'd decided to concentrate on deriving energy from the kinetic force of planetary movement.
DOCTOR: Yes. Large source of untapped energy there.
SORENSON: The kinetic force of planetary movement. What a brilliant idea!
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Sorry, the last episode didn't save the story for me.

I found the whole thing dull and lifeless with no real sense of danger. Essentially it's a "base under siege" story but I don't feel any attachment to any of the characters and so I don't care what happens to them. And as for the awful crew costumes...... Salamar's just loud, shouty and thick. His "Only I can give a red alert" is supposed to represent a descent into madness but it just sounds childish and I'm sure Red Dwarf has done a similar line. I won't be rushing to see this story again any time soon, in fact this is the first time I've watched it since the last go at blogging it! There's better "transformed into a monster" stories, better "quest for alternative energy stories" and far better "base under siege stories", which is what the last few episodes become. If you'd like to see people trapped inside a vessel while monsters run havoc killing most of them off then Robots of Death is a much better bet!

The planet in this story, Zeta Minor, gave it's name to, a DVD website and the home of Roobarb's DVD Forum.

Adapted by Terrance Dicks an novelization of this story was released in 1977. One of the two stories from this season not stocked by my local library, the other was Seeds of Doom, it would be some years before I read it.

Planet of Evil was repeated 5 to 8 July in 1976. It was released on video in January 1994 and on DVD in 2007.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

408 Planet of Evil: Part Three

EPISODE: Planet of Evil: Part Three
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 11 October 1975
WRITER: Louis Marks
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
RATINGS: 9.1 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Planet Of Evil

"We believe you to be responsible for all the deaths. Unless you cooperate, I shall kill you and the girl without compunction!"

As Sorenson & Salamar argue Sarah sneaks off the ship into the jungle. The Doctor falls through a black void and meets with a creature. De Haan & Morelli remove Sorenson's samples but he conceals some in his cabin. Sarah calls for the Doctor at the black pit and is there when he is returned. Salamar is angered when Vishinsky halts take off to retrieve the Doctor & Sarah, who the occuloid tracker has spotted. In his quarters Sorenson begins a strange transformation as his eyes glow red, halted when he drinks of a solution. Vishinsky and De Haan revive the Doctor in the sickbay. The spacecraft again has trouble taking off but the Doctor gives up his sample, which enabled him to survive the trip to the other dimension, to Morelli to be jettisoned. However en route to the do this Morelli is killed. A mutating Sorenson drinks more of the solution to keep himself normal. Sorenson tries to convince them that another civilisation is trying to seize his discoveries. The Spaceship finds itself being pulled back to Zeta Minor, because the Doctor thinks there's still anti matter aboard. Salamar believes the Doctor and the Tardis are responsible. Sarah, left alone with Sorenson, watches transfixed as he begins to change and only comes to her senses when she hears De Haan's dying screams. She screams, and the Doctor overpowers Salamar and comes to investigate. Salamar stuns the Doctor, convinced he is responsible for De Haan's death and orders him ejected from the ship. Sorenson spills the last of a powder his solution is made from and begins to permanently transform. The Doctor & Sarah are locked in place and slide towards the opened ejection chamber.....

Unfortunately I'm still having trouble engaging with the story. It's not doing anything for me. Sorry.

I think the heart of my problem with it is I'm finding the two main characters, Sorenson & Salamar, so dislikeable. Both are single minded yet opposed so a lot of the story has been spent arguing!

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It's at this point that I thought the origins of this story stand revealed: It's Doctor Who's version of Jekyll & Hyde but apparently that element, along with the anti matter creature, are a direct lift from Forbidden Planet.

Here though it's not 100% clear if Sorenson is using the minerals, turned into a potion like smoking drink, as a trigger for the transformation or an attempt to control the transformations!

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Shooting a body off into space is part of a long sci fi tradition - the BBC did it in both the Doctor Who story The Ark and the Out of the Unknown tale Thirteen to Centaurus. I can remember seeing it in The Black Hole and, of course, Wrath of Kahn.

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Here it serves to "hang the gun on the wall in the first act" to ramp the tension up for the end of the episode as The Doctor and Sarah are stuck in the same machinery!

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Returning for this story is experienced screen writer Louis Marks, who contributed the troubled Planet of Giants in the early years of Doctor Who and then returned in the early 70s with a script called "The Ghost Hunters" that ended up having the return of the show's favourite monsters inserted into it becoming Day of the Daleks. Marks will return in the next year with Masque of Mandragora. At this point I'm legally obligated to do the "not the manufacturer of Dalek toys" joke. Also returning for this story is director David Maloney. Having helmed The Mind Robber, The Krotons & The War Games for Troughton's last season he was in charge for the Daleks 10th anniversary appearance in Planet of the Daleks before helming Genesis of the Daleks in season 12 earlier in 1975. He'll be back next season for his final Doctor Who offerings The Deadly Assassin & Talons of Weng Chiang before becoming the producer of Blake's 7.

A veteran of not one but two previous David Maloney stories is Michael Wisher, playing Morelli. He was in The Ambassadors of Death as John Wakefield, Terror of the Autons as Rex Farrel, Carnival of Monsters as Kalik, provided Dalek Voices during Frontier in Space, Planet of the Daleks, Death to the Daleks & Genesis of the Daleks, where he also appeared as Davros and Revenge of the Cybermen where he was Magrik. His character's death in this episode doesn't stop him appearing in the final one: he voices the unseen Ranjit there. This story is his last Doctor Who appearance: he had another prior booking when asked to reprise Davros for Destiny of the Daleks and died in 1995.

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The background character Reig, who appears in this episode, is played by Melvyn Bedford who will play a mummy in Pyramids of Mars, the next story screened but filmed immediately before this one.

The Doctor spends his career battling evil so it's no surprise that the word crops up in a few story titles:

The Aztecs 1: The Temple of Evil
The Evil of the Daleks
The Mind of Evil
Planet of Evil
The Face of Evil
You'd have thought there might be more!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

407 Planet of Evil: Part Two

EPISODE: Planet of Evil: Part Two
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 04 October 1975
WRITER: Louis Marks
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
RATINGS: 9.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Planet Of Evil

"Didn't you learn anything? You're tampering with the balance of nature on this planet in ways you don't understand. It may already be too late!"

One of the spaceship crew, O'Hara, attacks the creature and is killed by it. Salamar and Vishinsky investigate a power fault when Ponti reports that they may be under attack and Vishinsky finds the prisoners gone. Salamar blames them for O'Hara's death. The Morestrans launch the occuloid tracker to find the Doctor. The Doctor & Sarah investigate the cave with the black pit where they believe the creature came from but they are found by the tracker and captured. Ponti falls into the pit and the Doctor warns them they are interfering with things on this planet that they don't understand. Sorenson & De Haan retrieve Sorenson's samples which he believe will give the Morestrans a new source of power. Salamar puts the Doctor on trial and refuses to believe the Doctor's explanation for the deaths. The Doctor tells them to leave Sorenson's samples behind or they will never leave the planet. The Doctor explains to Sarah that the Morestrans actions may put the whole universe at risk. The Doctor steals some of Sorenson's mineral samples as the ship starts it's launch sequence. The ship malfunctions as they start to take off and they see the creature approaching the ship. The Doctor & Sarah are brought to the bridge as the crew attack the creature. The Doctor advises them to link their forcefield to the atomic accelerator which repels the creature. The Doctor returns to the cave to communicate with the creature but is dragged into the black pit.

I'm experiencing similar feelings to this story that I had before: annoyance at Salamar and complete non engagement with the plot. The monster's there, it's reasonably obvious that the Doctor hasn't killed the people and Sorenson's a bit loopy and yet ..... Salamar doesn't seem to have two brain cells to rub together and Prentis Hancock is basically rehashing his performance as Vaber, from Planet of the Daleks, here.

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DOCTOR: Fortunately, time is on our side.
SARAH: Time?
DOCTOR: Yes. "Night's candles are burned out and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain top". Or something like that.
SARAH: Ah, you mean it's getting light.
DOCTOR: That's what Shakespeare meant.
SARAH: Doesn't it like daylight?
DOCTOR: That is the question.
SARAH: Oh, Doctor, where are you going?
In fact The Doctor quotes Shakespeare twice there. Romeo & Juliet, with the "Night's Candles" line while "That is the question" from Hamlet.

He then goes one better!

DOCTOR: I met him once, you know.
DOCTOR: Shakespeare. Charming fellow. Dreadful actor.
SARAH: Perhaps that's why he took up writing.
DOCTOR: Perhaps it was.
Shakespeare joins a long list of historical figures the Doctor claims to have met but we're not 100% sure he has. We have seen Shakespeare though: he appeared in The Chase episode 1: The Executioners where he's played by Hugh Walters. Many years later we see the Tenth Doctor meet Shakespeare in The Shakespeare Code!

Like most actors Tom Baker must have done a bit of Shakespeare in his time and indeed David Weston, who was Nicholas Mussin in The Massacre and will be Biroc in Warrior's Gate, mentions appearing with him in a 1966 production of The Winter's Tale in his book Covering Shakespeare: An Actor's Saga of Near Misses and Dogged Endurance. It and it's predecessor Covering McKellen: An Understudy's Tale are both well worth a read and feature plenty of Doctor Who actors treading the boards in the Bard's plays. There's some evidence that that production of The Winter's Tale was filmed as I can find an IMDB entry for it!

Of course it's probably right the story should be throwing Shakespeare references around: The monster that we've seen, and indeed the whole serial, owe something of a debt to the 1956 film Forbidden Planet which in turn is heavily influenced by Shakespeare's The Tempest.

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The monster is a nice effect, albeit a direct lift from Forbidden Planet. I like what we see as they are repelled by the ship's shield wall a decent attempt at showing something hitting an invisible barrier.

We get a good look at the monster as it rises from the pit at the end of the episode, but as the Doctor falls in the episode ends on a freeze frame, a rarity for Doctor Who, but one that director David Maloney has used in several of his stories.

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SALAMAR: You've seen the body?
SORENSON: All my party died the same way. A type of total dehydration.
SALAMAR: I have the bio-analysis here. All the organs are undamaged. No contusions or evidence of pressure. Complete extraction of bodily fluids from tissue.
VISHINSKY: We've no weapon in our technology that could produce such an effect.
SALAMAR: No, a heat weapon would have produced external injuries. All the indications are that some very rapid form of freeze-drying occurred.
Hmmmm. The body is a bit odd. When the victim dies, they vanish only for a dessicated corpse to appear again a little later!

Nice effect with the corpse though. Bet that got Mary Whitehouse going!

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Perhaps they could have made more of an effort to pose the dessicated corpse in the same position the actor fell in too?
SORENSON: Isn't this irrelevant, Controller?
SALAMAR: Irrelevant?
SORENSON: I came to Zeta Minor to prove a theory that could save our civilisation. I've been successful. That's all that matters.
SALAMAR: Seven men have died at the hands of these aliens.
Now we had a go at a body count for Sorenson's party last episode and listed Lorenzo, Gura , Summers, Lumb, Baldwin and Braun. That makes six, confirming Sorenson as the only survivor of a party of seven. O'Hara from Salamar's team is the seventh victim.

The reason Sorenson's party is there and the purpose of their mission then stands revealed:

SORENSON: There is more at stake here than seven lives. Our solar system is dependant upon a dying sun. I've discovered a new and inexhaustible source of energy. Rock formations on the fringe of the universe.
MORELLI: Controller, the oculoid tracker has located the prisoners.
SALAMAR: Order out the pursuit party.
PONTI: Right, Controller.
SORENSON: You're wasting time. My mineral samples must be loaded aboard and we must prepare for immediate take off.
SALAMAR: I am well aware of your high position in the science authorities, Professor, but this is a military expedition with military objectives. The manual says hostile alien forces must be searched out and liquidated. That operation is now in hand.
Salamar is convinced he knows who is responsible and places the blame firmly at the Doctor's feet:
SALAMAR: Yesterday, you were found with the body of one of our scientists. Last night one of our guards died and you were seen kneeling over him. Can you explain this?
DOCTOR: We had nothing to do with those deaths. They were brought about by your intrusion. Listen, now listen to me, please. Here on Zeta Minor is the boundary between existence as you know it and the other universe, which you just don't understand.
VISHINSKY: Other universe?
DOCTOR: Yes. From the beginning of time, it has existed side by side with the known universe. Each is the antithesis of the other. You call it nothing, a word to cover ignorance, then centuries ago scientists invented another word for it. Antimatter, they called it.
SALAMAR: Nonsense. Clever deception to cover their real motives.
VISHINSKY: I don't think so. Let him finish.
DOCTOR: And you, by coming here, have crossed the boundary into that other universe to plunder it. Dangerous.
SORENSON: Salamar. My mineral samples are aboard. It is getting dark. Prepare for the return journey.
DOCTOR: Mineral samples? Sorenson, you can't take any part of this planet with you.
SORENSON: That was the purpose of my expedition.
DOCTOR: But you can't!
SALAMAR: Get them out of here. I'll deal with them later.
DOCTOR: Sorenson, if you don't listen to me, you'll never leave this planet.
While these episodes of Doctor Who were airing a new science fiction series was being broadcast directly opposite it by ITV, or was in some regions at least. Several years in development Space 1999 was seen as the other side's answer to Doctor Who. Set on a Moonbase, an element recycled from UFO which Space 1999 is very roughly a sequel too, the Moon is blasted out of orbit in episode 1 and the series tracks it's voyage round the universe and the crew's struggle for survival. In front of the camera Doctor Who actors Prentis Hancock (Salamar in Planet of Evil) and Ziena Merton (Ping Cho in Marco Polo) feature in a regular cast headed by American stars Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. Guest stars include Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, Julian Glover (King Richard in the Crusade & Scaroth in City of Death) and Brian Blessed (Yrcannos in Trial of a Timelord). Johnny Byrne, future Doctor who writer of Keeper of Traken, Arc of Infinity & Warriors of the Deep, writes for the show during series 1.

However Space 1999 was seen as having problems and a major revamp preceded series two. In came experienced American producer Fred Freiberger. Out went Prentis Hancock and several other members of the cast including respected actor Barry Morse replaced by, amongst others, the future Countess Scarlioni (City of Death) Catherine Schell. Many new writers were recruited including former Doctor Who script editor Terrance Dicks and future Doctor Who writers Pip & Jane Baker.

There are two sorts of Space 1999: Good Space 1999 and Bad Space 1999. These roughly equate to the first series and the second series. It must be a coincidence that the "bad" second year was over seen by the man who produced the inferior third series of Star Trek and had a script by the writers of Time & The Rani isn't it?

Space 1999 series 1 is available on Blu-ray and DVD. In my opinion it's well worth your time & money. Episodes such as Breakaway, Black Sun, Earthbound, Another Time, Another Place, Death's Other Domain, Full Circle and Dragon's Domain are really rather good. Plus the model effects sequences look staggeringly good especially in high definition. Series 2 was released on Blu Ray last Monday alongside a new version of the long out of print DVD.