Thursday, June 16, 2011

"The Chase"

The Chase

Story 16
Aired: May 22 - Jun 26, 1965



Episode 1 – The Executioners
Episode 2 – The Death of Time
Episode 3 – The Flight Through Eternity
Episode 4 – Journey Into Terror
Episode 5 – The Death of Doctor Who
Episode 6 – The Planet of Decision
 
Written by Terry Nation
 
Directed by Richard Martin

Synopsis


The travelers are forced to flee in the TARDIS when they learn that a group of Daleks equipped with their own time machine are on their trail with orders to exterminate them.

The chase begins on the desert planet Aridius and takes in a number of stopping-off points including the observation gallery of New York's Empire State Building, the 19th Century sailing ship Mary Celeste (the Daleks' appearance causing all the crew and passengers to jump overboard) and a haunted house in a futuristic fun-fair. All the while the TARDIS crew remains only one step ahead of the relentless Daleks. 

Eventually both time machines arrive on the jungle planet Mechanus, where the Daleks try to infiltrate and kill the travelers through the use of a robot doppelganger of the Doctor. The travelers are taken prisoner by the Mechonoids, a group of robots sent some fifty years earlier to prepare landing sites for human colonists who never arrived. While in captivity they meet Steven Taylor, a stranded human astronaut who has been the Mechonoids' prisoner for the past two years.

The Daleks and the Mechonoids engage in a fierce battle which ultimately results in their mutual destruction, and the Doctor's party seizes this opportunity to escape.

Ian and Barbara realize that they can use the Daleks' now-abandoned time machine to return to 20th-century Earth and, once his initial objections have died down, the Doctor helps them to do so. The two friends are delighted to be home, although they quickly realize that they have arrived in 1965, two years after they left, leaving them with the difficulty of explaining their long absence.
Using the Time-Space Visualizer, the Doctor and Vicki watch their two friends return to their time and sadly set off for more adventures.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"The Space Museum"

The Space Museum

Story 15
Aired: Apr 24 - May 15, 1965

Episode 1 – The Space Museum
Episode 2 – The Dimensions of Time
Episode 3 – The Search
Episode 4 – The Final Phase

Written by Glyn Jones
 
Directed by Mervyn Pinfield

Synopsis

The TARDIS lands in a way unlike any other landing, with the travelers frozen at the console and their clothes mysteriously changing from the 12th Century attire from their previous adventure. On the scanner, they see numerous space ships on display around a lone building. The travelers leave the TARDIS to explore. They are startled to find that they are leaving no footprints in the sandy surface. Once they begin exploring the museum, they find that that they cannot touch solid objects, but rather pass through them. They encounter humanoid beings as well, but the beings cannot see the travelers.

Having apparently reached a space museum on the barren planet Xeros, the four travelers discover that the TARDIS has in fact 'jumped a time track', giving them a glimpse into their own future: a future in which they end up as static exhibits in museum display cases.

As time catches up with them, the Doctor and his companions try to avert this possible future by altering events in the present, never sure whether the steps they are taking will lead to their demise or their salvation. They aid a group of youthful Xeron rebels to overthrow the warlike Morok invaders led by Governor Lobos, who have established the museum as a monument to their galactic conquests.

As the travelers prepare to leave Xeros, the Doctor is given a gift of one exhibit; a device called a time/space visualizer. The other items in the museum are set to be destroyed. As the TARDIS departs, it is not unnoticed. On the planet Skaro, the Daleks watch the TARDIS set off, and they are clearly planning something…

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"The Crusade"

The Crusade

Story 14
Aired: Mar 27 - Apr 17, 1965

Episode 1 – The Lion
Episode 2 – The Knight of Jaffa
Episode 3 – The Wheel of Fortune
Episode 4 – The Warlords

Written by David Whitaker
 
Directed by Douglas Camfield

Synopsis

The TARDIS arrives in 12th century Palestine, currently in the grip of a Holy War between King Richard the Lionheart and the Saracen ruler Saladin.

Caught up in a Saracen ambush, Barbara is abducted by the attackers, while the Doctor, Ian and Vicki are welcomed at King Richard's palace in the nearby city of Jaffa. Ian is granted permission to ride off in search of Barbara as an official emissary, with the King knighting him Sir Ian of Jaffa, while the Doctor and Vicki stay behind and try to avoid getting involved in court intrigue.

King Richard secretly plans to arrange a marriage between his sister, Joanna, and Saladin's brother, Saphadin, in the hope of ending the war; when Joanna discovers the plan, she steadfastly refuses. The Doctor and Vicki flee the palace after making an enemy of the King's advisor, the Earl of Leicester, eventually reaching the wood where the TARDIS materialized. Ian is already waiting there with Barbara, having rescued her from the savage clutches of the Saracen Emir El Akir; however, the travelers’ escape is almost thwarted when the Doctor is seized by a party of English soldiers led by the Earl. Fortunately, they manage to escape to the safety of the ship by means of a ruse, the soldiers believing that the brave Sir Ian has been spirited away by sorcerers!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

RIP - Elisabeth Sladen

Some incredibly sad news today, as word is coming out that Elisabeth Sladen, beloved to Doctor Who fans all over the world for her role as Sarah Jane Smith, has died. She was just 63.

Sladen played Sarah Jane Smith on the classic series from 1973 - 1976 and would return to the role twice in the 1980s. After the series revival, she returned in the 2006 episode School Reunion. Her appearance proved popular, and she soon was starring in her own spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, aimed at children.

Sladen began acting as a child in school, eventually heading to drama school and beginning her professional career in repertory theatre. By 1971, she was making guest appearances in such television series as Doomwatch and Z-Cars.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"The Web Planet"

Aired Feb 13 - Mar 20, 1965

Episode 1 – The Web Planet
Episode 2 – The Zarbi
Episode 3 – Escape to Danger
Episode 4 – Crater of Needles
Episode 5 – Invasion
Episode 6 – The Centre

Story 13

Written by Bill Strutton
Directed by Richard Martin

Synopsis



The TARDIS is seized by a mysterious force and dragged down to the planet Vortis, a craggy, forbidding world where the dangers include pools of lethal acid and a thin atmosphere. Here, the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki get involved in the struggles of the moth-like Menoptra to reclaim the planet from an alien parasite. The Animus has invaded Vortis and taken control of the once-docile, ant-like Zarbi, turning them into its vicious drones that use organic Venom Guns to enforce the Animus' will.

Eventually, with the time travelers' help, a group of Menoptra and Optera (stunted troglodyte descendants of the planet's original Menoptra inhabitants) hatch a plan to infiltrate the Animus's web-city and confront the creature directly, destroying it with a weapon devised by their scientists called the Isop-tope, which destroys living cells.



Ian and the Optera are trying to tunnel their way to the Carsinome from beneath, while the Doctor and Vicki manage to make their way into the hidden chamber where they finally set eyes on the Animus itself. It is a giant spider-like creature, and its mind powers mesmerize the Doctor and Vicki, preventing them from using the Isop-tope. Ian and the Optera dig their way in, but they are also frozen by the Animus' will. Finally Barbara and her cohorts make their way to the Animus, and by sheer force of will, Barbara manages to activate the Isop-tope device, and the Animus is destroyed.

With all the creatures on Vortis now free from the threat of the Animus, the natural order is restored and the Menoptera, Zarbi and Optera can co-exist in peace. The TARDIS and her crew depart.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

"The Romans"

Aired Jan 16 - Feb 6, 1965

Episode 1 – The Slave Traders
Episode 2 – All Roads Lead to Rome
Episode 3 – Conspiracy
Episode 4 - Inferno

Story 12

Written by Dennis Spooner

Directed by Christopher Barry



Synopsis

In the years 64 AD, the TARDIS crew are taking a break from their perilous adventures, staying in an empty villa not far from Rome. Restless, the Doctor and Vicki decide to head off to visit the famous city, while Ian and Barbara remain behind. However, the schoolteachers' bliss is short-lived, as they are shortly after abducted by slavers to be sold into forced servitude.

While on the way to Rome, the Doctor is mistaken for famous lyre musician Maximus Pettulian, who has been commanded to perform at the court of Emperor Nero. Taken to the court, the Doctor and Vicki must think quickly to avoid being discovered and avoid becoming entangled in palace intrigue.


Meanwhile, Ian has become a galley slave, though he soon escapes with the help of a fellow slave named Delos, and together they make their way to Rome where Barbara has been sold into Nero's service and has to fend off the Emperor's advances.
Once Ian and Delos reach Rome, they're recaptured and forced to fight as gladiators in the arena while Barbara watches. Meanwhile, as the Doctor and Nero talk about the Emperor's plans for the rebuilding of Rome, the Doctor accidentally sets Nero's plans on fire, giving the Emperor the idea of starting the great fire. As the flames engulf the city, Nero plays his lyre, the Doctor and Vicki flee, and Ian and Barbara manage to escape their bondage.
The entire TARDIS crew is reunited at the villa, each unaware of the adventures the other group had. They go back to the ship and head on their way, but are soon dragged off course by an unknown force…

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"The Rescue"

Aired Jan 2 - Jan 9, 1965

Episode 1 – The Powerful Enemy
Episode 2 – Desperate Measures

Story 11

Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Christopher Barry

Synopsis

With the Doctor, Ian and Barbara still feeling the loss of Susan, the TARDIS materializes in the 25th century on the planet Dido, one the Doctor has visited before.  The time travelers come upon a crashed spaceship from Earth. Its two occupants, a paralyzed man named Bennett and a young girl named Vicki, are living in fear of the imposing figure of Koquillion, a native of the planet, whose people have apparently killed the other members of the human expedition. However, it does not take the Doctor long to deduce that Koquillion is in fact Bennett in disguise; it was actually he who killed the others in order to conceal an earlier murder he had committed on the ship. Confronted by two of the humanoid Didonians, whom he thought he had completely wiped out, Bennett falls from a high rock ledge to his death.

After discovering that Vicki's father was amongst the murdered crewmen and that consequently she is now an orphan, the Doctor offers her a place aboard the TARDIS, which she gratefully accepts. T
hey all depart as the two Didonians smash the radio guiding the rescue ship to the planet.


Analysis

After Susan's departure, the decision was made to give a single two-episode story over purely to introducing the new companion, Vicki, played by Maureen O'Brien. This turns out to be a very solid decision, as O'Brien is given a good showcase for her talents by writer David Whitaker. O'Brien immediately impresses in her debut, giving the role of the junior companion a good deal more spunk and fire than had previously been on display. This is no knock against Carole Ann Ford, just that the script and O'Brien's performance are geared to a more resilient and plucky character.

Monday, March 28, 2011

"The Dalek Invasion of Earth"

Aired Nov 21 - Dec 26, 1964

Episode 1 – World's End
Episode 2 – The Daleks
Episode 3 – Day of Reckoning
Episode 4 – The End of Tomorrow
Episode 5 – The Waking Ally
Episode 6 - Flashpoint

Story 10

Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin

Synopsis

The TARDIS materializes in London, on the banks of the Thames. While Ian and Barbara are initially thrilled to return home, it soon becomes apparent that the city appears deserted, and there are foreboding signs that some sort of calamity has occurred. 

They discover it is sometime after the year 2164 and Dalek invaders are now ruling the Earth with the aid of humans converted into zombie-like Robomen, but they are opposed by a group of resistance fighters led by the wheelchair-bound Dortmun, and aided by Tyler and David Campbell.

Through numerous perilious turns, the travelers become separated and have to avoid death from Daleks, Robomen and human collaborators while striving to find a way to defate the Daleks and uncover their plans for Earth.

The travelers discover that the Daleks have established a huge mine in Bedfordshire. Making their way there, they discover the aim of the Daleks is to remove the Earth's core using a huge bomb and replace it with a powerful drive system so that they can pilot the planet around the galaxy. Ian manages to create a barrier in the shaft in order to intercept the bomb. The resulting explosion destroys the Daleks and their mine and creates a huge volcanic eruption. 


Susan has fallen in love with resistance fighter David Campbell, and the Doctor decides to leave her on Earth with Campbell to start a new life.

In the end, the Doctor locks the TARDIS doors and sadly tells her:


Believe me, my dear, your future lies with David and not with a silly old buffer like me. One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine. Goodbye, Susan. Goodbye, my dear.

The TARDIS departs, leaving Susan to start a new life with David.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Planet of Giants"

Aired Oct 31 - Nov 14, 1964

Episode 1 – Planet of Giants
Episode 2 – Dangerous Journey
Episode 3 – Crisis

Story 9

Written by Louis Marks
Directed by Mervyn Pinfield 
(Episodes 1 & 2) 

& Douglas Camfield (Episode 3)

Synopsis

While landing, the TARDIS experiences a serious malfunction that causes the outer doors to open during materialization. When the travellers exit the ship, they find themselves in a bizarre and alien landscape whereupon they encounter a giant earthworm and giant ant, both of which are dead. They soon come to the realization that they have landed on Earth in 1963, but have been shrunk to just millimetres in size.

They learn of a plot by an unethical businessman, Forester, to launch a massively powerful insecticide call DN6. Though it is effective, it's so lethal that it would kill not only pests, but also insects and creatures vital to a healthy environment. Forester, willing to stop at nothing to ensure the success of his business, even commits murder to further his scheme.

After Barbara falls ill due to exposure to DN6, the Doctor and his friends race to expose Forester's plot and return to normal size. Too small to make themselves heard, the Doctor has them tamper with the telephone in the laboratory, arousing the suspicions of phone operator Hilda Rowse, who sends her husband Bert, the local police constable, to investigate.


The travellers manage to return to the TARDIS and to normal size, whereupon the tiny amount of DN6 in Barbara's system dissipates harmlessly.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Season 1 Overview

A Scene from An Unearthly Child
At the end of The Reign of Terror, the scene fades from the TARDIS crew around the console to a shot of a star field, as the Doctor talks about the crew finding their destiny amongst the stars. The inaugural season was comprised of eight serials, which were made up of 42 episodes. When the first episode debuted, it garnered only 4.4 million viewers. But the unexpected and massive success of the Daleks made the series a phenomenon. The final episode of The Daleks, the second serial, saw 10.4 million people tune in. From there, the future of the series was assured.

The sheer amount of episodes produced during the first season is staggering. Today in Britain, 13 episodes is really the norm for a season. Even in the US, most major network series produce around 26 episodes. To successfully produce over 40 episodes of television in one year is a feat in and of itself. To capture the public imagination, and hold onto it, is an amazing achievement. The show wasn't quite an institution yet, but it was fast on its way to becoming one. It would take another season to truly confirm the series' status as a cultural touchstone.

"The Reign of Terror"

Aired Aug 8 - Sept 12, 1964

Episode 1 – A Land of Fear
Episode 2 – Guests of Madame Guillotine
Episode 3 – A Change of Identity
Episode 4 – The Tyrant of France
Episode 5 – A Bargain of Necessity
Episode 6 – Prisoners of Conciergerie

Story 8

Written by Dennis Spooner
Directed by Henric Hirsch


Synopsis

The TARDIS arrives in 1794 in the French countryside not far from Paris. Though the era is supposedly the Doctor's favorite in Earth's history, it's also one of the bloodiest periods following the French Revolution. Separated from the Doctor, the others get captured by soldiers and taken to Paris to be guillotined.

While the Doctor makes his way to rescue them, the others become entangled with a plot to overthrow the tyrant Robespierre masterminded by British spy James Stirling, who has been operating undercover as Lemaitre, governor of the Conciergerie Prison.

The Doctor poses as a provincial official, and has to match wits with Robespierre while Ian and Barbara are witness to a fateful meeting with Napoleon Bonaparte.


In the end, Robespierre is overthrown in part due to the efforts of Stirling. The tyrant is shot in the jaw and imprisoned while the Doctor and his companions slip quietly away. As the TARDIS departs, the Doctor tells his comrades:


Our destiny is in the stars, so let's go and search for it.




Analysis

The final story of the first season is an historical story, and once again it supports the popular fan theory that there wasn't a dud among the historicals. It doesn't match the wonderful atmosphere of Marco Polo, nor the complexity of The Aztecs, but it is well-done and full of great moments.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"The Sensorites"

Aired June 20 - Aug 1, 1964

Episode 1 – Strangers in Space
Episode 2 – The Unwilling Warriors
Episode 3 – Hidden Danger
Episode 4 – A Race Against Death
Episode 5 – Kidnap
Episode 6 – A Desperate Venture

Story 7

Written by Peter R. Newman
Directed by Mervyn Pinfield (Episodes 1-4) & Frank Cox (Episodes 5 & 6)

Synopsis

Landing aboard a 28th Century Earth spaceship, the travellers step out of the TARDIS to explore and are shocked to discover three seemingly dead people who then inexplicably revive. The captain, Maitland, tells them that he and his crew a forced into a state of catatonia for long periods by a race of aliens called the Sensorites. The humans have no idea why the Sensorites are doing this, or what their aim may be.

Susan, who is an unusually gifted telepath, manages to make a connection with two Sensorites who board the vessel. Togethe,r they manage to work out an arrangement by which Barbara and Maitland will remain aboard the ship while the Doctor, Susan, Ian and the rest of the crew head to the creatures' planet, known as the Sense-Sphere, to enter into negotiations.

There, they meet the First and Second Elders, leaders of the Sensorite society. The elders tell them they have discovered valuable molybdenum deposits and are afraid that Earth will come to exploit them. The Sensorites are paranoid of humanity after and earlier Earth expedition visited, and after departing, the Sensorites were stricken by a deadly and mysterious disease. The Doctor volunteers to look into this epidemic, and the Elders agree, however another Sensorite leader, the City Administrator, begins plotting to sabotage the peace efforts.

After experimenting, the Doctor isolates the cause of the palgue, which not a disease at all but rather the result of deadly nightshade poison in one of the city's water tanks. Ian and the Doctor head into the aqueducts of the city and discover survivors from the previous Earth expedition are behind the plot to poison the Sense-Sphere. The three men have become unbalanced after experimenting with the telepathy of the Sensorites. The City Administrator's machinations are also discovered and he is exiled while the Elders forge a new era of understanding with the people of Earth.

Friday, February 25, 2011

"The Aztecs"

Aired May 23 - June 13, 1964

Episode 1 – The Temple of Evil
Episode 2 – The Warriors of Death
Episode 3 – The Bride of Sacrifice
Episode 4 – The Day of Darkness

Story 6

Written by John Lucarotti
Directed by John Crockett

Synopsis

Landing in 15th Century Mexico, the travellers find themselves inside the tomb of Yetaxa, one-time High Priest of the Aztecs. Upon leaving the tomb and heading into an antechamber, the door swings shut behind them, cutting them off from the TARDIS. Found by the Aztecs, they are spared from certain death when Autloc, High Priest of Knowledge, spies that Barbara is wearing the bracelet of Yetaxa, which she absentmindedly put on while in the tomb.

Autloc proclaims Barabara to be the reincarnation of their god, though Tlotoxl, High Priest of Sacrifice, has his doubts. In order to keep her friends safe, Barbara plays along. Susan is allowed to remain with her as her handmaiden, while Ian is chosen to lead the Aztec army as her representative, which creates a dangerous enemy out of Ixta, the previous leader. The Doctor meanwhile, is sent to the Garden of Peace with the other Aztec elders, where he begins a flirtation with a wise woman named Cameca, partly in order to discover a way back into the tomb.

Barabara, who specialized in Aztec history when training as a teacher, has an ulterior motive. Believing that the Aztec practice of human sacrifice is what doomed their society, sets about trying to change history by ending the practice. This immediately puts her at odds with Tlotoxl, who begins plotting her downfall, as well as the Doctor, who passionately tries to persuade her of the folly of changing established history. 

During the solar eclipse at which the Perfect Victim's sacrifice is due to take place, Ian and Ixta fight on the roof of the temple, where 
Ixta falls to his death in the streets below. Meanwhile, the Doctor has constructed a pulley system to open the door and uses it to gain access to the TARDIS. The Doctor and Cameca part, with Cameca giving him a seal to remember her by. And Tlotoxl resumes the acts of sacrifice. 

Barbara and the Doctor reconcile their earlier argument, with Barbara heartbroken that she couldn’t save the Aztec society. But, in convincing Autloc of the barbarity of human sacrifice, the Doctor tells her that she did make an improvement in the life of one man. And that is something. The TARDIS crew go on their way, the Doctor remembering to bring Cameca's seal with him.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

RIP - Nicholas Courtney

Sad news from the world of Doctor Who. Nicholas Courtney, the actor who played fan favourite character Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, has died at the age of 81 following a long battle with cancer.

Courtney first played Lethbridge-Stewart in 1968, appearing opposite Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor in The Web of Fear. He was a regular army Colonel then, but he returned later that season in The Invasion, newly promoted to Brigadier and heading up an international organization called the United Nations Intelligence Task Force, or UNIT.

When Troughton left the series and the Doctor regenerated into his third incarnation, played by Jon Pertwee, it was decided that the character would be Earth-bound for a time, and would work with UNIT. Courtney became a series regular during this era, his formal and somewhat pompous military bearing creating a good contrast to the Doctor's eccentricities. Over time, he would be brought back again and again, to fan delight. He appeared opposite all of the classic series Doctors, with the exception of Colin Baker's sixth Doctor (although he did appear opposite the Sixth Doctor in audio productions and a charity special).

Oddly enough, The Web of Fear was not his first appearance in Doctor Who. He had first appeared on the series in The Daleks' Master Plan, a 1965 serial starring William Hartnell as the Doctor.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"The Keys of Marinus"

Aired Apr 11 - May 16, 1964

Episode 1 – The Sea of Death
Episode 2 – The Velvet Web
Episode 3 – The Screaming Jungle
Episode 4 – The Snows of Terror
Episode 5 – Sentence of Death
Episode 6 – The Keys of Marinus

Story 5

Written by Terry Nation

Directed by John Gorrie


Synopsis

Arriving on a mysterious beach, the travellers initially explore without a care in the world, until they discover the beach is made of glass and the sea is not water but deadly acid. They soon discover they are on the planet Marinus, and meet Arbitan, who lives alone on the island as the keeper of the Conscience of Marinus, a powerful computer that was developed many years ago to maintain law and order across the planet by making its people incapable of committing a crime. However, a splinter group called the Voord, led by the evil Yartek, have found a way to resist its effects, and now plan to invade the island and use the Conscience for their own purposes.

As a defence mechanism, Arbitan has removed four of the fiver operating keys from the Conscience and scattered them across the planet, making it impossible to effect any changes to the way the computer operates. However, Arbitan has managed to discover a way to modify the machine so that Yartek and the Voord will no longer be immune, and so he needs to recover the keys. 

Though initially resistant, the Doctor and his companions agree to go on a quest to retrieve the keys, using Arbitan's wrist-mounted travel dials to teleport from place to place on the planet. They first find themselves in the city of Morphoton, where they must free themselves from the hypnotic power of its citizens, then they find themselves trapped in a jungle ruin and besieged by vicious plants. They then have to escape from a murderous hermit in an icy wasteland and defend Ian from a murder charge in the city of Millennius. 

Though they successfully find and bring back the keys to the island, Arbitan has been killed by Yartek. The terrorist seems to trick Ian into handing over the keys, but Ian has swapped the final key for an imitation. When Yartek attempts to use the Conscience, the machine explodes, killing him and his Voord followers.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Marco Polo"

Aired Feb 22 - April 4, 1964

Episode 1 – The Roof of the World
Episode 2 – The Singing Sands
Episode 3 – Five Hundred Eyes
Episode 4 – The Wall of Lies
Episode 5 – Rider From Shang-Tu
Episode 6 – Mighty Kublai Khan
Episode 7 – Assassin at Peking

Story 4

Written by John Lucarotti

Directed by Waris Hussein (Episode 1-3, 5-7)

& John Crockett (Episode 4)


Synopsis

Arriving in Central Asia in 1289, Ian realizes that the footprint could be just an ordinary one enlarged by the snow melting. A more serious problem soon presents itself as the Doctor reports that the TARDIS has developed a major fault: all the lights have failed, the water supply has been affected and the heating is inoperative. As Barbara points out, they are now in danger of freezing to death.

The Doctor and his companions encounter the famous Venetian explorer Marco Polo, and join his caravan as it makes its way from the Pamir Plateau, across the barren Gobi Desert to reach the court of Kublai Khan in imperial Cathay. Polo is accompanied by a young woman named Ping Cho who is to be married to an elderly aristocrat, and Tegana, a warlord in the service of Khan's rival Noghai. Polo seizes the TARDIS, intending to use it as a gift to persuade the Khan to allow him to return home after many years in his service.



Having witnessed many incredible sights, repaired the TARDIS, and survived a variety of dangers orchestrated by the duplicitous Tegana, they eventually arrive at Kublai Khan's Summer Palace in Shang-tu, where the Doctor strikes up an extraordinary friendship with the now-aged ruler. They move on at last to the even more sumptuous Imperial Palace in Peking, where the travelers manage to save the Khan from an assassination attempt by Tegana.


In the confusion that follows, Polo gives the TARDIS crew the key in gratitude. It is also revealed that man Ping Cho was to marry has died, leaving her free of her duty and in the care of the Khan. The TARDIS crew make a quick goodbye and the Khan and his court watch as it vanishes before their eyes. In thanks for his loyalty, the Khan releases Polo from his service, and allows him to return to Venice.


Monday, February 14, 2011

The Missing Stories

A Scene from The Daleks' Master Plan, a missing serial
Perhaps the most frustrating part of being a fan of classic Doctor Who is the simple fact that not every story exists in its original form. Over 90 episodes, starting from the show's debut in 1963 through to 1970, are missing.

To many new viewers, particularly those in North America, this seems inconceivable. How could any television show, particularly one as popular as Doctor Who, have entire batches of episodes missing? After all, aside from some live television from the 1950's and 60's, we in North America have a pretty complete archive of most of our television history.

But in England this is not the case. During the 1960s and 1970s, the BBC and other British television networks had a policy of wiping or "junking" film and videotape copies of their shows. This was done for various reasons, some economical and some in the name of a simple lack of space. But no examination of Doctor Who can be done without taking a look at this era, so I thought it would be best to give a quick explanation in order to provide some context.

Doctor Who is certainly not unique in this situation, and indeed, in some ways its popularity has made it more fortunate than other series (about which more later). ITV wiped its earliest episodes of The Avengers. Such BBC staples as Steptoe and Son, Z-Cars, and Dad's Army all have complete eras missing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

"The Edge of Destruction"

Aired Feb 8 - 15, 1964

Episode 1 – The Edge of Destruction
Episode 2 – The Brink of Disaster

Story 3

Written by David Whitaker

Directed by Richard Martin (Episode 1) 

& Frank Cox (Episode 2)

Synopsis

Ian and Barbara awaken after being knocked unconscious by the turbulence. Clearly suffering from sort of amnesia, and acting very strangely, they try to make sense of their surroundings. When Susan comes to, she acts even more bizarrely, going so far as to threaten to stab Ian with a pair of scissors, and being unable to touch the console without experiencing pain. The doors to the ship open and close of their own accord while the TARDIS is in flight, and the scanner begins to show the travellers images of danger.

The Doctor awakens, suffering from a head wound, and immediately is suspicious of Ian and Barbara. He accuses them of sabotaging the ship deliberately, and threatens to throw them off. Barbara, the only one that seems to be coming to her senses, tries to calm everyone and convince them that they are in danger.

The Doctor discovers that a piece of equipment called the Fast Return Switch is malfunctioning, and it's forcing the ship back to the creation of the universe, and to its own destruction. The strange disturbances and their bizarre behaviour is the result of the TARDIS attempting to warn them of the danger. The Doctor repairs the switch, saving them all, and the experience has caused him to finally accept Ian and Barbara; he apologizes to them, and the travellers are finally becoming friends.

The TARDIS materializes on a snowy mountainside, and the women find a massive footprint in the snow.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"The Daleks"

Aired Dec 21, 1963 - Feb 1 1964

Episode 1 – The Dead Planet
Episode 2 – The Survivors
Episode 3 – The Escape
Episode 4 – The Ambush
Episode 5 – The Expedition
Episode 6 – The Ordeal
Episode 7 – The Rescue

Story 2

Written by Terry Nation

Directed by Christopher Barry (Episodes 1, 2, 4, & 5)

& Richard Martin (Episodes 3, 6 & 7)

Synopsis

The TARDIS has materialized on the planet Skaro, an alien world ravaged by a brutal war between two races, the Daleks and the Thals. After the Doctor contrives to remain on the planet and explore even after it proves dangerous, the travellers are nearly killed by the radioactive atmosphere and captured by the Daleks, malicious creatures who have protected themselves from the radiation by encasing themselves in armoured travel machines. The Daleks attempt to force the travellers to aid them in a final effort to eradicate the Thals, who have become agrarian pacifists struggling to survive. 


After escaping the Dalek city, the Doctor and Ian convince the Thals of the need to fight their enemies and prevent their own extinction. The Daleks plan to irradiate the planet, which will wipe out all life other than themselves.

The travellers come up with a risky plan of attack. Ian, Barbara and a group of Thals will approach the Dalek city from the mountains, a dangerous route but one that is undefended. Meanwhile, the Doctor, Susan and the remaining Thals will mount a frontal attack as a diversion. The two-pronged approach succeeds, and the Doctor's team deactivates the Dalek defences, allowing the others to destroy the power source for the city, killing the Daleks.

Leaving their newfound and grateful friends, the Thals, all seems well. But then the ship lurches suddenly and the travellers are hurled to the floor….