Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Inferno"

Aired May 9 - June 20, 1970

7 Episodes

Story 54

Written by Don Houghton

Directed by Douglas Camfield



Synopsis

UNIT is providing security for a top secret experimental drilling project. Headed by the driven Professor Stahlman, the aim of the experiment is to penetrate the Earth's crust and ascertain the theoretical existence of a new source of energy dubbed "Stahlman's Gas." The project's executive director Sir Keith Gold has concerns regarding the safety of the project, but the obsessed Stahlman ignores them and pushes the timeline of the project well past the safety margins.

Gold's fears may be accurate, as the drill head begins oozing a strange green slime that transforms any who come into contact with it into violent primordial creatures that emit and crave extreme heat. While the Brigadier and the Doctor investigate, their concerns have no effect on Stahlman, who accelerates the drilling even further. 

During an experiment with the TARDIS console which utilizes the complex's power supply, the project suffers a power surge that catapults the Doctor into a parallel universe. There he finds England is a totalitarian state and he encounters dark versions of his friends. The Brigadier is a craven, petty fascist, Liz is not a scientist but a cooly efficient soldier, and Benton is a vicious thug.

Stahlman's project is at a more advanced stage here, nearly about to break through the crust. Though the Doctor desperately tries to prevent an apocalypse, he is ultimately unable to stave off catastrophe, and the parallel Earth destroys itself as the Doctor manages to escape back to his own universe.

Returning home, he tries to use the knowledge he gained in the doomed universe to prevent another disaster. Initially his warnings are dismissed, but once Stahlman himself is infected by the slime and transformed into a creature, the Doctor, Liz and UNIT manage to shut down the drilling in the nick of time.

Monday, December 22, 2014

"The Ambassadors of Death"

Aired Mar. 21 - May 2, 1970

7 Episodes

Story 53

Written by David Whitaker

Directed by Michael Ferguson



Synopsis


The British Space Programme has lost contact with their manned mission to Mars. Space Control has had no contact with the astronauts on board Mars Probe 7 for seven months, and as the craft makes it way back to Earth's orbit, the Recovery 7 rescue mission is sent up to meet it and uncover the problem. When the astronaut on board Recovery 7 links up with Mars Probe 7, contact is again lost, and the Brigadier calls in the Doctor to assist with the investigation. 

Recovery 7 does manage to return to Earth, seemingly with all of the astronauts inside, but they are kidnapped after landing. Examining the capsule, Liz notices that the Geiger counter is reading at maximum.

The astronauts have been abducted by henchmen working for General Carrington, a xenophobic ex-astronaut in charge of space security. Constantly kept in their space suits within a sealed chamber, the trio need radiation to survive, and their touch is both destructive and deadly. Carrington's men have abducted Liz and are using her to study the trio, and even work out a way to force them to do their bidding. 

Making a solo flight in Recovery, the Doctor docks with Mars Probe 7, which is then overtaken by a huge alien spaceship. Taken on board, the Doctor discovers that the three Earth astronauts are being held unharmed. The trio sent to Earth are, in fact, ambassadors from an alien society. The aliens' Captain threatens to destroy the Earth unless they are released.


The Doctor returns to Earth, and Space Control, discovering that General Carrington wants to discredit the aliens and convince the world to attack them. The Doctor and UNIT are able to thwart his plans and arrange the safe exchange of ambassadors for astronauts.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Doctor Who and the Silurians"

Aired Jan. 31 - Mar. 14,1970

7 Episodes

Story 52

Written by Malcolm  Hulke

Directed by Timothy Combe



Synopsis

UNIT is called to an underground research facility where an experiment to test a prototype nuclear reactor is suffering from baffling power losses and a high incident of nervous breakdowns among the staff. 

When the Doctor decides to investigate the cave system near the base, he discovers a vast hidden complex housing a race of intelligent reptiles dubbed Silurians. These beings were the first intelligent life on earth, but the entire race went into suspended animation millions of years ago when they predicted an environmental catastrophe that never came. Ambient power from the research station has revived a group of them, and the Silurians now want to reclaim the dominion over Earth. 

Striving for peace between the humans and the reptiles, the Doctor builds a relationship with the Elder Silurian leader. However, a young Silurian, fearful of humanity, kills the Elder and releases a deadly plague that quickly spreads throughout London.

Although the Doctor and Liz successfully create an antidote to the virus, the Silurians manage to take over the research station and threaten to destroy Earth's Van Allen Belt, which shields the planet from deadly solar rays. The Doctor manages to deceive the Silurians into believing the reactor is going to overload, which forces them back into hibernation. 

The Doctor remains optimistic that a peaceful solution can be achieved, and is outraged when the Brigadier has the Silurian base destroyed.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Spearhead From Space"

Aired: Jan. 3 - Jan. 24, 1970

4 Episodes

Story 51

Written by Robert Holmes

Directed by Derek Martinus



Synopsis


While mysterious meteorites land in formation in rural England, the TARDIS arrives nearby and a newly regenerated Doctor stumbles out and collapses, unconscious. Meanwhile, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart of the United Nations Intelligence Task Force (UNIT) interviews his new scientific advisor, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw. While investigating these meteorites, UNIT also discover the unconscious Doctor, who is taken to a nearby hospital. 

The Brigadier, upon hearing of a strange man found near a police box, races to the hospital but is confronted by a man who appears to be a stranger to him. Soon convinced that this man is the Doctor with new body, the Brigadier is faced with having to cope not only with the mysterious meteorites but also with reports that a plastics factory has been infiltrated by walking mannequins.

The meteorites in question are actually control spheres containing a disembodied alien consciousness known as the Nestene. A Nestene agent known only as Channing has taken over the aforementioned plastics factory and is creating an army of armed mannequins known as Autons as well as plastic duplicates of government officials. The Nestene plan to take over the Earth worth these duplicates.


working together, the Doctor and Liz Shaw create a device capable of transmitting the Nestene consciousness into space, which deactivates the Autons. The Brigadier asks the Doctor to continue to advise UNIT, and the exiled Time Lord reluctantly agrees.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Second Doctor Era: A Summary

Patrick Troughton as the Doctor in
The Power of the Daleks
When William Hartnell left the series in 1966, many thought it impossible that anyone could take over the show from him, so indelible was the mark he left on the role. Even his successor doubted the idea. Interviewed in 1986, Patrick Troughton said, "I didn't think it was a particularly good idea of the BBC to replace Billy [Hartnell]. I thought it was pretty silly, really! I didn't see how anyone could follow him."

In hindsight, aside from the concept of regeneration itself, the choice of Troughton to replace Hartnell was perhaps the most brilliant choice anyone associated with the show ever made. To have the courage to opt for a completely different characterization of the Doctor, to not just look for someone to impersonate Hartnell, freed the production team to simply choose the best actor for the part. Reportedly, Hartnell himself thought Troughton was the only actor capable of the job, and his performance proves this. Indeed, it was his continued brilliance in the role and the aspects of the Doctor's personality he chose to emphasize, that ensured that the series could seamlessly replace the lead actor and continue forward.

Season 6 Overview

From L to R: Patrick Troughton, Wendy Padbury, Hamish Wilson
from The Mind Robber
As Doctor Who headed into its sixth season, it was clear that the production of the series was in trouble, and its future was in doubt. Producer Peter Bryant and Script Editor Derrick Sherwin had for some time  harboured serious concerns about the way the series was produced, believing its punishing schedule of producing around 40 episodes per season was simply no longer tenable. Budgets, always tight on Doctor Who, could no longer stretch to allow for the constant need to create alien worlds and monsters. The schedule had exhausted their leading man, who, after three years, was eager to move on, and viewing figures were slipping. The sixth season would be one of the most tumultuous and chaotic in the history of the series, and would also wind up being one of the most important to its future.

The problems began almost immediately, when Sherwin decided that the opening six-part story, The Dominators by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, had scripting issues. Sherwin elected to compress the story from six parts to five, the result being that Haisman and Lincoln demanded their names be removed and the story credited to a pseudonym. The loss of this sixth part meant that the subsequent serial, The Mind Robber, had to be enlarged from four parts to five. Sherwin provided the script for an opening prologue episode to the story proper. The next serial, The Invasion, was intended to be a six-part story, then was going to be pared down to four before problems with the next planned serial, "The Dreamspinner", led to that story's cancelation and The Invasion being hastily expanded to eight episodes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"The War Games"

Aired: Apr. 19 - June 21, 1969

10 Episodes

Story 50

Written by Malcolm Hulke & Terrance Dicks

Directed by David Maloney



Synopsis


The TARDIS appears to have materialized in the middle of the First World War, but the Doctor and his friends soon discover not all is as it appears. They soon uncover that they are not on Earth at all, but that a sinister group of aliens have assembled soldiers from various wars throughout human history on an unnamed planet, brainwashed them, and are playing deadly war games. The Aliens hope to take the best soldiers from each of their war zones and assemble an unbeatable force with which they can conquer the galaxy.

This plan is made possible by the War Chief, a member of the Doctor's own race who has provided the Aliens with time ships to move the troops around. Though second only to the War Lord in the command structure of the Aliens, the War Chief is in fact working to his own ends, planning to seize power for himself. 

Though the War Chief attempts to enlist the Doctor in his scheme, the Doctor manages to organize an army of resistance fighters from the different time zones, made up of soldiers who were naturally resistant to the Aliens' mind control efforts. Utlizing this army, the Doctor overthrows the War Lord and stops the War Chief, but finds that he has no way to return the massive amount of human soldiers to their proper times and places. Faced with no other option, and for the first time since leaving his home world, he is forced to contact the Time Lords for help.

Though they do return the stolen humans to the proper place and time, as well as punish the War lord and his people for their crimes, they also place the Doctor on trial for violating their most serious law of non-interference. While the Doctor does convince the Time Lords of the need of his actions on the side of good, he is still sentenced to be exiled to Earth in one place and time, and for his appearance to be forcibly changed. Jamie and Zoë will be sent back to their own times, with all but their first adventure with the Doctor erased from their memories. As the Doctor spins off to begin his exile, his appearance begins to change...


Thursday, November 27, 2014

"The Space Pirates"

Aired: Mar. 8 - Apr. 12, 1969

6 Episodes

Story 49

Written by Robert Holmes

Directed by Michael Hart


Synopsis


The TARDIS materializes on a space beacon just before it is attacked by pirates, who use explosive charges to break the station into separate pieces for easier transport. Trapped in a different section than the TARDIS, the travellers can only watch as it is flown to where the pirates will plunder it of the precious mineral argonite. They then witness a conflict between the pirates and the Interstellar Space Corps.

Meanwhile, the Interstellar Space Corps are relentlessly tracking the pirates, but making little headway. General Hermack of the ISC is convinced that the leader of the pirates is a crusty and eccentric prospector named Milo Clancey, but in reality the pirates  leader is a man named Caven. Caven has a secret base on the planet Ta. The planet is under the dominion of the Issigri Mining Corporation, a company created by Clancey and his ex-partner, Dom Issigri.  The Corporation is now run by Dom's daughter Madeleine, following the murder of her father, with Clancey being the obvious suspect. 

Madeleine is reluctantly in league with Caven, though unbeknownst to her, her father is not dead, but the captive of the pirate leader. The Doctor and his friends, along with Milo, manage to free Dom Issigri, and when Madeleine discovers Caven's plan to kill both her father and Milo, she finally helps to bring him to justice. The time travelers are given a lift back to the TARDIS by Clancey and head on their way.


Friday, November 21, 2014

"The Seeds of Death"

Aired: Jan. 25 - Mar. 1, 1969

6 Episodes

Story 48

Written by Brian Hayles

Directed by Michael Ferguson


Synopsis


Materializing on Earth in the 21st Century, the travellers discover that all travel on the planet happens through T-Mat, a matter transmitting device that beams people and freight instantly to destinations all around the globe. Overseen by Commander Radnor and his assistant Gia Kelly, T-Mat is currently on the blink and mass panic is ensuing all over Earth. As the Doctor is one of the few people with practical experience, the travellers agree to pilot an obsolete rocket to the Moon relay station, where the problem seems to originate.

The moon station has in fact been taken over by Ice Warriors as part of the first stage of an invasion of earth. They plan to T-Mat deadly seeds pods to the Earth's surface which emit foamy spores that draw oxygen from the atmosphere. This will suffocate humanity but terraform the Earth for the Martians who require less oxygen.

The Doctor and his friends manage to escape the moon and return to Earth, whereupon the Doctor deduces that the seed pods are vulnerable to water. He and Jamie and Zoe head to a weather control station and succeed in fighting off an Ice Warrior long enough to create a torrential downpour, destroying the pods.

Returning to the Moon, the Doctor is able to alter the course of the approaching Martian fleet so that it will fly into the Sun. The invasion by the Ice Warriors is thwarted.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"The Krotons"

Aired: Dec. 28, 1968 - Jan. 18, 1969

4 Episodes

Story 47

Written by Robert Holmes

Directed by David Maloney


Synopsis

The TARDIS arrives on the planet of the Gonds, a simple people overseen and educated by the Krotons. The Krotons are crystalline aliens whose ship, the Dynatrope, crashed on the planet thousands of years ago.

The Krotons exist in slurry-like form, requiring the absorption of enough mental energy to reform themselves fully. Periodically, the two most brilliant Gond students are received into the Dynatrope. As far as the Gonds are concerned these two are taken to serve the Krotons, but in truth their mental energy is drained, and their mindless bodies are then taken outside the Dynatrop to be killed.

The Doctor and Zoe take the Krotons' test, and their brains are advanced enough to reanimate the Krotons.  However, the Doctor also discovers that make up of the Kortons is based on tellurium, which allows him to destroy them and their ship using a form of sulphuric acid.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"The Invasion"

Aired: Nov. 2 - Dec. 21, 1968

8 Episodes

Story 46

Written by Derrick Sherwin
Story by Kit Pedler

Directed by Douglas Camfield


Synopsis

Narrowly evading a missile fired at them from a spaceship in Earth's orbit, the TARDIS materializes in England of the near future.  Discovering that the TARDIS is damaged, the travellers attempt to reach their old friend Prof. Travers for help. However, upon reaching Travers' home they encounter Isobel Watkins, who lets them know that Travers is away and she and her uncle Professor Watkins, are living there temporarily.  Isobel is concerned as her uncle has recently gone missing. The Doctor offers to help track him down, starting at this work-place, the London HQ of International Electromatics, the world's major supplier of electronic equipment.

Meeting IE's managing director Tobias Vaughn, the Doctor is immediately suspicious. Soon after, the Doctor and his friends encounter old ally Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, now promoted to Brigadier and in charge of the British branch of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT). UNIT is investigating a series of odd disappearances that seem to be connected to International Electromatics. The Brigadier asks the Doctor to help him in his investigation.

The Doctor discovers that Vaughn is working with the Cybermen in a plan to invade Earth, though Vaughn's try aim is to betray them and seize control for himself. Professor Watkins is being forced by Vaughn to develop a machine that will generate emotional impulses in the Cybermen, a process that causes the cybernetic beings to die or go insane.


Using a hypnotic signal broadcast through IE equipment and products, the Cybermen immobilize most of Earth's population. However, the Doctor has managed to protect himself and UNIT from the signal and they mount a counterattack, with the reluctant aid of Vaughn himself. Together, they successfully fight off the invasion.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"The Mind Robber"

Aired Sept. 14 - Oct. 12, 1968

5 Episodes

Story 45

Written by Peter Ling

Directed by David Maloney


Synopsis

To escape from the volcanic eruption on Dulkis, the Doctor uses an emergency unit which moves the TARDIS out of normal time and space. Subsequently, the travelers find themselves in an endless void, where they are menaced by White Robots while their minds are assaulted by an unseen force.

After successfully rescuing Jamie and Zoë from the void’s sinister influence, the Doctor returns them to the safety of the TARDIS. Suddenly, the TARDIS inexplicably explodes! They find themselves in a land of fiction, where they are hunted by life-size clockwork soldiers and encounter characters like Rapunzel and Swift's Lemuel Gulliver while navigating a forest of words.

This domain is presided over by a man known as the Master, a prolific English writer from 1926, who in turn is controlled by a Master Brain computer. The Master is desperate to escape his life of storytelling for his captors and wants the Doctor to take his place, while the Master Brain plots to take over the Earth.


The Doctor engages the Master in a battle of wills, fighting through the use of a variety of fictional characters. Zoë and Jamie meanwhile succeed in overloading the Master Brain and, in the confusion the White Robots destroy the computer, finally freeing the Master.


Friday, April 4, 2014

"The Dominators"

Aired Aug 7 - Sept 10, 1968


5 Episodes

Story 44

Written by Norman Ashby

Directed by Morris Barry


Synopsis

The TARDIS materializes on the planet Dulkis, currently under threat from two alien Dominators, Rago and his subordinate Toba, who have landed their spaceship on a remote island.


Aided by their robotic servants the Quarks, as well as slave workers drawn from the native Dulcian population, the Dominators set about drilling holes into the crust through which they plan to fire rockets into the planet's molten core. Their intention is then to drop an atomic seed capsule into the resulting eruption, turning Dulkis into a radioactive mass; fuel for the Dominators' space fleet.

The Dulcian Councilors, being pacifists, refuse to retaliate. Cully, the rebellious son of their leader Senex, has already joined forces with the TARDIS crew. The Doctor eventually defeats the Dominators by intercepting the seed capsule as it is dropped and surreptitiously placing it on board their ship, which is then destroyed shortly after take off.

Dulkis suffers only a minor volcanic eruption, as a result of the rockets fired into its magma. The Doctor and his friends narrowly make it into the TARDIS as advancing lava flows towards them.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Season 5 Overview

From L to R: Deborah Watling, Patrick Troughton,
Fraser Hines in Fury from the Deep
Midway through the production of Season 4, producer Innes Lloyd was keen to move on from the series. He felt he had contributed all he could to Doctor Who, and wanted to take on other challenges. Although he was responsible for simplifying the series down to a more straightforward action-adventure format, he and script editor Gerry Davis were also responsible for a number of successes. He had successfully overseen the introduction of a new lead actor, had enlivened the series with a focus on pacier, action oriented stories, had established a budget conscious format with the base-under-siege formula,  and had correctly seen that the monsters, always one of Doctor Who's strongest assets, could be emphasized even more heavily. All of this resulted in season 4's ratings improving dramatically over its run from an average of around five million viewers at its beginning to around seven at its end.

With Lloyd's departure, Davis was asked to take over as producer, and though he initially flirted with the idea, he too decided to move on in 1967. Davis' successor as story editor was Peter Bryant, and Bryant was also considered as a possible producer of the series, getting some experience throughout the fourth season. Bryant also brought Victor Pemberton on board to assist him in his editing duties. As the fifth season began, Bryant was given the opening story The Tomb of the Cybermen, as a trial run to see how he would perform as producer, with Pemberton temporarily elevated to script editor. With this story seen as a huge success, Lloyd began actively grooming Bryant as his successor.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"The Wheel in Space"

Aired Apr 27 - June 1, 1968


6 Episodes

Story 43

Written by David Whitaker
From a Story by Kit Pedler

Directed by Tristan DeVere Cole


Synopsis

The TARDIS materializes on board a spaceship, the Silver Carrier, where the Doctor and Jamie are attacked by a maintenance Robot. Jamie manages to contact a nearby space station known as the Wheel and they are rescued. Though viewed with suspicion by many of the crew, the Doctor and Jamie befriend Zoe Heriot, a young prodigy with total recall and broad scientific knowledge, as well as a healthy ego.

Meanwhile, the Silver Carrier discharges Cybermats, which travel to and enter the station. These pave the way for the penetration of the station by Cybermen, who intend to use its direct radio link with Earth as a beacon for their invasion fleet.

The Doctor sends Jamie and Zoe over to the Silver Carrier to fetch the TARDIS's vector generator rod. Meanwhile he manages to free the Wheel's crew from the Cybermen's hypnotic control and to destroy all the Cybermen on the station.

When Jamie and Zoe return, he installs the rod in the station's X-ray laser, making it powerful enough to destroy the Cyber-fleet. Zoe joins Jamie and the Doctor in their travels.



Monday, February 10, 2014

"Fury from the Deep"

Aired Mar 16 - Apr 20, 1968

6 Episodes

Story 42


Written by Victor Pemberton

Directed by Hugh David


Synopsis




The TARDIS lands on the surface of the sea, just off the east coast of England. The travelers use a rubber dinghy to get ashore, whereupon they are shot with tranquilizer darts and taken prisoner.

They awaken to find themselves imprisoned at a natural gas refinery for trespassing in a restricted area. The Doctor learns that there have been a number of unexplained problems with the pressure in the feed pipes from the offshore drilling rigs, problems exacerbated by Robson, the ruthlessly driven head of the refinery. The Doctor uncovers that one of the rigs has sucked up a parasitic form of seaweed capable of releasing poisonous gas and emitting a strange foam allowing it to take control of people's minds.

The weed spreads rapidly, intent on building a huge colony centered on and around the rigs. The Doctor makes the discovery that it is susceptible to high pitched noise; consequently he is able to use the amplified sound of Victoria's screams to destroy it. Victoria, tired by the constant dangers in their travels, elects to remain with Harris, one of the refinery workers, and his family.

Although he shares Jamie's sadness at her departure, the Doctor understands her decision to settle down to a quieter life, and the duo sadly leave her to continue on their journey.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"The Web of Fear"

Aired Feb 3 - Mar 9, 1968

6 Episodes

Story 41

Written by Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln

Directed by Douglas Camfield



Synopsis

In space, the TARDIS narrowly avoids becoming engulfed in a web-like substance. The Doctor manages to materialize the ship, and the TARDIS arrives in the London Underground railway system, but the travelers discover the tunnels and the city above have been evacuated due to some dire emergency.  They soon discover the tunnels are being overrun by the web and by the Great Intelligence's robot Yeti.

The Doctor discovers that this crisis was precipitated when their old friend Professor Travers, inadvertently caused one of the Yeti to be reactivated. This allowed the Intelligence to begin a second invasion attempt, this time in London itself.

Trapped in the Underground, the travelers work alongside army forces led by Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, as they battle against the alien menace, hampered by the fact that one of their number may have fallen under the Intelligence's influence and is a traitor in their midst.

The Intelligence's ultimate aim is to drain the Doctor's mind. The Doctor manages to sabotage the device with which it intends to achieve this, so that he can drain the Intelligence's mind instead, but he is 'rescued' by his friends before he can bring his plan to fruition.

The Intelligence is eventually repelled into space, though the Doctor warns that the Intelligence is not totally defeated, and will undoubtedly return.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"The Enemy of the World"

Aired Dec 23, 1967 - Jan 27, 1968

6 Episodes

Story 40

Written by David Whitaker

Directed by Barry Letts



Synopsis


The travelers arrive in Australia in the near future and learn from a man named Giles Kent that the Doctor is the physical double of Salamander, a scientist and politician who has discovered a means of storing and distributing solar energy and thus ending starvation in a world ravaged by natural disasters.

Most people see Salamander as a hero, but Kent and others believe him to be establishing himself as a dictator. The Doctor uncovers the truth by impersonating Salamander and gaining access to his research station. Salamander and Kent were originally working together. Almost five years ago, they convinced a group of people undergoing an endurance test in a bunker beneath the station that a war had broken out on the surface.

It is these people, led by a man named Swann, who, deceived into thinking that they are striking back against an evil enemy, have been engineering the so-called natural disasters. Kent, now exposed as a traitor, blows up the station. Salamander meanwhile tries to escape in the TARDIS by impersonating the Doctor. He neglects to close the doors before dematerialization, however, and is sucked out into the vortex.