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 ZoĆ« 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...