Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"The Brain of Morbius"

Aired Jan 3 - Jan 24, 1976



4 Episodes


Story 84

Written by: Robin Bland

Directed by: Christopher Barry



Synopsis

The Doctor and Sarah arrive on Karn, a desolate planet that seems to be a magnet for crashed spaceships. Karn is also home to a mysterious Sisterhood, a group of women who guard a sacred flame that produces an elixir of life. Also on Karn is renegade scientist Mehendri Solon, who is there performing secret experiments in an attempt to construct a new body for the living brain of Morbius, a Time Lord criminal believed to have been executed.

Upon meeting the Doctor, Solon is convinced that his head is the perfect receptacle for Morbius' brain, and begins making plans to obtain the Doctor's head and transplant it onto the body Solon has cobbled together from spaceship crash victims. The Sisterhood meanwhile, believing that the Doctor has been sent to Karn by the Time Lords in an attempt to steal the final drops of elixir produced by the dying flame, attempt to burn the Doctor at the stake. Though he's rescued by Sarah, she is temporarily blinded while doing so.

The Doctor drinks Sarah to Solon to see if the scientist can help her, but Solon tricks the Doctor into believing her condition is irreversible. In desperation, the Doctor returns to the Sisterhood in the hopes that the elixir will help, but the Sisters cannot spare any as the flame is dying. Meanwhile, as Sarah's sight slowly returns, she uncovers Solon's plan to create a monstrous new body for Morbius and unleash his evil across the universe once more.

The Doctor successfully restores the flame, which will now begin producing elixir in earnest, and returns to Solon's laboratory, but only succeeds in being captured in the cellar alongside Sarah. Solon has by this point begun the procedure to transplant Morbius' brain into a synthetic brain case and attach it to the body he has constructed. The Doctor manages to use the chemicals at hand in the cellar to create cyanide gas, and wafts it into the ventilation system. While Solon is killed, the now ambulatory Morbius survives.

Morbius then challenges the Doctor to a Gallifreyan psychic battle, and though the Doctor proves victorious, the contest extols a heavy cost to both. The insane Morbius wanders onto the planet's surface, where the Sisters drive him off a cliff to his death. The injured Doctor is revived by the elixir of Karn, and he and Sarah leave with the gratitude of the Sisterhood.

Monday, October 12, 2015

"The Android Invasion"

Aired Nov 22 - Dec 13, 1975



4 Episodes


Story 83

Written by: Terry Nation

Directed by: Barry Letts



Synopsis

The Doctor and Sarah arrive in what they initially believe is the quiet English village of Devesham, located near Britain's Space Defence Station. Encountering many strange sights, including villagers seemingly entranced, they soon uncover that the village is in fact a replica built on the planet Oseidon. An alien race known as the Kraals, led by the scientist Styggron, have built a copy of both village and station and populated them with android replicas in order to prepare for their invasion of Earth. The Doctor and Sarah meet sinister versions of UNIT friends such as Harry Sullivan and Benton, while attempting to uncover Styggron's full plan.

Aiding the Kraals is an Earth astronaut named Guy Crayford, thought lost by Earth years ago during a space mission. Styggron has duped the man into helping them, after supposedly finding his damaged space craft and repairing Crayford's injured body. The Doctor and Sarah eventually manage to return to Earth in Crayford's rocket, as his miraculous return is part of the invasion plans.The rocket also contains a deadly virus that Styggron will release on Earth to weaken the population ahead of a full invasion. A convenient meteor shower is also part of the plan, as the meteors contain android duplicates that will take over the Station.

Though the Doctor and Sarah's warnings fall on deaf ears due to the joy at Crayford's return, they do manage to use the Station's radio transmitters to jam the control signals of the androids and eventually succeed in preventing Styggron from releasing the virus. Styggron himself is killed after he is confronted by Crayford, who has discovered his only an android himself, and the alien scientist is felled by his own virus.



Friday, October 2, 2015

"Pyramids of Mars"

Aired Oct 25 - Nov 15, 1975

4 Episodes

Story 82

Written by: Stephen Harris

Directed by: Paddy Russell



Synopsis

Materializing inside an old English priory in the year 1911, the Doctor and Sarah find themselves becoming embroiled in sinister goings on when the priory's owner, Egyptologist Marcus Scarman, returns from an expedition in Egypt possessed by an malevolent being known as Sutekh. Sutekh is the last survivor of a race of god-like beings known as the Osirans. Imprisoned ages ago inside a pyramid on Earth by his brother Horus, Sutekh is held motionless by a signal transmitted from a pyramid on Mars. Scarman's excavation of his tomb has allowed his mental energies to kill Scarman and reanimate his corpse, as well as power robots that resemble Egyptian mummies. Using these servants and his tremendous mental powers, Sutekh hopes to engineer his escape by constructing a missile at the priory that will destroy the Martian pyramid and release him to ravage the cosmos.

Working with Scarman's brother Laurence, the Doctor and Sarah Jane eventually succeed in destroying Sutekh's missile. Sadly, the possessed Marcus kills his brother, and maters turn for the worst when the Doctor and Sarah are captured. Confronting Sutekh in his prison, the Doctor falls under the Osiran's control and is forced to transport Scarman to Mars in the TARDIS. Once there, the Doctor manages to free himself from Sutekh's control and he and Sarah attempt to stop Scarman from cutting off the signal and freeing Sutekh. But Scarman succeeds, and then is allowed to die. The Doctor realizes that the signal will take mere minutes to travel through space to Earth and release Sutekh, so he and Sarah race into the TARDIS, take it back to Earth and use the time control from the TARDIS to sabotage Sutekh's space/time tunnel transporter, so that as the Osiran is travelling through the tunnel, he is flung into the far future, unable to reach the tunnel's end before the end of his own lifetime. With Sutekh dead, the Doctor and Sarah leave as the priory is consumed by flames.


Monday, September 28, 2015

"Planet of Evil"

Aired Sept 27 - Oct 18, 1975

4 Episodes

Story 81

Written by: Louis Marks

Directed by: David Maloney



Synopsis

Arriving on the planet Zeta Minor, on the edge of the known universe, the Doctor and Sarah find themselves investigating a distress call sent by a Morestran geological expedition. Exploring the forbidding jungle environment, they discover that the geological team has been nearly wiped out by an unseen killer, with only team leader Professor Sorenson left alive.

A Morestran military mission has also responded the the distress signal, and the team commander, Salamar, immediately suspects the Doctor of being behind the attacks. However, the Doctor soon discovers that the true killer is a monstrous creature from a universe of antimatter, crossing into our universe from a portal on Zeat Minor, site of a natural weak point. The creature is retaliating for Sorenson having taken antimatter minerals from near the portal.


The Doctor attempts to convince the Morestrans that the samples are what is drawing the creature to attack, but Sorenson is blinded by ambition, and sees his samples as the best chance to solve Morestrans increasingly dire energy issues.

As the Morestrans attempt to leave Zeta Minor, they find the ship canont escape the gravitational pull of the planet and is soon begin drawn back on a collision course. Though the Doctor does convince them of the need to dispose of the antimatter on board, Sorenson has become infected by antimatter and eventually transforms into an antimatter hybrid creature that drains the life-force from the crew. Salamar attempts to destroy Sorenson with radiation, but the attempt only causes the creature to replicate into many forms, and the ships is soon overrun.

The Doctor manages to locate the original Sorenson creature, and takes him back to Zeta Minor in the TARDIS, throwing both the professor and the samples into the portal. The antimatter force is satisfied, and returns Sorenson unharmed. The Morestrans are allowed to go on their way, the Doctor having given Sorenson a new, less deadly idea to solve their planet's energy crisis.

The Doctor and Sarah are free to go as well, and they return to the TARDIS to resume their travels.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

"Terror of the Zygons"

Aired Aug 30 - Sept 20, 1975


4 Episodes

Story 80

Written by: Robert Banks Stewart

Directed by: Douglas Camfield



Synopsis

Returning to Earth after receiving an emergency message from the Brigadier, the Doctor, Sarah and Harry find themselves on the Scottish moors, aiding UNIT in their investigation of a series of attacks on North Sea oil rigs. The Doctor soon uncovers that the attacks are part of an invasion plan of the alien Zygons, shape-shifters whose spaceship lies at the bottom of Loch Ness. Their own planet having been destroyed, the Zygons are using a huge cybernetic beast called the Skarasen to destroy the rigs and their shape-shifting abilities to impersonate local citizens. Their leader, Broton, has assumed the identity of the Duke of Forgill, using the laird's position and power to further their plans.

The Doctor manages to free the Zygons' prisoners and destroy their ship, however Broton escapes in disguise as the Duke. He heads to London where the Duke has been invited to an Energy Conference attended by political leaders. There, the Skarasen will attack and the Zygons will begin their invasion. 

Though UNIT shoots and kills Broton, the day is only saved once the Doctor manages to force the Skarasen to eat the homing device that is forcing it to attack. Once without its influence, the creatures swims harmlessly back into Loch Ness. The Doctor and Sarah head off in the TARDIS, this time without Harry, who elects to stay behind.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Season 12 Overview

Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen at the
photo call announcing his casting.
With a new leading man, a new producer and a new script editor, it would certainly be tempting to call Season 12 the start of a bold new era for Doctor Who. But, truth be told, due to the way the programme was made, it's not quite the new broom that it first appears to be. It's one of what I like to call "Shoulder Seasons", because it's really a melding of the old production team and the new, resulting in a merging of sensibilities that don't allow the new team to definitively make its stamp, even as the influence of the previous team is limited, albeit felt in crucial ways.

Though Barry Letts was no longer in charge of the series during Season 12, he commissioned all of the scripts for the season, and made some initial production decisions that greatly affected the content and shape of the whole season. However, new producer Philip Hinchcliffe and incoming script editor Robert Holmes then had to shape these scripts and actually produce the stories, crafting the tone and style of the new era. The overall result is one that serves to point the way the series was heading without being too jarring of a transition. A lot of this is helped by the fact that Holmes had been working on the series for some time already, and had a major hand in script commissioning, but Season 12 still winds up feeling transitional.

Monday, September 14, 2015

"Revenge of the Cybermen"

Aired Apr 19 - May 10, 1975

4 Episodes

Story 79

Written by: Gerry Davis

Directed by: Michael E Briant



Synopsis

The Time Ring takes the Doctor, Sarah and Harry back to Nerva at last, but they arrive thousands of years before their previous adventure there. Though the TARDIS will eventually drift back through time to meet them, they will have to wait. The station is currently being used as a beacon warning passing ships of a new asteroid orbiting Jupiter.

But the Doctor soon discovers all is not well aboard the Beacon. A mysterious plague has killed nearly the entire crew, and the survivors are desperately trying to survive. Among them is a civilian scientist named Kellman who is studying the asteroid, which he has dubbed Voga. It is discovered that Kellman is working in league with the Cybermen, who want to destroy Voga because its gold rich make-up is anathema to them. Gold, it seems, can coat their breathing apparatus and suffocate them.

The Doctor uncovers that the plague is actually a fast-acting poison injected into the body by Cybermats hidden aboard the beacon. After Sarah is poisoned, the Doctor uses transmat travel to clear her system by teleporting her and Harry down to Voga. The asteroid is inhabited by Vogans who live in caves underground and who are plotting to secure their safety from the Cybermen threat. 
Meanwhile, the Cybermen invade the Beacon  where their plan is to use the Doctor and the final two crewmen to carry cobalt bombs deep in the heart of the Vogan tunnels, destroying Voga. 

Kellman has escaped to Voga,where it's revealed that he's actually a double agent, secretly working with the Vogans to lure the Cybermen to the Beaconwhich they will destroy with a missile, thus ending the threat of the Cybermen forever. The Doctor manages to avoid using the Cybermen's bombs, but Sarah, thinking he is still on the Beacon, returns there to warn him of the missile attack. The Doctor heads back to the Beacon and tells the Cybermen of the Vogan plan. The Cybermen leave, but have loaded the Beacon with bombs and set it on a collision course with Voga.

While he and Sarah succeed in keeping Nerva from crashing into Voga, the Doctor also manages to divert the course of the missile so that it strikes the Cybermen's ship, destroying it. The Doctor, Sarah and Harry find that the TARDIS has arrived, and they hurry off following a distress call from the Brigadier on Earth...


Monday, September 7, 2015

"Genesis of the Daleks"

Aired Mar 8 - Apr 12, 1975


6 Episodes

Story 78

Written by: Terry Nation

Directed by: David Maloney



Synopsis

Intercepting the transmat beam taking the Doctor and his friends to Nerva, the Time Lords send them instead to the planet Skaro. There, the Time Lords give the Doctor a mission, avert the creation of the Daleks or alter their development so the they evolve into less destructive creatures. The Doctor is given a time ring that with return him and his friends to the TARDIS once the mission is complete.

They find themselves in a period of Skaro's history where the Kaleds and the Thals are locked in an seemingly endless war of attrition to exterminate each other. The chief scientist of the Kaled side, Davros, has been experimenting to create the final evolutionary form into which the Kaleds will mutate, altering these creatures to make them more aggressive and more successful survivors. He has also created a weaponized protective casing into which these creatures can be placed to further help them survive and dominate. The Doctor and Sarah instantly recognize these as Daleks.

Harry and the Doctor are captured by Davros and his Elite, a faction of scientists who reside in an underground bunker and have one purpose; to win the war at all costs. Though Davros' plan is supported by many of the Elite, including his loyal right-hand man Nyder, there are those who feel the Daleks are an abomination, genetically modified by Davros without pity, compassion or mercy. The Doctor and Harry foment this faction to rise against Davros' leadership, but the brilliant Davros conspires with the Thals to wipe out the Kaled city, leaving only the Elite in the bunker and his Dalek creatures. While the Daleks wipe out the Thals, Davros attempts to learn from the Doctor every future defeat the Daleks will face, and make plans to counteract those failures.

Eventually, the Elite revolts against Davros' rule, buying the Doctor time to set up a bomb that will wipe out the Dalek creatures, but Davros has foreseen this revolution, and unleashes his Daleks on the Elite, exterminating them. However, the Daleks turn on their creator, seizing total control and wiping out the remaining Kaled Elite, including, it seems, Davros himself. Thal survivors plan to detonate explosives at the entrance to the Elite bunker, sealing everyone inside, and the Doctor, Sarah and Harry manage to escape just as the explosives are set off.

The Daleks remain sealed inside, plotting, waiting. The Doctor estimates he has only set back their development by perhaps a thousand years and comforts himself that even out of the existence of something as evil of Daleks, must come something good.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

"The Sontaran Experiment"

Aired Feb 22 - Mar 1, 1975


2 Episodes

Story 77

Written by: Bob Baker & Dave Martin

Directed by: Rodney Bennett



Synopsis

After beaming down from Nerva to repair the transmat relays, the Doctor, Sarah and Harry find the Earth is not as deserted as everyone thought. A crew of shipwrecked humans from a distant colony are trying desperately to survive. Lured to Earth by a fake distress call, the astronauts have been captured and tortured by an alien warrior for reasons unknown. 

Sarah is soon captured and is shocked to discover the alien in question is Sontaran Field Major Styre, who is using cruel and brutal methods of torture in an effort to ascertain the physical and emotional limitations of humans as prelude to an invasion.

The Doctor comes up with a plan. He will distract Styre be challenging him to unarmed combat while Harry will sneak in Styre's ship and sabotage its energy supply. While the Doctor is greatly outmatched by the powerful Sontaran, the unfamiliar gravity of Earth causes Styre to weaken quickly. When Styre returns to his ship to revitalize himself, Harry's sabotaged energy supply destroys the Sontataran.

The Doctor then contacts the Sontaran fleet, informing them of Styre's defeat. Without the Major's report, the fleet has no idea of the level of resistance to expect, and therefore chooses to call off the invasion.


Monday, August 31, 2015

"The Ark in Space"

Aired Jan 25 - Feb 15, 1975


4 Episodes

Story 76

Written by: Robert Holmes

Directed by: Rodney Bennett



Synopsis

After Harry gives the TARDIS' Helmic Regulator an accidental twist, the Doctor and his friends arrive in the far future aboard a seemingly deserted space station in orbit around Earth. After examining the station, they discover it contains the last survivors of humanity, held for thousands of years in suspended animation after the Earth was evacuated following destructive solar flares devastating the surface and making the planet uninhabitable. 

The Doctor discovers that during the hibernation period, the station (called the Nerva Beacon) was visited by a space-faring insect form of life called the Wirrn. The Doctor causes the humans to begin the revival process, and they meet Vira, the chief medical officer, and Noah, the commander of the mission. Unfortunately, the Wirrn has laid its eggs in the station's solar stacks, and Noah is infected by one of the larvae and begins to be taken over by the Wirrn. 

While the Doctor, Sarah and Harry try to gain the trust of Vira and the other humans, Noah is quickly taken over and transformed into a Wirrn. He is now the spearhead of an invasion of Earth by the alien insects. Apparently, human space explorers who left Earth thousands of years ago were responsible for the destruction of the Wirrn breeding planet, and now the insects are bent on seizing Earth and wiping out the humans in revenge. 

The Doctor manages to come up with a plan to lure the Wirrn into a shuttle craft on board the station, launch it into space. The plan succeeds, partially due to the transformed Noah rediscovering his humanity and turning off the shuttle's stabilizers, resulting in the shuttle's explosion.

The Doctor, Sarah and Harry offer to transmat down to the deserted Earth and ensure the transmat devices are properly calibrated to begin humanity's return to their home...


Monday, August 24, 2015

"Robot"

Aired Dec 28, 1974 - Jan 18, 1975


4 Episodes

Story 75

Written by: Terrance Dicks

Directed by: Christopher Barry



Synopsis

As the Brigadier and Sarah watch, the Doctor regenerates, becoming a totally different person. This new Doctor is younger and possessed of a wild mass of brown curly hair, wide blue eyes and toothy grin. Initially set on immediately leaving Earth and resuming his travels, eventually the Doctor becomes intrigued by the theft of top secret plans that UNIT is investigating.

Doing some investigating of her own, Sarah uncovers that the theft was committed by a large sentient Robot created by Professor Kettlewell while he was employed at scientific research facility Think Tank. The Doctor, Sarah and UNIT soon suspect that Think Tank, led by its director Miss Winters, are behind the theft and are planning to use the stolen plans to create a disintegrator gun with which they can obtain the computer codes necessary to control the nuclear arsenals of the world's powers. Winters and her allies, including a reluctant Kettlewell, are part of a society that want to reorder society along purely logical lines.

The Doctor and UNIT thwart Winters' plans, but the danger has not passed. The Robot, which Kettlewell programmed to protect human life, has been going mad since it was reprogrammed by Winters to be capable of murder. After it inadvertently kills its creator Kettlewell, it suffers a complete breakdown and tries to launch the nuclear weapons. The Brigadier attempts to destroy the Robot with the disintegrator gun, which only succeeds in causing the Robot to grow to a gigantic size. Eventually, the Doctor and UNIT medical officer Harry Sullivan devise a chemical solution that will dissolve the Robot's unique structural makeup, and succeed in destroying the tragic creature.

In the end, the Doctor and Sarah decide to travel in the TARDIS, taking along an unbelieving Harry.


Friday, August 21, 2015

The Third Doctor Era: A Summary

The Radio Times cover announcing
Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor (1970)
When I began this journey through all of Doctor Who in order, I tried to jettison any preconceived notions or accepted fan-wisdom and approached the series with as open a mind as possible. Still, I couldn't help but hang on to a few ideas and opinions. I thought that I knew which eras would be favourites and which would be ones I would enjoy less, maybe even have to suffer through. 

To be honest, Season Seven aside, I had never been a huge fan of the Third Doctor's era. I thought it was too simplistic, too action-oriented, with Pertwee delivering an interpretation of the Doctor that felt too cozy and less complicated than other Doctors. I had always loved Pertwee's first season due to the quality of the stories and its attempt to create a more adult, sophisticated and morally complex tone. But everything after it had struck me as child-like in comparison.

Having now watched all of the Pertwee era in order, I find my opinion was completely and totally wrong-headed, and it's now become one of my favourite eras. My feeling on Season Seven remains unchanged, it's still perhaps the greatest single season of stories in Doctor Who's history, but whereas I had always lamented the fact that the series didn't retain this approach, I now see how untenable that would have been in the long run. The stories of the seventh season stand out as dark, adult, morally complex adventures, but another four years of that would have been stifling and frankly would have become dreary pretty quickly.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Season 11 Overview

The New Logo
When Doctor Who returned for its eleventh season, it immediately felt like a renewed series. This was thanks to a brand new title sequence, its first in four years, designed by Bernard Lodge. Lodge was a top graphic designer for the BBC, and he had designed the titles sequences for Doctor Who all the way back to its very first one in 1963. Back then, Lodge created the programme's eerie, otherworldly titles using a technique called "howlaround" in which a video camera is pointed at its own monitor, the feedback creating abstract patterns of light. Combined with Delia Derbyshire's spooky electronic arrangement of Ron Grainer's theme song, the effect was one of the most iconic openings to any television series in history.

But, Lodge and Barry Letts wanted something different for the new titles. Abandoning the "howlaround" technique, Lodge chose a new process for the creation of the titles, namely the "slit-scan" technique first popularized during the famous Star-Gate sequence in the climax to Satnely Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The technique combines long time exposures with a rostrum camera. A rostrum camera usually shoots a series of frames while tracking toward an image at a controlled rate. But in slit-scan, the camera tracks while only exposing a single frame towards a slit that is the only light source. The effect gives a perspective version of the image on that one frame. By placing torn strips of polystyrene between polarized filters, Lodge used the slit-scan technique to create an infinite tunnel made up of a spectrum of colour. The result was the first version of what would become one of the definitive versions of the programme's opening titles. They remain my favourite titles for the whole series, classic or new. Lodge also created a new logo for the series, this time in a diamond shape. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

"Planet of the Spiders"

Aired May 4 - June 8, 1974


6 Episodes

Story 74

Written by: Robert Sloman

Directed by: Barry Letts



Synopsis

Attempting to find peace at a Buddhist meditation retreat, Mike Yates' suspicions are aroused by the conspiratorial behaviour of some of his fellow students. He invites Sarah Jane to visit and assist him in his investigations. The Doctor, meanwhile, while conducting an experiment into ESP, discovers a interstellar threat when he uses in the experiment the blue crystal he took from Metebelis III that Jo has returned to him, which causes horrible consequences.
 
At the retreat, Sarah and Mike uncover that a group of men, led by the ambitious Lupton, are attempting to use mediation to make contact with, and forge an alliance with, alien spiders for Metebelis III. The spiders have been sent out to recover the crystal that the Doctor unwittingly stole from the planet. 

While Mike stays behind to continue his investigation, the Doctor and Sarah journey to Metebelis III and aid the human population, which has been subjugated by the Spiders, in an attempt to overthrow their masters. Believing their attempt to have been successful, they return to Earth where the Doctor discovers that K'Anpo, the abbot of the meditation centre, is in fact his old Time Lord mentor. K'Anpo informs the Doctor that he needs to return the crystal to Metebelis, an d face up to his role in having started this crisis through his greed for knowledge. 

The Doctor does so, only to find the rebellion has failed and that he must face the Great One, a gigantic spider worshipped by the other Spiders as a god. The Great One requires the crystal for her plan to increase her mental powers to omnipotence through its insertion into the crystal lattice in her cave. The Doctor attempts to convince her that her plan will not succeed, and that the power will destroy her, but  she ignores his warning. He relinquishes the crystal, and the feedback kills her and the other Spiders. But the Doctor's body has been bombarded by the radiation in the cave, and he weakly makes his way to the TARDIS.

Back on Earth, the conspirators attempt to destroy K'Anpo, who is saved by Yates putting his body between their energy blasts and the abbot. K'Anpo sacrifices his life force to heal mike, and regenerates. 

Weeks later, the Doctor manages to return in the TARDIS, whereupon he stumbles out and collapses in front of Sarah and the Brigadier. Before their eyes, and with help from K'Anpo, the Doctor regenerates into his fourth form. 

Stunned, the Brigadier says, "Well, here we go again."

Monday, July 27, 2015

"The Monster of Peladon"

Aired Mar 23 - Apr 27, 1974


6 Episodes

Story 73

Written by: Brian Hayles

Directed by: Lennie Mayne



Synopsis

Returning to the planet Peladon fifty years after his previous visit, the Doctor finds King Peladon's daughter Thalira on the throne, and the planet once again on the brink of conflict with the Galactic Federation. The Queen's chancellor, Ortron, is mistrustful of the Federation's mining operation on Peladon to obtain the valued mineral trisilicate. The miners, second-class citizens on Peladon, are on the point of uprising, and Federation representatives Alpha Centauri and Engineer Eckersley are struggling to keep the peace.

According to reports, a ghostly figure of Peldon's sacred beast Aggedor has been responsible for deaths in the mine, and the Doctor must use all of his wits to keep the miners from full-scale insurrection while calming the paranoid xenophobia of Ortron.

Eventually, the Doctor uncovers that the deaths have been due to the machinations of Eckersley, in league with a renegade group of Ice Warriors hoping to obtain the trisilicate for themselves and sell them to Galaxy 5, who are at war with the Federation. Eckersley has been using a matter transmitter combined with a heat ray to make it seem as if the statue of Aggedor is killing miners. 

While the Ice Warriors take ruthless control of the planet, the Doctor and the miners manage to mouth a counter-attack, taking control of the matter transmitter and heat ray and turning it against Eckersley and the Ice Warriors.

After the Ice Warriors are defeated, Eckersley takes the Queen hostage, but he is killed by the real Aggedor, though the beast sadly dies in the process. 

In the end, with peace restored, Galaxy 5 surrenders and the Doctor and Sarah head on their way in the TARDIS.

Monday, July 20, 2015

"Death to the Daleks"

Aired Feb. 23 - Mar. 16, 1974

4 Episodes

Story 72

Written by: Terry Nation 

Directed by: Michael E Briant



Synopsis

The TARDIS materializes on the planet Exxilon, and then suddenly suffers a catastrophic power failure. Setting out to explore, the Doctor encounters a group of Earth Marine Space Corps, who inform him of their mission to uncover the cure for a galactic plague epidemic. The only known antidote, parrinium, is found in one place; Exxilon. They've obtained a supply, but their powerless ship is unable to leave.

Meanwhile, Sarah is heading toward a gleaming white city in the distance, attracted by the flashing beacon atop its main tower. She is captured by a group of Exxilons who take her to an underground cave and sentenced to be sacrificed for trying to enter the city, which the Exxilons worship as a god.

The Doctor and the Marines also encounter a group of Daleks who have landed on the planet and whose weapons have been inoperative by the planet. Though the humans and the Daleks enter an uneasy alliance, they are soon captured by the Exxilons as well.

Rreaching the caves, the Doctor manages to prevent Sarah's execution, and they flee into some tunnels to hide. The caves are attacked by a second Dalek squad that have managed to arm themselves with simple machine guns.The Marines continue their alliance with the Daleks while Sarah and the Doctor encounter a sophisticated and peaceful Exxilon named Bellal. Bellal informs them that the city was created long ago by his own race, but as it became more and more sentient, it eventually caused the Exxilons to sink back into primitive savagery. 

The Doctor deduces that the city's beacon is what's causing the planetary energy drain, and realizes that it must be put out of action if anyone is to escape. While the Doctor and Bellal enter the city and negotiate a series of deadly tests and traps in order to reach its control centre, Sarah will help the Marines get free of the Daleks and escape with the needed parrinium. 

Pursued by Daleks, the Doctor and Bellal eventually arrive at the control centre, where the Doctor manages to succeed in destroying the higher functions of the computer. The Daleks had planned to take all the parrinium for themselves and gain a galactic upper hand, but Sarah and the Marines successfully smuggle the mineral off their ship, and one of the Marines stays on board the Dalek ship and tigers a bomb as the Daleks take off, destroying the Dalek force. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

"Invasion of the Dinosaurs"



Aired Jan. 12 - Feb. 16, 1974

6 Episodes

Story 71

Written by: Malcolm Hulke

Directed by: Paddy Russell

Synopsis

Returning to 20th Century London, the Doctor and Sarah are surprised to find the city deserted. While exploring the city, they are captured by army troops who falsely suspect them of being looters. Eventually turned over to their friends at UNIT, the Brigadier informs them that central London has been evacuated following the appearances of dinosaurs throughout the city. They seemingly appear and disappear at random, and UNIT is stymied as to why as well who is behind it.

The Doctor and Sarah begin investigating, the Doctor working from the theory that the prehistoric animals are being brought forward in time through technological means. They soon uncover a massive conspiracy to empty central London for some mysterious purpose, using the talents of scientists Whitaker and Butler, and led the Army's General Finch and government Minister Sir Charles Grover. 

While the Doctor finds his scientific efforts hampered by another conspirator, namely UNIT colleague Captain Mike Yates, Sarah is captured by Grover and rendered unconscious.

She awakens seemingly on board a massive spaceship alongside fellow colonists heading to another world in which to set up a perfect society. The people on board believe Earth has become too corrupted, too polluted, and seek to build a new human society on an unspoiled planet. However, Sarah soon realizes that the ship is a fake, and that the colonists aboard have been misled. They haven't left Earth at all, and the conspirators led by Grover instead want to use the temporal device they have developed to return Earth to a "Golden Age", a wild untamed pre-industrial version of the Earth upon which the colonists can rebuild a "perfect" society.

The Doctor and his allies raid the Golden Agers underground facility, and though they manage to activate their device, the Doctor succeeds in changing the settings so that rather than Earth being reverted, Grover and Whitaker are cast back to the prehistoric era from where they've been sterling the dinosaurs.

Though all is back to normal, there has been fall out; the misguided Mike Yates is allowed to quietly resign, much to the sadness of his friends.

Monday, July 6, 2015

"The Time Warrior"



Aired Dec. 15, 1973 - Jan 5, 1974

4 Episodes

Story 70

Written by: Robert Holmes

Directed by: Alan Bromly

Synopsis

Impersonating her aunt, famed virologist Lavinia Smith, allows journalist Sarah Jane Smith to gain access to a secure research facility where leading scientists are being guarded by UNIT. The Doctor and the Brigadier are there to investigate the disappearances of some of the scientists, and though the Doctor soon uncovers Sarah Jane's real identity, he also discovers the scientists are being kidnapped by an alien force and taken back in time to medieval England.

Sarah Jane stows away aboard the TARDIS when the Doctor leaves to investigate, and she finds herself in the middle ages, in the castle of an ambitious and violent feudal lord named Irongron. The Doctor discovers that a Sontaran soldier named Linx has crashed his ship on Irongron's lands, and is using his technology to steal the scientists, take them back in time, and then hypnotize them into repairing his damaged craft so he may leave. In exchange for Irongron's cooperation, Linx is providing the lord with anachronistically advanced weapons to make war on his neighbours.

Teaming up with Irongron's enemy, Sir Edward of Essex, the Doctor and Sarah hatch a plan to drug the food in Irongron's kitchens, knocking out his forces so that they can steal and destroy the weapons and send the scientists back to the 20th Century. Sir Edward sends Hal, his best archer, with them to assist in the pan.

Though the Doctor's plan works for the most part, Linx still plans to leave in his ship. The Sontaran kills Irongron and readies for departure. Hal fires an arrow into Linx's phobic vent on the back of his neck, his one vulnerable spot, and kills him. The Doctor, Sarah and Hal escape, along with all one Irongron's men, just before Linx's ship explodes, destroying the castle.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Season 10 Overview

The Three Doctors, from L to R: Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee &
William Hartnell 
As 1973 began, Doctor Who hit a milestone; it had been on the air for ten years. Eager to observe this milestone, the production team of Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks wanted to create a story that would feature all of the actors to have played the role of the Doctor. This was merely the tip of the celebratory plans, which included the return of the Daleks and the writer who created them, Roger Delgado's next appearance as the Master, the departure of Katy Manning as Jo Grant, and an attempt to create a linked narrative over a longer series of episodes, a la The Dalek's Master Plan.

Though the series had been enjoying continued ratings success in the 1970s, there were still those at the BBC that thought it had run its course, and it was suggested in some corners the the series come to an end. However, the BBC had recently signed a lucrative licensing deal with Target to novelize the Doctor's televised adventures, and this deal created a demand for new stories to keep the book line going. Additionally  the series finally had support in the Beeb's upper management, something that had been lacking since the departure of Sydney Newman during the Troughton era. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

"The Green Death"


Aired May 19 - June 23, 1973

6 Episodes

Story 69

Written by: Robert Sloman

Directed by: Michael E Briant

Synopsis

Something sinister is happening in the Welsh village of Llanfairfach. One of the miners employed by Global Chemicals has been found dead, his skin glowing bright green. While UNIT is called in to investigate, Jo was already planning a visit after reading about a local environmental research group, led by Professor Clifford Jones, who are protesting the actions of Global Chemicals.

Jo, Cliff and the Doctor discover that the mine is infested with a green slime-like substance and giant ferocious maggots, both of which have been created by the toxic waste manufactured by the company's latest activities. However, the Brigadier's hands are tied as Global's director, Stevens, has convinced the British government that their work will provide cheap renewable energy.

However, Stevens is not truly in charge. Instead, he is working at the direction of the Biomorphic Organizational Systems Supervisor, or BOSS, a sentient super-computer that has integrated human emotions into itself and desires to run the world more efficiently than humanity.

As the maggots begin pupating into giant flying insects, the Doctor discovers that a hybrid fungus of Prof. Jones' invention is capable of destroying them. Still, BOSS plans to seize power by linking itself to every other major computer system across the globe, a plan the Doctor is only able to thwart by using an alien crystal from Metebelis 3 which fully frees Stevens from BOSS' hypnotic control at last. Finally, as BOSS begs his friend for his life, Stevens programs the computer to self-destruct, killing them both. 

In the end, Prof. Jones and Jo have fallen in love, and decide to marry. They tell the Doctor they are going to leave England on an Amazonian expedition. The Doctor gives Jo the Metebelis 3 crystal as a wedding present, then slips quietly away from her engagement party, driving off in to the setting sun alone.

Monday, June 15, 2015

"Planet of the Daleks"


Aired April 7 - May 12, 1973

6 Episodes

Story 68

Written by: Terry Nation

Directed by: David Maloney

Synopsis

After the events of Frontier in Space, the injured Doctor sets the TARDIS in motion and collapses. The ship materializes on the planet Spiridon, and Jo sets out to find aid for the comatose Doctor. Making her way through the hostile jungle, she comes across a group of Thals, who agree to go back to the TARDIS and help the Doctor.

But the Doctor has already recovered, and upon meeting the Thals, learns that they were sent here on a secret mission to destroy a group of Daleks who are on Spiridon to attempt to discover and replicate the native Spiridons' invisibility.

Another Thal ship arrives, with a second group of Thals on board. They were sent after it was discovered that Spiridon is also home to a hidden army of ten thousand Daleks. The Doctor and the Thals discover that, in a cavern below the Dalek base, an army of thousands sit frozen in suspended animation, waiting for the moment to launch a massive offensive.

The Doctor and the Thals hatch a risky plan to detonate a bomb in the cavern, causing one of Spiridon's ice volcanoes to erupt, which will entrap the Dalek army within liquid ice. Successful, the Thals steal the Dalek ship to return home, stranding the remaining Daleks on Spiridon. The Doctor and Jo head back to the TARDIS, and embark on their next adventure.

Monday, June 8, 2015

"Frontier in Space"


Aired Feb. 24 - March 31, 1973

6 Episodes

Story 67

Written by: Malcolm Hulke

Directed by: Paul Beranrd

Synopsis

Materializing aboard an Earth spaceship in the year 2540, the Doctor and Jo are only beginning to explore when the ship is attacked. The ships' crew are clearly under some sort of influence, as when they look at Jo and the Doctor, they see them as Draconians, an alien race whose empire is currently in heightened tensions with Earth following a war. The attackers board the ship, and the Doctor and Jo discover that they are Ogrons, brutish thugs for hire they've encountered before. However, like their perception of the Doctor and Jo, the human crew see them as Draconians.

The Ogrons steal the ship's cargo, including the TARDIS, and leave. The ship is rescued by another Earth ship, and the authorities on board imprison Jo and the Doctor for transport back to Earth under suspicion of spying for the Draconians. Though the Doctor tries to convince Earth's president and her advisor General Williams that the situation is being manipulated to push Earth and Draconia into war, his pleas are not believed, and he is sentenced to imprisonment on the Lunar Penal Colony. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

"Carnival of Monsters"


Aired Jan. 27 - Feb. 17, 1973

4 Episodes

Story 66

Written by: Robert Holmes

Directed by: Barry Letts

Synopsis

The TARDIS materializes in the hold of a cargo ship called the SS Bernice, apparently crossing the Indian Ocean in 1926. They soon discover that the ship and all its passengers aren't on Earth, but rather have been abducted, miniaturized and put inside a Miniscope, a high-tech peepshow collection of life-forms. This Miniscope is owned by down-at-the-heels entertainers Vorg and Shirna, who have arrived on the planet Inter Minor in the hopes of setting up a profitable show for the xenophobic inhabitants.

Managing to escape the section of the Miniscope that houses the Bernice, the Doctor and Jo wander through the innards of the device from one exhibit to another, encountering along the way, the fiercely ravenous beasts known as Drashigs. Along the way, the Doctor tells Jo about the history of the Miniscopes, and how he was instrumental in persuading the Time Lords to ban the devices and round them up, though this one must have been missed.

Meanwhile, on Inter Minor, three bureaucrats plot to overthrow the planet's ruler, conspiring to sabotage the Miniscope, releasing the life-forms inside to wreak havoc. In the ensuing chaos, they will push for a change in leadership.

However, the Doctor manages to escape the scope and return to full size. Confronting Vorg and Shirna, he tries to rescue Jo from inside before the machine breaks down completely thanks to the machinations of the Inter Minorians.

The Doctor links the scope to the TARDIS in the hope of returning all the exhibits to their home planets and eras, but the Drashigs do mange to escape and begin wreaking havoc. Vorg uses a Minorian weapon to kill the rampaging beasts, and the Doctor's efforts prove successful. Jo materializes outside the scope, and she and the Doctor leave in the TARDIS.


Friday, May 29, 2015

"The Three Doctors"


Aired Dec. 30, 1972 - Jan. 20, 1973

4 Episodes

Story 65

Written by: Bob Baker & Dave Martin

Directed by: Lennie Mayne

Synopsis

While investigating a strange transmission that appears to be traveling faster than light, the Doctor discovers he is being hunted by a strange plasma creature. Trapped in the TARDIS, the Doctor calls on the Time Lords for assistance, but they too are under assault, their energy supplies being drained into a black hole. Unable to directly help, their only option is to muster enough energy to send the Doctor's past incarnations to help him, and hopefully, save the Time Lords as well.

While the Third Doctor is joined by the Second Doctor, the First Doctor is caught in a time eddy and only able to advise his successors over the TARDIS scanner screen. Together they are able to deduce that the transmission, and the creature, is a time bridge. The Third Doctor and Jo are caught by the creature and transported beyond the black hole into an antimatter universe.

Back on Earth, the Second Doctor, Benton and the Brigadier are still trapped inside the TARDIS. The First Doctor advises turning off the force field keeping the creature at bay, and at once the TARDIS, along with the whole UNIT HQ, is transported through the black hole.

On the antimatter world, the Third Doctor has discovered the planet is ruled by Omega, a legendary figure from Time Lord history whose stellar engineering experiment made time travel possible for their society. Thought lost since that experimental mission, Omega has in fact been trapped in the antimatter universe, surviving and creating everything around him through his will alone. He wants to be free of his prison and return to his original universe, but as his will maintains his existence, he cannot leave unless someone replaces him. He hopes that the Doctor will do so, and brought him here to that end. 

Now joined by the Second Doctor, the Third Doctor tires to convince Omega to change his mind or accept some other form of help. Things fall apart once Omega discovers that his entire physical form has been consumed by the effects of such a long period in the antimatter universe. There is literally nothing left but his will, which maintains his existence, and therefore no escape for him.

Driven mad by this realization, Omega plans to destroy the positive universe. However, the Second Doctor discovers that his recorder had fallen into the TARDIS force field generator and therefore was not converted to antimatter upon passing through the Black Hole. He and the Third Doctor conspire to have Omega touch the recorder, and the collision of matter and antimatter results in a supernova, which the Doctors and their friends escape in the nick of time.

Once home, the First and Second Doctors are returned to their points in time, and in gratitude for saving the Time Lords, they grant the Third Doctor his freedom, lifting his exile and repairing his TARDIS. The Doctor is free to roam time and space once more…

Monday, May 25, 2015

Season 9 Overview

From L to R: A Dalek, the Doctor (Jon Pertwee)
& producer Barry Letts
As Doctor Who ended its 8th season, the series was entering what was perhaps its greatest period of stability. The programme had a producer that was by this point skilled in maximizing the meagre budgets allotted for the series, a production/recording schedule had finally been established that worked, and the script editor had developed a system whereby he was able to consistently do the final drafts of almost every script, creating a consistent tone overall. The star of the series had confidently settled into the role, shared impeccable chemistry with his co-stars, and the production relied upon a small stable of writers for the stories that they could depend on, most of whom were the best the series ever had.

As a result, the viewing figures increased as well. In Patrick Troughton's final season as the Doctor in 1969, the viewing figures averaged around 6 and a half million. Season 7, Pertwee's first, saw those figures increase to 7.28 million, and Season 8 increased again to nearly 8 million. No longer in constant danger of cancellation by the BBC, the series once again had champions on the management side, its immediate future assured.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"The Time Monster"


Aired May 20 - June 24, 1972

6 Episodes

Story 64

Written by Robert Sloman

Directed by Barry Letts



Synopsis


Disguised as Professor Thascales, the Master is conducting experiments at the Newton Research Unit at Cambridge. He has has constructed a device known as TOMTIT (Transmission Of Matter Through Interstitial Time) and he plans to gain control over Kronos, powerful and unpredictable creature from outside time known as a Chronovore.

The Doctor, having had a vision of the Master's return to Earth, rigs a device to track a TARDIS and he and Jo head to Newton, which UNIT is already investigating. Uncovering the dangers of the TOMTIT experiments, the Doctor shuts the device down, though the Master escapes. Examining the device, the Doctor deduces that the crystal at its centre comes from the long-dead city of Atlantis, which legend had claimed had once attracted Kronos from the time vortex.

The Master goes back in time to Atlantis in his TARDIS in the hope of stealing the sacred Crystal of Kronos, a larger version of his own crystal, and with which he aims finally to dominate the creature. The Doctor and Jo are able to follow him back in the Doctor's TARDIS, but arrive too late to prevent the Master from ingratiating himself with Galleia, queen of Atlantis and wife to King Dalios. Seducing her with visions of peer, the Master deposes Dalios and takes control of Atlantis. However, his rule is short-lived when Galleia discovers that the Master has caused the death of Dalios after promising he would not be harmed.

In a last desperate grasp at power, the Master summons and unleashes Kronos, destroying Atlantis. The two Time Lords manage escape in their respective TARDISes into the time vortex where they each try to finally defeat the other. The Doctor threatens to destroy the Master's TARDIS using a Time Ram, but cannot bring himself to do it, especially with Jo as the Master's hostage. However, Jo makes the sacrifice herself and instigates the Time Ram. 

The TARDISes materialize in the realm of Kronos, whereupon the grateful creature informs the Doctor and Jo that the Time Ram freed the Choronovore. Kronos agrees to return the Doctor and Jo to Earth, and plans to subject the Master to eternal torment. The Doctor successfully pleads for the Master's freedom, and Kronos grants it, but the Master escapes in his TARDIS once again.