The Roundheads

Written by: Mark Gatiss
Series: BBC Books – Past Doctor Adventures
Featuring: The 2nd Doctor, Ben, Polly, and Jamie
Set Between: The Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones
Publication date: November 1997
The Story So Far: In December 1648, as the English Civil War winds down, the TARDIS crew finds itself caught in a tug-of-war between the Roundheads and the Royalists, between Oliver Cromwell’s legacy and the King’s soon-to-be detached head…

The Roundheads stinks.  This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I’m going to relate. Continue reading

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The Macra Terror

Airdates: March/April 1967 (4 episodes)
Written by: Ian Stuart Black
Directed by: John Davies
The Story So Far: Super-intelligent crabs enslave and exploit an outer-space Earth colony by means of recreation and leisure.
Novelization by: Ian Stuart Black (July 1987) Continue reading

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The Moonbase

Airdates: February/March 1967 (4 episodes)
Written by: Kit Pedler with Gerry Davis
Screen Credit to: Kit Pedler
Directed by: Morris Barry
The Story So Far: The Cybermen menace a weather control station on the moon in the year 2070, seeking belated revenge on humanity for what previously happened in The Tenth Planet.  Second verse, same as the first.
Novelization by: Gerry Davis (February 1975) (as Doctor Who and the Cybermen)

One recent Facebook meme asks you to list ten books with a profound influence on your life.  Not the best, but ones that impacted you in some way.  Doctor Who and the Cybermen, the first book I read out of my first batch of novelizations in January 1985, would almost certainly be on my list. Continue reading

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The Underwater Menace (TV)

Airdates: January/February 1967 (4 episodes)
Written by: Geoffrey Orme and Gerry Davis
Screen Credit to: Geoffrey Orme
Directed by: Julia Smith
The Story So Far: In the ruins of Atlantis, the faith of one priest is severely tested when the Savior of Atlantis turns out to be a false prophet. … also, Fish People, ludicrous accents, and some very trippy headgear.
Novelization by: Nigel Robinson (July 1988)

Remarkably, I was more excited about the recovery of Episode 2 of this story, when it was announced exactly two years ago, than I was about the return of Galaxy 4‘s Episode 3.  Meanwhile, the latter episode has been restored, released on DVD, and it’s terrific. This one, meanwhile, is still only available as a low-grade leaked copy and… come to find out, the best thing about it is the one-minute scene officially released on-line.  The Underwater Menace already had a fearsome reputation as one of the Worst Episodes Ever.  I have in the past expressed love for the more ludicrous bits of the surviving Episode 3, because  it’s Bad, and Doctor Who actually does Bad very well, taking it over the top to create something memorably ludicrous.  Unfortunately, Episode 2 commits the even worse sin of being Boring.
Continue reading

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The Highlanders

Airdates: December 1966/January 1967 (4 episodes)
Written by: Gerry Davis, from a suggestion by Elwyn Jones
Screen Credit to: Elwyn Jones and Gerry Davis
Directed by: Hugh David
The Story So Far: In the aftermath of the bloody Battle of Culloden, the Doctor impersonates a German physician, a Scottish scullery maid, and a British soldier, all in aid of upsetting a crooked lawyer’s slave-trading scheme.
Novelization by: Gerry Davis (November 1984)

Finally, a Doctor Who story that takes place in my world!  The principal villain in The Highlanders is a lawyer turned civil servant who abuses his position by feeding at the public trough.  I don’t work with wicked robots or mad scientists, but I do know from lawyers. Continue reading

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Power of the Daleks

Airdates: November/December 1966 (6 episodes)
Written by: Dennis Spooner, from scripts by David Whitaker
Screen Credit to: David Whitaker
Directed by: Christopher Barry
The Story So Far: The TARDIS lands on Vulcan (a different one) at the exact moment that a mining colony is about to revive three dormant Daleks found in a swamp.  Ben and Polly are still unsure of the new Doctor, and no-one listens to their warnings about the suddenly-servile Daleks…
Novelization by: John Peel (July 1993)

I really, really hope that this story has been found, if any of the rumors are to be believed. If you can judge the quality of a story from the surviving audio, the telesnaps, and the 2 minutes and 19 seconds of surviving video, this is, pound for pound, the best Doctor Who made to this point in the series.  The script perfectly fills out its 6 episode length; some of the acting performances are incredible; Troughton takes over the role of the Doctor so deftly that you don’t have time to miss that other fellow, and the brutal, uncompromising ending, is not marred by, say, the comedy appearance of a wacky teenager in the final minutes. Continue reading

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A Look Back: The First Doctor


Last week I was listening to an episode of The Memory Cheats podcast, where the two hosts were discussing The Romans.  One host mentioned that it was a shame that the only two things anyone ever remembers about William Hartnell was that he A) was a racist, and B) could never remember his lines — neither of which is necessarily true.

Another thing I’ve often heard said about the role of the Doctor, is that every actor to take the part is basing their interpretation off of Patrick Troughton, not off of William Hartnell, and that everything we identify as “Doctor-ish” about the part, is due to Troughton’s work after assuming the role in late 1966.  I can’t accept this as true, either. Well, actually, I did accept it as true — and repeated it aloud — but finishing up this recent 1st Doctor marathon has quite changed my mind. Continue reading

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