The Abominable Snowmen

Victoria, I think that this is one of those instances where discretion is the better part of valour: Jamie has a plan.

The Second Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive in Tibet in the 1930s, where the usually gentle Yeti have besieged a Buddhist monastery, and the the TARDIS team become ensnared in the plans of the Great Intelligence.

The Story

It feels as though we constantly hit a story in the Troughton era with parts missing. The Abominable Snowmen is no exception, with only the second episode still existing. I have watched some fan-made reconstructions to get a feel for the story, but I don’t think it’s fair to give it a rating based on these. If in the future, an animated version is released, then I’ll review it then – like I did with The Faceless Ones earlier this year.

This story is notable for introducing the Great Intelligence, who would reappear in The Web of Fear, later in Season 5. The Great Intelligence currently holds the record for the longest period between onscreen appearances at 44 years, reappearing in The Snowmen in 2012, voiced firstly by Sir Ian McKellen and then portrayed by Richard E. Grant. Created by the writers of this story, curiously, Haisman and Lincoln did not receive a credit for the creation when it returned in 2012. The Intelligence went on to feature in the expanded universe, appearing in Big Finish audio stories such as The Web of Time opposite River Song, set prior to the Second Doctor’s arrival in this story and in books, most frequently the Candy Jar published books about the Brigadier’s childhood and life prior to meeting the Doctor.

The story also has another recurring character who would go on to appear in The Web of Fear, in the shape of Edward Travers, played by Jack Watling, Deborah Watling’s father. It is his endeavour to find a real life Yeti that links the two stories, with the story starting with a Yeti killing his travelling companion, John in the story’s opening moments. The Doctor comes to visit the scene of a previous and unseen adventure, only to find that the situation has changed as the Great Intelligence seeks freedom from the astral plane, possessing the body of Padmasmbhava in his quest to do so.

The Abominable Snowmen has a pretty solid reputation to live up to, and I would love to see it either found again or brought back via the means of animation, with memorable creatures and villain. Having not known much about this story before researching it and now knowing how it ties into The Web of Fear, I’m now looking forward to seeing the returning elements!

Cast: Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), Jack Watling (Professor Edward Travers), Wolfe Morris (Padmasambhava), Charles Morgan (Songsten), Norman Jones (Khrisong), David Grey (Rinchen), David Spenser (Thonmi), Raymond Llewellyn (Sapan), David Baron (Ralpachan) & Reg Whitehead, Tony Harwood, Richard Kerley and John Hogan (Yeti).

Writer: Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln

Director: Gerald Blake

Parts: 6

Cast Notes

  • Norman Jones would later appear in The Silurians and The Masque of Mandragora.
  • David Baron is often erroneously claimed to be Harold Pinter, as this was his Equity name, however Pinter had abandoned the name before production on this story had commenced.

Tomb of the Cybermen

Our lives are different to anyone else’s. That’s the exciting thing. Nobody in the universe can do what we’re doing.

The Second Doctor

Synopsis

The TARDIS arrives on the planet Telos, where the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria find an archaeological team looking to enter the resting place of the last Cybermen. Amongst the party are two members of the Brotherhood of Logicians, who are looking to revive the Cybermen to create an invincible force for conquest.

Review

I’m pretty certain that this is the first black and white story I ever watched and therefore the first Patrick Troughton story I ever saw which wasn’t a multi-Doctor special. Tomb of the Cybermen is widely regarded as one of the better serials of his era and is certainly deserving of this acclaim. It is creepy and atmospheric, and to date is definitely in the conversation relating to the best episodes to feature the Cybermen. It features great performances from the majority of the cast, and Troughton is particularly strong here and bosses every scene that he is in.

There is an elephant in the room here, which I feel that I must address and it is something that sticks out like a sore thumb when viewed by a modern audience: this story is racist. The three human antagonists, Klieg, Kaftan and Toberman are all not white and fulfil a troubling cunning foreigners trope, whilst the rest of the cast are British and “American” (there are some incredibly bad American accents amongst the crew members, but that’s par for the course). Toberman is perhaps the most glaring of these, being a servant to Kaftan and not speaking for the majority of the episode. The three antagonists aren’t really portrayed as three dimensional either, although there are moments where it is hinted at that Kaftan and Toberman care for each other. Kaftan and Klieg have financed this expedition, however, it’s never really questioned early on why they have felt so strongly about coming along with the archaeologists.

Where are we?

Oh, it’s the TARDIS. It’s my home. At least it has been for a considerable number of years.

Victoria Waterfield and the Second Doctor

This story is Victoria’s official first story as companion after her debut in the Season 4 closer, The Evil of the Daleks, which gives the show a good reason to almost reintroduce the concept of the show with the opening scene depicting Jamie and the Doctor showing her the interior of the TARDIS. Victoria seems to slalom between being competent and a damsel in distress and it doesn’t feel as though she gets solid characterisation here. The most glaring moment is where, after waking up from her drug-induced sleep, she is able to destroy a Cybermat with a single shot. Deborah Watling is okay for the majority of this story and I do particularly like the moment where she tells Kaftan that she doesn’t need her to look out for her. She does get some standard screaming moments, but it doesn’t seem to be as frequent or annoying as some of her predecessors, like Susan.

The main antagonists of the story – shockingly – is the Cybermen. As the Cybermen are relatively well established by this point, there is a sense of threat and dread even being in the Tomb without us even seeing an active Cyberman from the beginning of the story. The scene with the Cybermen coming out of their honeycomb style tombs is rightly held up as being iconic and the Cyber-Controller’s voice is really creepy. Obviously the Cybermen want to convert Klieg, Kaftan and the Brotherhood of Logicians to create a new group of Cybermen, and it does stretch credulity slightly that this doesn’t seem to have occurred to Klieg. The fact that these Cybermen deal with Toberman so effectively and efficiently, whose strength has been established early on by his opening the doors to the tomb when both the Doctor and Jamie have failed. This is one of the better Cybermen stories and it is no surprise that over 50 years after the original broadcast, it will feature high in the list of stories featuring the Cybermen.

How did you know in the first place?

Oh, I used my own, special technique.

Oh really, Doctor…and may we know what that is?

Keeping my eyes open and my mouth shut!

Eric Klieg and the Second Doctor

Troughton’s Doctor is superb here and he runs every scene, especially on entering the Tomb. I am particularly fond of the way that he distracts the suspicision poured on him when he and his companions arrive on Telos, quickly distracting everyone. I’ve spoken about Victoria above, but Frazer is strong here too. Jamie and the Second Doctor are so comfortable around each other now and there is a lovely moment where they find themselves holding each other’s hands by accident, each believing themselves to be holding Victoria’s hand to comfort her. From the behind the scenes documentary, I learnt that this was in fact improvised by Troughton and Hines and only done whilst filming due to concerns that the director would object if they had done this in rehearsal. Jamie, by this point, has taken on the role of older brother to Victoria and feels that he has been travelling with the Doctor long enough to be able to explain the TARDIS to her. The guest cast, aside from Klieg, Kaftan, Toberman and Professor Parry are largely forgettable or don’t spend very much time on screen for us to enable us to really care about them.

Verdict: The Tomb of the Cybermen thoroughly deserves it’s reputation as a classic Doctor Who story, despite some cast issues which would be out of place in a modern production. 9/10

Cast: Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), Roy Stewart (Toberman), Aubrey Richards (Professor Parry), Cyril Shaps (John Viner), Clive Merrison (Jim Callum), Shirley Cooklin (Kaftan), George Roubicek (Captain Hopper), George Pastell (Eric Klieg), Alan Johns (Ted Rogers), Bernard Holley (Peter Haydon), Ray Grover (Crewman), Michael Kilgarriff (Cyber-Controller), Hans de Vries, Tony Harwood, John Hogan, Richard Kerley, Ronald Lee, Charles Pemberton, Kenneth Seeger & Reg Whitehead (Cybermen) & Peter Hawkins (Voice of the Cybermen)

Writers: Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis

Director: Morris Barry

Parts: 4

Behind the Scenes

  • The introduction of the Cybermats and the Cyber-Controller.
  • The earliest Second Doctor story to survive in its entirety and, until the recovery of The Enemy of the World in 2013, it was the only serial from Season 5 to exist.
  • The first ‘…of the Cybermen’ story.
  • This was recorded at the end of the fourth block of Season 4, however, was deliberately held over to start Season 5.
  • Toberman was originally intended to be deaf, hence his lack of significant speech and the character would have had hearing aids, however, Morris Barry was not keen on this.

Cast Notes

  • Michael Kilgarriff would go on to reprise the role of Cyber-Controller in Attack of the Cybermen and the titular Robot in Tom Baker’s debut story, Robot, and Ogrons in Frontier in Space.
  • Roy Stewart went on to appear in Terror of the Autons.
  • The first appearance of Cyril Shaps, who would appear in The Ambassadors of Death, Planet of the Spiders and The Androids of Tara.
  • Clive Merrison would go on to appear in the Sylvester McCoy story Paradise Towers and in the Big Finish story The Contingency Club.
  • A number of the actors who appear here as Cybermen also appear as Robot Yetis in the next story, The Abominable Snowmen.

Best Moment

It can’t be anything else than the iconic scenes of the Cybermen coming out of their tombs.

Best Quote

You probably can’t remember your family.

Oh yes, I can when I want to. And that’s the point, really. I have to really want to, to bring them back in front of my eyes. The rest of the time they sleep in my mind, and I forget. And so will you.

Victoria Waterfield and the Second Doctor

Previous Second Doctor Blog: The Evil of the Daleks

Review of the animated The Faceless Ones here!

The Faceless Ones

It’s a flying beastie!

Jamie McCrimmon

Synopsis

Arriving at Gatwick Airport, the Doctor finds that a great number of young people are disappearing, including Ben and Polly.  Together with Jamie and Samantha Briggs, the sister of one of the missing people, he investigates what the Chameleons are up to.

Review

The Faceless Ones is latest Troughton era Doctor Who story to receive the animation treatment to allow us now to enjoy it in its full glory. The release gives the options to watch all six parts in animated format in colour or black and white, or to watch the surviving two episodes alongside the animation. Whilst writing my notes on this story, I watched the colour animated version, however, I have also watched parts of the two other options. I have really enjoyed the animation of these stories in the past and I am pleased to report that this one is no exception, helped in no small part by a great story.

As much as I enjoyed seeing this story in its full glory, there are some problems that I have here. It is a testament to how different television was in 1967 that this was how the departure of a companion was dealt with, as Ben and Polly are largely absent from the story, with the production team deciding to focus more on Jamie and Samantha Briggs played by Pauline Collins, who was being eyed up as a potential companion. Unfortunately, once Anneke Wills and Michael Craze stop appearing on screen it is all too easy to forget about them and their plight until they briefly turn up again at the end of Episode 6. It is also difficult to imagine any production set in modern times which would spend so much time fleshing out a character so much as Samantha Briggs is here, without having secured her signature as a companion going forwards. As it is, in terms of her departure from the story and her kiss with Jamie, it does feel unresolved. In modern television, contracts would have been signed months in advance of production starting, ensuring that the actor was committed to stay with the programme. This is something that will certainly return to be an issue with other actors, significantly, Caroline John, Louise Jameson and Mary Tamm, so I suppose we should be grateful we got a departure scene for Ben and Polly. The story being six episodes long makes it potentially too long, but I found it gripping for the whole of its running time, although the conclusion did feel a little rushed.

The story revolves around the mystery of missing young people who have travelled on Chameleon Tours, and Polly gets kidnapped very early on in the story when she discovers a body in their hanger. The Chameleons take the forms of some of the people they have kidnapped, leaving to a sense of unease about who is an alien which is pulled off really well. The shape-shifting nature of the Chameleons means that it is believable that the Doctor and his companions are regarded with suspicion by the Commandant of Gatwick Airport and the airport staff. Once the Doctor discovers the nature of the duplicates, the search is on for the originals as the copy cannot be sustained without the original being frozen. The Chameleons look fantastic in their usual form and the animation makes them look better than they did in the story, and it is actually quite nice to have a bit of a wait until we actually see them in their base form. The Chameleons have managed to go quite a while unchecked, as they state that they have been able to kidnap a large number of young people, which does stretch credulity slightly as it seems that people have only just started to notice that their loved ones have gone missing.

As Polly and Ben are sidelined for a lot of the story, the Doctor and Jamie are allowed to shine here. Troughton is fantastic as usual, and even in animated form, you find your eyes drawn to his performance, whilst Jamie gets a romantic interest in the form of Samantha and shows some initiative in his investigations away from the Doctor, including him hiding on the plane which prevents him from being shrunk. Pauline Collins is also good as Samantha, who enters the story looking for her brother who has travelled with Chameleon Tours. The rest of the performances are solid and I particularly enjoyed the performance of Bernard Kay in the join role as Inspector Crossland and the Director of the Chameleons.

Verdict: A solid Second Doctor story with a good storyline, if a lacklustre departure for Ben and Polly. It’s great to have this as a complete story and I’m really looking forward to the release of Fury from the Deep later this year. 8/10

Cast: Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Michael Craze (Ben Jackson), Anneke Wills (Polly), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Pauline Collins (Samantha Briggs), James Appleby (Policeman), Colin Gordon (Commandant), George Selway (Meadows), Wanda Ventham (Jean Rock), Victor Winding (Spencer), Peter Whitaker (Inspector Gascoigne), Donald Pickering (Blade), Christopher Tranchell (Jenkins), Madalena Nicol (Nurse Pinto), Bernard Kay (Crossland), Gilly Fraser (Ann Davidson), Brigit Paul (Announcer), Barry Wilsher (Heslington), Michael Ladkin (RAF Pilot) & Leonard Trolley (Supt. Reynolds).

Writers: David Ellis & Malcolm Hulke

Director: Gerry Mill (original production) & AnneMarie Walsh (animation)

Parts: 6

Behind the Scenes

  • This story sees the departure of Ben and Polly as played by Michael Craze and Anneke Wills respectively. They are notable for being the first characters to act as companions to two incarnations of the Doctor, having first appeared in The War Machines.
  • This is the final appearance of Michael Craze as Ben Jackson in any medium. Craze passed away on 7 December 1998, however, the part has been played by Elliot Chapman for Big Finish and by Jared Garfield in Twice Upon A Time.
  • Only Episode 1 and 3 exist in their original form in the BBC Archives.
  • The story was originally written for William Hartnell’s Doctor by Malcolm Hulke and David Kerkham (whose pen name was David Ellis) and set in a department store. Script editor Gerry Davis liked the Chameleons but decided to change the location.
  • At the time of broadcast, this was only the second story set in the modern day, with the first being The War Machines. Coincidentally, the two stories are set on the same day.

Cast Notes

  • Pauline Collins was offered the opportunity to become the new companion to the Doctor, an opportunity which she declined. Collins would go on to play Queen Victoria in Tooth and Claw.
  • Bernard Kay previously appeared in The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Crusade.
  • Donald Pickering was in The Keys of Marinus and would go on to appear in Time and the Rani, along with Wanda Ventham, who previously appeared in Image of the Fendahl.
  • Christopher Tranchell was in The Massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Eve and The Invasion of Time.

Best Moment

The passengers disappearing on the plane at the end of Episode 3.

Best Quote

We could eliminate a whole squadron of their toy planes, and they’d never get on to us. Their minds can’t cope with an operation like this. Remember the teachings of our Director – the intelligence of Earth people is comparable only to that of animals on our planet.

Blade

The Evil of the Daleks

Evil of the Daleks - Dalek Emperor

Synopsis

The Daleks capture the Doctor to try to distill the human factor, believing that this will mean that it will make them invincible.  The Doctor appears to be co-operating with them, making Jamie question his faith in the Time Lord.

The Story

The Evil of the Daleks is another Patrick Troughton story which is mostly missing from the BBC Archives, having been wiped in the early 1970s, with only episode two having been recovered.  Ironically, The Evil of the Daleks was the first story to be repeated on British television, being re-broadcast in the gap between Seasons 5 and 6, with some new framing narration performed by Patrick Troughton and Wendy Padbury (the new companion as played by Wendy Padbury) at the start of the first episode.

Evil of the Daleks - Dalek Jamie Victoria

This story actually serves as an introduction for another new companion, Victoria Waterfield, played by Deborah Watling, who leaves with the Doctor and Jamie at the end of the story.  With the story starting with Victoria’s father Edward stealing the TARDIS in Victorian times, this means that the Doctor is travelling with two humans from different eras of humanity’s past.  Edward’s eventual sacrifice at the end of this story leaves Victoria as an orphan, something that will lead to one of my personal favourite Doctor speeches in the next story, The Tomb of the Cybermen.  Victoria would stay with the Doctor and Jamie until Fury from the Deep, which continues a tradition of only having companions (apart from Jamie) travel with the Doctor for a single season.

The Evil of the Daleks was at the time intended to be the final appearance of the Daleks on Doctor Who.  Their creator, Terry Nation, intended to sell them to American television and so the decision was made to give them a final send-off from their parent show, as there was some talk of this Dalek spin-off being broadcast in Britain on ITV.  David Whittaker’s story did kill off the Daleks in the final scenes of the story, however, producer Innes Lloyd was told at the last moment not to make this a final end.  This was achieved by putting a glowing light inside one of the wrecked cases of the Daleks, suggesting that something had survived.  Of course, the Daleks would return, however, this would be their last appearance for five years, reappearing in Day of the Daleks opposite Troughton’s successor, Jon Pertwee.

The Evil of the Daleks - Destruction of the Daleks

This makes this story the first season finale to feature a recurring adversary of the Doctor’s and marks the end of Troughton’s first season as the Doctor, marking a successful transition of lead actors and securing the future of the show.

Cast: Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), John Bailey (Edward Waterfield), Marius Goring (Theodore Maxtible), Alec Ross (Bob Hall), Griffith Davies (Kennedy), Geoffrey Colville (Perry), Jo Rowbottom (Mollie Dawson), Brigit Forsyth (Ruth Maxtible), Gary Watson (Arthur Terrall), Windsor Davies (Toby), Sonny Caldinez (Kemel), Robert Jewell, Gerald Taylor, John Scott Martin, Murphy Grumbar & Ken Tyllsen (Daleks), Roy Skelton and Peter Hawkins (Voices of the Daleks).

Writer: David Whitaker

Director: Derek Martinus

Behind the Scenes

  • John Bailey, who plays Edward Waterfield here, had previously appeared in The Sensorites and would go on to appear in The Horns of Nimon.
  • The Evil of the Daleks was voted as the best Doctor Who serial ever by readers of Dreamwatch Bulletin in a 1993 poll celebrating the show’s 30th Anniversary.

The Two Doctors

The Two Doctors

What’s the use of a good quotation if you can’t change it?

The Sixth Doctor

Synopsis

The Sixth Doctor finds himself teaming up with his Second incarnation to ensure his own existence in the presence.

Review

There is a distinct advance in bringing an experienced Doctor Who veteran in to write a story like this one, and that is that he completely understands the character of the Doctor.  Robert Holmes, who worked on the programme regularly from the late 1960s, is one of the best writers to work on Doctor Who in the show’s history and his experience writing for various incarnations really serves him in good stead here.  That’s not to say this story is perfect, however, as there are other issues at play here.

Holmes’ characterisation, despite the story’s other flaws, is on point.  The version of the Sixth Doctor he presents here is a lot better than most of the other stories in Colin Baker’s first season.  Here, the arrogance and hard edges to this incarnation are still present but they are dealt with much better and he seems a lot more recognisable as being consistent with past incarnations with the Doctor.  Examples of this include his snarking with the homicidal computer onboard the space station and his unwillingness to drop the initial mystery despite Peri’s misgivings.  Combined with a spot-on interpretation of the Second Doctor, and this element really works well.  The idea of having the Doctor converted into a species that he seems to see absolutely no redeeming qualities in is a really interesting idea and something that has never really been explored before or since  The story does have a rather heavy-handed nature when it comes to the writer almost lecturing about the issues surrounding eating meat and this is down to Holmes’ vegetarianism, but they are hardly subtle.  One of the clearest examples of this is the character of Oscar who kills helpless animals for fun but cannot stand the sight of gore.  The story also suffers from the rewrites and Robert Holmes’ lack of interest in Seville as a location is evident – he famously wanted the story to be shot in New Orleans and had a lot of jokes thrown in about the differences between English and American English.  The story does also have a more general issue which is its attitude towards violence, which definitely seems to be down to Eric Saward, but is particularly problematic when it comes to the death of characters like Oscar.

Two Doctors - Dastrai, Jamie, Doctor

It’s also really nice to see Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines back in Doctor Who.  Both actors feel as though they have not been away, despite a gap of nearly twenty years since both played their parts regularly and using the first part of this story effectively reintroducing them works really well.  I really like the reaction shot when the Second Doctor realises that he’s picked up a cucumber rather than a knife in his initial meeting with Shockeye.  This story does also add significant credence to the idea of Season 6B, which is a fan idea to explain some plot holes, such as Jamie and the Doctor openly talking about the Time Lords and the ageing of both actors.  The two returning actors also seem to enjoy great chemistry with both Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant which makes this story more enjoyable, but it is a shame that we don’t get to see these two Doctors spend more time together.  The scenes with both Doctors together really fizzle and it seems clear that both men had great rapport and respect for the other.

Two Doctors Sontaran

Sadly, the story really drags.  The story spends a lot of time with the Sixth Doctor investigating what has happened to his previous incarnation and I really think Peter Moffatt’s direction makes the story feel very flat and lifeless in places.  The classic example of this is the reveal shot of the Sontarans, which seems bizarrely framed.  The Sontarans themselves were included at the instance on John Nathan-Turner, and it is clear that Holmes did not want them there as he seems extremely disinterested in them.  Speaking of the Sontarans, their costumes really let this story down, especially the loose neck collars which make them look less believable.  Chessene’s plot changes halfway through the story, from being obsessed with taking the Doctor’s symbiotic nuclei to unlock the secrets of time travel, to seemingly converting the Doctor into an Androgum for no good reason.

Verdict: The last multi-Doctor story of the Classic era is largely flawed but great fun in some places.  It is probably the story that seems to understand what the production team were going for with the Sixth Doctor, and it is great fun to see Troughton and Hines back.  6/10

Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), John Stratton (Shockeye), Jacqueline Pearce (Chessene), Laurence Payne (Dastari), Aimee Delamain (Dona Arana), James Saxon (Oscar), Carmen Gomez (Anita), Tim Raynham (Varl), Nicholas Fawcett (Technician) & Clinton Greyn (Stike)

Writer: Robert Holmes

Director: Peter Moffatt

Behind the Scenes

  • First appearance of the Sontarans since The Invasion of Time and their last appearance in the Classic series.
  • The first multi-Doctor story not marking an anniversary for the show.
  • Final story directed by Peter Moffatt and the first Sixth Doctor script written by Robert Holmes.
  • Last appearance of Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines.  Troughton was quick to agree to return, having enjoyed returning for The Five Doctors a couple of years previously.  He sadly passed away in 1987.
  • The story was originally set in New Orleans, where the plot involving the Androgums and food tied into the culinary tradition of the city.  However, funding was pulled, and the story was rewritten to be set in Venice, and then in Seville.
  • Jacqueline Pearce was a last-minute replacement for another actress and would go on to play Cardinal Ollistra in the War Doctor and the Eighth Doctor Time War series.
  • The TARDIS console used for the Second Doctor’s TARDIS was the prop used in the first two series of the Davison era as the budget could not accommodate the cost of the rebuilding of the original 1960s console.
  • The first three-part serial since The Planet of Giants and the last to date.

Best Moment

I really like the opening of the first part, where the scene changes slowly from black and white to colour.

Best Quote

Do try and keep out of my way in future and past, there’s a good fellow.  The time continuum should be big enough for both of us.  Just.

The Second Doctor