Episode 29: The Tenth Planet

Tenth Planet

Episode 29: The Tenth Planet
First Doctor
Companions: Polly, Ben
Written by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis
Directed by Julia Smith
Wikipedia Entry

Description
At the edge of the world, the Doctor discovers there’s another planet in our solar system and it contains a threat that could wipe out humanity.

Evaluation
Well, it took about two years after my initial plan but here we are: the last William Hartnell/First Doctor episode. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’ve loved watching these First Doctor episodes and I’m sad to see them finished but I’m also looking forward to the Patrick Troughton episodes. The Steven episodes prepared me for this moment as I’ve been eager for something new for quite some time. I’m just sad that I won’t have a larger amount of time with Polly and Ben with the First Doctor. I really enjoyed their interactions.

Besides being the final William Hartnell episode, this was the first introduction to the Cybermen. Their backstory is that they were originally humans on a twin planet called Mondas. In order to survive, these humans began to add cybernetics to their bodies, slowly destroying their humanity by eliminating their emotions and empathy. In Modern Who, their backstory comes from a parallel universe instead.

These original Cybermen have a complex costume, with wires and tubes attached to the front of their bodies. I found them to be gruesome and frightening as it is obvious that these are creatures willing to do whatever it takes to survive. Should one compare the costumes from the original design to the upgrade in Modern Who?  I don’t believe so as they are both a product of their time. Both are creatures to be feared as they are both powerful with their single-mindedness to control the world and eliminate weakness.

Having been a fan of the Cybermen since I’ve watched them on Modern Who, I was excited to see their first appearance. The Tenth Planet did not disappoint and I was on edge after the first installment. The suspense that was created with the first appearance of the Cyberman lingered throughout and was handled quite well by the actors and the special effects team. The final installment is missing and was recreated through animation with the remaining audio soundtrack. Kudus to the animation team that created and maintained great suspense throughout the presentation. The entire episode was well-done even with the lack of William Hartnell as he was ill in the second and third installments. Michael Craze, who played Ben, took many of the lines intended for the Doctor, with the scientific lines given to the character called Barclay, who was the Chief Scientist in the episode.

I will miss the First Doctor but it’s time to move on. I am grateful for what Hartnell created and it is because of his legacy in those first seasons that we have Doctor Who still today.

Historical Mentions
This was the last episode of the First Doctor and the first time that a regeneration was shown.

 

 

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Episode 17: The Time Meddler

The Time MeddlerEpisode 17: The Time Meddler
First Doctor
Companions: Vicki, Steven
Written by Dennis Spooner
Directed by Douglas Camfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Watcher
The Meddling Monk
A Battle of Wits
Checkmate

Description
Still reeling from the departure of his first human companions, Barbara and Ian, the Doctor finds himself in a struggle for control with a Time Meddler.

Evaluation
This is one of my favorite serials. Everything about this feels correct. The acting, the story, the episode pacing, everything was correct and perfect. Compared to the previous serial of The Chase, this is a far superior serial. It serves as a great introduction to a new companion. It’s also a great episode to introduce any new Classic Who fan to the series if they are merely curious about the program.

What’s really great about this episode is that it builds the foundation for Modern Who. We get a glimpse into the world of the Time Lords outside of the view of the Doctor. (Note that the Doctor is not yet named as a Time Lord yet but there is an understanding that the Monk and the Doctor are of the same species.) We get to see that there are different models of the TARDIS and different interpretations of the meaning of “interference”.

The Doctor is simply delightful in his interactions with the guest characters. The foundation that is built with Steven and the Doctor is fun and delightful. Overall, I think this was the perfect episode to present after the lackluster serials of The Chase and The Space Museum. I can’t help but wish the energy presented in this serial had been present in the previous two.

Historical Notes
This was the first introduction of the Meddling Monk, a fellow Time Lord.

Villain Introduction
The Meddling Monk

Book Evaluation
Like the visual presentation, the book adaptation is a tight, fun story that is highly entertaining. The characters and the action are well-balanced. The writing is crispy and the story flows quite well. I found that I read the adaptation quickly and was never bored with the prose.

In the book adaptation of The Chase, Steven is mentioned briefly as having escaped from the burning building, not dead as the Doctor, Barbara, Ian, and Vicki had assumed. The description of how Steven smuggles onto the TARDIS is brief but it does inform the reader that he is on the time vessel. The adaptation of The Time Meddler gives a two-page prologue which gives the reader a bit of a background of how Steven came upon the ship in the first place. It’s a great character introduction and I think it adds to the drama of the adapted storyline.

 

Episode 2: The Daleks

Dalek Edge of Destruction

Episode 2: The Daleks
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin and Christopher Barry
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Dead Planet
The Survivors
The Escape
The Ambush
The Expedition
The Ordeal
The Rescue

Description
Due to a malfunction in the TARDIS’s navigational circuits, the Doctor and his companions find themselves on a planet filled with radiation. As the travelers begin to explore this strange new world, they come face-to-face with an alien race that will change the Doctor’s life forever.

Evaluation
The Daleks was an interesting episode to watch in that I attempted to look at the action as if I was seeing the Daleks for the first time. Yes, the design is kooky and potentially silly for more modern audiences but the reasoning for the Daleks and this history presented of their race is frightening and in contrast of everything the Doctor stands for. Modern Daleks look upon humanity, and the universe, as something that needs to be eradicated as it is less than perfect. The Daleks of this episode are not reliant on the need for perfection or lack of emotion. Instead, they would continue to destroy their planet Skaro in order to survive. Creatures who refuse to consider the needs of others above their own are terrifying and horrific.

I can see why the Daleks were considered scary in the beginning. At times, I think that Daleks are used too often in the new series. For as many times as they have appeared in the reboot, the impact has not been nearly as emotional as this first episode. I know that the history of the Daleks will morph and change in later episodes.

This was a great episode to watch in that the Doctor is starting to emerge as a character. There’s bits of trickery when he lies about a TARDIS component. There’s hints of his never-ending spirit to explore and his desire to see a happy ending, even though tragedy might occur. He’s still isn’t as concerned about his companions as he should be, though that will change in later episodes. There’s an outline here of what the Doctor will be. It’s fun to nitpick his traits as he begins to evolve.

The companions continue to be a delight. I’ve been a fan of Ian and Barbara when I first watched this episode a few years ago. The chemistry between these two is fun and I can’t help but cheer along as they fight for survival. The entire team of the Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara show the signs of a solid friendship.

Historical Notes
This is the first appearance of the Daleks, a race of creatures that will later become the mortal enemy of the Doctor. It was also the first time the Daleks used the famous phrase: “EXTERMINATE”.

The navigational malfunction of the TARDIS becomes a running theme of the show, hinting that the Doctor never really knows how to steer the ship.