Episode 20: The Myth Makers

Special Note

This is the one and only time that I know of so far in which I will skip a serial and move on to another. The episode Mission to the Unknown is an anomaly. It’s a one-shot episode that doesn’t star the Doctor and provides background for a serial that doesn’t happen until after The Myth Makers. I would have reviewed it first had there been any footage left. Alas, this is one of those missing episodes. I thought I would try to read the novelization for the one-shot but it’s mixed as a two-part adaptation with The Daleks’ Master Plan. When I attempted to start reading the Mission to the Unknown adaptation, it mentions Katarina, a companion that is introduced in The Myth Makers. With this in mind, I decided that the best option would be to skip Mission to the Unknown for now and push ahead to The Myth Makers.

The Myth Makers

Episode 20: The Myth Makers
First Doctor
Companions: Vicki, Steven, Katarina
Written by Donald Cotton
Directed by Michael Leeston-Smith
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
Temple of Secrets
Small Prophet, Quick Return
Death of a Spy
Horse of Destruction
(All Missing)

Description
The Doctor and his companions find themselves in the middle of the Trojan War.

Evaluation
A random Google search for
The Myth Makers lead to a wonderful discovery. Some lovely person had cut and pasted the audio transcript of the series with the remaining footage of the episode. While it is nowhere near the level of reconstruction that has been seen in the professional BBC releases, it’s still nice to have something to view instead of nothing at all.

And this is why I love the Internet.

I really wish that I had watched these installments before I had read the novelization. This was a vastly entertaining story. The characters were delightful and the overall story arc was intriguing. I even wished that the story just revolved around the Trojans instead of the Greeks merely because of the comedic exchanges between Paris and Cassandra.

This was also an interesting serial because it felt as if this was the first time we see the Doctor face the consequences of history. With The Aztecs, the Doctor and his companions understand they are merely observers of history. In any of the historical episodes (Marco Polo, The Reign of Terror, The Crusades, The Romans and The Time Meddler), the Doctor may play a part in history but often it is within the sidelines or as the potential carefree participant. The Doctor’s companions often find themselves in the thick of the adventure, seeing first hand the various tragedies in history The Romans is a fine example of this when Barbara and Ian are sold into slavery while the Doctor and Vicki find themselves on a vacation with Nero. With The Myth Makers, the Doctor is forced to design and build the Trojan Horse. He is forced to face the slaughter of the Trojans by the Greeks. He is shocked and distressed by the entire affair.

I can’t help but consider David Tenant’s tenure as the Doctor, specifically in the episode, The Fires of Pompeii. He is forced to play a vital part in history, setting in motion the deaths of thousands of Pomeii citizens. He’s devastated by his actions but they are necessary for the noble good. The Doctor faces the same dilemma in this episode, having been forced to concoct a plan to finally end the Trojan War. I don’t know if that was the intention of the writers but it works and it’s worth noting.

This episode was a little heartbreaking as well because it features Vicki’s departure. Having appreciated Maureen O’Brien’s portrayal of the character, I was sad to see her character leave the TARDIS. But what a way to leave as a part of Greek Mythology/History; becoming Cressida and falling in love with Troilus. It’s a different interpretation to the myths and poetry produced about this era and it’s fun to watch.

But when one companion’s departs,  another companion enters. I’m still baffled by this idea of an introduction. In the last installment of this serial, jealous Cassandra assigns a handmaiden, Katarina, to watch over Vicki, spying on her movements. When the Greeks attack Troy, Katarina, follows Vicki towards the TARDIS. Katarina later finds Steven in the battle areas and brings him back to the Doctor. She ends up staying in the TARDIS, becoming a new companion as Vicki becomes Cressida permanently, choosing to stay for love; quite like Susan once did in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

Here’s the problem with this entire Katarina business. There is no mention of her and then BAM! THERE SHE IS and now she’s part of the narrative. The reconstructed serial that I was able to watch for these installments had VERY limited footage, so I don’t know if she was in the background for any of the other Trojan scenes, but it feels weird to not have her part of the program if she was to be a new companion. Granted, I do have some knowledge of this character and I understand that she won’t be staying long in later episodes….….but come on! I will admit that maybe I’ve become spoiled with Nu! Who in which new companions have an episode devoted to their introduction. (Then again, Vicki had a huge episode to her introduction. Steven had the tail end of an episode for an introduction but it was established pretty quickly of who he was and what was his motivation to join Team TARDIS)

Overall, I really wish I could have seen the full version of this episode. While the audio tracks are fun for at least gaining some understanding of the presentation, the full experience would have been more intriguing. I pre-apologize for the previous statement because I have a feeling I’m going to be saying that a lot as we head towards the Missing Episode Eras. Oh, what could have been, what could have been…

Book Evaluation
The Myth Makers is a strange adaptation. This story took me a long time to finally finish because I just couldn’t get into the storyline. I attribute my lack of enthusiasm with this adaption to why it has taken me so long to update this site. (That and other life things) My one regret with this installment was that I found the fan reconstruction after I had finished the adaptation. I believe it would have been more helpful in pushing me to finish this story earlier than later.

I was about a fourth into the book when I realized what my issues with the narrative; Homer as the narrator of this story. The Homer depicted in this story is written with a modern voice instead of one resembling his various works. Take this quote for example:

“…but Steven had elected to climb into a small tree, where he looked ridiculously conspicuous against the rising moon, rather like a ‘possum back on the old plantation. And the hound-dog had him in no time at all.”

Huh?

Now I know I don’t possess the knowledge to be an authentic Greek scholar outside of the magical world of Wikipedia, meaning I don’t know what types of plantations the Greeks might have had or if they hound-dogs or ‘possums, but this reads as if Homer is comparing Steven’s situation with one resembling some form of an  American Southern comedy. It doesn’t fit with the setting of the story.

The problem with this adaptation is that the author felt the need to have a narrator. There was no narrator in the original broadcast. Why was there one needed here? It’s a frustrating question because the author of this adaptation is the same author who wrote all four installments of this serial.

The different shifts between story-lines (Greeks vs. Trojans) did not need a constant narrator to discuss the character’s actions or histories. There should have been a third person narrative, which would have worked out fine as it has in previous adaptations. I found myself ignoring or skimming the parts in which Homer was discussing his interpretation of the events. I was more engaged when the focus was on the characters of the story.

The story itself, once you remove the Homer aspect of the tale, is quite engaging. This is one of those stories that I wish the full visual episodes were still available. I feel grateful for the fan audio reconstruction but it’s really not the same thing.

In terms of the differences between the books and the visual broadcast, Steven is injured in the broadcast, which leads into the next episode. The ending of the book glosses over the battle sequences and Vicki’s departure. There is still great dialogue between the Trojan characters, but there is a minor focus on Helen and her role in the entire war/affair. There’s part of me that wishes that the book adaptation would merge with the visual broadcast to give the viewer a larger, overall vision of the Trojan War.

It should be noted that Katarina is barely mentioned throughout the book until the end, similar to her introduction in the visual broadcast. Again, this is the part where I lament about missed opportunities.

Both versions of the story have merits just as they have misses. Yet, they do complement each other. It would be in your best interest to watch/read them closely together.

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Episode 18: Galaxy 4

Galaxy FourEpisode 18: Galaxy 4
First Doctor
Companions: Vicki, Steven
Written by William Emms
Directed by Derek Martinus and Mervyn Pinfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
Four Hundred Dawns
Trap of Steel
Air Lock
The Exploding Planet
(Missing #1, #2, and #4)

Description
The Doctor and his companions are caught in a fight between two races as a planet quickly marches to its destruction.

Evaluation
I’m not really sure what to think about this episode. I feel lucky in that the episode was reconstructed for the Special Edition of The Aztecs. The thing that amuses me is that it’s a reconstruction that doesn’t even try to match the level of reconstruction that the other Doctor Who reconstructions attempted. Granted there’s only one actually part of the serial that is intact, meaning that an animation reconstruction would be extensive. Instead we have a simple reconstruction of the Chumblies machines and some horrifying Photoshop in place of photos.

The thing that is interesting about this episode would be the story itself. The base of the story is simple enough: the Doctor encounters two races who have animosity against each other. Thrown in a little planet doom and you have plot and tension. But there’s an added element that throws me off when I consider the larger implications to the story. It’s the use of the more aggressive race that I find strange and potentially offensive. The baddies in this serial is a race called the Drahvins, a female group bent on the destroying the race of the Rills, an advanced race who use machines as a means of hiding their appearances.

The reason why I’m feeling conflicted is that the Drahvins are written with a slight sexist tone. The leader, Maaga, is a single-minded individual who doesn’t accept any other thought than her own. The rest of the Drahvins are lesser replica, breeder to only follow the directions of Maaga. The race has rejected the concept of men, keeping a limited amount of males to assist with breeding and killing the rest as they are considered a burden on their society. They fear the Rills because of their appearances and refuse to accept anything but the Rills’s destruction. Even at the end when the only option would be to work together to survive, Maaga refuses because of her one-track mind towards the Rills annihilation.

I can’t help but consider this episode to be almost a parody of feminist thought. The single-mindedness of female superiority and the killings of the male gender allows for only the female to be in total control. Maaga considers humans to be weak because they are willing to die for each other if needed. It’s frustrating because the companions in this serial feel like parodies of themselves in relations to the Drahvin character. Steven is kind of a dick in this episode, which is emphasized in the book adaptation. It’s as if he was put there just to balance out the feminist parody. Hey look, female villains! Here’s what a real male looks and acts like and it isn’t as bad as your hormones think it is!

Meh

I can see why the Drahvins could be used as a lesson about fearing the unknown. I get it and I think it would have been an even better serial if the feminist parody wasn’t pushed as much as it was during these episodes.

Outside of the annoying Drahvins, I actually was entertained by parts of this serial. I really liked the Rills and I adored the use of the Chumblies. I wish that Nu Who would use these aliens in later episodes.

Book Evaluation
As annoyed as I was about the feminist parody issue with the reconstructed serial, it’s nothing compared to the book adaptation. Throughout the book Steven is dealing with his “feelings” that it was such a shame that such attractive females could be so cold and unfeeling. The book consistently discusses how angry he is about the Drahvins lack of warmth. It’s almost to the point where I feel that Steven is feeling threatened and acting out but not in the manner that is acceptable of a Doctor Who companion. He’s whiny, annoying, and I constantly groaned anytime that he was part of the plot/action.

It doesn’t help that the book adaptation is more philosophical in nature than a mere adaptation.

We do gain more information about Maaga’s perspective. She comes from affluence and has been taught to exhibit this manner of arrogance. While this perspective helps lessen the animosity that I feel for her character and the feminist parody storyline, she was still an annoying character and clearly wasn’t written to showcase character growth. It does still highlight their menacing behavior towards the Rills, allowing the reader to gain the understanding that appearances are not an indicator of character.

One thing that I haven’t mentioned in my readings of these adaptations is how much is foresight instead of a straight adaptation of a script. For example, in this adaptation there is mention of regeneration and the screwdriver. Regeneration wouldn’t be an issue for another year into the series. And so far, the First Doctor has yet to pull out any form of a sonic screwdriver. While it’s great to have this context within the story, it’s not really necessary has it was never really part of the First Doctor’s existence, at least from what was presented in the serials.

Book Historical Note
When the Doctor mentions how silent the planet is, Vicki asks if they have time-jumped again, which happened to the Doctor and his companions in The Space Museum. This is not mentioned in the scripts or transcripts that I was able to find.

 

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 16: The Chase

The ChaseEpisode 16: The Chase
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin and Douglas Camfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Executioners
The Death of Time
Flight Through Eternity
Journey Into Terror
The Death of Doctor Who
The Planet of Decision

Description
Fleeing from the Daleks, the Doctor and his companions find themselves being chased through time and space.

Evaluation
I liked this episode and then I was deeply annoyed by this episode. The initial premise of this serial was interesting; Daleks chasing the Doctor throughout time and space. Yet, the serial only goes about fifty percent in the effort/presentation. Some of The Chase scenes involved historical scenes that could have been edited and pushed for four parts instead of the longer six parts. The pacing is off and I felt bored at some times which should have been the opposite effect. The best part about the historical Chase bits was the Peter Purves scenes in New York. It was quirky enough that the sequence could be as long as it was.

I thought the opening sequence with the Time-Space Visualizer was very interesting because it reminded me of the Guardian of Forever in the original Star Trek series episode The City on the Edge of Forever. A quick Wikipedia search led me to discover that this particular Star Trek episode premiered in 1967, two years after this episode of Doctor Who aired. I can’t help but assume that writer of that Star Trek episode, Harlan Ellison, might have been a Doctor Who fan or was aware of the program.

The first part of the serial should have been the benchmark that the rest of the installments should have achieved. There is a great suspense to the first episode with the companions being separated from each other and the TARDIS. The first time that Barbara and the Doctor sees the Dalek emerging from the sand is chilling. It serves as a reminder that these creatures are horrifying and worthy of being one of the Doctor’s greatest enemies.

One of the problems that I have with this serial was that there are many “convenient” moments within the episodes that explain how the Doctor is being followed or how he escapes. While it’s fun to see these technical aspects of how the TARDIS operates, I can’t help but be annoyed. This feeling comes up again with the double Doctor plot. While the clone robot Doctor plot was fun to watch the manner in which it was presented was a little laughable. The voiceover from the fake Doctor was not lip synced very well and the fake Doctor was far too skinny to be an exact replica of Hartnell. I can’t help but wonder why they didn’t just use Hartnell for those scenes.

The final battle scene with the Daleks and the Mechonoids was a great ending. I feel that the beginning episode and the last episode were the strongest parts of the serial. The installments in the middle should have been edited to fit within these exciting episodes.

DVD Note: I usually don’t comment on the special features of the DVDs but the third disc of this DVD set has this great documentary about Daleks. “Daleks Beyond the Screen” Highly recommend.

Historical Notes
The cowboy character at the Empire State Building was played by Peter Purves, who would later play Steven Taylor, the new companion introduced in the last part of this serial.

This is the second time that Ian has destroyed one of Barbara’s cardigans, having destroyed one to use as guide through the Space Museum.

Book Evaluation
I found the book to be a little bit more fun in terms of back-story than the serial. In terms of storytelling, the serial is better but not by much.

In terms of the back-story, this almost felt like an encyclopedia for all things early Who. Okay, maybe not that extensive but I found myself writing down little things that I found interesting if I were ever to create such encyclopedia.

Things of note:

  • When the Daleks discuss their greatest enemy, there is mention of how the Doctor has changed his appearance many times over the years. While this adventure was set in the First Doctor’s adventures, I can’t help but wonder where the Daleks were in their timeline in relation to the Doctor’s timeline.
  • The book mentions that is almost 750 years old but had yet not reached his first regeneration.
  • Vicki mentions that in her timeline on Earth there had been work towards inventing a machine that would allow historians and scientists to tap into the Time Vortex to witness and record events of history. It should be noted that Vicki stems from the 25th Century. I couldn’t help but think of Captain Jack Harkness and the Time Agency of the 51st Century. It’s interesting to note the evolution of the understanding of time and how it affects science work throughout Earth’s history. As the humans were just beginning to understand the Time Vortex in the 25th Century, how long did it take before the Time Agency of the 51st Century to be a full functional time travel entity?
  • Often times the Doctor displays a great deal of arrogance that jeopardizes his companions. While this a past issue with the Doctor, and will be for the future incarnations as well, it’s distressingly annoying to read. I do realize that this is more of a youthful issue with this incarnation but it makes the Doctor seem entirely too careless when his companions’ lives as well as his own are on the line. This is made even more apparent when Vicki is left behind at the The House of Frankenstein, forced to fend for herself, and to sneak onto the Dalek vessel in order to regroup with her fellow travelers.
  • The book explores a lot about the technology of the TARDIS and the Dalek ship, particularly with one scene in which Vicki is trying to make contact with the TARDIS using radio transmissions. The Daleks also create a replicate Doctor. Since I have only begun in my Doctor Who viewing adventures, I can’t help but wonder if this is attempted by the Daleks later in their encounters or is this a one-off attempt?
  • Steven discusses a great expansion period that Earth experiences in the future but were distracted by the Draconian conflict and then the Third Dalek War.

In terms of the character development, I think the serial presentation is the better of the two in that showing the emotions the Doctor tries to hide when Ian and Barbara leave is more impactful than how the adaptation presents the scene. The book adaptation left me feeling that it was a mundane exit as opposed to the serial in which I found myself crying and hugging my couch pillows. I do appreciate how much sass Ian has when he talks to the Doctor. The Doctor is never has forthright as he should be with information and can be condescending when he explains things to his human companions. Ian retaliates with sarcasm and wit which irritates the Doctor is the most amusing fashion.

 

Episode 15: The Space Museum

Space Museum_ChaseEpisode 15: The Space Museum
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by Glyn Jones
Directed by Mervyn Pinfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Space Museum
The Dimensions of Time
The Search
The Final Phase

Description
The Doctor and his companions discover they’ve landed in the future of their own timeline.

Evaluation
I really like the premise of this episode, how the TARDIS pushed the travelers farther into the future. The first part of this serial is pretty strong and I think that if they had kept the invisibility aspect of the storyline it would have made for more compelling television. Unfortunately, the idea fizzles at the start of the second part and never fully develops the potential that was showcased in the first part. There are deeper issues in this episode that should be explored, but sadly are not.

Before we go ahead of ourselves, let’s discuss the strengths of this serial. The first part explores how the TARDIS travels from one place to another, using the different dimensions of time and space. What happens when there is a miscalculation in regards to the fourth dimension, time? Are you far ahead enough to see your future? Can you change the future that you see or must you be an unwilling participant in events yet to come? How do you prevent the future when you see a glimpse of it in your past/present? Does it matter what we do in our solutions/actions or is it already pre-determined? A lot of this is discussed between Ian and Barbara during the later parts of the serial, which I think are the more interesting parts of this episode.

The larger piece of this serial is why the Moroks created the Museum in the first place. To invade a different planet and to create a museum on said planet to display their conquests is a crazed notion that works for this storyline. What better way to showcase your great acts than on the blood of others. While the overall acting and design of the characters is slightly minimal, the overarching evil of the Moroks is frightening and should be considered a lesson for those who can see past the simplicity of the storyline. It’s also a commentary about how one can become so bored after everything has been accomplished. The Moroks have done it all and seem to be longing for some form of adventure once again. The Xerons have no clue about how to reclaim their land, and have to bullied into revolution by Vicki’s desires to leave the planet with her companions in one piece.

As I mentioned before, I truly believe that they should have kept the silence/invisibility aspect longer than just in the first episode; or at least through mid-third part. Or there should have been a better connection between the Doctor and the companions with the Xerons or Moroks. It’s an “interesting’ installment and serves as a great starting point for the perils of time travel and fixed points of time.

Final Note: The leader of the Xerons, Tor, was played by Jeremy Bulloch; a man who would later have a claim to Sci-Fi fame with his role of Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back.

Historical Notes
The Museum contains a diverse collection of artifacts from around the universe, including a Dalek shell.

 

Book Evaluation
One things that was glossed over in the serial was how the TARDIS created the bump in time travel. There is a larger explanation within the book that helps discuss how the TARDIS protects itself from such occurrences. The TARDIS clock has a built-in memory and will adjust when a time friction occurs. This explains why the companions and the Doctor were asleep when they landed, blacking out their actions for their protection.

There is a bigger description about the Moroks and the Xerons in that the travelers witness the Moroks killing Xerons as the try to escape. There is a ruthless quality to the Moroks that was only hinted at in the visual presentation. It also highlights the lack of weapons that the Xerons currently possess, showcasing their position as a peaceful planet.

Like the visual serial, the question of action becomes a larger issue with the story. Do our actions change what will happen or are the actions following the line of destiny?

It’s a quick little story that flows well; far better than the visual presentation. I would recommend reading the novelization first before watching the serial as I found myself zoning in and out of the visual presentation. At lease with reading ahead you won’t find yourself as lost as I did with my first screening of the episode.

 

Episode 14: The Crusade

The CrusadersEpisode 14: The Crusade
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Douglas Camfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Lion
The Knight of Jaffa
The Wheel of Fortune
The Warlords
(Missing #2 and #4)

Description
The Doctor and his companions are thrust into the war and politics between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade.

Evaluation
A solid and engaging episode that sadly is incomplete, thanks to the loss of footage. Overall, with the combination of the visual footage and the book adaptation, this was a fun story that should have had the missing segments animated.

Serial Evaluation
The serial was originally presented in four episodes. The first and third episodes still exist, while the second and fourth are only available through an audio presentation. Unlike previous missing episode presentations such as The Reign of Terror, there is no animated sequence to accompany the audio presentation. The serial, audio and visual, is collected in the Lost in Time set, which also includes footage from The Daleks’ Master Plan and The Celestial Toymaker. The best part about this presentation of The Crusades is that William Russell reprises his role of Ian Chesterton and introduces the footage in character.

Like with the presentation of Marco Polo, I can’t help but feel sad at the lose of footage. While the audio is engaging, the visual footage was fun and delightful. Bonus: I always feel a little giddy whenever William Hartnell starts his adorable little giggle.

Speaking of Hartnell, the fun chemistry that his Doctor displays with Vicki is touching. I’m a tremendous fan of Susan’s character but it’s fun to see a different approach with Vicki. Their interactions are some the best things about this visual presentation.

There’s also a hint of the war within the Doctor, specifically with the use of violence. While later incarnations will discuss their role in various wars, specifically the Time War, there is still a vague notion of that the Doctor has merely escaped or ran away from his people. When he discuss war with the Earl of Leicester, there are hints of the Doctor’s understanding of the true impact of war and how it has scarred his past.

This was the first serial that starred Jean Marsh, who would later play the character Sara Kingdom. Her portrayal of Joanna, King Richard’s sister is incredibly fierce and awe inspiring. While the part is small, Marsh brings a great deal of light and strength to the character. It’s fun to watch her stand her own against her brother’s plans.

Book Evaluation
The beginning of the story describes life within the TARDIS, how the companions and the Doctor relax between adventures. As much as I appreciate the newer Doctor Who story lines, I find these little bits of normality between the Doctor and his companions to be entertaining. There’s something so beautifully domestic in these interactions. I think it might that within these first story lines of this Doctor we are able to see his growth in character and begin to appreciate how these companion interactions have affected his outlook on the universe.

The book adaption really emphases a love story between Ian and Barbara; something that has only be hinted at in the past. It’s not distracting to the overall storyline but it can a little silly compared to how the characters interact on the screen.

One of the things that I appreciate within this adaptation is the exploration of Barbara’s character, specifically her growth as a strong female lead as she continues her companion adventures. The book discusses her use of wit, humor, and intelligence as she adapts to new situations. There isn’t an emphasis on her physical strength, which is a refreshing take considering how more modern audiences use the term strong-female character as one who must have a robust nature to match the physicality of male action heroes. Within the past decade or so, the definition of strong female has shifted to include those of use who don’t fit into the action-packed category. Women can be strong outside of physical strength. It’s nice to see positive example of this with the description of Barbara’s developing character. Barbara doesn’t have to be the physical type to save the day; her strength comes from her mind and it is within this role that Barbara’s character is actively celebrated.

Having said that, there was a part in this book that was never in the telecast; Barbara was lashed by the villain of the story. While it might make for a compelling storyline, I truly didn’t see why it had to be included in this adaptation or why it was even necessary at all. Keep in mind that Doctor Who was meant to be a child’s program; such plot devices seem barbaric to be included. Granted the show’s first episode did deal with potential killings in the era of cavemen.

Historical Notes
In her initial conversation with Saladin, she mentions past adventures such as The Web Planet, The Romans, and The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

 

Episode 13: The Web Planet

The Web Planet

Episode 13: The Web Planet
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by Bill Strutton
Directed by Richard Martin
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Web Planet
The Zarbi
Escape to Danger
Crater of Needles
Invasion
The Centre

Description
After being forced to land on an unknown planet, the Doctor and his companions find themselves in a struggle for control between two waring alien races.

Evaluation
I honestly don’t know what was up with this episode. The sets were pushing taste and the plot lines seemed far too long. If this had been a four-part episode, I might have liked it but I felt bored throughout the entire sequences. Granted I’m saying all of these from a modern perspective. It might have been different for a six-week run. I just couldn’t get into the storyline.

I’m not happy that my review is small but this episode inspired nothing for me. This might change later when I have an opportunity to read the novelization. Apparently, according to the small featurete that I watched, the episodes were very popular with audiences. It also mentioned the poetry of the writing in this episode. This might be one of those cases in which I don’t fit the demographic for the intended audience.

Historical Notes
The ring the Doctor wear is a key to open the TARDIS doors when the power was out.

 

Episode 12: The Romans

The Rescue_Romans

Episode 12: The Romans
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by Dennis Spooner
Directed by Christopher Barry
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Slave Traders
All Roads Lead to Rome
Conspiracy
Inferno

Description
As the Doctor and his companions take a month-long vacation in the Roman Empire, they are pulled into the world of one Emperor Nero.

Evaluation
I’m still not sure if I like this episode. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still pretty good. But for some reason it left an unsettled feeling in my stomach. The story lines are split between with the Doctor and Vicki in one plot line and Ian and Barbara in another.

The Doctor and Vicki story line is whimsical in that the Doctor finds himself involved with a plot to kill Emperor Nero. As with the case with comedy, nothing seems to go right for everyone involved. The Doctor is gleeful in his discoveries and you see a glimpse of the whimsy that will be showcased in future Doctor incarnations.

The problem that I have with this is that it is a large contrast between the whimsy and the dark plot lines of Ian and Barbara. They are kidnapped, sold off as slaves, forced to work to survive, battle against Roman soldiers (or in Barbara’s case against an insane Emperor), and somehow make it back to the TARDIS in one piece. The contrasts are very startling and unnerving. Ian and Barbara in real, tangible danger while the Doctor and Vicki are out enjoying the Roman city. Even when the Doctor does face danger, it is, again, more whimsy than suspenseful.

The set designs and the costumes are delightful as well as the background characters. The Doctor’s interactions with Nero provide for some of the best scenes in the episode.

Historical Notes
The Doctor was the inspiration of the Roman fire that destroyed the city during the reign of Nero. The Tenth Doctor hints at his involvement later on in the Fires of Pompeii.

 

Episode 11: The Rescue

The Rescue_RomansEpisode 11: The Rescue
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Christopher Barry
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Powerful Enemy
Desperate Measures

Description
Still reeling from the departure of Susan, the Doctor and his companions come across a crashed spaceship and it’s surviving crew.

Evaluation
With only two installments, The Rescue is a short but satisfying episode which introduces a new companion quite effectively. Vicki is a clever girl from a futuristic Earth. She exhibits traits similar to Susan but still maintains her own individual personality. And as a child of the future, she will have the intelligence to match the Doctor’s eccentric behavior.

In regards to the Doctor, with the departure of Susan it becomes clear once again how necessary it is for the Doctor to have a companion. There’s a slight shift in his relationship with Ian and Barbara in that he continues to grow in his appreciation of having the two of them around in their travels. If it wasn’t for their presence on the ship, the pain of losing Susan could have been devastating, despite his wish to see her grow as a person.

The story is enthralling. The conspiracy between the Koquillion character and Bennett was pretty obvious but it still plays out well in the end. The camera work is something that should be noted in that the lighting and aspect between establishing shots were of a higher quality that previous episodes. This comes into play during the final battle scene within the Temple Room with the Doctor.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the adventures with Susan, I’m excited to see how the adventures play out with Vicki. As I’ve mentioned before in previous reviews, it’s fun to see the evolution of the Doctor as he begins to grow into the character he is today. Even when Ian and Barbara comment on the Doctor’s age, there still exists a sense of adventure and innocence that the older Doctors don’t quite possess anymore.

Historical Notes
The introduction of the new companion, Vicki.

The Doctor has visited Dido in a previous off-screen adventure, where he encountered the Didonians who are friendly people.