Lost Hartnell Stories: The Savages

“The Savages” marks a bit of a new era in Doctor Who.  It was the first serial completely developed under Innes Lloyd  and his script editor, Gerry Davis, which is probably why it institutes a few important changes.  This is the first episode to have an overall title, instead of individual titles for each episode. It is also the final episode for Peter Purves as Steven (and Jackie Lane’s (Dodo’s) departure isn’t too far behind).  Furthermore, this is approaching the end of William Hartnell’s tenure as the Doctor. But, aside from all of these changes, I also feel that this is a slight turning point in terms of the focus of the show.  The Doctor has always traveled through time, but now his adventures take on a bit more of a science fiction-y feel.  Except for a few exceptions (like the later stories with the Daleks), up to this point the Doctor has been more like a time traveling anthropologist.  This story deals explicitly with a dystopian society, and the upcoming stories deal with computers and robots in a way that stories hadn’t previously.  The historicals haven’t disappeared yet, but at the end of the Hartnell era the show was moving towards more traditional science fiction topics.

The Doctor is watched by the "savages"

The Doctor is watched by the “savages”

The Doctor, Steven, and Dodo arrive on a planet that the Doctor believes is in the middle of an age of peace and prosperity.  After encountering some hostile, seemingly primitive natives, Steven and Dodo are not convinced.  However, it appears that he is correct when he and his companions meet  two soldiers.  These two soldiers take them into the much more advanced city to meet with the rulers.  It turns out that the elders of the city have been expecting the Doctor to arrive (although they didn’t anticipate his companions).  They have been tracking the “Traveler from Beyond Time,” and they want to bestow upon him the title of High Elder.  The Doctor stays to discuss the civilization with the elders, while two younger members of the society take Dodo and Steven on a tour of the city.

Eventually, the civilization’s secret is revealed: their utopia is based on stealing the life force of the “savages” who live outside the city and transferring this force into themselves.  The Doctor expresses his outrage at this practice, resulting in Jano, one of the elders, making him a prisoner.  He forces the Doctor to undergo the transference process, and has the Doctor’s life force transferred into himself. In the meantime, Steven and Dodo are left to make peace with the “savages” and find a way to rescue the Doctor.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this story.  I thought the first episode of this serial established an interesting premise.  The dystopian world and how the Doctor would react to it made for an intriguing beginning to the story.  Unfortunately, the rest of the story doesn’t quite live up to it.  The story soon abandons most of the moral issues and it becomes a story of evading capture and of rescuing the Doctor, which is understandable, since this is a children’s show.  Still, it held my interest and avoided going where I thought it would go.  I have to admit, I assumed that it would, once again, fall into that typical Hartnell story arc of the Doctor and his companions leading an oppressed people against their oppressors.  I was pleasantly surprised that the story didn’t fit into that mold.

I felt like the characters were portrayed slightly differently from how they had been portrayed previously, but this wasn’t a bad thing. Dodo actually had a rare moment of clarity where she could sense that something wasn’t right with the society, but Steven was unable to see this, at least initially.  However, she soon reverts back to being pretty useless.  Steven is definitely portrayed as quite the hero in this story.  He has always shown a strong morality and a willingness to risk himself to save others, but those qualities are really emphasized here.  He is clever (he finds a way to turn a light gun against the soldier firing it), decisive, fair, and brave.

Steven does, however, have one change that I didn’t think fit with his personality; he is rather negative about Dodo in this story.  He usually has a parental attitude towards her, even if he is an exasperated parent.  However, in this story, his attitude towards her has another element to it. After Dodo has wandered off, Steven begins to look for her, like one would look for a lost child. When one of the guides suggests that Dodo may be hiding as a joke, he says, “Not even Dodo would be as stupid as that!” It was interesting that he didn’t say, “Dodo isn’t stupid”, but instead is basically saying, “she’s not that stupid.” Not that I blame him, but he seemed very critical of Dodo in this story, when he had previously not commented on her foolish actions.

The Doctor and Jano

The Doctor and Jano

The Doctor’s storyline, however, is the most interesting aspect of this story.  He has come a long way since the beginning of the series.  Whereas in the beginning he would’ve been content to let the civilization go on, he now becomes outraged and wants to put a stop to the practice of transference. Not being able to see how William Hartnell delivered the lines, I wasn’t sure if the viewer was supposed to think that he had a plan when he criticized Jano.  It seemed rather foolish of him to think that he could simply tell the society to stop the practice and there would be no repercussions for him and his companions.

However, the results of the transference of the Doctor’s life force into Jano made the later episodes of the story enjoyable.  Jano wanted the Doctor’s intellect, but he ends up receiving his personality as well.  Obviously, I couldn’t see Fredrick Jaeger’s impression of the Doctor, but it sounded spot on.  He had William Hartnell’s delivery down, including the slightly indignant hmmms and harumphs with which Hartnell punctuates his speech. I imagine that it would have been amusing to see the way that Jano was periodically transformed into the Doctor immediately after the transference. The Doctor seemed to understand that this had happened, so maybe that was his plan all along, to transfer his conscience in to Jano.

Unlike Susan and Vicki, Steven gets a great send off.  As I stated before, Steven really plays the dashing hero in this story, so it seems natural that he would be selected as the neutral leader who will unite the two sides.  Instead of leaving to get married, like the female companions do, Steven leaves to rule a planet.  Of course Steven was a bit more like Barbara and Ian (rather than Susan, Vicki, or Dodo) in that Steven was older when he began traveling with the Doctor and previously had a career as a space pilot.  He had also spent time as the prisoner of the mechanoids, so he was used to being fairly independent and never wanted the Doctor telling him what to do.  It was totally in character for Steven to leave the Doctor in this manner.

Steven turns back for one last look at the Doctor and Dodo.

Steven turns back for one last look at the Doctor and Dodo.

Although I felt that Steven was perfectly capable of ruling the planet, I did wonder if things were really going to turn out okay.  Much like Susan and Vicki, Steven leaves in a time of upheaval, in which a civilization needed to be completely rebuilt. I wasn’t convinced that all of the people in the “advanced” civilization were going to be willing to accept being equals with the “savages.”  It’s true that once they saw that the people they considered savages really weren’t that different from themselves, they might start to realize that it was wrong, as one of the guards had, but I thought that Steven had his work cut out for him. Of course if anyone would work hard to make sure that things became equal, it would be Steven, so maybe things worked out.

Overall, “The Savages” was better than I had anticipated.  It was an interesting premise, even if the story didn’t completely live up to it.  I didn’t think I’d be saying this when I first met the character, but I was sorry to see Steven go.  The episodes that survive really aren’t the ones that show Steven at his best. In stories like this one, he is much more charismatic.  Peter Purves has said that he would like to see the Doctor revisit the planet of the savages, to see how things turned out.  Anyone up for the return of Steven?


Mostly Lost Hartnell Stories: The Celestial Toymaker

The Celestial Toymaker should be remembered as one of the Doctor’s greatest adversaries.  The fact that he isn’t is a bit baffling to me.  Here is an opponent who is eternal and has faced off against the Doctor before; at the end of the story, even the Doctor believes that their paths will cross again.  It seems to be the makings of an iconic villain, but this was not to be.  Part of this can be attributed to the fact that only the final episode of this four part story exists in the BBC archives; most people have not seen the Toymaker, so he is not as well-known as some of the Doctor’s other foes.  The fact that this story took place in the Hartnell era and mainly features Steven and Dodo (not exactly the best TARDIS team of all time), probably didn’t help matters either.  “The Celestial Toymaker” is the seventh story of Doctor Who‘s third season, and one of the many stories from that season not to survive intact.

The Doctor and the Toymaker

The Doctor and the Toymaker

After leaving Refusis, and its invisible inhabitants, behind, the Doctor suddenly becomes invisible himself.  He has to have Steven and Dodo operate the TARDIS controls for him, as he no longer has a physical presence.  Once he exits the TARDIS, the Doctor realizes that they are in the world of the Celestial Toymaker, an evil force who traps people and forces them to become his playthings.  The Toymaker appears, and within a few short moments has hidden the TARDIS among many copies and separated the Doctor from his companions.

The travelers will now be forced to play the Toymaker’s games.  The Doctor will be playing the Trilogic game (basically the Tower of Hanoi).  He must complete the game in 1023 moves.  In the meantime, Steven and Dodo will have to play a series of games against the Toymaker’s playthings.  If they lose, they become the Toymaker’s new playthings.  However, for each game they win, they will be presented with a TARDIS that may or may not be the real one.  The Doctor calls out to his companions, giving them advice, but the Toymaker quickly puts a stop to it by turning the Doctor invisible again (except for the one hand he will need to play the game) and making others unable to hear him. He is then left to play his game, while Steven and Dodo play theirs, and hopefully discover the real TARDIS before the Doctor finishes his game.

It’s an interesting premise, even if it’s not perfectly realized. Although I was unable to see the games unfolding, my interest was held through just the descriptions of them.  It may have been difficult to keep track of the many characters from the lost historicals, but it’s even harder to have to imagine how some of these games were played out onscreen.  Listening to the audio of a story in which there are characters who don’t speak is obviously not the ideal way to experience it.  There are, at least, stills from the episode that help clarify what the serial might have looked like.  It surprised me, then, that I enjoyed the story as much as I did.  It’s not one of the Doctor’s best adventures, but I imagine this story would hold up well, if we could only see more of it.

The idea of having Steven and Dodo face a new challenge (and meet new playthings) in each episode helped keep things moving. The episodic nature of the challenges and the fact that all of their competitors were a bit odd gave the story a bit of an Alice in Wonderland-ish feel, which I enjoyed.  I couldn’t help but wonder if the novel was an influence on this serial. I felt like most of the Toymaker’s playthings could have stepped right out of Alice. In Alice in Wonderland, you have the rather dangerous game of croquet played by the Queen of Hearts (and many other “living” playing cards) and an assortment of other odd characters.  In Though the Looking Glass, you have chess pieces that have come to life, and Alice playing a real life version of chess. The game of Hunt the Key with Sargent Rugg and Mrs. Wiggs even reminded me of the scene in the Duchess’ kitchen (in which there is chaos and many plates are broken as well).   It seems to me that Carroll’s writing must have at least been an unconscious influence on the story and tone.

Of course the script itself was rewritten many times, so I’m not sure whose ideas made it into the final version.  I know that there were issues with the unauthorized use of characters from a play by Gerald Savoy (who was then Head of Serials) and Cyril being very like Billy Bunter (who was also a rather obnoxious school boy played by a grown man), so there were probably many influences on the story. The script is credited to Brian Hayles, but it seems that the final version bore little similarity to his original story.  It’s interesting to note that producer John Wiles (who never got along with Hartnell) wanted this serial to be William Hartnell’s final story.  His idea was vetoed, and he ended up leaving his post before the story aired. His idea was that when Doctor reappears in the fourth episode, he would have a different appearance.  It’s a good thing that his idea wasn’t used, or else regeneration wouldn’t have been created and we probably wouldn’t still be enjoying the show today.  Another interesting note is that the Toymaker was going to be a member of the Doctor’s race, but that didn’t make it into the broadcasted story either.

The Doctor, Steven, and Dodo

The Doctor, Steven, and Dodo

I would have liked to have seen more of the Doctor (no pun intended) and the Toymaker.  The Toymaker is, perhaps, my favorite type of opponent for the Doctor to face: one who is all-powerful and a worthy adversary. The world that they are inhabiting is of the Toymaker’s own creation; he is in complete control of his environment.  The Toymaker’s intelligence is what makes this story work: the Doctor has to face off against someone every bit as clever as he is.  Unfortunately, this serial was used to give William Hartnell his vacation time, so the Doctor is, essentially, absent for the second and third episodes of the story. While it’s a clever way to give Hartnell some time off, I think the story would be better if he had been more involved.  What should have been played as a battle of wits between the Doctor and the Toymaker becomes the struggles of the Doctor’s companions to defeat the Toymaker’s playthings (which, let’s face it, aren’t really that bright, although they do cheat to get ahead). Michael Gough (yes, Alfred from the Tim Burton’s Batman) does a great job with his limited role as the Toymaker.  Unfortunately, he is left playing many of his scenes by himself, since the Doctor cannot be seen nor heard by anyone else (including the audience).  In a random bit of trivia, Michael Gough was married to Anneke Wills, who would soon replace Dodo as Hartnell’s female companion.

This brings me to the weakest part of the story: the fact that so much of the story focuses on Steven and Dodo, who are not the most exciting companions the Doctor has ever had.  Dodo remains annoying.  She is constantly fooled by the Toymaker’s playthings, and never seems to grasp that they are playing these games for their lives.  Steven, who was a fairly interesting character, both in his travels with Vicki and his time alone with the Doctor, is just, well…bland with Dodo.  He spends all his time looking out for her, and that is the extent of their relationship.  Steven is constantly trying to stop Dodo from getting into trouble (and sometimes succeeding), but she never seems to learn.  Whereas Steven and Vicki were basically equals, Steven’s relationship with Dodo is more limited; it resembles that of a father and his a small child. Still, I think it’s a testimony to the inventiveness of the script that I remained engaged with the story through all four episodes, even the two without the Doctor.

Steven and Dodo meet Cyril

Steven and Dodo meet Cyril

After listening to/watching this episode I was left with a question.  Who exactly are these “playthings” that Steven and Dodo are playing against?  The same actors play the different toys, but are they simply the toys brought to life? If the Toymaker likes to trap people to become his playthings, then are they other people that he has trapped? The playing cards that were brought to life make references to playing for their freedom, which made me wonder if they were victims of the Toymaker.  However, the story never addresses this and Steven is constantly reminding Dodo that they are not real, so maybe they were meant to be literally toys brought to life and I’m just over thinking this.

Overall, “The Celestial Toymaker” is a good story.  It has its faults, but the premise behind it is a good one, and one that I think could be updated for new Who. I know the Toymaker’s return was planned for season 23, with Colin Baker’s Doctor and Peri, but it sadly fell through (although the story, The Nightmare Fair, is available as both a novel and a Big Finish audio).  I would love to see the Toymaker face off against Matt Smith’s Doctor.  There are so many new games the Toymaker could force his opponents to play, and we might finally get more of a Doctor/Toymaker showdown. I know it’s a long shot, I can’t be the only one who thinks this has potential, right?

Lost Hartnell Stories: The Mythmakers

The third season of Doctor Who is full of a great deal more death and bloodshed than you would expect from a children’s show.  It starts out innocently enough; in “Galaxy 4,” only the four Drahvins die (and they were clearly evil people).  However, starting with the next serial, “The Mythmakers,” and continuing through “The Daleks’ Master Plan” and “The Massacre,” the body count quickly rises.  “The Mythmakers,” the second story of the season, sees the Doctor and his companions, Vicki and Steven, land in the midst of the Trojan War.  No episodes survive of this story, and the only footage is a few 8mm home movie clips, but the complete audio is available.

Troilus and "Cressida" embrace

Troilus and “Cressida” embrace

As always, it is difficult to truly judge the merits of a story that was meant to be viewed, but now can only be heard. There are a great many supporting characters in this story, and I’ll confess it took me a little while to finally get them all straight. There are almost no images from this story either, so I have very little idea of what the visuals were for the story. Obviously, I’m judging it based on the merit of the story alone.

The TARDIS materializes right where Achilles and Hector are engaged in a lengthy fight.  They are so involved in their struggle that they fail to notice the TARDIS until the Doctor walks out of it.  His sudden apperance distracts Hector, and he is slain by Achilles.  Achilles believes that the Doctor is Zeus,who has appeared to grant him victory.  The Doctor tries to go back to his “blue temple,” but Odysseus arrives and the Doctor is forced to accompany him to see Agamemnon. Vicki has a wounded ankle from their escape in “Galaxy 4,” so she stays behind in the TARDIS, while Steven follows the Doctor to the Greek camp.

Once at the camp, the Doctor’s divinity is under suspicion, but Agamemnon is unsure of what course to take until Steven is captured.  The Doctor agrees to sacrifice him in his “blue temple,” thinking that  this will allow them both to escape.  Unfortunately, the Trojans have discovered the TARDIS and taken it into Troy, with Vicki still inside. The Doctor is forced to admit his true identity, and he is given two days to come up with a plan to help the Greeks win the war.

Meanwhile, Vicki has been discovered by the Trojans, who have named her Cressida.  King Priam takes a liking to her and believes her to be a prophet, which angers Cassandra (who actually is one!). The Trojans, however, become suspicious of Vicki when they capture Steven, who they think is Diomedes, friend of Odysseus, and the two recognize each other.  Vicki is then given one day to help Priam win the war, putting her and the Doctor on opposing sides of the struggle.

While this would not be one of the top stories from William Hartnell’s time, it is a good one.  Unlike the previous story, “Galaxy 4,” there is a great conflict built into this story.  It was an interesting idea to have the Doctor and Vicki tied to opposing sides in the war.  It added suspense to a story for which many viewers already knew the outcome.  Having the Doctor and Vicki on opposing sides limited what they could do to get out of their respective predicaments.  For instance, even though Vicki knew that there would be soldiers hidden inside the Trojan horse, she couldn’t reveal the truth about it because she didn’t want anything to happen to the Doctor.

This story featured good roles for all of the regulars: there was a rather large supporting cast, yet the regular cast members all had important parts to play in the adventure.  In particular, the story gave William Hartnell a chance to show off some of his comedic skills again. Who could resist watching the Doctor playing Zeus in the first episode? It seems to be a role that suits him well: the Doctor takes to playing the king of the gods almost immediately.  Hartnell also got to show off the Doctor’s resourcefulness, as well as how he reacts to having his clever ideas fail.  All of his attempts to fool Odysseus are thwarted, and eventually he is forced to actually hide in the Trojan horse with Odysseus and his men. It’s unusual for the Doctor to meet someone he can’t fool.

The suspicious Cassandra watches Priam and Vicki

The suspicious Cassandra watches Priam and Vicki

Additionally, Vicki once again shows off her own resourcefulness in this story.  She is separated from the Doctor and Steven, yet she is able to manipulate the situation to become favored by the royal family.  Vicki was the last female assistant for a while who was capable of taking care of herself.  Her situation is actually worsened by Steven’s attempt to rescue her.

This story has more interactions between Vicki and Steven than the previous one, which is a good thing. The interactions between Steven and Vicki are always fun.  They generally follow this pattern: Steven always thinks that he knows best, yet Vicki is usually right. Vicki is never obnoxious with Steven, but she does have the ability to good naturedly put him in his place when he gets too bossy, resulting in some funny moments.  In this case, there is a very funny exchange between the two after they have been locked up in the dungeon.  This is after Steven has come to “rescue” Vicki, but instead he has made things worse for both of them.

This story is loosely based on the story of Troilus and Cressida (both the Shakespeare and Chaucer versions), however it takes many liberties with the characters.  From what I know about the Shakespearean version, this story also picked up a bit of the uneven tone of the  play.  While not as broadly comedic as “The Romans,” the story has many comedic moments, yet it ends in death for almost all involved.  Both sides are portrayed as wanting the war to end, yet I felt that you got to know the Torjans better.  This makes the ending even more disturbing, since I found myself sympathizing with the Trojans, yet they are the losing side; the likable King Priam and his son, Paris, both end up dead.  Still, Vicki and her prince get a happy ending, unlike the play, keeping this from being a true tragedy.

This story is Vicki’s final story, as she falls in love with Priam’s youngest son, Troilus, and decides to stay with him.  While I found this more believable than Susan’s romance in “The Dalek Invasion of Earth,” it is another rather whirlwind romance (and, curiously, they both leave in the aftermath of war, not exactly in ideal times).  My only complaint was the lack of a farewell scene for Vicki and her companions.  Her goodbye to the Doctor is off screen, and she never says goodbye to Steven. She and the Doctor had a great relationship; I think it would have been a very touching goodbye between them. I felt that not witnessing their goodbye left things feeling a bit unresolved at the end.

This episode also saw the introduction of the short lived companion Katarina.  She was one of Cassandra’s handmaidens, and she is responsible for bringing Steven to the TARDIS after he is wounded. She nobly sacrifices herself a few episodes into the next story, after it was decided that having a companion from the distant past posed too many problems for the show.

The Doctor's plans for the Trojan horse

The Doctor’s plans for the Trojan horse

Finally, this story brings up an interesting idea, that was touched upon (though a bit less directly)  in “The Romans,” when the Doctor inadvertently gives Nero the idea to burn Rome.  This story is the first to give the Doctor a very direct role in shaping a major historical event. In previous episodes, the Doctor has been very clear that you can’t rewrite history, “not one line,” yet without him, the Trojan horse would not have been built.  It could be argued that the Greeks would have found another way to win, but at this point, they would not have won the war without the Doctor’s help. In stories like the “Reign of Terror,” the travelers discuss how events in the past cannot be altered by their presence (what is going to happen will always happen whether they are there or not).  Does this mean that the Doctor was meant to be in Troy at this particular time?  And, according to the Doctor’s own statements (from earlier historicals), does this mean that someone else would have suggested the idea if the Doctor had not been there? Of course, this also opens up the paradox that the Doctor only suggests the Trojan horse because he has read about it, so where did the idea really come from?

Overall, this story is a good one, even if it does bring up many unanswerable questions.  It’s a fitting farewell to Vicki and an enjoyable story.  I am glad that they did away with the jokey episode titles that were originally considered, as they would have made the tone of the final episode even more jarringly out of place.  Is anyone prepared for terrible bloodshed after an episode entitled “Is There a Doctor in the Horse?”

Mostly Lost Hartnell Stories: Galaxy Four

There was great excitement amongst Whovians at the news that two previously lost episodes, one from the Hartnell’s era and one from the Troughton’s, had been recovered last year.  Unfortunately, the episodes recovered were not the ones that fans most want to see (although, let’s face it, it was still exciting).  The Hartnell episode, which received its North American premiere at Gallifrey One, was the missing third episode of “Galaxy 4.” Up to this point, there was, of course, the audio, but there were no complete episodes, only a six-minute clip from the first episode.

The Doctor and Maaga look at an approaching chumbley.

The Doctor and Maaga look at an approaching chumbley.

Basically, the TARDIS materializes on a planet which is capable of supporting life, yet appears deserted.  The Doctor and his companions, Vicki and Steven, emerge from the TARDIS (apparently Steven really wants to go swimming) and are captured by a small robot, which Vicki names a chumbley.  The travelers are rescued by some blond women in uniforms, who take them back to their spaceship. They are Drahvins, who were exploring this area to look for a planet to colonize.  The Drahvins are a race consisting primarily of women.  They keep enough men to perpetuate the species, apparently, but they kill the rest, because they serve no purpose.  Their leader, Maaga, explains that the chumbleys belong to the Rills. The Drahvins have been in a conflict with the Rills ever since the Rills shot down their ship and killed a member of their crew.  The Rills have told them that the planet will be destroyed in 14 dawns, so she wants the Doctor’s help in stealing the Rill spaceship so that they can leave the planet.

The Doctor returns to the TARDIS with Steven (Vicki has to stay behind with the Drahvins) and uses his instruments to check the Rills’ information. He discovers that the Rills were correct about the destruction of the planet, but they were wrong about the timeline; it will actually occur in only two dawns.  He tries to hide this fact from the Drahvins (he does not believe that they can be trusted), but Maaga forces him to reveal his information.  He and Vicki are then sent to steal the Rill spaceship, while Steven is kept hostage.

When the Doctor meets the Rills, he learns that his suspicions were correct, the Drahvins have been lying to him.  The Rills (who are non humanoid creatures, so they hide their appearance from the Doctor and Vicki) explain that it was the Drahvins who were the aggressors, shooting down their ship in an unprovoked attack. Despite this attack, they still try to help the Drahvins leave the planet, only to be met with aggression.  In fact, the Rills were trying to offer help to the wounded member of the Drahvin crew, when Maaga murdered her. She then told the others that the Rills had done it, turning them against the Rills.  The Doctor then has to help the Rills get off the planet before the planet’s destruction.

It is difficult to judge the merits of a story when you can only watch one complete episode and six minutes of another, especially with the scarcity of images from the missing episodes.  However, after watching the reconstructions of the three missing episodes, I feel pretty comfortable in stating that this story is a weak one.  One of the problems is that it is lacking an engaging conflict.  The Doctor and his companions never really seem in any danger.  Even before you learned that the Rills and their chumbleys were harmless, the chumbleys are not menacing in the least (although they can apparently protect themselves from all weapons except being hit with a pipe).  I know they have weapons, but it’s a bit hard to take them seriously as a threat when you see them.  And the Drahvins are vicious, but yet not terribly intelligent, so there’s never any doubt the Doctor will end up with the upper hand.

This brings me to my second point. The Drahvins are not an interesting villain.  I never felt like I understood them.  They are obviously inspired by the Amazons, but very little information is given about their home planet, so you have no context in which to place them.  They seem to be a very military based race, who has bred a race of slave labor to fight for them.  However, the reason behind their evilness is always a bit vague.  Do they always want to kill everybody they come across?  If they are constantly attacking people, how can they survive when they don’t appear to be terribly intelligent or strong? Why did Maaga want to start a conflict between her crew and the Rills? Apparently having any sort of philosophy and/or logic behind their actions was deemed unimportant by the writer, so they simply remain a strange and unintelligent enemy, the type who would cut off their nose to spite their face. If the rest of their race is like Maaga, it’s a miracle that they’ve survived. They reminded me a bit of the Dominators, but with a murkier goal.  At least it was clear what the Dominators were doing on Dulkis and what they hoped to achieve (although I have plenty to say about that story, when I get to it). Maaga just seems to like to pick fights for no reason.

The Drahvins and a chumbley

The Drahvins and a chumbley

I know this is a story for which Peter Purves has expressed a dislike.  He says that the original story was written for Barbara and Ian, so he ended up with most of Barbara’s lines, “feminizing” his character.  I don’t really see any trace of Barbara in Steven’s character, so I’m not sure how many of her lines he actually received. Of course I think having some of Barbara’s characteristics wouldn’t be a bad thing, but Steven seems to be very much himself in this story; he’s as stubborn and argumentative with the Doctor as ever. Although I do feel that Purves’ comments do go along with the general undercurrent of misogyny that I felt ran through the story.  His pride appeared to be wounded by the fact that Steven was held captive by a group of women.

This leads me to my final point: I found the portrayal of the women to be a bit troublesome, even though it’s difficult for me to explain exactly why this is so (I know that’s not a promising start to a paragraph, but stick with me).  I think part of it is that it is so unusual to have this many supporting female characters in an episode. There is rarely a women seen among the different alien races the travelers meet, let alone a whole race of only women. I feel like if they were a typical Doctor Who alien race (consisting of men), they might not have been so easy to defeat.  It’s almost as if the writer couldn’t take the idea of a race of warrior women any more seriously than Peter Purves could.  The slave Drahvins are unintelligent and completely incapable of thinking for themselves, so the Steven’s attempt to sow seeds of discord between Maaga and her crew fails.  However, it doesn’t really take much for Steven to overpower his guard; you’d think a warrior race would be tougher than that. I know that the crew is a genetically inferior warrior/slave class, so I get the lack of intelligence, but they don’t seem to be effective at any physical tasks either, so what purpose do they serve? The Doctor didn’t even need to outsmart the Drahvins to defeat them, he simply decides to help the Rills and not the Drahvins. Even the cavemen in “An Unearthly Child” posed more of a threat to the Doctor than the Drahvins. I’m still sorting out my feelings about this, but overall, it seems at least partially due to the fact that they were women.

Despite all the negative aspects that I have listed, there is at least one positive aspect to the story: the fact that Vicki is the Doctor’s companion in this story.  I always enjoy seeing William Hartnell and Maureen O’Brien interact.  I felt like the Doctor’s relationship with Vicki really brings out his caring, more grandfatherly side.  He always seems to be having great fun with Vicki, which is not always the case with his other companions.

The Doctor and Vicki

The Doctor and Vicki

Overall, I was glad that I was able to see the newly recovered episode, I just wish it had been from another story.  On my wish list of episodes to be recovered, this story is pretty far down (yes, I do actually have a list, but I’ll write more about that at another time).  However, I’m always happy to see more of Vicki, my second favorite Hartnell companion (after Barbara and Ian, of course). Also, I’m never going to be too disappointed with more Doctor Who to watch, even if the story is mediocre to poor.  It’s probably my least favorite Hartnell so far, but I guess it could have been worse: the Doctor could have had this adventure while traveling with Dodo!