Foam, Screams, and Seaweed: Fury from the Deep

“Fury from the Deep” is one of the entirely lost stories from the Patrick Troughton era. A few clips survive (thank you, Australian censors!), but all the rest is missing. It’s a shame because the story is a very good one, full of colorful moments that I would love to see. The Doctor flies a helicopter, he plays in foam (actually, there’s foam everywhere), goes swimming again…oh, and it features the debut of a gadget called a sonic screwdriver. It functions as an actual screwdriver, too, not as the magic wand/all-purpose device it has become. Imagine that! Even more importantly, “Fury from the Deep” is the final story for Deborah Watling’s Victoria. After surviving the attack of the seaweed creatures, Victoria decides to leave the TARDIS and start a new life.

Everyone hopes that Victoria's screams will stop the creatures' advance.

Everyone hopes that Victoria’s screams will stop the creatures’ advance.

The TARDIS lands out on the water, near a gas refinery. The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria arrive on the shore and hear a strange rhythmic noise coming from one of the pipes. Before they figure out what it is, the refinery staff, suspicious of their motives, shoots them with tranquilizers and brings them in for questioning.

They awaken with the head of the refinery staff, Robson, ready to question them. Drops in the pressure in the pipes and loss of contact with one of the rigs is troubling Harris, one of the men who works under Robson. Robson, however, has found a solution that he thinks explains the problem: the Doctor has been tampering with the pipes. Harris thinks the problem is bigger and wants Robson to shut down the pipes, so that they can correct the problem, which he suspects involves something in the pipes. Robson refuses, saying that he has never had a shut down under his supervision and he’s not about to have one now.

In the meantime, areas of the base are becoming overrun with foam, and some people have seen a mysterious creature lurking in the ventilation system. One by one the refinery is losing contact with the rigs. Harris’ wife, Maggie, is also suffering from some mysterious malady after being stung by a piece of seaweed.  And what has happened to Mr. Quill and Mr. Oak? They are growing seaweed on their hands and are able to exhale a toxic gas. The Doctor needs to put all of these pieces together to figure out how to stop the fury from the deep before it takes over the entire world.

This is yet another strong episode in a season that is full of them. While  it seems like the idea of some type of sentient seaweed would be a ridiculous one, this story pulls it off. Like the best horror stories, it taps into a fear of the time, in this case, fear about what the consequences might be of the increased drilling into our ocean’s floor. In this story, it is the search for natural gas deep in the ocean that has brought this danger to the surface, a life that feeds off of the toxic gases produced under the ocean floor.

From the stills and few surviving clips, I feel that this story was a very visual story; therefore, we are at a loss having to rely mainly on the audio recordings. However, the story is still engaging, and it offers a slight variation on the base under siege plot. In this case, there is a certain element of suspense because the viewer is not sure who is under the influence of the seaweed, or whom it will take over next. The idea that there are traitors hiding in plain sight is a nice change of pace from the monsters who have been killing people off in the previous serials.

The genuinely creepy Mr. Quill in mid attack.

The genuinely creepy Mr. Quill in mid attack.

And, speaking of the visuals, the remaining clips offer a hint of how creepy this episode was. I can see why the Australian censors felt the clip of Mr. Oak and Mr. Quill breathing the toxic gas at Maggie was too scary for children. Even as an adult, it is one of the most disturbing images I remember seeing on Doctor Who. It is one of the indelible images of the show.  Although the rest of their performance is confined to still photos, Mr. Oak (John Gill) and Mr. Quill (Bill Burridge) still convey a certain amount of menace whenever we see them.  Even the seaweed creature itself, which, thanks to a few brief clips, we finally see clearly in the final episode, is effective.  Somehow they managed to design a creature that seems like a seaweed creature, and even moves like a seaweed creature, instead of simply seeming like a man in a suit.

I also loved the Doctor’s solution to the problem. The idea of the power of sound waves was foreshadowed by introducing the sonic screwdriver in the beginning of the story. (I wonder if Victor Pemberton, the writer, realized how iconic his little screwdriver was about to become?) And , of course, what more appropriate sound could there be than Victoria’s screams? After doing a great deal of screaming in her adventures with the Doctor, Victoria’s screams finally have a purpose. Every time Victoria encounters the creatures, she screams, which enables the Doctor to notice that it actually protects her from them. That the big finale of Victoria’s last story involves broadcasting her amplified screams to save the base…perfect.

While Jamie plays a role in this story, the focus is really on Victoria, as it should be in her final appearance.  She returns to her original form a bit in this story, after being simply the damsel in distress the past few stories.  She is clever again, picking the lock with her hairpin, while the Doctor and Jamie are trying a complicated plan of escape.  She also gets to show some scientific competency again (Remember her father, the scientist, who taught her things? Very few of the writers this season did.) by helping the Doctor perform some tests on the seaweed in the TARDIS.

Victoria waves goodbye to the Doctor and Jamie, while Harris and Maggie stand by.

Victoria waves goodbye to the Doctor and Jamie, while Harris and Maggie stand by.

The episode sets up Victoria’s choice to leave the TARDIS at the end by giving her a few times where she mentions how tired she is of living in constant fear. And when you look back at her time, you can’t really blame her. In a relatively short time, she lost her father and became an orphan, battled Cybermen, was hypnotized/controlled by the Great Intelligence, and held captive by the ice warriors, Salamander, the Great Intelligence/yeti, and the seaweed creatures. That’s enough to make anyone want to leave! Victoria’s constant role as the damsel in distress also makes it clear why Deborah Watling would choose to leave.  While Victoria began as an interesting character, I don’t think she was very consistently written and it must have been frustrating to play her.

It is nice to see Victoria choose to leave the TARDIS, and not to get married.  She feels that there is no point in returning to Victorian times, since she has seen too much to return there comfortably and has no one left, so she might as well stay in the England of the late 1960’s. I’ve read that some people see Victoria as finding a new family to replace the one that she lost, and this is the ultimate resolution of her character arc. While I think this is true to a certain extent, she’s not returning to a child-like state of dependence. She doesn’t even have a particularly strong bond with Harris and his wife. She choses to stop traveling with the Doctor, not to stay with them specifically.  It’s the Doctor who enlists their aid. They are going to help Victoria land on her feet, as parents would a grown child, but I got the impression that Victoria would not be relying on them to care for her completely. She will need some help getting settled, but the Victoria who leaves the Doctor is a woman capable of making her own choices, which the Doctor respects, not a helpless girl just looking for a family.

The most touching part of this story is Victoria’s relationship with Jamie.  This story shows that he is the one that she confides in, not the Doctor. When she is being held captive, the first person she calls out to is Jamie. And it is Jamie who takes her departure harder than the Doctor. He is sadder to say goodbye to Victoria than he was to Polly and Ben in “The Faceless Ones.” I was happy to see that Victoria and Jamie shared a quiet moment together before their parting the next day. Deborah Watling and Fraser Hines had excellent chemistry together (and still do, if you’ve been lucky enough to see them at a con recently), which resulted in Jamie and Victoria being an excellent match. It’s easy to imagine that the two characters had a relationship that involved more than friendship, making Victoria’s decision to leave all the more difficult.

Victoria and Jamie sharing one of several private moments. Jamie can't understand Victoria's unhappiness.

Victoria and Jamie sharing one of several private moments. Jamie can’t understand Victoria’s unhappiness.

Overall, this story is a fitting farewell to Victoria and pays tribute to all the aspects of her personality. She decides for herself when it is time to leave, showing that she has matured during her travels with the Doctor. As far as companion departures go, it’s a pretty good one. She also gets to point out that, “every time we go anywhere, something awful happens” which is a pretty good summary of the show itself if you think about it.  The Doctor lands somewhere, something awful is happening, and he needs to help stop it.  Maybe the next story will be different. Something awful won’t happen at that space station the Doctor and Jamie arrive at, right? Maybe these are friendly Cybermen…oh, all right, something awful is about to happen.


Return of the Yeti: The Web of Fear

Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart is one of the iconic characters in Doctor Who history.  For years, however, his debut story was lost to the BBC junkings of the 1970’s.  With the recovery of “The Web of Fear,” most of his first appearance can now be seen.  That alone makes this story an important one.  However, this story has still more to offer.  It also features the return of the Doctor’s foes from “The Abominable Snowmen”: the Great Intelligence and his robotic yeti.  These yeti are less cuddly looking and more menacing than their original versions in “The Abominable Snowmen” (even the Doctor comments on their slightly different appearance), but there’s no mistaking them.  Patrick Troughton’s Doctor, Jamie, Victoria, and even Professor Travers are all back to join Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in facing the Great Intelligence and his yeti.

The Doctor hold the recovered yeti sphere while Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, Anne Travers, and Jamie look on.

The Doctor holds the recovered yeti sphere while Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, Anne Travers, and Jamie look on.

“The Web of Fear” is a return to the “base under siege” format after the unusual “The Enemy of the World.”  The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria manage to close the TARDIS doors (left open by Salamander when he tried to escape at the end of “The Enemy of the World”), but this trip in the TARDIS becomes no less eventful.  The TARDIS seems to have stopped moving, but it has not landed.  The Doctor soon realizes someone or something is holding the TARDIS and encasing it in a web-like substance.  The Doctor rigs a device so that at the first opportunity he can escape the grasp of whoever or whatever is holding them. This enables him to land the TARDIS a short distance away from where it was supposed to land.

When the trio emerges from the TARDIS, they quickly discover that they are in an Underground station.  They go up to the surface to discover that although it is broad daylight, London is eerily quiet.  Eventually, the trio meet up with some soldiers and discover that their old friend, Professor Travers and his daughter, Anne, are working with the military to find a solution to a problem that is facing London.  The yeti are back; much of the city is enveloped in a deathly fog, and the mysterious web-like substance is taking over the tunnels in the Underground.  The Doctor and his companions deduce that it must have been the Great Intelligence that brought them here, but why?

This is a good story, but it suffers in comparison to “The Enemy of the World,” which felt fresh.  This is a far more traditional story structure for this era.  Plus, after his dual performance in the previous serial, Patrick Troughton took his vacation during episode 2 of this story, resulting in a Doctor-free episode.

I really enjoyed the first episode.  There is a great scene in which we see (the now much older) Professor Travers attempting to get the yeti he sold to a museum back.  He warns the museum owner that he has reactivated a control sphere and the yeti is now dangerous, but the man doesn’t listen.  Of course, after Travers and his daughter leave, the danger that Travers foretold of comes to pass and a reanimated yeti attacks the man.  The scene has a great atmosphere and promises an eerie, horror-tinged episode to come, something that the story doesn’t quite deliver.



In my opinion, there are two main weaknesses in the storytelling of “The Web of Fear” (aside from the somewhat confusing plan of the intelligence).  The first is that, despite having a good first episode, the next few episodes consist of a bit more shooting and military action than I thought necessary, which, perhaps, is a major cause of the other weakness.  I did not feel much of a connection to any of the new characters, except Anne and the Colonel (more about them to come). Characters are killed off at so rapid a pace in the first few episodes that you aren’t invested enough to care. The ones that are left when all the dust settles feel like character types instead of characters: there is the obnoxious reporter, the cowardly Welsh soldier, the hardworking military man…When some characters reappear at the end, I realized that I had forgotten that they had even disappeared.

Even the character of Anne is not as developed as she could be.  She is a scientist, and has some great lines in the beginning. For instance, when asked what a girl like her is doing in a job like this, Anne calmly replies, “Well, when I was a little girl I thought I’d like to be a scientist, so I became a scientist.” As the episode continues, she becomes less and less important to the story.  I would have liked to see this scientist contribute a bit more  scientifically, but she  basically becomes the Doctor’s assistant in the final episodes, and is a bit of a precursor to Liz Shaw, the third Doctor’s assistant.

Of course no discussion of “The Web of Fear” would be complete without discussing the introduction of Colonel, but soon to be Brigadier, Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Unfortunately, he enters the story in episode three, the only episode not yet recovered, but the rest of his performance is there.  I quite enjoyed seeing the now familiar character introduced as someone you weren’t quite sure if you could trust.  Additionally, even at this early date, the Brig has his unflappable nature.  For instance, he readily accepts the fact that the Doctor has a machine that can travel through time and space, and sets out to try to recover it.  When questioned about it, he explains that although he’s not sure he believes the Doctor, but, if it exists, it’s the only way that they can escape the situation alive, so he will do his best to find it.

Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart

Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart

The return of Professor Travers allows the story to touch on a very interesting idea.  For the travelers, and indeed the viewers, it has only been a short time since Travers’ prior appearance.  However, for Travers, it has been almost 40 years (which of course leads to the UNIT dating controversy, since he met the Doctor in 1935, making this story set in the 1970’s…but that’s another story). This is the first time, or at least it’s the first time I can think of, that the Doctor has met the same person in two different stories (I’m not counting the meddling Monk since he’s a Time Lord).  The idea to age him is an interesting one, since the Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria haven’t aged at all.  In fact, Travers even points out to Anne that Victoria was born before he was, a point that I hadn’t really thought of before.  I enjoy it when the show takes time (even if it is just a moment) to consider some of the realities that present themselves due to the existence of time travel.

When it comes to the companions, Jamie finally gets more active in this story; he searches the tunnels for the Doctor early in the story and then uses the yeti that the Doctor has figured out how to control to “rescue” the Doctor in the end.  Victoria still does not have too much to do, but she also sets out on her own, to find the Doctor and Jamie. When she is (inevitably, I’m sorry to say) held captive by the Great Intelligence, she is not bordering on the hysterical like she did in “The Ice Warriors,” and she even thinks to take off her necklace and  drop it as a clue as to which tunnel the possessed Travers has taken her down.  Despite this, her role is largely that of the damsel in distress.

As for the Doctor, this story further supports the idea that Troughton’s Doctor saw violence as a last resort.   Using his scientific knowledge, he comes up with a way to control a yeti.  Then he uses his scientific expertise once again, this time to switch the wires on the helmet the Great Intelligence was going to use to steal his knowledge and memories.  Without causing any violence, he had found a way to put an end to the Great Intelligence forever, which is what makes the ending so unusual.  Jamie ruins the Doctor’s plan by using the controlled yeti to attack the others and break the pyramid that the Doctor was in for the transference.  The Great Intelligence loses its connection to earth, but is still out there, waiting for another chance.

After many shots from behind of Astrid in her skintight outfit, this episode opens with Victoria's legs. I guess the BBC was trying to get a few more dads interested?

After many shots from behind of Astrid in her skin-tight outfit, this episode opens with Victoria’s legs. I guess the BBC was trying to get a few more dads interested?

It seems as though the writers, Mervyn Haismen and Henry Lincoln, wanted to leave the door open for another return of their character, the Great Intelligence.  Unfortunately, the duo never wrote another story with the Great Intelligence and/or the yeti.  While I enjoyed “The Web of Fear,” I do think “The Abominable Snowmen” is the better story (and the use of the yeti actually make sense in that).  The Great Intelligence does, however, get to make a return, without his yeti minions, in Matt Smith’s final season.  After making two appearances on Doctor Who within months, the Great Intelligence had to wait 45 years for his return.  I can just picture the Great intelligence waiting patiently for its chance to challenge the Doctor once again.  But where is he keeping his yeti…?

A Rediscovered Gem: The Enemy of the World

I had always hoped that another random episode or two of Doctor Who might be discovered, but the return of a full story…that seemed incredibly improbable.  However, fans can now watch “The Enemy of the World” in its entirety, one of only two completely intact stories from Troughton’s first two seasons.  I was very excited by the news of its return, but I wondered if the story would live up to the hype.  However, the story more than lived up to my expectations for it.   “The Enemy of the World” stands as one of my favorite stories.  This story which features companions Jamie and Victoria, as well as Troughton in a double role, is a clever well-paced story that keeps you guessing until the end.

It's a Troughton face off!

It’s a Troughton face off!

“The Enemy of the World” is an unusual story.  It’s set on Earth in 2018 and contains no alien threat.  Nestled in the heart of what is known as “the monster season,” this story contains no monsters (unless you count Salamander, the man who is trying to become dictator of the world, as one).  It is also the only story of the season that is not a version of the “base under siege” plot.

After a light-hearted opening involving the Doctor going swimming (and who wouldn’t believe that, underneath his clothes, Troughton’s Doctor is always prepared to take a dip?), some men attack the Doctor and his companions.  Fortunately, a woman named Astrid arrives just in time to save them.  She also enlightens them as to why they were attacked; it’s because of the Doctor’s striking similarity to a man named Salamander. It seems that there has been a spate of natural disasters in the world.  Salamander is a scientist and philanthropist, and has been helping the world cope by using his scientific knowledge to bring food production back to areas that were struck by disaster. His aid has given him a great deal of power, and there are some who believe that he hopes to become the dictator of the world.

Salamander, or maybe the Doctor posing as Salamander...

Salamander, or maybe the Doctor posing as Salamander…

Astrid and her commander, Giles Kent (who was deputy security adviser before Salamander discredited him), want the Doctor to impersonate Salamander.  They believe that Salamander is an evil man who must be stopped.  The Doctor does not want to get involved, since he does not feel that Astrid and Giles have enough proof that Salamander is a truly evil man. However, before the Doctor can refuse, events are set in motion that result in him getting drawn into a world of intrigue and danger.  Can he stop Salamander from taking over the world? And should he even try?

Overall, this story was excellent.  The story has great pacing and, even though it is six episodes long, the events never feel like filler; each episode added more to the story instead of just maintaining some kind of stasis to fill time.  The first episode introduces the idea that the Doctor and Salamander look almost identical, in the second we meet Salamander and enter his world (leaving us with little doubt that he is an evil man), and the third focuses on the attempt to provide the Doctor with proof of Salamander’s evilness.  Then, just when you are getting settled with the political intrigue, episode 4 brings the introduction of the underground base that Salamander is using to creating the natural disasters.  New mysteries and conflicts are added at every point so that when one is resolved, another stems from that resolution.  This keeps the story suspenseful until its final moments.

The ending is also quite unique (major spoilers ahead).  Unlike many episodes, where you have some idea how the story is going to wrap up, this story kept me guessing.  A weakness in the ending is that it doesn’t offer much resolution for the people who have been living in the bunker for the past five years, but there’s still so much going on in the final episode there’s not much time to dwell on it.  The revelation that Giles knew all about Salamander’s plan and was, in fact, trying to have him killed so that he could take his place, caught me by surprise.  The fact that the story as a whole ended on a cliffhanger was also an interesting touch.

Fariah and Astrid

Fariah and Astrid

Along with the strong plot, the characters are engaging.  Giles Kent and Donald Bruce make for interesting characters,  as our feelings about each one shift throughout the story.  For me, the story is especially notable for its female characters.  Mary Peach does a great job as Astrid.  While Victoria, once again, has little to do, Astrid is, in many ways, the action hero of the story.  She rescues the Doctor and his companions in her helicopter, overpowers guards, and is generally the active one in this story.  Plus, she’s not the only interesting female character, which is a bit unusual for the series.  Fariah, the woman who Salamander forces to work as his food taster is another interesting character.  What makes her even more unusual is that she is the first black, female character that I remember seeing in the series to this point. We don’t know what material Salamander was using to blackmail Fariah, but her story is an interesting one.  I wish we could have seen more of her, rather than seeing her killed off halfway through.

Of course with all focus on the new characters, the companions once again have a limited role.  Jamie and Victoria play a role in the story until episode 3, but they’re not in episode 4 at all and make limited appearances in the final two episodes. However. in most of their scenes they are together which is a vast improvement on “The Ice Warriors,” since we get to see their chemistry together.  They’re even in matching outfits, as Victoria’s skirt is almost identical to Jamie’s kilt.  While on a panel at Gally, Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling said that they tried to play scenes as if Victoria and Jamie were more than just friends, and that subtext does appear to exist throughout this story.  From the way Victoria clings to Jamie in the helicopter to Jamie’s withstanding of Benik’s torture for about 5 seconds (until he pulls Victoria’s hair) they do seem very…close.

Jamie and Victoria in the helicopter.  Doesn't this look like something more than friendship?

Jamie and Victoria in the helicopter. Doesn’t this look like something more than friendship?

Of course I haven’t touched on the most important character introduced in this story, Salamander.  The relative absence of the companions isn’t felt too strongly since this episode really is a showcase for Patrick Troughton.  He does an excellent job of distinguishing the Doctor and Salamander. Physically, Salamander is just the Doctor with a slightly swarthy complexion and a different part in his hair (and with a slightly questionable Mexican accent), but Troughton makes him feel like a completely different character.  He lacks the Doctor’s mannerisms and trademark facial expressions.  There are also some clear parallels drawn between Salamander and Napoleon, especially in his wardrobe.  It’s clear that Troughton relished the chance to play the antagonist for once, and his Salamander is a cold, calculating, and evil man. It’s a nice contrast to the Doctor in this episode, since his desire for nonviolence and proof before taking action is set up in stark contrast to the ruthless Salamander’s unquenchable desire for power.

Overall, “The Enemy of the World” is quite enjoyable.  David Whitaker wrote the story, and he is one of my favorite writers for classic Who.  His scripts generally focus more on the people and their motivations than some of the other writers and his script for “The Enemy of the World” might be his best.  It is filled with memorable characters and interesting plot twists.  Add to that script some great casting and performances, and you’ve got something special.  Even without all the other factors, Troughton’s performance alone would make this story stand out.  After all, two Troughtons are better than one.


The Tomb of the Cybermen

“The Tomb of the Cybermen” was the first Troughton episode that I ever saw.  I had no idea about its history as the last lost Doctor Who story found in its entirety (until the more recent discovery of “The Enemy of the World,” that is), but I loved it instantly.  I loved Patrick Troughton as the Doctor and his companions, Jamie and Victoria.  But what surprised me the most was the fact that I loved the Cybermen.  I had never been terribly impressed with the Cybermen in their later adventures; they seemed to me like a less effective variation of a Dalek.  This story, however, showed me what had made the Cybermen into such popular villains and how effective they could be when used well.

The Cybermen emerge from their "tombs."

The Cybermen emerge from their “tombs.”

Basically, the Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria land on the planet Telos, just as an archeological expedition is uncovering the tomb of the Cybermen (who have supposedly been dead for the past 500 years).  The expedition is ostensibly being lead by Professor Parry, but the backers of the expedition, Kaftan and Kleig, seem to really be pulling the strings.  The Doctor joins the expedition, and helps the group make their way into the tombs.

Once inside, however, it becomes apparent that these Cybermen are far from dead, and Klieg and Kaftan’s plan is revealed.  Klieg is a member of the Brotherhood of Logicians and believes that he can make a deal with the Cybermen.  He thinks that they will appreciate his logic and agree to lend their strength to help the brotherhood take over the world, and from there, the universe.  Of course, his plans don’t work out quite the way he hoped they would…

I know the story doesn’t completely make sense, but the story is enjoyable anyway.  Basically, the Cybermen’s plan boils down to this: they decided to lay dormant in booby-trapped “tombs,” until someone is clever enough to survive all of the traps and awaken them from their dormancy.  It’s a convoluted way to find intelligent people that they can then convert into Cybermen, but I really don’t care.  I get invested in the story and, since I’m engaged, I don’t spend my time nitpicking every aspect of the story, as I do when the story doesn’t completely hold my interest.  The plot is continually moving forward and the entire story is steeped in a great atmosphere.

Unfortunately, in “The Tomb of the Cybermen” the racism that was still fairly explicit in the 1960’s does rear its ugly head.  For the second story in a row, we have a mute or almost mute black man (in the original story Toberman was to have a hearing aid to foreshadow his transformation by the Cybermen) with almost superhuman strength.  Poor Toberman is not given much intelligence, he is just there to follow Kaftan’s orders and do all of the heavy lifting.  Additionally, it is typical of the era that the villains are given foreign (i.e. non- British) accents.  Quite often in this period of the show the human adversary of the Doctor is a foreigner which is another problematic aspect.  Still, I feel that is possible to enjoy the story.  Obviously, the viewer needs to remember the time period in which the story was created, even though this does not excuse the racism.  I also feel that the character of Toberman is ultimately responsible for stopping the Cybermen, which helps to redeem the story. He is wiling to sacrifice his own life to stop the Cybermen from leaving the tomb, something that no other character is willing to do.

Besides the eerie atmosphere and the entertaining story, there are also a lot of nice comedic moments.  An example is the moment when the group is entering the tomb and the Doctor and Jamie enter holding hands, each thinking that he is really holding Victoria’s hand.  This is a moment that Frazer Hines and Patrick Troughton improvised on the set (which is why they are holding their hands so high; they didn’t know where the bottom of the frame was), but it is a great comedic beat at that moment in the story.

The Doctor, Kaftan, and Toberman outside of the tomb.

The Doctor, Kaftan, and Toberman outside of the tomb.

This story also makes excellent use of Patrick Troughton’s Doctor.  He gets to display his trademark mixture of curiosity, impulsiveness, and intelligence. He also relies on his favorite trick: getting people to underestimate him. It is thanks to the Doctor that the expedition is able to enter the tombs at all.  He is responsible for de-electrifying the doors, and he figures out the logic sequence that opens the hatch to the tomb (although he lets Klieg think that he figured it out). The Doctor’s motivations for helping aren’t completely clear, since without his help, Klieg would not have reached the Cybermen, but I believe that the Doctor helps out of his desire to know if the Cybermen still pose a threat and to make sure that he is there to stop any trouble that might arise.

There is also a wonderful moment, one of my favorites in all Doctor Who, that occurs between the Doctor and Victoria.  The Doctor and Victoria share a quiet moment in which they discuss the loss of her father (who sacrificed himself for the Doctor in the previous story), and the Doctor tries to comfort her.  He tells her that he knows from experience that it won’t hurt so much in the future to think of her father.  He mentions that he can now only see his own family when he wants to see them; they are not always in front of his eyes.  It’s the first time that the Doctor seems to acknowledge that he has suffered a loss, and it’s something that I can’t picture his predecessor (or his successor for that matter) taking the time to do.  It’s a touching moment that the two characters share, and you can see it here:

Speaking of Victoria, she seems to adapt to her new role quite well.  She has great chemistry with her new traveling companions, and she is more than a damsel in distress in this story.  Yes, she still screams several times and she gets drugged by Kaftan and held as a hostage by Klieg, but she also is very brave and clever in this story.  She manages to fool Kaftan, help the Doctor break free of a Cyberman, and hold her own with the rather condescending pilot.  At one point, he makes a crack about Victoria being a girl, not a woman, but she gets back on equal footing when she points out  his cowardice later in the story.  She also, quite surprisingly, is a crack shot; it only takes her one shot to destroy the advancing Cybermat, which is a pretty small target.

One of the strengths of this story are its human adversaries.  Klieg and Kaftan are memorable and are excellent villains.  While Kaftan (played by the producer’s wife, Shirley Cooklin, in a role written expressly for her) realizes too late that the Cybermen must be stopped, Klieg never does.  He is such a megalomaniac that he cannot see that his great plan to unite his intelligence with the Cybermen’s strength has failed.  Up until the end, when the Cybermen finally attack him, he keeps believing that his intelligence is enough to bring the Cybermen under his control.  George Pastell does a great job of showing how Klieg gradually becomes consumed by his desire for control and eventually loses all touch with reality.  Klieg is such an effective villain because he does not come across as a madman from the start; his descent into complete madness makes him a far more disturbing character.

There are a few new twists added to the Cybermen in this story.  This is the first story to feature the Cyber Controller and the Cybermats.  The Cybermats are not particularly scary looking, which makes it hard to feel too frightened when the Cybermats surround the expedition party in the cliffhanger at the end of episode three, but they are an interesting idea.  It’s a bit hard for a Cyberman to sneak up on you or advance too quickly, but the Cybermats can.  An even better addition is the Cyber Controller; he makes the Cybermen a bit more cunning than they had been previously.  I also like the design of these Cybermen, as they are robotic looking, but they haven’t completely lost their human form.  My only complaint is with the voices of the Cybermen.  They alter the voice of the Cyber Controller too much in this story, making him difficult to understand.

Klieg tries to reason with the Cyber Controller (he's clearly the leader because he has a taller head than the others).

Klieg tries to reason with the Cyber Controller (he’s clearly the leader because he has a taller head than the others).

Overall, “The Tomb of the Cybermen” is an excellent story.  It’s an entertaining story, populated with some memorable characters.  It’s also a good showcase for the regulars, allowing Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines to display their excellent chemistry and providing a chance for Deborah Watling’s Victoria to establish herself with her new companions.  Perhaps most of all, however, this story uses the Cybermen effectively.  They are fighting for the survival of their race, as they were in “The Tenth Planet,” and the Cyber Controller will do whatever it takes to ensure the survival of his race.   The Doctor and his companions are continually facing danger from both Kaftan and Klieg and the Cybermen, which makes the story fly by.  If only the Cybermen were always used this well…


A Temporary Goodbye: The Evil of the Daleks

Imagine what Doctor Who would look like if “The Evil of the Daleks” had been the Daleks’ swan song.  Terry Nation was hoping to sell the idea of a Dalek television show to U.S. broadcasters, and, if he had been successful, “The Evil of the Daleks” would have been the final appearance of the Doctor’s most iconic enemy.  Of course, audiences today know that this was not the case, and the Daleks would return to the program five seasons later to face Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, but if this had truly been the final story for the Daleks, they would have gone out with a bang.  This story was written by David Whitaker, and he knew how to use the Daleks well.  He wrote both of Troughton’s encounters with them, and created two of the best Dalek stories in Doctor Who history.

The Doctor watches as Maxtible speaks to Victoria's father, Edward Waterfield.

The Doctor watches as Maxtible speaks to Victoria’s father, Edward Waterfield.

The epic story of “The Evil of the Daleks” starts in 1966 London where the previous story, “The Faceless Ones,” left off.  The Doctor and Jamie, having just said goodbye to Polly and Ben, set off to find their missing TARDIS.  They finally track it to the shop of an antique dealer, Edward Waterfield, whose antiques, while authentic, look a bit too new.  Unwittingly, they walk into a trap and find themselves 100 years in the past.

It turns out that the Daleks have kidnapped Waterfield’s daughter, Victoria, and forced him to trap the travelers, since they need the Doctor’s help.  The Daleks have decided to improve their race.  Since humans have always been able to defeat the Daleks, they want the Doctor to isolate the “human factor” for them; they will then implant it into the Daleks to make them impossible to defeat. They have taken over the house of a wealthy scientist, Maxtible, and have everything prepared for the Doctor to conduct his experiment for them.   They force Jamie to complete a risky test (which involves attempting to rescue the captive Victoria) to provide the imprint of the “human factor” to be used in three test Daleks.  Is the Doctor actually collaborating with the Daleks, as Jamie worries? Of course not, but the story does take some interesting turns after the test, all leading up to the Doctor’s first return trip to Skaro for the big finale.

This story has a great structure and premise.  Even at seven episodes long, it never drags.  The story builds slowly, with the Daleks hardly involved in the early episodes.  There is a great mysterious air in the beginning, even though the title betrays who the real enemies are to the viewer.  The first few episodes introduce many characters, almost of whom could be the main human antagonist.  As characters are gradually left behind or killed off, it becomes clear that the man in control (or, at least, the man who thinks he’s in control) is not Waterfield, but Maxtible.  Once the viewer learns just what is going on, the action really picks up.  I actually wouldn’t have minded a bit more time on Skaro at the end, since the ending feels like it has to happen a bit quickly, but I really can’t complain.

The Emperor Dalek on Skaro

The Emperor Dalek on Skaro

Once the Dalek plan is revealed, Whitaker uses them in a way that really shows off how clever they are.  This is the first appearance of the Emperor Dalek, who shows cleverness that rivals the Doctor’s.  The idea that he has tricked the Doctor into isolating the “Dalek factor” when the Doctor thought that they were looking for the “human factor” was a nice twist.  It was also curious that the main difference between the Dalek and human factors was that Daleks are unfailingly obedient, while humans question.  It was an interesting choice to see this as the fundamental difference between the two species, as opposed to the Daleks lack of compassion or friendship.  I wish that this idea could have been explored a bit more, but that would have taken the children’s show into deeper philosophical issues than its audience would have wanted.

As in “The Power of the Daleks,” a lot of the strength of the story come from the human characters that the Doctor must deal with.  While I found some of them to be a bit underdeveloped and, perhaps, unnecessary (I’m thinking of Ruth and Terrall), on the whole they were engaging.  Again, as in “The Power of the Daleks” (although slightly less effectively in my opinion) Whitaker keeps the story moving with conflicts between the humans.  There is a great deal of intrigue surrounding Waterfield’s antique store, and, once the action shifts to 1866, there is the mysterious plot of Maxtible, Terrall, and the Daleks.   Maxtible’s collaboration with the Daleks is nicely explained by his greed; the Daleks have promised to provided him with the ability sought by many alchemists: the ability to turn other metals into gold.  I also really enjoyed the character of Kemel.  While the character is an example of the 60’s racism that, unfortunately, was present on the show, the character of Kemel gets more development that Toberman from “Tomb of the Cybermen.”  Sonny Caldinez, more famous for his roles as Ice Warriors, made what could have been a very one note character come alive.  He added a bit of humor to episode, and I enjoyed Kemel’s partnership with Jamie.  I almost would have preferred it if he had joined the TARDIS team, rather than Victoria.

Jamie attempts to protect Victoria from her Dalek captor

Jamie attempts to protect Victoria from her Dalek captor

Which, of course, leads me to Victoria.  She is, perhaps, one of the dullest characters in the story, but this is not the fault of Deborah Watling.  Victoria is not given much to do in this story except be the damsel in distress.  The producers originally hoped that character of Samantha from “The Faceless Ones” would become the new companion (but Pauline Collins turned the opportunity down), and she received a better introduction.  She showed spirit and determination in that story (as well as a stubborn streak), while Victoria is basically left to show fear and a bit of kindness in her first appearance.  Since her father died saving the life of the Doctor, he feels that he must take care of the newly orphaned Victoria, leading to her addition to the cast as the new companion.

As for Jamie and the Doctor, they continue to show great chemistry in their first adventure without Polly and Ben.  The Doctor continues to be clever and always hiding something up his sleeve.  His recorder makes its first appearance in several stories, but his love of hats is still a thing of the past.  Jamie once again proves himself to be brave and heroic, but there is an interesting wrinkle in this story.  To get Jamie to demonstrate the “human factor” the Doctor must manipulate Jamie into saving Victoria.  This actually requires testing Jamie’s loyalty to the Doctor.  Although his faith is quickly restored, it was interesting to see Jamie question his usually unwavering loyalty. This is also the first time that I remember hearing Jamie utter his trademark line, “Would you look at the size of that one, Doctor!”

Jamie and Kemel work together to rescue the captive Victoria

Jamie and Kemel work together to rescue the captive Victoria

Overall, “The Evil of the Daleks” deserves its reputation as a lost classic.  It’s a strong story that contains enough twists to keep the audience guessing for its seven episodes.  Since I am writing this on a day when the BBC has announced that 9 previously lost Troughton episodes were returned to the archives, I must admit that “The Evil of the Daleks” would be high on my wish list of stories I would like to see recovered.  On a more trivial note, I would love to see the recovery of episodes five and six, so that I could see the Doctor’s Dalek friends, Alpha, Beta, and Omega playing trains and roundabouts with him.  David Whitaker was able to pull off a feat that no writer has really been able to pull off since: he managed to make some Daleks comical without making the entire species into a joke.  Who could turn down the opportunity to see playful, childlike Daleks? Definitely not me!


A Shellfish Society: The Macra Terror

“The Macra Terror” is a perfect bridge between the stories of the Hartnell era and what became the typical Troughton story.  The stories of the Hartnell era tended to focus on dystopian societies or people rebelling against an oppressive system.  Ian Stuart Black wrote “The Macra Terror.”  He had previously written two other stories for Doctor Who: “The War Machines” and the best non-historical story of the Hartnell era, “The Savages,”   “The Macra Terror” continues the themes that are present throughout his work for Doctor Who, but also adds a new aspect; he combines his familiar dystopian themes with a “monstrous” alien race.  Black mixes a dystopian society, a base under siege story, and a monster of the week and somehow manages to come up with a cohesive narrative.

A giant, menacing Macra (the only actual sized model they made)

A giant, menacing Macra (the only actual sized model they made)

The TARDIS lands after the travelers have seen that a large claw lies in their near future.   They are in an earth colony of the future.  They arrive just as the police are chasing a disturbed colonist through the area.  Medok, the colonist, attacks the travelers and they end up helping to capture him.  Their help is greatly appreciated, and they welcomed as visitors to the colony (where everyone is abnormally happy) and invited to meet with the leader.  The leader’s title, in a reference back to the days when they arrived on the planet by ship, is the Pilot.  There is also the mysterious Controller (who has the ultimate authority), whose voice is heard everywhere, but is only seen as a photo.

The travelers receive a warm welcome from the leader, who suggests that they visit the Refreshing Department to get, well, refreshed a bit, but the Doctor is wary of the colony.  He senses that something is wrong; everyone is a little too happy.  He soon finds a way to talk to Medok again and learns that Medok was once a happy member of the colony, but is now accused of seeing things.  Medok claims that he has seen large, ugly creatures that roam around the colony at night.  The Doctor feels that there must be something to Medok’s story, since those in charge are so eager to suppress it,  and allows Medok to escape, getting himself into trouble in the process.

Of course Medok is not crazy and, eventually, the Doctor and his companions each have their moment coming face to face with a Macra, the giant crab-like creatures that Medok saw.  The Doctor eventually learns that the reason that everyone is so happy in the colony: the citizens have been brainwashed into obeying the controller.   They are also programed to deny the existence of the Macra, even when they have seen one.  The Doctor realizes a bit too late that this technique will be used on him and his companions.  He manages to save Polly and Jamie from the effects of the brainwashing, but Ben has fallen victim to their suggestions.  The Doctor then needs to find a way to defeat the Macra, who are now in charge of the colony, and figure out how to get the old Ben back.

The Doctor gets another new hat.

The Doctor gets another new hat.

I thought “The Macra Terror” had a clever premise, even if it’s not perfectly realized.  The characters are interesting and it makes good use of the themes that Black used in his earlier stories.  It continues his interest in the idea that societies need to brainwash their members to keep everyone happy and/or under control, as well as the importance of thinking for one’s self.  This, like “The Savages,” is another example of a dystopian society.  Everyone has been brainwashed into believing that they are happy, so they don’t want to disobey their controller, who they think is responsible for their happiness.  Of course, the controller is looking out for the interests of the Macra and not the humans, but the members of the colony don’t see that because the Macra have conditioned them not to question the controller.

However, as in “The Savages,” the story stops short of really examining this society.  This isn’t a huge complaint, since I do understand that at this point Doctor Who is very much a children’s show, but I was left with a lot of questions.  How will this society function, now that the Doctor exposed the controller as a fraud?  I can’t help but wonder if the colonists were trained to obey the controller unquestioningly before the Macra took over, or if it was the gas and hypnotic suggestions that allowed the Macra to take over without anybody noticing.   The colonists choose the Doctor to become the new Pilot, but he runs away (as the Doctor generally does from anything that would tie him down), leaving to society to find a new path on its own and there’s no Steven to leave in charge here.

I also would have liked to have learned a bit more about the Macra.  They are the weakest part of the story.  It was implied that they came from deep within the planet, but why did they decide to take over the colony?  What exactly was their plan, besides getting the humans to harvest the gas they needed to breathe?  Could all of the Macra speak, or just the leader (and why was the leader the only white Macra?)? Other than being the “monsters” of the piece, they aren’t given much purpose

Speaking of the Macra, it would be interesting to see more than just a few seconds of the Macra.  The idea of having giant, sentient crabs as an alien race is an unusual one, and the story does need the Macra to be menacing, if it’s to be believable.  Since all four episodes are lost, we only have tiny clips.  It’s difficult to tell from the few seconds of footage just how effective the Macra were, but I tend to suspect that they are better in my mind than they actually were onscreen.  The clip that exists of the Macra attacking Polly reminds me a bit of Bela Lugosi thrashing around with the fake octopus in Bride of the Monster.  And, given what I know of the production values on the show at this point, I do wonder if actually seeing the monsters in this case might detract from the story. However, since I am pretty willing to accept whatever monsters they create, even if they look like people in rubber suits (and yes Voords, I’m thinking of you in particular), I’d still have rather seen more of the story.

The lack of images is especially felt in some of the comical scenes.  For instance, when the travelers visit the Refreshing Department, I would have liked to have been able to see more of the machines (and the gag about the Doctor looking all neat and tidy before quickly finding a way to rumple himself up again).  I also would have loved to see Jamie and the others doing the Highland Fling to escape from the colonists.  That seems like the perfect exit for Troughton’s Doctor, to simply dance away.

Ben and Jamie during the brainwashing

Ben and Jamie during the brainwashing

I feel that “The Macra Terror” is the first time that we truly see Troughton’s Doctor.  Now that it is the second half of his first season, I feel like both Troughton and the writers have a clearer sense of who his Doctor is.  Troughton’s Doctor has been odd from the beginning, but in this story we really see him demonstrate a sense of humor.  Just as the constant happy music and singing in the background was starting to drive me crazy (I know, it serves a purpose because it shows how artificial the society is, but it does get a bit annoying), the Doctor makes a joke about how annoying it is.  This is a clear distinction from Hartnell’s Doctor, who had a sense of humor, but certainly would not be cracking a joke (he certainly had an opportunity with the never ending ballad of the Last Chance Saloon in “The Gunfighters).   Troughton also gets to show off how clever his Doctor is in this story, while still keeping his careless, haphazard approach to things.  For instance, he figures out the “secret” mathematical formula by scribbling on the walls with a piece of chalk.  When he learns that he has discovered the formula, he is obviously quite proud of himself, but he rather downplays the achievement.  This feeds into one of the hallmarks of Troughton’s Doctor: he is always the  smartest man in the room, but he doesn’t like to let people know that.

As for the companions, the story gives Ben a larger role than usual.  He is the only one of the group to be affected by the colony’s brainwashing, so much of the story shows Ben gradually regaining control of his thoughts.  He serves as an antagonist for part of the story before ultimately saving everyone in the end.  It’s the first story since “The War Machines,” the last story Black wrote for the series, to actually make Ben a central part of the plot.  Jamie also gets his personality developed a bit more as well.  He is clearly the most suspicious of the group and the only companion to question the society from the start.  He is also not very susceptible to the brainwashing, and I wondered if this might have been due in part to his unwavering loyalty to the Doctor.  Ben has his doubts about just how competent the Doctor is, but Jamie trusts him completely.  He is quick to turn on Ben when it becomes clear that Ben is now on the side of the Controller, because he sees him as being against the Doctor.  Everything is very black and white to Jamie.  However, he and Ben do share the trait of being quick to jump into action, although Jamie is a bit more impulsive, like the Doctor.  As for Polly in this story…well, she gets a haircut.

Polly doing what she does best (and showing off her new haircut)

Polly doing what she does best (and showing off her new haircut)

Overall, I enjoyed the story.  The ending feels a bit rushed, but other than that it’s a good story.  My main complaint would be the poor use of Polly.  It was a nice twist on “The War Machines” that it is Ben, not Polly who gets brainwashed in this story.  I worried that Polly would be the brainwashed one because women are the “weaker sex” or some other sexist nonsense, but the story did not fall into that trap.  However, I did notice that Polly needed Ben to rescue her in “The War Machines” while Ben is able to rescue himself from the brainwashing.  While Polly is nowhere near as helpless as Dodo (but really, who is?) and she doesn’t let the boys hold her back from any action, she is a very clever person and it would be nice to see the writers use her cleverness in the service of the story.  “The Highlanders” really shows when the writers gave Polly something to do, she was a very interesting character.  Unfortunately, most writers don’t seen to take much of an interest in her.  She seems to have been seen as the perfect victim and spends way too much time panicking or as a captive.  As a matter of fact, it amazes me the Anneke Wills could have much voice left after Polly’s constant screaming.  Maybe the production team on Doctor Who spent a lot of their budget on lozenges?


The Cybermen Return: The Moonbase

The Patrick Troughton era is also very much the era of the Cybermen; Troughton’s Doctor faced them more than any other Doctor.  Although their first appearance was in William Hartnell’s final story, “The Tenth Planet,” Troughton’s Doctor faced them four times (5 if you count “The Five Doctors”).  After making a memorable debut on the show, “The Moonbase” is the first of the Cybermen’s many returns to the show.  In Kit Peder’s sequel, it has been about 90 years since the destruction of the Cybermen’s home planet, Mondas, and it features a significant change in the goals of the Cybermen.  In “The Tenth Planet,” their ultimate goal was to convert humans to “be like us.” Their return sees them out to destroy humanity, now that they perceive humans as a threat.

The new Cybermen

The new Cybermen

The adventure begins because the Doctor attempts to prove to his companions that he does, in fact, have control of where the TARDIS lands.  He decides to go to Mars, but instead has a very bumpy landing on the moon.  At this point the second Doctor does not appear to have the curiosity of his predecessor, since he wants to leave immediately, but Ben and Polly want to take the opportunity to explore the surface of the moon.  While they are exploring, Jamie injures himself and is taken by unidentified men into a nearby base.  The Doctor, Polly, and Ben follow him into the base.

They soon learn that they are in the year 2070 and this base is run by an international group in charge of the gravitron (no, not the carnival ride), which controls the weather on the earth.  A mysterious illness has struck the base; men are collapsing and dark lines develop, almost like veins, across their body.  Hobson, the leader of the base, suspects the travelers of somehow being responsible for the disease, but he is soon forced to acknowledge that the Cybermen, who were all believed to have been killed when Mondas exploded, have infiltrated the base.

The mysterious disease with which the men have come down is, in fact, due to something the Cybermen have put in the sugar; it results in the affected men being under cyber control.  The Cybermen have decided that earth is a threat to them, so they wish to use the gravitron to destroy the earth.  It is up to the Doctor and his companions to stop the cybermen before it’s too late.

The story is an entertaining one.  The story moves along at a good pace, and the early Cybermen make an interesting villain.   However, it is not without its faults.  Although it does not reach the levels of absurdity that were found in the previous story, “The Underwater Menace,” there are some moments that require you to abandon logic or accept characters making incredibly idiotic decisions.  One such example of the former is when the Cybermen have shot a hole in the glass dome around the gravitron.  Hobson first plugs up the hole with his jacket and then with the coffee tray.  Somehow I doubt that either of these objects would actually prevent the oxygen from escaping!  An example of the latter comes after the people have disabled the men that the Cybermen took over.  They remove the headgear that the Cybermen are using to control them, but they place it right next to them in their sick bay.  It was very helpful of them to leave it within arms reach for when they get reactivated.  It’s also amusing that each member of the international (basically European with at least one Australian) group wears a shirt with their rank in the order of importance and the flag of their home country.  The Frenchman, Benoit, even wears a scarf tied jauntily around his neck, because that is clearly what all French people do.

Benoit (in his jaunty French scarf) looks to Hobson for advice about his fallen colleague.

Benoit (in his jaunty French scarf) looks to Hobson for advice about his fallen colleague.

There are also interesting developments with the Cybermen.  As I stated before, their mission has changed.  They are now out to simply destroy everyone on earth, rather than convert them.  Additionally, almost every time they appeared on the show their appearance changed (at least it makes sense that they would continue to “upgrade” themselves), and this is no exception.  Gone are their cloth faces, replaced by a far more metallic looking head.  These Cybermen look more robotic than their predecessors, and they have the ability to shoot energy from their hands.  It is also interesting that the Cybermen recognize the Doctor; the last time they saw him he was William Hartnell.  However, the timeline for the Cybermen has always been a bit confusing (something I’m hoping to work out as I watch these episodes), so this could be explained by “The Invasion” which was not yet made but takes place in an earlier time. In one final random note,  John Levene, who went on to play the popular Sargent Benton in the UNIT stories, makes his first appearance on the show playing one of the Cybermen.

As for the Doctor himself, this is, perhaps, the most clever we’ve seen the second Doctor.  He seems a bit more in control and more certain of what he is doing in this story.  Of course, Hobson doesn’t listen to him and even suspects him of sabotage, but ultimately he shows that he was correct.   Thankfully, he is also without the ridiculous hat he has sported in all of the other stories and he doesn’t play the recorder once.  After watching all of these early Troughton stories, you can really see his Doctor taking shape.  By this point, the playfulness, the impulsiveness, and the quick thinking that are the hallmarks of his Doctor have all been added to his characterization and gone is some of the early bizarre behavior.  He’s still eccentric, but it’s been toned down quite a bit.

The companions, as in “The Underwater Menace,” do not fare as well.  Polly, as usual, has moments in which she gets to show how clever she is, but she also screams a lot.  She also makes coffee twice, which is, apparently, her job when the Cybermen attack, since that was her job in “The Tenth Planet” as well.  She spends most of the first half of the story tending to the sick Jamie (since nursing is clearly women’s work), but she is the first to see the Cybermen.   Her best moment is when she is the one to figure out how to defeat the Cybermen inside the base.  She realizes that the plastic apparatuses on the Cybermen’s chests are their most vulnerable point because plastic can be dissolved.  Of course she is able to figure this out by thinking of nail polish remover (I guess Pedler wanted her scientific knowledge to be anchored in a traditionally feminine activity?), but the fact is that she is the only one to think of this.   I was a bit annoyed that when it came time to actually attack the Cybermen, Ben tells her to stay behind because, “this is men’s work.” Happily, though, Polly ignores him and joins the attack.

The moment before a Cyberman quite nimbly leaps out of the bed at which they're staring.  Who knew Cybermen could be so agile?

The moment before a Cyberman quite nimbly leaps out of the bed at which they’re staring. Who knew Cybermen could be so agile?

Ben and Jamie are still not really developed.  Ben demonstrates a great deal of scientific knowledge in this story, which is his main contribution to the story (those were the lines that they couldn’t give to Jamie, since he’s from the past) and is, again, a man of action, quick to fight back against the Cybermen.  Jamie is unconscious for most of the first half, muttering about the phantom piper, but joins in for the second half.  You still don’t get to know Jamie all that well, however, since he is basically just getting lines that would have been given to Ben.  There does seem to be a bit of a rivalry developing between Ben and Jamie, though, as Ben seems to worry about Jamie trying to impress Polly.  Something tells me that Ben’s feeling for Polly are a bit more than friendly at this point.

Overall, I quite enjoy “The Moonbase.”  It’s not the best Cyberman adventure, but it’s a story that holds your interest until the end.  Perhaps the most random element of the story is introduced in the final moments, when the Doctor suggests they turn on the time scanner.  The time scanner allows the Doctor a glimpse of what will happen in the future, which in this case shows an image of a claw, leading into the next story, “The Macra Terror.”  If he has the ability to peek into his own near future, why doesn’t he use it more often?  This seems like a useful tool that he has never used before and doesn’t use later.  Although I have to admit that knowing what’s coming next is never of particular importance to Patrick Troughton’s Doctor, so maybe I can see why he wouldn’t want to use it too often.  Where’s the fun in having a plan?