Friday, 22 August 2014

039 The Reign of Terror Episode 3: A Change of Identity

EPISODE: The Reign of Terror Episode 3: A Change of Identity
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 039
STORY NUMBER: 008
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 22 August 1964
WRITER: Dennis Spooner
DIRECTOR: Henric Hirsch (and John Gorrie Uncredited)
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 6.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror

"What is it?"
"Evidence against a traitor!"

The Doctor arrives in Paris. Two men, Jules & Jean, plot to hijack the party travelling to the guillotine. Susan is taken ill on the journey just as Jules & Jean arrive and rescue them. The Doctor visits a tailor and acquires a new set of clothes to disguise himself as an official, planning to sneak into the prison to rescue his friends. He bargains his clothes and ring for the new clothes and some parchment to write with. Jules takes the girls to his house, he wants to smuggle them out of France but they're worried for the Doctor and Ian. Ian escapes from his cell, passing the drunk jailer but is observed by Citizen Lemaitre. Barbara & Susan tell Jules their story. Jules & Jean recognise the description of the house and men. They had previously rescued the men and were getting them out the country. The deduce someone has informed on them. Léon Colbert arrives bringing them news of a stranger watching the prison. Jules & Jean depart to see who it is, leaving Barbara flirting with Leon. A splendidly attired Doctor arrives at the prison with faked credentials and rouses the jailer. The jailer tells the Doctor of Susan & Barbara's rescue and Ian's escape. The Doctor meets Citizen Lemaitre, who taken in by the Doctor's disguise as an official, wants the Doctor to come with him to palace to see First Deputy Robespierre to discuss the province the Doctor supposedly represents. The tailor arrives at the prison seeking Citizen Lemaitre. He has the Doctor's ring, which he says is evidence that he's a traitor.

vlcsnap-2014-06-04-21h43m20s211

Another good episode, another great turn from Hartnell who's revelling in the comedy given him here. He's not in these episodes enough!

Is this the first time that the Doctor's ring takes a large part in proceedings? I think it is. OK so it doesn't demonstrate some of the properties it does later, becoming something of great importance by the end of Hartnell era and almost a prototype sonic scredriver, but this is it's first use as a plot device here playing something of value to the Doctor.

vlcsnap-2014-06-04-21h24m25s118

OK so Susan and Barbara are being taken to the Guillotine in a cart. There's a third person in the cart, and judging by their dress they're French nobility, and not a guard, so they're on their way to the guillotine too. Yet they just disappear when Jules & Jean attack! And speaking of which....

vlcsnap-2014-06-04-21h22m25s179

Jules is played by Donald Morley later to appear as Air Commodore Parks in Survival Code & You Killed Toby Wren, two episodes of Doomwatch, an early 70s series developed by two Doctor Who veterans. Jules' sister Danielle is played by Caroline Hunt who'll return as a Technician in Frontier in Space: Episode Three.

vlcsnap-2014-06-04-21h36m50s202

Jean, Jules' "young friend" (to quote the dialogue!), who is on the right in this picture is played by Roy Herrick who'll return as a voice of Xoanon in The Face of Evil: Part Four and Parsons in The Invisible Enemy parts 2 & 3.

But on the left, and nearly unrecognisable without the beard he later grows, is Edward Brayshaw as Léon Colbert. He plays a significant later role in the series appearing as The War Chief, another renegade member of the Doctor's race, in episodes 3-9 of The War Games. He'll later feature in Moonbase 3, like Doomwatch a series developed by Doctor Who staff members, as Adam Blaney in Achilles Heel. But to people of my generation he is best known as Mister Meeker in Rentaghost!

The director for this story if the Hungarian born Henric Hirsch. By all accounts it wasn't an enjoyable experience for him and he collapsed during the production of this episode leading to John Gorrie, who'd previously directed The Keys of Marinus, taking charge, uncredited for this episode. Hirsch returned for the following episode with some of the directing duties taken on by the story's production assistant Timothy Combe who would himself later direct The Silurians and The Mind of Evil.

As we said during Episode 1, Episode 6 was recovered by Ian Levine & collector Bruce Campbell in May 1982 and Episodes 1-3 of this serial were recovered from Cyprus in 1984 as suppressed field recordings. However shortly afterwards in early 1985 the person who sold Bruce Campbell Reign of Terror 6 came forward again, now in possession of a copy of Reign of Terror 3 which, while damaged, was found to be a superior quality stored field recording. Watching the episode on DVD shows it to be noticeably superior in quality to the previous two.

The new Doctor Who Magazine, issue 477, came out yesterday and their Fact of Fiction article also looks at the Reign of Terror. I wrote all six of these before looking at their article honest governor!

Friday, 15 August 2014

038 The Reign of Terror Episode 2: Guests of Madame Guillotine

EPISODE: The Reign of Terror Episode 2: Guests of Madame Guillotine
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 038
STORY NUMBER: 008
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 15 August 1964
WRITER: Dennis Spooner
DIRECTOR: Henric Hirsch
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 6.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror

"Oh, we've been lucky. We can't go on being lucky. Things catch up with you. "

Before we kick off: what's significant about this episode of Doctor Who? The answer will follow after I watch it!

Actually the very start of the episode is a bit odd because the title of the episode isn't the first wording we see on the screen, which would be the usual convention, it's preceded by the caption Paris appears before episode title Guests of Madam Guillotine appears:

vlcsnap-2014-06-04-09h56m50s210 vlcsnap-2014-06-04-09h57m06s123

The Doctor is unconscious and trapped in the blazing house. We cut to pictures of Paris and a dropping guillotine. The other three Travellers are taken to court where they are sentenced to death and taken to the cells to await execution by guillotine. Barbara attracts the attention of the Jailer but spurns him so ends up in the cell with Susan while Ian is held separately, The Doctor has been rescued by the boy we saw in the previous episode, who tells him the soldiers have taken his friends. The Doctor leaves on foot for Paris to rescue his friends walking through the fields till he finds a road. Susan is worried about the Doctor and hopes he has survived. Barbara wants to escape, but attempts are thwarted by the return of the guards. Ian shares a cell with another Englishman, Webster, who is dying from his wounds, who tells him war between England & France is near. He tells Ian to find James Stirling and get him to return to England with the information he possesses. He says Stirling may be found through Jules Renan at the sign of "Le Chien Gris" and dies. The Doctor encounters a chain gang of tax dodgers on the road. Antagonising the gangmaster and being unable to produce papers, the Doctor is forced into working with them digging a road.

vlcsnap-2014-06-04-10h17m47s218

Barbara's attempts at levering a block out the cell wall aren't going well, and Susan fares no better. They are about to be discovered by the jailer when Citizen Lemaitre, his superior, arrives to see Webster's body. The jailer tells Lemaitre he heard the prisoners speak, and while Webster's body is being removed Susan is scared by the rats in her cell! The Doctor & the chain gang distract the gang master with talk of an eclipse so the Doctor can steel his keys. Duping the gang master again with a coin they've found the chain gang knock him out with a spade and escape allowing the Doctor to continue his journey to Paris. He stops to rest on a Paris 5km marker. As Susan & Barbara are brought from their cells they discover Ian has been crossed off the death list by Lemaitre. Ian watches from his cell window as the women are taken away to the guillotine.

vlcsnap-2014-06-04-17h21m09s115

Wow, that's top stuff. Probably the best episode of the series since the first. Hartnell is on towering form throughout - the scene with Hartnell & the boy is wonderful: Jean Pierre played by Peter Walker is the only guest actor in both of the first and second episodes!

vlcsnap-2014-06-04-10h01m39s25

Then we get the comedy business with the chain gang which is very well done allowing Hartnell to bring his comic talents, honed over the years in film, to the fore. Interestingly this is the first time we've seen The Doctor by himself for an extended period of time! The rest of the Tardis crew are imprisoned throughout, with the hint of a quest for Ian and another wonderfully imperilled cliffhanger making this a great episode.

So what's significant about this episode? Well the scenes of the Doctor walking along the roads and in the fields are the very first location filming undertaken by the team. Ok, it's not William Hartnell being filmed, but his double Brian Proudfoot, who later returns as the cup bearer Tigilinus in The Romans episodes Two: All Roads Lead to Rome and Three: Conspiracy.

vlcsnap-2014-06-04-10h03m18s255 vlcsnap-2014-06-04-10h03m56s137
vlcsnap-2014-06-04-10h10m07s1 vlcsnap-2014-06-04-10h20m46s237
vlcsnap-2014-06-04-10h21m02s139

Even so it adds some nice detail to the episode. Details of the locations in Buckinghamshire can be found on www.doctorwholocations.net. It's a small start, but much location work will follow including some splendid stuff in just two stories time. For more information on the locations used in Doctor Who visit the website linked above or track down a copy of Doctor Who on Location by Richard Bignell.

While we get a real world location appearing as French countryside in this episode, Paris is recreated in the studio. It's particularly worth drawing attention to The Conciergerie Prison depicted here which is a real life building in Paris that was used to house prisoners during the French Revolution!

I mentioned last episodes that the first three episodes of this series are preserved in the lower definition Suppressed Field format: here The Doctor's checked trousers cause it no end of problems with the pattern appearing to move about on screen as you're watching!

vlcsnap-2014-06-04-10h22m03s25

The Road Work Overseer is played by Dallas Cavell who is a frequent returnee to Doctor Who appearing in The Dalek Masterplan 3: Devil's Planet as Bors, The Highlanders: Episode 2-as Captain Jebb Trask, The Ambassadors of Death: Episode 2-5 as Quinlan and Castrovalva: Part One as the Head of Security. James Cairncross appears here as Lemaitre and he'll be back as Beta in the Krotons while both Jack Cunningham, the Jailer, and Jeffrey Wickham, a former Equity president who died recently who is playing Webster here, have impressive TV acting CVs.

Friday, 8 August 2014

037 The Reign of Terror Episode 1: A Land of Fear

EPISODE: The Reign of Terror Episode 1: A Land of Fear
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 037
STORY NUMBER: 008
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 08 August 1964
WRITER: Dennis Spooner
DIRECTOR: Henric Hirsch
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 6.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror

"The Doctor's put us down right in the middle of the French Revolution!"

We open in woods as the Tardis materialises. The Doctor believes he has brought Ian & Barbara home. The Doctor & Susan come with them, the Doctor accepting Ian's invitation of a drink. Leaving the Tardis they hear gunfire. Ian finds a boy in the woods: he tells the party they are in France near Paris. The boy returns to a house: it doesn't look like the modern day. The TARDIS party find the house, and speculate if they are before their own time. They sneak inside and find candles to help them look round.

vlcsnap-2014-06-03-11h15m00s38

They discover artifacts and clothes making them think they're in the 18th century, including a letter signed by Robspierre: The Doctor has landed them in the middle of the French Revolution. The Doctor is attacked and falls to the floor while the others change into the period clothes. They are held at gunpoint by two counter-revolutionaries, D'Argenson and Rouvray. Soldiers arrive, besieging the building and killing the revolutionaries. Ian, Barbara & Susan are captured and taken away while the house is set on fire with the Doctor trapped within.

vlcsnap-2014-06-03-11h30m08s169

Yeah, not bad at all if a bit lingering on the setup though. We'll forgive it that because it is the first episode of a six part story! But it's got a real cliffhanger ending with the Doctor trapped in the burning house. There's a real sense of dramatic peril there missing from some previous cliffhangers. Hartnell's on fine form right the way through. When I went through the episode hunting for images to use I kept being drawn to The Doctor doing stuff.

As promised we return to the story of Doctor Who's missing episodes. No episodes of The Reign of Terror was found to remain at the BBC during Ian Levine's visits in the Seventies. Episode 6 was recovered by Ian Levine & collector Bruce Campbell in May 1982. Episodes 1-3 were returned together, along with a second copy of episode 6 and duplicates of the existing stories The Aztecs (Episodes 1, 3 & 4) and The Sensorites (all six episodes) in 1984. Independent enquiries by Levine and Paul Vanezies (now of the BBC & Doctor Who restoration Team) at a Cyprus TV station turned these episodes up in December 1984. They had held Reign of Terror 4 & 5 (and Aztecs 2) as well, but these were destroyed in 1974 when a shelling during a coup destroyed the Cyprus National Film archive. A large number of other missing BBC programs were retrieved from the same Cyprus archive. Oddly enough, shortly afterwards in early 1985 the person who sold Bruce Campbell Reign of Terror 6 came forward again, now in possession of a copy of Reign of Terror 3!

This is the state of play with the story as it stands today. When we watched the story for the first run of the blog, Reign of Terror was our first mixed story made up of 3 episodes of video, two on CD and a final video episode. Since then there's been A DVD release of The Reign of Terror in January 2013 so this makes this the first story that we're watching now on a different format to what I watched it on the first time and the first story that I had seen between watching it for the blog the first time and this repeat visit. The Aztecs had received an upgraded DVD since I saw it for the blog but for reasons outlined when I reblogged that story I'd not seen the new version of the Aztecs!

The prints for episodes 1-3 of this story that were returned from Cyprus are Suppressed Field film recordings, whereas most of Season 1 of Doctor Who, bar episodes 5 & 7 of the Daleks and the end of Edge of Destruction part 2, exists as Stored Field film recordings. Click the link to find out more, but the gist of it is that this print has a reduced definition as you might be able to spot from some of the screen grabs I've used. Nowhere is it more noticeable then in this shot from towards the end of the episode:

vlcsnap-2014-06-03-11h29m04s29

If you look at the edges of Ian's top you can see that it's built up of lines rather than a smooth curve. A stored field recording has around 200 lines recorded rather than the 405 that were in use then, the 625 of BBC's colour transmissions or the 1025 of a high definition picture.

The higher quality Stored Field recordings of Season 1 and 2 which we have now would appear to have been made in 1967, as a second run of prints of these initial episodes. A season 2 episode, The Crusade part 1 The Lion, is also a Suppressed field recording but stored field prints are now believed to have been the standard from the start of the third season of Doctor Who as born out by the recent return of Galaxy Four episode 3 Airlock.

In the picture above the soldier with the eye patch, standing behind Ian, is James Hall who will return as Borkar in 1965's The Dalek Masterplan episodes 4 & 5, The Traitors and Counter Plot.

This first season of Doctor Who is the only point in the series entire history that the show was broadcast right the way through August with the Sensorites concluding on the first of August to be followed by the first four episodes of The Reign of Terror which continued into the first two Saturdays of September. Traditionally this time of year in the 1960s was when the series took it's annual holiday. Then in the 70s & 80s the series started either in January or in September. But I was surprised to find these episodes from the first year of the program weren't the only ones to air in August:

STORY EPISODE DATE
The Sensorites 6 01-Aug-1964
The Reign of Terror 1 08-Aug-1964
2 15-Aug-1964
3 22-Aug-1964
4 29-Aug-1964
The Dominators 1 10-Aug-1968
2 17-Aug-1968
3 24-Aug-1968
4 31-Aug-1968
The Leisure Hive 1 30-Aug-1980
Terror of the Zygons 1 30-Aug-1975

The Dominators is perhaps a slightly unusual case: the broadcast season started early due to a two week break later in the season for the Mexico Olympics between The Mind Robber 5 on 12-Oct-68 and The Invasion 1 on 02-Nov-68. Even so that would only account for the first two of the Saturdays broadcast in August....

The two later dates on the list correspond to the August bank holiday falling nearly at it's earliest and the Doctor Who season starting the Saturday after, as it tended to do with the coming of the Autumn scheduling.

To date just one new series episode has aired in August: Let's Kill Hitler on 27th August 2011 but the first two episodes featuring Peter Capaldi's Doctor are due to air on the 23rd & 30th August this month!

Friday, 1 August 2014

036 The Sensorites Episode 6: A Desperate Venture

EPISODE: The Sensorites Episode 6: A Desperate Venture
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 036
STORY NUMBER: 007
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 01 August 1964
WRITER: Peter R. Newman
DIRECTOR: Frank Cox
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 6.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Sensorites

"Grandfather and I don't come from Earth. Oh, it's ages since we've seen our planet. It's quite like Earth, but at night the sky is a burned orange, and the leaves on the trees are bright silver."

Part 6, last episode.

Carol has been seized by the former Administrator and freed Chief Warrior , who wants her to write a note convincing John she's gone to the Spaceship, but John, Susan and a returned Barbara see through the story and suspect the Administrator. The First Elder confirms that nobody had travelled to the Spaceship - they try to convince him that a Sensorite is responsible. The Doctor & Ian discover their map is altered and the weapons they have been supplied with have been disabled. John finds Carol held in the Disintegrator room by the Chief Warrior and releases her with the Chief Warrior being captured again. The Chief Elder believes he is working in concert with another Sensorite. Susan & Barbara obtain an accurate map and intend to seek the Doctor & Ian, who are in the tunnel with a monster baying at them from a distance. They discover a man in the tunnel who flees: They think he is a survivor from the exploded Spaceship. Barbara and John go to the tunnels leaving Susan with the Chief Elder. Ian and the Doctor are found by two humans in the aqueduct. They ask if the Sensorites are dead and if they've bought a Spaceship.

vlcsnap-2014-05-20-22h05m11s231

They take the pair to their commander, while Barbara & John track the marks the Doctor has made in the tunnel. The commander is pleased to see them, and orders his subordinates to add some more poison to the water. The Doctor convinces the Commander that he's beaten the Sensorites, but then they find Barbara and John in the Aqueduct, which initially unnerves him, but then he agrees to come out and walks into an ambush by the Sensorites, who capture the commander and his party. The Sensorites believe the three humans in the tunnel had been unhinged by using the Sensorites mind control machines. Maitland, the Captain of the Earth spaceship agrees to transport them back to Earth. The Chief Elder, convinced of the Administrator's guilt exiles him and returns the Tardis lock allowing the Doctor & the TARDIS crew to leave. Susan, now deprived of the Telepathy she had on the Sensorite planet, reflects on wanting a place to stay and belong. The Doctor argues with Ian and threatens to put him off the ship when they next land.

Probably the best episode of the six. There's some great concepts in this story, the alieness of the near identical Sensorites with their aversion to the dark & loud noise and use of clothing to differentiate themselves, the concept of telepathy and a glimpse of some genuinely unhinged minds. However the execution on screen doesn't help the story at all. It's slow, it's a touch plodding and the design isn't that great.

Susan's desire to stay somewhere and belong is a nice precursor to later events.

SUSAN: Grandfather and I don't come from Earth. Oh, it's ages since we've seen our planet. It's quite like Earth, but at night the sky is a burned orange, and the leaves on the trees are bright silver.
1ST ELDER: My mind tells me that you wish to see your home again, and yet there is a part of you which calls for adventure. A wanderlust.
SUSAN: Yes. Well, we'll all go home some day. That's if you'll let us.
Then with the Doctor at the end of the episode in the Tardis:
SUSAN: I had a talk with the senior Scientist just before we left. It seems that the Sensphere has an extraordinary number of ultra high frequencies, so I won't be able to go on using thought transference.
DOCTOR: Oh, I don't know. It's rather a relief, I think. After all, no one likes an eavesdropper about, do they. No, I think you obviously have a gift in that direction. When we get home to our own place, I think we should try and perfect it.
SUSAN: When will we get back, Grandfather?
DOCTOR: I don't know, my dear. This old ship of mine seems to be an aimless thing. However, we don't worry about it, do we? Do you?
SUSAN: Sometimes I feel I'd like to belong somewhere, not just be a wanderer. Still, I'm not unhappy.
DOCTOR: Good, good.
vlcsnap-2014-05-21-09h26m32s117

The Sensorites is a very sixties story, I'm not sure you could get it to work now without drastic revision. However the Sensorites have been recycled in modern Doctor Who. The Ood are strongly based on them, with the Ood home planet and Sense Sphere being placed in the same solar system.

Writer Peter R. Newman only known previously produced work Yesterday's Enemy bears some relation to this episode: the film is about the actions of a group of soldiers trapped behind enemy lines, similar to how the humans see themselves here.

The Sensorites is the first Doctor Who story novelised by Nigel Robinson , the last editor of the Target book range. It was released in Hardback in February 1987 and in paperback in June that year.

The Sensorites was one of the last stories released on video, appearing in a First Doctor Boxset with The Time Meddler & The Gunfighters which "mops up" the complete Hartnell stories that hadn't been released on video. There was a CD release of the Soundtrack on 10th July 2008 which was given to me as a "True Friend" gift by my TMUK colleague Ralph Burns. At some point it will help me deal with a bout of insomnia I'm sure. The Sensorites was released on DVD on 23rd January 2012.

Friday, 25 July 2014

035 The Sensorites Episode 5: Kidnap

EPISODE: The Sensorites Episode 5: Kidnap
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 035
STORY NUMBER: 007
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 25 July 1964
WRITER: Peter R. Newman
DIRECTOR: Frank Cox
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 6.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Sensorites

"These Earth creatures are working to destroy the Sensorite nation. Their pleasant smile conceals sharp teeth, their soft words hide deadly threats."

Ian & Susan find the Doctor lying on the floor, his clothes shredded. Susan is suspicious of some of the Sensorites' equipment found near the Doctor in the tunnel. The Doctor is outraged to find out the original antidote never reached Ian and thinks the problems with the water and the monsters are connected and linked to a Sensorite: he does not know they've been observed by a Sensorite. John is raving about Treachery and a Plot as if he's trying to warn the others. The Sensorite reports back to the Administrator what he has seen, whom forces the Second Elder to summon the Senior Warrior so the disintegrator key can be passed to the Administrator. Once the Administrator has the key the Second Elder tries to seize it: he breaks it but is killed by the Administrator. The only other key is held by the first elder. The Administrator attempts to frame the Doctor for the Second Elder's death, but Ian spots the flaw in their story and exposes the lie who the Administrator blames on his subordinate, the Chief Warrior, who is imprisoned. The Administrator is made the new official Second Elder. John appears to have recovered. John remembers that there was an evil Sensorite menacing him. They discover a plan of the aqueduct amongst the effects of the humans who visited and John recalls that it was the Administrator who threatened him. The Doctor & Ian decide to visit the aqueduct: before leaving they arrange for Barbara to be brought to the Sensesphere. The aqueduct plans are altered before they get to the Doctor. The First Elder realises that the late Second Elder was killed by a Sensorite and wonders why. The Doctor & Ian visit the aqueduct, but they haven't told Susan where they were going. She sends Carol to look for them but she is in turn seized by an unseen assailant.

Plod, plod, plod, plod.

vlcsnap-2014-05-20-15h48m36s7

The episode opens with far too long a scene with Carol and some Sensorites....

vlcsnap-2014-05-20-15h49m35s139

.... and is followed by seemingly endless rounds of near identical Sensorites talking to each other!

vlcsnap-2014-05-20-15h49m49s2

It's as soporific as Doctor Who gets! Oddly I've never fallen asleep in this one yet, this is my fourth viewing, but I've got a copy of the Soundtrack to hand for those nights when the insomnia strikes.

The most exciting thing in this episode is the Doctor getting a new cape which proves a crucial plot point!

vlcsnap-2014-05-20-15h50m49s140

This story marked the start of one of the longer runs the original run of the blog spent on video:

As it stands the Fifteen episode from Sensorites 1 to Planet of Giants 3 (Sensorites 1-6 then Reign of Terror 1-3 on video, Reign 4 & 5 on CD and the Reign 6 & Planet of Giants 1-3 on video again) is going to be one of our longer breaks from DVD, but beating this and the same length Pertwee run on Video mentioned previously (Colony in Space, through Daemons into Day of the Daleks) is a massive 20 episodes at the start of Season 4: 4 Episodes of the Smugglers on CD, The first three episodes of Tenth Planet on Video then the fourth on CD/reconstructed on video then all six episodes of Power of the Daleks, four episode of the Highlanders and the first 2 episodes of The Underwater Menace on CD before we reach the third episode of Underwater Menace in the Lost in Time box.
Of course since then every Doctor Who episode has been released on CD .... bar the recovered second episode of The Underwater Menace which was still absent when I wrote that!

The writer of this story, Peter R. Newman, was for many years the most mysterious figure involved in Doctor Who: Nobody knew anything about him! Doctor Who - The Sensorites DVD has a special feature on it entitled Looking for Peter where Toby Hadoke & Richard Bignell research the man. Virtually everything that's now on the internet is sourced from this feature which is one of the best on the DVDs.

Returning to direct the last two episodes of this story is Frank Cox who was previously the the helm of Edge of Destruction part 2: Brink of Disaster.

Friday, 18 July 2014

034 The Sensorites Episode 4: A Race Against Death

EPISODE: The Sensorites Episode 4: A Race Against Death
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 034
STORY NUMBER: 007
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 18 July 1964
WRITER: Peter R. Newman
DIRECTOR: Mervyn Pinfield
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 5.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Sensorites

"I wear your sash of office. Who is to know that I am not the Second Elder now?"

Since Ian collapsed and was pronounced to be dying at the end of the last episode the title is appropriate!

The Doctor discovers that what Ian has isn't contagious and deduces it's the water Ian drank that the rest of them and the elders didn't. The Doctor thinks that it's more a poison than a disease and wants everyone to drink the water that the Elders alone drink. They get Ian to drink water & salt. The Doctor wants the Tardis lock back to get at his scientific instruments to cure Ian, but the Second Elder does not trust them. The Second Elder works to repair John's mind, but the Administrator argues with him. Second Elder goes to speak again with the First Elder and John accuses him of being evil. The female crew member, Carol, mistakes the Administrator for a scientist giving him the idea that he could pose as another Sensorite. The Sensorites won't allow the Doctor access to the TARDIS but let him use their lab. The Administrator confers with a colleague, they will lure the second Elder into a trap. The Doctor deduces which poison is in the water. Samples are gathered from all over the Sensesphere and the Doctor traces which area the poison is found. The Second Elder is held captive by the Administrator who poses as the Second Elder in order to disrupt the Doctor's activities. John is a little more lucid and tells the Doctor that there are enemies making plots. The Administrator seizes the antidote from the scientist: he believes Ian is pretending and will not die without it. The Doctor & The Scientist visit the aqueduct where they think the poisoned liquid is sourced from: The scientist is scared to enter both because of the dark and a belief there are monsters within. Susan finds some more of the antidote for Ian, who wants to go and find the Doctor. The First Elder telepathically contacts the Second telling him what has occurred. Unable to reply and in the clutches of the Administrator he is forced to tell the Administrator where they have gone. The Doctor finds the source of the poison, some deadly Nightshade just as he hears a monster bellowing.....

vlcsnap-2014-05-20-09h21m29s42

The story picks up a bit this episode. The Sensorites being near identical is exploited by the plot and there's some menace from the Administrator's machinations as he picks up on the Carol's suggestion that apart from their sashes the Sensorites are impossible to tell apart and so kidnaps the Second Elder and impersonates him!

vlcsnap-2014-05-20-09h11m08s219

But seriously has it never occurred to anyone on the Sensesphere to do this before? Or are the Sensorites generally a placid lot who don't go in for nefarious dealings?

A cracking set gets introduced this week: the tunnels at the aqueduct look superb:

vlcsnap-2014-05-20-09h17m38s240

But one of the more obvious things here is the lead actor: whenever he appears on screen this week Hartnell looks like he's having a complete ball!

vlcsnap-2014-05-20-08h56m29s126

Barbara is missing from this episode and the next: Jacqueline Hill is on holiday. She was temporarily written out early in the previous episode by having her remain on the spaceship

The first four episodes of the Sensorites are the first of two Doctor Who stories directed by Mervyn Pinfield. An experienced hand, especially in technical matters, he was appointed associate producer of Doctor Who at the series in 1963 to assist new producer Verity Lambert a role he fills up until The Romans. 1965's The Space Museum, another story not fondly remembered by Doctor Who fans, was his final work for the series and indeed his final credited work. He was to have directed Galaxy four, but was taken ill and replaced by Derek Martinus. He died in 1966. You can see his son Mike speaking about him at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01lzhnz

Friday, 11 July 2014

033 The Sensorites Episode 3: Hidden Danger

EPISODE: The Sensorites Episode 3: Hidden Danger
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 033
STORY NUMBER: 007
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 11 July 1964
WRITER: Peter R. Newman
DIRECTOR: Mervyn Pinfield
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 7.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Sensorites

"These creatures, these Earth-people, are loud and ugly! Why could we not have left them in the desert or in the mountains?"

The Tardis crew rescue Susan by turning the lights out on the Sensorites....

oh dear. Bad story or clever comment on how different an alien life form is?
The Doctor wants to speak with the Sensorite first elder to arrange their release. John is raving saying he can hear voices in his mind and the Sensorites want him to forget. The Sensorite elder agrees to them coming to the planet. The Sensorites tell the travellers about a previous contact with humans which went badly: the humans ships exploded which seems to be causing an increasing number of deaths on the Sensesphere
Has the atmosphere has been contaminated?
In the Sensorite council chamber where the Sensorites are discussing the visitors. The First Elder supports the visit but the Second Elder is against it. The Administrator supports the First Elder.
Your guide to telling the Sensorites apart:

The first elder wears a crossed sash on his chest.
The second elder wears a single sash.
The administrator has a black collar

Otherwise they are nearly identical to the Sensorites seen before.

vlcsnap-2014-05-13-11h34m34s5
The Administrator has beamed a Disintegrator to the council chamber to "protect them", but intends to use it to kill the earth visitors at the first opportunity. The Sensorites reveal there is a caste system to the travellers. John tries to tell the travellers something. The Sensorites say they can restore John's mental faculties. The Second Elder orders the disintegrator dismantled but the Administrator argues with them. The travellers discuss events with the First Elder who tells them of John's visit: he wanted to mine the planet. In order to stop him they wiped his mind but it went wrong driving him insane. The Doctor discusses the disease afflicting the people with the elders, who have not been affected by it, as Ian falls ill.

I can see what this story is trying to do, it's just I don't think it's execution on screen has done it any favours. There's lots of nice little detail: they flagged up about the eyes the last episode, today it's mentioned that the elders drink a different water. The Sensorites have no menace to them at all and the b&w film prints make them look just like bearded old men with odd faces.

Doctor Who's most famous guest star thus far appears in this episode. Peter Glaze was at the time the resident comic on Crackerjack (CRACKERJACK!). Here he's a Sensorite but I have no idea which one! His Wikipedia entry says he's the Administrator, whereas the cast list shows him as Third Sensorite. Since the cast list doesn't say who The Administrator is, I'm willing to go with this.

vlcsnap-2014-05-13-11h33m55s176PeterGlaze

Of the rest of the Sensorites Eric Francis plays The First Elder and he's got an appearance in Terry Nation's Survivors to his name in Mad Dog as the Engine Driver. The Second Elder is played by Bartlett Mullins. His most prominent role was as Cloughie, Bob & Terry's work mate in The Likely Lads, another show like Doctor Who affected by the BBC's mass junkings. He's in the first Adam Adamant Lives! episode: A Vintage Year for Scoundrels as Gramps (Adam Adamant also has missing episodes) and in The Prisoner: A Change of Mind as the Committee Chairman.

Playing background Sensorites are Anthony Rogers, returning from the first episode, and Gerry Martin who's got some interesting entires on his CV. He was the CI5 Butler (!) in The Professionals episode Blood Sports. At some point after that he appears to have emigrated to America where he appears as Dr. Rudyard in Swamp Thing and as King Aramour in, and it pains me to write this, Thunder in Paradise (Nightboat the Crime Solving Boat!) Sealed with a Kismet.

On the original blog run this episode was published on Christmas Day 2010.