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.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Cricket & Dates

As I mentioned last week this week in 1963 was the first time that Doctor Who was missing from the Saturday schedules since it started thanks to Tennis at Wimbledon and The 3rd Ashes Test from Leeds. Many years later Cricket returns the favour by using an unscheduled repeat of The Sea Devils to plug a gap where a game of Cricket that was due to be televised was rained off. Then off course there's the Doctor's interest in cricket which starts with a visit to the test in the 8th episode of the Dalek Masterplan, claiming to have taken 5 wickets for New South Wales bowling Chinaman and the near obsession of the Fifth Doctor.

But the absence of Doctor Who on this date in in 1963 brings an interesting fact to light: Doctor Who has never had a first run episode broadcast on 4th July! Doctor Who has usually been shown either from Spetember or January onwards, with the 60s episodes running over a longer period of time from the autumn. Both of these mean the middle months of the year are when less episodes occur. Looking at the classic series these are the 54 days it hasn't been shown on:

June 15
22
28
29
30
July 4
5
6
7
8
12
13
14
15
19
20
21
22
23
26
27
28
29
30
31
August 2
3
4
5
6
7
9
11
12
13
14
16
18
19
20
21
23
25
26
27
28
September 19
26
October 3
10
17
24
December 20
27

To be honest I'm a bit surprised that there's so many days in the later half of the year that have never had Doctor Who shown on them!

Since the advent of the new series of Doctor Who in 2005 five of those dates have had episodes of Doctor Who shown on them:

28-Jun-08 The Stolen Earth
30-Jun-07 Last of the Time Lords
05-Jul-08 Journey's End
08-Jul-06 Doomsday
27-Aug-11 Let's Kill Hitler

If there are 54 days with no DW in them, which date has had the most episodes of Doctor Who shown on them?

Well it truns out there are SEVEN dates with 6 episode shown on them:

04-Jan
12-Jan
08-Feb
15-Feb
02-Mar
09-Mar
16-Mar
Here's how many dates have had how many episodes shown on them:

Episdoes Dates
6 7
5 16
4 28
3 35
2 132
1 94

Adding in the new series skews this data slightly as there's been a Chirstmas special every year since 2005:

Episodes Days
10 1
9 0
8 0
7 0
6 8
5 17
4 28
3 82
2 119
1 62
0 49

But returning to our non showing episode on 4th July: the closest Doctor who has got to showing an episode on this day was the following year, 1964, when the first episode of The Time Meddler aired on the third and in 2008 when Journey's End aired on the fifth. Both remain the only episodes eired on those dates.

Friday, 27 June 2014

032 The Sensorites Episode 2: The Unwilling Warriors

EPISODE: The Sensorites Episode 2: The Unwilling Warriors
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 032
STORY NUMBER: 007
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 27 June 1964
WRITER: Peter R. Newman
DIRECTOR: Mervyn Pinfield
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 6.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Sensorites

"I think he must have discovered something that the Sensorites wanted to keep secret, so they silenced him and kept all of you prisoners about their planet." "I see. And now they're trying to do the same to us"

The crew fall back under the influence of the Sensorites, but the Doctor snaps them back to reality and they continue to try to open the door, beyond which Susan and Barbara are trapped with the third crew member who isn't in his right mind. The Sensorites board the ship. Susan recalls a previous adventure which involved mind control and shows Barbara how to fight against the Sensorites influence as the Doctor and friends break out of the bridge. The Doctor deduces the Sensorites are trying to keep their planet a secret. Aware of Susan's resistance, the Sensorites are interested in her. The Doctor examines the spectroscope readings of the planet and deduces that John, the mineralogist found something on the Sensesphere, the rare metal molybdenum. The Sensorites attack Susan's mind....

Ian & Barbara wander the ship seeking the Sensorites who eventually find them. Ian holds them off while the others seek to seal themselves in. The problem here is that the Sensorites, who look a little like slow moving old men, present very little physical menace so you don't feel they are a threat. They telepathically contact Susan who admits them to the bridge. They tell the Doctor that the Travellers cannot leave: previous contact with Earthmen have made them suspicious of outsiders. They tell everyone on the ship that they will be taken to the Sensesphere. The Doctor demands the Tardis lock back. Having seen the Sensorites faces the Doctor works out they may have a problem seeing in the dark. Susan agrees to go with the Sensorites to their planet.

vlcsnap-2014-05-09-10h44m53s237

Yeah,dragged a bit. The wandering round the ship was just so slooooooow, and there's no menace to the Sensorites at all. It's a shame because these sequences on the ship look nice and could have been quite atmospheric and tense if directed a little differently.

vlcsnap-2014-05-09-10h45m08s138

The two Sensorites seen here are played by Ken Tyllsen and Joseph Greig. Grieg is credited as the First Sensorite in episodes 2 & 3, and the First Scientist in episodes 4 & 5. Grieg is the Second Sensorite in this episode and the next, the Second Scientist in episodes 4 & 5 and the Warrior in 6. As we'll see these could easily be the same character played by the same actor in each episode. Ken Tyllsen returns to Doctor Who as a Mechanoid in The Death of Doctor Who and The Planet of Decision, the fourth and fifth episodes of 1965's The Chase before making a one off appearance as a Dalek in 1967's The Evil of the Daleks: Episode 7.

This episode of Doctor who was delayed by 25 minutes due to an over running edition of Grandstand. The following week Doctor Who was missing from the Saturday schedules for the first time since it started thanks to Tennis at Wimbledon and The 3rd Ashes Test from Leeds.

Friday, 20 June 2014

031 The Sensorites Episode 1: Strangers in Space

EPISODE: The Sensorites Episode 1: Strangers in Space
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 031
STORY NUMBER: 007
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 20 June 1964
WRITER: Peter R. Newman
DIRECTOR: Mervyn Pinfield
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 7.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Sensorites

"Now, now, now, don't be absurd. There's not an ounce of curiosity in me, my dear boy. Tell me, why are you in danger?"

The Tardis has landed inside a Spaceship: a first for the series. The crew are dead. The Doctor wishes to leave but suddenly one of the bodies moves. He asks the travellers to grab a piece of equipment that will revive them, because they have in a deep sleep. The ship is orbiting the Sense-Sphere, home of the Sensorites, who are controlling their craft and influencing their brains. The ship's crew claim the Sensorites will try and stop the TARDIS crew from leaving - we see a gloved hand reaching for the TARDIS door and as the TARDIS crew smell burning we see the lock being removed. The crew are trapped outside. The ship shakes under the Sensorite control but the Doctor stabilises the ship albeit on a collision course for the Sense Sphere, but saves the ship in the nick of time. The Doctor wonders about the Sensorites behaviour. Only the other member of the crew has met them but he isn't there and they won't say what has happened to him. Barbara & Susan gain access to the rest of the ship seeking water, but another human shuts them out of the control deck. Susan & Barbara are stalked by the human, the missing crewman John, who is in a zombie like state. He collapses before them and tries to talk with them. The Doctor, Ian and the ship crew are trying to cut their way out of the flight deck: they hear a high pitch wine, the Sensorites are near and returning to the ship. The episode ends with a Sensorite looking in through the ship's window.

That didn't work for me. I get the feeling that there's something decent trying to get out but what comes over on the screen doesn't quite work. It starts off really well: we get a quick summary of the Tardis crew's adventures so far together with a bit of name dropping from The Doctor who claims Henry VIII threw him in The Tower! When the Tardis crew are exploring the ship, there's a decent atmosphere to it. But the Doctor can't tell the difference between a deep sleep and dead? Oh dear.

vlcsnap-2014-04-29-11h14m08s35

And it's downhill from there once the crew wake up. Any atmosphere goes out the window, apart from the brief appearance of the Sensorite hands and Susan & Barbara hiding from the unhinged John.

vlcsnap-2014-04-29-11h28m15s52vlcsnap-2014-04-29-11h28m57s210
The bridge crew, Maitland & Carol, are played by Lorne Cossette and Ilona Rodgers respectively. Ilona Rodgers was interviewed for Toby Hadoke's Who's Round #42, while Lorne Cossette is possibly the only Doctor Who actor to have worked on the toy interactive TV show Captain Power & the Soldiers of the Future! I wanted that spaceship..... John is played by returning actor Stephen Dartnell who was previously Yartek, evil leader of the alien Vrood in Keys of Marinus episode 6.

vlcsnap-2014-04-29-11h34m19s72 vlcsnap-2014-04-29-11h33m51s86

There is a notable first in this episode: It's Doctor Who's first space ship! There's some decent design work from Raymond Cusick here, reusing a lot of the circular patterns from the Tardis design.

The right at the end of the episode we briefly get our first glimpse of a Sensorite, peaking in through a window. I'll let you judge if it works as an episode ending. Here's a Clue: it doesn't and where's his spacesuit?

vlcsnap-2014-04-29-11h36m45s29
The Sensorite is played by Anthony Rogers who'll return as other Sensorites, or possibly the same one, in later episodes of the story!

When I watched this story for the first run of the Blog in 2010 this episode marked a notable landmark:

Ladies and gentlemen, a big applause for the first appearance of Phil's Video Recorder in our journey. As yet not all existing Doctor Who stories are available on DVD but this is the first time I've need to dig out the VCR. We're actually watching the next THREE stories on video, the only time this will happen, but we'll break to CD half way through because two episodes in the middle of the next story are missing making that our first partially complete story. So for the next Nine episodes it's video. This will be one of the longer runs of consecutive days with the video. At the moment there's two Ten episodes stretches still on DVD (Terror of the Autons & Mind of Evil and Invasion of the Dinosaurs & Death to the Daleks) but that's beaten by a FIFTEEN episode run from Colony in Space through the Daemons and into Day of the Daleks. Note how these are all Pertwee episodes and two of them involve Season Eight! However by the time we get there - we hit Terror of the Autons on August 28th 2011! - it's possible that both Terror and Day of the Daleks will be out on DVD.
Three and a bit years later this story is available on DVD as are all but one of the existing episodes of the show. (Underwater Menace 2)

Also at the time of the original Blog the BBC had made the Sensorites available on YouTube but it's not there any more :-( Some may consider this a lucky escape.

Friday, 13 June 2014

030 The Aztecs Episode 4: The Day of Darkness

EPISODE: The Aztecs Episode 4: The Day of Darkness
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 030
STORY NUMBER: 006
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 13 June 1964
WRITER: John Lucarotti
DIRECTOR: John Crockett
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 7.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Aztecs (Special Edition)

"What's the point of travelling through time and space if we can't change anything? Nothing!"

Tapped in the tunnel with rapidly rising water, Ian finds a way out into the tomb.

vlcsnap-2014-04-23-10h45m54s12

The Doctor tells Ixta that Ian is within who in turn thanks the Doctor for ensuring his victory in the contest with Ian.

vlcsnap-2014-04-23-10h47m22s106

Ian works at opening the door to the tomb and manages to secure it with the rope so they can open it again with a rope. Barbara finds Ian and they are reunited with the Doctor. Ian goes to rescue Susan who Ixta is now guarding. Ixta is surprised when Ian emerges. Barbara and the Doctor wait on the temple for the others. The travellers struggle with the rope: the Doctor wishes they had a pulley, which is beyond Aztec technology. Tlotoxl tasks Ixta with killing Autloc intending to place the blame on Ian. Trying to gain entrance to the Tomb, Ian & Susan discover the struck down Autloc and are arrested by guards as Tlotoxl intending. The Doctor is fashioning a pulley while talking with Cameca, who persuades Autloc to visit Yetaxa (Barbara) who tries to convince him that he was not struck by Ian, but Autloc feels he cannot save Ian. Cameca talks to the Doctor, knowing he must leave.

vlcsnap-2014-04-23-11h03m50s10

Cameca & Autloc talk, Autloc provides a means to rescue Susan and says he is leaving the city. Tlotoxl tells Barbara Autloc has left. Cameca goes to fetch Susan which enables Ian to overcome their guard. Ian starts to strip the guard of his clothing. Susan is reunited with Barbara and the Doctor as the Doctor & Cameca say their goodbyes. Tlotoxl finds the prisoners have escaped just as the sacrificial ceremony starts, he goes to kill Yetaxa who is defended by her guard - Ian in disguise. Ixta & Ian fight again but Ixta dies falling from the temple and Ian helps the others open the tomb with the rope & pulley just as the eclipse starts.

vlcsnap-2014-04-23-11h07m58s174

Pleased they are trapped in the tomb Tlotoxl starts the sacrifices. Barbara muses to the Doctor on how futile their visit was and that they were unable to change history. Barbara places her high priestess gear in the tomb as they leave in the Tardis.

Sometime later they gather in the control room: Some of the Tardis instruments say they've stopped but others say they're still moving. Barbara wonders if they've landed inside something ...,

Well I wasn't that impressed with the first few episodes, which still leave me cold, but on both recent viewings it's picked up during the third. The final episode rattles along at a fair rate making it easily the best episode of the story. John Ringham's Tlotoxl gets more barking as the story goes on while Keith Pyott's Autoloc is a dignified presence throughout. Like Keys of Marinus, watching each episode separately has changed my view of the story a bit. And it does look absolutely fabulous at time!

vlcsnap-2014-04-23-11h05m04s207

When The Doctor is reunited with Susan we're treated to a classic Billy fluff:

"I can't tell you how glad I am.... I'll tell you how glad I am to see you later!".
Ah, the wonders of TV filmed as live! Ixta & Ian's fight, the big set piece here, is pre-filmed at Ealing though:

vlcsnap-2014-04-23-11h06m19s184

There's a horribly obvious backdrop here representing the long distance here! Unfortunately it gets even worse towards the end of the scene - look:

vlcsnap-2014-04-23-11h07m04s134

You can see off the side of the set and the edge of backdrop!

Writer John Lucarotti has contributed two scripts to the first year of Doctor Who. He'll be back in the third to write the Massacre. But this is the final outing for director John Crockett.

The publication of the book of the Aztecs, by it's TV series author
John Lucarotti as Target book number 88, marks a turning point for the Doctor Who range. Up until this point forays into the eras of previous Doctors had been rare. A few when the series started, another few in the late 70s but very little from outside of the last 3 years or so before publication. The Aztecs started a concerted assault on the earlier un-novelised stories and lead to a general upswing in the quality of the books. We love Terrance Dicks, author of many Doctor Who novels, but during the period he was turning out a novel a month some of the novelisations, especially those in Tom Baker's 3rd - 6th years are a little lacking.

The setting, and some of the themes, in the Aztecs are revisited by the New Adventure Novel The Left Handed Hummingbird.

The Axtecs was released on video in November 1992. I passed on it much preferring the Davidson era Earthshock released the same day and only picked the Aztecs VHS up much later. The Aztecs was the first William Hartnell story to be released on DVD. It's also the first DVD story to be VIDFired, restoring the Video look of the film prints. I'll talk about this some more when we reach Planet of Giants - the first story to have this process used on it. There's a special feature on the story's restoration on the DVD which neatly explain VIDFire and numerous other aspects of the film & video technology involved.

Doctor Who: The Aztecs (Special Edition) was released on 11 March 2013. It included improved VIDFiring of the episodes and the recently recovered episode of Galaxy Four: Episode 3 Airlock.