Book Review – Doctor Who: The Emperor of Eternity

  • Title: The Emperor of Eternity
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Author: Nigel Robinson
  • Director: Lisa Bowerman
  • Characters: Victoria Waterfield, Jamie McCrimmon, Second Doctor
  • Cast: Deborah Watling, Frazer Hines
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 4/16/2018

**Spoiler Alert** The Emperor of Eternity is a volume in the Big Finish Companion Chronicles line of audiobooks and audio plays. The Companion Chronicles feature stories told from the companion’s point of view and usually rather than being a full play in the audio format like most of Big Finish’s productions, they are a smaller, two-hander production. The Emperor of Eternity is a purely historical story featuring Victoria, Jamie, and the Second Doctor (as played on the Doctor Who television series by Patrick Troughton) set in Ancient China during the end of the Chin Dynasty in 200 B.C.

Victoria tells most of the story with assistance from Jamie. The TARDIS materializes in space, gets hit by an asteroid and the re-materializes in Ancient China to make repairs. But as the Doctor, Jaime, and Victoria wander while waiting for the TARDIS to repair itself, they come across utter devastation. It seems that the general for the emperor took the “falling star” as a sign of the gods’ displeasure with the village where the meteor fell, so he ordered the destruction of the village and the killing of the men, women, and children living there. The TARDIS crew is appalled, especially Victoria.

They meet a young woman and warrior who takes them to another village. There they meet a wandering monk. The people of the village argue about who might be a spy or assassin out to kill the emperor. Some of the people in the village insist that as strangers, the TARDIS crew, especially Jamie must be assassins. Jamie insists the strange monk must be the assassin because he doesn’t really look like a monk. But Victoria says that the village should show kindness to everyone. She says that she and Jamie and the Doctor are travelers, and no doubt they should show a holy man respect. The Emperor’s warriors also arrive. Victoria also convinces them not to hurt anyone. But they take the Doctor prisoner in the night.

The next morning, discovering the Doctor missing, Jamie and Victoria decide they must rescue him. One of the people in the village agrees to lead them to the Imperial City. They sneak in through the underground tunnels, that her father built. In the tunnels, they discover rivers of mercury, which freak Victoria out a bit, but they successfully get to the throne room. They discover the Doctor is fine, and that the Emperor has asked him to provide an elixir to grant him eternal life. But in the throne room, the woman who led them to the city kills the old man on the throne. She blames the emperor for her father’s death because the mercury vapors in the underground tunnels killed him. She is executed by the emperor’s general – and the old man turns out to be a decoy. Victoria is appalled by this turn of events and the death and violence. Victoria, however, still argues for clemency, for understanding. She shows sensitivity and caring for all. The emperor insists the Doctor take him to his machine of wonders, TARDIS, which would allow him to wander in eternity. The Doctor refuses of course.

The Doctor and company are sent to the dungeons. That night, someone arrives and lets them out and offers to help them escape. They make their way to the TARDIS in the foothills of the mountains, but Victoria insists they must warn the village, thinking the emperor might target them for allowing prisoners to escape. Near the TARDIS, they again meet the monk from earlier. The general arrives also and captures Victoria. Victoria insists the Doctor and Jamie should leave without her. The monk reveals he is the real emperor, who disguises himself to find out what the people really thought of his rule. He is impressed by Victoria’s kindness and caring – and angered by his general’s violent answer to everything. But most importantly, the emperor has had a change of heart. He no longer thinks he needs to live forever to avoid the wrath of the gods. And he is angered at how his general has exploited and harmed his people. He fires and executes the general, vows to be a better emperor, and lets the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria go to the TARDIS unmolested.

The Emperor of Eternity is a good story. It’s nice to have a purely historical story for a change – and Deborah Watling does a wonderful job telling the story as Victoria. Frazer adds to the story as Jamie. Overall, this is an enjoyable tale and I recommend it.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com.

Click this link to order The Emperor of Eternity on CD or Download.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

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Doctor Who – The Web of Fear Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: The Web of Fear
  • Story #: 41
  • Episodes: 6 half-hour parts
  • Discs: 1
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 02/03/1968 – 03/09/1968
  • Cast: Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling, Nicholas Courtney
  • Format: Standard, Black and White, DVD, NTSC

“Web of Fear”, like “Enemy of the World” is one of two stories that was found in 2013, but whereas “The Enemy of the World” was even better than expected, “Web of Fear” is somewhat disappointing. Episodes 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 are the original black and white film/video episodes. Episode 3 is a telesnap reconstruction. There are no special features on the disc, except a trailer for “The Enemy of the World”. However, the film and video were beautifully restored and the episodes do look really good.

The story opens where we left off at the end of “The Enemy of the World”, with the TARDIS door open. Jaime is able to force the doors shut. Victoria shows off her new outfit, which looks awful – she looks like a Native American “princess”, complete with beads, the outfit is distracting throughout the story because it doesn’t fit at all with her character. Jaime points out the flashing light indicating the TARDIS has landed, but the Doctor insists they are still in flight. Victoria later points out the same thing. Checking the scanner the Doctor finds that the TARDIS is hovering in space. It’s caught by some sort of web. The Doctor frees the TARDIS with some gadgetry and they land.

The TARDIS crew exits the TARDIS and discovers they are in a subway tunnel (the London underground) but everything seems to be abandoned and even the electricity in the rails is turned off. Jaime and Victoria head one way and the Doctor heads a different way. Jaime and Victoria are picked up by some soldiers, taken to HQ and interrogated. When asked if there is anyone else in the tunnels, Jaime insists there isn’t – so the soldiers blow-up the tunnels, but the explosion never goes off.

Jaime insists the Doctor was in the tunnels as soon as he hears about the planned demolition. Soldiers are sent to look for the Doctor. Meanwhile, Professor Travers and his daughter, Anne, arrive. Victoria recognizes the Professor immediately from their previous adventure in Tibet. Travers soon recognizes her and Jaime as well, though he’s surprised they are no older (the previous adventure was in 1935 – 40 years ago, meaning this adventure actually takes place in 1975), Travers concludes the Doctor was telling the truth about being able to travel in time.

The Doctor meets Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in the tunnels (a character we will come to know as the Brigadier) and they return to HQ, athough, along the way, several of the soldiers die.

From here on in “Web of Fear” gets a little confusing – the Doctor doesn’t take over or even make suggestions for defeating “the menace”. The soldiers go back and forth from the tunnels to HQ to the tunnels – with more men dying each time. The fungus or web that the Yeti create with pyramid-shaped hand guns advances down the tunnels, trapping the soldiers and everyone else in HQ. By episode 6, even HQ is engulfed in the stuff. After they are trapped by the fungus, Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart learns that the Doctor has a craft and he can get everyone out – but the TARDIS is stuck at Covent Garden. The Colonel leads the rest of the soldiers above ground, in an attempt to get the TARDIS from the other side. They are all annihilated by the Yeti. While the colonel leads his fruitless mission, the Doctor also heads above ground to a store house to get electronic parts. The soldier guarding him is killed. The Doctor makes it back to the lab.

The Yeti kidnap Professor Travers and Victoria, and deliver an ultimatum to the few survivors – turn over the Doctor in 20 minutes, or else. The Doctor and Anne Travers, a scientist work on getting the control box and sphere working so that they can control a Yeti (they succeed, but tell Col. Lethbridge-Stewart they failed, since he could be working for the Intelligence).

Again, various parties head into the tunnels – to scout, to try and find Victoria and Travers, etc. They meet Evans – a Welsh soldier who had been the driver of an ill-fated truckload of munitions (the soldiers were killed and the supplies destroyed by the Yeti). Evans, who first appears in the first or second episode, is portrayed as dumb and a coward. Every chance he gets he tries to run off – only to get lost and turn-up again. They also encounter Staff Sgt. Arnold, a good man and a good soldier, presumed lost in the mission to recover the Doctor’s TARDIS. Finally, they encounter Chorley, a journalist, who had run off at some point – only to get lost in the tunnels. Anne and the Doctor are able to take control of a Yeti but don’t tell anyone. The Doctor gives the control microphone to Jaime.

Everyone goes to the Yeti’s hideout at Piccadilly Circus. Anne is happy to see her father is unharmed, and Jaime is glad to see Victoria is all right. The Doctor agrees to give himself up, and gets in the Intelligence’s machine which will drain his brain. Jaime however uses the microphone to send the Yeti he controls in and attacks the other Yeti, then destroys the Intelligence’s machine.

The Doctor is genuinely upset though, he had reversed the settings on the machine, so instead of it draining him, he would drain the Intelligence. Further, he knows the Intelligence will escape, and again be formless cloud in space. The TARDIS crew leaves – heading through the tunnels to the TARDIS.

“Web of Fear” is a bit disappointing. The Yeti, though not as roly-poly as in the surviving footage from “The Abominable Snowmen” are still not that threatening, with a rolling gait that seems to be very slow. Their attacks are not precise either, and often, the soldiers appear to be throwing themselves at the Yeti rather than actually being caught. Most of the plot involves various people going from the HQ to the tunnels on pointless missions and then either dying or going back to HQ having accomplished nothing. When the Colonel leads the mission above ground, not only is it pointless because everyone dies – but one really has to wonder why he took the risk in the first place. Yes, the few survivors needed to escape – but why not just lead everyone above ground and run like heck? Instead, the Colonel instantly believes the Doctor has a time-space craft that will rescue them all so he risks everything and every one to get to it. Later on, when the Brigadier had known the Doctor for years and several regenerations, this would have made sense – but it makes no sense when they have just met.

Most of the extra characters die in this story, especially the soldiers, though Anne, Travers, Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, Chorley, and Evans survive. Staff Sgt. Arnold had died on that earlier mission, when they encounter him it’s only his corpse, animated by the Intelligence. When the Intelligence speaks through Professor Travers, a communication box, and finally Arnold – it is spooky, but this story doesn’t have the tension of a “who is working with the Intelligence” plot it should. People mention it, but it doesn’t feel like a real threat or as paranoid as it should.

Overall, “Web of Fear” is a pretty standard story, I’d give it a 3 out of 5. It’s not helped by a telesnap-only reconstruction in the middle. With 5 out of 6 episodes of the story remaining, it’s a good candidate for animated reconstruction, and it might improve the story a bit (Part 3 is very confusing.) I don’t normally re-buy things I own, but if a special edition came out with animation and special features, I would purchase it.

 

Doctor Who – The Enemy of the World Review (Spoilers)

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: The Enemy of the World
  • Story #: 40
  • Episodes: 6 half-hour parts
  • Discs: 1
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 12/23/1967 – 01/27/1968
  • Cast: Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling
  • Format: Standard, Black and White, DVD, NTSC

“Oh, you’re a Doctor…” – Astrid
“Not of any medical significance.” – The Doctor
“Doctor of law? Philosophy?” – Astrid
“Which law? Whose philosophy?” – The Doctor

“Years ago, Doctor, when one country wanted to invade another – it set about attacking the confidence of that country, throwing it into confusion, making it weak – and then it was ripe for takeover.” – Kent

“It’s sad, really, isn’t it? People spend all their time making nice things and other people come along and break them.” – The Doctor

“The Enemy of the World” is a tense, taut political thriller. It’s easily watchable in one go, though because of my schedule I did watch it in two parts (1-3 one night and 4-6 the next day). There’s no monsters here (other than those of the human variety), no alien invasions, no cults or sickness or viruses. It’s just about people and politics – and it’s absolutely fascinating. It also has a very strong guest cast, especially the women (Fariah – pronounced with three syllables – FAIR-REE-ah, not like Farrah Fawcett) and Astrid. But all the characters, good and evil, those “simply following orders” and those fighting back in an repressive, fascist regime, are well-drawn and well-rounded characters.

The Doctor, Jaime and Victoria land in the TARDIS on the seaside, and the Doctor immediately runs into the ocean for a dip – which Jaime and Victoria think is a bit nuts. The Doctor is attacked, a case of mistaken identity, and rescued by Astrid in her helicopter. The three are taken to Kent, the leader of the resistance against Salamander – the dictator who leads the world. Kent and Astrid insist Salamander is evil and corrupt – and he’s trying to take control of the world. The Doctor is unsure, and unwilling to involve himself in local politics (no really!). He insists on proof. Astrid remarks on the Doctor’s uncanny resemblance to Salamander (this is Troughton in a dual role), and wants him to use that to their advantage to get the evidence they need – not only to convince the Doctor, but to convince the world to do something about Salamander.

The Doctor is somewhat forced to at least try to get more information. Jaime and Victoria are sent to the Central European Zone to sneak in and get information by going undercover. Kent and Astrid provide travel documents and passage. Astrid even goes with the two to help them with the travel and to assist with getting them in. Jaime goes in and “saves” Salamander from a “bomb” – actually a clever deception organized by Astrid. Jaime gets a job as a guard and Victoria is sent to the kitchen.

The leader of the Central European Zone is Denes – and Salamander tells him that a disaster will hit his region – he can’t help it, but he can help if Denes turns total control over to him. Denes refuses – stating he wants to investigate further, doubting there will be a disaster. Extinct volcanoes erupt in the region, killing millions. Salamander has Denes arrested. He offers Fedorin his job, but also blackmails him with a file. Salamander will control Fedorin. He then orders Fedorin to kill Denes. Meanwhile, in the kitchens, Victoria meets a crusty, Cockney chef who complains about everything. She goes to bring Denes his meal, and there’s a distraction while Fariah, Salamander’s food taster, gets the hidden file on Fedorin. Fedorin goes to poison the food once it arrives again – but he can’t do it. He reports to Salamander. Salamander kills him then claims it was “suicide”.

Jaime, Victoria, and Fariah escape and meet-up with Astrid. They make it back to Kent’s with the file – and meet the Doctor. Unfortunately, Salamander’s troops are on their tail. they split up to escape, Fariah has the file – Fariah is shot in the back by Benik’s guards (the head of security at the Research Center) and the file taken.

Kent and Astrid become more insistent that the Doctor impersonate Salamander. Learning Jaime and Victoria were taken prisoner to the Research Center during the escape – the Doctor agrees to go in to get more information and release his two young friends.

Meanwhile, Salamander locks himself in the “records room” of the research center. He takes a single-person elevator/subway car to an underground bunker. There are a group of scientists in the bunker, one of whom, Colin, is getting desperate to see the surface. Salamander brings new food stores, but tells the scientists they can’t return to the surface due to the devastation from “the war”. He then orders them to continue causing the natural disasters. Swann, the scientist leader, though, finds an up-to-date newspaper that makes him very suspicious of Salamander’s version of events. He confronts Salamander, who agrees to take him to the surface to see for himself (after some very unconvincing attempts to explain away the newspaper Swann found). Once they are in some tunnels by the food store – Salamander tries to kill Swann. Swann wanders off towards the surface, and he’s found by Astrid. Although he eventually dies from his injuries he tells her about “the others”.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is now getting some help from Bruce, the World Security Advisor, who has his suspicions about Salamander – but doesn’t trust Kent at all. The Doctor convinces him he can play the part of Salamander by successfully doing so in front of Jaime and Victoria. He breaks back into character and asks Bruce to escort Jaime and Victoria safely out of the research center while he plays his part and gathers info. The Doctor discovers the research center is ordering three times the amount of food it should.

Benik gets suspicious when Salamander seems to be in two places at once. Astrid gets into the underground bunker via the tunnel – and the scientists at first fear her. When she proves the “radiation meter” is a complete fake, and explains the truth of it – they want to go to the surface, naturally. It’s a bit of a slow process. The Doctor confronts Kent – discovering he and Salamander were partners when a pair of scientists from the bunker arrive. Kent wants to take over from Salamander. There’s a fight, the bunker is blown-up, Kent’s killed, but Salamander escapes.

The Doctor says goodbye to Astrid, who now has plenty of evidence to discredit Salamander (and come clean about Kent) and have him arrested. The Doctor goes to join Jaime and Victoria at the TARDIS. Unfortunately, Salamander gets there first and non-verbally orders Jaime to fly the TARDIS. The Doctor arrives and the TARDIS takes off – Salamander gets the doors open and falls to his doom through them.

“The Enemy of the World” is a taut political epic that is ripe with applicability to our times as well. We instantly want to believe Kent and Astrid because, well, in part, it’s the type of thing that the Doctor tends to fall into (both in Classic and New Who). Astrid is also incredibly strong – not only in her convictions, but this woman flies a helicopter, she shoots guns, she defeats armed guards in hand-to-hand combat (rivaling Emma Peel as she does so) and she never once whines, cries, or complains. Even when she learns Kent, the man she’s presumably worked with to overthrow Salamander for years, has betrayed her she doesn’t stubbornly insist “he couldn’t do that” with the evidence in front of her, she metaphorically rolls up her sleeves and says, “Right, okay, so I’m in charge now, What next?” And she doesn’t get killed. Very importantly, this strong, brilliant woman doesn’t die.

Fariah, who is also Black, is also strong. She’s Salamander’s food taster (and probably his assistant as well), she says she hates him – probably more than Victoria or Jaime, yet the two times she’s pressed to explain why, she refuses, saying it doesn’t matter. There’s a whole ‘nother story there that we don’t see – which makes the world shown in “Enemy of the World” to seem real and lived-in. Yes, Salamander destroys people, good people like Fariah – and the details aren’t important. She, unfortunately, is killed. 😦

Kent at first seems like an overly enthusiastic rebel leader. He reminds me of Blake in Blake’s 7, and of course we’ve seen his type numerous times in Doctor Who in both Classic and New Who. But he doesn’t set off any alarm bells at first. When the Doctor discovers the truth – it’s a genuine surprise.

The rest of the characters don’t really fall into strict one-dimensional categories either. Bruce starts off as a black-wearing security chief, but as he learns more about Salamander (especially the deaths of Denes, Fedorin, and Fariah). he starts to question Salamander. But he equally doesn’t trust or like Kent. Ultimately, he decides he will make up his own mind if the Doctor can provide proof. In this, he is much like the Doctor who keeps telling Kent and Astrid not so much that he “can’t interfere” but he must be sure he knows what he’s doing if he does interfere.

Patrick Troughton is excellent in a dual role as The Doctor and Salamander. The scene where the Doctor is playing Salamander in front of Jaime and Victoria is particularly well-played and directed. Also, the set for Salamander’s record room, the transport tube, and the underground bunker is particularly impressive.

“Enemy of the World” is an excellent Doctor Who story and I highly, highly recommend it. This is the story that along with most of “Web of Fear” was recovered in 2013, for more about the recovery see, 9 Missing Doctor Who Episodes Found. The only minor disappointment in the DVD is that while Doctor Who DVDs usually come packed with special features, this one basically has none – the only extra is a trailer for ‘Web of Fear”, which was discovered at the same time. The film was cleaned up though and it looks great! I highly, highly recommend “Enemy of the World”.

 

Doctor Who – The Ice Warriors Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: The Ice Warriors
  • Story #: 39
  • Episodes: 6 half-hour parts
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 11/11/1967 – 12/16/1967
  • Cast: Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling
  • Format: Standard, Black and White, DVD, NTSC

“Well, I’ll try and help you. But I do think you might try trusting human beings instead of computers.” – The Doctor
“I trust no one, Doctor, not any more. Human emotions are unreliable.” – Leader Clent

Parts 1, 4, 5, and 6 of “The Ice Warriors” are film/video, in other words, the original episodes (cleaned-up and restored for DVD release). Parts 3 and 4 are animation, with the original audio. The animation for this story is truly outstanding. Disc 1 has the entire story, all six parts including the animated episodes, with commentary and info text. Disc 2 has the special (extra) features.

This episode opens with a bang as the TARDIS lands horizontally right at the door of a scientific base and the Doctor, Jaime, and Victoria have to crawl out. They head inside and discover a group of scientists, computer techs, and the leader, who are working in “glacier containment” by using an Ioniser ray to selectively melt the advancing ice caps. They also work with computer control. The Earth is experiencing climate change – after drastically lowering atmospheric CO² levels, the Earth experienced a year without a Spring, and after a few years of confusion figured out the Earth had entered a second ice age.

The head technician is a woman, who is taken over from Penley, a scientist who left the base and joined the scavengers outside. The leader is Clent, who wavers from being strong-minded and fair, though with a bit of a grudge against Penley for leaving – to someone who nearly suffers a breakdown when asked to make a terribly important decision. Arden is another scientist who gets stuck with “Doctor and companion” minding. That is, he’s someone Clent can spare for a bit to run errands. The base is already understaffed because they are evacuating due to the advancing glaciers.

Two scientist-engineers checking the ice find a ice-entombed Ice Warrior. They bring it to the base med bay and accidentally wake it up. Also, the Ice Warriors ship and the rest of it’s crew are buried in the ice. The revitalized Warrior uses the same device to wake up his crew.

The conflict involves Clent and Ms. Garrett trying to figure out what to do about the glaciers (and the story goes along, the threat from the glaciers becomes even more dire) and what to do about the Ice Warriors. Clent basically wants to ignore the Ice Warriors, but unfortunately, they have a military bent and see Clent and his scientists as a threat. Once the Ice Warriors learn of the Ioniser, they can only see it as a weapon – either a weapon to be used against themselves or a weapon they can use against Clent and company. Clent really is more concerned about his Ioniser, computer control, and the glaciers than the Ice Warriors. The only time he becomes concerned is after the Doctor comes up with an equation to safely fix the worst of the glacier problem, and the computer confirms the equation, but Ms. Garrett realizes that if they use the ray and the spaceship is atomic-powered, it’s nuclear reactor could blow-up from the heat – and irradiate the area (killing everyone on the base as well). Clent, understandably, doesn’t want to accidentally set-off an atomic bomb, but is stuck between trying to stop the glaciers on one hand and the Ice Warriors on the other.

Victoria is quickly kidnapped by the Ice Warriors. She frees herself, but is unable to provide the information the base needs about the spaceship engines. She is from Victorian England – one wouldn’t expect her to be able to tell the difference between different types of spaceships!

Arden and Jaime head off to rescue Victoria, but Arden is shot dead by the Ice Warriors, and Jaime is at first knocked out – and then, once he finally gets some medical help, is paralyzed. This is temporary, of course. The Doctor does try to rescue Victoria and Jaime – he meets Penley and Jaime. For a short time Penley is working with a scavenger, Storr, but when Storr tries to volunteer to work with the Ice Warriors to stop the scientists – he’s killed by the Ice Warriors.

In the end, the Doctor is able to find out what type of power the Ice Warriors’ space ship uses, rescue Victoria, and momentarily disable the Ice Warriors with ammonia sulfate, which Victoria realises is a “stink bomb” but the Doctor knows will be a bit more irritating to the Mars-born Ice Warriors. The Doctor, Victoria, and Penley return to the base. The Doctor explains what type of power the ship has. Clent nearly breaks down trying to make a decision without the computer. Ms. Garrett also cannot go against the computer (who’s last command was “wait”; when fed the info about the spaceship’s power source it breaks down from a clash of logic), in the end it’s Penley who feeds in the equation to increase the Ioniser power. This melts the glacier and the Ice Warriors ship. The Warriors themselves die from the heat. The ship does not explode. The Doctor, Victoria, and a recovered Jaime leave in the TARDIS.

The Ice Warriors at six parts is a bit slow. However, the central moral quandary of going with the gut for a big win or relying on what proves to be an unreliable computer is interesting. It works. The Ice Warriors are a great design – very tall, and looking like upright-standing lizards with helmets. They have great voices that hiss everything they ssssay (sorry, couldn’t resist). The cast is excellent. Victoria spends a lot of time asking the Warrior to “let her go”, but the minute she does get free, she’s trying to get back to the base and to raise the base on a video communicator (which she manages to figure out). Poor Jaime, again, spends a lot of time in medical units. The set-up, with the glacier-containment base, and the Ioniser, which focuses the sun’s rays specifically, is different. Overall, I do like this story. As I said, it’s a bit slow in spots – but it’s a good tale.

Besides Ms. Garrett, who is the lead computer operator – there are other, unnamed, background women in the computer tech center. Clent is a at times frustrating leader – but he isn’t as obstitate as some that the Doctor has come across in his travels. Penley is a good man, who apparently got really frustrated with Clent and walked out – what happened between the two is never fully explained, but we can guess. Storr the scavenger is the only truly stupid character. His hatred of “science” and “scientists” seems to have no basis – and when he offers his service to the Ice Warriors he’s killed instead. Arden is the only other character killed, and a bit of a sacrificial lamb. At the end of the story every one else is alive, and the Ioniser operation is a rousing success – so this is not an “everyone dies” Doctor Who story. Highly recommended.

Note: I broke this in half and watched over two nights. Well, episodes 1-3 yesterday afternoon, and episodes 4-6 this morning. I do recommend doing that with some of the longer Doctor Who stories. I also really liked the animation in this one!

Doctor Who – The Tomb of the Cybermen Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: The Tomb of the Cybermen
  • Story #: 37
  • Episodes: 4 half-hour parts
  • Discs: 1
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 9/02/1967 – 9/23/1967
  • Cast: Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling
  • Format: Standard, Black and White, DVD, NTSC

“New race of Cybermen? But we’re humans, we’re not like you.” – Jaime
“You will be.” – Cyber Controller

“The Tomb of the Cybermen” is one of the very few Patrick Troughton stories that was sold to PBS in the 1980s. I saw in on PBS, albeit in movie format, I had a copy on VHS, and I bought the DVD when it was released. So I have seen this story a few times. But it is still quite the classic.

The story begins with the Doctor showing Victoria around the console room of the TARDIS, then he asks Jaime to show her to the wardrobe room to find more appropriate clothing. Victoria remarks that the TARDIS is quite big inside. Later, the TARDIS lands and the Doctor, Jaime, and Victoria meet an archaeological expedition led by Professor Perry and financed by Kaftan and Klieg. Perry remarks that the Cybermen “died out” but no one knows why they died out. Kaftan and Klieg insist one of the others on the expedition try to force the doors – and the man is electrocuted. The Doctor and TARDIS crew arrive. The one-time-use-only burglar alarm now deactivated, the Doctor, with help from Toberman gets the doors open. Inside they find they are definitely in a Cyberman location, as there are Cyberman illustrations everywhere. The crew starts to explore. Jaime and another two men find a weapons testing room, but unfortunately one of the men is shot in the back when Jaime accidentally triggers the weapons test. Others find a control board with a door leading below ground. The scientists and expedition members know the Cybermen will be below ground and it will be cold.

They expedition plans to return to their rocket for the night, and explore more the next day, only to have the captain of the rocket return with his co-pilot and report the rocket was sabotaged. Everyone now has no choice but to stay in the Cyberman installation.

The Doctor works out, partially, how to open the hatch to the lower level, and Klieg finishes the calculations and gets it open. Everyone but Victoria and Kaftan go below. Kaftan seals the hatch, which angers Victoria. When the pilot and co-pilot return again, she asks them to get it open. Meanwhile, everyone else is exploring below. They find the tombs of the Cybermen, which are storage facilities. Klieg turns on the power and revitalizes the Cybermen. They are released, including their controller.

Victoria manages to convince the pilot to open the door, everyone and the Cybermen go to the main level. But the Cybermen are run down and continuously need to be revitalized from an outside power source. Kaftan and Klieg try to use this to bargain with the Cybermen for power, it does not go well.

More or less, one by one, the expedition is killed, including first Klieg and later Kaftan. The Doctor with help from Klieg (who later dies) and Perry manages to seal the Cybermen back in their tombs. The pilot, Perry and Tobermen prepare to leave with the TARDIS crew, and the Doctor says he will seal off the installation, electrifying not only the door, but the control panel and the hatch to the lower level. But one of the thought dead Cybermen revitalizes. Toberman sacrifices himself to shut the door. In the end, only the pilot and Perry escape, as well as the TARDIS crew.

“The Tomb of the Cybermen” is a great story – the sets are incredible, very big and impressive-looking. This is one of those stories where one-by-one all the guest actors are killed off (Only Perry and the pilot survive, even the co-pilot is killed by a Cyberman). The villains, other than the Cybermen of course, are Klieg and the woman Kaftan. They are both rich, having financed the expedition together, and both want power and think the Cybermen will give it to them. This story features the Cyber-Controller, a Cyberman with a clear head covered in black vein-like designs who leads the Cybermen and both a miniature and full-sized Cybermats (which are adorable). The Cybermats are supposed to be scary and threatening, but I immediately wanted one because they are so cute! But the story is excellent, and has some truly well-designed and impressive sets, especially considering the budget.

Now on to the negatives. For no apparent reason the pilot and co-pilot are American – and have terrible accents. The pilot, especially, sounds just like John Wayne and I just wanted to slap him every time he opened his mouth. Plus he’s not that smart. Perry, on the other hand, is smarter than many other scientists or expedition leaders we’ve seen on Doctor Who. When the first expedition member is killed – he considers leaving, and is talked out of it by Klieg and Kaftan, especially after the Doctor shows up and opens the door to the Cybermen’s installation. When the second man dies, he orders everyone to leave. The only reason they don’t is Kaftan had Toberman sabotage the rocket when no one was looking. Since they can’t leave for 72 hours anyway, Perry agrees to continue their investigations. This shows remarkable common sense, and it’s not his fault the rest of his expedition dies.

Secondly, Toberman is Black and is introduced as Kaftan’s servant. He says very little, and is portrayed as being remarkably strong. Basically, he’s a “strongman” stereotype. This isn’t good, at all.

Overall, you have a villain that’s a woman, and her partner, Klieg (but it’s clear Kaftan and Klieg are equal partners).

Previously, when I’ve watched this episode the scene of the Cybermen being re-frozen in their Tombs always bothered me, because it’s painfully obvious they simply reversed the film. This time though I didn’t find it nearly so annoying!

Still, this is an excellent Patrick Troughton story and I highly recommend it.

 

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Great Space Elevator

  • Title: The Great Space Elevator
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Author: Jonathan Morris
  • Director: Nigel Fairs
  • Characters: Victoria, Jamie, Second Doctor
  • Cast: Deborah Watling, Helen Goldwyn
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 11/14/2016

**Spoiler Alert** The Great Space Elevator is a Companion Chronicle story featuring the Second Doctor as played by Patrick Troughton, and his Companions, Victoria and Jamie. The audio is read/performed by Deborah Watling who played Victoria on Doctor Who. The Companion Chronicles series by Big Finish always remind me of the Doctor Who Missing Adventures books or the BBC Past Doctor Adventures books and this one is no different. It’s great to re-visit an older era of Doctor Who.

The TARDIS lands in a jungle, and the Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria see a huge skyscraper rising into the sky. They are brought to a base station and told they are in an restricted area. The Doctor actually offers to leave immediately but the base station receives a distress signal from the sky station. The Doctor and his companions, as well as Tara, the base commander, take the Space Elevator to the Sky Station to investigate.

Once at the Sky Station, which takes several hours of travel time, Tara and company arrive, only to be told nothing is wrong and they should turn around and head back to the ground. But the crew of the Sky Station is acting strangely. First, everyone is wearing thick, insulating space suits (which Victoria, who is telling the story, assumes to be normal). Second, the Doctor quickly discovers the crew are magnetic, and they seem to have electricity in their eyes.

The Doctor tells Victoria to return to the space elevator where it’s safe, while he and Jamie investigate. Victoria waits a few minutes, then goes to investigate on her own. She wanders through the station and is soon attacked and thrown into a storage closet. She’s rescued by the Doctor and Jamie, who have been joined by one of the Sky Station workers – someone who “hasn’t been converted” like the ones in the control room. Victoria realizes she was nearly converted and offers to pretend she was and investigate in the control room. The Doctor and Jamie tell her it’s too dangerous, but Victoria insists.

In the control room, Victoria discovers the purpose of the Sky Station – to monitor and control the weather. And the “converted” staff are attempting to create a giant electric storm, a cyclone. The cyclone will be centered on the base station – it will also allow the creature that is controlling everyone on the station to feed on even more pure electric power.

Unfortunately, when Victoria sees Tara, she sees her as an ally – she’s chased out of the control room. Tara follows, aiming to convert her, but is trapped in a Faraday cage by the Doctor. The Doctor interrogates Tara and discovers the electric creature comes from deep space. Unfortunately, more of the converted crew arrive and “convert” the Doctor – and everyone returns to the control room. In the control room, the Doctor quickly reveals he was never converted because he had ground himself (in the story referred to as “being Earthed”). However, it is Victoria who turns on the automatic fire suppressant system, grounding everyone and forcing out the electric creature. The creature escapes down the elevator cable, but the Doctor calls down to the base station and has the cable ground. The Doctor also turns the storm back to sea and disperses it.

I liked seeing Victoria in this story. She is often an underused companion. And I liked seeing her frustration with the Doctor’s protective attitude (and Jamie’s – “you’re just a girl” comments). And it was great to see Victoria figuring things out and even saving the day by turning on the fire extinguishers. But the story here was a bit basic. I kept expecting the mysterious force controlling the crew to be Cybermen, but the actual electric monster was a bit disappointing. Still, it’s well worth a listen. Recommended.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com

Click this link to order The Great Space Elevator on CD or Download.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!