Several week ago, I began watching the classic Doctor Who series. Several people told me I ought to watch the new series, saying I’d like it. So, I decided to watch the old series instead. I figured I’d watch a few episodes, get bored, and use that as an excuse to not watch the new series.
Hasn’t worked out that way. After a little bit, I became a fan of the show. The old show. Still haven’t, as of this writing, seen any of the new series. And, until I actually start watching any of the new series, I don’t know if I will. But, if I do, I’ll have the complete backstory.
I’m up to the last of the incarnations of The Doctor before the show was canceled. And, Season 25 is the next-to-last season of the classic series.
This season was just plain weird. If you remember the 1980s, you know that was a weird time. If you have ever watched British TV, you know it was weird. So, 1980s British TV? Weird2.
The season featured two of The Doctor’s most famous opponents: the Daleks and the Cybermen. Remembrance of the Daleks (4 episodes) shows the destruction of the Daleks home world, Skaro, which was the setting for the serial that introduced them, Season One’s The Daleks.
Remembrance of the Daleks has several references to the first serial of the show, Season One’s An Unearthly Child. It included action at Coal Hill School, where Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton worked before they began traveling with The Doctor. Additional action took place at the I.M. Forman (sic) junk yard at 76 Totter’s Lane, where An Unearthly Child had its opening scene. One character was expecting The Doctor to be an older, white-haired man. The episode took place in November 1963, on a Saturday, based on a scene that had a TV in the background, playing a BBC station break, that said “This is BBC Television, the time is quarter past five and Saturday viewing continues with an adventure in the new science fiction series Doc-” before the scene abruptly cut. Also, Ace picked up and opened a book on The French Revolution, similar to what Susan did in the first episode of An Unearthly Child.
Silver Nemesis (3 episodes) featured the Cybermen, who were responsible for The Doctor’s death (and regeneration) in Season Four’s The Tenth Planet. Silver Nemesis aired on the 25th anniversary of the very first Doctor Who episode, giving the “silver” an additional meaning.
The show’s silver anniversary serial also featured an appearance by none other than the most famous Doctor Who fan, Her Royal Majesty, Elizabeth II, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, and Defender of the Faith. Okay, it was some actress who was made up to look like her. But I had you there for a second, didn’t I?
There were reports that the show runners attempted to get the Earl of Wessex (Prince Edward) to appear on the show. The royal family responded that it would not be appropriate. So, they made up some woman (Mary Reynolds) to look like the Queen, and had her out walking her corgis.
The other two serials in the season were just plain weird. The Happiness Patrol (3 episodes) featured a lead female villain that was supposed to be a parody of Margaret Thatcher (yeah, more left-wing British TV stuff). It also featured pink-haired women running around killing people who were unhappy. And a walking … thing … made of candy that was the official executioner. Or something.
The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (4 episodes) featured a galactic circus, weird clowns, a rapping ringmaster, a werewolf, and other such nonsense. Those wacky Brits.
Yes, the one with the pink-hairs and the one with the clowns were weird. Just plain weird. But, the Daleks and Cybermen ones were okay. Kinduva mixed bag for the show’s penultimate season.
The classic series concludes with Season 26. Hulu and iTunes are locked and loaded.
I thought they said the TEA Party was dead?
Have fun storming the castle!
This cartoon from nearly three years ago seems pretty appropriate these days.
I’m nearly done with watching the classic Doctor Who series. I started with the episodes that aired on BBC in November 1963, and have seen every episode — or reconstructions of missing episodes — since. I’ve just finished Season 24, which was Sylvester McCoy’s first as The Doctor.
Before I get into that, there’s a little matter of some off-screen events that impacted the Doctor Who universe. Between the end of Season 23 and the start of Season 24, Patrick Troughton died. He had made what would be his last appearance as The Doctor in Season 22′s The Two Doctors, reprising his role and playing opposite Colin Baker. During the off-season, he had appeared at a science fiction convention here in Columbus, Georgia, and died of a heart attack during the convention, on 28 March 1987.
I mentioned in my Season 23 wrap-up that Colin Baker was fired from the show after that season completed. The reason was that the Controller of BBC One was displeased with the tone of the show, and a complete overhaul was planned, including replacing Baker as The Doctor.
BBC offered Baker the opportunity to film a regeneration scene in the first serial of Season 24, but he counter-offered to do the entire season, concluding with a regeneration, because he would have missed out on other work by taking a short-term role. According to one interview, he never heard back from BBC about the counter-offer, and the season opened with a regeneration.
Time and the Rani (4 episodes) featured a cold opening, only the third time this had happened, after Castrovalva (a repeat of the regeneration from Tom Baker to Peter Davison from Logopolis) and The Five Doctors (William Hartnell’s farewell to Susan from The Dalek Invasion of Earth). The cold opening shows the TARDIS being attacked and finally landing on a planet. The Doctor and Mel are crumpled on the floor. The Rani enters and has her henchmen secure The Doctor. When they roll him over, he is in the midst of a regeneration, and resolves in Sylvester McCoy’s likeness.
For the scene, McCoy had donned a wig and lay on the floor to play the unconscious Doctor (6.0), making him the only actor to play two incarnations of The Doctor (6.0 and 7.0).
Time and the Rani was the first full stand-alone serial to feature Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford), although she had appeared in Season 23′s The Trial of a Time Lord: Terror of the Vervoids. Since Mel had obviously joined The Doctor during his sixth incarnation, and the series was now into his seventh incarnation, the plans to actually have a full introduction couldn’t be realized. The only other companion who didn’t have an introduction episode was Susan, who was already with The Doctor, her grandfather, when the series began.
Delta and the Bannermen (3 episodes) was Mel’s penultimate episode, but caught my ear from all the oldies music playing. My eyes caught the time-traveling bus in space looking a little like Pearl Forrester’s space van from Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Mel was definitely an 80s girl, with big shoulders and big 80s hair. And a screamer. Bonnie Langford was a child star in the U.K. and had played Annie on stage in that country. She was 22 when she first appeared in the role, making her the first companion born after the show was first broadcast. The first episode of Doctor Who aired in November 1963, and Langford was born in July 1964. Although some fans of the show didn’t like the character, Colin Baker once called her one of the most professional actors with whom he had ever worked.
Langford left the show at the end of the season, with the character Mel deciding to leave The Doctor and travel with rouge spaceman Sabalom Glitz. Dragonfire (3 episodes) featured a chance encounter with Glitz, whom The Doctor (6.0) and Peri had encountered in Season 23′s The Trial of a Time Lord: The Mysterious Planet, and The Doctor (6.0) and Mel had dealings in that season’s The Trial of a Time Lord: The Ultimate Foe.
The Doctor picked up a new companion, Dorothy Gale McShane, who went by “Ace” (Sophie Aldred). Despite Ace being younger than Mel, Alred is older than Langford. Ace was sixteen when she began traveling with The Doctor, though Alred was 26 at the time.
Sylvester McCoy’s portrayal of The Doctor featured his carrying an umbrella, as Colin Baker’s had done, carrying many things in his pocket, as Tom Baker had done, and taking a more comedic approach, as Patrick Troughton had done.
The short season meant not much time to learn much else about this incarnation of The Doctor, although he was immediately more likable than his previous incarnation.
And, we only have two more seasons to go.
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
– Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower
You know what today is, right?
That’s right. My daughter-in-law’s birthday. Oh, and it’s Frank J.’s birthday, too. He and Sarah were either thoughtful or conniving enough to have birthdays that fall on birthdays within my family. And, today is Frank’s.
So, what did you get him? You know there’s a limit. Ten dollars was what we were told. That means at least twenty, unless you want to look cheap.
Or… if you’re like me and really
cheap thoughtful, you make something by hand.
Now, now, hold on. Hear me out.
Frank has two children. They’ll be making him presents for years to come, so he’s getting used to
cheap thoughtful gifts. So, if you made Frank something, show us. Post a picture — our cheapness extends to not paying to host your pictures, so Flikr or Photobucket or something for you — or, at least, a description of what you got or made Frank for his birthday.
There’ll be a prize for Frank’s favorite. Or Harvey’s, if Frank doesn’t bother to read the comments on something he didn’t write. We’ll figure something out.