The Moonbase – Story #033

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Jael’s Judgement:

Again with the Cybermen. They look slightly different then our previous encounter. They sound like the smokers on the anti-smoking commercials that now need to speak through a machine at their throat. While they are creepy and scary, I find myself enjoying their condescending sarcasm. Similar to my enjoyment of the Daleks’ personalities.

“Only stupid earth brains like yours would be fooled.” -Cybermen

Since when is Ben a genius? On this adventure he speaks as if he has gone to school to be some sort of scientist. Then again, I guess next to Polly anyone would look like a genius.

Bad feminist moment of the story: Polly is told to go make coffee … again.

Good feminist moment of the story: After Ben tells Polly, “Not you, Polly, this is men’s work.” She doesn’t listen and follows Ben & Jamie anyway. Good for her.

  • Story Grade: B-

Tony’s Take:

While not the strongest story, at least the Cybermen are no longer Greendale’s mascot!  The design team either forgot how to replicate the old Cybermen, or there was a deliberate decision to actually make them look robotic.  I’d like to think that it was the latter and the realization that Doctor Who is catching on with the public – more money!

MoonbaseCybermen

Being relatively low on the intermediate level Doctor Who spectrum, I have an idea – probably not original – that the Cybermen were possibly influenced by the British coal-miners.  Their helmets look like a coal-mining helmet, and their protective suit is kind of similar to the complete jump suits that a miner would wear.

CoalMiner1

Miners Settle Strike

Am I just seeing things are is there a hint of Cybermen in these coal-men?

Going back to the story itself, I love when Doctor Who not only travels in the future (I’d choose a future adventure myself, if it were a randomly selected time), but when the story is also set in space… YAY!!  With all of these elements, I should have loved this story, especially with a classic baddie, but I didn’t.  Why?  The Cybermen’s role was rather weak, if they were compared to their future incarnations, they would be destroyed in 2 minutes and dismissed as impostors.

What this story feels like is a still relatively new show, growing daily and becoming a cult classic, but still not yet 100% confident in itself.  The first part of this story is that of a virus harming people in space/the moon, but then the show feels the need to tie the virus to a villain that they hope can become a rival – the Cybermen.  A virus in space, though similar to The Ark, could still have been a fun story to tell.  A chilling tale of the cold, emotionless murderers (or “upgraders/assimilaters”, if you are a stickler) on a moonbase would even be fine.  But trying to tie together the two plots seems a bit unfocused and takes away from the evilness of the silver foes.

With all of that seemingly negative talk, I will admit to two pieces of pure awesomeness:

  1. Jamie plays around on the moon and gets hurt… because he’s amazed at weightlessness.
  2. Seeing a classic enemy, like the Cybermen, marching on screen is never a bad thing, especially when used as a cliffhanger.
  • Story Grade: C
  • I’ll never tire of futuristic stories in space.  Even done sub-par (like this one), I still can’t help but be somewhat engaged.

Thank you, again, to the costume designers and whoever else was responsible for redesigning the men in silver.  While it was fun seeing the Cybermen as a weird race of sock-puppet and metal hoses, the newer “upgrades” are much more menacing, especially on the surface of the moon.

The Tenth Planet – Story #029

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Jael’s Judgment:

Since this was the last adventure that we go on with first Doctor, it was sad to have so little of him in the story.

As far as the rest of the characters go Ben is alright. He seems resilient and energetic enough despite the melancholy we witnessed upon our first encounter with him. Polly on the other hand… I am not a fan of Polly. She offers to help in a stressful and dire situation, and all she can come up with to be useful is to make coffee. I mean, I guess coffee would help some people. It just doesn’t seem all that effective. I don’t even know how to make coffee. I would be a useless woman in the 60s. (I like that I can say “would be” since we are talking time travel and I am not restricted to “would have been.”) I miss Barbara. She wasn’t a great feminist, but she seemed more sensible and a bit tougher.

I have been having trouble relating to the TARDIS crew lately. This may be because of its high turnover rate recently. What didn’t change from the last adventure seems to be the accents. Just as I was wondering if the actor playing Cutler also played a pirate in the previous adventure, Tony speaks up asking why they are talking like pirates in the future.

The last appearance of William Hartnell brought with it the first appearance of the Cybermen. I did not realize that they came from a twin planet of earth. I guess I didn’t really know that much about them. I often forget how old this particular foe is, especially when their appearance has changed so much throughout the years. Unfortunately we do not get this first visual of the Cybermen since this is an audio only story. What I can tell you, is that they sound a little like K9.

Best, yet most bittersweet moment of this adventure? We witness the first regeneration! (Oddly enough, I do not remember anyone actually using the word regeneration.) Although this was audio only, we watched some of the footage of the regeneration. I think it was pretty good effects for back then. And even though the special effects have changed over the years, I think the subsequent regenerations have kept in pretty good tradition with this first.

  • Story Grade: C

 

Tony’s Take:

Why, oh why, does the lone episode that is missing have to be the one containing the regeneration?!  Come on BBC!  If I could go back in time to save one lone episode, I am 90% certain it’d be episode 4 of The Tenth Planet.  The good news is that the BBC and restoration team recently announced that this story would finally see a release on DVD with the last part being animated!

Since it hasn’t come out on DVD yet, this first brush with the Cybermen was all in audio form.  Audio-only stories always lack the complete feeling for me, and rightfully so, as this is a television show, not audio-drama.  Even though it was locked in to this confining medium, the story was not all bad.  Coming off a dud like The Smugglers in the story prior, this one actually got me engaged.  Maybe it’s because of such a classic “monster” like the Cybermen, maybe it’s because the story is not a historical, or maybe *gasp* it was a decent story(!).

As there are 3 episodes still remaining and there are backup telesnaps of some of the scenes, we know what the first incarnation of the Cybermen look like…

Cyberman Greendale Human Being

Exactly like a robotic version of the Greendale Human Being!!  (check out the TV show Community if you haven’t already)

By the way, the name “The Tenth Planet” is now very much out of date, since Pluto was demoted and we have 8 planets in our solar system.  Even though those in charge decided to kick Pluto out of our planet-party, I still recognize you, Pluto!  As much as scientists of today would say that this story title is wrong, I will secretly think it is right.

I have tried to tell myself not to get too long-winded, unless I have great things to say or if I can make it a great read.  As i don’t have much more, without just describing the story itself, I’ll cut myself off now.  Before I dismiss you so you can look at the generic closing of the post, heed this advice: Watch this story when it comes out on DVD!  This is historical stuff!  The end of a period (Hartnell-era) is just the epoch of a much longer era – The Great Age of Doctor Who.

(Now, don’t get me wrong, Doctor Who started at An Unearthly Child, but without this regeneration, it could have easily ended when Hartnell collapsed.)

  • Story Grade: B+
  • The costumes are fantastically terrible, a truly defining characteristic of Classic Who.  I cannot wait to revisit this story when it’s finally on video.

 

Thank you, William Hartnell.  Your time as The Doctor made for a foundation that was so strongly built that the legacy is still carried on 50 years later.  Sure, there were some duds in there, but it’s a 1960s sci-fi show in it’s infancy.  The Doctor has changed drastically over the years, but even so, there is always a small piece of Hartnell’s Doctor that lives on (maybe it’s the quirkiness, the scolding, the crankiness, or just the need to explore).