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).

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The Crusade – Story #014

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Jael’s Judgment:

I like to think of Barbara’s hair as a separate character. It is just so big. And longer in this episode. I’m wondering if she has extensions in again.

Anyway, on to the rest of the story. It was nice to have a few of the episodes on film even though the rest were audio only. It gave me an idea of what to imagine as we listened. Overall the story wasn’t bad. They really do minimize the element of danger that I imagine was quite present in actual earth history. But I guess that’s what you get when watching a show meant to have children in the audience.

Thus far Barbara is my favorite companion. Though Sir Ian continues to display his amazing skills with a sword. Man those science teachers in the 60s must really have had a varied skill set…

On a side note; while speaking with the Oh So Handsome Husband here, it just dawned on me how many companions I am going to have to say goodbye to. I get pretty emotionally attached to some if these characters. This could get rough.

  • Story Grade: B-

 

Tony’s Take:

I have nearly nothing to add to Jael’s review.  The combo death blow of audio-only AND historic-based story make this a snoozer for me.  OK, I’ll go back, it was actually half audio-only and half-video, as two of the four episodes remain in video form, but the video did very little for me, which is why this story gets a below average grade.

Like Jael, I am shocked at how decent a science teacher from 1960s London is with a sword.  Ian is so good with a sword that he even gets knighted!  The other bit of weirdness is the Vicki/Victor bit; she is forced to go along pretending to be a prepubescent boy, since women were treated harshly back in those times, especially when battles were being fought.  I had to laugh at the one line that Victor’s “voice has not broken yet.”  I think that this is a very British and very theatrical way of talking about puberty.  Maybe it was said this way in order to keep it above the heads of the children watching this story?

Lastly, a point is established that The Doctor does not like violence as he tries to persuade the king not to fight and take arms.  He knows this part of history, and that his request is futile, but at least he establishes himself as a man who tries to solve problems without violence.  With that being said, The Doctor is not a completely moral man, as he does his fair share of lying and stealing in this story, but it’s for the greater-good, right?

The wrap-up of the story seems a bit forced and rushed, which is odd since 4 episodes is more than enough to explain this story.

Favorite notes:

Bird noises.  No dialogue, maybe the audio CD with narration would have been a better choice than the DVD of Lost Episodes.  (Oh, harp sounds, trumpets, and drums, too.)  then the end of the episode, just like that.
And now Pat Sajak in The Wheel of Fortune!…  Where are the copyright lawyers when you need them?  The BBC should lay claims to that name.
Vicki is being suited up as a boy (though The Doctor tells one man that she is actually a girl).  The man that he told was confused by a girl dressing like a boy… sounds like people still today.
Classic “no, the other boot” trick.

  • Story Grade: D+
  • Broken record, I dislike historical stories.  Do not try to force Doctor Who into history, play with the unknown throughout history, weave The Doctor into the past, do not force him into a round hole with a TARDIS-sized peg.

 

I would like to thank my lovely wife for doing this project with me.  We are only 6% of the way through our quest, but it’s fun.

Welcome to “We Work In Reverse”

This blog is brought to you by the Vodas.  We are a couple in the frozen Midwest, and this blog will contain our opinions on every Doctor Who episode.

Why the “We Work In Reverse” name?  Well, we broke the typical mold.  Jael was the one who was introduced to Doctor Who via PBS in Iowa.  After we got married, I (Tony) decided to buy a Classic Series DVD for Jael for Valentines Day.  Jael then soon found out that the series was rebooted (this was happening in early 2009); after watching Rose, I was hooked and my wife was back on the Who-train.

Fast-forward to today, we are now closing in on owning every Who story available (missing only 4 DVDs and the newest box set of the Lost TV Episodes on CD).  Since we have so much Doctor Who and it’s a festive year, why not review every story?!

Now that you have an idea of who we are, please keep an eye on our blog for a regular review of each Doctor Who story, from An Unearthly Child to The TV Movie, and Rose to… well, at least Series 8 (and hopefully beyond).