22 February, 2011

Dr. Who (The Early Years) - Part 21 "The Invasion"

The Invasive Cybermen
As discussed in an earlier article, some of the Doctor Who episodes were destroyed to make room in the BBC archives. Some of the stories survived intact while others are forever lost or have missing episodes. The Invasion is one where the majority survives, but a few parts missing. The good news is all of the missing episodes have off-air audio recordings available.

Because "The Invasion" was such a sought after story to be complete, two missing episodes were commissioned to have animated versions made. Several reasons are possible why this is a sought after episode. One reason is it's the first appearance of UNIT and Corporal Benton. When we first meet Benton, he's following the Doctor, and has yet to identify himself as a member of UNIT.

The Doctor has arrived just in time to help the Brigadier with a reoccurring menace, the Cybermen. During Patrick Troughton's tenure as the Doctor, the Cybermen were the focal menace instead of the Daleks. Strangely though, the Cybermen are working for Tobias Vaughn. Or are they? Like many humans, Tobias has the misconception he can control the Cybermen.

As the Doctor, Jamie and the rest of UNIT do more "hand-on" investigation into Tobias and the Cybermen, Zoe befriends Isobel Watkins. Her uncle has gone missing while working for Tobias. Tobias is using Watkins to build devices capable of controlling the Cybermen. Fortunately, Watkins is rescued by the Doctor but Tobias still confidently believes he can control the Cybermen.

Ultimately, the Cybermen reveal they have been using Tobias and have no plans to honour any contract with him; promises to humans are of no validity. The Doctor convinces Tobias to fight with him against the Cybermen and Tobias reluctantly agrees, and dies in the process. With the aid of UNIT, the Cybermen are defeated once more.

WHO: UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce)

PLANET OF ORIGIN: Earth, early 70's

REASON FOR JOINING: They don't, UNIT is an Earth based organization.

With major changes planned for Doctor Who, the producers introduce UNIT. More on these changes in the coming weeks.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Nicholas Courtney 1929-2011

NEXT: Shall We Play A Game?

14 February, 2011

Dr. Who (The Early Years) - Part 20 "The Wheel In Space"

Zoe Takes the Wheel
The Doctor & Jamie have said good-bye to Victoria when there's an emergency in the Tardis. The fluid link is faulty, this time for real, and explodes. Last time the fluid link was faulty the Doctor first ran into the Daleks. Leaving the Tardis they discover they have landed on a small unmanned craft, not far from a "Wheel In Space", a manned Earth space station.

As a result of an unexpected course change, the Doctor stumbles and bumps his head, knocking him out. (Patrick Troughton was on holiday during the filming of episode 2). Jamie is able to communicate with the Wheel and is rescued, but they consider the small ship a menace and attempt to blow it up. Knowing the Tardis is still there, Jamie sabotages the Wheels weapons.

A coming meteor storm means the Wheel is defenseless with the weapons damaged. The Doctor is able to convince the crew he is able to help, and not the enemy. He meets Zoe, an astrophysicist with a photographic memory. She has a high intelligence as a result of conditioning and considered to be smug and arrogant by most of the crew, as well as unemotional. But she is kind and caring.

The weapons are fixed and the asteroids destroyed but an even greater menace is discovered. The Cybermen have infiltrated the Wheel in Space and taken control of several key officers. In order to defeat the Cybermen the Doctor needs a device he left on the Tardis in the other ship. Jamie and Zoe are sent to retrieve it, narrowly missing being hit by additional asteroids.

It's discovered the Cybermen on the Wheel are only an advancement. A Cybership is looming. Their primary goal is to take full control of the Wheel. But with Jamie and Zoe having returned with the Doctors equipment, the Wheel is able to destroy the Cybership and blow all remaining Cybermen attempting to gain entry, back into space. The Doctor and Jamie depart, but someone tags along.

WHO: Zoe Herriot

PLANET OF ORIGIN: Earth, but met the Doctor on the Wheel In Space; 21st Century

REASON FOR JOINING: Sneaks aboard for a more adventurous life.

NEXT: The Invasive Cybermen

07 February, 2011

Dr. Who (The Early Years) - Part 19 "Fury From the Deep"

Screams & Screwdrivers
In one of the oddest arrivals, the Tardis plummets from space to land gently floating on water. Instead of taking off, the Doctor rows to shore. Before long, the Doctor discovers a pipeline worth investigating. Thinking he hears something inside he opens a panel with a 'Sonic Screwdriver'. "Never Fails, Neat isn't it? All done by sound waves". This is the first appearance of the Sonic Screwdriver.

While investigating, the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria are being watched. If I were to tell you they are not captured, would you believe me? I didn't think so, of course the photo to the left gives it away. They are taken to a near base and held as prisoners. Victoria complains because they are always in danger. Jamie notes they always arrive on Earth and in England.

Victoria is right, they are in danger once again. This time by seaweed creatures capable of controlling humans or knocking them out via gas they spew from their mouths. Because other bases have suddenly gone quiet and continual dangers, the Doctors help is enlisted despite protests from Robson the man in charge, who continues to grow irate and irrational as the Doctor helps.

When Victoria's scream disables one of the seaweed creatures the Doctor realizes they can be destroyed using high frequency sounds. But Victoria is once more captured, this time by Robson who is under control of the creatures. She's quickly rescued by the Doctor. Once safe, the Doctor cobbles together a device to defeat the seaweed creatures.

The Doctor is ready to take off again but Victoria isn't sure she wants to. She wants a stable environment where she isn't in constant danger. The Doctor gives her till the morning to make up her mind. Jamie tries to convince her to keep travelling but she's made up her mind. In the morning she tearfully waves goodbye to the Doctor and Jamie as they head off for their next adventure.

WHO: Victoria

DEPARTURE LOCATION: Earth, circa 1968

REASON FOR DEPARTURE: Tired of continual travel and being in constant danger.

NEXT: Zoe takes the Wheel

02 February, 2011

Dr. Who (The Early Years) - Part 18 "The Web of Fear"

A Unit of Fear
A few episodes before, the Tardis crew were in Tibet battling an alien known as the 'Great Intelligence', which used robot Yeti to attack humans. As this story begins the Tardis is flying in space, it's captured mid-flight and drawn to the Earth. Unknown to the Doctor, the 'Great Intelligence' is to blame. The Doctor breaks free and lands on Earth in the London Underground system.

It turns out the 'Great Intelligence' has returned because of Professor Travers. 40 years earlier, he was one who helped defeat the Yeti in Tibet. He foolishly reactivated a control device which brought the 'Great Intelligence' back as well. The Doctor is wanted by the 'Great Intelligence' for his brain and the intelligence he posses. Of course revenge is another reason he is being hunted by the Yeti.

As the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria search the London Underground for answers they come upon the military. The Underground has been shut down and London evacuated so the military can destroy the Yeti. With Professor Travers assistance the Doctor is able to convince the Army, lead by Colonel Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, he is not to blame for the Yeti attacks.

Attempts to blow up the Yeti fail as it seems the army has a traitor who's informing about the attacks. The Yeti simply use strange web-spraying weapons to cover the explosives and render them harmless. Suspicions run rampant as to who could possibly be the informant, or why they would do so. Everyone from the Doctor to Alistair is suspect, which hampers the investigation.

Ironically, one of the actors playing the Yeti later goes on to play Benton, one of the key members of Unit, (more on that later). When the Doctor deduces the 'Great Intelligence' wants to drain his brain, he alters the machine so he'd be able to drain the 'Intelligence'. However his companions rescue him and the machine is destroyed prematurely and the 'Great Intelligence' escapes.

WHO: Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart
REASON FOR JOINING: He doesn't. He stays on Earth and helps form UNIT -United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, which the Doctor later helps out from time to time.

: Screams and Screwdrivers