Time Lord Tees

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26 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 238: The Krotons, Episode Four

Dear diary,

As I've found several times over the course of this marathon, it really is best when you come to a story about which you know very little, and get to experience it fresh. I've already mentioned how I've spent years muddling up The Krotons with The Dominators and not really paying them very much attention (they're trapped in a period that's dominated by a large-scale Cyberman story and the return of the Ice Warriors, and the mere fact that they exist fully in the BBC archives makes them instantly less interesting than anything from Season Five), but once again, I've found myself completely bowled over.

I think it's fair to say that the thing to impress me the most has been the relationship between Patrick Troughton and Wendy Padbury. Just a few days ago I mused that I'd never really understood the love for the Season Six TARDIS team, but these last few episodes have really shoved it into a brand new focus. The pair are fantastic together - as good as Troughton and Hines at their height, potentially better - and it really does make me long to see the Doctor travel with Zoe just on their own for a while. I know I've said it a few times in the last few days, but the more we see of this pair together, the more it feels like the right move.

The absolute highlight has to be the way they bounce off each other while trying to stall the Krotons. 'You stand here, Zoe, and I'll stand there,' the Doctor suggests. 'But Doctor! I wanted to stand here!' she replies, and a minute of comedy gold follows on, including the Doctor trying (and failing) to put on one of the Kroton's brain machines. Brilliant stuff. I feel that I should also draw attention to Zoe asking to borrow the Doctor's braces, and snapping them back at him when he refuses. Brilliant stuff. EVen the Doctor admits today that he's forgotten all about Jamie - I think I fear a repeat of the Ian and Barbara situation coming on, where the character simply outstays their welcome in the TARDIS. A shame, perhaps.

It's not all songs and games, though. The more we see of them, the more I realise that the Krotons really do look bloody awful. Actually, I'm not sure that's entirely fair - from the shoulders up, they look alright (though there's a few shots of them with their heads spinning round, and I can't begin to tell you how much I was bothered by them spinning at different speeds!), but the more I see of the arms down, the less impressed I am. There's a shot of one exiting their spaceship today, and shuffling down the ramp towards the Gonds, and it just leaves me disappointed. Given some great robot designs, The Krotons could have become a real favourite.

It's always seemed like an odd choice for the Troughton story to be shown during the 'Five Faces of Doctor Who' repeat season in the early 1980s (though they didn't really have much of a choice - the usually longer lengths of tales in this period and the emptiness of the archives meant this was the only 4-part Troughton story in existence at the time), but actually, I can see it now as a great introduction to this particular incarnation. He's fun, he's intelligent, he's got some great companions at his side… what's not to like?

26 August 2013

Each month of this year, the British Film Institute have been airing episodes from each Doctor's era to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. At the most recent event, which looked at The 9th Doctor's era, a special message was read out from Christopher Eccleston:

“I love the BFI. I love the Doctor and hope you enjoy this presentation. Joe Ahearne directed five of the 13 episodes of the first series. He understood the tone the show needed completely – strong, bold, pacy visuals coupled with wit, warmth and a twinkle in the performances, missus.

If Joe agrees to direct the 100th anniversary special, I will bring my sonic and a stair-lift and – providing the Daleks don’t bring theirs – I, the ninth Doctor, vow to save the universe and all you apes in it.”

So there you have it! Eccleston DOES love Doctor Who, and seems to be up for a return at some point. Maybe for the 10th Anniversary of the new series in 2015?

[Source: RadioTimes.com]

25 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 237: The Krotons, Episode Three

Dear diary,

There's a real sense of everything falling into place as we reach this stage of the series, isn't there? Barry Letts made his directorial debut last season, Douglas Camfield is at the height of his skills, the Brigadier and UNIT have been introduced properly, and the script for The Krotons (by future script editor Robert Holmes) was something of a pet project for Terrance Dicks, who at this point is working as a sort of 'sub-script editor'.

The reason that I mention all of this is because this story is also directed by a man who goes on to have strong ties to Doctor Who, particularly in the mid 1970s - Daivd Maloney. It's not his first directing job on the series (that was The Mind Robber a few weeks ago), but it is the first time that his work has stood out enough to really make me sit up and take notice.

There's a lot to love in the design of the story, here. The quarry is working very well for the alien planet, and looks fantastic as the Doctor and Zoe make their way across it (though it has to be said that it's hard to avoid simply staring at how short Zoe's skirt is in this one! Blimey!), and there's several shots chosen which really do help to make it look all the more alien. The Point Of View shot of the armed Kroton being directed towards his targets is simply fantastic, and so unlike anything else we've seen in Doctor Who that it really does stand out.

The one real downside to everything, sadly, is the design of the Krotons themselves. I've never been all that bothered by them before, and in photographs they can come across like a fairly interesting design (I'm thinking specifically of the VHS and DVD covers to this story, and the cover to the Big Finish story Return of the Krotons), but when they're shuffling around on the set, complete with poorly hidden legs beneath what can only be described as a skirt… They're far from being the best alien creatures that we've had in the programme.

They're quite interesting as a concept, though. I like the idea that they're effectively grown from crystals, and that you can never truly kill them - they simply return to their base components, ready to be reformed when the time is right. It's the perfect idea for a Doctor Who monster (or, really, any monster), that can just *keep coming back. Maybe Davros has a similar built-in defence mechanism?

THe voices are possibly the best thing about the creatures, and I have to confess that for some reason when I was reading all those Quark comics a few weeks ago, I kept reading them in the booming South African tone of the Krotons. I'm not entirely sure why - especially when the Quark's child-like voices would have so suited a comic! - but I think it may be another one of those hangovers from all the years I've spent confusing the two stories. Sadly, the voice is less effective during long scenes of exposition with Jamie, but it's at its best when booming orders unseen from a speaker, or issuing out short, terse instructions to its comrade.

Today's episode also sees the arrival of the HADs to the programme. Until Mark Gatiss made use of the feature in this year's Cold War, I always wondered why it didn't turn up very often. The Doctor does give a description here (that he needs to remember to switch it on), but it strikes me as an extremely useful feature to have, when you constantly find yourselves right in the middle of danger. It's certainly far more useful safety feature than the scanner showing you tempting pictures of nice places in the hope that you'll fly off somewhere else instead of stepping outside!

24 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 236: The Krotons, Episode Two

Dear diary,

I've said it before, and I've absolutely no doubt that I'll end up saying it again before we reach the end of Season Six… but Patrick Troughton really is fantastic, isn't he? Funnily, enough, I think this episode might sum up why I love his performance, and the entire character of the Second Doctor, more than any other that we've seen.

He's usually on pretty good form, but today he seems to be particularly enthused. For the most part, I've spent today's episode swinging between laughing out loud ('Great jumping gobstoppers!') and being completely thrown by the weird psychedelic imagery (more on which in a moment), but the entire time I've simply been impressed by his performance. This episode is home to one of my favourite Second Doctor scenes, and the only bit of this story which I've seen before. It's the moment that the Doctor sits down at the Krotons' learning machine and tried to get started with the tests. 'Go away,' he tells Zoe, 'don't fuss me.' A moment later an he continues: 'No, come back, what's this?' Another beat. 'It's all right, I know'.

The whole scene is a masterclass in timing and it doesn't only show off Troughton at his very best, but gives us a chance to really appreciate Wendy Padbury's performance, too. The pair of them bounce off each other so well here - and, indeed, throughout the rest of the episode - that it really does make me long for the departure of Jamie. I know, I know, he's an important part of this period in the programme's history, but I really love the idea of seeing Troughton's Doctor given room to breathe away from Jamie, and I think that Zoe might be the perfect person to travel on with him.

It needs to be said that all the stuff inside the Krotons' space ship is simply mad. As soon as the Doctor and Zoe are put through their strange mental testing, I found myself leaning forward in my chair, simply captivated by what was happening. Suffice to say that I couldn't make any sense of it, and things started to go really triply once they kicked in with the fish-eye effect. Shots of the bubbling tanks of water served only to confuse me further, but it was the look of real pain and anguish on their faces that sold the scene to me. Just as the climax to The Abominable Snowmen worked by showing us the Doctor at his most vulnerable, this whole sequence operates on showing us two of our heroes, who have spent the last ten minutes really bonding, being put through agony. We've already seen the after effects of this machine with Vana, which leaves us genuinely fearful for the fate of our two friends.

But for everything that I've said, Jamie gets a fairly good innings here, too. His best traits - his loyalty to his friends and his bravery - get to shine as he tries anything to desperately save their lives, and he's put through the same trial once he's trapped inside the ship. The stakes are even higher here, since the Krotons tell us directly that his mind won't be able to sustain the force of the assault, and we get plenty of weird shots of Jamie in pain, too.

Ah, yes. The Krotons. I'll reserve my judgement for now until we've seen them operating a little more, but I think this story might actually turn out to be the opposite of The Dominators - I don't think this story needs good robots to hold my attention (thank goodness!)

23 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 235: The Krotons, Episode One

Dear diary,

Oh, I tip-toed into this one with a real sense of trepidation. For years - having never seen either of them - The Krotons and The Dominators have been pretty much interchangeable in my head. They both take place on a random alien world, they're both part of Season Six, they both introduce a new robot making their first and only appearance in the television series, and they both have something to do with how intelligent people are in relation to their potential as slaves. Having come close to tears trying to wade through The Dominators, I think it's fair to say that I wasn't exactly thrilled by the prospect of starting out with this tale.

I thought it was odd that the process of the TARDIS turning up on an alien world in The Dominators reminded me so much of a Hartnell story, but the same is true here. I wonder if it's just that the Troughton stories have so confined themselves to contemporary or futuristic space stations and bases that the sight of a quarry seems - excuse the pun - totally alien to me?

The establishing shot of the planet here is simply brilliant, and I was in the middle of scribbling a note about how well the scale of the rock face was done, when the TARDIS appeared even smaller than I was expecting! It gives a real sense of size to the proceedings, and actually makes this world work quite well. In many ways, the rest of the planet (or as much as we've seen so far) is simply standard fare, so it's nice to see things off to such a great start. I do enjoy the attempts to make this world seem different to anywhere else, in the form of Jamie's complaints about the smell and the Doctor noticing the two suns in the sky, but these points are thrown at you so quickly that they fail to make all that much of an impact.

That the similarities to a Hartnell-era tale are so clear shouldn't come as much of a surprise for today's episode, since it was originally submitted for consideration way back during Season Two. It marks Robert Holmes' first steps into the programme, and it's perhaps odd to think of him trying to get involved way back when Ian and Barbara were still a part of the TARDIS crew. There's a lot here that wouldn't feel out of place in that set-up, though, such as Jamie's spur of the moment fight with a guard (this sort of thing happened quite a lot to Ian, though I was specifically put in mind of his fight from The Aztecs). We've also got Zoe describing herself and her friends as being 'from another planet, another world', which is almost word-for-word the way Susan describes herself right back at the very beginning, in An Unearthly Child.

You'd think that it might feel like a real step back to see so much on display that was devised way back when, but it all holds together rather well. Certainly, I found myself far more invested in things than I did in The Dominators. It helps that the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe are really gelling with each other now (I said during the last story that I've never really understood the love for this team, but if they carry on like this for the rest of the season, then I think I'll start to see what everyone else does!) and they bounce off each other brilliantly throughout.

We've also got a cast of guest characters who really should simply be there to fill the screen. They're typical generic Doctor Who characters who live on some far-flung world (though they're particularly susceptible to the Doctor's presence; having spent several generations being told that they can't go into the 'wastelands', the Doctor manages to convince them otherwise in a matter of seconds. Twice!), but I'm finding myself interested in them. They could well fall back into the trap of being simple ciphers before the story is out, but the idea of only having four episodes gives me hope - it's an absolute age since we last had such a compact story!

Don't forget to 'like' the 50 Year Diary Facebook Page - where I'll be asking about your favourite Troughton stories before long!

22 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 234: The Invasion, Episode Eight

Dear diary,

I think the biggest problem I have with a story like this is that after eight episodes, the ending still occurs in the blink of an eye. It’s an issue that I’ve been having with the series dating all the way back to The Daleks (which, incidentally, feels like a lifetime ago); you’ve got so many episodes building up, raising the stakes, and then they run out of time and the solution is all too simple.

Toady, it comes in the form of the missile launch. Around the halfway point, the Doctor declares that they have two options to stop the Cybermen from dropping their bomb – shut off the radio link at Vaughn’s complex outside the city, or blow up the Cybermen’s spaceship. The brigadier boldly announces that the Russian rocket won’t be ready for at least ten hours, which leaves them only the one choice.

Dutifully, the Doctor and Vaughn (now fighting against the Cybermen, not for the good of humanity but because he hates them; another lovely little touch) set off for the compound to knock out the radio signal. This mission accomplished, the Cybermen move their ship in closer to Earth, rendering the whole operation pointless. It’s ok, though, because the Russians have found a different way of preparing the rocket, so it’s primed and ready to go. Hooray! It hits the Cybership, defeats the ruthless, inhuman killers, and everyone gets back to normal, with Zoe pursuing a new career as a model.

Oh, I’m not complaining really. As much as the tension is dissipated in a matter of seconds, like so much of the story, it’s not about the payoff, it’s about the journey. So what if the Doctor and Vaughn’s trip to the IE compound is ultimately a waste of time? It looks gorgeous. Camfield’s direction really does seem to be at the best when he’s working outside on film, and it looks stunning for the whole sequence. The entire section takes up a fair bit of screen time, as we move into the big ‘UNIT Vs the Cybermen’ battle that I’ve been waiting for. Any disappointment at the lack of Cyberman action in yesterday’s episode must surely be made up for by the fight sequence here.

There’s plenty of behind-the-scenes photos of this filming, with cameramen sprawled out on the floor, shooting up at the Cybermen looming over them, so this scene is one of those which sits pretty prominently in my mind. If anything on this watch though, it makes me long to see the Yeti attack on Covent Garden from The Web of Fear. If it’s anywhere near as good as this, it would be a great treasure to see returned. The location really helps this scene, too – it’s that kind of industrial landscape that’s always fascinated me, and to see the two sides fighting surrounded by all the crumbling brick buildings and the huge metal girders is fantastic.

I think the main thing I’ll be taking away from The Invasion is how it’s altered my perception of what to come. I’ve mentioned it already during this story, but as regular readers will know, I’ve not been looking forward to reaching the Pertwee years. That early 1970s period has always been my least favourite ‘era’ of the programme, and as it crept closer I was beginning to wonder if it might be the thing that breaks me. In actual fact, though, I’ve found myself enjoying the slow evolution of that phase of the programme – the introduction of the contemporary Earth-based stories starting from The War Machines, the introduction of the Brigadier, and now UNIT turning up on the scene, too. Seeing characters like Benton arriving make it feel as though the programme really is evolving into a new style, whereas I’d previously always thought of it as being a massive shift in style right out of nowhere.

The only thing that does strike me is how much the UNIT we see here in this story differs from the organisation that works alongside the Third Doctor (or, at least, how much it differs from the version of UNIT in my head). The small number of soldiers present in the final battle here is explained away by not having enough ways of blocking the Cyber-signal – the Brigadier even explains that they’ve only got enough men awake to form a single platoon. As the years go by, though, they always seem to operate on a small number of personnel, with or without half the group put to sleep by the Cybermen.

It’s also a shame that we never again see UNIT’s aircraft base. It’s used well here as a means of getting from one location to another and drops all the right people off in all the right places as and when needed. This kind of funding just isn’t available to them in the 1970s, and that’s a shame. I have a feeling that it could feel like a bit of a step backwards when they start operating out of an old house in the home counties.

Overall, it’s an odd send off for the Cybermen, considering that they won’t be showing up – properly – in the programme again until Tom Baker takes over. Obviously, at the time, they didn’t know that we’d be seeing the last of them for now, but it’s still a bit of an unusual way to see them off. I’ve always loved that the Cybermen take over from the Daleks as the default ‘villains’ of Doctor Who once Patrick Troughton comes along, and I’m really pleased that, on the whole, I’ve rather enjoyed their stories. I’ve always found it a shame that they never made a Third Doctor and Cybermen story, but I think that The Invasion gives a good enough example of what that would be like that I’m not going to miss loosing out for a few seasons.

If I’m completely honest, this story hasn’t lived up to my expectations (or my memories), but it’s still been an enjoyable way to spend the last week, and it’s telling that I reached Episode Eight still not bored by the setting or the characters. There’s several things that I think I’d do differently, but it’s certainly doing an awful lot right.

Don't forget to 'like' the 50 Year Diary Facebook Page - where I'll be asking about your favourite Troughton stories before long!

21 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 233: The Invasion, Episode Seven

Dear diary,

There’s a moment in today’s episode where one of our brave UNIT soldiers makes a dash for Professor Travers’ house, and bursts in the door exclaiming that there are ‘hundreds of Cybermen’ outside on the streets of London. And yet, despite them putting the human race to sleep and bursting out of every manhole cover they could find at the end of yesterday’s instalment, we don’t actually see any Cybermen in this episode outside of the cliffhanger reprise.

In some ways, it’s just continuing my complaint from yesterday. Whereas I couldn’t get the idea of a bustling city outside of these sets to sit right in my mind, I now struggle to imagine a city infested by the Cybermen. It feels like this story should be taking place against this vast canvas - The Web of Fear taken out of the underground and scaled up massively – but it all falls a bit flat. We seem to simply move through the same few sets, from Vaughn’s office (which is the same in both his London HQ and his complex outside the city, with the backdrop replaced behind the window), via the sewers, to Travers’ house.

The Invasion has always been down in my mind as the Troughton-era Cyberman epic; his equivalent to Hartnell’s Daleks’ master Plan. Actually though, it’s not really about the Cybermen, it’s all about Tobias Vaughn. In some ways, I’m quite pleased by this. Kevin Stoney puts in such a brilliant performance throughout the story that it’s great to see him given the space to really showcase his talents. Throughout, he’s been built up as the upper hand in the deal with the Cybermen, but it’s all beautifully undercut today when the Cyberplanner simply drones (and that voice really is a drone) ‘we no longer need you.’

It’s similar to The Wheel in Space that the Cybermen are kept in the background, keeping the attention of the kids while the story really follows a completely different narrative strand. It worked well enough in that situation, with the Cybermen finally making their real attack in the sixth episode, but here we’re stretched out another two. It’s not losing my interest yet (and since this is the longest story since The Daleks’ Master Plan, I did worry that it might), but I do hope we get some good Cybermen scenes in our final twenty-five minutes. As much as I love Tobias Vaughn, this is their final appearance for ages, and I’d love to see them go out in style.

Something else that’s carried across from The Wheel in Space is Zoe’s character in this episode. She’s been a little sidelined in places so far (trying on feather boas and posing for photographs while the Doctor and Jamie head off to do the real work), though she’s more than made up for it by charging out with Isobel and getting stuck in wherever the opportunity arises. Be it hunting for her friends at the IE building, or heading down into the sewers to catch a Cyberman, Zoe’s been willing to take part when needed.

Today, though, we get to see her intelligence shine through again. It’s a great scene when she asks for the missile launch to be delayed for just thirty seconds while she makes her calculations to knock out as many of the Cyberships as possible, and it’s very reminiscent of the Doctor bounding around the computers back in The Ice Warriors working out his own calculations. There’s a glimmer of her own arrogance turning up again, too when she’s told that she’d better be right with the numbers and she simply replies ‘I am!’

(But surely we could have had some Cybermats in the sewers? It seems so obvious!)

21 August 2013

Doctor Who Magazine have sent DWO the cover and details for Issue 464 of DWM.

The Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi, has a special exclusive message for the readers of Doctor Who Magazine

Doctor Who Magazine 464 goes behind the scenes of Doctor Who Live, the special show which finally revealed the identity of the Twelfth Doctor. The mag features interviews with the people who made it happen, including show runner STEVEN MOFFAT, presenter ZOË BALL and producer RUSSELL MINTON… and there's also has an exclusive letter from PETER CAPALDI himself! 

Steven Moffat tells DWM, “He’s always looked like Doctor Who, how has this taken us so long?! Because the moment you say his name, you go ‘Of course!’ Because he’s got the hair, and he’s got the look, he’s brilliant, he’s known to be a fan, of course it’s bloody him!”


STEVEN MOFFAT writes exclusively for DWM about how Peter Capaldi came to be chosen as the Twelfth Doctor.

The author of the recent episodes The Rings of Akhaten and Hide, and the creator of the acclaimed drama series Luther, NEIL CROSS talks exclusively to DWM about how he came to fulfil his dream of writing for Doctor Who.

In the second part of The Way Back, we continue to examine the rebirth of Doctor Who in the 21st and take a look at the other Ninth Doctor whose life was cut short after just one animated adventure, Scream of the Shalka - with contributions from RUSSELL T DAVIES, JULIE GARDNER, JANE TRANTER and many more…

The Seventh Doctor and Ace take a trip to 1960s London where the Doctor hidden a dangerous Time Lord artefact. Unfortunately, two opposing Dalek factions also want to get their suckers on it... Remembrance Of The Daleks from 1988 takes its turn under the scrutinising lens of FACT OF FICTION, which reveals new and fascinating facts about the production.

The Doctor is killed by an impossible astronaut – and that's just the start of his problems! DWM’s journey through Doctor Who’s long history arrives at 2011 and the thirty-second series, as COUNTDOWN TO 50 continues.

Chris, Emma, Michael and Will are keeping their eyes open as they watch the award winning Doctor Who episode Bllink from 2007. What will our fearless Time Team make of Steven Moffat’s ‘Doctor-lite’ episode, and will they escape being sent back in time by the Weeping Angels? 

The Doctor’s bug problems are bigger than ever as the over-sized insect Koragatta’s plans come to fruition and the Prime Mother and her swarm threaten the Earth, in the exciting final episode of the DWM comic strip A WING AND A PRAYER, written by SCOTT GRAY, with art by MIKE COLLINS.

The votes have been counted in the 2012 DWM readers merchandise poll and the winners are revealed, including your favourite fiction and non-fiction books, audios, and DVD releases. Plus, we also reveal the top features, covers and interviews from DWM itself.

Mother of twins and devoted fan JACQUELINE RAYNER shares those occasional embarrassing moments when Doctor Who has let her down in the company of friends and family, in this issue’s RELATIVE DIMENSIONS.

The Watcher takes his cue from the casting of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor and selects the TARDIS Swear-Box as this issue’s A History of Doctor Who in 100 Objects; presents a Capaldi-themed joke in What a Load of Rubeish; and celebrates another extra in Supporting Artist of the Month. Plus regeneration forms the basis of the brain tease in The Six Faces of Delusion and a Top Ten Fine Wines with a Doctor Who vintage are revealed. All in this issue’s WOTCHA!

PLUS! All the latest official news, TV and merchandise reviews, previews, competitions, a prize-winning crossword and much, much more!

+  Doctor Who Magazine Issue #464 is Out Tomorrow, priced £4.75.

+  Subscribe Worldwide to DWM for just £85.00 via CompareTheDalek!

+  Check Out The DWO Guide to Doctor Who Magazine!

[Source: Doctor Who Magazine]

20 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 232: The Invasion, Episode Six

Dear diary,

A little after halfway into this episode, Ellie arrived at the flat. She didn't take a seat to watch with me, but couldn't fail to be at least a little invested in what was happening (mostly because every so often I'd point at the screen and excitedly exclaim 'Cyberman!'). With a couple of minutes to go, she joined me on the sofa and watched the end of the episode. 'Oh,' she spoke up, as the tips of the Cybermen's helmets began to appear over the steps outside St Pauls, 'Is this the really famous bit?'

I think it probably says something for this moment of The Invasion, that someone who has pretty much no interest in the 1960s era of the programme can identify 'The Cybermen at St Pauls' as one of those really iconic Doctor Who moments.

For me, though, it's not really all that. It's been years since I last watched The Invasion (probably not since the DVD was first released in 2006), and over that time, I'd built up the sequence of the Cybermen marching down the steps into this really big, bold thing. There's a brilliant photo taken on location of a silver giant stood on the steps, looking towards the sky with the dome of the cathedral in the background. It's an image that's so burnt into my mind that I was sure it matched a shot in the actual sequence, but it doesn't. If anything, the St Pauls moment forms just one tiny bit of that sequence, and it felt almost like an anti-climax for me.

Now, in part, this is all the result of forty years adding significance to the moment. As I say, if even Ellie can highlight it as an important bit of the programme's history, then it must be doing something right. Watching it without all that prior knowledge must be fantastic. And lots of the scene is - the moment that the manhole covers start to fly open and Cybermen start climbing out is brilliant, and it's odd just how right they look crawling out from under the streets. I think the feeling of disappointment at the ending has been added to by other factors, though…

The Invasion, as I've said before, is very much a follow up to The Web of Fear. Because of that, for some reason, I've got it in my head that London is deserted. Completely evacuated, like it was for the Yeti incident. It makes it tricky to panic when characters talk of the entire city being controlled, because I actively have to remind myself that there is a city full of people out there. When Watkins is told of Isobel's freedom, and Vaughn suggests that she's probably waiting at home for him, it felt odd to me - because it feels like the city should be deserted.

It doesn't help, then, when we get the establishing shots of the city in the seconds building up the Invasion. All the streets are completely deserted (that's the hazard of filming first thing in the morning, I guess!), and when we do finally get to see people falling under the Cybermen's control, there's only three or four of them, and we cut between them rapidly. Don't get me wrong, it's very effective, and I know that they don't have the budget for a whole host of extras being taken over by the strange noise echoing through the air, but it feels like as a key junction in an eight-part story… there should be more to it.

Oh, but it's not all complaints. There's loads packed into today's episode that I love - and 'packed' really is the operative word. When the Brigadier sends some men to intercept Vaughn's guards and free the professor, I was a little disheartened to see the action cut to after the battle, with its events relayed to Vaughn via Gregory. Knowing what Camfield can do with an action sequence, I was looking forward to getting to see it out on location, and it felt like a cop out to avoid showing it (I will say, though, that seeing the mini-battle between UNIT and the Cybermen in the sewers does make up for this a little. I love the clanging metal sound effect as a soldier batters a Cybermen's arm with his gun!). As the episode goes on, though, it soon becomes clear that it's cut to keep things moving - there's too much to get through!

It means there's one or two other places where the action cuts very suddenly, and it leads to a slightly disorienting effect (the one that springs immediately to mind if Jamie announcing that he's returning to his dream and then cutting to him being woken sometime later to carry on with the story. It's an effective way of letting time pass, but it feels very out of place to cut so quickly from one to the other), but it means we're moving at a pace rarely seen in the programme.

When we do slow down a little, it's for wonderful moments. The confrontation between Vaughn and the professor is perhaps one of my favourite scenes from the series so far - it's so well done on every level, from the writing, performance, and direction. Vaughn taunting Watkins with his charm is brilliant, actually handing the man a gun so that he can follow through with a threat of murder. The way he laughs when the bullets cut straight into his cybernetic body with no pain is simply fantastic: pitch-perfect in every way. The only thing that could have possibly made that better would be not finding out about Vaughn's partial upgrade earlier in the story, as it would have added a whole new layer to the scene.

One last thing, by the way: how right does the Doctor look, staring down a microscope in a UNIT laboratory? After everything I've said, I'm becoming a UNIT convert mighty quickly!

20 August 2013

Speaking exclusively to DWO, Neil Gaiman confirmed his hopes to return to Doctor Who for a third script.

When we asked the acclaimed author, who previously penned the Doctor Who episodes 'The Doctor's Wife' and 'Nightmare In Silver', if he would like to return, he had the following to say:

NG: "Absolutely! I definitely, definitely - I don't want to be coy, you know with Nightmare In Silver it was like I was being coy, but I figured they would like to have me, I would like to do more. The only problem that I'm having right now is the time that I probably would have spent writing a Doctor Who script this year suddenly got eaten by going on tour for this book. So, what I'm hoping, is that I can persuade Steven Moffat, instead of getting the BBC to pay me in cash, cos, you know, I'm now like this best-selling author - I've got enough money! Money is just fine! So I'm wondering if maybe I can get them to start paying me in time. You know, I know he knows people, so if he can just sort of..."

DWO: "And who better than the executive producer of Doctor Who? Time travel!"

NG: "That's what I'm hoping! If I can just get him to send me, you know, like 9 weeks and I can write in it. I don't know, I'd love to write an episode for Season 8, it may well be that I'm over in Season 9, but I promise I haven't gone away! The idea of writing for Peter Capaldi's Doctor is one that I find so thrilling and exciting, I've been a fan of his since Neverwhere when he played the Angel Islington."

Watch DWO's '5 Questions With... Neil Gaiman', below:

Neil is currently touring to promote his latest book, 'The Ocean At The End Of The Lane', which is now available in the shops.

+  Buy 'The Ocean At The End Of The Lane' on Amazon.co.uk for just £9.00.
+  Buy 'The Ocean At The End Of The Lane' on Amazon.com for just $15.22.

+  Follow @NeilHimself on Twitter.
+  Follow @DrWhoOnline on Twitter.

[Source: DWO]

19 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 231: The Invasion, Episode Five

Dear diary,

As much as I loved the animation in yesterday's episode, nothing quite beats having the actual thing to watch. It's striking right from the off - the reveal of the Cyberman is much better when you can see it properly than it was in the animation. In the cliffhanger yesterday, the odd pulsating of the 'cocoon' just looked odd whereas now it's actually creepy. One thing, though… how do they hold those electrodes onto it? They don't seem to attach anywhere!

The sight of the Cybermen ripping their way out of hibernation is fantastic, and we get a few great opportunities to see it throughout today's episode. I'll admit that it doesn't always work (at one point, the recently burst cocoon gets caught on the Cyberman's handlebars, and the rest of the scene - shot from behind our metal monster - just looks odd because of it. In another instance, you can see where someone just off camera is trying to pull the cocoon away from another Cyberman), but when it does, it really does. The best ones are the shots where the Cybermen literally burst out from storage, ripping open their pods and stepping forward into the open.

It benefits from the fact that this design of Cyberman is gorgeous, too. There's no wonder that Big Finish tend to use them as the default model, because they're so brilliant. I've said before that the Tomb models are my favourite 60s version, but d'you know? I think it may be these ones. There's something about them - and the fact they look more like the 'standard' Cyberman model, with the addition of the 'ear muffs' - that just really works. The sight of one being inflicted with emotion and crying out in pain is pretty striking, and it relies on our former knowledge of the creatures. Admittedly, it doesn't look quite as effective in the closing seconds, when the creature lurches out of the darkness down in the sewers…

Some praise really does need to be reserved for the Cyberplanner: it's always been a slightly odd design, as though the leader of their invasion fleet has been built from assorted bric-a-brac, and even in this story, the Direction hasn't always done it the best of favours. When we see it in close up, it really does look cobbled together, and the effect is completely lost. Today, though, in a long-shot and towering over Vaughn, it works! We've got a few shots from behind the structure, too, which also make it look better than it has done.

I think one of the things that I'm enjoying most about this story at the moment is the fact that we've reverted to having three companions again. For a while, I was thinking about how much I'd rather Anne Travers turn up in the story than Isobel, but now that we're thick into the action she's fitting right in. I love that she and Zoe plot to go into the sewers and find the evidence the Brigadier needs, and then tempt Jamie into coming along, too. It makes for a nice dynamic, the likes of which we've not seen since Ben and Polly departed. I also love how normal it feels that a policeman thinks they're just a bunch of kids larking about in the sewers - the scale of what's going on is growing by the episode (especially now that the invasion has been moved up to tomorrow!), but for most people it's just a load of fantasy. No wonder the Brigadier needs to get hold of some evidence pretty sharpish!

The policeman is the second casualty of this story to come completely from nowhere. Back in Episode One, the poor driver that gives the Doctor and his friends a lift gets shot down in cold blood without the Doctor even realising (a few episodes later, he even muses to the Brigadier that the chap's probably fine), and here the policeman meets his fate simply by touching the outer fringes of the Doctor's life. The series has a gritty edge to it when we come back down to Earth, and it packs far more of a punch to see an innocent policeman meet his demise than it does some random scientist on the high-tech base-of-the-week.

19 August 2013

DWO caught up with acclaimed author and much-loved Doctor Who writer, Neil Gaiman, for an exclusive video interview.

Speaking to DWO Editor, Seb J. Brook, Neil talks about his latest book 'The Ocean At The End Of The Lane', his sequel to Sandman, being a Doctor Who fan, and if he'd be up for penning another Doctor Who script.

Watch DWO's '5 Questions With... Neil Gaiman', below:

+  Buy 'The Ocean At The End Of The Lane' on Amazon.co.uk for just £9.00.
+  Buy 'The Ocean At The End Of The Lane' on Amazon.com for just $15.22.

+  Follow @NeilHimself on Twitter.
+  Follow @DrWhoOnline on Twitter.

(With thanks to Neil Gaiman and Samantha Eades at Headline)

[Source: DWO]

18 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 230: The Invasion, Episode Four

Dear diary,

Oh, all right then. I'm a complete convert to the style of animation used in this story. For some reason, I'd always recalled it as being a bit ropey - almost like cheap flash animation that featured characters barely moving. Actually, it's completely the opposite to all that! I think I'm actually a little disappointed that Cosgrove Hall didn't get to make any more of the missing episodes - if they could all have been to this standard, then I'd be a very happy fan.

In some ways, it's also quite nice to have Cosgrove Hall connected with Doctor Who, even if it's only in a small way (and Scream of the Shalka, their other Who project, is seeing a DVD release next month too). For many people, it's a name that's synonymous with childhood and British animation, and is as much of a treasure to UK television as Doctor Who itself. Sadly, the company was wound down a few years ago, so chances of getting them involved with the Who range again are pretty much nil*.

It's interesting, though, that when The Invasion first came out on DVD, in 2006, we were told quite simply that the cost of regular animations were beyond the budget of the DVD line, and that we'd only managed to get hold of this one because of some complicated agreement with the Doctor Who website (I think I'm right in saying that these two episodes were commissions for the web, to follow on from their various other animation pieces, but that for some reason that plan fell through, too late in the day to cancel. Thus, we end up with these two episodes here on the DVD). Fast forward seven years and suddenly animations aren't just viable - they're plentiful!

This year already, we've had The Reign of Terror (I always found it amusing that the first two stories to be released with animated instalments were the second ever story with missing parts, and the second to last story with them. There's a kind of neat symmetry to that!), and a sneak-peak of The Tenth Planet on the Regenerations set, with a full release to follow later in the year. The Ice Warriors is out any day now, and then there's The Moonbase to come in a few months, too. Here's hoping that the last few stories with only two missing episodes (The Crusade and The Underwater Menace) can also be given the treatment - it's a lovely way of plugging the gaps.

And what a gap to plug in today's episode! Helicopters are simply becoming part and parcel of the programme's format, now, so it's nice to actually see one! Both their previous appearances have been in missing episodes, too, but here we get some idea of how the scene could have looked, and it's fab. I've no doubt that the animation takes one or two liberties (the shot of the helicopter flying away while Jamie dangles from the rope ladder, for example, probably looks a little better here than it might have actually done!), but it really helps to up the scale of the whole thing.

And yet, for me, it's still in the characters that The Invasion is really shining. Particularly in Tobian Vaughn. I've already said plenty of nice things about the performance we're being given here but the way that Vaughn's facade gently slips away throughout the first two thirds of today's episode, before he eventually snaps and begins to shout is fantastic. The best bit, however, comes a few minutes later, when he demands to be put through to a government minister. He snaps at the receptionist as she appears on the video screen, before remembering himself, and slipping back into his 'charming' persona. Characters are rarely as fully-rounded as this, and I think Kevin Stoney has to take a large amount of the credit, there.

And then the cliffhanger! We all knew it was coming, yeah, but you know what? I bloody love Cybermen, so it's all good by me!

*For the record, while everyone tends to list Danger Mouse as their favourite Cosgrove Hall production, for me it was always about Count Duckula. I still get the theme tune stuck in my head now and then.

17 August 2013

As the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who moves ever closer, a brand new ultimate range of Doctor Who Micro Figures featuring all 11 incarnations of The Doctor has been released as part of the Character Building collection.

Each highly detailed and fully articulated micro-figure is sealed within a bag to keep the figure hidden, giving a surprise each time. Finding them all will be a challenge as some figures will be harder to find than others.

Within the new range, certain incarnations of the Time Lord will be classed as Rare, Super Rare or Ultra Rare.

Here’s what to look out for:

•  Rare - Tenth Doctor with just 500 pieces in circulation.
•  Super Rare
- Third and Fifth Doctor with only 250 pieces.
•  Ultra Rare
- Second and Eleventh Doctor with merely 100 pieces each to be found.

There are 11 micro-figures to collect, each with its own display base and collector’s leaflet highlighting all the characters available in this special series. Whether, Rare, Super Rare, Ultra Rare or one of the remaining six, these micro-figures will make treasured mementoes in a landmark year. The question is... Who will be the first to collect them all?

DWO's sister site, CompareTheDalek, has complete sets of all 11 Doctors from the 50th Anniversary series of Micro Figures, together with a Figure Selector Utility, to enable you to complete your collections from all the series to date. Click on the relevant links below.

+  Buy a complete set of all 11 Doctors from CompareTheDalek.com.
+  Complete your collection using the Figure Selector Utility

[Source: Character Options]


17 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 229: The Invasion, Episode Three

Dear diary,

The Doctor and Jamie as they appear in this story are, for me, the 'definitive' versions. Whenever I think of the pair, it's as they are here: right down to the way that Troughton's hair falls. I'm not sure why it's like this as opposed to any other episode, but it's always been the version that's stuck in my mind. The scenes as the pair climb the lift shaft together and emerge onto the rooftop just looks absolutely right to me, as does their time sneaking along the sides of the trains and peeking inside to take a closer look at the supposedly 'empty' crates.

I think the fact that so much of Season Six is still available to watch as opposed to stuff from earlier in the Second Doctor's era (there's almost twice as many surviving episodes in Season Six than there are in Seasons Four and Five combined!) means that this has rather become the default version of Troughton's incarnation for many people. Take, for example, three recent releases of Second Doctor merchandise: The Wheel of Ice, an original novel released last year, and two 50th anniversary releases in the form of the second Destiny of the Doctor CD and the second issue of the IDW Prisoners of Time comic. All three of these feature the TARDIS team of the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe as opposed to the earlier set ups of this era.

I wonder if that might be why this version of the Doctor is so ingrained in my mind? Until undertaking this marathon, The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Moonbase were the only pre-Season-Six stories that I had any real knowledge of (though I'd seen bits and bobs from other tales, usually orphaned episodes), whereas I've seen a lot of Season Six before - merely by existing in the archive, it becomes far more accessible than his earlier stuff.

It's a shame, really, because I've noticed just how much Troughton's Doctor has evolved across his time on the programme. The Second Doctor - though still quite a fun character - gets to show off his darker side far more often these days than he did to begin with. He used to be a bit of a clown who secretly knew what was going on, but now he's maturing a lot. Even his look has moved on over time - compare the way his hair sits now compared to the way it was during the earliest stages of Season Four and there's a distinct difference. It's possibly something I'm projecting onto the character, but I think he looks older now far more than the three years that we've seen pass would allow.

It's another reason that I'd love to see him in a few more Jamie-less adventures, so we could get a real sense of time passing for this incarnation. I'd dearly love to have more to watch from his earliest adventures, so that this phase of the programme didn't feel so weighted to the late 1960s.

It's another one of those days where I could just wax lyrical about how brilliant Troughton and Hines are together, and a great instance of them really drawing my attention - I hadn't noticed that we were missing Zoe and Isobel until the pair clambered aboard the train carriage to take a look for them: I'm too busy caught up with them and their interactions with Tobias Vaughn.

Vaughn has always been hailed as one of Doctor Who's very best villains, and it's not hard to see why. Kevin Stoney turns in a performance that's pitch-perfect (he slightly over-plays it with the 'niceness' when face to face with the Doctor and Jamie, but this becomes a plot point when even the Doctor draws attention to it), and he's well suited to the part. He was just as good playing Mavic Chen back in The Daleks' Master Plan, but giving him a far more real character and placing him in a very real setting makes his performance all the more brilliant - we can really connect to the idea of this person existing behind the fake smiles of big business.

Perhaps worryingly, all my memories of his character come from this first half of the story, before the Cybermen actually make their appearance. Once they arrive on the scene, I can't really recall what happens to Vaughn. I'm hoping that it's more down to my own bad memory than the character being sidelined as the story goes on, as he's one of the greatest things to turn up in the programme…

16 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 228: The Invasion, Episode Two

Dear diary,

It doesn't matter how much praise I had yesterday for the animated version of Episode One - it's lovely to be back into moving images again today because we're back in the world of Douglas Camfield! I've made my thoughts on his work perfectly clear enough times since the start of the diary, and it's nice to see that he doesn't disappoint here in his last contribution to the black and white era of the programme.

I'm not sure that there's anyone else who could have taken the helm on this story, to be honest. In many ways it's The Web of Fear brought out onto a bigger canvas, so Camfield is right at home. I think he's at his best during the early scenes of the Doctor and Jamie trying to shake off their pursuers - it looks far better than Doctor Who of this era has any right to, and I'd love to see these film sequences remastered for High Definition. It helps that these scenes take place against a backdrop of late 1960s London - a period I've stated my affection for more than once - and yet they're made to look very different to any of the programme's previous excursions to the big city.

The Dalek Invasion of Earth gave us lots of scenes taking place around the capitol's landmarks (Indeed, this story will tick another off the list before it's through), The War Machines took place in some rather nice-looking upmarket areas as well as the warehouses of Covent garden, The Faceless Ones dropped us into the alien environment of Gatwick airport, and the previously mentioned The Web of Fear trapped us in the claustrophobic tunnels of the Underground. The scenes in today's episode puts us in the grimy industrial streets, and they feel just right for this story - they're hard edged and pose a great backdrop for the threats looming over our heroes.

It's tricky to watch these moments now, knowing that one of the men rounding up the Doctor and Jamie is the future Sargent Benton - it stops them from seeming too shady. It's a testament to the way that Camfield has directed the sequences that you still get the impression things are about to go very wrong for the Doctor, despite knowing that UNIT is around the corner. It's also apt that when we get the first shot of a proper UNIT soldier, inside their aircraft base (speaking of which - how posh is that? They never got that kind of funding in the 1970s…), the attention is drawn to the patch on his arm, as though it's supposed to mean something to us. An audience at the time wouldn't have known quite how important UNIT were about to become for the programme, but it feels like a significant moment, all this time on.

It's lovely to see Nicholas Courtney back as the Brigadier, too. I can quote the scene where he meets with the Doctor again verbatim, and often think of it whenever I see the Brig turning up on screen in any story. I'm never sure why, but it's always seems fitting. I think the thing that surprises me the most about all this is just how glad I am to see UNIT coming together and in a story that's not all that far removed from what's hovering on the horizon. I've made no secret of how much I've always disliked the Pertwee era, but as we move closer and closer towards it, and I can see the elements falling into place, I'm actively looking forward to it. It's a distillation of all the things I'm enjoying in the Troughton era, but with an added dash of colour. It's lovely to be feeling this way - as I'd expected to start stalling in my marathon around about now, in an attempt to delay my arrival to the 1970s.

I could draw attention to the Brigadier's comment that it's been 'four years' since the incident with the Yeti, considering that it will pose a stumbling block for UNIT dating further down the line, but that feels too much like causing problems for myself. There'll be plenty of time to discuss that later. For now, I'm just sitting back and enjoying a story which seems to take the best that Doctor Who has to offer and merges it all together brilliantly.

15 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 227: The Invasion, Episode One

Dear diary,

It's almost a shame that we can't trade the two missing episodes of this story for two episodes of The Mind Robber. The idea of that story being made up of animated episodes just seems so right, doesn't it?

That's not to say that the animation here doesn't work, mind. Let's be honest, it's gorgeous. When The Reign of Terror first came out on DVD, several people complained that they preferred the style used on this release, and I thought they were mad. I'd just seen Reign and thought it was brilliantly done, whereas I remembered The Invasion looking a bit more static. In my mind, for some reason, I'd almost imagined this as a bit of a flash cartoon, like the ones done for the Doctor Who website back in the day.

But actually, this really is beautiful stuff. The shot of the TARDIS console, its central column gently rising and falling as we emerge from the titles is absolutely stunning. I know it wasn't quite like that on original broadcast, but now it's one of the best shots of the 1960s. Elsewhere in the episode, the animation really captures the noir style that I've always associated with this story (and looking at some shots of the Doctor and Jamie being escorted from the IE building made me realise that it was this I was thinking of back in The Enemy of the World) and simply sicks you in. I think it's always a good sign when you stop focussing on the fact that you're watching an animated fill-in for a missing episode and start just enjoying the story itself.

That's not hard to do with The Invasion, really. It's always been a story that fascinated me, even back when I was taking my first steps into the world of Doctor Who. For me, it was this mythical eight-part Cyberman story: their last appearance in the 1960s and featuring what many hold up as one of the greatest TARDIS teams of all. The fact that there were two episodes missing didn't even really factor in for me at the time, because I wasn't all that aware that there even were 'partially-complete' stories. I think I thought that it was either in the archive in full… or it wasn't.

The point was moot anyway, because my first experience of The Invasion came in the form of the soundtrack. When I think of all the missing episode soundtracks I've been through now in the course of The 50 Year Diary, it seems bizarre to think that I'd ever bothered to experience an existing story in this way. But back then, new to this world, I didn't know all that much better. Coming across the VHS tapes was a rare burst of excitement, but it was the newer merchandise that was easier to get my hands on.

Imagine, then, my thrill at discovering the 'Cyberman tin' in a shop on one shopping trip to Norwich. Back then we used to visit a couple of times a month, and I'd save up whatever cash I could for the trip. I can actually remember standing in Kulture Shock (I think the shop still exists, but in a severely reduced form. On a recent visit back home I noticed that the bridal shop which took over the premises has now closed too, and it sent an odd, nostalgic pang down my spine), picking up the tin and reading the list of contents: The Tenth Planet soundtrack (brilliant! Not only was this the Cybermen's first ever story, it was the First Doctor's last!), a CD featuring a reason of David Bank's Cyberman book (I've owned that book for years, but I don't think I've ever read it. Or listened to the CD, for that matter…), and… no? Surely not?

The soundtrack for The Invasion. I'm surprised I didn't pass out in shock, to be honest. At the time I was still living at home, and I spent the next week rationing the episodes of the story out to strictly one a night (hah! Some things never change…) while I made my way through. I can't remember much about my reaction to the story - I think I was simply too busy being excited to hear it. This was the big one. In the same way that the First Doctor had that big, epic adventure with the Daleks in the middle of his last season, the Second Doctor got a massive showdown with his enemies in the middle of this one.

What I can remember is that I was a bit surprised by the absolute lack of Cybermen for the first half. I think I was probably a bit miffed by that. For me, it was all about this being some big Cyberman epic, a big farewell to them as they departed the series for the foreseeable future. Older and wiser (stop laughing in the back), I can appreciate the way that the story builds up to the big reveal, and I think it's probably going to be all the better for it.

I always assumed that the appearance of the Cybermen at the end of Episode Four would have come as some big surprise to audiences back in the day (although, of course, the Radio Times had blown it right at the start of the story), but now that I'm making my way through, I can see how the reveal of the Cyber-planner here is a great hook for them - it only turned up a few stories ago, and we know it's a bit of Cyberman technology. It's another perfect example of why the series really is better enjoyed chronologically - it adds a whole new context that you miss when watching in DVD release order.

15 August 2013

If, like us, you're an avid user of the fantastic Google Maps website and app, you'll be pleased to know there is a rather cool Doctor Who related Easter Egg to look out for.

Users navigating to this url (The Earl's Court Police Box), can actually enter the TARDIS by clicking the double arrows at the bottom of the screen, or if you're using the new beta, by clicking the up arrow on your keyboard.

You are then whisked away to the new TARDIS interior, (first seen in the 2012 Doctor Who Christmas Special The Snowmen).

Do you know of any other Google Maps related Easter Eggs? Let us know by posting a comment below!

[Source: Google Maps]

15 August 2013

DWO was recently approached to take part in a video interview with top Entertainment News site, EntertainmentWise, regarding the New Series of Doctor Who.

Spanned over 3 segments, Doctor Who Online Editor, Sebastian J. Brook, is interviewed regarding the subjects of the new Doctor (Peter Capaldi), The Christmas Special and the 50th Anniversary Special, as well as the future of the show.

Watch all three video interviews on the players below:

Part 1 - The New Doctor:

Part 2 - The 2013 Christmas Special:

Part 3 - The 50th Anniversary Special:

+  Check Out the EntertainmentWise website, here.

[Source: EntertainmentWise]

14 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 226: The Mind Robber, Episode Five

Dear diary,

I do have to wonder if part of the reason I'm liking The Mind Robber so much is that the episodes are so short. I stuck today's on while I was eating lunch and before I knew it - everything had finished! This one only clocks in at around the 17-minute mark, and the same is true for the other parts of this story - they're all shorter than your average Doctor Who. I don't know if it makes things more focussed, but it may be helping towards my enjoyment, certainly!

The other thing that's really appealing to me is that, for all the silliness of a story in which Gulliver and Rapunzel watch the climactic fight on a castle rooftop with pirates and superheroes firing laser guns, there's some genuinely sinister imagery throughout these five episodes. I've commented on how odd the first episode is, and the final shot of the TARDIS being blasted apart is a real sign of the programme moving out of its comfort zone, and we've the clockwork robots stalking the entire story, but today perhaps takes the crown.

The scene in which Jamie and Zoe tempt the Doctor inside a police box, filled with enthusiasm is fantastic. The way their faces stretch into huge, forced smiles is genuinely creepy, as they tease that things 'aren't over yet'. The shot that follows, of the cardboard cut-out TARDIS falling to the floor, to reveal the Doctor caught in a perspex piece of machinery is similarly unsettling, and then to add to it all, the group of Cockney children press their noses up against the case and laugh at his misfortune. Forget your Daleks and Cybermen - this is the kind of scene that would have left me scared as a child. It's not simply that the Doctor has been captured, it's that things are slipping away from his control more and more.

The various fights peppered throughout this final episode aren't necessarily anything all that special, but the final destruction of the Land of Fiction with the White Robots destroying everything they can get their guns trained on is very well done, as the set burns around our regulars. It felt a bit sudden when the episode simply finished, the Doctor having confirmed that they would be returned to their proper place in space and time (probably), but it's a rather well done ending to the tale.

I need to comment, one last time before I move on, about how this story would have suited as a successor to The Celestial Toymaker. It would have been a brilliant reveal had he stepped out during this episode to announce that he was the one in control of all this, and that the Master was simply the last victim to fail one of his games and be trapped there forever.

Way back when, during the Toymaker's first appearance, I said that ti would have been a hassle to have him turn up every time you wanted the Doctor to change his face (since turning the Doctor invisible the last time they met was supposed to be a viable way to get William Hartnell out of the series), but I don't think it would feel unusual to have the TARDIS team returned to the ship in this story, only to find that the Doctor suddenly looks different - and there's no way to change back with the Land of Fiction gone! Cue the titles!

In some ways, I'm glad that this doesn't simply serve as a follow up to that other story, as it gives The Mind Robber the room to breathe on its own as a slightly odd tale nestled in Season Six. It's been a mixed bag so far this year, what with an alien planet story that felt like a Season Two tale and an 'outside time and space' tale which feels like a sequel to Season Three. The quality of the stories has swung wildly (honestly, there was a point when I wondered if I'd actually make it to this story!), but the next one brings us closer to the kind of thing I've come to expect from Doctor Who of late. Here's hoping that - like The Mind Robber - I'll find my fond memories don't live up to just how good the story is…

13 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 225: The Mind Robber, Episode Four

Dear diary,

I’d completely forgotten that the real threat to the Doctor and his companions here was that they could become fictional characters themselves. I could recall their meeting with the Master in the heart of the Land of Fiction, and I knew that he wanted the Doctor to take over running the place, but all the stuff with the ticker tape and the Doctor choosing to take a different course of action had been completely wiped from my mind. It’s a shame, really, because it’s a great idea, and I’m a bit sorry that more hasn’t been made of it: it would have been good to see the Doctor actively having to guess which course of action would help them escape, and which would get them trapped forever.

The thing that really stood out for me today, which I don’t think I particularly appreciated yesterday, is just how well the Medusa effect works. I know the snakes in her hair are all done as stop motion, but it’s pulled off pretty well – certainly it’s one of the better effects we’ve seen from the series. There’s something about the blank, expressionless face (with those huge eyes, too!) which really is quite scary: my joke about turning it into a Weeping Angel doesn’t seem so far fetched the more that I look at her!

We’ve also got the White Robots back, on the hunt for the Doctor and his companions, but I can’t tell if they were always supposed to be a part of the story or if they’re just being used interchangeably with the Toy Soldiers as the Master’s guards. They only show up inside the void during the first episode and inside the futuristic scenes here, while the Toys are the ones on the hunt outside, in the rest of this realm. Could it be that they’re one and the same, but when surrounded by all the fictional characters they take on a more whimsical appearance.

While I really like the design of these robots, I can’t help but wonder if it may have been even better to have the Toy Soldiers in the story right From Episode One. All that stuff in the void is brilliant – but how much more memorable would it be if the robots that surround them from nowhere are the Toy Soldiers, looming over them with their headlamps flashing? It’s that perfect type of surreal image that the programme is so good at delivering, and it’s a bit of a shame that it didn’t happen. I imagine it’s because they had almost no budget for that first week (which is why these White Robot costumes were taken from stock), and thus weren’t able to get the tall chaps built until the following week. Still, a shame!

Today’s addition to the growing cast of fictional characters comes in the form of the Karkus, a slightly bizarre superhero in the guise of a Mexican Wrestler (the Doctor’s impression of the character allows us a brief return of Salamander). He’s from a series of comic strips published in the Year 2000, and over the years, I’ve often seen Zoe’s knowledge of him used to signpost that she’s obviously from the same year. It strikes me, though, that the implication is expressly that she isn’t. Having established that the Doctor isn’t aware of the character, she has to ask, ‘you’ve been to the year 2000, haven’t you?’ as though she doesn’t know for sure. The biggest issue this causes is that we see a reversal of the Doctor/Zoe dynamic from the last episode - she’s the one trying to convince her companion that the wrestler isn’t real, and he’s the one unable to believe it – despite just making his gun disappear because he doesn’t believe it’s possible!

Then there’s the Master’s on-going work of fiction: The Adventures of Captain Jack Harkaway. I think most fans have those little things which they believe in their own mind whether it’s stated on screen or not – and this is one of mind. Surely this series is based on the adventures of a certain Captain Jack Harkness (his name changed by the publishers to be more enchanting), as he recounts his tales of battling aliens through time and space? I’d love it if one of Jack’s stories made reference to a battered old police box and an ageless traveller, which brought the Doctor to the attention of the Land of Fiction in the first place from his place in this man's mind!

(Mind you, Zoe’s not quite on form when she hears of these tales. He claims to have written 5000 words a week for 25 years, and Zoe is shocked to announce that it would total ‘well over half a million words!’

Well, yes. It would. It’d total six and a half million words to be exact!)

12 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 224: The Mind Robber, Episode Three

Dear diary,

The thing I'm finding odd about The Mind Robber is that I've got a snaking suspicion I shouldn't really like it. I mean, it feels completely out of keeping with pretty much everything we've ever had in the series before (despite all my comparisons to The Celestial Toymaker - this is weirder!) or since, and it really feels a bit out of place. In some ways, it's almost like they're really scraping the barrel of things to do with the programme.

I wonder if it's just that Season Five has completely altered my perception of what Doctor Who is supposed to be? During the Hartnell era, things were different every four-to-six episodes, sometimes swinging in wild directions (going for high comedy in things like The Romans or pure, educational history in The Aztecs, not to mention odd sidesteps into being an inch high or fighting the Daleks for twelve straight weeks), but the Second Doctor's era has felt far more uniform.

Suddenly, we're plonked down into this strange place, where following the white void and TARDIS behaving erratically stuff in Episode One, we're suddenly in a world of fiction, in which characters such as the Unicorn or Medusa can be perfectly real, and the Doctor can have a chat with Gulliver. It just feels like it's pushing the envelope that bit too far for me, and I really should be talking about how it simply doesn't work, and how it was one of the worst ideas in the show's long history.

And yet… there's just something about it that really, really, works. I'm finding myself genuinely caught up with it, and in a stark contrast to the last story, I can't imagine letting my attention wander - I'm simply glued to the screen. It's all pretty standard fare (the majority of today's episode revolves around the Doctor and his companions wandering through - essentially - corridors), but it really does keep you attached. I wonder if part of the praise needs to be passed onto our three regulars. While there's plenty of other characters in the episode, it still feels as though they're the only ones there. Maybe it's because we know that they're the only ones who can be described as 'real'? All the other characters come and go in the blink of an eye (Jamie clambering through the window to meet Rapunzel, only to find that she's vanished is great), making our heroes the only focal point.

It's great to have Frazer Hines back today, too. I spoke yesterday of how Jamie's face being changed felt perfectly in keeping with the story's theme of tests and surreal images, and the same is true of his return. In some ways, it feels like a shame to have the resolution be identical to the scene we saw yesterday - the Doctor having to put Jamie's face back together - but I think I prefer it to them just arriving somewhere to find that, ta-da!, Jamie is back to normal. Though Hamish Wilson turns in a fair performance as the highlander, no one can ever live up to Frazer - he is Jamie.

And he's back to being perfectly in keeping with the Second Doctor. There's a moment when they've entered the mysterious house, and the door slams shut behind them. In the exact same second, with the exact same Scooby Doo-like move, the pair turn in shock to find the source of the noise. Wendy pad bury also makes the turn, but she's not quite in time with the others. You get the sense that she's still finding her feet a little. That said, she's lovely when she's on screen alone with Troughton, and they way they hold each other close while the Medusa attacks is lovely.

It has to be said though - Zoe just doesn't get it, does she? In the opening moments of this episode, the Doctor manages to stop the charging unicorn by convincing his companions that it isn't real, so can't hurt them. He even explains this to them (and to us). A little later, they use the same trick to face off a minotour - but Zoe don't understand how it's not real when it's right there with them. The cliffhanger today is based on the same premise - the threat is only there because Zoe won't accept that it can't be. I'm hoping they'll slip in a few lines about how she finds it hard to accept because she's so used to dealing with facts, but I seem to recall having the same issue with this on my first viewing of the story.

Oh - and how has no one made a Weeping Angels re-edit of that cliffhanger?

11 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 223: The Mind Robber, Episode Two

Dear diary,

This story really is a spiritual successor to The Celestial Toymaker, isn't it? We've got the Doctor and his companions transported to a dimension outside their own, where they're forced to take part in strange games, while an omni-present figure watches on. I wonder if anyone watching at the time may have put two and two together and assumed that the Toymaker would be making his return here? We even get one of the regulars being taken away and replaced with a new actor (they didn't actually go through with it during The Celestial Toymaker, of course, and Jamie is only temporarily removed from events here, but still…)

The strange thing is… I'm not sure that I'd be totally against having the Toymaker return. Sure, his first story wasn't exactly a classic, but done in a style like this, where we're kept guessing and the whole episode is filled with a sense of dread, I think I'd be all for it.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw an episode of The Avengers - The House That Jack Built - for the first time, and couldn't help but spend the rest of the evening imagining it as a Toymaker story for the second Doctor. No, no, hear me out!

The story largely concerns Emma Peel being trapped inside a large, country house which has been completely restructured inside using advanced electronics to confuse her and drive her mad, to the point that she tries to kill herself (at least, that's the plan). For a long time, Mrs Peel finds herself running round and round in circles, unable to escape the house until she smashes her way to the central control room, where she finds the mind behind all this.

He's an ex employee (I think… I'd sort of lost track by that point) who had set all this up to get revenge on her. He'd been dead for a long time, and his body was preserved, sitting inside a glass box in the centre of the room, taunting her. Having decided that it would be a good basis for a Doctor Who story, I couldn't shake the image from my mind of the Second Doctor reaching the centre of the maze and finding William Hartnell's incarnation sat frozen in the box. Admittedly, it might be a bit too sinister for the Doctor Who audience, but it's probably put my mind in the right place for this story! Troughton really suits a situation where he's left to piece the puzzle together, and we're seeing the darker, more serious side to his Doctor come out again - the threat feels all the larger because of it.

There's a lot to like in this episode. The removal of Jamie feels totally natural, and I'm not sure it would stick out as particularly odd even if I didn't know that he was away with Chicken Pox that week. It fits so nicely with the rest of the events we've seen today that it's perfectly reasonable to think that it was scripted simply to cover a week's holiday. It also serves as a great way to set up some of the odd things that we've got going on in this one - from Zoe being trapped in an over-sized glass jar, to the Doctor being surrounded by schoolchildren who proceed to quiz him with riddles to assertion if he'd be 'suitable' or not for some unknown task.

Then we've got plenty of great images to take away with us, from the forest of words (though it's a shame they don't really match up between the studio set and the shot of the letters from above) to the Clockwork Soldiers, marching through the 'trees'. They make a brilliant noise while they seek out our heroes - suitably creepy. And then we end with a unicorn charging towards us! As ever with things like this, it doesn't quite work, but it's good enough to be passable. I like that there's no answers to all this yet. I vaguely know where things are going, but it's been so long since I last saw the story that I can only remember bits and pieces from the resolution. I'm enjoying beings swept along with the tale, though. If anything, I might be a bit disappointed when we find out it isn't the Toymaker watching from afar…

10 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 222: The Mind Robber, Episode One

Dear diary,

The Mind Robber was the first Doctor Who DVD that I picked up on release day. Up to this point, I'd been dipping into the classic series DVDs based entirely on which cover appealed to me most in the shop (and what a wonderful way that was to experience the programme! These days, even the stories that I haven't seen occupy some place in my mind, with some scrap of knowledge about what's to come. Way back when, it was down to reading the blurb and looking at the cover art - which is why hit took me so long to pick up The Leisure Hive…), it was now March of 2005, and with the Doctor's return to TV imminent, my interest was starting to peak in the programme.

I can clearly remember lots of key bits from all five episodes of this story, so clearly it made some kind of an impression on me - I don't think I've actually seen it since the first watch eight years ago. I've always just had it filed away as 'a good one'. To that end, I decided that today's episode would be one to show Ellie. During the Hartnell era, I made her watch part of The Web Planet with me, because I wanted to see her reaction to a 'bad' Doctor Who story. I figured today was a chance to make up for it with what I'd call a 'good' one (even if I'd also call it 'the most bizarre episode of the 1960s'…)

We sat in silence right the way through the episode. Occasionally, I tried to say something, but was met with a firm 'shh' as she pointedly watched the screen. Having reached the end, I asked her to sum up her thoughts. She thought it was awful. At one point, she described it as 'worse than the one with the ants'. Ah. Worth a try, I guess.

Still, I was pleased to find that, having come through all the episodes before this one, I thought it was even better than I remembered. I was already making a mental note of how I wanted to write today's entry: commenting that it's completely unlike anything we've ever seen from the programme… but it's not! Just two stories on from The Wheel in Space, we've another scene in which the Fluid Links break (temporarily, this time) and the TARDIS console room is threatened by an outpouring of mercury vapour. A few minutes later, the scanner starts to show images of nice places (or, more specifically on this occasion, places that Jamie and Zoe would like to be) that aren't really there. I'm pleased that at least Jamie makes mention of the fact this has happened before.

It actually all works for the better that we start in such a dull (sorry!) and familiar way - everything in the second half of the episode feels so much more out of place and odd when it's come immediately after this real feeling of normality. Ok, yes, you can see the join in the set when Jamie and Zoe are out in the void (and once you've seen it, it's impossible to un-see). Yeah, when the robots turn up, they stand about six feet away from our two companions, who look at them several times before confirming that they're the only ones there (this was the only time Ellie spoke during the episode - asking if the robots were part of 'the Silence', and if Jamie and Zoe were forgetting them).

But in spite of all this, it's really rather creepy. The Doctor sitting in the chair, pulling pained expressions while he fights a mental battle with an un-seen force is well done, and then we end on that fab cliffhanger - the TARDIS blows apart! If you're putting together a list of brilliantly effective cliff-hangers for the series, this one would need to be somewhere near the top of the list.

While I've got strong memories of this story in my mind and a general feeling that I'd enjoyed it before, I also seem to recall thinking that things headed down-hill after the first episode. I'm hoping that the improvement of even this one since last time is a good sign of things to come!

9 August 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 221: The Dominators, Episode Five

Dear diary,

You know that a story hasn't been all that successful when the thing that excites you the most about it is seeing the Doctor burn through a wall with his Sonic Screwdriver. He's clearly been tinkering away at the device a little bit since the last time we saw it, giving it a few extra functions. It's nice to see it starting to be more in keeping with the version of the tool we all know, and it really does help to give a feeling of evolution to the series. Enjoy me liking the device in these early days - there'll come a time, I'm sure, when I regret its invention!

Oh dear, it didn't take as long to praise the Sonic Screwdriver as I'd hoped it would. I've really not got all that much left to say about The Dominators, and I've not said much to begin with! I fear that I'm going to end up falling back onto old favourites, like praising the Quarks (I'm a total covert now. I'm a Quarkvert. I might get that made into a badge), or discussing how much I love the main cast of the programme.

Something that I do have to be thankful for is that this story was cut down from a planned six-episode length. I've discussed in the past how much I'm not a fan of six-part stories, and I fear that this one may well have finished me off for once and for all. I just can't see how they were planning to stretch things out over another whole episode before things came to a head - it feels like they're pushing their luck already.

I'm sorry to see Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln leave the series with this story, though. While I wasn't all that fond of The Abominable Snowmen (still lined up for a relisten after the marathon, though), I thought that The Web of Fear was one of the best examples of Doctor Who you could hope to find. If it existed in the archives, it's sure to be the 1960s story that you'd show to get people interested in the idea of 1960s Who.

Between them, they've been responsible for some pretty major additions to the Who mythos - the biggest of course being the Brigadier. Yeah, yeah, he'll evolve over the years (starting in just a couple of stories time) into a character basically unrecognisable from the one who turns up as a not-particularly-likeable chap on the London Underground but he still started with them.

Then, of course, we've got the Great Intelligence. Although the character has recently had his number of appearances considerably increased during the latest series, the character has always been among those hailed as a great Doctor Who villain. Barely a year has gone by since the programme returned in 2005 without someone asking for a return for the Yeti. The kind of reputation they have as monsters, you'd expect them to be in far more than two stories, both from the same season in the late 1960s.

I'm sorry that the behind the scenes fallings out meant that they never got to write the third Yeti story, in which the Great Intelligence would launch another attack on Earth, this time via Jamie's ancestral home (mind you, it would have played chaos with my Great Intelligence timeline), as I'm sure I'd have enjoyed it. The idea of the castle being surrounded by shaggy highland cows which stand up and turn out to be Yeti would surely be one of the best remembered cliff-hangers of all time. Bizzare yet brilliant - Doctor Who at its best.

It was partly the loss of that story which means that Jamie sticks around until the end of the Second Doctor's tenure, too. Regular readers will know it's no secret that I love Jamie as a companion, and I love Frazer Hines being on screen with his Doctor, but part of me would love to see him bow out early in Season Six, giving the Doctor a bit of time without him before he heads off to his exile. It makes the Second Doctor's tenure seem incredibly small to have this same human with him for all but one adventure…

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