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Friday, 16 March 2012

Doctor Who Season 3 (1965/6): More Change

Before we begin, I would like to remind people that this obviously contains spoilers. However, since many of these events took place over 20 years ago, one can safely say that the statute of limitations on these are long expired. Won’t reveal too much though.


Season 3 saw that further changes in the production team and cast. Verity Lambert left the show. Her replacement, John Wiles, getting unhappy at Hartnell’s failing health and high salary, wanted to recast the lead actor and was even preparing an explanation that wouldn’t have involved regeneration in “The Celestial Toymaker”. The higher-ups renewed Hartnell’s contract anyway and vetoed another suggestion for a Cockney companion. Wiles walked and script editor Donald Tosh followed him.


The new production team of Innes Lloyd as producer and Gerry Davis as script editor got on better with the BBC execs, starting to develop an alternative way of writing out Hartnell…


The cast also changed a lot – there are no less than seven companions during the course of this season and no-one is there for the entire run… Some of them go out in interesting ways, as we shall see.


45 episodes in this season – most of them (28) not available. In fact, only three of the ten serials of this season are complete. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.


Galaxy 4 (4 episodes, only Part Three available and that was only recently discovered)


The crew arrive on an arid planet, where two spaceships have crashed and are being fixed. One is crewed by the beautiful Drahvins, the other by the hideous Rills and their robot drones called “Chumblies”[1]. Things are not what they seem…


Mission to the Unknown (1 episode, lost)


The only serial that doesn’t feature the Doctor or any companion, this is basically an extended trailer/prequel for “The Daleks’ Master Plan”, in which a Space Security Service agent and his two comrades stumbles upon a Dalek-led plan to conquer the Milky Way. Naturally, it does not end for them.


The Myth Makers (4 episodes, all missing)


A trip to the siege of Troy that sees the Doctor come up with the wooden horse idea and Vicki fall in love with a Trojan prince and leave, being replaced by handmaiden Katarina…


The Daleks’ Master Plan (12 episodes, only 2, 5 and 10 available)


Who ends up going out of an airlock in episode 4, becoming the first companion to die in the show’s run. In this twelve-episode epic, Team TARDIS have to stop the Daleks from using a “Time Destructor” to implement their evil plan. With Katarina dead, the team are joined by one-shot companion Sara Kingdom, who also snuffs it.


Containing the show’s first Christmas episode, the comedic stand-alone “The Feast of Steven” that ends with the Doctor toasting the audience, this also features the first appearance of Nicholas Courtney, who would later play the much loved Brigadier as Bret Vyon.


The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve (4 episodes, all lost)


The 1572 massacre of five to thirty thousand Huguenot Protestants in France probably qualifies as the most obscure historical event to feature in Doctor Who by some margin – I’m only aware of it through the fact this story was made.


The best known feature of this story that is only available on audio is William Hartnell playing two roles – the Doctor and his physical doppelganger the Abbot of Amboise. The two never meet, but Steven certainly gets confused.  Difficult to imagine something like this today, but it could happen.


At the end, the Doctor and Steven land in 1966 London and encounter a new companion, Dorothy “Dodo” Chaplet, who enters the TARDIS while looking for a real police box to report a child being run over[2].


The Police Box


The initial idea had been to have the TARDIS change shape in each story to blend in with its surroundings, but that swiftly fell afoul of budget problems. The distinctive design would have been common on the streets of the UK at the time when the show began, although most of them have now gone. Also most of them never quite looked like the TARDIS – which is based on a 1920s design. Since the boxes have gone, the blue police box has become so associated with the show that the BBC won a trademark dispute with the Metropolitan Police on the essential grounds of ‘squatter’s rights’.


The exterior prop has changed over the years – subtle changes like the writing on the panel, height and exact shade. There have even been jokes about it.


The interior is more interesting, but we’ll cover that another time.


The Ark (4 episodes, all available)


Not to be confused with Season 12’s “The Ark in Space”, although the concept of humans leaving Earth is similar, this one features the Doctor, Steven and Dodo landing on a spaceship carrying Earth’s surviving life on a 700-year journey to a new world, travelling with a one-eyed servant race called the Monoids. Dodo has a cold, which causes problems. Once that’s sorted out, the crew leave – and arrive back on the ship at the end of its journey (remember the story lengths were not advertised in advance), where the Monoids are now in charge.


An interesting story with good production values, but probably too rushed.


The Celestial Toymaker (4 episodes, only 4 exists in full)


Entering a strange domain presided over by the immortal Celestial Toymaker (played by the late Michael Gough, best known for his portrayal of Alfred in four Batman movies), the Doctor is forced to play a 10-piece Tower of Hanoi game called the Trilogic game, which he must complete in exactly 1023 moves. Meanwhile, Steven and Dodo have to play a series of deadly childhood games to find the TARDIS.


Must read the novelisation or get the audio of this someday. Speaking of the audio, this story contains the old politically incorrect version of “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”, containing a racial slur instead of the word “tiger”. Said word is talked over by the narration in the audio release.


The Gunfighters (4 episodes, all available)


The last story with individual episode titles of the classic era, this sees Team TARDIS arrive in the Wild West. Tombstone in fact. Containing a specially-written song and generally a comedic serial, it’s one of the lowest rated in the show’s history.


Can’t remember much of this – probably best as it’s not popular with the fans.


The Savages (4 episodes, all lost)


Steven’s final story is another “things aren’t what they seem” story involving an apparently idyllic world and the draining of life force. Steven is in fact asked to become the leader of the planet at the end, which means the Doctor leaves the planet alone with Dodo – the first time that the Doctor has travelled on his own with a female non-blood relative (he’s only travelled with two – Susan, his granddaughter and his mother-in-law Amy Pond).


The War Machines (4 episodes, all available)


An interesting, reasonable story that involves a computer called WOTAN trying to take over the world from the BT Tower[3]. Dodo leaves (via note!) at the end of the story and two new companions enter the TARDIS – Ben Jackson and Polly something.


This is the first serial set in the present day (or close to it) entirely – something that would happen a lot more in the future. For in these stories, the Doctor is beginning to ail. Soon, the show will change entirely…


[1]No, not Chumlees. I can hear The Old Man from Pawn Stars commenting right now that would be truly disturbing.

[2]What happened to the kid?

[3]Which at the time was – I am not making this up – not included on official maps as it was technically a state secret.

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