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This is the official blog of Phoenix Roleplaying, a multi-genre simming site, created in August 2010.

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Friday, 11 October 2013

Doctor Who Season 5 (1967/68): More bases under siege

(Article originally published 14 April 2012)

Update - 11 October 2013: The discovery of nine missing episodes from this run in one go has made many of my comments more than a little redundant. I will retain the original text but add my corrections below in italics.

This forty-episode fifth season of Doctor Who is another lost season – only one story is intact and that is only due to it turning up entirely intact in the archives of Hong Kong broadcaster ATV in 1991.[1]

Make that two, with another two essentially intact through reconstructions.

There was another change in production team mid-season, with Innes Lloyd moving on to pastures new and story editor Peter Bryant taking on the producer role. The new story editor was Derrick Sherwin, who appointed Terrance Dicks as an informal assistant. We’ll be hearing more about Mr Dicks as this story progresses – he was and still is a big cheese in Who. The transition was entirely smooth and Bryant saw no reason to change a formula that had been working well.

It would continue to work – despite all bar one story being a “base under siege”, many fans see this as a classic season (although one can’t but wonder if nostalgia plays a part in this as most of the episodes are missing).

The Tomb of the Cybermen (4 episodes, complete)

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive on the planet Telos, where a group of archaeologists are trying to get into the lost tombs of the Cybermen. The Doctor helps them out, not knowing just what is inside…

The first appearance of the Cybermats, “Tomb” is considered a classic of Troughton era Who, with scenes that live long in the memory. It’s current Doctor Matt Smith’s favourite story and from what I remember of it, I can see why.

The Abominable Snowmen (6 episodes, only Episode 2 survives)

The time travellers arrived at a Tibetan monastery in 1935 – a monastery that is under siege from the robot Yeti…

One of the guest stars in the story, Jack Watling, who played Professor Travers, was actually Deborah Watling’s father.

The Ice Warriors (6 episodes, 1 and 4 to 6 in the archives, but 2 & 3 have been animated for DVD)

Arriving on Earth at the time of a new ice age, Team TARDIS arrive just in time for the revival of a humanoid creature found in a glacier. A humanoid creature who has mates and wants to conquer Earth…

This is the first appearance of the Ice Warriors, one of the B-list Who villains, a large bulky Martian race with a hissing voice. Of course, back then, we thought that Mars might have had some form of life in the past.

I now have this on DVD and a review is planned when I get to watching it.

The Enemy of the World (6 episodes, only Episode 3 survives complete)

A sort of Doctor Who meets James Bond story (it’s the only non-base-under-siege story of Season 5), where the Doctor arrives on Earth in 2017 and is mistaken for Ramón Salamander (Troughton playing both roles), a scientist/politician who is trying to take over the world via causing ‘natural’ disasters… So, the Doctor decides to impersonate him and get to the bottom of this.

Episode 3 was the first story filmed with 625-line video tape as opposed to 405-line, the “high definition” of its day.

Found in Nigeria in 2013 and available on iTunes with a DVD release scheduled. Not sure if I'll buy this one.

The Web of Fear (6 episodes, only episode 1 survives episode 3 missing)

Another go for the Yeti, this time in the London Underground (an excellent recreation in studio), forty years or so after the events of “The Abominable Snowmen”[2]. Probably the story that fans most want to see back, I’ve seen Episode 1 and quite enjoyed it. 

And they've now got it back - episode 3 is currently a telesnap reconstruction from 37 images and the audio, but who knows, it might be animated for DVD?

There’s one other thing that this story is notable for:

Brigadier Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart

Although he’s only a Colonel in this story (and UNIT doesn’t exist at this point in time), “The Web of Fear” is the first appearance of one of Who’s much loved characters. 

Only a pair of boots in Episode 2 and his first full appearance is still missing.

Appearing alongside all seven of the classic Doctors (although one of those was non-canonical) and also appearing in The Sarah Jane Adventures, “The Brig” was a true warrior, facing the unknown while remaining completely unflappable and putting his own life on the line many times. One of the few military men the Doctor really liked, it’s fitting that the Doctor learning of his death is such a pivotal point in “The Wedding of River Song”.

He was played by Nicholas Courtney (1929-2011), a lovely man who I had the honour to meet at one of my local department stores a few years before he passed away – no-one really has a bad word to say about him.

Fury from the Deep (6 episodes, none complete)

Victoria’s last story, this story involving mind-controlling seaweed in a gas refinery has a reputation for being very scary. Pity most of it doesn’t exist in video form… It’s also the first story to feature the sonic screwdriver, favoured ‘get out of jail free’ card of many a Who writer in both the classic and new era.

The Wheel in Space (6 episodes, 3 and 6 available)

With Victoria gone, it was time for another female companion. This one would be Zoe Heriot, mathematician from the 21st century, who combined high intelligence with high hemlines[3]. She joins the TARDIS at the end of an adventure which involves the Cybermen trying to take over a space station – so they can use it to invade Earth.

Following the conclusion of “The Wheel in Space”, a repeat of “Evil of the Daleks” with a specially added voiceover with the Doctor talking to Zoe (as he was mentally relaying the adventure for her to give  an insight into what she’d be facing) was aired. This then led straight into the first story of Season 6, a run that was going to see some classic moments indeed.

[1]Since  Between 1991 and 2013, no other story has been was completed due to the finding of lost episodes.
[2]We’ll be discussing UNIT dating next time.
[3]This, after all, being the late 1960s.

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