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June Books 7) The Television Companion

7) The Television Companion: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who, by David J Howe and Stephen James Walker

This has been bedtime reading for a week or so (since I came back from London, I guess), getting through a season or so every evening. Of course, it is all on-line on the BBC website, but it's nice to hold the dead tree version in one's hands as well.

Good and comprehensive basic stuff, though I think I am now ready to move on to some more in-depth examination of the history of the series. I also think that I will buy the DVD of The Aztecs and the audio of The Daleks Master Plan, watch/listen, and decide that I have seen enough Hartnell (having also got through the first episode, The Daleks, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Crusade, The Chase, and The Massacre in the last year) - I hear that The Web Planet is not in fact very good, though also available on DVD.

Then, on to Troughton, and this book makes a strong argument in favour of Season Five as a Great Season Of Doctor Who - including the likes of The Tomb of the Cybermen, The Abominable Snowmen, The Ice Warriors, The Web of Fear and Fury from the Deep. Must see how many of those are available in different formats. There doesn't seem to be a convenient point of reference for that information.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 18th, 2006 08:41 am (UTC)
Season five
Broadcast within a year of my birth, I don;t have a strong personal memory of the original broadcast. However, its long been held up as one of the 'definitive' seasons amongst the fans. Troughton in his full swing, with Victoria and Jamie (the most likeable, IMHO, assistants during his era), and what are billed as some of the best plots.

Much of this season is 'lost' - Tomb existed only in audio format until about 10 years ago. It had acquired the reputation of 'one of the greatest ever stories' and we all instantly recognised the photos of the banks of Cyberman tombs. People talked with awe about the Cybermen hatching from these, and the shere terror it engendered. The BBC did the decent thing, and released it very rapidly on video (its now out on DVD). I recall coming back from fieldwork to be told that it was being released the following day, and aboslutely refused to believe this, until I had a copy in my hand. Fandom was full of jokes about the '3-D version' as some people, including the good Mr Howe, were very fond of insisting they had a copy, but no, no-one else was allowed to see it (the DWAS executive of the 80s & early 90s regularly deserved a good slapping for this type of anti-social behaviour). Anyway, back the the point.... its a good story, but rather slow, and a bit dissapponting all told. For those of use who'd got to know it on nth generation audio bootlegs it was a bit of a let down. But its back, and it is part of the canon.

Abominable Snowman & Web of Fear probably count as two of my favourite stories. Individual episodes exist of each, and there are audio of both stories. Web wins by a whisker, with the magic of something familiar (the London Underground) becoming a fundamental part of the terror. Victoria screams her lungs out in both and of course they also throw in a free Lethbridge-Stewart in Web, which is the clincher for me.

Fury from the Deep exists in audio, I've listened two it, but it made no great impression.

Ice Warriors is still missing eps 2 & 3 I believe, although I have no strong recollections of that.

If you do not already have it, I would recommend Lost in Time to see the partial Troughton & Hartnell stories that exist.
Jun. 18th, 2006 08:42 am (UTC)
Web Planet
Web planet is best enjoyed after the generous application of alcohol and other mind altering substances. Otherwise you will be sadly disappointed.
Jun. 18th, 2006 11:34 am (UTC)
Season Five was something special. I remember it well. Tomb is available on DVD in a beautifully restored version, and is well worth seeing. None of the others is intact. IIRC, there is one episode of each of The Abominable Snowmen, Enemy of the World and Web of Fear still surviving. (Enemy of the World, incidentally, while it did not feature a monster, did have a lot of impact at the time, since the villain was the Doctor’s double, and I still remember the last seen when Salamander gets sucked out of the Tardis into the time vortex.) Two episodes of The Wheel in Space (not so good as earlier Cyberman stories, but not bad all the same) survive. All of those episodes are in the Lost In Time DVD collection.

Four episodes of The Ice Warriors survive, and they were released on VHS in a box set with a CD of the soundtrack of the missing episodes. I don’t know if it is still available.

None of Fury From The Deep survives, and that is a bugger. Everyone I know who saw that remembers it as one of the best Who stories ever. From the first shot of the Tardis materialising in mid-air then slowly descending to site on the sea’s surface, through to the end when Victoria leaves and Jamie is clearly crestfallen. In a nice touch, the weapon used to defeat the seaweed monster was Victoria’s screams.

The Web Planet is, in fact, very good; you do, however, have to make allowances for the state of television technology at the time. It was enormously ambitious for the time, and at the time had a great impact. The Zarbi appeared in annuals at the time, and even made it into the Doctor Who projector thing which was available in the mid-Sixties. No other monster, excluding the Daleks, made such an impact. If it looks clunky and amateurish now, it is because we are used to television programmes made with technology which can make the most amazing things look real, and which allows complex editing of the recordings. It was a different world then, and when we watched The Web Planet at the time we were not seeing the image with anything like the clarity of the picture we get from the DVD release.
Jun. 18th, 2006 11:35 am (UTC)
Sorry, and I still remember the last seen... should of course have read and I still remember the last scene...
Jun. 18th, 2006 11:43 am (UTC)
There doesn't seem to be a convenient point of reference for that information.

Jun. 18th, 2006 01:26 pm (UTC)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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