Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Classic Series Guide for New Series Fans: Advanced Studies 1

Previously I posted my 10 recommendations of classic Doctor Who stories available via Netflix streaming. Sadly, their collection is very limited for a program spanning 50 years. For those who are eager to check out more classic eps and are willing to take the plunge and buy the DVDs, the following is a list of more of my favorite stories from the classic series, starting with the first three Doctors

An Unearthly Child (Pilot & Episode 1)/The Daleks/The Edge of Destruction

Available in the U.S. as "The Beginning" box set. This is where it all started back in November 1963. This release has both the unaired pilot of the first episode and the final aired version. Hartnell's Doctor is much more sinister and quite verbally abusive on the unaired pilot than in the final version of the first episode. You'll probably only want to sit thru the remaining three parts of the premiere story once as the caveman dialogue gets very tiresome, but there are some great character moments from the four regulars (The Doctor, Susan, Ian & Barbara).

"The Daleks" may best be viewed as two stories - episodes 1-4 are about the exploration of the city of Skaro, the introduction of the Daleks and escaping their clutches, while episodes 5-7 focus on our heroes teaming up with the Thals to defeat the Daleks before they drop a neutron bomb on the planet.

"The Edge of Destruction" is a two-part character study set entirely in the TARDIS. A cross between a Pinter play and a Twilight Zone episode, The Doctor and his companions let their fears and distrust of each other lead them to certain destruction. The scenes where a possessed Susan is threatening her fellow companions with a pair of scissors is quite frightening, and Hartnell is perhaps at his most sinister - at one point threatening to throw Ian & Barbara off the ship in mid-flight. We also see our first evidence that the TARDIS is a living being and not just a machine.

The Tomb of the Cybermen

Previously presumed wiped by the BBC, this four-part story from season 5 was rediscovered in the early 1990's in Hong Kong. It's the earliest surviving story of both Patrick Troughton's Doctor and the Cybermen, and it's also the only surviving story featuring companion Victoria Waterfield, a Victorian-era girl who joined the TARDIS crew in the previous adventure. Yes, the sets look cheap, the acting from the guest cast is quite suspect, and some story elements are just a little bit racist, but as an artifact from a lost era of the program it is a fascinating watch. Matt Smith cited this as his favorite episode, and Troughton's portrayal of the role (along with the bow tie) helped inspire him when taking on the role.

The War Games

Yes, it's 10 episodes, but it never seems to drag as much as other multi-part episodes from the black & white era. Aliens kidnap soldiers from various wars in earth history and brainwash them to make them all think they're still fighting in order to form the ultimate army to take over the universe. The story has probably the largest guest cast of any Who story, the highlight being Phillip Madoc's chilling portrayal of the War Lord. We are also introduced to the Time Lords and find out why the Doctor is on the run from them. This is Troughton's last story, and his farewells to his companions Jamie & Zoe are truly heartbreaking.


My favorite Jon Pertwee story, featuring the Doctor's first journey to a parallel universe, in this case a fascist Great Britain facing an ecological disaster caused by corporate/government greed and the need for cheap sources of energy under the earth's surface. And the Doctor must get back to our universe in order to advert the same disaster.

Terror of the Autons

A sequel to "Spearhead from Space", the Autons return to take over the earth with the assistance of a new character - The Master! Roger Delgado is still considered by many to be the best Master, and his scenes with Pertwee are always a joy to see (they were great friends in real life). This story also sees the introduction of Katy Manning as Jo Grant, a bumbling but lovable agent of UNIT. This story generated a lot of controversy with scenes of suffocation by bean bag chair, a killer troll doll, and a policemen being revealed as an blank-faced Auton at the end of episode 2.

The Daemons

Another UNIT story featuring the Master, considered by many to be the best story from the Pertwee era. The stone gargoyle, Bok, predates the Weeping Angels by about 35 years. The Master, posing as the village vicar, dabbles in the black arts to summon the demon Azal (in reality another alien). The Brigadeer delivers his most famous line in episode 5 - "Chap with wings there - five rounds rapid."

Day of the Daleks

I have to throw in at least one more Dalek story in here, and this was the best of their three appearances in the Pertwee era. The Daleks take over earth in the 22nd Century, and freedom-fighters from that era travel back to the 1970's to attempt to change history. The story is available in both original and special edition. I highly recommend watching the special edition as the pacing is better, the special effects and CGI shots mix well with the original footage, and the original Dalek voices, which were very poor, are now replaced by current Dalek voice actor Nick Briggs.

Carnival of Monsters

A humorous adventure written by Robert Holmes. The Doctor and Jo land on a ship bound for Burma in the 1920's yet, all is not what it seems. This story is also available via Netflix streaming.

The Time Warrior

A psudo-historical set in mid-evil England, featuring the debut of the Sontarans (in this case, a lone Sontaran named Linx) and of Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), the plucky journalist who, at first, believe it's the Doctor who's the villain. Again written by Robert Holmes. The guest cast includes Jeremy Bulloch, who went on to wear the Boba Fett suit in "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi".

Planet of the Spiders

Jon Pertwee's swansong. A six-episode story, the Doctor must battle the giant spiders from Metebetis 3 for possession of the "Great Crystal" (a fragment of which appeared in "Hide", an episode from the current season). The majority of episode two is one big vehicular chase featuring hovercrafts, gyrocopters and speedboats (Fast & Furious it is not). The Doctor must face his fear and risk losing his life in the final confrontation with "The Great One", and in the end sacrifices his third incarnation to save the day. Lis Sladen's tears during his final moments were genuine.


Friday, May 24, 2013

The Classic Series Guide for New Series Fans: Netflix Streaming Edition

So I was asked by a few of the cast and crew of The Timey Wimey Fantastic Brilliant Extravaganza (Geronimo!)" what classic series I would recommend for fans who are only familiar with the new series. Nathan in particular asked about which ones currently available on Netflix streaming would I recommend. Sadly, there's not much classic series episodes available on Netflix streaming, but it's a good starting point as any.

1. The Aztecs
The only entry for William Hartnell, the first Doctor. Considered by many to be his best adventure and the best purely historical story in the classic series (defined as having no Sci-Fi elements aside from the TARDIS). This is the first time the series explores the consequences of attempting to change history as schoolteacher Barbara Wright poses as an Aztec goddess in order to stop the ritual sacrifices practiced by this culture to appease the "rain gods" and ensure their crops will grow. Also a great action showcase for Ian Chesterson (the science teacher). Hartnell's insistence that history can not be rewritten - "not one line!" - is perhaps his best moment in his tenure. As will most of the first Doctor's stories, the pacing may be too slow for modern television viewers.

2. The Mind Robber
The only entry for Patrick Troughton, the second Doctor. A surreal fairytale-like adventure set in "The Land of Fiction". A bit silly in spots, and the ending is kinda rubbish, but an entertaining story nonetheless. Episode one is a highlight as it only features the Doctor and his companions in the TARDIS (Jamie and Zoe) being menaced by a mysterious, disembodied entity trying to tempt them out of the TARDIS.

3. Spearhead from Space
Jon Pertwee's (Doctor #3) debut story featuring the Autons & the Nestine Consciousness. Written by Robert Holmes, considered by many to be the best classic series writer. This was the template for "Rose", the first episode of the New Series. Shot entirely on film on location due to a strike at the BBC studios (this happened a lot during the classic run) and due to be released on BluRay shortly. Pertwee doesn't really enter into the fray until halfway thru episode two.

4. The Three Doctors
Fascinating just to see the real-life tension between Troughton and Pertwee translate into their characters. While Pertwee always stuck to the script, Troughton always ad-libbed his way thru. A great case study of how different actors approach playing a character. The Brigadeer gets the best lines in this. Unfortunately, Hartnell was too ill to take part in the studio, and all his appearances (on the TARDIS scanner screen) were pre-filmed.

5. The Ark In Space
The beginning of the "golden age" of Doctor Who - produced by Phillip Hinchcliffe, scripted edited by Robert Holmes (who wrote this adventure), and starring Tom Baker as the fourth Doctor. Yes, the monsters are made of green bubble-wrap, but still a very suspenseful outer-space adventure.

6. Pyramid of Mars
Another classic from the golden age of Who (written by Robert Holmes under the pseudonym "Stephen Harris"). The rapport between Baker and Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith) is unmistakable (watch for their Marx Brothers tribute in episode 4). The main baddie, Sutekh, is one of the most chilling performances ever, and it's just the voice!

7. Horror of Fang Rock
Another Tom Baker story, this time with his savage companion, Leela, who sadly is not in the leathers this episode. Set in a lighthouse and based on the classic murder mystery "Ten Little Indians". Start of the Graham Williams era, but still feels like a Hinchcliffe-era story. Written by Terrence Dicks, who wrote the majority of the "Target" range of classic series novelizations.

8. City of Death
Probably my favorite episode ever. Written by Douglas Adams (under the pseudonym "David Agnew") and featuring Tom Baker and Lalla Ward as the second incarnation of the Time Lord Romana (whom he later married in real life for about 18 months - she is now married to Richard Dawkins). Everything you want in a new series episode (comedy, adventure, mystery, time paradoxes, and a character being splintered in time). Location filming in Paris where the story is set. Watch for a special cameo in episode 4.

9. The Caves of Androzani
Peter Davison's (Doctor #5) last story, and his best. Another classic tale by Robert Holmes, it's a story of political intrigue, betrayal and revenge. It's one of the most violent stories in the classic series, and it's bloody brilliant (apart from the monster, which thankfully is only in a few scenes). Directed by Graeme Harper, the only person who has directed for both the Classic and New Series. We get a peek of Colin Baker's Doctor in the end, but sadly his Doctor is not represented at all in Netflix's streaming package.

10. The Curse of Fenric
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor #7) and Sophie Aldred (Ace) was one of the best Doctor/Companion teams in the classic series. This is probably the four part (broadcast) version, and not the special edition movie version which is actually better because they restored all the cut scenes that help the viewer understand just what the heck is going on. However, the pacing and the timey-wimey elements of this story are a lot like those of the New Series.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

#007 - Hello My Name Is __________

…in which an emotionally charged podcaster does his impression of a CTA bus route - after weeks of no episode reviews, four of them show up at once. It's a wrap up of Series 7-B from "Journey To The Center Of The TARDIS" to "The Crimson Horror" to "Nightmare in Silver" to "The Name of the Doctor". Topics include: the mechanics of time lock technology and why The Doctor really can't see Amy & Rory again, why Jenny should press charges, references to better Doctor Who episodes, references to better episodes of other programs, crimes against the art of acting, and a new numbering system. Also a preview of the "Timey Wimey" show. Plenty of F-bombs are lobbied, and some tears are shed.

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Show Links:

The Timey Wimey Fantastic Brilliant Extravaganza (Geronimo)! - Tickets now available!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

"Timey Wimey" materializes on stage

Brittany Stock as "The Companion" and Clint Worthington as "The Doctor" in the "Timey Wimey" show

"The Timey Wimey Fantastic Brilliant Extravaganza (Geronimo!)" starts tonight! tonight! tonight! We had a great preview night last night. I am really proud of everyone involved in putting this show together. Be sure to get your ticket reservations in by emailing

Meanwhile, I have my show notes ready for a recording session tomorrow morning for the next podcast episode. Will be reviewing "Journey", "Crimson Horror" and "Nightmare In Silver", then will watch and review the series finale on Sunday. Hopefully the new podcast ep will drop by mid-week. Allons-y!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"Timey Wimey" show coming soon.

In the meantime, the cast/crew list along with some photos, bios and ticket information are now available for viewing at The Right Brain Project's website. Your truly provided most of the props and some of the costuming. Everyone is working very hard on this show, and I'm proud to be working with everyone in the cast and crew.

Out of's on backorder

Again I must apologize for lack of journal updates and podcasts. I was hoping to get another review podcast out this week for both "Journey to the Center of the TARDIS" and "The Crimson Horror", but I've been busy this past week working on sound cues for the "Timey Wimey" show and am currently booked solid from now til the end of opening weekend. and, of course, that pesky 9 to 5 job. any spare minutes I have is being spent with my girlfriend (who also has a lot on her plate) and our newly adopted cat, Jupiter.

It's most likely that the next podcast won't be out til after the series 7B finale. So you may just get the remaining four reviews all in one go.