Outside the Government 1 (The Five Faces of Doctor Who)

(41 comments)

Outside the Government is an occasional series focusing on televised Doctor Who material that is not a part of the series proper - spin-offs, documentaries, and, in this case, reruns.

It’s November 2nd, 1981. Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin are at number one with “It’s My Party.” I’m finding records on this point just a little dodgy, but I think we’re looking at a five week run, in which case what we should say is that in one week The Police overtake them with “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.” Two weeks later Queen and David Bowie take over number one with “Ice Ice Baby,” which holds number one for the remainder of this experience. Elvis Costello, The Jam, The Human League, Rod Stewart, Soft Cell, The Pretenders, and Oliva Newton-John also chart.

Since the prepared-for end, Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley Jr. Jodi Foster was unimpressed. Pope John Paul II is also shot and nearly killed. And Marcus Sargeant took six blank shots at Queen Elizabeth II. The first Space Shuttle takes off, serving in most regards as a tombstone for all dreams of spaceflight that had animated the 1960s, reducing wonder to a banal and pointless repetition of spaceflight essentially for its own sake. Peter Sutcliffe is found guilty of being the Yorkshire Ripper, and I’ve learned my lesson about commenting on that particular issue. The first recognized cases of AIDS are identified by the CDC. And, of course, the whole race riots thing we talked about last time. And Hosni Mubarak is elected President of Egypt following Sadat’s assassination.

While during the five weeks that Doctor Who’s five faces apparate, Antigua and Barbuda gain independence from the UK and the General Synod of the Church of England votes to allow the ordination of women. Luke and Laura marry on General Hospital, and Reagan signs the order that will lead to the Iran Contra scandal.

While on television we have the first real attempt to historicize Doctor Who. The Five Faces of Doctor Who repeats, in which episodes were screened daily Monday through Thursday to provide, over five weeks, reruns of five four-part stories from the history of the program personally selected by John Nathan-Turner. The stories, for the record, were An Unearthly Child/100,000 BC, The Krotons, Carnival of Monsters, The Three Doctors, and Logopolis.

It is first and foremost telling what stories were selected. The constraint of the timeslot restricted the program to four-parters. Combined with the problems of missing episodes this left, for a Hartnell repeat, the following options (assuming I haven’t forgotten about something that was completed post-1981, which I may well have): An Unearthly Child, The Aztecs, The Romans, The Space Museum, The Ark, The Gunfighters, and The War Machines. Of these, given the nostalgia factor of a first repeat series, An Unearthly Child was the only choice.

But this had the effect of badly obscuring Hartnell’s Doctor, who, after all, is at best prototypically formed in An Unearthly Child. The other thing to note about the Five Faces repeats is that they were the first time fandom got to look at most of these. Older fans had their memories of the stories, sure, but younger fans were getting their first glimpses of Hartnell and Troughton. And in many cases their last for years, at least in their original settings. The next time a Troughton story became available was 1985 when The Seeds of Death came out on video. Pertwee was gone again until 1988, and Hartnell didn’t become available again until 1989. Finally, in 1990 both became decently represented, with all four complete Troughton stories being released along with four different Hartnells. (I’m honestly not sure if there were more reruns in this period, but if so we’re still talking about one or two instances at most.)

On top of that, it’s worth reflecting on the state of the novelizations. A lot of the Hartnell and Troughton stories were novelized quite late. By the end of 1981, the only Hartnell stories to even be novelized were The Daleks, The Crusade, The Web Planet, The Tenth Planet, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, and An Unearthly Child. Troughton did similarly with The Enemy of the World, The War Games, Tomb of the Cybermen, The Web of Fear, The Ice Warriors, The Abominable Snowmen, and The Moonbase. So information about them was enormously sketchy.

In other words, these stories were foundational to fan impressions about the Doctors in question. The direct links are in many ways obscure, but when you remember that a generation of fandom knew Hartnell entirely by the story where he nearly bashes a guy’s skull in it’s easy to see where the view of Hartnell as angry and unpleasant came from. Even watching the series in the early 90s the sense that Hartnell was like that permeated through fandom, making his era the one I was by far least interested in seeing just by the reputation of his Doctor - a reputation formed almost entirely by reruns that had happened before I was even born.

Troughton poses a more interesting problem. Even today there are only two complete four-part Troughton stories, and in 1981 there was only one, hence The Krotons, a serviceable but largely anonymous Troughton effort. But in this regard Troughton is perhaps helped as much as Hartnell is hindered. The Troughton era has always been caught between two poles. One camp of fans - the ones who dominated 1980s fandom, specifically - valued the era for its great monsters and bases under siege. For them the highlight of the Troughton era, and indeed of the series, is The Web of Fear, and they want nothing more than for it to be rediscovered. (Hence, whenever any missing episode find happens, frustration that it’s not Web of Fear.)

The second camp prefers the stranger and more... mercurial Troughton era. I unabashedly belong to this camp, preferring The Mind Robber and Power of the Daleks to any base under siege in the era. (The two sides agree on Evil of the Daleks and Evil of the Daleks alone.) And by chance it was The Krotons that was the lone surviving Troughton story. A story that is firmly in the stranger and more psychedelic tradition. One has little doubt that Nathan-Turner would have run Tomb of the Cybermen or The Moonbase if he could, but he was stuck with The Krotons. And as a result the more mercurial and psychedelic Troughton era - the one that had largely been forgotten by 1981 - enjoyed a fortuitous resurgence.

The Pertwee era, on the other hand, has a more unusual fate. It gets, at least, both a UNIT and a space story, and a fairly good one of each. Carnival of Monsters, while in no way a standard Pertwee story, is rightly well-regarded. It’s in many ways the best choice of Nathan-Turner’s. There are nine four-episode Pertwee stories, and while not all of them existed in color at the end of 1981, Nathan-Turner was not low on options. That he picked an odd Pertwee story that was both very good and very much not what Pertwee-era devotees would have looked for.

The Three Doctors is a stranger choice The opportunity to squeeze out a bonus Hartnell and Troughton with The Three Doctors was an obvious plus, so that made sense in its own right, though it creates a bit of an oddity by contrasting the pop-science of 1973 immediately with Bidmead’s pop science of 1981. Presumably Nathan-Turner wanted a UNIT story, but both Day of the Daleks and The Claws of Axos existed and were usable, so the choice here has to go down to wanting the double dip on Hartnell and Troughton. But the flip side is that this means that the Pertwee era is disproportionately represented.

The effect of this was to allow Nathan-Turner a somewhat troubling bit of erasure. The rerun series jumps from 1973 to Logopolis in 1981, neatly sidestepping the entire six seasons of Tom Baker that Nathan-Turner wasn’t producer on. That Logopolis had to be rerun is sensible enough - it’s the only way to get a fifth face of Doctor Who in and it serves too well as a lead-in to Castrovalva, which airs just a month later. But if you’re going to double-represent an era surely the seven years of Tom Baker are a better choice than running two stories not just from the Pertwee era but from the same season of the Pertwee era - indeed, two consecutive stories.

The real issue, let’s be blunt, is that Nathan-Turner knew better than to rerun something from the Whitehouse-hated and very technically adept Hinchcliffe era. So the real obvious choice of rerunning The Brain of Morbius or Pyramids of Mars - both quite old and nostalgic - got skipped. Heck, even rerunning The Hand of Fear as a lead-in to what Nathan-Turner had planned for December was skipped. Given the ferocity with which Nathan-Turner would begin adamantly insisting that the memory cheated with regards to this era (despite the fact that the era was being released on VHS and it was abundantly clear to everyone that, for instance, Pyramids of Mars and The Robots of Death really were a damn sight better than Terror of the Vervoids), it is difficult to read this omission as anything other than Nathan-Turner not wanting to deal with direct comparisons between his era and the Hinchcliffe era. Instead he claims the entire Tom Baker era with his own work. A highlight of his own work, but as bad a representation of the Tom Baker era as An Unearthly Child was of the Hartnell era.

Still, that Nathan-Turner managed to swing the repeat season at all was impressive. Five weeks of BBC2’s schedule were occupied heavily by Doctor Who. Especially given that Doctor Who’s ratings in Season 18 had been... problematic at best. Again, we come to the sort of light side/dark side of Nathan-Turner. His skills at self-promotion really were remarkable. And that was to the show’s benefit on a number of occasions, this being one of them. Between this and K-9 and Company he managed an incredibly well-hyped lead-in to the debut of Peter Davison and heavily counteracted the “Oh, Tom Baker’s gone, who cares” effect. He also effectively trained Doctor Who fans to watch Doctor Who on weekdays, which was going to be exactly what they’d have to do come Tuesday. And again, his skill at reading the television landscape and using the paratextual elements of the medium becomes clear.

But more importantly, this marks another step in the transition of the show from an ephemeral model to an enduring one. The possibility that classic episodes would be re-aired was starting to matter. This in and of itself marks a major transition in the attitude of the BBC towards its classic material. This is the point where missing episode finds really happened fast. Of the 33 recovered episodes since the first census of missing episodes three have, as of December if 1981, already been found. Another sixteen happened in the three year period following these reruns. That’s half of the missing episodes in a three year period. The years from 1985-2011 only had fourteen. I would not be so silly as to claim that there’s a causal connection between the efforts to recover episodes and these reruns, but the sudden active effort to find missing episodes and the existence of the Five Faces series are symptoms of a larger shift in what television was that we've discussed before.

Indeed, the Doctor Who Monthly Winter Special in 1981 contained an interview with Sue Malden (the person responsible for ending the junking policy and making sure nothing else got destroyed). That came out in November, making this, in essence, the month where the missing episodes problem became public knowledge (and providing a tacit explanation for the odd choice of The Krotons). The result, taken with everything else, marks a subtle but crucial shift in what Doctor Who is. At last, the show has become something with an experienced history. Though there are obvious flaws and gaps in its memory, it can really be said that the majority of fandom can remember the series’ past directly. And that will, as ever, only grow more true.

Comments

Eric Gimlin 5 years, 5 months ago

Was Claws of Axos available in usable colour at this point? Even if the BBC had the tapes back, without RSC they might not have considered the quality high enough for broadcast at that point. For that matter, they may not have wanted to pay for the Daleks. For that matter, I suspect given the structure they were building around The Three Doctors from fairly early on.

All of that is total nitpicking, though. As usual, another great post. I would add that, after seven years, this probably introduced a lot of people to the whole idea of the nth Doctor in practice rather than theory, something important to help people accept Davidson.

Link | Reply

Anton B 5 years, 5 months ago

Coming so soon after the 'Pushing Ahead of the Dame' guest slot I assume 'Ice Ice Baby' was a slip or was it some kind of meta-textual joke?

Link | Reply

John Callaghan 5 years, 5 months ago

People talk about the magic of Dr. Who. For me, it's autumn evenings watching The Five Faces. The dark black and white of An Unearthly Child seems perfectly aligned with the darkness outside. Maaaaaaaaaarvellous.

Link | Reply

Wm Keith 5 years, 5 months ago

Some more imaginative options for the Hartnell repeats might have been:
An Unearthly Child / Planet of Giants
or even
Inside the Spaceship (what were they calling it in 1981?) / The Rescue

And either "Robot" or "Terror of the Zygons" would have been a perfectly serviceable UNIT story, particularly appropriate with the forthcoming Sarah Jane event.

I think that the Playground Effect of the Five Faces season was not simply to diminish Hartnell and Troughton (boring stories) but also to give Pertwee a major, lasting appreciation boost.

And this was, of course, 1981. The repeats were no more than 18 years old. The Pertwee repeats were nine years old. Today, that would be almost like repeating... the Paul McGann movie and "Aliens of London". Which are constantly repeated on satellite, and which can still be read as modern TV drama (as much as they ever could, you might say in the case of the TVM).

People talk about an "Eleven Faces" season to celebrate 50 years of DW, but if in 1981 they'd wanted to show a Doctor Who story from 1931, the best they could have come up with would have been the Boris Karloff version of "Frankenstein". Although (and I had to look this up), "East Lynne on the Western Front" sounds fascinating.

Oh, and the CofE vote was the first practical step in the ordination of women as deacons (which took another six years to achieve). The equivalent step in the ordination of women as priests was in 1984.

N.B. Just because I'm reading and commenting on this post doesn't mean I'm not still stumbling around your damned Logopolis tree. Sandifer, I'm beginning to think you're the Shrike.

Link | Reply

Carey 5 years, 5 months ago

If I recall correctly, the choice of Carnival of Monsters was far more prosaic than your own theory: Nathan Turner aired it as a tip of the hat to it's director (and his own departing executive producer) Barry Letts.

The only other terrestrial broadcast of "out of Doctor" stories in the 80's was the following summer which featured Doctor Who's most popular monsters. The limitations were that, because this time the broadcast would be on BBC1 as opposed to BBC2, the repeats had to be in colour, so only the Third, Fourth and Fifth Doctor's were represented. The stories chosen were Curse of Peladon (to represent the Ice Warriors); Genesis of the Daleks (for the eponymous Daleks) and Earthshock (for the Cybermen). The choice of Genesis over Destiny was supposedly because of the poor reputation of the later, but because each slot was a four episode story (albeit edited to two fifty minute one slots) this necessitated an edited version of Genesis which, it has to be said, did the story absolutely no favours. Indeed, I thought Genesis to be incredibly over-rated for years as a result of this cut down version, at least until the VHS release of the story in the early 90's, when I realised what a masterpiece it actually was.

How much this corresponds to your theory that Nathan Turner was scared of showing stories that would show up his own stories, I'll leave for others, but I would say that, if you were going to edit down a story to improve it, surely Monster of Peladon (featuring the Ice warriors as actual villains) would have been a better choice.

After this, the VHS revolution hit past Doctor Who, with the release of Revenge of the Cybermen, followed by the Brain of Morbius. Albeit the later in an edited down format. Is there a pattern emerging?

Link | Reply

David Anderson 5 years, 5 months ago

If the two Troughton camps only agree on The Evil of the Daleks, which camp likes the Invasion? The Cybermen are perhaps the classic Base Under Siege monster, but Tobias Vaughn doesn't belong in a Base Under Siege plot and while interacting with Vaughn the Doctor is in his subversive mode. Coming to Invasion from War Games and Mind Robber I'm not disappointed in the way I am by Seeds of Death.

Link | Reply

Carey 5 years, 5 months ago

An addendum to my comment on Nathan Turner here: it should always be remembered that, especially in his first two or three years as producer, Nathan Turner was very much lead by the fan consensus of the time, as exemplified by him using Ian Levine as an "unofficial" advisor. So fan consensus said that Destiny of the Daleks was a bad story, whereas Genesis (albeit too long for the slot it was needed for) was a good one.

Williams is a good example of Nathan Turner's opposite: his advice to his successor (and one disregarded) was to ignore the fans. The best example of this was Williams' own first season: Gallifrey was returned to in Invasion of Time not because the fan consensus of the time said that the Deadly Assassin was a great story. Quite the opposite, as your own entry pointed out, Assassin was hated by the fans, and came last in that years DWAS survey. Williams attempted a sequel to the Deadly Assassin because it was one of the most popular stories that year with the general audience. Nathan Turner, to the detriment of Doctor Who, decided to listen to its niche audience instead. Indeed, it could be said that Nathan Turners greatest tragedy as a producer was in listening too much to the opinions of others, and not in his own beliefs. Although that doesn't explain the casting, character nor costume of the sixth Doctor.

Link | Reply

Wm Keith 5 years, 5 months ago

The Pertwee camp likes The Invasion. It is also appreciated by canoeists.

Link | Reply

Jesse 5 years, 5 months ago

It's a joke (and a good one; it made me laugh out loud). The Bowie/Queen song that charted, "Under Pressure," was sampled in "Ice Ice Baby."

Link | Reply

Anton B 5 years, 5 months ago

Well duh! I knew that. I just didn't think it was that funny. Oh well put it down to my self being 'under pressure' of work and that bloody picture of JNT putting me in a humourless mood. As you were people, carry on. :)

Link | Reply

Jon Cole 5 years, 5 months ago

I was ill for the Krotons, so I had the little TV and Patrick Troughton in my room for a week - bliss.

I had to wait for the Curse of Peladon to fall in love with Pertwee though

Link | Reply

David Anderson 5 years, 5 months ago

It is a prototype Pertwee script. If you replaced Vaughn with the Master it would be a Pertwee script. However, Vaughn is not an outsider to the society he's trying to take over; he's as close to being the establishment as any character we see. So it seems to me that it plays to Troughton's subversive strengths in a way that the generic Base Under Siege doesn't and can't do.

(I'm a little unfairly down on Seeds of Death as a Troughton vehicle - the parallels between Fewsham's behaviour and the Doctor's behaviour couldn't be pulled off with more ostensibly heroic Doctors.)

Link | Reply

Zapruder 313 5 years, 5 months ago

I've always assumed that the reason this season even existed was to put up a giant sign saying "Look! People other than Tom Baker have played the role, so don't all turn off when the vet from All Creatures Great and Small turns up next time".

If so, it succeeded brilliantly, and may be the single masterstroke that saved the show. To fans of my age, who couldn't remember any Doctor but Tom, it made these other versions of the character that we only knew from Target novelizations come to life, and was utterly seminal in a way that later fans who could see an old episode of of Doctor Who whenever they wanted on VHS, DVD or BBC3 must find hard to really appreciate. To the Doctor Who fan, this repeat season was as exciting, maybe even more so, than the new season itself.

A quick note on the choice of The Three Doctors: surely the rationale there was simply that this was the only place you could ever see the first two Doctors in colour?

Link | Reply

Alan 5 years, 5 months ago

Indeed, it could be said that Nathan Turners greatest tragedy as a producer was in listening too much to the opinions of others, and not in his own beliefs. Although that doesn't explain the casting, character nor costume of the sixth Doctor.

Indeed. And I really would like to know who told him that the fans were clamoring for disagreeable companions who resented traveling in the TARDIS and complained about it in every episode.

Link | Reply

Dan 5 years, 5 months ago

Me and my mates were just delighted with the choice of The Three Doctors. Less so with Logopolis, the last thing shown and we would have loved to have seen an early Baker again.

But it is true and perhaps even ironic that this was one of the things that really cemented fandom at the time the show was just starting its gradual terminal decline. (I have never seen the last two seasons, but clearly the improvement was too late.)

And it wasn't the same on a weekday, or with 45 minute episodes...oh, wait.

Link | Reply

Zapruder 313 5 years, 5 months ago

You've never seen Seasons 25 and 26?

Two of my absolute favourites, and the genuine, wonderful, "it's back and as good as it ever was" Indian Summer of Doctor Who, for me.

I agree completely about the gradual, and, sadly terminal decline, but they not only pulled out of it, but reached the heights once again, at the very end. Too late, of course, but those last two years of Sylvester and Sophie are just plain classic Who, in my humble opinion. Strongly recommended.

Link | Reply

Dan 5 years, 5 months ago

What are the best stories?

Link | Reply

Jesse 5 years, 5 months ago

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy is my favorite.

And I agree with Zapruder: After the dregs of the Davison and Colin Baker years, plus an interesting but uneven first season for McCoy, the last two years are an enjoyable return to form.

Link | Reply

WGPJosh 5 years, 5 months ago

I think that may be the point. I read the message of "Seeds of Death" as twofold: One, it's Brian Hayles and Terrance Dicks showing a remarkable bit of foresight in deconstructing 1960s futurism and unintentionally anticipating the rise of corporatization (hence the Transmat company and outdated, outmoded rocket ships).

More importantly though, it's Hayles and Dicks deconstructing the Base under Siege model itself by showing how just having The Doctor running around killing monsters who invade bases makes him no better than the monsters themselves. You're not supposed to side with The Doctor-You're supposed to react in horror when he mercilessly guns down intelligent, sentient beings. Read that way, I feel "Seeds of Death" is a very appropriate lead-in to "The War Games".

Link | Reply

WGPJosh 5 years, 5 months ago

The Cartmel era is far and away my favourite era of Doctor Who. There's so much amazing work on display it's hard to pick a favourite, but massive props have to go to "Remembrance of the Daleks", "Silver Nemesis" (very unfairly maligned and shafted IMO), "Battlefield", "Ghost Light" and "The Curse of Fenric".

Link | Reply

C. 5 years, 5 months ago

anything from Season 26 (except "Battlefield," which is ambitious enough and could've been great, but the limited production resources really let down the side, IMO) is up there with any era of Who, really. But it was just too late---the show had lost its audience. I've met several people who were teenagers in the UK in the '80s & who have no idea Sylv McCoy even played the Doctor---the last they remember is Davison or C. Baker (who seems generally hated). But we're getting ahead of ourselves here...

Link | Reply

Zapruder 313 5 years, 5 months ago

Dan: I'd start with Remembrance of the Daleks and just work your way forward from there . . . The extended editions on the DVDs are generally my recommended versions for the last two seasons, rather than broadcast cuts, which suffer a bit from not making as much sense as they might when you try to cram them into 24 minute episodes.

Thank-you, WGPJosh, for the shout-out for Silver Nemesis, which I just plain love! If you just want to enjoy spending time with two series leads who actually like being in the show and enjoy each other's company, it can't be beat. After the unmatchable original four from An Unearthly Child, Sylvester and Sophie are my favourite TARDIS team.

But yes, we are getting ahead of ourselves. We have a long, slow descent into darkness to negotiate first, and not in a good way. There are many good things to see along the way, though!

Link | Reply

WGPJosh 5 years, 5 months ago

My pleasure! I've never quite understood the flak "Silver Nemesis" gets, apart from it being dreadfully dismembered in its original broadcast version and the admitted problem of the Cartmel Masterplan never quite resolving itself satisfactorily. On that note though, wouldn't the extended VHS version of that story be better than the DVD given it goes out of its way to reinstate crucial scenes, where even the newest DVD version falls back on the broadcast cut? IIRC all the other Season 25/26 DVDs are fine, though we're long past-due for an extended recut of "Remembrance" and "Ghost Light" IMO.

Also, would it not make sense to start from "Dragonfire", despite it being in the rockier Season 24 as it introduces Ace and has plot threads that are picked up again later on?

But no more of that for now. We are indeed getting ahead of ourselves and we have some unpleasantness immediately ahead of us to attend to. However, Phil says he really likes the Peter Davison era, so it should prove to be intellectually stimulating and provocative at the very least!

Link | Reply

Zapruder 313 5 years, 5 months ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

Link | Reply

Zapruder 313 5 years, 5 months ago

Sadly I think the deleted scenes in Ghost Light only exist with timecode striping, so there was no extended cut there. I'd still watch one with the timecode, of course: better than nothing!

For Silver Nemesis, I've still got my DVD-R dub of the VHS Extended Edition, since the DVD failed to include it. Most vexing, and a rare black mark against a largely perfect DVD reissue campaign! The broadcast version, as you say, suffers badly, and leaves out several of my favourite moments from the entire run of the show!

Dragonfire is the best place to start, yes, with the proviso that Dan will have to sit through some pretty poor stuff to get to the single most enjoyable moment in the whole of Doctor Who:

Doctor: "Ace! Where do you think you've going?"

Ace: "Perivale."

Doctor: "Ah, but by which route?"

Join us, Dan, as we sit back, open another bottle of red, and relax. The last few years have been all-but unwatchable, yes; our faith in this show we love so much has been tested to its very limit , and the end is near: but from now on until the end, can just enjoy ourselves. It is all going to be all right.

Link | Reply

Dan 5 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the suggestions. It seems you want me to watch all of them.. it might have to be Remembrance and Ghost Light and maybe Silver Nemesis then, since I don't want to buy all the DVDs right now.. otherwise I'd have to buy everything.

Link | Reply

Gavin Schofield 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree - Silver Nemesis is pretty good stuff. I'm 25 so I missed out on having a doctor to call "my doctor" (although Matt Smith is nearly there!), but I did get to enjoy the VHS releases free from any sort of fan consensus, and my very favourites were Silver Nemesis, Terror of the Zygons and Revenge of the Cybermen. Bliss.

Link | Reply

Wm Keith 5 years, 5 months ago

The flak Silver Nemesis gets would be completely obvious to anyone who had watched Season 25 on first transmission. Nemesis is the same plot as the previous story (which is by any standard the best story transmitted for at least four years (some would say twenty-four), and clearly the best Dalek story for at least thirteen), only completely dumbed down and badly executed. "Straight blowing", you might say, to Remembrance's punk jazz. More than anything, this is the story that demonstrates how poor the Cybermen are when written as second-string Daleks.

But don't start with "Remembrance". Start with "Time and the Rani", and watch the pieces gradually come together.

Link | Reply

WGPJosh 5 years, 5 months ago

I will admit the Cybermen at times feel a bit shoehorned in, but I fail to see how "Silver Nemesis" is the exact same story as "The Happiness Patrol" ;-)

There are maybe some more clear cut similarities with "Remembrance", but I think only insofar as they're meant as two parts of a big story arc Andrew Cartmel and his writers were planning, so naturally they'd address similar themes.

Link | Reply

David Anderson 5 years, 5 months ago

Remembrance of the Daleks is permanently number one on my personal list of best Doctor Who stories ever. I recently rewatched Survival and at the moment it's top ten.
Ghost Light and then Curse of Fenric are somewhere in the top twenty or so - they are both slightly overcut, which means that Curse is a little difficult to follow if you watch the broadcast version and in Ghost Light the only way to find out what two of the central characters are is to watch the Making Of... Although both stories stand up to not knowing everything that's going on.

Link | Reply

Alex 5 years, 5 months ago

If the book "Wiped!" is correct then "The War Machines" wasn't returned to the BBC till 1985 and thus couldn't have been considered for the repeats. As for Pertwee, while "Axos" and "Peladon" were recovered in colour in early '81, they may not have been ready for broadcast at the time the repeats were decided upon given they were NTSC copies which would have require conversion into PAL.

Link | Reply

SK 5 years, 5 months ago

Oh, that's easy: it was whoever said, 'You should go back to the classic set-up, you know, Ian and Barbara as reluctant travellers trying to get back to Earth.'

Link | Reply

SK 5 years, 5 months ago

You cannot repeat the third story on mainstream terrestrial TV, and certainly you couldn't in 1981. It has the scissors scene.

Link | Reply

Wm Keith 5 years, 5 months ago

My mistake! But never let it be said that I favour factual accuracy over truth.

Again, at the time, not knowing anything about the nascent Masterplan, "Nemesis" just seemed like a bad copy of "Remembrance".

Anyway, the fact that almost every story in this era is someone's favourite is a testament to its overall quality.

Personally, for all that I think "Remembrance" is wonderful, I've always seen "Ghost Light" as the absolute pinnacle of the McCoy/Cartmel era. David Anderson mentioned that it is "overcut" and "the only way to find out what two of the central characters are is to watch the Making Of...", but I'd rather say that it refuses to provide glib answers to the viewer's questions.

Link | Reply

WGPJosh 5 years, 5 months ago

No worries! I'm just being overly clever.

It's so very hard for me to pick a favourite story from this era, but "Ghost Light" is very close. I do think it's a bit overcut, but on the other hand I do appreciate,a s you said, its unwillingness to tie things up in a neat little package.

Link | Reply

David Bateman 5 years, 5 months ago

As I see it, the first real attempt to historicize Doctor Who was the Radio Times 10th Anniversary Special. The story guide in that was where it was first possible to read an overview of the series' narrative from the beginning up to the, then, date (pub. 1974?). The Target novelisations had only just begun. And, all of these publications came on the back of 'The Three Doctors'.

Aside from that, other glimpses of the beginnings were in the two 60's movies which sometimes got a showing on Saturday morning TV. I'm not surprised when you say that Hartnell's Doctor suffered from something of a bad reputation in younger fandom given the contrast between the series and Cushing's portrayal as Dr. Who.

The Five Faces of Doctor Who was a slightly odd title, until of course the end of Logopolis. A neat bit of slight-of-hand, that. Do you think its derived from 'The Face of Fu Manchu' (1965) - another Saturday morning TV, er, 'favourite'? Or, is it from 'The Five Faces of Manfred Mann'(1964)?

And, does anyone know, or even remember, what was on BBC2 on Fridays? Was it Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes? If so, chances are the Five Faces time slot would be a good candidate if you were looking for the origins of 'Sherlock'.

'The Pearl of Death' was the just about the scariest thing on TV since 'The Ark in Space.'

Link | Reply

David Bateman 5 years, 5 months ago

The first attempt to historicize Doctor Who was probably the Radio Times 10th Anniversary Special published in 1974(?). It's story guide was where it was first possible to read an overview of the narrative of the series up to the, then, date. It appeared just after the first few Target novelisations, and of course, all of this was on the back of The Three Doctors.

The other way to see into the beginnings of the series was through the 60's movies, which were shown on Saturday morning TV. I'm not surprised when you say that Hartnell's Doctor had something of a bad reputation among younger fandom given the contrast between the series and Cushing's portrayal of Dr. Who.

The Five Faces of Doctor Who seemed like a strange title at the time, but became quite clear at the end of Logopolis. Nice bit of sleight of hand, that. I wonder if it was derived from 'The Face of Fu Manchu'(1965) - another Saturday morning TV, er, favourite - or from 'The Five Faces of Manfred Mann' (1964)?

Also, does anyone know, or even remember, what was shown on BBC2 on Friday? Was it Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes movies?

Link | Reply

Matt Sharp 5 years, 5 months ago

'...it’s easy to see where the view of Hartnell as angry and unpleasant came from.'

The choice of 'The Three Doctors' also seems to confirm the fan myth that Hartnell was too ill to play the part, I at least assumed that the ailing actor we see on the screen was representative of his era; in the same way that 'The Five Doctors' firmly established Troughton to be the short Doctor despite being slightly taller than Hartnell as he's no where near as tall as Richard Hurndall

Link | Reply

Alex Wilcock 5 years, 4 months ago

Coming late to the party, a couple of points strike me that no-one's yet mentioned...

In effect, only the first three Doctors had stories 'to themselves' - only the Second and Third, if you take the view that An Unearthly Child was a work in progress - as the "Five Faces" frame had to emphasise all five Doctors. Which is why they confusingly showed Carnival of Monsters immediately before The Three Doctors (despite the end of the 'latter' being a precondition for the 'former'). And of course that was because it was more important to establish the Third Doctor than to establish that the TARDIS was working - having The Three Doctors after showing those three Doctors was a summary or an exclamation mark to make sure you got the point. After which, there was simply no choice about showing another multi-Doctor story to finish - Logopolis, which had to be the pick for the "Five Faces" because it was the only one available with Peter Davison in it.

Of course, before they settled on The Three Doctors as the 'fifth' story to complete the "Five" frame, Philip Hinchcliffe had asked for them to repeat The Masque of Mandragora, but I'm not going there again... ;)

Link | Reply

othemts 4 years ago

It really blows my mind that Doctor Who shows were not rerun regularly (not to mention that they videos were actively destroyed). Was this a standard practice of the BBC? I grew up in the 70s & 80s and due to the practice of American television syndicating old programs I was familiar with a lot of shows from the 50s, 60s, & 70s. In fact, there are some programs like Star Trek and The Brady Bunch that wouldn't be remembered without syndication. Anyway, no deep analysis here, just surprised by the different approach taken by British television.

Link | Reply

David Gerard 3 years, 7 months ago

Viewing Doctor Who in Australia in the '70s and '80s was a bit more interesting. It was in the children's teatime slot (5:30pm), but daily on weekdays, rather than weekly. And so was repeated, over and over; so kids got very familiar with the stuff. Basically from mid-Pertwee on. I think we got as far as Colin Baker and ABC didn't even buy the Sylvester McCoy shows. But in the late '80s, they got into repeating the Dr Who they had in tacked-together movie format on Saturday afternoons.

Link | Reply

New Comment

required

required (not published)

optional

Recent Posts

Archive

Tags

Authors

Feeds

RSS / Atom