Viewing posts tagged troughton

My Writing Gets Worse and Worse (Tomb of the Cybermen)

Oh no! You took it out of its original packaging! Now it's
worthless!
It's September 2, 1967. Scott Mckenzie is at number one with "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)," the basic subject of which we discussed on Wednesday. The Beatles' anthem for the same events, "All You Need is Love," is still at number six, having peaked at number one in July. A week later, Engelbert Humperdinck, who has increasingly become the very image of the establishment for the purposes of these metaphors, takes number one a week later, and holds it for the remainder of this story (and a third of the next). The rest of the charts remain pleasantly psychedelic, however, with Keith West, Flowerpot Men, and The Move keeping the dream alive.

In real news... basically, hung over from the summer, the world spends September taking a breather. Seriously, it's slim pickings. The Vietnam War drags maddeningly all, The Doors have an iconic performance on The Ed Sullivan Show... and ummm... yeah.

Whereas on television...

Well now, that's actually a good question. What did happen on television that month? I mean, specifically related to Doctor Who. The ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 6 (The Summer of Love)

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea is a recurring feature in which things that are not Doctor Who are looked at in terms of their relation to Doctor Who. Today we look at various and sundry objects from the summer of 1967, the so-called Summer of Love.


We have to start, I suppose, with Sergeant Pepper. There's a monolithically long essay in About Time, after all, called "Did Sergeant Pepper Know the Doctor" that tackles this directly, although if we're being honest it mentions both Sergeant Pepper and the Doctor somewhat less than its title might suggest. So let's start with the album itself. The first thing to point out about it is that it is ostensibly the first ever "concept album." In practice, hardly any concept albums are, and it's difficult to quite figure out what the concept of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is or how it impacts most of the songs.

So when we call it a concept album, what do we mean? Generally what we mean is this - past Beatles albums were simply collections of songs with no unifying factor beyond having all been written and recorded around ...

Everything You Were, Everything You Stood For (The Evil of the Daleks)

It's OK, Mr. Emperor. Even the biggest Daleks suffer from
droopy eyestalk sometimes. It's perfectly natural, and
doesn't mean you're not a real Dalek at all.
It's May 20, 1967. The Tremeloes, best known as the band Decca signed instead of The Beatles, are at number one. The Tremeloes, like The Beatles, came from the Merseybeat scene we've talked about some already (which is also why The Beatles are spelled the way they are), and unlike The Beatles of 1967, were still churning out generic doo-wop inflected rock numbers such as "Silence is Golden," which held number one for three weeks before Procul Harum takes number one with a nice, sweeping prog/psychedelic rock epic "A Whiter Shade of Pale," which holds the number one for the remaining four weeks of this story. But let's face it, the real news is this: Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is released, and becomes the soundtrack to the so-called Summer of Love, about which more on Wednesday.

In news that anchors who don't sing won't take, Celtic beat Inter Milan to win the European Cup, making them the first British team to ...

Smaller on the Inside (The Faceless Ones)

The Doctor tries to sand his jowls off on an airplane wheel.
It's April 8, 1967, and Englebert Humperdinck will not die. Actually, this is his last week at number one. Next week it's Nancy and Frank Sinatra with "Somethin' Stupid." Once again we're just seeing the pendulum in action here. It's just that the pendulum is unusually swung at the moment - nothing all that interesting in the entire top 10 (though #11, Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze, reminds us that there is a counterculture out there). It peaks at #3, and The Who, The Mamas and the Papas, and Cat Stevens all break the top ten in the next few weeks as well, bolstered by a population who, having listened to Humperdinck for a month and a half, finally intuitively get what this revolution is all about. The flip side, and this is a lovely day to talk about it given that Eurovision is this weekend, is that the UK wins the Eurovision song contest with "Puppet on a String," bringing this touching song about complete physical and emotional submission to your man to number one. ("If you say you love me madly, I'll ...

Time Can Be Rewritten 5: The Roundheads (Mark Gatiss, BBC Books, 1997)

It's tough, in 2011, to express quite how depressing it was to be a Doctor Who fan in 1997. I gather it was bleak for most of the 90s, and for a fair share of the 80s, but I lack much to compare it to. But 1997 was a stunningly bad year. By then it was quite clear that the Paul McGann TV Movie was as big a bust commercially as it had been aesthetically. But worse than that, the TV Movie had been used as the excuse for bringing Virgin Books's license to produce original Doctor Who fiction to an end, and to move the license in house to BBC Books. Financially this was a perfectly sound decision - the BBC understandably was not thrilled with another company making money doing something they could do perfectly well themselves.

Aesthetically, unfortunately, it was a train wreck, as we'll see when we get to The Eight Doctors. Never mind that the second BBC Book - Vampire Science - was quite good. By then the Paul McGann years had suffered the same problem the Colin Baker years did - two staggeringly bad opening stories that eviscerated the possibility of long-term success. Then, five ...

The Scourge Of This Galaxy (The Macra Terror)

There's a dirty joke to be made about getting crabs at a
holiday camp, but we're above that. Except when we're not.
It's March 11, 1967. In the charts, Engelbert Humperdinck is edging out The Beatles' first single from the Sergeant Pepper sessions, Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever. Improbably, he will do so for the entire run of this story, and The Beatles will fail to make number one with that single. In real news, the psychedelic movement spreads from San Francisco when a copy of the Human Be-In takes place in Central Park, and Pope Paul VI releases his encyclical Populorum progressio, affirming the Catholic Church's commitment to social justice - a striking commitment to make in the larger context of the 1960s.

While on television, we get The Macra Terror. As with a lot of Season 4, this is one history screws us up on. The problem is the same problem we ran into with The War Machines - also by Ian Stuart Black, as it happens. This looks a lot like stuff that came after it, and so we view it as a "normal" story. Trouble is, it looks very different from the stuff that ...

Pop Between Realities, Home In Time For Tea 5 (Cathy Come Home)

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea is a recurring feature in which things that are not Doctor Who are looked at in terms of their relation to Doctor Who. This time we look at the TV movie Cathy Come Home.

It's November 16, 1966. We've been here before, actually, and so I'll refer you there for the standard litany of pop songs and news events. But we're going to need to flash back, because what we didn't deal with in amongst everything else going on in Power of the Daleks was the fact that the BBC aired Cathy Come Home, a TV movie about homelessness that has been recognized, apparently, as the second best British TV program of all time. So since it's one of apparently two things in the history of British television to be better than Doctor Who, I suppose we should talk about it.

At a glance, mind you, Cathy Come Home seems to be radically different from Doctor Who. One is a fairly theatrical science fiction show. The other is a pseudo-documentary about homelessness and urban poverty that makes heavy use of techniques from social realism. The similarities ...

Every Single One Of Them, At Some Point In Their Lives, Will Look Back At This Man (The Moonbase)

We are programmed just to do
Anything you want us to
It's February 11, 1967. The Monkees top the charts, with the rest of the top ten including The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Cat Stevens, and The Move. In weeks to come, Petula Clark and Englebert Humperdinck will top the charts, while the rest of the top ten will see The Beatles, The Hollies, and Donovan chart as well. Non-musical news is slow this month, with a general heating of the Cold War providing the main backdrop.

And Doctor Who offers us The Moonbase. Which... well, let's just say we have a lot to talk about. Eventually we'll get into how this story marks the completion of the Troughton transition and conclusively establishes a new paradigm for what Doctor Who is. But to see why this story changed everything forever, we're going to have to understand why this story was inevitably going to be made.

The inevitability of a lunar story in the late 60s has been remarked upon before, and is fairly obvious. But one thing that the frequent discussion of Doctor Who's transition away from the exoticism of Hartnell stories and towards things ...

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