Viewing posts tagged troughton

Another Rotten Gloomy Old Tunnel (The Underwater Menace)

They're not fish from space, they're ballerinas!
It's January 14, 1967. Tom Jones has yet to give up number one, though he will in a week when The Monkees take number one with "I'm a Believer." It is worth remarking on the nature of The Monkees as a band - an American band manufactured for popular success in an attempt to reverse-engineer the Beatles at the exact same time that the Beatles were busy exploding their own formula recording Sergeant Pepper. In fact, the top three singles when the second episode of The Underwater Menace aired are an instruction manual in 1967 - corporate pseudo-mods, Tom Jones, and The Who with "Happy Jack," complete with psychedelic cover. The Monkees retain number one for the duration of The Underwater Menace, with #2 and #3 switching to Cat Stevens in his first really big single and The Move, a Birmingham rock band, with "Night of Fear," a song that is very obviously about a bad acid trip.

Meanwhile, in news that does not sing, the US is found out for experimenting with germ warfare, the opening strains of the Summer of Love happen in San Francisco with the Human Be-In ...

Fry Something (The Highlanders)

Jamie McCrimmon, in his debut.
It's December 16, 1966, and time for us to ring in 1967. Almost everything you need to know about music in 1966 can be explained by the fact that Tom Jones is at #1 with "The Green Green Grass of Home," while The Kinks are at #7 with "Dead End Street," a song about inescapable economic despair with a chorus of "We are strictly second class / we don't understand /why we should be on dead end street/People are living on dead end street / gonna die on dead end street" while a background shout of "dead end!" repeats. (To be fair, after two verses of maudlin sentimentality, "The Green Green Grass of Home" turns out to be about waiting on death row, but the degree to which this feels like a pale imitation of Simon and Garfunkel's "Silent Night/7 O'Clock News," which does the smash fade from sentimentality to harsh materialism with far greater aplomb, and was released in the US, at least, two months earlier ultimately reminds us that this is still Tom Jones we are talking about.) Tom Jones will hold the #1 spot for the entirety of ...

An Unknown Power (The Power of the Daleks)

Of the many things to love about Daleks, the
way their eyestalks wilt when they lose
power is perhaps the smuttiest.
It's November 5, 1966. The Four Tops are at number one with "Reach Out I'll Be There." In two weeks, The Beach Boys will take it with "Good Vibrations," and two weeks later it'll be Tom Jones with "Green Green Grass of Home." Meanwhile, in the news, the Rhodesia situation goes worse and worse, John Lennon meets Yoko Ono, and Barbados declares independence from the UK.

While on television...

Sometimes Doctor Who is magical. I mean this on several levels, but one of them - and a significant one - is that the show is a clear formative influence on the sci-fi/fantasy culture that will eventually produce writers like Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. As with many things about the future, we'll get there in time. For now, the only thing you really need to know is that it's hardly unusual for the show to have something of a spiritual dimension.

I mention this because, as The Power of the Daleks spins up, it's essential to understanding the only thing that's on anybody ...

Pop Between Realities, Home In Time For Tea 4 (Adam Adamant Lives!, Batman, The Avengers)

Fun Fact #1 - Burt Ward, while playing Robin, frequently
had to be given emasculating injections to keep
his tights from being overly revealing.
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 British series Adam Adamant Lives! and The Avengers, as well as the American series Batman.

Occasionally cultural history throws up a juxtaposition that is so brain-breakingly weird that it perfectly encapsulates an entire moment of history. For instance, nothing has ever clarified the nature and tone of Japanese narrative structures for me quite like knowing that My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies were originally released as a double feature. (Though I have yet to find a definitive statement on which film came first, which seems to me to be just about the most crucial fact in human history.)

I mention this because if you want to understand 1966 in Great Britain, it is possible that no fact is more immediately relevant than the fact that on Saturdays in 1966, at around 5:15 PM, the latter episodes of ...

Troughtonite Revisionism

I reposted my Hartnell stuff from Timelash II pretty much as it originally appeared. I've rejigged the following Troughton stuff a fair bit, however, so you'd better read it all over again very carefully, in case you miss a syllable of my searing insight and sage wisdom.

'The Underwater Menace'

I could easily tear this story to pieces, yes? And feed the pieces to my pet octopus, yes??? But this story has sense of humour! I too have sense of humour!!!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!

Look, if you think this story is any more silly than any other Doctor Who story... well, it isn't.

Look at the amount of thought that went into the costumes and sets. Polly spends a lot of the story with a detail from a doric column on her head! Look at the detail in which Atlantean society is depicted. There's a throne room, a temple, a lab, a hospital, a market... there are priests and acolytes, beggers and traders, slaves and workers, guards and orderlies... there are intimations of popular dislike for the forces of the state... Look at the variations in the personalities. Look at the ...

The Power of the Zargoids (Reconstructed)

What follows is a substantially rewritten version of something I wrote AGES ago and originally posted at my old site. The original version struck me as woefully inadequate (and embarassingly gushy... which is a fault of mine) when I reread it recently.

Is ‘The Power of the Daleks’ a parable about a democracy destabilised by fascists or about an authoritarian society destabilised by liberals, or even people who think of themselves as leftists? Well… the answer is, of course, yes.

If this is about the rise of fascism, there are some problems with it. Bragen works as a sort of fascist, scheming to replace a relatively soft regime with an authoritarian one which he will rule with an iron fist. But the presence of the Daleks muddies this, separating the barbarism of fascism from fascism as a political movement. The Daleks have always been symbols of totalitarianism so, when they turn on the astonished rebels, it makes it hard to see the rebels as analogous to the Nazi party. If the rebels are Nazis, it should be they who are persecuting the ethnic minority in the colony… and that’s the Daleks! And the depiction of fascism is inadequate anyway ...

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