|The device the Doctor is holding is called the Reacting|
Vibrator. I am not making this up. I swear.
It’s May 28th, 1966. The Rolling Stones have the number one single with “Paint It Black.” Also in the top ten are “Wild Thing” and “Rainy Day Women Nos. 12 and 35,” alongside conventional fare. Although Frank Sinatra takes over #1 after one week, holding it for the remaining three weeks of The Savages with “Strangers in the Night,” the remainder of the charts retains the increasingly hardening edge of music with The Animals and The Yardbirds both notching top ten hits.
In other news, two days ago the South American colony of Guyana was granted independence from the UK. The rest of the news is fairly typical 60s stuff. The Space Race continues with the US doing its second spacewalk, American cop shows evolve suddenly when the Supreme Court rules in Miranda v. Arizona, and the Vatican finally gets rid of the Index Liborum Prohibitorum.
On television, we get one of the least heralded episodes of William Hartnell’s tenure on the show. Certainly it was one of the least watched, with this entire period of the show being the lowest sustained drop in ratings the series would experience until 1980, and the second least watched story of Hartnell’s era. And on top of that, it’s another missing story, this one with no episodes in existence and a post-1983 novelization (see The Gunfighters if you don’t know why 1983 matters here).
One of the harder things in writing these is marking the ends of things. Since in the classic series, a new creative team for the show always inherits some spare scripts from the previous team, the end of an era tends not to be an emphatic “out with a bang” in the style of The End of Time, but rather some faint whimper down the line that you don’t even realize was the end until you look at the next seven stories and notice that nothing like how it used to be is being done.
So it’s easy to miss that this is basically the last William Hartnell story. I mean, he sticks around for three more, but in terms of the tone and type of adventures that make up a normal Hartnell story, the historical checked out back with The Massacre (but more about that when the historical itself checks out) and science fiction checks out here.
Once upon a time, you see, Doctor Who didn’t always have monsters in it. Eventually that came to an end, and somewhere in season four or five we reach a point where the norm is for stories to have monsters. But up to now, the only properly monstery monsters we’ve had are the Daleks. The other attempts to create “the new Daleks” have been interesting visual designs, but not the sort of lurking Otherness of a proper monster. Look at something like the Chumblies or the Mechanoids and you get an alien, but the point is their strangeness.…