Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Creature from the pit

When I was first getting into Doctor Who, "The Creature from the Pit" was just another Doctor Who story I was sitting down to enjoy. Ten years later I can look back at The Creature from the Pit and safely say that out of the first few Doctor Who story's that I saw this one had to have been the first truly bad story that I had come across, even The Invisible Enemy was better than this. First up, "Erato", what was David Fisher thinking when he came up with Erato. You only have to watch the making of feature on the DVD release of this story to know, that the Doctor Who visual effects team thought that this one was a bad idea and should only have been attempted if a lot of money had been thrown at it. The end result of the show's visual effects team's best efforts has got to be the worst alien ever in the history of Doctor Who. Having said that, given the fact that the shows visual effects team were being asked to do the impossible, it's a miracle that the end result is as good as it is, it could probably have been even worse. My other big criticism of The Creature from the Pit is the writer David Fisher's seemingly more or less complete lack of scientific principles. The obvious instance of this is when Erato launches itself into space and weaves an aluminium shell around a neutron star in order to minimise its gravitational pull (what the hell?) and allow the Tardis to pull it off course with a tractor beam (Hmm...). Some of the other things I don't like about The Creature from the Pit are that most of the characters in this story are to be honest a bit one-dimensional, with the dialogue being quite dodgy in parts (And that's me being nice about it), the wolf weeds are just plain silly and the band of thieves that feature in the story are simply stupid. Even the Doctor and Romana are poorly written for in this story. It’s obvious watching The Creature from the pit that David Fisher has written Romana with Mary Tamm's version of the character in mind, this is however not his fault as when he wrote the script for The Creature from the Pit it had yet to be firmly established as to whether Mary Tamm was leaving or not. The Doctor seams to lose his mind completely at the end of part 1 when he leaps into the pit of his own accord, knowing full well that to be consigned there is regarded as tantamount to a sentence of execution. Basically my view of The Creature from the Pit is that it’s pretty much a near total mess but there are a couple of things I like about it, the characters Oraganon (played by Geoffrey Bayldon) and Adastra (played by Myra Frances), with Adastra being excellently evil. The other thing I liked about The Creature from the Pit was the Jungle set, which was filmed at Ealing, it really did look quite impressive, it looked like the whole sequence had been filmed on location as a posed to being filmed in a studio and gave the first episode a very atmospheric quality which wasn't noticeable in the following three episodes of the story. If one word can be used to summarise this adventure it would be "disappointing", because it boasted some fine sets, good actors and a rather interesting plot with some twists, it’s just a shame that The Creature from the Pit couldn't have been better than it was.

In my next post I shall be talking about Nightmare of Eden.

Monday, 27 October 2014

City of Death: Art, Humour and Death in Paris!

City of Death is one of the most highly regarded stories in the history of Doctor Who and there are some pretty good reasons for that, one of which was the fact that one of the two writers of the story, Douglas Adams (the other was series producer Graham Williams) first love was comedy, and City of Death sees Doctor Who at its comedic high-point. City of Death is also filled with wit and intelligence as has been pointed out in other reviews of the story on other websites. a first that City of Death can boast is that it was Doctor Who's first ever major over seas filming, thanks to the shows Production Unit Manager John Nathan-Turner. The sequences that were shot in Paris give a grand feel to the story, and all the famous location landmarks are included, The Eiffel Tower and The Louvre being the main two. The score that Dudley Simpson scored for City of Death, has to be another of the memorable parts of City of Death, there is not a single piece of music in City of Death that doesn't feel wrong or out of place, the music score for City of Death has to definitely rank among the best of the music scores in the shows history. One of City of Death's most celebrated scenes is the guest appearance from comedic actor John Cleese and actress Eleanor Born. It was Douglas Adams who suggested to John Cleese that he might like to appear in Doctor Who, the scene features two art critics discussing the wonderful functionalism of a police box being in a modern art gallery. City of Death got some of the highest ratings ever for Doctor Who, at a time when ITV were on strike, and the only alternative was a blank screen. But part 4 of this story holds the record for one of the highest viewing figures that the series has ever achieved at 16.1 million viewers. City of Death explores ideas of how we value art and authenticity. Some of the characters in City of Death simply look at art in purely pragmatic terms, as simply a means to an end, while one character in the story simply looks at art as a badge of status. It's down to the Doctor to Point out the moral of the story. Art is valuable not because of what its worth but because of the human achievement that it represents. But more than anything else this story is loved for its humour. One of if not the funniest scenes in City of Death has got to be when the Doctor first meets the villain of the story and is flung in to the room and walks around on his knees, and complains about the Louis Quinze chair. You honestly have to see that scene to appreciate why its just so funny. And watch out for the cliffhanger at the end of part-one its really good, in fact pretty much all of the cliffhangers in City of Death are excellent. I've left out talking about  the plot of this story and talking about the villain of this story because I don't want to give anything away about the finer points of this story for anyone who hasn't seen it before. And if you haven't its definitely worth watching. City of Death is definitely one of the top Doctor Who stories of the last fifty-one years.

Sorry about the lateness of this post I was in the middle of Tafe assessments when I did the last one and its just taken me a little to get this one in a state I like. next Post will be about "The Creature from the Pit" which was the next story I saw after City of Death when I was first getting into Doctor Who.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Key to Time: Spotlight on "The Stones of Blood"

The problem I knew I was going to have with doing posts about the stories that I saw after The Invasion of Time, namely just the first six stories that followed The Invasion of Time (which were, The Ribos Operation, The Pirate Planet, The Stones of Blood, The Androids of Tara, The Power of Kroll and The Armageddon Factor) was that I could only remember seeing the first two episodes of The Ribos Operation, therefore I could do a proper post about the first time that I saw it. With The Pirate Planet I remember seeing parts 1, 2 and 3 but I missed seeing part 4 the first time round. Then there's The Androids of Tara and The Power of Kroll. The Androids of Tara, I missed completely the first time round and with The power of Kroll I only saw the last eight minutes or so. With The Armageddon Factor, I can’t remember if I saw all of it, some of it or just the last seven or so minutes of The Armageddon Factor part six. That why for this post I have chosen to focus on the third story out of six Key to Time stories, The Stones of Blood as it was the only story out of the six Key to Time stories that I can remember seeing all of.

When I first saw The Stones of blood I thought at first that I was about to be treated to another historical Doctor Who story, it starts with an satanic looking sacrifice at night and then moves to the next day when the Tardis materialises near a stone circle, which quite naturally The Doctor and Romana then proceed to investigate. They then meet present day (at the time) elderly archaeologist Professor Emilia Rumford and her assistant Vivien Fay, who are surveying the stone circle. if you've never seen The Stones of Blood before, you will probably assume that the story is going to be a completely Earth-bound horror story with human sacrificing druids who think their working for a goddess and blood drinking moving rock monsters but in fact it turns out that the goddess that the druids are worshipping in fact of course really an alien and so are the blood drinking rocks and at a certain point in the story (I won’t tell you when) the action then shifts to a spaceship suspended in hyperspace. All in all when I first saw this story I loved it, it had everything that I had loved about the past several story that I had seen by this point rolled in to one, horror, monsters, sudden/unexpected twists in the plot, great characters and a great story. Even after having bought and seen the whole of this season a lot later after seeing it many times, The Stones of Blood is still my favourite story out of this season. The Stones of Blood is classic Doctor Who.

In my next post I'll be talking about the next story I saw after The stones of Blood, which was City of Death.

Friday, 6 June 2014


The invasion of time

"The first time around I saw this story I had seen seven Doctor Who stories by this point and I was making sure by this point to not miss any of it if I could help it(I had only missed Image of the Fendahl at this point)." when I watched this story the first time around, two moments stuck out, well three really." First the bit in part one when it looks the the matrix is attacking the Doctor, the fact that The Doctor is actually made president of the Time Lords and the fact that this was the very first story to feature the Sontarans that I saw, although I did hear them mentioned in Horror of Fang Rock, when The Doctor is talking to the Rutan." Over the course of the last few stories that I saw, I had learned a descent bit about the Time Lords, why they didn't interfere in the affairs of others (Underworld), their time machines(Robots of Death), the fact that The Doctor was one of them(Robots of Death,Horror of Fang Rock, The Invisible Enemy, The Sun Makers and Underworld) and in this story I learnt about Gallifrey." I think you could show this story to a ten year old today and they would get why The Doctor ran away from his home world in the Tardis which he "borrowed" from his people." Because you see in this story that the Time Lords can be treacherous, backstabbing, secretive and just how naive they are about the wider universe, which makes it pretty easy for the Sontaran's allies the Vardans to make the way ready for the Sontarans invasion of Gallifrey." In The Invasion of Time, The Doctor appears to turn traitor and open the way for the Vardans to invade, but this is all a ruse as we later find out." Because the Vardans can read minds, The Doctor has no choice but to appear to turn traitor so he can find out about their true intentions and find out find a why to get rid of them for good, which he does in the end by trapping the Vardans in a time loop but fails to realise that this will leave Gallifrey open to invasion because in order to trick the Vardans in to showing their true forms (so that he could get K-9 to time loop the Vardans and their home world), he hard to made a sizable hole in the force field protecting Gallifrey." I really liked The Invasion Of Time, the first time around that I saw it, I really didn't know what The Doctor was up to in this one and because of that I stuck through the whole of this apart from missing a bit of part one and the first few minutes of part six but all in all I enjoyed watching it (I latter saw the whole thing on video), for ten year old me it was awesome, what came as a surprise was at the end when Leela and K-9 stayed behind on Gallifrey, Leela stays because she's fallen in love and K-9 stays to look after Leela." However as I found out at the end of story story as The Doctor leaves Gallifrey in the Tardis, a robot dog really is a Time Lords best friend as The Doctor wheels out a box, which says K-9 MK-2 on the side." The story ends with The Doctor grinning just as the credits roll, I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

Sunday, 1 June 2014


The impact of Star Wars on Doctor Who

"The very first Star Wars movie came out on the 25th of May 1977 and its impact on the world of Science fiction on both the big and small screen was huge as it set a new standard for science fiction special effects work. "After Graham Williams (the then producer of Doctor Who),Tom Baker (the then Doctor at the time), Anthony Read (the then script editor) went to see Star Wars, Anthony Read and Tom Baker came out feeling pretty good, while Graham Williams came out feeling woeful and frustrated as he felt if only Doctor Who had the same budget as Star Wars what could they not do." The first Doctor Who story to be influenced by Star Wars was Underworld, which had a troubled production."Because of the economic inflation going on at the time it meant that the stories at the latter end of each season suffered because of this and the pressure to deliver each story on time and on budget was a constant struggle." Because there was very little money left by the end of this season it meant that the guys working on Underworld, the second to last story of Tom Baker's fourth season as The Doctor had to be very creative indeed." This meant relying heavily on colour separation overlay (CSO) to save on building expensive sets and location work." Today, the idea of using blue screen or green screen and creating digital shots is quite normal, thanks to movies like Avatar but in the 1970s the technology was still in its infancy." it was a bold but extremely challenging decision for the production, Often leaving the director restricted to static camera shots and created a stressful working environments for the actors." One of the biggest influences on Underworld was the Greek legend of Jason and the Argonauts, this influence can be best seen in the names of the characters in the story (watch it you'll see what I mean)." What was great about this story when I first saw it was the fact that I got to learn more about the history of the Time Lords which was great." When I first saw this story, the fact that Underworld was so experimental didn't faze me at all. "I remember really enjoying the story and I think it may have even been my first expose to the Greek myths." All in all I enjoyed the story the first time round and I still enjoy it now.


Friday, 23 May 2014

The Sun Makers

"I started watching Doctor Who when ABC 1 in Australia were doing a massive rerun of all the surviving black and white Doctor Who episodes and all of the colour episodes."although I didn't know this at the time, I thought I was the seeing the show from square one at part 1 of The Face of Evil, oh how naive I was back then." I didn't know that when I began watching episode 1 of The Sun Makers, that I'd missed all four episode of Image of The Fendahl, I didn't find out about that fact until I found the BBC's classic Doctor Who website." When I first saw The Sun Makers, a lot of the jokes to do with banks and taxation went over my head, I can't remember if anyone had even told me what taxation was back then." looking at it from the perspective of a twenty year old, I get a lot of the jokes now and I share the writer of this story, the great Robert Holmes's frustration when it comes to taxes and raising prices."I can see why he would want to write a Doctor Who story which has a go at the banks."Henry Woolf's collector character was quite funny but quite a sinister kind of character as well, the kind of villain that would do anything to do get what he want's."I really enjoyed this story the first time round I saw it, I cant think why, back then I didn't get all of the jokes but looking at it now I can clearly see why, this is a fun, witty, nicely paced story, the kind of story you would expect from Robert Holmes." The characters are great, the villains memorable." I really like the bit were the rebels threw Gatherer Hade off of a sky scrapper and the rebels laugh like its a joke, only Robert Holmes could get away with a scene like that."This was the first Doctor Who story I saw more than once, literally the Saturday after I saw this story, while I was at my local library I (purely by chance) stumbled upon a VHS copy and got it out, this is a story that I have seen heaps of times and it continues to be one of my favourite Robert Holmes Doctor Who stories, a pleasure to watch time and time again.

The Invisible Enemy:

and the arrival of a certain tin dog

I think I can say that by the time I got up to The Invisible Enemy I was starting to get my head around the mad universe of Doctor Who, I had gotten an explanation from none other than The Doctor himself as to why the Tardis is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside (here's the clip http://youtu.be/pvnKXOGYKM8). It hadn't taken me long to realise that the Tardis was a time machine after having seen two stories set in the future and two in the past. So as far as the Tardis, I was starting to understand what it was, however, when it came to The Doctor I still wasn't aware of who he was, what he was or were he came from. The Invisible Enemy was the fifth Doctor Who story I'd seen and looking back at it I think it was the first average story that I saw. Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are as good as ever but the story feels like it's aimed more at younger viewers than the previous four stories that I'd seen. The first time around that I saw it I had nothing against it, I enjoyed it but looking at it ten years latter, I can't help but notice that this "was" the first average story that I saw. I've got nothing against the swarm, on paper the concept of this new Doctor Who monster must have sounded like a good idea but I think that it could have been realised better. Now, for K-9, I still think looking back at K-9 now that the designer Barry Newbery did a pretty good job with designing K-9 and that they couldn't have chosen better than John Leeson for the voice of K-9. As a ten year old I liked K-9 but as a twenty year old, I've sort of divided the Doctor Who stories that I've seen K-9 in into ones that he was written for well in and the ones were he wasn't but on the whole I think I've still got a soft spot for the character, definitely a memorable creation. I think in the end that I can say The Invisible Enemy wasn't an excellent Doctor Who story but it wasn't a bad one either.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Horror of Fang Rock: 

First encounters


Heavy fog, a creepy lighthouse combined with the first notes of incidental music from the sound track compliments of series regular composer Dudley Simpson, sets the scene for what is still one of the eeriest Doctor Who stories I think that I've seen. I still think that the set designer for this story, did a really good job with the lighthouse and with the attention to period detail. Another thing I liked about Horror of Fang Rock was the fact the story made the most of its limited number of characters and cut off location, far from help. This was the first Doctor Who story I saw that had a proper non human (or for another matter Robot) looking alien. The Rutans are a brilliant idea. I like the idea of the Sontarans's greatest enemies being a race of amorphous blobs that can shape-shift into any life form. It seems like the only thing that both have in common is that they are both highly arrogant. This is a Doctor Who story that entertains and scares not because it  has the best effects of all time but because of it's tight setting and limited cast, and if there's one story that you can shove in the faces of all those people that say Doctor Who has only been well made since it came back, it's this one.


Saturday, 17 May 2014

My favourite Doctor Who story: The Talons of Weng-Chiang

The Talons of Weng-Chiang wasn't just my third Doctor Who story but the first period Doctor Who story that I saw, the first two (The Face of Evil and The Robots of Death) where both set in the future. The reason that The Talons of Weng-Chiang is my favourite Doctor Who story isn't just because it's written by one of the series's best writers and script editors Robert Holmes or that it was made by one of the shows best Directors David Maloney but that it has some of the best performances in the whole of the three years that Philip Hinchcliffe produced Doctor Who. The whole of the Victorian, Sherlock Homes, Phantom of the Operaness (http://youtu.be/X7ycuQ43seo)(http://youtu.be/WdwtZpg-rF0) of this story is what makes this story so good, add the supporting cast playing the period characters and you have a classic of a Victorian yarn." I think Michael Spice who plays the story's Villain Weng-Chiang is excellent, you never doubt his performance for a second that he is on screen."This story manages to be terrifying, horrific,sinister and laugh- out-loud funny all at the same time." I could talk about what I love about this particular Doctor Who story for hours and if anyone asked me which Doctor Who story made me a fan for life it would be this one.(http://youtu.be/KUTx1dN-FRo).
feel free to tell me in the comments which Doctor Who story was the one that made you a fan

The awesomeness of Tom Baker and a look at The Robots of Death

"One thing I want to state in this post is just how little about The Doctor's background I knew when I started watching the show, (the show was really mysterious for me at this point ) I got my first titbit in part one of The Robots of Death where (this was the first time I saw inside the Tardis) The Doctor (Tom Baker) explains to Leela why the Tardis is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside (here's the clip http://youtu.be/pvnKXOGYKM8)." I think it was really over the course of watching my first four Doctor Who stories (The Face of Evil, The Robots of Death, The Talons of Weng-chiang and Horror of Fang Rock) that I became addicted to watching the show every (almost every) afternoon after school and it was all because of Tom Baker and how good he was as The Doctor. When I first started watching the show I didn't know about William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton or Jon Pertwee because I didn't know at this point that The Doctor was a Time Lord and I definitely Didn't know about regeneration at this point, for me Tom Baker "was" The Doctor." I honestly think it was because of his ability to be funny and serious at the same time and his ability to mock his enemies but not make it obvious to his enemy's that he was mocking them, I think it was those two qualities amongst all the other things about The Fourth Doctor that made me warm to the character (http://youtu.be/KPKNqQZLGoQ). Now back to The Robots of Death, this is one of my favourite Doctor Who stories, it manages to do horror, whodunit/murder mystery and Sci-Fi all at the same time and the robots in this story are one of my favourite Doctor Who monsters. This story keeps you guessing who the man or woman behind the robot murders are for a good portion of the story (unless you looked up the plot on Wikipedia of course) and when you find out who it is you wonder how you didn't realise it in the first place, (well I did anyway). As for the sand miner robots their art deco look makes them creepy even in the scene's when their not trying to and because of the design that the production crew of this story went with it means they don't look out of date even now. The Robots of Death is top-notch Doctor Who.

Friday, 16 May 2014

"A Decade of watching Doctor Who"

first post by Anthony Iuculano

"I can't believe it! even just saying it feels funny. When you reach the point where you've been watching your favourite show for 10 years you get to the point where you can't imagine a time when you didn't watch it but it's true, anyone who's watched the show can probably still remember that first time, that first time they caught their very first ever episode of Doctor Who. For me it was part one of a Tom Baker (4th Doctor) story called The Face of Evil. For my 10 year old self it really did seem like another world, Tom Baker's fourth Doctor striding across an alien land scape, savages worshipping an imaginary God and an imaginary God which turns out to be a megalomaniac/ psychotic computer called Xoanon. I won't go in to the plot of the story in case there are Doctor Who fans who haven't seen The Face of Evil but I will tell you that my favourite cliff hanger from that story is this scene where The Doctor is trying to convince Xoanon that he isn't a figment of Xoanon's imagination, that he's real and Xoanon just looses it and nearly kills him.
here's a link to that scene on YouTube: http://youtu.be/4ZeBjXYn2Tc

 In my next post I'll talk a bit more about what it was initially about Tom Baker's Doctor that got me hooked on the character and the next Doctor Who story I saw after The Face of Evil, which was The Robots of Death.