on 24 August 2006
And so my trawl through the First Doctor missing story audio recordings comes to an end with William Hartnell's final appearance, in "The Tenth Planet" by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis. Episodes one to three of this four-parter still survive on film, of course, but I have not had the pleasure of seeing them in their original form. Thankfully, the audio presentation is crystal clear and accompanied by discrete but lucid narration by Anneke Wills. Unlike some stories, I never had any trouble divining what was going on over the course of the four episodes.
Even from episode one of "The Tenth Planet", one can tell that the story is an "event". A large cast put on surprisingly convincing accents in about the closest that 1960s Who came to emulating American sci-fi, complete with the polar command post with its gruff American commanding officer, Dudley Jones' General Cutler, who allows his concern for his son, trapped in orbit, to cloud his judgement even with the fate of two planets at stake. Slightly remixed end credits music helps to distinguish the story from those around it, and of course we have the first appearance of a recurring foe - the Cybermen.
Unfortunately, the early Cybermen are a little crappy. It's not so much their cloth-clad appearance, of which I am aware from the story's publicity photos, so much as their voices, which are remarkably camp and lacking in menace. Still, one can see the genesis of a good idea, and the Cybermen are better used in "The Tenth Planet", in many ways, than they were in many of their subsequent appearances.
Four episodes is unusually short for a non-historical Hartnell story, and as such the action moves along at a decent pace without any moments of boredom. As is often the case with the First Doctor, the companions carry the show, with Ben and Polly (both of whom I am rapidly coming to like) expressing well their disgust at Cutler's willingness to destroy a whole planet and put all life on Earth at risk in the process. The Doctor, played by an ailing Hartnell, is relegated to a background role (barely appearing in episode three), and it's the story's biggest disappointment that his regeneration isn't brought about by any heroic last stand. Instead, in a manner largely unrelated to the events of the story, the First Doctor simply grows old and dies.
None the less, The Tenth Planet is an engaging story that sets things up well for the Second Doctor's debut in "The Power of the Daleks".
on 30 January 2007
This proved to be a fascinating introduction to one of the most famed villains known to man or timelord. Unlike most of the other Cybermen appearances though, this time it is very much the Cybermen in domination throughout and it seems by the end that the only reason they won were a couple of succesive accidental miracles.
The regeneration was incredibly dull, if not quite frankly boring. (minor spoiler on the rest of this paragraph) It was a great shame that the Doctor was not victim to the usual death, instead his body just 'became too weak' and he was in bed for most of the episode
Hartnells lack of an appearance meant that instead it was just Ben and Polly and some unknown extra characters who had to defeat the cyberman, and I still believe that they never really managed to succeed.
Interesting, if you can get it cheap its a delight (you may well need to do a lot of hunting though!). It doesn't have the magic of the Hartnell Historicals also on CD it is still enjoyable
Another in the bbc collection of cd's that presents the soundtrack from doctor who stories of the 1960's where some of the episodes are missing from the archives. This is a four part story, and episode four no longer survives, thus this soundtrack is your only chance to find what happens in it.
As usual, the bbc have done an excellent job with the soundtrack. It's clear and easy to hear, and anneke wills, who played the doctor's companion polly in this story, does narration for sections where you wouldn't know what was going on otherwise. This does require a lot of information to be given about the characters at the start, but after that it flows seamlessly along with the soundtrack.
The story involves the doctor and companions arriving at the south pole in 1986, where a military base is under threat from the cybermen. They are invading earth to take the energy of the planet to save their dying homeworld mondas. It's a story that does transfer very well to audio, and it's easy to conjure up mental images of the action as you listen to it.
This is a decent story, and probably has classic status because it was the last story for the first doctor before he regenerated. He doesn't get much to do in the first three episodes, because william hartnell wasn't well at the time. As a result, the two companions have to carry the story, and they do this superbly. A very good audio presentation of a pretty good story