Broadcast in February/March 1967, The Moonbase is a creepily effective story with a setting that, at the time, was pure science fiction as it wouldn't be until 1969 that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldin would actually set foot on the Moon.
Some four months after their debut in The Tenth Planet, the Cybermen (after receiving a considerable makeover) are back for a rematch. They look sleeker, but also less human and more robot-like. There's no denying that Troughton-era Cybermen are iconic - but the clumsy, cumbersome Tenth Planet Cybermen had a certain menace which none of the later incarnations had.
Like The Tenth Planet, Gerry Davis and Kit Pedler's script is concerned with an isolated outpost staffed by an international group of scientists who find themselves menaced by the Cybermen. And also like the previous story there are some fairly broad stereotypes here, but then Davis and Pedler tended always to write for Doctor Who this way, they weren't particularly interested in in-depth characters - for them the concepts, and the monsters, were the most important thing.
Four stories in, Patrick Troughton is assured and confident as the Doctor. The recent recovery of Enemy of the World and Web of Fear have only served to strengthen Troughton's reputation. Is he the best Doctor? Tom Baker still casts a huge shadow over the series, but Troughton at his best (and he has some fine moments here, particularly the "they must be fought" speech) is a pleasure to watch, managing to mix both humour and steel in a way some other Doctors failed to do.
A year ago, Planet 55's first Doctor Who animations were showcased on The Reign of Terror. Those two episodes had many things to recommend them - but also various flaws. The most serious was a tendency for certain characters - particularly Hartnell's Doctor - to look totally different from one angle to the next. Their next effort - The Tenth Planet - was much better and The Moonbase is better still.
For me, these are easily the best Doctor Who animations yet seen. Character likenesses are all very good, and crucially they do not change when the angle switches. There's a few minor niggles - because nothing can ever be perfect - but overall this is a wonderful effort and really helps to bring the story to life. If anybody already has the Lost In Time set (which contains the two existing episodes) and is wondering if this DVD is worth the money, then I would say, definitely, yes.
Extras-wise, the two surviving episodes have a commentary track with Anneke Wills, Frazer Hines, Edward Phillips and Brian Hodgson. Anneke and Frazer are always good value and help to make this an enjoyable 50 minutes. The two animated episodes have a mixture of new and archive interviews with Kit Pedler's daughters Lucy Pedler and Carol Topolski, producer Innes Lloyd, AFM Lovett Bickford, Cyber voice artist Peter Hawkins and Cyberman actors Barry Noble, Derek Chaffer and Reg Whitehead. This varied collection of contributors allows us to hear some new insights into the programme as well as shining a light onto the life and career of Kit Pedler.
Production subs on the two existing episodes, a coming soon trailer, the usual photo gallery and a making-of documentary - Lunar Landing - round off the extras package.
A strong story which has now been completed with two very good animated episodes, The Moonbase is an early Troughton adventure that is well worth your time.