Classic Who

Doctor Who and the Cliffhangers of Stupidity

Stones_Blood

If you were to ask me the one thing I missed the most about old-style Doctor Who – apart from the sense of general uncomplicated simplicity that’s kind of hard to pin down – it would be the cliffhangers.

I know it’s a silly thing to want back. I know that most of the time they were nonchalantly lacklustre, structurally constricting and poorly resolved. But somehow post-2005 Who hasn’t seemed quite the Doctor Who I knew when I was growing up. On the surface, that’s a ridiculous reason to criticise it. That’s exactly the kind of false nostalgia that I strive to avoid here (if I call something crap, it’s because it’s crap, it’s not simply because it’s new and different). At the same time, there was a certain water cooler value about a show where the lead characters were in dubious jeopardy three weeks out of every four. You spent the rest of the week wondering how the Doctor would escape that mine cart, or whether Bonnie Langford really could shatter glass. These days you know things will be wrapped up by the time the credits roll, with the exception of the obligatory arc reference that adds a note of ambiguity to a happy ending, or which sometimes changes things completely (see ‘The Almost People’ for a rare example of how the arc can improve a dull story; it’s usually the other way around).

No, by and large, cliffhangers have been sparingly employed. But no longer, it seems. In an interview in this month’s Doctor Who Magazine (still on the shelf, unread, next to the other six issues I haven’t got round to reading yet), neatly summarised over at Kasterborous, Steven Moffat confirms that the cliffhangers are back with a vengeance for series nine. “This feels more unpredictable. You don’t know,” he says, “how far you’re going to get through the story…”

I’ve written extensively about cliffhangers before, in a post that I’ve just reread and that still essentially stands up three years later – although the iPod is just used for music these days, and we no longer have the Zafira. Joshua, too, has improved, no longer bothered if an episode ends with the characters staring down the barrel of a gun, or trapped in a police car with plastic robots. Repeated exposure to old Who has helped with this. So too has the fact that he’s grown up quite a lot. It’s too bad that I haven’t.

There are types of cliffhangers. There are the “Location change” cliffhangers (‘Enlightenment’ part one; ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ part three). There are “Monster reveal” cliffhangers (‘Ark in Space’ part one, ‘Earthshock’ part one). And there are my personal favourites, the “Doctor in distress” cliffhangers, which were all basically the same, and which frequently ended with a companion’s half-strangled cry of “DOCTOOOOOOOORRRR!”, just before the sting that preceded the theme music.

Mel-Montage

Whatever my complaints about New Who I’ll admit that the times it’s employed the use of a dramatic ending have, for the most part, been pretty effective. The finale of ‘The Empty Child’, with gas mask zombies approaching Jack, Rose and the Doctor on a hospital ward, is still powerful stuff – and the final moments of ‘The Pandorica Opens’, which saw Amy dead, River trapped inside an exploding TARDIS and the Doctor imprisoned inside an impenetrable box (while the entire universe dies around them), culminate in one of the strongest “How are they going to get out of this?!?” conundrums since the series came back. So, too, the resolution to this cliffhanger is notable for actually not being dreadful, even if the rest of the episode was somewhat disappointing. In contrast, the climax to ‘Rise of the Cybermen’ was terrific, while its denouement (the sonic screwdriver, again) was utterly lame. I’m not really whinging about this. It’s not a new thing. It’s been that way, on many levels, since 1963. After a while, you grow to expect it.

But even if the resolutions were / are choppy (see ‘The Sunmakers’ part two for an example of a cliffhanger that is eventually resolved by completely changing what happened last week) the classic Who cliffhangers themselves were, by and large, generally quite good. Most of them. There are exceptions – the ones that you remember for the worst possible reasons. Here are just four of them.

(Note: the last two embeds in the list below are for DailyMotion videos, so if they don’t work in your browser / app, you should be able to view them on the website itself.)

 

“Sorry, what?” (‘Death to the Daleks’, part three)

(Start at 1:10.)

Look. I understand the principle of a deadly maze filled with traps. And yes, the floor is booby-trapped and can only be surpassed, as it turns out, with the use of Venusian hopscotch, which is presumably what the younger brothers and sisters of the Venusian Aikido students play in the car park outside the community hall while they’re waiting for classes to finish. But we don’t know that. All we get is a sudden jolt from Pertwee, who shouts “Stop! Don’t move!”, before the camera cuts down to a set of crazy paving. It’s very pretty, but it doesn’t really look particularly dangerous. It looks like a place mat design. Barry Letts probably had some in his dining room. A far better way to end the episode would have been for the Doctor to shout “Stop! Don’t move! Bellal, STOP!” while Bellal does something awful off camera. Then we could spend a week working out whether he was about to photocopy his arse with the shredder.

 

“But it worked in the script…” (‘Dragonfire’, part one)

This is the mother of all dodgy cliffhangers, so let’s get it out of the way. ‘Dragonfire’ occurs at the tail end of a dodgy series of Who stories, but does at least pave the way for Cartmel’s late 1980s development with the introduction of Ace. It’s thus a shame that the thing most people remember is the notorious scene at the end of the first episode in which the Doctor climbs over a railing and then hangs from the edge via his umbrella FOR NO REASON AT ALL.

In fact, there’s a very good reason, or at least there was in the script: it was supposed to be obvious that the Doctor had reached a dead end and that the only way was down. This doesn’t come across visually, but that’s not really the fault of the design department either: it’s just the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, which is inevitable in a show like this. The cast and crew have plenty to say about it in the video above, so I’ll just add that a better explanation for the sudden descent into the ravine would surely have been the appearance of Mel in the doorway above, holding a glass of carrot juice and the sheet music for ‘Doctor in Distress’.

 

“Censors indicate danger, Mistress.” (‘The Stones of Blood’, part one)

(Start at 3:30.)

‘The Stones of Blood’ is a joyous romp through pastoral England, as the Doctor encounters the delightful Professor Rumford and her somewhat less delightful assistant Vivien. There are sausage sandwiches and a notorious scene involving two campers. But the cliffhanger to episode one is utterly bizarre: Romana (Mary Tamm) is wandering along by the river when she hears the Doctor calling her from the distance. The next thing we know, she says “What’s the matter?” at some unseen creature, before stumbling backwards and falling over the edge of the cliff, which is where we find her dangling precariously at the beginning of episode two.

It works on paper. In practice it’s incredibly jarring. Still, there’s a simple explanation: the person that pushed Romana is supposed to be the Doctor (or rather, the story’s antagonist, disguised as him). Tom Baker understandably kicked up a fuss about this, fearing it would tarnish the character’s image – and this being the Graham Williams era, he got his way. (I wouldn’t mind, but this is a Doctor we’re supposed to believe has become diabolically evil only several stories back in ‘The Invasion of Time’.)

So instead, we never see the fake Doctor push Romana. We don’t see anyone push her – she just stumbles a bit and loses her footing. This wouldn’t be so bad but she’s already taken her shoes off earlier in the episode. Still, it’s the only really tenuous scene in an otherwise excellent story, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain. Much.

 

“How charming. A finale.” (‘Snakedance’, part three)

(Start at 4:55.)

You know the most ridiculous thing about ‘Snakedance’? It’s not the Mara laugh. It’s not even Martin Clunes’ weather outfit. It’s this scene, which more than any other epitomises some of the problems you face with episodic four-part stories. A need to constantly build in and deal with threats is all well and good when you don’t have much else in the way of a story (see ‘The Invasion of Time’ again) but sometimes it can just get in the way. Hence an interesting discussion between two of the leads about exactly how the events of ‘Snakedance’ relate to those of ‘Kinda’ is severely hampered by the need to get the Doctor and Nyssa out of the prison cell in which they’re being held, so that they can then be recaptured in a corridor. That’s bad enough, but Lon decides, for absolutely no reason at all, to execute them on the spot. Cue deathly scream from Nyssa, the only person behaving more out of character in this scene than Lon himself.

There are many ways you might excuse such a whim within the realms of, say, a novelisation, and there have been sillier moments. Nonetheless this does expose the problems you get when you’re having to constantly build to and then resolve moments of heightened dramatic tension, at the same points in every story – structure may be crucial, but there are times when it’s a noose around the creative neck. It’s a difficulty encountered far less in the books, or indeed within the two-part stories that would follow a couple of years later, when Doctor Who saw format changes that foreshadowed the approach taken in the multi-part stories we’ve seen since 2005.

So perhaps that’s where Moffat’s going. An erratic, more abrasive Doctor, and a selection of feature-length two-part stories. It could work. God knows we need a change. But please, no more charity singles.

Categories: Classic Who | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Yip yip yip, exterminate

Here’s an upsetting thing I realised a couple of years ago. Somewhere in New York, there’s a disorientated fifty-year-old vagrant wandering around with a permanently bewildered expression, asking anyone who will listen “Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?”. No one will tell him, because no one knows the answer. A few people with good memories tell him to follow his nose until the air is sweet, but you really have to go out of town for that sort of sensation, so he wanders, aimless, mumbling. (Actually, even though Sesame Street was set in New York, the vagrant is probably in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is full of people like that.)

We have been watching a lot of Sesame Street this past week, largely because Thomas has taken a sudden interest. I’m glad. Sesame Street was essential viewing when I was his age, but it occurs to me now – living in the UK, where it is no longer shown – that there is a generation of children growing up who have no real awareness of the adventures of Bert, Ernie and Mr Snufilop Snuffalop Snuphalop – oh, the mammoth. Sometimes you reach a point where you assume that everyone has a similar level of knowledge about various cultural icons, and it comes as something of a shock to discover that no, the kids can’t name a single Beatles song, nor do they know what a record player is. You get round this – at least I get round this – by playing YouTube videos of ‘Monster in the Mirror‘ every chance you get, if only because it features Jeff Goldblum.

Coincidentally, I also combined last night’s hour ironing session with the second half of ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’. If you haven’t seen this one, it features a sinister minister who – if you’re of a certain age – cannot be taken truly seriously once you learn his name.

Even without the presence of Charles Grover, ‘Invasion’ is ridiculous. It is full of people who are either in on the conspiracy or too blind to see that the conspiracy exists. The colonists who are sitting in a ‘spacecraft’ that’s actually three rooms in an underground bunker and thus not vibrating at all are so colossally stupid you cannot imagine how anyone could ever have thought that they were the creme de la creme of what 1970s / 1980s* society had to offer. There is the sad and somewhat unjust fall of Mike Yates. There is the bunker map and its unfortunate visual resemblance to a Cluedo board. There is the wildly implausible idea of rolling back the world to the Jurassic era in order to start again, although one of the offending scientists is played by Martin Jarvis, which means I’m prepared to be a little more accommodating than usual.

* see UNIT dating controversy.

It’s a shame, because the cast in general is great, with Pertwee on fine form and some wonderful scenes with Benton and the Brigadier. But in fandom this is one of those stories that is remembered largely for its ropy effects (indeed, that seems to be Lis Sladen’s overriding memory of things, from what I can remember of her autobiography). Allowances do need to be made for the passing of time, but in this case the criticism has weight – the dinosaurs in ‘Invasion’ are like the England football team, in that they actually look reasonably effective until they have to start moving. There is a fight in Smithfield Market between a brontosaurus and a T-Rex that borders on laughable, but even this is eclipsed by the scene in which the Doctor fights off a swarm of pterodactyls with a mop – a scene that might have worked if  they’d manage to source some decent sound effects, rather than having the puppeteer shouting “Caw! Caw!” just off camera.

I mean they should have done this. This would have worked.

“I think,” says Bob, “that this could be the bestimost story ev-”

Look, I was talking about Sesame Street. I was struggling a little with the obvious crossovers. You will recall, of course, the Martians who appeared out of thin shimmery air in order to look at household objects (and, occasionally, sing about babies). I asked Gareth if they reminded him of anything, and his initial answer was the Axons, “but it’s not that close”. And it isn’t, but if we add the Ood, and a certain Lovecraftian eater of worlds –

Martian_Sesame

 

Elsewhere, there is Sam the Robot, who is convinced he’s actually on Mulberry Street, rather than Sesame Street. “My first thought was that it was a bit like a Mechanoid, but not much,” says Gareth. “And then I thought no, if anything, it’s much more like the TARDIS console”. And indeed, it is.

 

Sam_Sesame

But it’s left to the cast themselves to drop in a direct reference to Doctor Who, courtesy once more of Grover:

Anyway, I was thinking about all this the other day when the boys were watching a classic Sesame Street sketch in which Ernie makes a statue of Bert, and – well…

Bert-Ernie-statue

Me: Look! What’s wrong with the statue?

Daniel: He’s got no nose!

Me: Right! How will he smell?

Thomas: He can’t. He’s a statue.

Me: Ha ha.

Thomas: Unless he’s a Weeping Angel or something.

 

“Whatever you do,” said Gareth, “don’t stink.”

Categories: Classic Who, Crossovers | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Nimon be praised

Ah, how do I love thee, ‘Horns of Nimon’? Let me count the ways.

For starters, this is one of the silliest stories in the canon. The premise is fairly sound: it’s Theseus and the Minotaur, half a universe adrift. It has a labyrinth, a bull-like monster and a batch of unnecessary sacrifices. Even Theseus himself makes a token appearance in the form of the partially anagrammed Seth, who has feigned nobility in order to impress girls, and has wound up being hero-worshipped by a Blue Peter presenter. Somewhat disappointingly, this is not Peter Purves.

The Doctor and Romana arrive in the TARDIS – Romana wearing a bright red coat that turns out to be something of a mistake when she’s cornered by the titular bull. There is a lot of running and shouting and some frantic mugging from Baker, who buries his head in K-9’s neck with a gasp of horror when the pair are about to crash into a planet (not long after giving him the kiss of life). It’s partly the excesses of a performer about to enter his twilight, ‘needs to be reigned in’ phase, and partly Kenny McBain’s direction, which allows for moments like this.

(“Simultaneously the best Tom Baker moment,” says YouTube user Cybjon, “and the worst. It’s like the show jumped the shark, got eaten by the shark, only for the show to eat its way out of the shark triumphant. Also, the shark has the face of Graham Crowden on acid.”)

We can’t single out Baker. Lalla Ward is also clearly having fun, whether it’s sparring with the aforementioned Crowden, sneering at the bullying co-pilot (whose role is largely to shout “WEAKLING SCUM!” at his prisoners) or leading an escape attempt by running halfway across the room, crying “GO! GO!”, and throwing her arm over her shoulder in the sort of theatrical manner that you’d expect from a stage school graduate. Indeed, the whole story is borderline pantomime in places, before crossing the border completely and acquiring a visa, and then applying for citizenship. It’s no secret that Anthony Read was less than happy with the interpretation of his script, which is relatively straight-laced until it wound up in the hands of a cast who play it mostly for its comic potential. Small wonder, then, that this story divides fans as much as it does.

But I enjoyed ‘The Horns of Nimon’ so much I watched it twice in the same day. Once by myself, with Edward to keep me company in between clambering up on the table and emptying out the cat food (this is him, you understand, rather than me) and once with Joshua and Daniel, both of whom were thoroughly gripped. We particularly enjoyed Soldeed’s final comeuppance, where the power-crazed fanatic comes to the unmistakable conclusion that he’s been duped:

Somewhere in the creative ether there is a dramatic, serious version of this scene which would make Anthony Read a happy man. I have no interest in seeing it. I confess I love this with a passion. Crowden goes through all five stages of Lear’s madness in the space of a couple of minutes. In contrast, Lalla plays it comparatively seriously, even if she delivers her lines with perhaps more resonance than is strictly necessary. It calls to mind the Doctor / Pirate Captain face-off in ‘The Pirate Planet’, in that you have a normally flippant and detached character being the serious one, because the gravity of the situation calls for it. Crowden hams it up like a loon, building his entire performance to this one moment, but somehow it fits.

There are many ways to skin a cat. But here, exclusive to this blog (because nobody else would be quite so silly) is a line-by-line breakdown with appropriate stage directions, showing how you – yes, YOU! – can reconstruct this scene, as it originally played, within the privacy of your own home / school / club / whatever. (Transcript by Chakoteya.net; annotations by me.)

INT. NIMON’S LARDER

[Teka has joined her friends in suspended animation.]

SETH: Teka!

[Romana goes to the controls.]

SOLDEED [out-of-control public schoolteacher]: You…you meddlesome hussy. Do not touch the sacrifices!

ROMANA [curiously straight]: It’s all over, Soldeed. You’re finished.

SOLDEED [evangelical street preacher]: No, the Nimon will fulfil his great promise! The Nimon be praised!

ROMANA [chiding parent]: The Nimon be praised? How many Nimons have you seen today?

SOLDEED [eyes glued open]: Don’t dare blaspheme the Nimon.

ROMANA [mother asking child about biscuit consumption]: How many!

SOLDEED [hand in cookie jar]: Skonnos will-

ROMANA [as above]: How many Nimons?

SOLDEED [King Lear]: Three. I have seen three.

ROMANA [angry committee meeting]: Well, I’ve just seen a whole lot more rampaging down the corridor. Face it, Soldeed, you’re being invaded.

SOLDEED [Billy Bones]: He said he was the only one. The last survivor of his race.

ROMANA [chewing out a drunken teenager]: He told you what you wanted to hear, promised you what you wanted to have.

SOLDEED [Sylvester McCoy, eight years early]: So this is the great journey of life?

ROMANA [“Yes, this was my favourite line”]: They’re parasitic nomads who’ve been feeding off your selfishness and gullibility.

SOLDEED [Johnny the Painter]: My dreams of conquest. [Lairy drunk] You have brought this calamity upon me!

ROMANA [Angry headmistress]: You’ve brought it on yourself!

SOLDEED [Richard III]: You will die for your interference!

[Soldeed runs through to the furnace and pulls the lever.]

ROMANA: Stop him!

[Seth shoots Soldeed as the alarm starts to sound.]

SOLDEED [Private Frazer from Dad’s Army]: You fools. You are all doomed. Doomed.

[Soldeed dies with a manic laugh.]

DISCLAIMER: Please note that Brian of Morbius is by no means liable for death caused by bad exposure to over-acting, or indeed over-exposure to bad acting.

There is also this.

In any event, I was struck throughout that the story’s title is only one letter shy of ‘The Horns of Nimoy’, so –

You pronounce it differently, of course. A closer homophonic parallel is ‘The Horns of Simon’, which automatically made my children think of a certain grumpy millionaire, known for his weekly pantomime theatrics.

20165_1

(For years now, every time the boys want to dress up, at least one of them will do nothing more than pull their trousers up to the armpit and shout “Hey, I’m Simon Cowell!”.)

I did not produce this image. I will possibly be producing a video mashup of the Nimon making derisive remarks, using MP3s I found on the internet.

But I think that’s for another day, don’t you?

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He rises! See! The Great One rises!

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s observation about England’s defeat at the hands of Uruguay, and particularly that canny Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, here’s an early publicity shot for the original cast of ‘State of Decay’.

You see what I mean.

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You and whose Rani?

There’s trouble at t’mine.

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For the uninitiated, the photo you can see above shows Blists Hill Victorian Town, part of the Ironbridge experience. Ironbridge is situated in the eastern half of Emily’s native Shropshire, on the banks of the Severn; the eponymous bridge spans the river like an enormous version of one of the Meccano structures it doubtless inspired. The town’s claim to be the “Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution” is a little sketchy, but there is a lot to see and do – and Blists Hill, with its blacksmiths and wood turner and foundry and schoolroom, all surrounded by woodland and back-to-back with an impressive incline railway system – is a great day out.

It’s also where they filmed ‘Mark of the Rani’. Oh, and it was all going so well.

Part of my problem with the story is the Rani herself. Despite her Dynasty associations, as far as I’m concerned, Kate O’Mara will always be Laura Wilde in Howards’ Way, and I simply can’t take her seriously in black leather sneering at Anthony Ainley over an operating table. Gareth rightly points out that she has potential. The Master is a rogue Time Lord who wants to take over the universe simply because it looks like a bit of a laugh. The Rani doesn’t share his immoral principles – indeed, she’s the amoral scientist personified, likening her disdain for humans to that of the humans’ own use and abuse of livestock. “What harm have the animals in the fields done them?” she says to the Doctor when the two first meet. “The rabbits they snare, the sheep they nourish to slaughter. Do they worry about the lesser species when they sink their teeth into a lamb chop?”

It’s a valid point, but Emmy material this is not, and no better are the angry ramblings of the sleep-deprived Luddites, whose role is chiefly to cart the Doctor from one place to another, usually on a hospital trolley. This also leads to the first episode’s cliffhanger, set up as it is on the pretext that the Doctor asks Peri to push him away from the approaching Rani, only for her to get it spectacularly wrong and send him barrelling off down a steep path. At the beginning of part two, he’s saved by George Stephenson. Then things get silly.

Gareth Roberts says (and I paraphrase) that “What’s great about ‘Mark of the Rani’ is that the Rani is a character who just doesn’t want to be in Doctor Who. There’s these two clowns gallivanting around and plotting against each other, and she turns her nose up at the whole thing and just wants to get on with her work. The next time we see her? Wigs? Dressing up as Bonnie Langford? She’s probably watched all the episodes in the interim. I bet she has them all on videotape, stacked on her shelf, all very neatly labelled.”

Shropshire_May_2013_02

Whatever my misgivings about both the Rani’s adventures – not to mention the telethon special where she’s outdone by an Eastenders actress – it’s a location, and we were in that neck of the woods, and even though we’ve been before it was the first time I could actually show Thomas the set, and so the first thing we did was wander around the town and draw a depressing blank when we tried to work out where the bathhouse was. Indeed, the most tangible and memorable exterior location in the place is the overgrown exit to the mine where Colin Baker runs beats a hasty retreat with Peri at the story’s climax.

Mark_of_the_Rani_2_0.40.05.05

Not too far from here is the path that leads off to the forest, in which the Rani is conducting some particularly gruesome experiments. First she forces the Doctor to take part in a crappy circus skills workshop.

rani20

What’s worse, he’s missed out on the chance to cop a feel of Peri, so instead the honour falls to a semi-anthropomorphic tree.

mark-of-the-rani3

I am not going to bother explaining this; it’s (literally) monstrous. Suffice to say that there is an amusing denouement in the Rani’s TARDIS featuring a baby dinosaur, and then it’s off to sunny Spain for ‘The Two Doctors’. The photo below features no reference to the path or forest whatsoever, but I include it because I rather like the lighting.

Shropshire_May_2013_13

We left not long after and headed for Enginuity, a hands-on exhibition about ten minutes’ drive from the Victorian town. It has robots and ecological-themed experiments and you get to learn about water and electricity and wind power. It is fantastic and the boys love it. But it’s set in the middle of a large collection of old buildings that make up the slate museums and monuments that showcase the heritage of the town and its industrial past, and it’s a little disconcerting when you walk out of the high-ceilinged, air-conditioned hall full of rolling video and hi-tech wizardry, and this is what you see.

IMG_4015_unedited

“I can’t help thinking,” I said to Thomas, “that this would have made a great place for a UNIT shootout or something in a 1970s Doctor Who story. You know, with someone falling off the stairs and the Brigadier down in the yard on the front line.”

“You could always make one,” he said.

So I did.

Categories: Classic Who, On Location | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

‘The Green Death’: Redux

This will only make sense if you’ve seen ‘The Green Death’, and if you know your internet memes. But if you haven’t seen ‘The Green Death’, you really should. It is wondrous.

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There’ll be spaceships over the White Cliffs of Dover

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I was lucky enough to get freshly pressed this week (all right, luck had nothing to do with it; it was all thanks to SJ, to whom I am incredibly grateful). The post in question was a retrospective of my grandparents as seen through the eyes of an adult revisiting childhood haunts. We took the boys down to the town I visited every summer, and showed them round the sights.

But you don’t want to read all about that, do you?

Let me explain. A couple of weeks ago, Thomas and Emily and I started on ‘The Mind of Evil’. It is wonderful vintage Who. There is a mad scientist (all right, it turns out to be the Master) channelling an alien intelligence through a machine that sucks the evil out of men’s minds. In an early sequence in the story it does this to Neil McCarthy (later to be seen in ‘The Power of Kroll’), reducing him to a childlike simpleton. There’s a nuclear missile and poor Jo gets captured and recaptured so often I lost count. There are wobbly steps, less-than-substantial doors and the Brigadier gets to have a lengthy (and really pretty violent) gun battle towards the end of the tale. It’s wonderful, despite some occasionally questionable acting and the fact that four cliffhangers out of five feature the machine about to scare someone to death. (One of those is by proxy, but it still counts.)

It’s also shot at Dover Castle, its walls and battlements serving as the exterior of the prison where the bulk of ‘Mind’ is set. As is traditional with Classic Who many of the entrances were used more than once, but the central square that surrounds the great tower was immediately familiar.

IMG_3873 IMG_3913

The observant among you will recall that this is the place where the Brigadier spoke through a loudhailer and then turned to gun down a prisoner who’d climbed on the wall behind him, causing the deceased convict to take a spectacular western-style tumble.

Dover

Of course, we couldn’t do that, so I had to improvise.

IMG_3913b

We almost didn’t make it to Dover Castle. This has nothing to do with chronic tiredness from the lengthy journey down the day before, or the fact that no one could find their water bottles, or that we got lost on the Folkestone one way system. No, it was because in the B&B the boys were anxious to explore the room next door to ours.

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I had to explain that no, it didn’t contain a crack in the fabric of the universe, although they were having issues with the plumbing.

I’m sure there are other Doctor Who related places to visit in Kent. But I didn’t have time to scout locations near our planned route or actually watch the stories they filmed there. Kit Pedler is buried in Graveney, which was too far away to visit, and I’d have found it hard to resist the urge to leave a can of oil or something at his graveside. But discovering this fact did make me wonder about doing a tour of deceased Who veterans’ resting places to pay respects in some form or another. It also made me wonder what they all got up to once they left the show – those that disappeared from the public eye (or who were never in it). Do they wake up one morning in a mysterious village with their identity stripped and where a giant balloon chases them every time they try to leave to work on other science fiction programmes? Do they all write books as gossipy and vindictive as Matthew Waterhouse’s autobiography? Or do they simply get other jobs?

Tom

Well, maybe.

Categories: Classic Who, On Location | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

July 6th

Happy Android Invasion Day!

July_6

(Thanks, Gareth. I was stuck for a post today…)

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July 6th

Happy Android Invasion Day!

July_6

(Thanks, Gareth. I was stuck for a post today…)

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VeggieTales

“Hello,” he said. “I’m the Fifth Doctor.”

Celery

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