Inferno
Episode / October 26, 2016

Aired 9 May – 20 June 1970 The first run of stories with Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor has already pushed the boundaries of the programme as roles have been redefined and more adult themes explored. ‘Inferno’ continues to explore new territory, an accident with the TARDIS taking the Doctor to a parallel universe in a fascist Great Britain. This concept breaks two of the strongest fibres of the franchise in allowing the Doctor’s colleagues to be evil and seeing the Doctor lose in spectacular fashion as everyone except him succumbs to a fiery death, allowing for a refreshingly different spin on core concepts. As usual in this time period, ‘Inferno’ opens with the Doctor and UNIT observing the eponymous project that seeks to drill to the centre of the Earth to find a new source of energy named Stahlman’s Gas. While the Doctor is certainly curious to see how events progress, he also plans to use some of this energy himself in an attempt to fix his TARDIS, in the process butting heads with the uncompromising leader, Stahlman, who is obsessed with increasing the speed of the project’s progress. Realizing that Stahlman’s unflinching push to completion my not…

The Ambassadors of Death
Episode / October 25, 2016

Aired 21 March – 2 May 1970 The first season with Jon Pertwee in the titular role continues its strong run of adventures with ‘The Ambassadors of Death’ while refining its new team-based format, not forgetting the children who made the programme so successful in the first place but also unafraid to offer a more adult-oriented and sophisticated take on science fiction with an impetus on set action sequences. Using the allure of the world’s burgeoning space programme’s and the recent Neil Armstrong moonwalk, having a mysterious spacecraft approach Earth is a natural concept around which to base a serial, as is having the Doctor embrace and experience the entire rocket experience from pre-flight preparations to post-flight quarantine to capitalize on the public’s fascination. The Apollo 13 incident also happened to coincide with broadcast date of the fourth episode, lending credence to the dangers that the combination of Earth and outer space presents. Yet before the story shifts to that action, it initially builds a very tense and ominous atmosphere as a rescue mission is underway for a manned Mars probe that had gone radio silent shortly after arriving on Mars but is nearly back to Earth after seven months…

Doctor Who and the Silurians
Episode / October 25, 2016

Aired 31 January – 14 March 1970 Continuing the trend started in ‘Spearhead from Space,’ ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ again stages a more mature vision of science fiction than was often on display in the black and white era. The Earthbound setting again allows the programme to play on the social subtexts of the time, suggesting that nobody can be trusted and that perhaps the general good is not necessarily at the forefront of everyone’s minds. To this end, ‘Doctor Who and Silurians’ does not feature a monster as the initial evil per se, but rather an atomic research facility aiming to create cheap and safe energy and run by a group of very corrupt officials protecting their own interests above all else. Even as the story focuses its shift to the native and sentient reptilian Silurian race living beneath the planet whose claim to the world far predates humanity’s, it continues to suggest that horrors from within the world can be just as dangerous as those from externally while also clever inserting humans into the invader role on Earth. This serial also highlights the tragedy of the human race when viewed from the trapped Time Lord’s eyes, another…

Dust Breeding
Audio / March 4, 2016

Released June 2001 ‘Dust Breeding’ finally brings the Master into the Big Finish universe, with Geoffrey Beevers reprising the role. Big Finish apparently originally intended to have Anthony Ainley return as the Master, but his demands were too much to make his reprisal a realistic possibility. As it is, though, Beevers possesses a voice that simply exudes everything that is the Master, and so his presence in ‘Dust Breeding’ is superb even if the plot contrivance to explain his being back as a post-‘Survival’ Master is rather overly complicated. The Master’s nefarious plan is to gain control of the sentient Warp Core weapon by using eggs of the Krill, a humanoid creature first seen in the novel ‘Storm Harvest;’ of course, it doesn’t go exactly as he envisions and the Doctor ends up intervening. Actually, though, ‘Dust Breeding’ is full of intriguing concepts, notably a planet as a work of art and sentient dust-like beings that spend centuries trapped inside the painting ‘The Scream’ with the Doctor rushing to save that same painting before its destruction. Unfortunately that sentient superweapon that became more powerful than its creators foresaw never really reaches its full potential and in a sense becomes just…

Spearhead from Space
Episode / January 28, 2016

Aired 3 -24 January 1970 ‘Spearhead from Space’ is unquestionably one of the most important episodes in Doctor Who’s long history, tasked with introducing a new lead and cast and proving that a radically new format confined to modern-day Earth could work. Serving as a second pilot episode of sorts, this serial somehow manages to achieve everything that it sets out to do while remaining incredibly accessible to old and new fans alike. With Doctor Who never really receiving the budget to make alien worlds come to life all that successfully, producer Derrick Sherwin and script editor Terrence Dicks made the decision to have the Time Lords exile the Doctor to Earth after the conclusion to Patrick Troughton’s final The War Games, and the filming employed here certainly pays dividends in showing the comparatively modest but varying splendours of Earth. Of course, the Earth-based setting allows for an exploration of the intrinsic horrors of commonplace items, and ‘Spearhead from Space’ introduces the Autons and employs plastics and mannequins to achieve this to spectacular effect, the image of walking shop dummies being burned into the public consciousness and causing complaints of excessive violence and corruption. The idea of the very layout…