Power Play
Audio / July 22, 2017

Released June 2012 The classic era of Doctor Who tended to leave past companions alone once they departed the company of the Doctor and the TARDIS, a few flashbacks and cameos in special episodes notwithstanding. Accordingly, ‘Power Play’- or what was once titled ‘Meltdown’ before real-world scares intervened- feels like something of a precursor to the modern era of the franchise where past companions return with much more frequency and continue to carry narrative weight. As trucks carrying nuclear waste begin to disappear and a nuclear power plant nears meltdown while people are kidnapped by an alien police force, Victoria Waterfield stumbles upon a familiar blue police box as her past and present brutally collide. ‘Power Play’ is certainly a story teeming with interesting ideas, and the opening notion of an intergalactic police force coming after the Doctor is a strong one that surprisingly has not previously been used. But as transuranic elements enter the nuclear equation and long-extinct organisms turn up 500,000 years later in the present, it’s clear that the mysterious Dominic has far more nefarious plans than his benevolent claims of disposing nuclear waste so far in the past that it will have no effect on the…

Fury from the Deep
Episode / October 15, 2016

Aired 16 March – 20 April 1968 ‘Fury from the Deep’ is perhaps the most stereotypical of the base-under-siege format so prominent in this season of Troughton stories. Although it starts rather painfully slowly and doesn’t initially offer anything new or exciting, those willing to stick it out to the end will be treated to a tale that progressively improves and turns into a decent if unremarkable affair. Perhaps the biggest detriment to ‘Fury from the Deep’ is that the script never bothers with characterization and never affords its characters and degree of personality. This perhaps most notable with Robson, the requisite antagonistic base leader, who is interested in nothing more than berating and blasting others and maintaining the gas flow record. The script allows Victor Maddern no opportunity to make the role his own, and his uncompromising viewpoint robs the story of any potential drama that a more well-rounded character would allow. Unfortunately the second-in command Harris and his wife Maggie are equally one-dimensional and flat, and though some of the secondary characters such as Van Lutyens do explore their own character issues, the overall appearance is that this is a group of people completely stalled in mediocrity and…

The Web of Fear
Episode / October 14, 2016

Aired 3 February – 9 March 1968 Whereas the complete recovery of ‘The Enemy of the World’ was initially met with rather muted excitement before winning over new and long-time fans alike with its smart and measured story, the recovery of five of six episodes of ‘The Web of Fear’ certainly created a much larger fervor. With the introduction of Lethbridge-Stewart, an immensely popular recurring character over the years, and the return of the Yeti, ‘The Web of Fear’ very much represents the pinnacle of what Doctor Who meant to a generation, and the expectations surrounding it and its recovery were sky-high. While the concept of the Doctor saving contemporary London has been done before in ‘The War Machines’ at the end of Hartnell’s era- itself arguably a trial run for the type of story that would feature prominently in Troughton’s era- ‘The Web of Fear’ further adds to the spectacle of British iconography while also bringing in a military presence. The London Underground is just as iconic as Big Ben or St Paul’s Cathedral, and placing a much more frightening version of the Yeti into such familiar surroundings once more pays enormous dividends. Amusingly, the Underground sets of this…

The Enemy of the World
Episode / October 11, 2016

Aired 23 December 1967 – 27 January 1968 Immediately following the miraculous recovery of ‘The Enemy of the World’ and ‘The Web of Fear,’ both long thought lost to time forever, popular attention naturally focused on the latter because of its popular monsters and the introduction of one Lethbridge-Stewart. However, despite ‘The Enemy of the World’ not garnering nearly as much excitement and not necessarily topping most-wanted or most-loved polls, it is an incredibly strong serial that manages to avoid many of the pitfalls of other six-part stories while offering something totally unique for the Troughton era. Stepping aside from the base under siege staple of this series, the tense and globetrotting plot of ‘The Enemy of the World’ is much more tonally in line with early James Bond adventures. Of course, the story is best-known for featuring Patrick Troughton in a double role, much in the vein of William Hartnell in ‘The Massacre.’ While there are certainly those that will overlook this story for that very reason alongside its more experimental nature for the time, the dichotomy and nuance of Troughton’s performance is undoubtedly the true highlight and the very reason that this story’s recovery is so important. There…

The Ice Warriors
Episode / October 9, 2016

Aired 11 November – 16 December 1967 The fifth series of Doctor Who is often broadly descried as a practice in base-under-siege monster stories, five of the six stories utilizing that format to some extent. While there is no doubt that Troughton and his companions often come upon an isolated group of people that encounters a dangerous alien menace looking to defeat them or to gain control and power, there’s also no denying that the format produces some genuinely classic tales when taken in isolation. Produced shortly after the Mariner 4 probe allowed humans their first up-close look at Mars, ‘The Ice Warriors’ taps into the popular consciousness and romantic sentiments of space at the time, suggesting that Earth’s closes neighbour was once home to a sentient and powerful species of its own. As a foe, the Ice Warriors are quite unique. They do suffer from the more cumbersome and trudging pace that plagued so many of the classic villains, but their strength and power is undeniable and the twist on little green men from Mars is intrinsically intriguing. The hints of their backstory here offer a tantalizing look into a very complex culture as well, one certainly that is…

The Abominable Snowmen
Episode / October 7, 2016

Aired 30 September – 4 November 1967 Following the incredibly strong adventures ‘The Evil of the Daleks’ and ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen,’ both of which featured one of the franchise’s most iconic foes, the burden of ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ to continue the immense momentum while introducing a completely new foe is tremendous. Arriving at the Tibetan Det Sen monastery in the 1930s, the Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria soon find themselves immersed in trouble as the Doctor is accused of murder and Jamie and Victoria flee from lumbering yeti, all while a much greater evil works within the walls of the monastery itself. The unsung star of this episode is the setting, the monastery and the Himalayan background coming to life superbly. Without drawing undue attention to themselves, the set design and solid direction completely sell the Welsh exterior and studio interiors as something much more exotic, and ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ is all the stronger for it. Of more notoriety, though, is the evil Great Intelligence. Initially presented as a seemingly benign creature yearning for isolation, the gradual revelation that he possesses individuals and keeps them alive to serve his will is quite effective and allows for a rare empathy…

The Tomb of the Cybermen
Episode / October 6, 2016

Aired 2 – 23 September 1967 Originally thought to be another unfortunate victim of the BBC archives purge, ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ was miraculously found fully intact in Hong Kong in 1992. Facing the daunting task of following the truly epic and climactic ‘The Evil of the Daleks,’ ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ manages to continue the strong run, offering arguably the strongest Cybermen story of the classic era. Weakened after the events of ‘The Tenth Planet’ and ‘The Moonbase,’ the Cybermen presented here are initially in a state of hibernation, having walled themselves away from the rest of the universe. The fascinating approach of bringing this iconic race back in such a critical condition, the Cyberleader’s claims changing from a statement of assured survival to a plea for continued survival, lends a true sense of despair to the Cybermen’s condition as they are so clearly on the brink of total extinction. Even their decision to return to the titular tombs to conserve energy is a harrowing final act on their part here that, despite their continued plans to dominate the galaxy, is tonally and visually completely different from the way any other villain has been presented up to…

The Evil of the Daleks
Episode / October 4, 2016

Aired 20 May – 1 July 1967 Having just seen Ben and Polly depart their company at 1966 Gatwick Airport, the Doctor and Jamie witness the TARDIS being stolen and driven off on a lorry. Following its trail, they eventually come upon a Victorian antiques shop run by the very peculiar Edward Waterfield, a man literally out of time who brings objects from the past to sell in the present but who is seemingly afraid of a much darker secret. The missing Dalek stories are unquestionably three of the most famous in Doctor Who lore, and ‘The Evil of the Daleks’ certainly deserves its lofty reputation. At a massive seven episodes in length, writer David Whitaker employs three distinct settings to keep the pacing brisk while allowing plenty of time for exploration of characters and motivations. As the mystery gradually unfurls and events shift from the 1960s to Theodore Maxtible’s 1866 mansion, the heroes and audience learn that the Daleks have Waterfield’s daughter, Victoria, held captive, the Daleks themselves having arrived when noticing Maxtible’s crude time travel experiments with mirrors and static electricity. The Daleks, realizing that they are constantly defeated despite their superior numbers and forces, are searching for…

Three’s A Crowd
Audio / April 26, 2016

Released May 2005 ‘Three’s A Crowd’ evokes the Peter Davison era of the classic series immensely well and, even if the plot becomes a bit predictable, it moves along at a quick and steady rate and boasts some clever ideas. The title could, of course, refer to the current TARDIS crew, but it also directly to the Earth Colony Phoenix where each human lives in complete isolation except at designated times when they may interact with one other individual. Over time, these people have become agoraphobic, afraid of social contact, and though Bellip does seem quite taken with Laroq at the social as she asks for patience in developing some sort of a relationship, the arrival of Peri by teleport throws everything into chaos. The revolutionary Vidler who wants to create a mass interaction of eight or more people helps to complete this strange backdrop for the story, but it seems like there are several missed opportunities for further exploration. The isolation of people and their preferred contact electronically clearly speaks to a trend in modern culture, and the fact that the podcasts the colonists watch are controlled by Auntie is another jab that never really gets explored. These ideas…

The Black Hole
Audio / February 11, 2016

Released November 2015 The third entry in the second series of The Early Adventures jumps ahead in the Second Doctor’s timeline to the era of Victoria and Jamie, seeing the TARDIS land aboard a space station orbiting a black hole with no associated star or supernova to explain its existence. The normal rules of time are bending for the 20,000 inhabitants, and an old foe is lurking in the shadows. As with any well-written story, ‘The Black Hole’ can be enjoyed both by newcomers as an isolated adventure and by fans more well-versed in the programme’s long-standing mythology. Excitingly for fans, this is the story that finally reveals- from the Second Doctor’s perspective- the events leading up to and following on from Jamie’s and his presence with the Stattenheim remote control in the Sixth Doctor tale ‘The Two Doctors.’ Simon Guerrier also cleverly inserts the appearance of a species that Jamie should have no knowledge of at this point, mischievously toying with listeners’ knowledge and anticipation. Guerrier perfectly recaptures the feel of the Second Doctor era, even having rows of computer banks shooting out ticker tapes; at the same time, though, he introduces concepts and bits of knowledge that are…