The Klepton Parasites

After a short hiatus, I’ve just put up a new post on my Doctor Who blog, Coronas of the Sun. From now on I’ll be solely concentrating on the William Hartnell era. I’ll pick up the television rewatch soon (with episode four of The Ark) and once that’s done I’ll be diving more fully into the novelisations, original novels, comic strips, annuals, audios and anything else that’s related to the First Doctor.

To that end, I’ve made a start on the TV Comic era of the Hartnell Doctor with his debut strip, The Klepton Parasites ….

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Just under a year after An Unearthly Child aired on British television, the Doctor made his debut as a comic strip character in the pages of TV Comic. These early strips are fascinating for a number of reasons.  They may be simplistic  but they also have a certain charm, although there’s no denying that they bear only a passing resemblance to the television series.

Yes, there’s a white-haired man called the Doctor who flies a spaceship disguised as a police-box through time and space,  but that’s pretty much where the similarity ends, at least in this story.  The strip Doctor is a gung-ho fellow, happy to shoot first (or get others to do the shooting for him) and ask questions later.

Although this first story runs over twenty pages, there’s an economy in the storytelling that’s evident right from the first panel.  A number of flying machines, piloted by the evil Kleptons, are swooping…

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The Destruction of Time

Over at Coronas of the Sun, the epic Daleks Master Plan comes to a downbeat conclusion with The Destuction of Time.

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destructionThe Destruction of Time is devastating.  Nothing in the story to date, indeed the series so far, quite prepares you for the cataclysmic events that unfold during these twenty five minutes.  Even with only the soundtrack and a handful of photographs it’s incredibly powerful, so we can only guess what would it would look like in motion.  But with Douglas Camfield directing it seems more than likely that the visuals would have been extremely striking.

Mavic Chen meets his well-deserved end.  Kevin Stoney once again sails merrily over the top, but that suits Chen’s character – who by now has lost his last lingering shreds of sanity.  What makes his demise even more striking is the way he’s treated by the Daleks.  They simply ignore him.  This silent treatment is the ultimate humiliation, although he’s still able to rationalise it away into believing that the Daleks will continue to obey him.  Of…

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Counter Plot

Over at Coronas of the Sun I’m currently making my way through The Daleks Master Plan, today I’ve reached episode five – Counter Plot

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Back in the 1990’s I didn’t have a particularly high opinion of The Daleks Masterplan – which wasn’t really surprising as I only had access to the (then) two existing episodes (Counter Plot and Escape Switch) courtesy of Daleks – The Early Years on VHS.

Jumping into the story cold with Counter Plot is a strange experience, since the horror and tension of the previous episode, The Traitors, is completely absent.  Counter Plot resets the story by transmitting the Doctor, Steven and Sara to the jungle planet of Mira.

Oh good, another jungle!  Following Kembel and Desperus we now end up on Mira, which looks spookily similar to the previous jungles.  No surprises for guessing that since this was an extra long story they had to stretch the budget as far as possible – so reusing the same sets was an obvious money-saving move.

The Doctor’s jaunt to Mira is another…

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The Exploding Planet

After a bit of a break, my Doctor Who blog is cranking back into action with the last episode of Galaxy 4 – The Exploding Planet

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After the Doctor and Vicki manage to rescue Steven from the airlock, they leave him to have a chat with the Rill (still voiced in a deep and booming fashion by Robert Cartland).  This is one of the more interesting scenes in the final episode.  Earlier, both Vicki and the Doctor were happy to accept the Rill’s bona fides at face value, but Steven’s a much more cynical sort.

STEVEN: So the Doctor trusts you?
RILL: Why shouldn’t he?
STEVEN: No reason. I suppose you gave right ethical reasons for him, so naturally he does trust you.
RILL: We rescued you from the Drahvins, but you still don’t trust us?
STEVEN: Oh, you could be the same as them – using us for your own salvation.

Steven eventually accepts that the Rills are operating in good faith, but his refusal to take them at face value demonstrates Steven’s independence.   Peter Purves’ dislike for this…

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Flight Through Eternity

Over at Coronas of the Sun I’m sampling the many delights of The Chase ……..

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The opening scene in the Daleks’ time machine is pretty impressive.  The set (designed by Raymond Cusick) looks substantial and has some groovy 1960’s embellishments – such as the spinning wall designs.  It’s also populated with quite a few Daleks – true, at least one is a cardboard cutout and others are cannibalised from the Peter Cushing movie, but it all helps to create the impression of a decent fighting force.  It’s therefore a pity that one of the Daleks is rather hesitant (“umm err”) which rather destroys the illusion.  This wasn’t scripted but seems to have been a gag dropped in during rehearsals.  It’s another moment that chips away at the invulnerability of the Daleks, although there’s worse to come ….

The TARDIS next drops our intrepid time-travellers off at the top of the Empire State Building.  This is the cue for a number of interesting American accents.  The…

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A Land of Fear

Over at Coronas of the Sun, my Doctor Who rewatch has reached the first episode of The Reign of Terror.

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The Doctor’s in a right old strop at the start of this episode (his bad mood carries over from the previous cliffhanger).  This feels a touch artificial and seems to have been done for two reasons – not only does it create a good hook into A Land of Fear (otherwise the last episode might have ended with the Doctor saying “oh look, a forest”) it also gives the regulars, especially Hartnell, some nice character interaction.

William Russell has spoken in the past about how the arrival of Dennis Spooner was greeted with enthusiasm by the main cast.  Spooner had a good ear for naturalistic dialogue and also liked to pepper his stories with humour.  And following the earnest and rather stilted dialogue of The SensoritesThe Reign of Terror does come as a breath of fresh air.  However, it’s notable that Spooner’s scripts do feature various Americanisms, which…

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The Rescue

Over at Coronas of the Sun, I’ve reached the final episode of the first Dalek serial – The Rescue.

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The literal cliff-hanger from last time saw Antodus fail to jump the ravine – which means he’s plunged down a bottomless cavern and Ian (tied on the other end of the rope) is slowly losing his grip.  There’s something rather casual about this sequence – why Ian doesn’t call for help from the others?  And when Ganatus does pop up to assist, neither of them are very quick to call for any more help.  With Kristas and Barbara also holding onto the rope they should have been able to pull Antodus up.

As it is, Antodus settles the matter by cutting the rope and plunging to his death.  This is a moment that can be taken several ways – was it a noble act of self sacrifice (saving Ian’s life) or did Antodus (who was convinced they’d all die) commit suicide because he didn’t have the nerve to carry on?

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