Thursday, October 31, 2013

Doctor Who: in defense of "The Wheel in Space"

The fifth of seven neglected or maligned Classic Who serials that I consider worth revisiting, one for each Doctor. The series commences with "Terminus," then continues with "The Ark," "Delta and the Bannermen" and "Death to the Daleks."

Revisiting "The Wheel in Space," in preparation for this post, made me sad -- not the reaction I was expecting. "The Wheel in Space" is a largely ignored serial, one that I realized during my latest rewatch is even better than I'd remembered. But I was also reminded that a key reason it's under-appreciated is because four of its six parts are missing. And that is to say, the visuals are missing. But here's the thing: the audio is still there. And there are amazing reconstructions: Loose Cannon (obviously) did one, and I see, online, at least two others that I like. And Wendy Padbury narrated the audio book. So there are all kinds of ways to "watch" and appreciate "Wheel in Space" even though only two of the six episodes survive in their entirety, but I've come to realize that some fans -- even some diehard ones -- won't, because it calls for the kind of viewing effort we're not used to these days.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Doctor Who: in defense of "Death to the Daleks"

The fourth of seven neglected or maligned Classic Who serials that I consider worth revisiting, one for each Doctor. The series commences with "Terminus," then continues with "The Ark" and "Delta and the Bannermen."

"Death to the Daleks" is the Dalek story for those who hate the Daleks. It's the Pertwee serial for those who hate the Pertwee era. It's the Terry Nation script for those who hate Terry Nation. By my rough calculations, that's approximately one in every seven billion people, which I guess would be me. For the other folks on the planet, most of whom love the Daleks, many of whom like the Pertwee era, and from what I can gather, at least six of whom think Terry Nation was a great writer, "Death to the Daleks" is one of the nadirs of the entire Doctor Who run.

I kind of like it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Doctor Who: in defense of "Delta and the Bannermen"

The third of seven neglected or maligned Classic Who serials that I consider worth revisiting, one for each Doctor. The series commences with "Terminus," then continues with "The Ark."

"In the end it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about you. You have to be exactly who and what you want to be. Most everyone is floating along on phony public relations... and for what?! Appearances. Appearances don't count for diddly. In the end, all that really matter is what was true, and truly felt -- and how we treated one another. And that's it."
-- Julia Sugarbaker, Designing Women

*****

Once upon a time, at the dawn of rock 'n' roll, at a holiday camp in South Wales, a boy named Billy spied a woman named Delta -- and it was love at first sight. And that evening, before they'd even had a chance to speak, he serenaded her from the dining-hall stage with a suitable new standard, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" And later that night, he stood outside her door, a bouquet of flowers in one hand and slicking back his hair with the other, and opened it, only to discover --

Monday, October 21, 2013

Doctor Who: in defense of "The Ark"

The second of seven neglected or maligned Classic Who serials that I consider worth revisiting, one for each Doctor. The series commences here, with "Terminus."

It's easy to tell a fellow Whovian that you like "The Ark": they think you're talking about "The Ark in Space." They nod, say "me too" and go on their way. But occasionally, one of them stops, as if to ask, "Did I hear you right?", and warily doubles back: "Not the one with the Monoids?" And you gulp, "Um, yah," and they add, shaking their heads as if they're questioning your sanity, "The ones with the ping-pong balls in their mouths?"

And then you realize you have to provide a coherent, reasoned justification for liking a TV serial that features creatures holding ping-pong balls in their mouths.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Doctor Who: in defense of "Terminus"

In the few years since I began watching Classic Doctor Who, it's become apparent that there are quite a few serials I like more than others do -- I mean, way more. I thought I'd call attention to some of the serials that I see as unfairly maligned, and I'd choose one serial for each Classic Doctor. And I'd start with a neglected serial that I consider one of the top-25 Classic Who stories ever telecast. So let's start with two lines that pretty much sum up the "Terminus" experience:

Nyssa: What are they going to do with us?
Inga: Supposedly cure us, but I rather think they're going to let us die.