Friday, April 15, 2016

Whovian Chatter: The Troughton Years Season Six

Ghost here, thanks for joining.

I'm going to be examining Doctor Who... every single episode.  I'm going to take you on a journey through the 50+ years worth of this show, showcasing the good and the bad along the way.  For each episode I'm going to give you a very brief rundown of the plot, how good/bad the story is, and anything interesting about the episode.  Basically I'll just talk about whatever comes to mind for each of them.  These will be a more in-depth overview of the series as a whole so you can see which stories or episodes (if any) you want to check out for yourself.  Today I'm going to be talking about

The Second Doctor
Patrick Troughton
Season Six

Season six of Doctor Who ran from August 10, 1968 to June 21, 1969.  It contained 44 episodes spread among 7 stories.  Season six is a special season to me.  The companions are Jamie and Zoe, and while only Jamie is considered one of the fan favorites, the three of them together just work so well.  Not does this season have extremely special companions, but the show was doing perfectly fine without having a foothold in the present time it was being broadcast.  This is something I wish the modern run of the show would do every now and then.  The Doctor is an alien from the future, Jamie is a highlander from the far past, and Zoe is from the far future.  This also holds one of my favorite Doctor Who adventures and ends on an amazingly high note (for the series, not for the Doctor.) 

Season six also has the last of the currently missing stories.  While some of the Pertwee era did go missing, there were black and white copies of everything from that era.  This season's The Space Pirates is the last of the missing stories...and some people would say it should remain missing.

Story 44
The Dominators

The first story of this season is The Dominators and it's five episodes long.  An alien race known as the Dominators lands on a radioactive island on the planet Dulkis.  They use the radioactivity to partially refuel their engines.  Since they found a suitable fuel source, the Dominators move forward with their plan to turn the planet's core into fuel by using their robots, the quarks.  When a group of locals arrive on the island, the Dominators decide to use the Dulkins as a slave race.  The TARDIS crew lands, and they are quickly captured and examined by the Dominators.  It's up to the Doctor to stop these Dominators as the Dulkins, a peaceful race, decide whether they will actually do something about these oppressors.

I always try to see the good out of every Doctor Who serial produced but there isn't much I can say about this one.  It's mostly forgettable and not very good.  The best thing you can say about it is that it's a story about the Doctor fighting space dominatrices.  I'd give this one a pass unless you're watching the whole series.

Story 45
The Mind Robber

The second story is The Mind Robber and it's five episodes long.  The TARDIS has to make an emergency shift when leaving the planet Dulkis and ends up in a white void that is calling out to Jamie and Zoe by showing them mental images of home.  As the pair wander around the white void, avoiding strange robotic creatures, the TARDIS explodes and the trio end up in the land of fiction.  There, the TARDIS crew finds unicorns, Gulliver, Rapunzel and other such beings who are alive in this world.  Word puzzles manifest themselves as actual puzzles that the Doctor must overcome and Jamie loses his face forcing the Doctor to put it back together from a list of options... he gets it wrong and Frazier Hines is replaced by another actor for an episode.  The realm of fiction is being controlled by a simple editor who has chosen the Doctor as his replacement.  Can the Doctor use the powers of the land of fiction to get his himself and his friends out before they become trapped as part of fiction?  Well yeah of course but it's one heck of a ride!

This is one of the greatest stories in all of Doctor Who.  It's creativity and ambition are practically unparalleled.  Take any four seasons of the show and this episode has more creativity than all of them combined.   Everything is demented beyond belief and absolutely nothing makes sense.  The final "battle" between the controller and the Doctor utilizing works of fiction to fight each other is absolutely brilliant.  This is a must-watch story!

Story 46
The Invasion

The third story is The Invasion and it's eight episodes long.  The TARDIS lands back in London and most places seem to be on lock-down.  While there are several strange happenings, the most mysterious of all is one particular company building where people go in but no one comes out.  The Doctor decides to track down Professor Travers (who we met last season) to help figure out what's gone wrong, but Travers cannot be found.  While investigating, the Doctor and Jamie are picked up by UNIT under the leadership of the newly promoted Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.  As UNIT and the Doctor investigate they find that the company's plan is to revitalize a group of Cybermen for an invasion of Earth.

If I think six-episode stories can sometimes be long then you should know what I think about this one.  Although it's honestly too long of a story its still a really good one.  It keeps the suspense and mystery going for quite awhile.  This story also introduces UNIT though they won't really become a major driving force till the Pertwee era.  It's a good story just a bit on the long side.  Check it out!

Story 47
The Krotons

The fourth story is The Krotons and it's four episodes long.  On an unnamed planet, a group of people known as Gonds are subjects to the Krotons whom they have never physically seen.  Every so often the Krotons take the brightest among the Gonds and choose them as companions; those Gonds are never seen again.  The TARDIS lands and the trio see the fate of the latest chosen one as he is vaporized before their eyes.  In order to investigate what's going on, the Doctor and Zoe eventually get themselves invited on board the Kroton Ship.  While there, they find that the Krotons use brain power to fuel their space ship and have been trying to leave the planet for years by picking the smartest Gonds to see if they could help pilot the ship.  When those Gonds fail, they are killed.  The Doctor takes samples of the environment and concludes that acid would destroy the Krotons.  Teaching the last remaining scientist of the Gonds how to make acid, the group destroy the Kroton ship saving the colony

This is another one that a lot of people think is really bad but I kind of enjoy it.  The Krotons look absolutely ridiculous but I like the idea that they can revert to a liquid form to save energy and live on for centuries.  It's mostly a harmless and forgettable story but there are a few redeemable points.  This is the first time you see the TARDIS hostile displacement occur as a Kroton attacks the TARDIS.  It's also amusing to see Zoe pass the intelligence test easily while the Doctor is getting flustered by the same questions.

Story 48
The Seeds of Death

The fifth story is The Seeds of Death and it's six episodes long. The Earth has started using a teleportation system to transmit goods from the planet, to the moon, and back down to another spot on the planet again.  Suddenly, the teleportation system on the Moon base breaks down and ground control can't contact the moon.  When the TARDIS lands in a rocket museum, both the Doctor and Zoe show knowledge of how rockets work which impresses the local authorities.  They decide to send the three of them up to the moon in a rocket to figure out what's gone wrong.  Eventually they uncover a plot by the Ice Warriors to use the transmat system to send these green pods down to various places on Earth.  These pods open up, spread toxic gas and foam, and continue spreading at an alarming rate; they could easily wipe out all of humanity.  The Doctor must stop the Ice Warriors and find out a way to stop the spreading toxicity.

This story is a pretty solid one.  It's got a fairly good mystery going on for a little while and both the Ice Warriors and the pods seem legitimately threatening at first.  The biggest problem with the story is that the Ice Warrior's plan is stupid.  These pods which give off toxicity and spread are stopped by one thing...WATER.  You know, the one thing Earth is primarily filled with!!  The evil foam is a fantastic addition and really works well.  I know it sounds silly to say that foam is threatening but in the black and white era and with Troughton's amazing acting it actually works far better than you would think.  Also this story is a notable one as the Doctor outright kills several Ice Warriors with homemade heat ray guns; something that the Tenth Doctor would swear he would never do....but I'll get to that episode much later.

Nothing important happens in story 49.

Story 50
The War Games

The last episode of the Second Doctor's era is the massively long The War Games; it's ten episodes long.  The TARDIS lands in the middle of a World War I battlefield and are taken in for questioning.  Afterwards they are put on trial for being Nazi spies and are found guilty due to the examiners being mind controlled.  They barely escape execution only to find themselves walking through a fog and directly into the Roman Empire.  What's going on?  Well, a race of aliens known as the War Lords, and an antagonistic Time Lord known as the War Chief have been using TARDIS-like machines to steal human beings from history.  They have been allowing them to continue fighting in the war they were stolen from believing them to be on Earth.  Once they have found the perfect set of warriors they intend to take them on a rampage across the galaxy.  After several episodes of trying to stop them, the Doctor realizes that he cannot do this on his own and sends out for his people, the Time Lords.

I'm going to pause for a moment before I talk about the last episode of the War Games.  It's one insane ride and because of how special it is, if you don't wish to be spoiled then stop reading this now and go find the episode.

Episode 10 of the War Games has the Doctor absolutely terrified and running away in the TARDIS with Zoe and Jamie but they cannot escape the Time Lords.  The Doctor reveals that not only was his TARDIS stolen, but in his various travels of helping people has actually been disobeying the first law of the Time Lords.  Realizing that he cannot run anymore, he materializes on Gallifrey to witness against the War Lords.  The Time Lords agree on the War Lords' guilt and not only isolate their planet for all of eternity, but they wipe these particular War Lords from history entirely...meaning they never even existed.  They then put the Doctor on trial for interfering with other worlds. He explains that he is out there fighting against evil when the rest of them do nothing.  The Time Lords agree that he has a point but he has still broken their law so they wipe the memories of his companions and send them back to their original spot in time and space.  They then exile the Doctor on Earth and force him to regenerate; effectively they execute the Second Doctor.  The episode ends as he is shouting "no" repeatedly and shrinking into the distance to regenerate.

This is one heck of a ride and an important episode.  Not only did this introduce the Time Lords as a group but it also explained a little more about the Doctor's past.  The Nine episodes leading up to the final one are long...far too long.  However it was originally intended to only be a six part episode with an additional four parter preceding it.  Due to budget this didn't happen.   We also see our first truly evil Time Lord in the War Chief and he is either the inspiration for, or an earlier incarnation of the Master who we will see in a couple seasons time.  Episode ten is huge and is one of the greatest single episodes of Classic Doctor Who.  However you have to trudge through a lot to get there if you plan on watching the whole thing.  Honestly, while the first three or four episodes of this story are fairly good the rest of it just drags and repeats itself.  Only watch the first 9 episodes if you want to, but you should definitely check out the last episode.


That concludes season six.  As I said previously it's a very special season for me.  While it does have a couple of missteps, it has one of the greatest stories of the show's history, one of the greatest single episodes  in the entire series and a few of the stories that introduce very important elements to the future of the show.  I love Patrick Troughton as the Doctor.  While Matt Smith will always have that special place in my heart, Patrick Troughton will always rank very highly.  It was very sad to see him go, especially in the way he did.  Thankfully we get to see him three more times in the classic show as he participates in what is known as Season 6B...but I'll talk to that MUCH later when I'm discussing the Sixth Doctor.  Please join me again as we continue to examine all of Doctor Who.

This is Ghost, fading into the darkness
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