The Regulars -
The Smugglers written by Brian Hayles and directed by Julia Smith
Result: The Smugglers is one final hurrah for William Hartnell before his health robbed him of the show that really put his name on the map and he gives one of his most lively and pleasurable turns as the Doctor. In fact all of the performances are bewitching in this swashbuckling tale of lost treasure and piracy with the show attracting names like Micheal Godfrey and Paul Whitsun-Jones to bring its colourful characters to life. From the telesnaps you can see this is a handsomely produced tale with some gorgeous location work (still unusual for this stage of the series), rich and detailed sets and attractive period costumes. The BBC always go all out when producing historical drama and this is no exception. I cannot finish this summary without mentioning Ben and Polly once more who have given the series a shot of adrenalin and they help to make this charming piece even more engaging. Clearly all involved are having a whale of a time which is damn infectious and my one regret is that it is one of a handful of stories of which we have no complete episodes to judge it by visually. The Smugglers has no ambitions beyond providing you with four episodes of top quality entertainment and it fulfills that function admirably: 8/10
Full Review Here - http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/the-smugglers-written-by-brian-hayles.html
The Tenth Planet written by Kit Pedlar & Gerry Davis and directed by Derek Martinus
TO BE REVIEWED...
The Power of the Daleks written by David Whitaker and directed by Christopher Barry
Result: Astonishingly good, The Power of the Daleks is my personal favourite Dalek story. If you were going to kick start the show and give it a new lease of life with a spanking new lead actor then couldn't do much better than handing him a story as gripping as this one to prove what he is made of. The Power of the Daleks is another lost classic, a masterpiece of character drama and suspense building from David Whitaker, one of the master craftsmen of Doctor Who. He takes Terry Nation’s creations and breathes new life into them. No longer are they just an army of killers but instead formidable tacticians and psychological manipulators and they prey on the weaknesses of this colony until they have enough strength to burst from the capsule and slaughter the lot of them. Less is somehow more and relying on their intelligence rather than their usual habit of strength in numbers and kill first, think later is far more effective expression of their tenacity. By the end of the story there is an argument to be made that the colonists have killed themselves, important figures all planning to utilise the Daleks in different ways and having their wishes granted and then twisted upon themselves. You can't make a bargain with these creatures because they will always demand payment and there is only one reward they seek. The way the story is structured with each episode raising the stakes is superb; the Daleks are revealed in a decrepit state, they are broken into service, they gather resources, they kick start their own production line, they build up an impressive fighting force and finally they break free of the capsule and set off to massacre the people that have made their resurrection possible. The Daleks hold their fire for five episodes so when they are finally let off the leash they are relentless. Tension grips from episode one, builds exponentially and climaxes in an unforgettable bloodbath in the final installment. This is all a powerful backdrop for the new Doctor to establish himself against, Patrick Troughton emerging from this drama as a impish, awkward, intelligent and modest version of the hero we have adjusted to. He gets some time alone with Polly and Ben (both Wills and Craze taking a holiday) and they both get the chance to evaluate the man and arrive at the same decision come the conclusion. This is the Doctor, but an exciting, fresh version of the man. Memorable guest performances abound, the direction is top notch (the telesnaps and few seconds of footage we can watch make this look mouth-wateringly tense) and as a opening to a new era the bar has been set impossibly high. My number one 'I wish this could be discovered' story: 10/10
Full Review Here - http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/the-power-of-daleks-written-by-david.html
The Highlanders written by Elwyn Jones & Gerry Davis and directed by Hugh David
TO BE REVIEWED...
The Underwater Menace written by Geoffrey Orme and directed by Julia Smith
Result: What can you say about The Underwater Menace? Its bollocks, isn’t it? But it's our bollocks and it refuses to take itself seriously and provides four episodes of ridiculous high jinks and camp madness. If you were going to be particularly vicious you could take every aspect of this production (except, oddly, how expensive it looks on occasion) and rip it to shreds but that would be to deprive yourself of the giddy insanity and giggles to be had. Professor Zaroff is up there with the Great Soldeed and the Rani as the campest, nuttiest villain of all time and there are no depths of cliché and melodrama he wont sink to. I love him to pieces because every line he utters makes me grin from ear to ear. Joseph Furst delivers one of the most stratospheric performances ever seen on television, so deranged that he even succeeds in turning Troughton into the straight man as a consequence. Where else can you see deadly sharks, a Fish Person ballet, Jamie is rubber and Atlantis fall? Oddly it is amongst the madness of The Underwater Menace that Troughton delivers his most commanding performance to date and he is backed up by the horniest trio of companions in living memory. Long considered one of Doctor Who’s greatest embarrassments by those who take the show far too seriously, The Underwater Menace is firecracker fun from beginning to end and I find it easier to go with the tide rather than fight against it: 7/10
Full Review Here - http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/the-underwater-menace-written-by.html
The Moonbase written by Kit Pedlar and directed by Morris Barry
Result: I just don’t know what to make of Troughton’s first showdown with the Cybermen. On the one hand it is a generally very well made piece with some good set pieces and I don't think the Cybermen have ever looked better. Yet every time I watch/listen to it I find myself bored in place, Pedlar's did science and realism often coming at the expense of the drama. It is clear that there is one regular too many and nobody except Troughton is particularly well served by a tale that boasts a huge (and largely forgettable outside of some racial stereotyping) guest cast. I wish we could have salvaged the third episode because that is where the most dramatic scenes are to be found as the Doctor's companions take the fight to the Cybermen. In contrast episode two, despite a few dramatic scenes, is mostly standing around the Moonbase and trying to convince the staff that they have something to contribute. It is an inconsistently paced adventure too, with moments where the show tries a bit to hard to convince that this is set in the real world and the action slams to a halt for extended periods. A shame because the better moments (the Cybermen marching across the moons surface being particularly memorable) really do linger in the memory. You can see why this is the highest rated Troughton adventure, the return of the Cybermen and a trip to moon are both big draws and there is no doubt that the entertaining slant that the show has taken (abandoning its educational roots) has re-ignited an interest in the series again. Some reviewers will write this off as a tedious exercise in telling a base under siege story but at this stage of the game there had only been one other example of the sub-genre and this manages to be more claustrophobic, more ambitious and feature better Cybermen than The Tenth Planet. It isn't the show at its best but it is trying to be as exciting as it possibly can and for that it should be applauded: 7/10
Full Review Here - http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/the-moonbase-written-by-kit-pedlar-and.html
The Macra Terror written by Ian Stuart Black and directed by John Davies
Result: An effective chiller with oodles of atmosphere, The Macra Terror sees season four gain sudden focus after running on the spot since The Power of the Daleks. The Highlanders, The Underwater Menace and The Moonbase are all above average in my book but none are the best example of their genre (historical, oddball and base under siege respectively) and this is the first time since Troughton's introductory story that the show feels like it is kicking out and trying something new. There is plenty of good material for all four regulars without any of them feeling sidelined; Jamie gets to come into his own and provide some effective action and laughs and Polly and Ben enjoy some chilling tension as the latter comes under the influence of the Macra and menaces his other half. But it’s the Doctor who impresses the most with the dark schoolboy finally emerging and rubbing his hands together with glee as he brings down these insidious parasites. There is some padding down the mines in episode three but that aside the pace rarely lets up and director John Davies aces the stifling feeling that Big Brother is watching you in this idyllic colony. What’s clear even from the telesnaps is how moody the lighting is in this adventure and merged with the chilling sound effects it creates a tense and foreboding atmosphere. It’s a shame that this seems to be a forgotten adventure because the result is a highly engaging piece that genuinely deserves to have some of the highest ratings of the era. Doctor Who was riding high on the success of the Troughton transition and this is one of the most confident stories yet and certainly the one that the main man feels most comfortable in: 8/10
Full Review Here - http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/the-macra-terror-written-by-ian-stuart.html
The Faceless Ones written by David Ellis and Malcolm Hulke and directed by Gerry MillResult: With its coarse location work, locked room mysteries and bureaucratic nightmares, the early episodes of The Faceless Ones is more like the first Emma Peel season of The Avengers than Doctor Who. There’s a great deal to recommend about this story, especially when it ventures wildly into science fiction in the latter episodes but there is no denying the fact that it is two episodes too long and would have served much better a pacy four parter. There is far too much too-ing and fro-ing from one location to another and repetitive action in the first half which means once the twists have done their business there is frantic lead up to the climax. Perhaps it is a mixture of its contemporary setting, the prominence of Jamie (who is very pretty) and Samantha (who is even prettier) and the way the writers stack their revelations and great ideas across the six episode that kept this story popular (most Doctor Who stories have a habit of starting with strong ratings and tailing off but The Faceless Ones scores nearly eight million for episodes one, three and six). The dream team of Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines are as youthful and full of vigour as they ever would be but Polly and Ben are short-changed in a rather severe way in what should have been their memorable swansong (the responsibility of which falls on The Macra Terror instead in which they dominate). Sam Briggs is the one that got away, a much more attractive prospect than the Victorian cream puff that was to come and she slips in with the Doctor and Jamie with ease. Add in some strong guest performances, a generally polished production (although the direction is occasionally stilted) and fantastic premise (aliens colonising through such insidious means proving to be misguided victims of a natural disaster) and you have a story made of fantastic ingredients. It feels like it is leading up to something special but everything fizzles episode six with the Doctor making promises that he is never going to stick around to make sure will happen. This would have made a four episode classic, instead at six episodes it is very good but is not quite as spectacular as it wants to be: 7/10
Full Review Here - http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/the-faceless-ones-written-by-david.html
The Evil of the Daleks written by David Whitaker and directed by Derek Martinus
TO BE REVIEWED...