Tomb of the Cybermen
The Abominable Snowmen
The Ice Warriors
Enemy of the World
The Web of Fear
Fury from the Deep
The Wheel in Space
Cowardice and Marketing by Antony Tomlinson 27/5/03
Fans could argue for hours about the biggest adjustment that Doctor Who ever had to face. Was it the first change of lead actor in 1966? Was is the revelation of the Doctor's origins and the introduction of colour between The War Games and Spearhead from Space? Was it the advent of the ten-year John Nathan-Turner era, in which the series turned from cheap fun for the British public into expensive fan-only torture? Was it the end of TV Doctor Who and the beginning of the CD/Book age?
For me, I think, the biggest change was that between Seasons Four and Five. And I'm sorry to say that I don't think that it was a change for the best.
For many, Season Five is where Doctor Who begins. From Season Five onwards, Doctor Who becomes the series where main character's job is fighting aliens, protecting the universe and saving the planet Earth. From Season Five onwards, Doctor Who is the series with the memorable monsters - the Yeti, Ice Warriors, Autons, Sea Devils etc.. And Season Five is the first of the seasons to have its own distinctive feel and direction. It was thus from this point onwards that it became easy to categorise the distinct style of every Doctor Who season (Season Seven was the gritty one; Season Thirteen was the Hammer Horror one; Season Seventeen was the silly one; Season Twenty-Two was the violent one, etc. etc.).
Before Season Five, Doctor Who was a far more unpredictable animal. It was a series about a man who wandered the universe at random, trying to get out of the trouble that he landed himself in. It would see him visiting Earth's history one week, exploring strange futuristic societies the next week and getting involved in some complete silliness on another week. Each story provided an opportunity for a writer to explore some theme through science fiction, or to explore an important era of Earth's history, or to make us laugh with some surreal situation.
Season Five seems to be the season where the marketing men moved in. I can imagine a group of unimaginative consultants in suits visiting the BBC and saying: "What are the core values of your brand?". "What is the unique selling point of this series?". "What can customers expect from this product you call Doctor Who?". And I guess that the BBC, terrified by rival shows like Star Trek and The Avengers, decided to respond to such ideas by giving their own science fiction show a more uniform feel to help it sell. In doing this, however, they killed the spontaneity that made the series so much fun in the first place.
In Season Five, the BBC took the lively, ideas-rich series of Doctor Who, and turned it into something clichéd. They killed off the historicals, reduced the range of styles and removed the notion of sympathetic monsters like the Sensorites, Rills and Chameleons. They replaced this series with a collection of rehashed B-Movies, in which the Doctor was uncontroversially the hero, and anything with less than five fingers on each hand was an enemy to be blown away. The style of the stories - previously swerving from farce to Shakespearean tragedy - became uniform: a vaguely realistic science fiction style (a la Star Trek) with dashes of humour supplied by the lead characters. And that's how things stayed for most of the TV series' next 21 years.
Despite this, however, Season Five is held in high esteem by many fans. The reason for this is simple - the bloody thing hardly exists. The Target books provide an exciting vision of this season's stories, in which seaweed is genuinely terrifying, the Great Intelligence looks like something from The Abyss and The Ice Warriors is shot entirely on location in Siberia. However, the problem with the Target Novels is that they make every Doctor Who story seem brilliant (The Creature from the Pit, The Twin Dilemma and Delta and the Bannermen are some of the most exciting books that I've ever read). However, unlike later seasons - Season Six in particular - there is too little footage surviving from the season to allow fans to realise how truly awful it probably was.
What we do have, however, does not hold much promise. The supposed classic, Tomb of the Cybermen was found, on its rediscovery, to be a pretty average science fiction tale in which dubious foreigners attempt to ally themselves with killer aliens, and are wiped out in the process. And The Ice Warriors is a slow and dreary re-make of the dullest bits of The Thing From Another World, in which one disaster after another pads out the plot for hours.
The second Cyberman story of this season - The Wheel in Space - is commonly regarded as painful, and while the Yeti may be fun, I see little to particularly commend their two tales in what I've read and heard. Fury from the Deep was a good book, but looking at the pictures, it seems to be nothing more than a foam-fest with lots of screaming and no greater purpose. The Enemy of the World can at least be commended for being different from the stories around it, whatever its sub-Austin Powers shortcomings.
What this season was all about was coming up with a monster, and then trying to get it into as many battles as possible through the course of the adventure (then doing a sequel a few weeks later). This meant that plot did not matter. No longer was each story designed to explore issues such as prejudice, fate and justice. Instead the stories were showcases for the props and costume department. Nevertheless, I wish they had chosen a different plot to repeat ad nauseam. For it appears that what the programme makers did was to look back to Season Four and say: "What was the biggest turkey that we produced last year? Oh, The Moonbase. Well in that case let's make that story again, and again, and again, and again..."
In fact, I imagine the producers sitting in a room with a wheel marked "monsters" and a wheel marked "settings" which they span around to decide the location and enemy for the next Moonbase remake. "Oh look" they cry, "the Cybermen and... a Space Station. Brilliant. Let's try again. Ooh, its the Yeti and... the London Underground! Hmm, we'll pull it off somehow. OK... the Cybermen and... Windsor Castle. No, that's just stupid - let's call it a night."
Unfortunately this model of Doctor Who became the standard for many years to come. Season Six adopted the same "Moonbase-remake" approach for most of its adventures (nearly resulting in the series' cancellation) although at least the likes of The Mind Robber and The War Games provided something to enjoy outside of this mould (with the latter being Troughton's Caves of Androzani - a rare masterpiece that the actor only got to enjoy as he was actually leaving the series).
From this point onwards, nevertheless, the success of each Doctor Who season depended not on the originality of its scripts and themes. Instead, it largely depended on the popularity of the fiction that it was ripping off at any one time - be it Quartermass, James Bond, Hammer Horror, Arthur C. Clarke, or Star Wars.
Style became the series' priority. Even in the late 1980s - when Doctor Who seemed to be aiming at something far less derivative - its obsession with giving each season a specific "feel" continued. This meant that the plots would remain subordinate to the overall vision of the series - until eventually we had to endure stories that were little more than loosely connected remakes of scenes from Remembrance of the Daleks (the one McCoy TV success). This continued even into the New Adventures era: the books (with the exception of a couple of appalling Dave Stone novels) retained a relatively uniform style and vision throughout the duration of their publication by Virgin.
It has only been with the Big Finish audio productions that the series has regained the spontaneity that made Doctor Who such a success in the first place. The audio drama makers - freed from the constraints of unimaginative marketers - have been willing to take advantage of the inherent versatility of the format in a way unseen since 1967.
Now, from one month to the next, we can enjoy a range of stories, each refreshingly unique in both its style and themes - we skip from thoughtful historicals (The Marian Conspiracy) to outright comedies (The One Doctor) to intelligent science fiction (The Holy Terror) to pure action adventure (The Apocalypse Element). For the greatest lesson that the new makers of the series have learned is that variety, not uniformity, makes for exciting Doctor Who.
Although I dislike the approach of Season Five, however, I should point out that this in no way reflects on the abilities of Patrick Troughton and the other regular leads (although the uptight character of Victoria is a lot less fun than the brainy Zoe or the spunky Polly). Troughton was a brilliant Doctor, and was utterly compelling to watch, lifting many a dreadful story from the mire. Indeed, with the possible exceptions of Hartnell and McGann, he is the greatest actor to have ever played the part. I only regret that he had to come to the show at a time when its originality was due to be cruelly stifled (indeed, he himself is reported to have despaired of the banality of his scripts towards the end of his three year run).
I just wish he was still with us - he could then join Colin Baker & Co. in getting his teeth into some decent, challenging and original Doctor Who in a way that was all too rare in the course of his on-screen adventures.
Magic... by Joe Ford 5/3/04
For some reason that escapes me, season five, one of my all time favourites, has suddenly fallen victim of the classic backlash. The only genuine complaint I can see is the base under siege formula re-used over and again but even there each story has an entirely different setting and group of characters, which helps differentiate each one. All of Doctor Who is practically clichÃ©d ideas re-used; it is the incidentals that help to make them original.
Aside from that I can see little else wrong, although the opening and closing story aren't as hot as they could be, like a Cadbury's creme egg all the stuff in the middle is gorgeous. A confident, interesting TARDIS line up, startling production values and some very good writing...
Tomb of the Cybermen: As written the story is practically flawless, an excellent concept of the frozen Cybermen waiting to revive and dehumanise those clever enough to reach them. It is a decent riff on the hammer horror genre with a Doctor Who/SF twist having set it on an alien planet. The build up to seeing the Cybermen in the tombs is excellent, with glimpses of the metallic meanies on the walls and in the weapons testing room (fab cliff-hanger). And the ultimate expression of Cyber-cool comes when they finally wake up, breaking free of their cocoons in a set piece of awe inspiring scope and drama. It is perhaps the best Cybermen story when it comes to revealing their strength and lack of humanity and they do come across as a terrifying force.
So it's a shame that the guest actors cock up their parts and tip the story into farce far too many times. When you have Troughton, Hines and Watling all giving highly charged performances it is a shame that actors such as Shirley Cooklin (Kaftan) and George Pastell (Klieg) hamming up their parts and refusing to let us believe that there is a serious threat. You have embarrassing creations like Captain Hopper (and his rocket ship), dated details that detract from the overall experience.
The direction too slips up far too many times for my liking. Morris Barry is brilliant at making the show look good (the lights pulse menacingly as the building comes to life) and yet misses the mark with smaller moments, the comical Cybermats are exposed for the kiddie toys they are, Kaftan is obviously taking none of the story seriously and there is a shot of the actress laughing at one point, the silly quacky noises the Cybermen omit when they are distressed... the fans let these moments slip through the net because of the bigger set pieces but I am not so forgiving. Whatever way you look at it, the rest of the season doesn't look half as dated as this story.
And the Cybercontroller is still a huge dick-head.
The Final Word: Clumsily handled but still with enough cor-wow moments
to see you through.
The Abominable Snowmen: Now this is more like it, a breath of fresh air to out in the Welsh countryside being stalked by the Yetis. The location work is quite stunning, the second episode proves what a good move it was to set so much of the story outside, the hilly, rocky landscapes provide lots of interesting places centre the action around.
The opening episode is especially good, the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria now having developed an enjoyable rapport and their hijinks aboard the TARDIS are a good contrast to the scary stuff happening to Travers out in the Himalayas night.
It is highly enjoyable to have no incidental music, some say the story feels it is lacking but I think it heightens the tension in the same way it did for Buffy's The Body, silence can work wonders when the stories are as well written as this one. Besides the windy hills and chanting monks more than make up for it.
The real credit must go to Wolfe Morris who manages to create one of the most chilling villains through the power of his voice alone. The Intelligence is a fascinating creation, chillingly brought to life by Morris, his harsh, rasping voice suggesting the malevolence and power of the force possessing Padmasambhava. It deserved a return encounter and boy would it get one.
Jamie and the Doctor continue to make a hysterical comedy team and already have chemistry other teamups would die for. I for one ache to swap places with Victoria and travel around with this engaging pair.
It is perhaps an episode or two too long but they confidently pad out the story with plenty of action and some long atmospheric scene building.
The Final Word: Gripping, an atmospheric piece with some terrific
Verdict: A minus.
The Ice Warriors: Just look at the episode openings with the montage of the ice faces and the quirky scream inspired score from Dudley Simpson to see how much attention has been paid to this story. Clearly the budget has run out for this story but top director Derek Maritinus does not let that deter him and he carefully conceals the lack of dosh through clever camera work and some scenery chewing performances.
Some of the set pieces are extraordinarily atmospheric, especially for studio work. They stage an avalanche on a Who budget which is terrifyingly realistic, Victoria wandering the corridors of ice being stalked by an Ice Warrior will forever remain etched in my mind when I think of her, an attack from a wolf as Jamie and Penley trek across the tundra is a top dramatic moment, especially as we see the attack from the wolfs point of view rushing at the helpless pair...
It helps that Brian Hayles has written a strong, intelligent piece dealing with the man vs computers issue. On the one hand you have Clent, ruthlessly logical and a slave to the 'World computer'. On the other you have Penley, who walks out of his job for a life in the wild, feeling that mankind has lost its ability to depend on themselves. Neither are portrayed as right or wrong and with astonishing performances from Peter Barkworth and Peter Sallis the story is explored in a very mature, watchable manner.
Watching the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria clamber from the TARDIS is a treat and once again they infuse the story with a real energy. It is fabulous to have two companions from the past interacting and Jamie's outrageous flirting (and sexism) at the end of episode one shows how confident the show was becoming.
The Ice Warriors themselves, well of course they're fabulous, they tower over the human characters and chill the bone with their hissy, rasping voices. Hayles bothers to give them individual personalities and it benefits them, they are not just the bouncer material they would be in The Seeds of Death but genuine characters in their own right.
What's more there is some fabulous dialogue jotted around, the music is jarring but extremely memorable and the set designer deserves a lot of praise for managing to pull off this wide scale story with so little time and money.
The Final Word: Moralistic but fun, this quirky six parter shows how
longer stories should be done.
The Enemy of the World: What a title! What a chance to see what Troughton is truly capable of. His turn as Salamander is nothing short of amazing, he not only sounds different but has different mannerisms and look too. He makes for a wonderful, grandiose villain, tricking the public into thinking he is a benefactor whilst systematically destroying parts of the world! It is such fun to watch how he manipulates people ("Fedorin! Oh what a good idea!") and his final comeuppance is satisfying, his fate as horrible as he deserves.
This is the unfairly maligned story in the season, no it doesn't have any monsters in it but it still has more than enough material to keep you gripped. Besides it is nice to have a break from all those rubber masks. Of course Doctor Who cannot stage a genuine James Bond action sequence, leaping over St Paul's and the like but it has a fair stab in the action packed episode one. The beach location is refreshing and the action in and around the house is very exciting, just with the telesnaps!
It is David Whitaker's wonderful gift of characterisation that makes the story come alive and he populates the story with quirky people like Griffin, Fariah, Benik the campest guard in the universe, Fedorin the puppet... everyone loves Griffin though, the cynical chef who comments wrly on the action. What a companion he would have made, an early day Benny.
Certainly the story has the scope if not the resources, it flowers out unexpectedly as Salamander visits his underground shelter and Giles Kent is brilliantly exposed as a liar and a murderer all along. I for one think it manages to sustain six episodes superbly, witty dialogue and Troughton's duel turn more than enough to impress.
The Final Word: A punchy story that remembers that Doctor Who
should also be about people.
Verdict: A minus
The Web of Fear: An instant classic (and I will still use the term despite Terrance Keenan's very good reasons not to) with a first episode that epitomises what Troughton Doctor Who got so right. Let's start with the scene in the museum, eerily lit and scored, the tension mounting up as the Yeti slowly reawaken, or how about the Doctor and co exploring the underground, huge long shots showing of the expensive and detailed sets, even the characterisation is great with the elderly Travers being a particular delight ("Well, how the hell should I know!").
Does the rest of the story match up? Hmm, yes but it is hard to judge without the visuals, one thing that does come across in the soundtrack is the overwhelming sense of fear that is generated in those underground tunnels. When Victoria is scared, worry, when Jamie is scared, really worry, when the Doctor is scared, things are getting desperate, when the army is scared, you're dead... <
Setting a Doctor in the underground is a superb idea and one that is desperately needed for an update with the new series. Have you ever been down there? Those tunnels are terrifying, oppressive, claustrophobic and this story uses them to chilling effect. The Yetis make a dramatic comeback; Douglas Camfield dispels any thought that they might be cuddly by using them savagely, quick cuts to the creatures menacing down the tunnels, ripping through crates at Covent Garden, savaging characters in confined spaces. It is no wonder the kids watching were scarred for life; this is about as scary as Doctor Who ever was! Plus the web guns are a superb invention, the glowing, pulsing web a chance for some fine visuals.
We should be grateful for Douglas Camfield who gave us such a marvellous actor to play Lethbridge Stewart. Nicholas Courtney gives one of his finest performances in The Web of Fear, trapped, scared and losing men fast; we get to see the military mind crack in the most discomforting of ways. Even smaller characters like Driver Evans are given subtle and realistic moments to shine.
The final twist about Arnold is excellent, the best of the season. I should have remembered the old adage, its always the one you least suspect it to be...
The Final Word: Sterling direction and uncomfortably dramatic in
places, this is what 'behind the sofa' (sorry Rob darling) Doctor
Who is all about.
Verdict: A plus
Fury from the Deep: The second of two back to back classics (there's that word again!), if you haven't heard the audio of this story yet get ready for the CD release soon and trust me, one episode in and you will be gripped.
It is a rare glimpse into psychological horror for the show and lets us get close to the characters before fucking with their minds in the most disturbing of ways. Poor Maggie Harris, by all accounts a good wife and person is menaced by seaweed, attacked by the creepiest pair since Laurel and Hardy and drags herself into the sea! Is there no end to her suffering! Even better is the way the story deals with the effects on Controller Robson, evidently a unstable man before his contact with the Weed, watching him struggle with his loss of control, this sturdy man begging out for help proves to be as scary as Doctor Who ever was. Victor Maddern is perhaps too good at portraying a man having a nervous collapse and his aggression and despair is extremely palpable.
Boo hoo! Victoria is leaving! But unlike future companions she is not forced into a clumsy romance or killed off horribly, her decision arises naturally from her character's desire to feel protected. Having her father killed forced her into this new family with the Doctor and Jamie but after all the horrors they have faced she is tired of running and screaming, she wants a rest. It is her difficulty accepting the decision that she has already made that makes her parting so poignant, throughout the creepy story we are reminded of her wish to feel safe. Once Jamie catches on the story veers into tear jerking territory, his refusal to accept her decision leaving a huge lump in the throat. These scenes are so well played between Watling and Hines; they really do cause the eyes to prickle.
Considering the monster this time is a lump of seaweed it astonishes the amount of tension they manage to wring from the story. Glimpses of scenes in the impeller shaft with the weed creature writhing in the foam to drag characters away are an annoying tease, this is clearly a frightening tale and we cannot see it! I can only imagine how spectacular the final episode was with the creature filling the control room and surrounding one of the oilrigs.
Plus ingenious use is made of Victoria's trademark scream...
The Final Word: Poignant and terrifying, a Doctor Who
Verdict: A plus
The Wheel in Space: A shame to end the season on a story that refuses to match the quality of the preceding stories and an indication of how up and down the next year would be. This is the only story of the year that feels too long, at six episodes the Cybermen plan is dragged out too much and the entire first episode is clearly padding to fill out the episode quota.
The shining beacon of the story is Wendy Padbury's debut as Zoe, a shocking slap in the face to us cynics who thought we could never find somebody as good as Victoria. She is immediately recognisable, intelligent, careful and bossy to boot! Padbury has a gorgeous smile and immediately pours on the sarcastic charm, that miss bossy boots routine that would make her such fun to follow next year.
Troughton is sidelined far too much but Hines is more than capable of carrying the action. A good thing too because many of the guest actors performances leave a lot to be desired! There are some dodgy accents in place and some gloriously overdone death sequences, I for one will never forget that sequence where the guy is surrounded by Cybermats, his look of pant-wetting horror is hysterical!
Lacking in pace and menace, these two are essential to tell this sort of base under siege story and perhaps the formula was beginning to run dry at this point. Even the Cybermen look a bit daft and their voices are modulated to make them sound more like Zippy from Rainbow than ever.
The Final Word: By far the weakest story of season five and a poor note
to finish such a run of brilliance on.
One impressively average story, five very good follow-ups and a disappointing climax, all in all it is still a great line up. People may claim that the stories all have a similar narrative structure, the scene setting first episode, four more of the monsters insidiously attacking the small groups from all angles and the final one where the Doctor proves he is a bit clever and improvises a final solution wiping all the evils of the universe away. But when it comes location, tone, characterisation and the monsters themselves things are quite different indeed.
From the claustrophobic Cyber tombs of Telos to the breathless scenery of the Himalayas, the frozen tundra of the Antarctic, Australia, the gloomy Underground system in London, the glorious beach setting on the East coast of Britain and a Space Wheel hanging in space... season five has an impressive array of locations, past, present and future and each of them is well conjured up very well. The Base Under Siege formula had been tried and tested some this season and each story has a number of detailed, large scale re-usable sets that the main action centres around... in particular the frozen Cyber tombs, the cobwebby tunnels in Web of Fear and the sets in The Wheel in Space all look fabulous, like a million pounds has been spent on them.
The second Doctor seemed to take a delight in butting heads with authority figures and has some wonderful rivals in this season. I love his blatant patronising of Klieg in Tomb ("Oh I have my own special method" "Oh really Doctor? And may we ask what that is?" "Keeping my eyes open and my mouth SHUT"), Klieg is such a pathetic character it is joy to see the Doctor treating him with as little intelligence as he deserves, in a moment of overjoyed megalomania in episode four the Doctor suddenly bursts to life with the realisation that Klieg is all powerful and should control the thought of every living being... and the man in question just stands there misty eyed agreeing with everything he says!
There are many others of note, his chemistry with Leader Clent in The Ice Warriors is very funny, he almost delights in winding up the ultra serious Leader. Pretending he needs something urgently for his plan to defeat the Ice Warriors he gains access to an expensive piece of equipment for... a glass of water! Clent almost undergoes nervous exhaustion trying to keep up with the little man, the Doctor aiming to throw himself into danger as much as possible.
Plus we should never forget that the Doctor forges his relationship with Lethbridge Stewart in season five, the Yeti invasion forces the two of them together and a relationship spanning the Brig's entire life is built. Troughton seems to work fabulously against characters you would never imagine the Doctor to get on with and his chaplinesque genius and Nick Courtney's stiff upper-lipped Colonel make an effective team.
Monsters, monsters, monsters... they are everywhere! My personal favourite of the year is the Weed Creature, another example of Doctor Who taking something apparently mundane and creating something terrifying out of it. By affecting the minds of those it touches, the Weed manages to scare people through the actions and despair of those who are infected. Ice Warriors and Cybermen are one thing, scarily shot and all that but little frightens me more than human beings twisted into murderous actions by an unknown force. As such The Abominable Snowmen is also a fearful treat, the High Lama Padmasambhava taken over by the intelligence and playing all the characters like a game of chess.
However the real monsters are quite effective too. The Yetis may have been a little cuddly at first but there are moments in The Abominable Snowmen where they attack forcefully and their sweet exterior is quite distracting. Their return appearance is even more effective, Camfield shooting the creatures from terrifying low angles with lots of quick cuts; the creatures are faster, slimmer, deadlier...
The Ice Warriors were a fine creation, worthy of three other appearances. Hayles shows his gift for characterisation and suggests his later reversal of their villainous role, they might be callous and homicidal in their debut story but they are only really trying to survive and escape the glacier.
And those metallic meanies, the Cybermen, a Troughton era obsession, get two showings this year and as usual they are the least effective stories. I just don't like these creatures very much, its almost as if the return of the Cybermen is enough to draw in the viewers and nobody else thinks they have to bother. Ooh, ooh the Cybermen are back! Who cares that the acting and characterisation is shite?
We are treated to one of the best TARDIS line-ups too. I love Jamie and Victoria, which must be clear by now. Having two companions from the past is such a superb idea, it gives the Doctor a chance to explain away much of their adventures without either of them coming across as being especially dense. Plus they are much more resourceful than anyone would believe, Jamie forcefully protective of his friends and Victoria shooting Cybermats, bringing down an ice face on a Ice Warrior and screaming the Weed Creature to death.
But the best thing about their adventures is the amount of FUN they are clearly having. They open each story squabbling and laughing and excited to explore their latest location, the TARDIS slipping on the snow, landing on the sea (!!!) and settling on the slopes of Himalayan mountains. It is not hard to get wrapped up in the excitement of the story when these three are so obviously enjoying themselves and each other's company. They are infectious to be around.
Season Five is a period of confidence and style the show rarely reached, it has a stretch of five almost perfect stories, an even rarer occurrence. The production team know what they are doing and do it very well; the atmosphere created in each story is a joy to behold. Each story looks fab and the writing is very good, economical but exciting.
Here is my re-evaluation of season five, it is pure sixties magic. Black and white heaven.
Still one of the best by John Reid 25/11/08
Doctor Who fans widely regard Power of the Daleks as the most important story in the show's history, with Deadly Assassin normally coming in high. In this case not because it defined the Time Lords, but because it gave a blueprint for the sort of series that would follow for the next 10 years. As such, there are other groundbreaking stories The Daleks, The Time Meddler, Paradise Towers and The War Games. Now look at season five. At one time generally regarded as one of the greatest then one of the most derided. Yes it's the first season not to feature the Daleks and for a show to take away its star attraction the season had to be good to still pull in the audiences. And yes, for better or worse, it's known as the Monster Season. Let's look at the individual stories.
Tomb of the Cybermen. As a four parter, with the eerieness of the Cybermen in the background, the warming supporting cast, the archaeologists, the astronauts controlling the rocket, Toberman, Kaftan and countered against the personality of the Cybercontroller, this story never overstates the mark. The obvious reference to Curse of the Mummy's Tomb sets the feel for the year.
Abominable Snowmen. Another story that was raved in its day and now slammed. Sure it's padded and sure the dialogue of the great intelligence is dull, but the telepathy and telekinesis mixed with the Buddhist ideas in Tibet make it above average. The Loose Cannon reconstruction reveals what a great story this is.
The Ice Warriors. As already mentioned, the season owes to Hammer Horror, in this case The Thing from Another World. This story was also only lavished with faint praise. The NZDW fan page recently pointed out the joys' of Peter Sallis Peter Barkworth and Bernard Bresslaw and Sonny Cladinez.
Enemy of the World. The odd one out from the season. The idea a group of scientist thinking the world has been doomed so they were carrying out experiments in the Earth's interest only to be damaging it would later be used in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, as would the Underground train station idea from the next story. Pat Troughton as usual surpasses himself as Salamander the Mexican doppleganger who wants to rule the world. The James Bond ideas of two sides and a resistance to them with a great performance by Milton Johns puts this at the top of the season proving what a great writer David Whitiker was.
The Web of Fear. Although a straightforward story mainly remembered for introducing Nick Courtney as Lethbridge-Stewart, and mainly regarded for its effects and the climatic ending with the Doctor manipulating the Great Intelligence, this is a beautifully directed tale.
Fury From The Deep. I've said it before, but a power station pumping out sewage causing a sea base creature to become malevolent would later be used it The Silurians, The Sea Devils, The Green Death and Terror of the Zygons. Apart from introducing the sonic screwdriver, this has the best leaving scene of any assistant as Victoria departs. The family atmosphere is great and John Paul, who would later go on to appear in Doomwatch, steals the show as do Mr Quill and Mr Oak. This story again has come in for criticism as the idea of the foam making seaweed become sewage or Victoria's screams scaring it off. But as Russell T Davies loves it I still think it's a classic.
Lastly Wheel In Space. Not really the same feel as the rest of the season. But the first Cybermen epic and David Whitiker again rises to the occasion. Taking in ideas from The Moonbase and The Tenth Planet of the cybermen infiltrating a base - this time a space station instead of the Moon or the North Pole - the Cybermen and Cybermats are at their best here as they destroy the rods and skulk about. They are dominating and terrifying as they bump off the crew who they are unaware what's going on as the rods are destroyed, or for the crew to think the other ship is just floating there. To end the season, Zoe makes a terrific start and an opposite to Victoria. The season finishes on her watching The Evil of the Daleks.
This season has so many firsts and even if you think it's bug-eyed monsters invading the Earth because they haven't anything better to do today, without this season not only wouldn't the show have survived there wouldn't have been any of the next 8 years or much of the Davison years either.
A Review by James Neiro 8/12/09
The fifth season was most notable for being the first season of Doctor Who not to feature the Daleks but rather to concentrate on the Cybermen.
The season opener, The Tomb of the Cybermen, has become known as one of the best stories of Doctor Who ever produced. The Abominable Snowmen saw the introduction of the popular Yeti and another popular villain would be revealed in the following story, The Ice Warriors.
The Enemy of the World saw a Doctor Who first with the villain being... the Doctor. Well, not quite. Patrick Troughton played dual roles as the Doctor and the evil, power-mad Salamander. The Web Of Fear which followed saw the return of the Yeti and Victoria's departure from the show in the dreary Fury From The Deep. The season finale, The Wheel in Space, was notable for the return of the Cybermen and the introduction of popular female companion Zoe.
In short, one of the best!
Welcome to Gibraltar by Stephen Maslin 11/4/18
In the sovereignty referendum of September 1967, the residents of Gibraltar were asked to vote on whether they wished to remain a British colony or have the territory returned to Spain. They had been living under British rule since the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, but to many Europeans this seemed an awkward anachronism. When the result was announced, it was found that a mere 44 out of a total of over 12,000 people had voted for reunion with Spain. Gibraltar remains a British colony to this day, encircled by the Mediterranean to the south and by Spanish territory to the north; a veritable base under siege.
"Try to give us a smooth take-off..."
Tomb of the Cybermen (Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis)
Montage clips: 'The Prisoner' and 'Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons' first broadcast; the Shag Harbour UFO incident.
Montage music: 'San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)' by Scott McKenzie, UK number one single for 4 weeks in August and September, 1967.
The story that created a legend. It is not itself a legend anymore; it just created one while its own back was turned. Ask people who were born in the 50s and early 60s, and many might recount having seen "something" coming out of "something". Utterly unforgettable and utterly terrifying. Thus the legend: that Doctor Who was really scary, and that the one with "something" coming out of "something" was the most terrifying of all. Tragically, that's as good as it ever got: its 1991 rediscovery showed that there's only one way from the top of the mountain, and that way is down. Tomb of the Cybermen is not all bad - Troughton is, of course, wonderful (when was he not?). Yet the support cast and the script clunk from cliche to cliche, frequently over-stepping the line that separates B-movie from not-at-all-good B-movie. Having begun their TV lives so outlandishly in The Tenth Planet, the Cybermen's generic villain status established in The Moonbase is by this point firmly ingrained.
Verdict: The Legend is 10/10. No question about it. The programme to which The Legend refers could never hope to compete. 5/10
"Bloody Buddhists" (Sympathy For The Devil)
The Abominable Snowmen (Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln)
Montage clips: Desmond Morris' 'The Naked Ape' is published; Disney's 'The Jungle Book' is released; the Patterson-Gimlin film of Sasquatch-Bigfoot is recorded at Bluff Creek, California; British troops and Chinese demonstrators clash in Hong Kong.
Montage music: 'The Legend of Xanadu' by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, UK number one single for 1 week in March, 1968.
One does not wish to speak ill of the departed, but the main problem with Doctor Who Season 5 is Victoria Waterfield. In story after story, she whimpers and squawks and is merely along for the ride, to be rescued or comforted or sidelined. This is not the fault of those who had first established the character (plenty of room for development: nineteenth century orphan on the brink of womanhood). Nor is it the fault of Deborah Watling (who was merely doing as she was told; doing what was expected of her). The blame lies with the writers of Season 5 en masse. It doesn't take them long to dissolve Victoria (as with so many others) into the female-as-mere-cypher role that was so often the curse of twentieth-century television. One might argue that it is during The Abominable Snowmen that the character of Victoria is at her most annoying, made all the worse by this being yet another cast populated almost exclusively by men. (This is, of course, what the setting demands - we are in a monastery, after all - so, unlike later mannish stories like Revenge of the Cybermen or The Face of Evil, there is some kind of excuse.) At least the other stories of Season 5 pay some sort of lip service to the fact that we have an approximate balance of genders. The Abominable Snowmen doesn't even have to try. Victoria is as much 'other' as the eponymous snowmen themselves and is continually defined by her not being a chap, a state that is here equated with a lack of competence. First, she tells us where the Himalayas aren't, then gets herself and Jamie into trouble, then gets imprisoned, then has her mind wiped and then says "Take me away" six times. Yay, girl power... More generally, for those of us for whom Doctor Who is as much an audio experience as a video one, The Abominable Snowmen is very poor fare. The lack of instrumental music may be very welcome (see also The Smugglers), but the sense of place is not well realised and the dialogue is rather dreary.
The Ice Warriors (Brian Hayles)
Montage clips: the Green Bay Packers beating the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in what became known as 'The Ice Bowl'.
Montage music: 'Mighty Quinn' by Manfred Mann, UK number one single for 2 weeks in February, 1968.
"Come all without, come all within!
"You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn!"
Meaning: you'll rarely meet anyone as tall as Bernard Bresslaw.
"When Quinn the eskimo gets here,
"Everybody's going to jump for joy!"
Meaning: when Quinn the eskimo gets here, everybody's going to scratch their heads and say "I beg your pardon?".
(I can't understand what Clent's computer says either.)
"Come all without, come all within!
"You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn!"
Meaning: you'll rarely meet anyone as tall as Sonny Caldinez.
"When Quinn the eskimo gets here,
Everybody's going to want to doze!"
Yes, those really are lyrics from 'The Mighty Quinn'. (They gave a Nobel prize to the man who wrote them). And the Mighty Quinn, he walk very slow.
"Where is he? I must find Salamander..."
The Enemy Of The World (David Whitaker)
Montage clips: the Prague Spring.
Montage music: 'Baby Now That I've Found You' by The Foundations, UK number one single for 2 weeks in November, 1967.
Watching (or listening to) the first three stories of Season 5, one could be forgiven for thinking that we'd stumbled into the Great Hall of the Overrated. Season 5? The best of the 60s? Really? In times gone by, that feeling might have been sustained until the end of The Enemy Of The World, but not anymore, because we actually got to see it. And what a fine piece of work it is. This is the opposite pole of Tomb of the Cybermen. Here an indifferent legend has been blown convincingly out of the water by a story made with visible commitment and self-respect. It manages to cover a lot of ground without any of its many shifts in tone seeming out of whack, but, best of all, there are a whole host of characters who are actually believable (except perhaps those in the secret bunker, who seem to have had their acting skills diminished by a lack of vitamin D). Best of all is seeing Patrick Troughton getting the chance to show off a little (and when we get to see the Doctor and Salamander together, the double Troughton effect is very well achieved). If ever there was any doubt that Season 5 really is the best of 60s Who, then the recovery of this excellent story confirmed it.
"We're on the right track!"
The Web of Fear (Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln)
Montage clips: the first section of London Underground's Victoria Line, from Walthamstow Central to Highbury & Islington prepares to open.
Montage music: 'What a Wonderful World' by Louis Armstrong, UK number one single for 4 weeks in April and May 1968.
In 1860, Scottish clergyman John Cumming stated that "the forthcoming end of the world will be hastened by the construction of underground railways, burrowing into infernal regions and thereby disturbing the Devil". Watching The Web of Fear, one might almost believe this to be true. Seeing a picture of the Yeti outside the parodically urban setting of the London Underground, one might not immediately believe how effective they really are in this story. Indeed, it is not perhaps the Yeti themselves that terrify but the claustrophobia and encroaching dread that come in their wake. Whichever is the case, we may count ourselves very fortunate that almost all of The Web of Fear has been returned to us. It has not disappointed. It is true that, once the explaining has to be done near the end, the story quickly loses its momentum and that the last episode is a bit of a damp squib (though there are many other undoubted classic Who stories that share the same fate). Nevertheless, even if every single Patrick Troughton episode were magicked back into existence, it would be hard to imagine a better Second Doctor story than this.
"The Harrises are really nice people..."
Fury From The Deep (Victor Pemberton)
Montage clips: English politician Enoch Powell making his controversial 'Rivers of Blood' speech.
Montage music: 'The Last Waltz' by Engelbert Humperdinck, UK number one single for 5 weeks, from 6th September, 1967.
Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost things, comes down from Heaven and grants you a boon. You may, he says, have eleven lost episodes of Doctor Who returned to you. Eleven. Enough for a soccer team. Eleven episodes: think about that for a moment. Perhaps I'm not alone in this, but my instinctive response is to think solely in terms of Season Four. Poor old damaged Season Four. The Smugglers, The Macra Terror, The Faceless Ones, Evil of the Daleks... Yes, yes, yes and yes. You may opt for different choices, but Season 4 still exerts the greatest pull. Then you think of Fury From The Deep... One suspects that, were they to be restored to us, The Smugglers and The Macra Terror might be a little creaky (not that this matters), whereas one doubts whether the delight of rediscovering any of Evil of the Daleks could be dimmed in any way. But Fury? What would happen? Web of Fear vindication? Enemy of the World triumphant reappraisal? Or Tomb of the Cybermen embarrassed coughing? Here and now, let me say that I am profoundly pessimistic about the recovery of any more lost episodes (and, yes, I am saying that in the hope that I might soon be laughed at for having done so). The fact is that I think Fury From The Deep really is the lost classic it's cracked up to be... and that we shall never see it again. It's heartbreaking. Assuming that no lost eps flutter miraculously into our laps, it would be a second-best if the BBC were to tart up the quality of the 1993 cassette release of this story (with its brilliantly barking Tom Baker first person narration) and put that out for general digital consumption. Sadly, I don't think that's ever going to happen either.
Verdict: (provisionally) 9/10.
The Wheel in Space: An Apology.
I'm not going to bother with this here: a) I've reviewed it elsewhere on this website; b) it's not that good (apart from the superb radiophonics); but most of all c) it doesn't really 'fit' as part of Season 5. (It's a Zoe story, not a Victoria one, and it's in space, rather than on the ground or in the sea. Up there, not down here, which is where Season 5 belongs.)
Season 5 Overall
There is something both epic and bleak about Season 5 (and that is no bad thing). Unlike the two seasons on either side, the windows of silliness or fantasy are brief. The music is steely and austere (it's the "Bartok Under Siege" season), at its most creepy in Dudley Simpson's Oak and Quill theme. There is the rare sense of a virtue being made of six-parters, of stories being allowed to slowly evolve at their own pace, the last time that format was consistently made to work. Maybe if the glow due to the recovery of Enemy and Web ever wears off, the sheen of the magnificent second half of this season might dull a little, but I doubt it.