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Scardis's Classic Who Journey.

Posted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:01 pm
by scardis
Hello everyone, as you are all aware I'm someone who up to now decided to keep to the Doctor Who story from when Nine grabs Rose's hand and says 'Run'. Deciding that I really can't afford to dive into the classic era. (Despite buying loads of Torchwood Sarah Jane and Doctor Who audiobooks and books. Which I stand by)
Now I was saddened to hear that the Borders branch in Blanchardstown Dublin, the only one in Ireland, was closing down and were knocking 50% off everything that was already price tagged reduced on the shelves. I have shopped in Borders before getting a few Torchwood books there in the past, but I decided to give it one last hurrah and see what Classic Who DVD's they had.
They had 4 stories left. William Hartnell's 'The War Machines', Tom Baker's 'Image of the Fendahl' and 'The Sontaran Experiment' and Peter Davison's 'Four to Doomsday'. Decided 'What the hey' and bought them all. So these are my first divulges into the 20th Century Doctor Who.
I have been watching 'The War Machines' and quite liked it. Not a million miles away from Doctor Who that I know, I could see the current Doctor tinkering with the Sonic Screwdriver on the captured War Machine to make it attack Wotan and destroy the threat.
It was nice to meet Dodo Chaplet, in a Tenth Doctor novel 'The Last Dodo' The Doctor names a Dodo he acquires 'Dorothea' so it's nice to put a face to the name so to speak.
This got me thinking of how best to tackle the Classic Who, it'd be nice to get them all but being realistic where should I concentrate on? Ask that in any Who forum and you get loads of suggestions of fave classic episodes here there and everywhere but the set up of The War Machines has given me an idea. In it we get to see the introduction of the First Doctor's last companions Ben and Polly and the departure of Dodo. Well my priority is to get the classic episodes which start and finish a Doctor's or a companions journey first. Then perhaps in the future I can fill in some gaps that I'd be more interested in.
I start by paying a visit to this wikipedia page on Doctor Who companions.
In it each companion is listed as well a their first and last adventure with their particular Doctor (if they are the companion for a regeneration then the regeneration story is listed as their last story and a new start finish is done for the next Doctor) So all these stories are on my list to get. Obviously the first and second Doctor's are bit patchy thanks to the decimation of the early 70s but all the relevant stories are at least on audio. I will choose DVD over audio tracks where available of course but there are some welcome revelations in hunting the early companions start and finish points.
My starting point is obviously going to be 'The Beginning' boxset. Getting in 'An Unearthly Child', 'The Daleks' and 'The Edge of Destruction' is a must do for anyone starting out. This is of course the start of the journey for Ian, Barbara and Susan.
Susan's last story, 'The Dalek invasion of Earth' is also available on DVD and will be my next purchase.
Sadly it appears that 'The Chase' has not appeared on DVD or audio soundtrack as yet so Ian and Barbara's story will not have it's end in my collection yet.
Next to join was Vicki in 'The Rescue', which I believe was released on DVD in a set with 'The Romans' well where a story I want is in a boxset, provided the price of set isn't too restrictive (€50+) I'll go with the boxset everytime.
Her last story was 'The Myth Makers' which sadly isn't retrievable for DVD at the minute however I did spot a great audio set called 'Adventures in History' which contains the soundtracks for The Myth Makers,The Massacre (of St Bartholomew's Eve) and 'The Highlanders' which all three fall under my category of Starts and finishes.
Steven Taylor made his debut in 'The Chase' but as I mentioned above it's not available in any format yet, he then bows out in 'The Savages' which is on soundtrack, with pictures to follow on the BBC's classic website. There's one for me to pick up. Maybe I'll get a surviving TV story of his sometime in the future
Next Katarina makes her debut in 'The Myth Makers' which is already in my list thanks to Vicki, she then makes it to 'The Daleks' Master Plan'. which is an audio only story (I oughta mention I'm taking out a membership with to help me get these and my usual new series audios) and also gives us our 1st one off companion Sara Kingdom. Again perhaps a DVD of Vicki and/or Katarina in action if one exists may be considered later down the line.
Thanks to that audio set 'Adventures in History' I'll already have Dodo's first story 'The Massacre' and right now I have her last story 'The War Machines' which also starts the story of Ben and Polly.
The next major cast change is of course The Doctor himself and his first regeneration. The Tenth Planet is of course only on audio at the minute and it will be purchased as it's all that remains of that important milestone.
The Second Doctor's first adventure 'the Power of the Daleks' survives on audio and is on my to get list as well.
Polly and Ben bow out in 'The Faceless Ones' an audio survivor so that's another one for my audible membership.
Harking back to that 'Adventures in History' audio set, you may remember I mentioned that it had 'The Highlanders' on it, well that story happens to be the debut of one Jamie McCrimmon and therefore is already ticked off my list.
Along the way we pick up Victoria Waterfield in 'The Evil of The Daleks' and she carries on until 'Fury from The Deep', these are only on audio and there for will be picked up on audible.
Finally for the Second Doctor we pick up Zoe Heriot in 'The Wheel in Space' which sadly I cannot see on audible download and is still missing on video. (and I'm not going to the bother of hunting old CDs, tapes etc for them, if their not on general sale, they stay off my radar.)
Zoe and Jamie make it right up to the last Second Doctor story 'The War Games' which is actually a recent enough DVD addition, so it looks like by then if it was a physical DVD store I was visiting (would more likely be though) the store might have forgotton what I look like as I've been doing a lot of audio book walking.

I'll leave it at that for now, obviously I will be continuing into the Third Doctor's era with Liz, Jo and of course Sarah Jane Smith. I'm aware that the patch work of what's left is available in a 'Lost in Time' boxset but for now I'll leave it be. I'm interested in the full stories of companion and Doctors beginnings and ends and if they exist on audio only then that how I'll get them. Perhaps down the line I may get one of the complete stories on DVD like I've done with 'The War Machines' but for now I'll concentrate on this path I've set for myself. At least I'l know where every companion comes from and where they're going at the very least.
Wish me luck.
All the best,

Re: Scardis's Classic Who Journey.

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 3:24 pm
by Adam J Purcell
That's a great idea! That's a lot of stories you will need to obtain to cover all the comings and goings through the ages. As you suggest, starting from the beginning is difficult because so many of those stories simply don't exist any more. A few have surviving soundtracks (thanks to enterprising fans and their reel to reel tape recorders!) A good many of the others probably exist as narrated stories, have you considered those to fill in the gaps? I don't know if Audible has those for download or not.

Clearly things will get a lot easier once you get into the colour era - for one thing the Doctor starts to travel with only one companion (the end of Tom's and almost all of Peter's reigns aside). They also all exist in the video archives - you can be sure they will all be released on DVD at some point.

Your difficulties of finding the stories aside, I think you've set yourself a very interesting task. You really will see the series evolve over time - in the natural order. I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts as you see that evolution happening.

Talking of which, I've not seen the War Machines myself yet (I think I have on DVD..!) but it's great to hear that you recognise New Who in it (probably vice versa!) The pacing is clearly different, the more episodic (traditional) nature of it and, no doubt, changes in acting style over the decades don't obscure the core Doctor Who-iness of it!

You kind of make me want to do that same. Maybe one day but for now I'll just have to listen out for your thoughts on this grand viewing experiment!

Re: Scardis's Classic Who Journey.

Posted: Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:41 am
by scardis
Well it's two weeks since I decided to embark on this whistle stop tour of Who and what's happened? Well not a lot to be honest. I ordered 'The Beginning' box set from as they were offering it at €12.99 compared to's €15.99 (that included any playtrade offers) or even HMV at €20. However the estimated dispatch date was 11/08/09 which is tomorrow. So let's see what happens.
In the meantime I noticed that as well as the soundtrack to 'The Myth Makers' in the 'Adventures in History' boxset which is sitting nicely in my iTunes waiting to be heard. (I need to get a new external drive for this as my Laptop's 70GB is getting close to white flag) I noticed that BBC Audio have recorded an audiobook of the Target novel narrated by Stephen Thorne. Seeing as I won't be able to get my hands on the soundtrack or DVD for 'The Chase' I have decided to get the audio novel of 'The Myth Makers' in it's place and compare the TV soundtrack to the novel and see if I find either or both easier to follow. So that's audible used up for this month, mind you I don't think I'll be getting to those soundtracks until towards the end of the month anyway if not into next month.
I noticed that there is another soundtrack out there I should get that I didn't mention above, because strictly speaking the character in this is not a companion but is definitely an important ally. He is, of course Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. He made his debut in 'The Web of Fear' a second Doctor story which yet again is sadly wiped from the records on picture. However BBC Audio have yet again come to the rescue with a release of the soundtrack and in a very similar vein to 'Adventures in History' it's in a boxset called 'Yeti Attack' alongside 'The Abominable Snowmen' so boxset with bonus story is always a check for me.
In the meantime I checked out the second of the 4 DVDs I got from Borders 'The Sontaran Experiment' This was a 4th Doctor, Sarah (Jane) and Harry story. TBH I wasn't overly impressed with it. It was a two part story and in my opinion there was more of a story in the other three Sontaran stories I'm familiar with. Naturally The Sontaran Experiment and the Poison Sky, but I thought even the Sarah Jane Adventures' story 'The Last Sontaran' packed in more of a story in what is essentially the same time slot as this two parter. As did the latest Quick read novel 'The Sontaran Games' by Jaquline Raynor. I haven't re watched it with the commentary or watched the one documentary on my 'Special Value Edition' of the DVD so I'll reserve final judgement until I finish the whole thing.
All the best,

Re: Scardis's Classic Who Journey.

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 1:20 pm
by scardis
Right well after switching from sendit to playtrade, I finally got my hands on 'The Beginning' boxset and settled down to watch 'An UnEarthly Child.' I'm sorry who's this miserable begger Bill Hartnell is playing and where's our beloved Doctor? My word the Doctor was a grouchy chap to start wasn't he? The DVD was a bit scattered to be honest, you got the 'Play All' function which shows you 'The Pilot' then Episode 1, the same thing with scenes changed. Then the rest of the serial.
The Special features started with another showing of 'The Pilot' episode with the final ten minutes or so repeated. This version comes with commentary from director Waris Hussien and Verity Lambert (R.I.P.) Also commentating were William Russell and Carole Ann Ford joined by Verity for Episode 1 and Waris for episode 4. The commentaries which were done in the style of an interview with Gary Russell were interesting to listen to and I didn't really have to watch the episodes as I listened because what was on screen barely came up in conversation.
There were a few comedy sketches as well, not sure where they came from but they weren't really anything to do with the episode in front of me. One of them was Mark Gattiss dressed up as what I can only assume was the then current Doctor Paul McGann, and another sketch was the kidnapping of Peter Davison. Again we're not really up that far in the story of Who so why put these on this disc?
We also get a video of the full effects of the titles with the full Delia Derbyshire music on them, gives you audio options as well.
We then get a photo slide show and that's it.
I'm a bit dissapointed that there was no documentary into how Doctor Who was dreamt up and realized leading up to the broadcast of 'An UnEarthly Child.' I would have thought that there may have been a documentary made somewhere in the past 40 years into the origins of Doctor Who that the DVD makers could have dug up and stuck onto the DVD.
Anyway the story itself was alright, nothing too amazing let's be honest. It's also a bit dreary, not a lot of humor in it. Part of Doctor Who's charm for me is the lighter side of things, never mind perhaps the next DVD will perk up a bit, let me see what's it called?..............The Daleks......written by Terry Nation....him that wrote 'Survivors'.......right, yes, sounds like a right barrel of laughs that one.
And so once I've watched 'The Daleks' and 'The Edge of Destruction' (this just gets merrier and merrier) my classic Who bus drives straight to 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth' where I drop off Susan Foreman and her whiney screaming ways.

All the Best,

Re: Scardis's Classic Who Journey.

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:41 am
by Adam J Purcell
Yes, I can see that Hartnell's original portrayal of the Doctor might seem a bit different from what you are used to. That's especially true in the 'pilot' version - the scene changes are fairly minor, the most important change is to (slightly) lighten the Doctor's character up a bit. Even with the televised version he's still a grump, perhaps even appearing a little evil (certainly self-centered). There is something of a character arc to him, though. Chesterton is the hero of the piece but the Doctor slowly takes than mantle away from him. Being around humans certainly has its effect - perhaps that's why he likes Earth so much, humans were the ones who originally showed him that his original Time Lord mentality was wrong. The Edge of Destruction is probably the turning point for the Doctor. Watch out of that!

You've also got to remember that it was a new series at that point. As things go along it does lighten up (and not just the Doctor). Chesterfield in particular brings a certain sense of humour to it.

Those sketches you talk about are from the BBC2 Doctor Who Night in November 1999. A couple of the sketches were about the behind the scenes story of the creation of Doctor Who - hence why they were put on In the Beginning. Of course the Peter Davison kidnapping one (my favourite - Davison's facial expression acting was hilarious!) doesn't really fit on there so well but it makes sense for them to be put out together (probably saves them paying twice for them, too!)

I'm sure Terrance Dicks would love to have written The Daleks but that was, of course, Terry Nation! Without the Daleks would Doctor Who have survived Hartnell's departure? Probably not. I really must watch The Daleks myself at some point...

I'll be interested to hear how you think things have changed between The Edge of Destruction and The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

Keep with it, it's very interesting to hear your thoughts on your great voyage through Who!

Re: Scardis's Classic Who Journey.

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:26 pm
by macfadyan
Jo! and I will be covering An Unearthly Child in the Flashing Blade Podcast 1-13 - out NEXT Sunday, not this one comning. Also I think we had a natter about it in one of the old stag stors' pods waaaaay back...trawl through em and hear what the four of us had to say back then.

Re: Scardis's Classic Who Journey.

Posted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:24 pm
by scardis
Right well, have now driven my through both 'The Daleks' and 'The Edge of Destruction' (and indeed the 'highlights' of Marco Polo')
Starting with the Dalek story and yet again our dear Doctor is being an awkward old beggar. It's interesting to think of these Thal people also calling Skaro their home when a New fan like myself consider Skaro to be this ugly inhabitable rock. And knowing what I know of the Daleks now I just knew that the Thal leader's hopes of a peace weren't going anywhere. It's a fair achievement in this story but it is very long drawn out, one whole episode for the week as it was at the time was a trek through caves. The documentary was interesting as well. Nice to see where the daleks came from. The commentary was also a nice listen.
I then moved onto 'The Edge of Destruction' a thankfully short 'filler' piece while the future of Doctor Who was contemplated.
It had a very 'Midnight' feel to it I found. I was wondering at one stage whether the Midnight monster had come and possessed Susan, but as she hadn't started repeating and synchronizing everyone that idea was put to rest. I thought some of the 'Don't Touch that' and the melting clock acting was a bit hokey and over the top but aside from that not a bad story. The documentary on the episode gives us a nice tie in with the Doctor's explanation of the Tardis's power with the events from Boom Town and The Parting of The Ways (complete with relevant New Series clips) Also seeing as the story was so short they got the chance to show us the documentary I was looking for in 'An UnEarthly Child', namely how Doctor Who came into being. It was great that they got Verity Lambert's side of the story before she passed away not long after (R.I.P.) The photo gallery shows a lot of Marco Polo snaps and I have to say that it's a huge shame that the footage is long gone as more then any other story an attempt to 'colour' in this episode would look absolutely fantastic. Seems like it was a decent enough story as well. I won't go pursuing the soundtrack for it at this stage but the 'Highlights' shown with this made it look like a decent adventure.

So onwards we go, next stop - 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Passenger alighting - 'Susan Foreman' I'll be ordering in that DVD soon.
In the meantime with my audible credits renewed and still a while to go before I get to the first audio story I need 'The Myth Makers' I've decided to use my credits this month to get the audio reading of the Target novel 'Doctor Who and The Daleks' which is read by William Russell (imagine if I fluffed this one as well and said William Hartnell) appropriate as it's written from Ian's POV. It was written by, no not Terrence Dicks, nor Terry Nation for that fact, (though based on his story) but by David Whitaker. I believe some liberties are taken by Whitaker on the establishing canon but lets put that down to the events of 'The Edge....' meddling with Ian's memory.
All the best,

Re: Scardis's Classic Who Journey.

Posted: Fri Aug 28, 2009 7:46 am
by Adam J Purcell
The Daleks is, of course, a very early story but it instantly became the template (even a benchmark) for later stories. Over the years the pure historical stories died out and it all became about alien menaces. Given how long the series has lasted, clearly that's what we all wanted!

It's not a companion entry/exit point but when you eventually get to Sarah and Harry's time it might be worth a quick detour to view Genesis of the Daleks. It's Davros' first story, so you might be able to wrangle it in that way. Genesis doesn't entirely contradict The Daleks but it is set quite some time before and you get to see the original war between the Thals and Kaleds. It might put The Daleks into an interesting context.

Glad you found the documentary on the creation of the series. I was sure there was a documentary like that in the box set somewhere! I thought it was quite interesting that so much of it was already in place before Verity Lambert was brought aboard - she usually gets most of the credit but it was much more of a team effort than that (not that she shouldn't be highly regarded but so should the others).

I was very impressed with the Edge of Destruction when I first saw it, fairly recently. It is very clear that RTD took some inspiration from it for Midnight. The in fighting between the TARDIS crew was great - it really brought the underlying tension, particularly between Ian and the Doctor, to a head. It really did feel like a turning point in the Doctor's personality. I still haven't seen much Hartnell, so I don't know much that is carried through. As I said before, I'd be very interested to hear what you think on that with The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

As I understand it, the David Whitaker novel was the first one written, originally titled 'Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks'. This was before the 'Target' book range existed but they later bought up the rights to republish it as 'Doctor Who and the Daleks'. That's why the book has a rather different feel to most Target books and takes more liberties than the usual Terrance Dicks 'he said, she said' straight script translation.

Re: Scardis's Classic Who Journey.

Posted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 5:38 pm
by scardis
Well it's been a while since I've updated this and where am I now?
Well I finished the Target audiobook of Doctor Who and The Daleks, an interesting story and nice of William Russell to give his opinions on the Target after he finished recording.
Watched The Dalek Invasion of Earth and it's really good. I'm amazed how easy I can over look things like the stolen hair saloon perm setters for the Robomen and the sort of poor excuse for why they are in Earth. The two disc set was nice. I've decided not to listen in on the commentaries for the time being and will instead pursue them at a later date when I decide to pick up and view these DVDs again another time.
Susan's departure is actually quite poignant and what I find interesting about how the episodes were filmed is that they were done almost 'as live' and that each scene was filmed straight after the next. So when the Doctor is giving his No Tears No regrets speech, his eyes are looking straight at Carole Ann Ford, someone Bill apparently treated maybe not like a grand daughter but certainly a daughter. Nice of the info text to point that out.
Anyway I have already ordered, received and viewed the next two stories that came together in a box set only earlier this year. The Rescue/The Romans. The Rescue was a 'as you like' short story with an interesting twist in relation to Coquilion. I hear that the actor who played Bennett, Ray Barrett only passed away fairly recently (R.I.P.) and indeed in the documentary on the story he did look quite ill. Speaking of deaths this I believe is the first DVD of Verity Lamberts era to be released after her death and the feature Girls! Girls! Girls! was dedicated to her and credited her as 'The Original Doctor Who Girl' nice touch, as indeed her absence was felt in the documentaries.
Anyway that was on the Romans DVD, The Romans story itself was quite fun if a bit of Black Humour in some parts. The documentary with other major BBC portrayals of Nero seemed a bit out of place as did the Blue Peter feature on Roman lifestyle which didn't tie into Doctor Who at all but anyway I digress. Over all I think Vicki seems to be a nicer less clingy companion and Maureen O Brien seems to be a nice lady.
One interesting aspect I see coming from the features on the DVD was the conflicting views on what it was like to work with William Hartnell, up to now the crew have all got fond memories of Bill but here one or two people say that Bill was grumpy and irritable. Seems to me that Bill was a bit select on who he liked and trusted.
Anyway onwards and upwards, next stop for departure of Ian and Barbara 'The Chase' isn't available yet. All of the episodes still exist and apparently 2|Entertain plan to release it next year. Now in the original scheme of things as I laid out above this would mean I'd have to jump straight over to 'The Myth Makers' for the departure of Vicki. However I have decided that seeing as according to the synopsis of The Chase, Stephen merely happened to be in the Tardis at the end of the story, so his first real adventure as a companion is 'The Time Meddler' which was released on DVD last year I'll throw that story in my quest as well. This also means that I have decided to get 'The Smugglers' on soundtrack as Ben and Pollys first proper adventure with the Doctor as travelers however I have a sort of ulterior motive in this which I will explain below.
Gonna have to wait a while though as it's been a rough few weeks at work so I'm not getting great hours at the moment so I have to wait on funds for a while.
In the meantime there is a free version of one of the stories with Vicki Ian and Barbara on board on the BBC website called The Crusade, set two stories after 'The Romans' and before The Chase and Time Meddler. These photo novels are nice but obviously not the greatest way to restore lost stories, still though there are one or two of them which have stories on my criteria including 'The Smugglers' so when I get the soundtrack to that, it'll be great to have a visual companion.
All the Best,

Re: Scardis's Classic Who Journey.

Posted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:43 am
by Adam J Purcell
I'm glad to hear you are continuing your travels through Doctor Who history!

I've never seen the original BBC version of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, only the Peter Cushing film. The film is great (much better than the film version of 'Doctor Who and the Daleks') and I'm pleased to hear the real Dalek Invasion of Earth is so good, too. I must get around to watching it someday! Will it be the same without the film Robomen music, though? :)

Susan's departure was quite a major event at the time - the first companion to ever leave the series. Not just any companion, either - the last of Doctor's own family (assuming any left of Gallifrey were 'dead to him'!) At the time it must have felt like the beginning of the end when, in retrospect, it was really just the end of the beginning. Looking at the episode list, I'm surprised just how early Susan's departure was. Interesting behind the scenes note that Hartnell was directly addressing Ford as he said those now famous words - it does add extra impact to them.

Vicki is a companion I know virtually nothing about (despite having seen Maureen O'Brien at a convention). Ignoring Ian and Barbara (who the Doctor essentially kidnaps), Vicki is the first companion the then slightly reformed Doctor chooses to take aboard - the first in a very long line. She's very much a substitute for Susan, both for the Doctor and the viewing audience. That being the case I'm pleased (and a little surprised) that the character sounds like such a departure from Susan (especially as it's said that Carole Ann Ford left because they wouldn't let her evolve the character). Also, what does it say about the character of Vicki that we are never told her surname? At least Susan had a (presumably) fake one - poor Vicki doesn't even get that courtesy!

The Romans - another DVD I'm pretty sure I own but have yet to find the time to watch! I like a bit of dark humour, so I look forward to this one! As for Hartnell being a bit grumpy and irritable with some people - his health must have been declining even by this point, I expect that was a factor.

The Time Meddler is quite a highly regarded story, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on that one (again, I have that on DVD but have yet to watch it!)

I hadn't heard of these free photo novels on the BBC site ( - shows how much I've been to the 'classic Doctor Who' part of the site. A great find so thank you for that!

How are you finding the soundtrack releases of these early stories? I presume they all have linking and descriptive narration? They often say that radio has better visuals than TV, do you find that or are you always sure to look at photos first to get a better idea of what it must have looked like?

Always great fun to hear your Doctor Who travelogue - keep up the good work!