Tuesday 5 April 2011

134 The Tenth Planet: Part Four

EPISODE: The Tenth Planet: Part Four
TRANSMITTED: 29 October 1966
WRITER: Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis
DIRECTOR: Derek Martinus
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who - Cybermen: The Tenth Planet & Attack of The Cybermen

OK, we're still on video for this episode, but this isn't a film recording of the episode. That's missing. This is the Soundtrack, married to the Telesnaps taken by John Cura and incorporating a small amount of 8mmm footage plus a film clip taken from a 1973 edition of Blue Peter. Last episode had no Hartnell and little Cybermen. Can this, the final episode featuring the First Doctor do any better?

The Z-Bomb Rocket's emgines fail, throwing Cutler into a rage, blaming the Time Travellers and Barclay who helped them. The Doctor returns to the control room, feeling somewhat better. When contact with Zeus-5 is lost he presumes his son is dead and is about to kill all four of them until the crew of a third Cyberman ship storm the base and kill Cutler. Tnhe Doctor tries to negotiate with the Cybermen but they take Polly as a prisoner to their spaceship as insurance while Ben, Barclay and two of the base crew deactivate the Z-Bomb. Ben & Barclay figure the Cybermen are susceptable to radiation and test the theory on the guard outside the door gaining his weapon and refusing to further co-operate. The Doctor too is taken to the Cyberman ship. The remnaining Cybermen are lured into the depths of the base where they are killed by the radiation from the base's reactor. Returning to the control room, they find the base stormed again by yet another party of Cybermen but as Mondas breaks apart the Cybermen, who have drawn their power from their home planet, crumble away. Contact is re-established with Zeus-5 and Barclay prepares to bring Terry Cuttler back to Earth. Ben makes his way to the Cyberman spacecraft and frees Polly and an ailing Doctor. Ben tells them it's all over to which the Doctor responds
All Over? Oh no, it's only just begining!
He stumbles through the snow to the Tardis locking the door behind him. Ben & Polly hammer on the door as the Doctor sets the Tardis controls. He opens the doors to admit them just before he falls to the floor unconcious. The Tardis dematerialises as the Doctor is enveloped in light and begins to change. As the light fades a shorter, younger man lies on the Tardis floor.

Wow. That's a great episode, much better than the third. Can we swap our copy of Episode Three for a copy of Episode Four ? Lots of Cybermen in this, displaying the first in a long line of weaknesses. It's Radiation here, the more familiar Gold is some nine years in the future of the program and they'll be a few more since. But they also show a strength here: get rid of one lot and another load turn up. But the Cybermen are secondary here to what happens at the end. The Doctor was shown weakened during the last episode, and on his return he attributes this to the energy drain from Mondas. But this is the third such experience the Doctor has had recently after the ageing effect of the Time Destructor in Dalek Masterplan and his exposure to the Transferance Process in the Savages. You'd almost feel the production staff had been planning this for sometime.

In reality the decision to replace Hartnell was a relatively quick affair. Producer John Wiles and Hartnell had never got on, but his plan to replace Hartnell at the end of Celestial Toymaker was vetoed by his BBC bosses and is probably a factor in him tendering his resignation soon afterwards. Hartnell's health and on set behaviour deteriorated throughout the third season of Doctor Who: he was already suffering from arteriosclerosis which was affecting his memory. New producer Innes Llloyd gained permission to replace Hartnell (from a new & different set of bosses that had refused Wiles' request). They spoke during th filming of the Smugglers, the last story filmed in the show's third recording block, and Hartnell agreed that the time had come to leave but would return for one last story. Hartnell told his wife Heather on July 16th 1966 and the decision was announced to the press on August 6th. He undertook three further acting roles in No Hiding Place - The Game (1967), Softly, Softly: Task Force - Cause Of Death (1968) and Crime Of Passion - Alain (1970) before being approached to reprise his role as the First Doctor in 1973's The Three Doctors. William Hartnell died, aged 67, on 23 April 1975 of heart failure following a series of strokes.

So what did happen to Tenth Planet Four? For many years the myth was put about that Blue Peter lost it when they borrowed a copy for the program they did on Doctor Who's 10th anniversary in 1973. This appears to be false, the program that they lost was the BBC Film & Video library's copy of Dalek Masterplan 4. Blue Peter borrowed Tenth Planet 4 from BBC Enterprises, who were still offering this story for overseas sale at the time and was doing so through 1974 as existing paperwork shows. In 1977, when Ian Levene visited the Film & Video library, they had parts 1-3 of the Tenth Planet. The assumption is that these three episodes came to them from BBC Enterprises. What had happened to the fourth part? You can construct all sorts of theories (including Blue Peter loosing it, Enterprises not realising till later and then dumping the three remaining episodes, now useless to them for overseas sales, on the the Film & Video library) but we'll never know for sure. Because of this all sorts of rumours & hoaxes have sprung up over the years concerning this episode. The only footage that survives from the episode is the material that Blue Peter broadcast in 1973 which consists of the regeneration sequence from the end of the episode. A small amount of 8mm film of the episode was recorded by a fan pointing his camera at the television screen, and several people made audio recordings of the episode. As was common at the time, John Cura took "telesnap" photos of the episode as a permanent record. All these were put together by the BBC during 2000 to form a reconstruction of the episode which was released on video with the remaining three episodes & Attack of the Cybermen as part of Doctor Who - Cybermen: VHS Boxset. The soundtrack was released in the BBC Missing Episodes collection, first in a special tin with The Invasion and later individually. It's assumed Tenth Planet will be in Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes collection volume 3 and a that a DVD release will follow.

Sadly Tenth Planet 4 also marks the start of a large run of episodes - 13 - which don't exist:

Tenth Planet 4
Power of the Daleks 1-6
Highlanders 1-4
Underwater Menace 1 & 2

The next episode we'll properly watch is Underwater Menace 3.

Tenth Planet was the first William Hartnell/First Doctor novel commissioned by Target books as part of their range, having previously reissued the three Doctor Who Books written in the Sixties: The Daleks & The Crusade, both by David Whitaker, and the Zarbi written by Bill Struton. It was novelised by Gerry Davis, who restored some material to the third episode which was cut when Hartnell was taken ill. The eight year old me, faced with a choice between buying either the novelization of the Tenth Planet or Dalek Invasion of Earth, neither of which I'd seen before, had a complete melt down in the WHS in Richmond! I chose Tenth Planet. Mum sneaked back and bought Dalek Invasion which I was given as a present much later.

So we reach the end of Hartnell's reign. In some ways it's different to any other era of Doctor Who with historical stories and more experimental science fiction tales. Towards the end of the reign you get a feeling that the Doctor Who we're more familiar with is starting to emerge. Both of my favourite Hartnell tales, War Machines and Tenth Planet appear then but War Machines is effectively a prototype Pertwee story and Tenth Planet is the template for many a Troughton tale so neither is a typical Hartnell tale, if such a thing exists. Of the Historical stories I've always like Reign of Terror, but enjoyed the Gunfighters and the Smugglers this time round. Of the science fiction tales I think, barring the two I've already mentioned, that The Dalek Masterplan and Galaxy Four are the best. The story I've changed my opinion on the most during this viewing session is The Gunfighters which I now see in a different light entirely, with Keys of Marinus & Web Planet both improved but each let down by at least one episode. Oddly the story which I think has gone down the most in my eyes is Tenth Planet. Part Three is a real let down with no Doctor and no Cybermen, and while the rest is decent it's reputation and my liking of it is more built on the number of things it does for the first time. I still love the Tenth Planet style Cybermen though! Worst story? 2 contenders and they're both boring snore fests: The Sensorites and The Space Museum. I didn't get on with The Massacre or The Crusade (and to a lesser extent Marco Polo) but I can see that those three are competent historicals whereas the other two are just so boring. Likewise although Edge of Destruction is nonsense at least there's something happening!. Best Episode? Easy: The first one, An Unearthly Child. Fabulous. Honourable mentions to both of the pioneering London location episodes: Dalek Invasion of Earth 1 and War Machines 1.

Tomorrow we start the reign of Patrick Troughton. And what better way to launch a new Doctor than to bring your best monsters back? Join us tomorrow for The Power Of The Daleks.

1 comment:

  1. The Tenth Planet is one of those stories that is in a cleft stick. We can see enough of it to see where it is ropey, but not enough of it to necessarily see where it excels.

    Tenth Planet Cybermen are fantastic though - visibly and in characterisation more dehumanised than monstrous. One almost wants to pity these Cybermen as much as fear them - so driven by survival that they have cored out everything that made it worth surviving. Quite a chilling idea actually.

    Whilst this is the end of the Hartnell era it is in some ways a prototype for so much of what is to come - an isolated base, beseiged by an implacable force and threatened by stresses and strains within the beseiged humans. Fitting really that Hartnell, who has been present for a real evolutionary journey in what Doctor Who is, bequeths to his successor a format that will serve him well.