Saturday 23 April 2011

152 The Moonbase: Part Four

EPISODE: The Moonbase: Part Four
TRANSMITTED: 04 March 1967
WRITER: Kit Pedler
DIRECTOR: Morris Barry
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Lost In Time
TELESNAPS: The Moonbase: Part Four

As we kick off let's spare a moments thought for the *LAST* appearance of what's become an old friend: The original Doctor Who title sequence. It's started everyone of the show's 152 episodes to date and is the title sequence used on the most number of Who episodes. Tom's is on 144 broadcast episodes and even if you lump all 3 versions of the Starfield sequence together that was only used on 128!

The Cybermen attack the base's communication aerial cutting them off from Earth. They reactivate Doctor Evans in sickbay, who knocks out his guard and enters the control room. A rescue ship from Earth is spotted, but it suddenly veers off course towards the sun: It has been deflected by the Gravitron under Evans' control. The other controlled crew members are also reactivated but Jamie and Ben barricade them into sickbay. The Cybermen puncture the base's dome with a laser cannon causing it to depressurise and the crew to seize oxygen masks. Fortunately Benoit & Hobson seal the hole with a tea tray over the hole. Evans has been rendered unconscious and the crew seize control of the Gravitron. Cybermen reinforcements arrive but further attempts to attack the dome prove futile as the beam is now deflected by the Gravitron. The Doctor gets the Gravitron lowered to an angle where the Cybermen are repelled from the surface of the moon. As the base crew celebrate, the time travellers slip away and return to the Tardis. In flight the Doctor activates the time scanner to look into the future: they see a giant crab like claw on the scanner screen.

Whereas the first 2 episodes were the Cybermen operating in stealth, then the third had them out in the open, this episode has them attacking en mass. Personally I felt they worked better up close and personal but there's something to be said for seeing lots of an alien race on screen at once. The shot of their laser cannon being fired is a pretty good effect for the time. Amongst the Cybermen on the moon is a young John Levene. He'll get to be a Yeti in Web of Fear, which gets him noticed by our old friend Douglas Camfield who casts him in the minor role of Corporal Benton in The Invasion. Benton is then brought back in the third Pertwee story as a Sergeant and becomes a familiar face on our screens for the next few years. Meanwhile playing Jules, one of the scientists that went out onto the moon's surface in episode 2 and fell under Cyber control, is actor/writer Victor Pemberton. He'll shortly start serving as the show's assistant script editor, stepping up into the full role for Tomb of the Cybermen when everyone plays musical chairs for one story, and writes Fury from the Deep for season 5. He's gone on to have an extensive writing career to the extent that my Mother has borrowed books he's written from the library!

The Moonbase, in it's printed form as Doctor Who & The Cybermen, was the second Troughton novel published by Target, but probably my first encounter with the Second Doctor. I got a copy from the book shop in Brook Street, Kingston which is now the Waterstones serving the University. Mine's got the older cover on with Troughton's face and completely the wrong style of Cyberman but with the rounded Tom Baker logo rather than the block Pertwee logo or the newer cover with awful gold Cybermen. I may have read Tomb of the Cybermen (also with the wrong Cyberman on the cover) or Web of Fear first, my local library had both in Hardback. Indeed the library's copy of Web of Fear, later sold off, now sits on my book shelves here. I loved the Cybermen, it's a fabulous read and I'm delighted to find that it's being reissued on 7th of July alongside Doctor Who and the Daleks, Doctor Who and the Crusaders, Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen, Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion and Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters. The 2 surviving episodes of the Moonbase were released as part of the Doctor Who - The Cybermen - The Early Years VHS (worth it for Roy Skelton giving an airing to two of his more famous non-Who voices at the end) and then on DVD as part of Doctor Who - Lost In Time. All 4 episodes Soundtrack were released on CD as Doctor Who: The Moonbase, and will be re-released, probably as part of Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection: (1966-1967) 3.

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