Black Faces, White Messages : Doctor Who

With Season 9 of BBC slated to start in a month, season 8 of DOCTOR WHO finally makes its way onto Netflix. I’ve watched more DOCTOR WHO than the vast majority of you reading this. My compulsive personality at work, I’ve seen all of the current reboot, and all of the classic existing series.

And I’ve seen the series go from great to mediocre and back again. One thing the series has suffered from, at times, in both its classic and modern incarnations is its depictions of people not WASPish.

Russell T. Davies was the visionary largely responsible for the rebirth of Dr. Who after an absence of over a decade; bringing a 20th century creation successfully into the 21st century. In terms of effects, and scope of story-lines Davies reboot was a massive win both artistically and commercially. That said one of the few failings of Russell T. Davies tenure, especially early on, was his use of characters of Color.

His Mickey character, played by the Shakespearean trained Noel Clarke (And I hold both creator and actor complicit for such a portrayal) from the first was a neutered, constantly emasculated character of color much in the vein of Step and Fetchit Hollywood, not just an offensive character, but worse a detriment to otherwise watchable story-lines, of which the Russell T. Davies run, had many.

I would rather creators avoid using characters of color, than use them offensively or ignorantly, as nothing more than tokens or stereotypes or outlets for their biases, which I think unfortunately is how Russell t. Davies approached such characters, particularly early in his run.

However by the Tenant years, Davies had a far better grasp on utilizing characters of color, as his Martha Jones character, brilliantly played by Freema Agyeman and her extended family were from the most part brilliantly written.

The post Tenant years, starring the youngest Doctor Matt Smith, and helmed by new Show Runner Steven Moffatt, I felt were pretty uneven, as the character was saddled with companions for most of his run that I found almost as annoying as the Mickey character.

That brings us finally to the new incarnation of the Doctor played by Peter Capaldi in Season 8, which definitely had me intrigued.

However, initially, the introduction of a Black character (love interest for the companion Clara), named Mr. Pink had me groaning audibly. I saw another Mickey in the making. A Black character called Mr, Pink? Really? Why not just call him snowball. But thankfully, the series, six episodes in is smarter, better written, and the character of Mr. Pink, stronger and more compelling and likably written and performed, than initial episodes and the unfortunate name… would imply. As well as other characters of color in far more humanistic and enjoyable and non-stereotypical roles than most stateside shows.

Add to that Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara are fantastic. Capaldi brings a less manic, measured performance and is a welcome touchstone to the Doctor as teacher and mentor and father. And Jenna Coleman’s Clara an excellent companion.

Episode 6 CARETAKER is my favorite of the season so far and season 8 as a whole my favorite season since the Tenant/Agyeman series. Let’s hope the writing continues to transcend the easy crutches of stereotype that sometime marred earlier seasons, and continues to broaden and enrich the history and mythology of Dr. Who.

Final Word:

On the accusation of Black Faces/White Message we find Season 8 of Doctor Who… NOT GUILTY. It is TV done right, as Showrunner, Stars, and stories combine to make addictive, fun, ethnically diverse, and smart television.

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DVD Review: DOCTOR WHO [STORY 10] THE DALEK INVASION OF EARTH

DVD Review of DOCTOR WHO [STORY 10] THE DALEK INVASION OF EARTH. [Under Construction- some spoilers]

WORLD’S END- Written by Terry Nation. It’s a pretty dire opening with
someone committing suicide. A fitting opening for an episode entitled
World’s End. Grade: B. Commentary with Gary Russell, Verity Lambert, and
Richard Martin.

DALEKS- Reintroduces the almost immediately iconic Daleks. A tale of
humanity attempting to resist… in an age called Dalek. A captivating
story, solid performances and a large cast for a WHO production, but man
the Dalek effects (little streamers supposed to be the gun firing) and
the battle scenes are shockingly bad. Shockingly bad. Even for 1965 the
special effects, saucer flying scenes, and fight staging are c
ringingly, embarrassingly inept. Only the script, performances make it
worthwhile. The Doctor comes into his own in this episode using his
genius to launch an escape, only to find himself out of the fire and
into the frying pan. Questionably directed by Richard Martin. Grade: B-.
Commentary with Gary Russell, Verity Lambert, Richard Martin, Bill
Russell.

DAY OF RECKONING- Written by Terry Nation. The human attack against the
Daleks has been rebuffed. And now the Daleks have only one thing on
their mind… extermination. And on the battle scenes, considering the
show is done for the most part live/in real time, you can excuse much of
its failings. However the Dalek shooting effect, and saucer footage,
there is no excuse for anything that lame. I say again, shockingly bad.
Susan gets to step up this episode and even gets a bit of romance going
on. And one fantastic, iconic scene this episode is the Daleks’
possessive march through London. Done to a great atonal score. Unusually
cinematic and very impressive. The highlight of the episode, and my
guess would be the serial. Appearance of the Black Dalek. Great
commentary. Grade: B.

THE END OF TOMORROW- A possibly explosive opening as Susan and her beau
David, save the day. Nice scene of the Daleks overseeing their human
slave labor. Nice THE GREAT ESCAPE feel as multiple story-lines converge
on the same goal… freedom. It is impressive and layered storytelling
by Terry Nation and Story Editor David Smith. Alligators in the Sewers
of London. Human vs Human. And a Dalek Guard Dog… the Slither?
Color-coded Daleks. And another strong cliffhanger. Great, full house
commentary.

THE WAKING ALLY- Ian and compatriot, escaping the Slither must face the
secrets of the mine. Doctor, Susan and cast must face the horrors of the
Sewers of London, and Barbara and friend, find uncertain shelter. A
wonderful Terry Nation script that continues to plumb the horrors of
humanity as much as the horror of the Daleks. The romance of Susan and
David continues. And the Black Dalek/The Supreme Controller announces
the reason the the Daleks have come to Earth and boy is it a doozy! They
intend to turn the planet Earth into a ship that they can pilot
anywhere?! That’s massive huge thinking by Terry Nation, way ahead of
its time! Commentary with Richard Martin, Carolyn Ford, Bill. Grade: B+.

FLASHPOINT- Ian is a fly in the ointment and nearly pays for it with his
life, Barbara launches a bold plan at the heart of the Daleks, And the
Doctor, Susan and cast also launch their attack against the heart of the
Dalek invasion. Nice use of Dalek-vision. Nice wrap-up, actually pretty
fantastic wrap-up with Susan and David. Strong episode. Grade: B+. Richard,
Verity, Carol, and Bill on commentary

WHAT IS HOT and WHAT’s NOT on TV for FALL 2012!!

I don’t have cable. I jumped off the band wagon years ago, and really have not been seriously tempted to jump back on. I’m content with waiting for products to hit DVD, and in the interim there are a lot of great shows out there on DVD to try.

I did that with both season 5 and season 6 of Doctor Who. Watching the shows over a few nights rather than the dubious experience of lengthy waits over several months, to invest in a story that may end with a whimper rather than a bang.

Which is how I tended to feel about Moffat’s Dr. Who seasons. While an imaginative and talented writer of “done in one” episodes or two parters, as a season wide story arc writer, his work tends to be swiss-cheese and disappointing.

So the ability to find that out by renting the DVDs over a couple nights, rather than an investment of months of ‘live’ watching, suits the way I like to view seasons.

That said for those of you who do watch TV/cable here are the shows I think you should be watching this fall, ones I’m intrigued in picking up when they hit DVD.

WHAT’S HOT

LAST RESORT on ABC- Why I’m interested? 1/Stars Andre Braugher of HOMICIDE fame. 2/Premise of a naval commander and his sub crew hunted for refusing to commit mass murder, has me incredibly intrigued. 3/One of the few dramas/genre/thrillers on an increasingly whites only TV shows, that has multiple actors of color

TREME- I’ve heard much about this Orlean’s based show. So look forward to catching up with it on DVD.

DOCTOR WHO- While I think Moffat should stick to done and one episodes or 2parters, and give up his attempt to outdo Russell T. Davies with big elaborate universe ending story arcs (Note to Moffat…, you may be a more imaginative writer than Russell, he is the better story arc guy. And your tenure is suffering in an attempt to outdo Davies rather than play to your strengths.

Particularly Moffat’s take leaves a lot to be desired. It gets old, the elaborate universe ending story arcs and over-hyping the Doctor into a God like protagonist. It just reads as bs and failed one-upmanship, and leaving your character no place to go or grow to. It tends to get boring, and while it’s fantasy and some level of inconsistency is inherent, season 5 and 6 have plotholes you can drive a truck through), I am interested in seeing where Season 7 takes the show. If Moffat would play to his strengths, smaller, intimate, done-in-one stories or two parters… the show could be fantastic.

WHAT’S NOT
ELEMENTARY- Sherlock Holmes is a recovering smart-alec drunk, Watson is his Asian female Bodyguard and Watcher, and the setting is New York. Really?!! I’m not a huge fan of the BBC SHERLOCK series, it’s okay, I just don’t think the writing is always up to the strong acting and direction, so my objection to ELEMENTARY has nothing to do with that BBC show. The more great shows the better. My objection is, if you’re going to change everything about it that is Sherlock Holmes, why even call the character Sherlock Holmes? I have no interest in seeing it, the premise just sounds insipid. However I’m willing to be proven wrong. If it makes it a full season and people are raving about it I’ll pick up the DVD, but otherwise this goes in the “What were they thinking’ trash pile.

That’s all for now! Feel free to leave your own recommendations, comments!

DVD Review: DOCTOR WHO THE SEEDS OF DOOM

DVD Review: DOCTOR WHO THE SEEDS OF DOOM

Presaging John Carpenter’s seminal film THE THING by a full six years, The 6-part 1976 DOCTOR WHO serial SEEDS OF DOOM, is not only one of the best Tom Baker era Doctor Who episodes, but is one of the best Doctor Who story-lines; in its going on 50 year history(2013 will be the 50th anniversary of the show).

Mixing space born terror, cronenbergesque occupation with body horror, ecological concerns, and human madmen it is a surprisingly brutal and more than a bit horrific entry, in the oft imaginative, but usually tame, family show.

An intelligent, engrossing, exciting and risk taking script by Robert Banks Stewart (script edited by the great Robert Holmes and produced by Philip Hinchliffe, so SEEDS OF DOOM is the highlight of what many consider the best Doctor Who producer/script editor team), is complemented by one of the best directed episodes of Doctor Who by the equally great director Douglas Camfield, and all tied together by stellar performances from the usual suspects (Tom Baker giving one of the most commanding and passionate performances of his seven year run) as well as the guest stars.

It was typical for serials longer than four parts to feel padded, not this one, it starts out engrossing and just gets more intense each episode. My first impetus, upon my original viewing was to grade this an A/A+. Having let some time pass, viewing the episode again, it lives up to that first impression, it rates a solid A+.

If you want a modern comparison it is the BLINK (the best episode of the David Tennant era) of the Tom Baker era. DVD sports a commentary with Tom Baker (The Doctor), John Challis (Scorby), Kenneth Gilbert (Dunbar), Michael McStay (Moberley), Philip Hinchcliffe (Producer), Robert Banks Stewart (Writer), Roger-Murray Leach (Designer) and Joggs Camfield (son of Douglas Camfield, Director).

Final Grade: A+
Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom (Story 85): Price Your Copy Here!

FAVORITE DOCTOR WHO DvD Commentary! THE POWER OF KROLL?!!

Recorded in 2002 (mere weeks after the death of Terry Walsh, one of Britan’s premier stunt-men, and a stunt man who had a visible role in many episodes of Doctor Who, most notably this one) the commentary by Tom Baker and John Leeson for the 4-part story THE POWER OF KROLL, first aired in 1978, is nothing short of great.

From tales of performing Sherlock Holmes, to a party for Sean Connery, to autograph seekers, to rumors of death, to Migraine Acting it’s just everything a commentary should be.

Tom Baker always a sharp, if at times distracted, speaker on commentaries, here manages to feel completely on… for this one, and delivers a really fun and funny commentary. And it helps that the episode of Dr. Who that this commentary adorns, is actually a very good story (starring Phillip Madoc whose performance elevated every Doctor Who episode he was in [including the 2nd movie]). So a fun story, with a must listen commentary.

And this story is part 5 in THE KEY OF TIME series, a 26 episode storyline. So rather than just purchasing this individual episode, I would recommend the 2009 Boxset that includes the entire KEY TO TIME storyline as well as extras that were not on the earlier individual DVDs (Including an interview with the aforementioned Phillip Madoc).

While this storyline is not in my best Doctor Who storylines (it has major flaws most notably the tedious and lackluster ending which basically made the whole storyline unnecessary) it does have some fun moments in the buildup, and THE POWER OF KROLL is one of those moments.

In addition it is something of a watershed moment in the Tom Baker years. After this his enjoyment in the series, and for the most part the quality of the series (while there would be some peaks, there would be far more often valleys) would be in steady decline, with the uneven John Nathan Turner years on the horizon.

So this is a great DVD to get a sampling of a time in a seemingly immortal series, when it glimmered… very bright… against the coming night.

Doctor Who: The Key to Time (Special Collector’s Edition) (Stories 98-103)! Price your copy here!!

The following breakdown is courtesy of Violin MD @ Amazon.com:

“The NEW 350 minutes-worth of special features details are as follows. All the making-of features are new and NEW commentaries are marked with an *:

I. The Ribos Operation: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 98 mins)
1. Commentary with Tom Baker and Mary Tamm
2. A Matter of Time – A new 60-minute Documentary
3. The Ribos File – Cast and Crew Interviews about the making of
this story
4. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
5. Season 16 Trailer – BBC1 trailer for the forthcoming season
6. Photo Gallery

II. The Pirate Planet: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 100 mins)
2 Audio Commentary Tracks:
1. Commentary with Bruce Purchase and director Pennant Roberts
2. * Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and script editor Anthony
Read
3. Parrot Fashion – Documentary that includes old and new
interviews, including Douglas Adams
4. Film Inserts, Deleted Scenes & Outtakes
5. Weird Science – A funny look at the science seen in The Key to
Time
6. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
7. Photo Gallery

III. The Stones Of Blood: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 95 mins)
2 Audio Commentary Tracks:
1. Commentary with Mary Tamm and director Darrol Blake
2. * Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm, Susan Engel and writer
David Fisher
3. Getting Blood from the Stones – Cast and Crew Interviews about
the making of this story
4. Hammer Horror – Featurette about the influences of horror films
on Doctor Who stories
5. Stones Free – Mary Tamm visits the Rollright Stones location and
talks to local experts
6. Deleted Scenes
7. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
8. Excerpt from ‘The Model World of Robert Symes’
9. Blue Peter segment about the 15th anniversary of Doctor Who
10. BBC’s Nationwide news program segment about the 15th
anniversary of Doctor Who
11. Photo Gallery

IV. The Androids Of Tara: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 97 mins)
1. Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and director Michael Hayes
2. The Humans of Tara – Cast and Crew Interviews about the making
of this story
3. Now & Then: The Androids of Tara – compares and contrasts
present day locations as they are now with how they appeared in
the story
4. Double Trouble – a brief history of ‘doubles’ in other Doctor
Who stories
5. Photo Gallery

V. The Power Of Kroll: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 90 mins)
1. Commentary with Tom Baker and John Leeson
2. In Studio – a glimpse inside the studio during recording of the
story
3. Variations – a BBC local news programme visits the story’s
location during filming
4. There’s Something About Mary – Mary Tamm looks back at her
single-season starring role as the Doctor’s companion
5. Philip Madoc: A Villain for All Seasons – Madoc looks back on
his numerous roles as a Doctor Who villain down the years
6. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
7. Photo Gallery

VI. The Armageddon Factor: Special Edition (2 DVDs; 6 episodes; 147 mins)
2 Audio Commentary Tracks:
1. Commentary with Mary Tamm, John Woodvine and director Michael
Hayes
2. * Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and John Leeson
3. DVD-ROM: 1979 Doctor Who Annual in Adobe PDF format
4. Defining Shadows – Cast and Crew Interviews about the making of
this story
5. Alternative / Extended Scene
6. Directing Who – Michael Hayes looks back on his directing career
on Doctor Who
7. Rogue Time Lords – a potted history of errant Time Lords
8. Pebble Mill at One – Tom Baker interview from 1978
9. Radiophonic Feature – a Pebble Mill at One interview looking at
Radiophonic music and effects in Doctor Who
10. The New Sound of Music – Dick Mills talks about creating Doctor
Who sound effects
11. Merry Christmas, Doctor Who – a special Christmas sketch,
recorded on the set of ‘The Armageddon Factor’ for the BBC
Christmas Tape that year
12. Continuities – off-air continuity links from the story’s
original BBC1 transmission
13. Photo Gallery
14. Late Night Story – Tom Baker reads five spine-chilling stories
from this 1978 series:
a. The Photograph by Nigel Kneale
b. The Emissary by Ray Bradbury
c. Nursery Tea by Mary Danby
d. The End of the Party by Graham Greene
e. Sredni Vashtar by Saki (never broadcast)
15. Easter Egg

Adding up the running times gives us 627 minutes for the box set. All episodes are presented in full frame video, with the original English mono audio and with English subtitles.”

RATING THE DOCTORS: On William Hartnell THE FIRST DOCTOR & the First Season! 1963-1964!

This heat is kicking the proverbial posterior.

But hey I’m not complaining, I’ll take heat over cold, any day.

But you guys didn’t come here to hear weather talk, onto this installment’s insanity.

I’ve seen all 30+ seasons of Doctor Who, including the recreations (largely still shots and the audio recording of the shows) that exists through the hard work of dedicated fans, who preserved these shows for the love, when the suits couldn’t see any monetary value or re-watchability to these shows and could not delete the tapes fast enough.

It’s why I’ll side with the so-called file-sharer or collector or peer to peer proponent who does it for the love, over suits any day. Because I KNOW how much of our history (television shows, radio shows, silent and sound films, books, manuscripts) still exists not because of the money grubbing corporation who would (and have) let everything burn if they couldn’t make a penny off of it; but exists because of the dedicated fan and collector.

I’ve said that before, but it bears, particularly in our current environment, constant repeating. That the people who profit off a thing, are not the people that should be trusted with the preservation of that thing. And history bears out, that it’s necessary to have the dedicated collector out there doing for the love, what corporations will fail to do in the absence of monetary incentive.

Our cultural history owes much to the dedicated collector, that are being criminalized by the ‘Johnny-come-lately’ corporations, who have finally wised up to the fact that… people are interested in this old stuff.

Case in point, I still await official SPENSER FOR HIRE DvDs, or the full seasons of the live-action ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY that have been unavailable for over 20 years, and these things should not be sequestered away until some suit can find a way to profit off of them. In the absence of someone making them available, the collector is there to make them available. So thanks to great collectors… there’s a rumor that I may actually own both series :).

And if that rumor is true, I’ll hold onto those collector DVDs, at least until such time as the studios get off their ass, and release official high quality versions/DVDs, which I will be more than happy to support/purchase. But in the interim… to all the suits/companies out there, support and work with fans/collectors… they are the heart of your business. And more than that, they are the heart of the preservation of culture and art and history… in the absence of business. Give them their due.

Okay, off my soap box.

*****

The reason I got on that soap box is because, I have been rewatching Doctor Who, and much of that series has been lost through corporate stupidity and short-sightedness, but almost all of it has been preserved and recreated, even the pretty much devastated Patrick Troughton years (which I’m currently re-watching), and you can not watch those shows without being extremely mindful and extremely thankful, for the fans and collectors, who preserved those shows to the best of their ability.

I mean, now, today the BBC gives a damn about Doctor Who, because the show is making them a boatload of money, but you have to care about preserving culture and art… even in the absence of money, and that is what collectors do.

So yes, I’m thankful that we have shows such as:

William Hartnell’s four seasons as the doctor.

He’s remembered, unfairly I think, for flubbing his lines. However, what he should be remembered for is being the man who set the template, the tone, and the consummate “play this for real” passion that allowed the show to be a success.

Think about it, if Hartnell or those first companions did not make the premise work, the show would have been canceled in that first season and NO ONE would today be talking about Doctor Who.

Patrick Troughton gets a lot of praise for ‘saving’ Dr. Who, when it became necessary to replace Hartnell due to his deteriorating condition.

For continuing Doctor Who, I would agree, but for saving it? … no. The show would have gone on with or without Troughton. It was that popular. Hartnell had help make it that popular.

Don’t get me wrong, Troughton was a great actor and he made a fantastic 2nd Doctor, and the very, unavoidable medical issues with Hartnell pushed the writers and producers into coming up with one of the most brilliant and iconic ways to keep the series going… ie the idea of ‘Regeneration’.

I mean that idea, that was born under pressure and calamity and potential cancellation, remains one of the greatest ‘hail marys’ of television history, as can be seen by a whole new generation, wowing to the adventures of yet another whole new Doctor.

But had Hartnell and crew, not made DOCTOR WHO a success out the gate, no one would have been pressed to try and keep the show alive. They would have done the normal thing, canceled the show and put something else on, and DOCTOR WHO becomes, like many shows of the time, a forgotten footnote.

But Hartnell was a GREAT Doctor Who, an iconic Doctor Who, who loved and championed the show. And he did four seasons of the series, back when the workload was a YEAR ROUND weekly series, basically performing the shows in a live-run, like a play, performed beginning to end, no time for retakes, you hit the mark at the beginning of two hours, and at the end of two hours, they filmed the entire show… JUST LIKE YOU SEE IT AIRED!

With filmed segments cut in on queue, and effects and sound done live in camera….the amount of pressure and work, is beyond ANYTHING that television actors, or indeed directors, editors, crew are doing today. It was the work of master actors and crew, to basically have to learn and crank out a play a week, under budget restrictions and time restrictions that can only be called… crushing.

And William Hartnell did this. For going on four Years, largely without vacation, with seasons FAR LONGER than the laughably short seasons the BBC has today… William Hartnell did this. While suffering with what today we would call early signs of Dementia or Alzheimers.

*****

For nearly four years he bled and sweated and carried Doctor Who, when his younger companions were folding left and right under the pressures and issues of a financially challenged, somewhat ghettoized show. Hartnell’s tenure as the Doctor saw him with the most companions (A whopping TEN companions. And every departure cut Hartnell like a knife, who saw the show as a familial thing), and having to ride the most tumultuous time in the history of the show, when it was figuring out, on a weekly basis, what it was, and who the characters were.

That he was able to play the series as long as he did, when suffering from a condition known to cripple, says everything about the nature of Hartnell’s professionalism, his “the show must go on” ethic. I just think a lot of people focus on the occasional flubs, when he was given tons of gobblydeggok to say, and he made it work. I don’t know of any actors today, in their full health and prime, who could have done week in and week out what Hartnell did, producing basically live televison in a fantastic setting.

Which is far more difficult than just soaps, because you have the additional hassle of effects and costumes and elaborate monsters and cut in scenes, and hitting marks, it’s really a big budget type cinematic production, done on a shoe-string budget and with no retakes and no time, and everything music, etc… done in camera.

Actors today would piss themselves.

I just have a tremendous amount of respect for Hartnell as a performer, and he could really perform and act and emote, and bring it when he needed to… which more often than not… was always. Add to all of that he also had some of the best episodes under his tenure, namely:

SEASON I 1963-1964

AN UNEARTHLY CHILD- PILOT- It does everything a first episode needs to do. Incredibly ambitious, for the time. A time ship, bigger on the inside than the outside, and looks like a simple police phonebox. It is just a genius conceit, even 50 years later. GRADE: B+.

100,000 BC- 3 episodes- It’s not a great episode by today’s standards but it is a necessary one, as they are still defining the Doctor, and his crew of travelers. And it is pretty brutal for a kid’s program. GRADE: B-/C+.

THE DALEKS by Terry Nation, directed by Christopher Barry and Richard Martin- 7 episodes- Terry Nation’s script and idea, fleshed out and realized, made concrete by the producers, and designers and voice actors, resulted in an immediate worldwide sensation… The Daleks. And the story, is quite good, quite ambitious, though of course hampered by the budgets and limitations of the time.

It is a great intro to one of the great iconic creations of television history. The serial falls apart in the last episode, the whole “live” thing, the director just couldn’t pull it all together, so it’s a bit of a mess. But the serial is strongly recommended in-spite of that; and it highlights, the rare times when it goes wrong, just how masterful the cast and crew was, to enable it to go right… most of the time. GRADE: B.

INSIDE THE SPACESHIP aka The Edge of Destruction- 2 episodes- This is another example of them not really having the time to make the story come across, it’s a bit of a confused mess. But it’s an intriguing watch, and is available with a nice commentary with the actors. The commentary worth the price of admission.

Marco Polo- seven episodes- A recreated episode, stills and audio, watched this recently it’s quite good. From the few shots of sets in color, it was quite an elaborate period piece.

The Keys of Marinus- 6 Episodes- Terry Nation returns, this is a great, exciting serial. Even with a bit of implied rape. Terry Nation always wrote excellent scripts that explored not only man against the alien, and man against nature, but far more interestingly man against man. His scripts and the crews performance transcends dodgy sets and questionable effects. GRADE: B+.

The Aztecs- 4 episodes – One of the best Doctor Who stories! This historical episode, sports great acting, great sets, and a great story. And wonderful direction. This is available with commentary, and I highly recommend it. One of my favorites. GRADE: A+.

THE SENSORITES- 6 episodes- This is one of the most successful of the scifi themed serials (the first season nearly equally divided between the historical episodes and the scifi/fantasy episodes) for season I. As it allowed some growth for the character of Susan, and real thrills for the rest of the characters. Lots of fun. Grade: B/B+.

THE REIGN OF TERROR- 5 episodes- This Dennis Spooner penned tale is quite enjoyable. The last two episodes are recreations (stills, audio) but is perfectly understandable and builds to a fun end. GRADE: B.

Those are my grades for season #1. Counting the pilot, Thirty eight weekly episodes!!! Wow! Episodes I didn’t grade are worth a look, for historical reasons, but may not be the show at its best.

Stay tuned for upcoming season reviews!

Doctor Who: The Beginning (An Unearthy Child / The Daleks / The Edge of Destruction)

Doctor Who – The Aztecs (Story 6)

DEAL OF THE DAY: DOCTOR WHO style SOLAR POWERED Pocket Watch- Retracted

UPDATE: Having received this one I have to update this post. It does not live up to expectations. First the pics are quite a bit larger than the actual item that feels tiny and insubstantial. And possibly I got a used, defective one but I didn’t see the solar part at all.

I figured you’d open it up and light would hit it and the hands would start rotating, and there would be a cool way to set it. Right?! I mean proper Steam Punk! Nope.

It’s just a dinky watch, with a normal battery that supposedly gets solar charged, and has a frustrating method for setting the time, and is even more frustrating trying to read the time.

A curio for its looks, but functionally it’s… hmm how do I say this nicely… not worth the money. At $10 or under it might be a cute thing to display, but as a functional watch it’s a bust.

Now possibly I got a bad one, as it has some decent reviews at the link below. But I can only go by my experience. And my experience… not good. I’m sending mine back for a refund. So DEAL OF THE DAY… retracted. 🙂

I don’t wear wrist watches. I never picked up the habit, and working with electricity it’s just one less thing I had to remove, so I got used to not wearing a wrist watch.

However pocket watches, or what the British call fob watches (fob, because that’s the name of the small pocket on vests, where the watch was meant to go) I simply cannot get enough of.

A great pocket watch is just a strong buy for me, and an especially unusual and finely crafted one… just a must have.

Enter today’s DEAL OF THE DAY:

Solar Powered Turbine Fob Watch

You can view the item here:

EER Patent Solar Powered Turbine Fob Watch by Alchemy Gothic