Day 5 – The Smugglers/The Tenth Planet
Today I got an episode on both ends of the spectrum. One that could easily be skipped (you wouldn’t miss a thing) and another that has a few milestones in the Doctor Who mythology in it.
– William Hartnell (29 Adventures)
I knew this day would come eventually and here we are. I ended my Doctor Who viewing today with the Doctor regenerating into (not really a surprise to any Who fan) Patrick Troughton. As I’ve mentioned before, William Hartnell’s portrayal felt like that of a research scientist. His largest interest seemed to be in investigating some phenomena even it meant putting his fellow travelers in harm’s way. When making observations on his own he seemed to be giggly one minute, but then was quick to anger if anybody crossed him. All in all, very different from the Doctor for any fans who started with the 2005 relaunch.
“The Smugglers” is another one of those uneventful adventures that if you skipped I wouldn’t blame you (even though it did have pirates in it). The TARDIS lands in 17th Century Cornwall and the only part of the story that is affected by the fact that they are time travelers is using the superstition of witchcraft to escape a jail cell. An observation I’m sure I notice before, but never really thought about is the fact that the Doctor has no clue where/when he lands. The TARDIS has got to have some sort of sensor to read the time and place where it materializes. My current theory is that it is either broken or the Doctor just doesn’t know where it is. I also have noticed that the Doctor’s best quality in these classic episodes is that he has the ability to adapt to any situation he get’s thrown into. His companions often rub the inhabitants the wrong way, but the Doctor usually seems to get in their good graces enough to hang out with the leader.
“The Smugglers” Continuity Facts (from Wikipedia)
- The 2011 Doctor Who episode “The Curse of the Black Spot” is in part a prequel to this serial, as it deals with the circumstances of Captain Avery’s (presumed) death.
Now “The Tenth Planet” is an episode to watch. It features the first appearance of the Cybermen. The TARDIS has materialized in the South Pole in the year 1986 (which is 20 years in the future from when the show was first broadcast). Now I’ve been waiting for some time for the Cybermen to show up I was psyched out once during “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” when Daleks were controlling people using these metallic helmets and were referred to them as robomen.
It was at this point I was hoping that the creation of Cybermen were due to Daleks, but I was not so lucky. The appearance of Earth’s sister planet Mondas shows up and it shed more light on the subject.
The inhabitants of Mondas are the Cybermen who used to be like humans, but started replacing parts of their bodies that were “weak” until they were more machine than man. Included in this procedure was the removal of emotions and the feeling of pain. The appearance of the Cybermen in the first episode is laughable considering they are supposed to pretty much be androids. Instead of trying to describe it here’s a clip of their first ever lines.
There are a few things I would like to point on. The first being that their faces are just covered in fabric instead of being some sort of metallic mask. This really does not make them look menacing at all. Also, I love that they move their jaws open to talk but don’t mouth the words or even open the mouth hole wider. Lastly, they still have human hands. Seriously, they’re not even trying at that point. No gloves, no nothing. I guess the argument could be that they didn’t replace the hands, but let’s face it if you remove emotions you are going to replace the hands.
The Cybermen’s big plan is that they are absorbing energy from Earth. Then they will bring Earthlings back to Mondas, turn them into Cybermen, and blow up Earth. The Doctor tells the Earthlings that if they let Mondas to continue to absorb energy that they will have too much and the planet will destroy itself (seems like a flawed plan on the Cybermen’s part, but what are you going to do). This turns out to be true and when the planet is destroyed, so are all the Cybermen since they were being powered from Mondas (major design flaw).
During this whole ordeal the Doctor has passed out unexpectedly. When he wakes up he says that his body is wearing a bit thin. Once the Cybermen are defeated he insists that they return to the TARDIS immediately. The Doctor drops to the ground and his companions show up shortly after and this is what they see.
The first regeneration.
This last episode is actually one of the missing episodes, but it appears that they at least had the footage from the first regeneration.
“The Tenth Planet” Continuity Facts (from Wikipedia)
- Ben and Polly, having returned to their own lives in 1966, meet again in 1986 to sit through the same events in the spin-off short story “Mondas Passing” by Paul Grice.
- The events leading up to this story, from the Cybermen’s perspective, are heard in the Big Finish audio story Spare Parts with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. The story deals with many aspects left unexplained in this story; such as how Mondas left the solar system and returned again.
- While the Doctor regenerates at the end of this story, the process was unnamed. In the subsequent programme, The Power of the Daleks, the Doctor stated that he had been “renewed”, implying a restoration of youth rather than a change of body. The concept was not called “regeneration” until Planet of the Spiders.
- Script Editor Gerry Davis later stated that it was intended for the energy drain from Mondas to be the cause of the regeneration, but that it didn’t come across clearly on screen. It is generally assumed that the First Doctor simply dies of old age.
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