Monday, August 10, 2015

Third Doctor Part I

Three's cape is one of the less crazy things about this era of the show

The 3rd Doctor began his run confined to Earth. He took a job working with U.N.I.T. (a military organization) as its scientific advisor.  The Third Doctor was far more action oriented than any before or since, brandishing Venusian Karate at would be assailants.  He also dressed like Austin Powers and drove an antique hotrod instead of a time machine.  Crazy right?

Spearhead From Space *available on Netflix*

Spearhead from space introduces the Autons, which you may have seen in the new series. It also establishes the show’s new Earthbound format, and properly introduces the new expanded cast.  As much as the third Doctor era seems so antithetical to Doctor Who as we tend to think of it, it’s important to remember how well this format can work.  For one thing this version of the show was massively popular.  For another thing, large sections of the new series took place on contemporary Earth, with an expanded cast (e.g. Rose’s Mom.)  Spearhead also established that The Doctor has two hearts. 
Every time I her the song "Two of Hearts" I ask my wife if it's Stacey Q or Tiffany.  I always figure out that it's Stacey Q without checking the internet.  My wife, for her part, continues to be unimpressed
Doctor Who and the Silurians

This was later remade as Hungry Earth/Cold Blood, but I think it works better in the classic series. The titular Silurians serve as a dark mirror for mankind, and the humans are pretty much a lot worse. The production values aren’t as good, but The Silurians paints a much bleaker picture than its modern counterpart.  The ending was actually so dark it painted the series into the corner.  The writers worked around this problem by skillfully ignoring it.
Remember when it turned out Jon and Odie were dead?


I like this one okay, but it’s generally considered one of the 3rd Doctor classics by fans of the era.  The Doctor spends a good chunk of this one in a fascist parallel universe.  It’s pretty cool to see an evil version of The Doctor’s friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, not to mention seeing the Doc’s companion Liz Shaw in some sexy fascist fetish wear, but it’s all kind of inconsequential to the main story.  Still, it’s a lot more entertaining than the usual captured/uncaptured episode padding.  This is one of the many time the Classic Series would use an oil refinery as a default science-y location, which seems kind of cheap and campy; of course True Blood would do use a similar location for their vampire concentration camp about 40 years later so… 
Terror of the Autons

The 3rd Doctor’s second season begins with the return of the Autons.  Also back: the plot of the first Autons story, only this time proto-feminist companion Liz Shaw has been replaced with ditzy Jo Grant with scant narrative justification.  Also introduced is The Master, who makes a few appearances in the new series, but more significantly appears in almost all 3rd Doctor serials from here on out. Basically, he’s the Doctor’s equal but he’s evil.  His only weakness: ludicrously over-complicated plans.  Both The Master and Jo Grant are kind of one dimensional as written, but the actors playing them really kick things up to the next level.
This particular serial also has a deadly chair sequence that would make Ed Wood proud
The Claws of Axos

This one is about as 3rd Doctor as the 3rd Doctor ever got, which is to say it’s insane.  It’s not the best serial of the period, but it serves well as a caricature of the era.  If you want to watch a great 3rd Doctor Serial watch Carnival of Monsters.  If you just want to see a 3rd Doctor serial in all its insane glory watch Claws of Axos


The Daemons

Doctor Who meets the Wicker Man.  If a glamrock/karate version of the Doctor exploring the occult isn’t something you’re into, you should probably stop reading now because we have VERY different tastes.   

What is this that stands before me?
Sorry about the infrequent updates, work has been hella busy.  Back in a week or so with Part II

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