Doctor Who and the Tenth Planet was the first Doctor Who paperback I read, not only because the final episode is missing from the BBC archives, but more importantly because it deals with the Doctor’s first regeneration. Unfortunately, the regeneration does not occur until the very last scene, and what I was really interested in (Ben and Polly’s reaction to the Second Doctor’s appearance and how he himself acted) are not really dealt with until the next story. More unfortunate still, the Power of the Daleks is also among the missing (all six episodes of it, in this case!), nor was it part of the collection I acquired from Tim. Luckily the audio of the television broadcast is now available.
These days, an event such as a regeneration would likely be an end-of-season cliffhanger, but being just four weeks into the fourth season, viewers in 1966 had only one week to wait to meet the new Doctor. Another difference in comparison to later years is that nowadays, episodes might be filmed out of their intended broadcast order, giving the lead actor time to get comfortable in the role before filming the first episode so that he may “hit the ground running” as it were. But Patrick Troughton’s performance here is significantly different than it would become.
Although quite different from the First Doctor in most respects, Troughton’s performance itself is much closer to what William Hartnell might have done with the same lines. Not yet arrived is the somewhat worrisome Doctor who oftentimes feigns indecision while perhaps stalling for time. There’s no “Oh, dear! Oh, my! Oh, no, no, no…” here. Whereas his mannerisms (playing the recorder, etc.) are quite different from his previous incarnation, his approach to the matter at hand is very similar and quite serious. Troughton has not yet developed the more-or-less clownish persona for which he would become known and be remembered.
Other than that, though, the new Doctor faces the Daleks right out of the box. They seem to recognize him, which leads me to believe that although this is his first encounter with them, it’s not their first encounter with him. More than likely, this mystery is just a case of writer’s fiat, but it’s certainly easy to place this story later in the Daleks’ timeline since no specific year is given. This story reminds me very much of the Eleventh Doctor’s encounter with the Daleks and Winston Churchill during WWII (or rather the reverse I should say). It’s creepy to hear the Dalek’s intone, “I-am-your-serrr-VANT! I-am-your-serrr-VANT!” over and over again.
This is the last story featuring Ben and Polly as a (companion) duo. I really like this team; they have good chemistry together. I really must make the effort to read the three original novels featuring Ben and Polly I have in my collection (formerly Bob’s, not Tim’s this time).
NEXT: The duo becomes a trio.
Doctor, Ben and Polly
Saw the Power of the Daleks
On the planet Vulcan (but not Spock’s)
Outside the TARDIS, they met the Daleks there (AHHHH!)
Which plunged them into danger and intrigue
The Power of the Da-(leks, leks, leks, leks, leks, leks, leks)
The Power of the Daleks!
The "I am your soldier" line in "Victory" was a deliberate callback to this.
This is the last story featuring Ben and Polly as a (companion) duo.
No, that's "The Faceless Ones". Ben and Polly have a couple of stories to go yet.
Unless you meant, "the last story with Ben and Polly as the only companions."
Whoops. I left a line out of my initial post (now edited). Thanks!
"But Patrick Troughton’s performance here is significantly different than it would become."
That became a running tradition. The Philly station never ran "Spearhead From Space" in the 70's, so I had to wait until PBS got it in the mid-80's to see it. When I did, right after having seen "The War Games", it struck me that Jon Pertwee spent most of his 1st story "doing" Patrick Troughton"! He didn't get serious, moody and morose until "The Silurians." The irony is, they hired Pertwee because of his long career in COMEDY. I don't think anyone expected him to go the other way and play it DEADLY SEROUS. But then, Troughton was usually known for dramatic roles, before DOCTOR WHO. And then of course, Tom Baker had done nothing but serious, dramatic parts before the show.
In "Robot", Baker was FAR more goofy than he was by the time he did "The Ark In Space". Then, he got somewhat more serious again beginning with "The Deadly Assassin". I kinda read into the stories that when Sarah was around, he let himself relax. With her gone, and more, when Leela was around, he felt he had to be more "responsible". (As opposed to when Romana showed up, when he spent a whole year trying to prove he knew what he was doing.. heehee).
1)Listened to this this morning (Thanks again, JP!). I found it a smidge harder to follow as an audio than "The Tenth Planet" - I tended to get lost trying to remember who was on who's side among the colonists. Still a fun listen, though!
2)So, he breaks out the recorder almost immediately.
3)I liked how Ben and Polly had different reactions to the regeneration. Makes you wonder how you would react if someone you knew changed like that.
4)An early examole of that old standby - humans trying to control the alien menace.
5)Some fun quotes:
Not bad at all - It's good to get a better sense of what the transition from Hartnell to Troughton was like.
Just read Philip Sandifer's blog post about this story. My comments...
"But that was always a part of the Doctor - the anarchic spirit and slight revelry in chaos. It's just that now those aspects of him seem wholly unchecked. The fear at this point is not that this isn't the Doctor. It's that maybe we never really knew who the Doctor was."
Since I take most of what The Doctor says about his past adventures on face value, I tend to assume that he had a lot of adventures before we ever met him. And, that somehow he got distracted from them when he & Susan decided to come to Earth (perhaps the Hand of Omega was involved-- heh).
On that score, I therefore tend to feel that "The Doctor", as we saw him as William Hartnell, while he may very well have been "the original" (I believe it) was NOT the way he'd always been. Because he'd gotten old and weak and frail and was starting to go senile.
And so when Patrick Troughton arrives, we may well be seeing the "real" Doctor, as he may have been in his prime, for the very first time.
I got such a huge charge when I first read that, in the wake of Colin Baker, JNT decided to find a "Patrick Troughton type". And BOY, did he ever. It amazes me how he lucked out the way he did. Sylvester McCoy was apparently the first (and only) person he interviewed for the part. And despite having seen every previous Doctor before him, McCoy became MY favorite Doctor. I only wish he'd done as many episodes as Troughton had. (Maybe more.)
This story is going to be animated! Can't wait to see it!
That'll definitely be worth a look.
Good news, but I'll bet Monday, November 21 is the release date in the UK.
US releases usually follow about six months later.
I saw this in the theater last night with Tracy and the teen-age son of a friend. It was so much easier to follow than the audio only version! It was a six-parter, but it didn’t drag at all. I just re-read what I wrote about the audio only version five years ago and realized I totally misinterpreted a plot point (the one where I called “writer’s fiat”). I’ll let it stand without editing, though. I liked this one before, but I really like it now. If you missed it in the theater and don’t want to buy the DVD, it will be shown soon on BBC America (consult your local listings). Next up in theaters: the Doctor Who Christmas episode.
I saw this last night, too. As an added bonus, three seats to my right was Anneke Wills, who was in town for a convention. Got to talk to her briefly afterwards - friendly, enthusiastic lady.
No kidding!? That is so cool!