Friday, 4 December 2015


50dw50@50dw50 I moan about the writer but this is a great story

Oh, look, rocks!

50dw50@50dw50 dont move them too much you will show the studio floor.

Caves, eh? Davison's Doctor always does well in caves...

Richard@tk4721 is that a Blake's 7 Federation Guard Helmet without the faceplate I see in the background?

Certainly is! :-D

Richard@tk4721 maybe Servalan has gone into Outsourcing!?!

Captain Revere, the leader of the human colony on Frontios, has led an expedition beneath the planet's surface... 

...but the ground shifts and he's buried, only to disappear altogether.

50dw50@50dw50 this story has a wonderfully grim set up, the writer had discovered what plots were for.

Aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor is banging about, having a good clearout it seems. Expecting to make some big changes in the not too distant future...?

"Not hat people are you?"

50dw50@50dw50 nice for 5 to be allowed to be a bit more eccentric.

Love the hatstand. Bring back the hatstand!

Mark@Th3DarkMark do we think the TARDIS likes Tegan the most? Making the console out of BBC micro computers to make her feel more at home?

The TARDIS has apparently come to the end of the universe, in about as far distant a future as the Time Lords allow.

Turlough taking such delight in telling Tegan about the "doomed" Earth is great stuff.

Mr. Range is frustrated by Security Chief's Brazen's info blackout relating to Revere's "death".
5thdocactionfig@4thdocactinfig how can you black out "sucked feet first into the ground"?
50dw50@50dw50 with discretion!

The Doctor's anxious about being this far in the future, towards the end of humanity's history.

Simon Pittman@LibraryPlayer The TARDIS going to the end of time/humanity/universe/Earth?! We'll NEVER see that in New Who! ;-)

The TARDIS is dragged down to the planet Frontios during a meteor "attack".

Altogether now: "It's only a model!"

This windpipe music could get annoying if they overdo it.

One of Davison's best performances, this, as he's allowed to play grumpier & sarkier than usual.

50dw50@50dw50 after becoming very bland in series 20 he was really back on form... just before leaving.
Mark@Th3DarkMark often seems to be the case - just hit their stride then... walk off.
50dw50@50dw50 i think he is great in the audio adventures, i think they played him too safe as a contrast to Tom.
Mark@Th3DarkMark yes, which probably led to him restraining himself too much. I think Davison is far more dry, grumpy and sarcastic in real life, therefore holding it back.

JNT didn't seem to be able to tell the difference between ha ha "jokes" & the dry, undercutting self-deprecating style that Davison naturally has.

Mark@Th3DarkMark Aye. Thinking about it, all the 80's Doctors were never able to reach their full potential.

Mr. Range tells the travellers that the colonists are "at war" and thanks the Doctor for his help.

"I'm not helping, officially. And if anyone happens to ask whether I made any material difference to the welfare of this planet, you can tell them I came and went like a summer cloud!" 

Simon Threadgold@dimwittedly I think Bidmead had the best take on the 5th Doc.

Accusations that Bidmead stuffs his scripts with boring technobabble are sometimes on the money but people forget the dry humour & lightness of touch that keep stories zipping along & coherent in the way Saward's aren't.

Simon Threadgold@dimwittedly Yes. In an era of interminable TARDIS scenes, give me the Bidmead approach to dialogue/character over Saward any day. But there's always wit and an enthusiasm for ideas that balances out the jargon.
John Bensalhia@JohnBensalhia The TARDIS crew are all on good form in this one, especially Davison's snarky, witty performance.

Everyone loves the brainy specs! The 10th Doctor wore 'em to look like the 5th who wore 'em to look like the 1st! 

The Doctor gets stuck into helping the injured survivors of the meteor "attack" but needs some proper lighting.

Tegan and Turlough are unable to retrieve a generator from the TARDIS, though, as the interior door's become mysteriously warped.

Much prefer Davison's Season 21 outfit, though I still think the two things that sink his overall look are the stripy trousers and the celery.

"This could be the beginning of The Invasion!" They've found episode one? Never knew Phil Morris had searched Frontios!

Mark@Th3DarkMark probably claims to have!

Baby Jeff Rawle!

50dw50@50dw50 Drop The Dead Tractator.

The Doctor needs more light if he's to operate, and seems too distracted to take in the news about the warped TARDIS interior.

Range's daughter Norna offers to show Tegan & Turlough where they can get a battery for the lights...

...but the newcomers have to lie low when Plantagent makes a public appearance, with Brazen in a bullish mood.

They're soon sneaking aboard the crashed colony ship.

The Doctor is curious that the colony's attackers seem to have taken 30 years (so far) with their meteorite bombardments.

The plot's quite intriguing. Davison is totally bossing it, but he's head & shoulders above anyone else in this.

Plantagenet had leadership thrust upon him when his father, Captain Revere, disappeared, and vows to win the "war" with the unknown aggressors. 

50dw50@50dw50 which remains sadly topical.
Simon Threadgold@dimwittedly  Hereditary leadership surviving to the end of humanity is the most depressing concept in this story.

"I think - and you did ask what I think..." Davison is really sinking his teeth into this. Great to see.

Tegan, Norna and Turlough sneak into the colony ship and haul up the acid battery. Someone's been watching Alien.

When Plantagent starts to get suspicious about the TARDIS, the Doctor tells him "As an invasion weapon it's about as offensive as a chicken vol au vent!" So pretty damn offensive, then. Bleurgh.

The others make it back to the medical centre...

...just as another bombardment begins.

The camp is struck by pulverising metorites once again.

Plantagenet conceals a congenital heart condition from his people, to Brazen's consternation.

As the strikes subside, the Doctor and his friends emerge from their shelter to an unexpected complication.

"The TARDIS has been destroyed!" 

A time-waster cliffhanger. We know that's a nonsense.

50dw50@50dw50 he should have been a bit more upset about it, it is as if the Doctor knew it was just a cliffhanger.
Mark@Th3DarkMark the TARDIS has been destroyed. Oh well.

John Bensalhia@JohnBensalhia A whole life to waste on Frontios, listening to Brazen's hammy snarling isn't an ideal prospect for The Doctor.

"Oh, marvellous. You're going to kill me. What a finely tuned response to the situation."

Brazen wants a quick dispatch. Let's hope he hasn't ordered from Forbidden Planet...

There's a spark when Turlough lifts the hatstand, fooling the colonists into thinking it's a weapon.

Simon Threadgold@dimwittedly  Holding off the enemy with a hatstand is the most Who-y thing in the whole season.
Mark@Th3DarkMark it's still not very threatening, they must be very foolish indeed!
50dw50@50dw50 they must be impressed by the wonderful Turlough!
Mark@Th3DarkMark  no, that can't be it.....
50dw50@50dw50 are you suggesting they would not be impressed by the way he handles his weapon?

Tegan goes with Range to set up the lighting system, while the Doctor starts to dig at the truth about the bombardments.

The hatstand-wielding Turlough orders the seals of the research room broken.

In all the excitement, Plantagenet collapses, clutching his chest...

Mark@Th3DarkMark and the Doctor goes straight to undoing his belt. Worrying.

Tegan grows curious about "Deaths Unaccountable"...

The Doctor works hard to revive Plantagenet, and recruits Range to help him lash up a makeshift defibrilator.

Norna says Revere was a decent leader, but when she was little he confided something rather odd...

"He said... the earth was... hungry!" Sounds like Space Silurians to me.

Why is the quarry not filmed in a real quarry?

Mark@Th3DarkMark  oh the irony!
50dw50@50dw50  janet fielding claims never to have filmed in a quarry

I think she's probably right, isn't she?

Si Hodges@SiHodges79 She had two near misses didn't she? Earthshock and 5 Doctors had scenes shot in quarries I think...
50dw50@50dw50 true but as you say she managed to escape them.

Plantagenet says Brazen is a good man, if a little "narrow". Doesn't look that narrow to me.

"The Doctor's alright - you must have realized that by now!"

Plantagenet demands Tegan stay with him, having taken a shine to her bedside manner...

...but Brazen whisks her away when she lets slip she knows about "Deaths Unaccountable".

Brazen accuses Mr. Range of spreading misinformation about the Status Quo. Brazen will stand for a lot, but lies about Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt will not pass.
John Bensalhia@JohnBensalhia  He's got the sideburns for it. Probably likes boogieing on down with a bit of air guitar to Ol' Range Blues.

The green lighting in the caves is very effective.

Simon Threadgold@dimwittedly  The colour for caves is gween.
John Bensalhia@JohnBensalhia It's a very atmospheric tale this one, and the lighting contributes a lot to its success.

While Tegan's distracted, Plantagenet is prey to the hungry earth...

Simon Threadgold@dimwittedly Plantagenet showing off his awesome lying down robot dance skills.

The smooth, polished surface of the cave walls begins to ring a bell with Turlough.

Brazen dismisses a minor uprising in the ranks a little too lightly.

In the caves, Turlough's ringing bells are now alarm bells.

Some of those "rocks" seem to be giant burrowing creatures!

The Doctor's curiosity leads him into the caves of Frontios too...

...though Range doesn't stay behind as requested.

After a shocking escape...

...Tegan follows as well.

Uh oh, Turlough's started to have flashbacks.

And now he's a dribbling mess. Another instance when the actor's fear does the selling.

Turlough raves about "Tractators"...
John Bensalhia@JohnBensalhia Strickson really gives his all in these scenes.

"So they're Tractators! Men in silly monster suits!" 

Classic design flaw: the monsters are meant to have no legs so design the costume as if the actors wearing them have none too.

Mark@Th3DarkMark like they think the costumes will just take on a life of their own!
Tim Gambrell@Mr_Brell They were the first monsters to impress me as a child since the Nimon.
They're not too bad if you don't look at their feet, to be fair - a decent design, just too inflexible to be practical.
Soon enough, the Doctor & Norna are grabbed by the Tractators! Ouch.
John Bensalhia@JohnBensalhia The unusual but brilliant video effects make this a far more memorable cliffhanger than it might have been.

Tegan throws her lamp & the distraction breaks the Tractators' grip on the Doctor & Norna.

Great to see Tegan rescuing the Doctor for a change!

Brazen declares martial law to regain control over the looting orderlies.

Simon Threadgold@dimwittedly "I declare martial law!"
"Oh, because everything was so easy going and lax before now."
50dw50@50dw50 they should be called disorderlies now.

Tegan heads back for the Doctor, leaving Norna to look after the disturbed Turlough.

The Doctor gets to employ some cricket skills...

...though it looks more like ten-pin bowling with the Tractators as skittles!

This is fine and ticking along nicely but I do find it a bit overrated if I'm honest.
 Mark@Th3DarkMark probably because of some of the poorer efforts of the Davison era.
Simon Threadgold@dimwittedly  Gets a bit dull once the set up's done. The mutiny isn't developed enough and there's too much wandering about.

It's massively bolstered because of 3 key performances...

Gilmore as Brazen, Strickson's magnetic "race memory" trauma and one of Davison's most muscular efforts as the Doctor.

But I like the overall idea and the dialogue crackles nicely, so it's definitely above average.

IMO Eric Saward badly misunderstood Doctor Who and the character of the Doctor and despite some good adventure yarns like The Visitation, Earthshock, Resurrection Of The Daleks etc. he almost always (post S19 anyway) mishandles and/or sidelines the Doctor.
Darth Marenghi@DarthMarenghi My truncated version of your cogent argument: SAWARD! *shakes fist*

Probably true to say that more Doctor Who fans prefer Dicks, you think?

Mark@Th3DarkMark I just can't award a Kenneth for that!

I'll get my coat! ;-P
Simon Threadgold@dimwittedly I like his stories, but not a fan of his script editing which seems to consist of filling gaps with arguments.
50dw50@50dw50 at least now he can blame poor old JNT for everything.

It really does show that in this Bidmead script, the mettle of the 5th Doctor is vastly improved and it's no coincidence that by far his strongest story is the Robert Holmes scripted one.
Simon Hart@Si_Hart  I don't think Davison's Doctor was better characterised than in this story. He's fantastic. The Doctors dialogue is great.
The ridiculously named Cockerill begins to get that sinking feeling...
 50dw50@50dw50  Rooster and Hen feel like they have a lucky escape!
Ha! More seriously, I assume the name shares its historical/Shakespearean root with Plantagenet, but what a bizarre choice!

Range is hauled before a public enquiry to answer for his record collection. Rich coming from Quo fan Brazen.
Brazen is suddenly very keen to hear Turlough's traumatised rantings.

The Tractators are organised & intelligent.

Their leader orders the dispatch of "the machine" to collect the Doctor.

Slowly, Turlough recovers; just enough to lead Brazen and the others back to the tunnels.

Out of all the drab, we suddenly get one of the most horrific cliffhangers in a good long while!

Captain Revere's corpse enslaved to the drilling machine is pretty nasty stuff. 
John Bensalhia@JohnBensalhia It's out of left field and in keeping with the horror overtones of this season. Brilliant stuff.
50dw50@50dw50 horrible, worse in the book.

Though part of me does think "shittest Cyberman EVER."

Mark@Th3DarkMark iron lung Cyberman.

Although, on the other hand, perhaps foreshadowing the next story!

Not sure I'm happy about Tractators being au fait with Gallifrey and TARDISes.
50dw50@50dw50 i guess it saves time on explanations.
Mark@Th3DarkMark in that era every man and his dog knew about Gallifrey, Timelords and TARDISes.
Simon Threadgold@dimwittedly They have excellent wi-fi underground and are never off Gallifrey Base.

The stuff about Tegan being a malfunctioning android are great, for instance. Lovely scripting that Davison obviously relishes.
Simon Threadgold@dimwittedly It's a great that a bit of plot can be covered with a funny idea. Reminds me of S17.

As the only man to ever survive the hungry Earth, Cockerill has gained cult hero status amongst the orderlies...

50dw50@50dw50 he has proved he is not chicken
John Bensalhia@JohnBensalhia Never got the deal with Cockerill to be honest, he's about as interesting as a chicken vol-au-vent.

The Doctor's rumbled that the Tractators brought the colonists to Frontios; it's they that attract the meteors with their gravitic powers.

The Doctor nearly gets too close to the excavation machine.

Plantagenet takes up his dad's place in the family business...
50dw50@50dw50 kind of them not to attach the front bit so they can get him out later!

John Bensalhia@JohnBensalhia Worst. Mobile. Barber. Ever.

The Doctor tries to reassure Plantagenet that he just needs time to discover the Gravis' plan. 

After nearly getting captured by a Tractator...

...Turlough, Tegan and Brazen sneak into Gravis HQ.

The Doctor takes advantage of the confusion to free Plantagenet...

...but when Turlough gets too close to the machine, it's Brazen who sacrifices himself.
Turlough explains why the Tractators use the excavating machine: they hollow out planets to pilot across space.

They do seem to be big Dalek fans, don't they? Nicking their "Invasion of Earth" plan & creating their own faux Davros.
50dw50@50dw50 nicking Dalek plots were in fashion this season.
Simon Threadgold@dimwittedly Aliens just find the idea of piloting planets really, really cool.

As Tegan flees the Gravis she finds an unxpected sight - bits of TARDIS enmeshed in the cave walls...

Luckily for her, the interior door works alright this time.

Turlough's remembered that the other Tractators lose the plot without the Gravis... they need to isolate him.

The Doctor's able to lure the Gravis in to the disassembled control room...
Sure enough, the Gravis falls for his ruse...
...and uses his gravitic powers... draw together the wreckage of the TARDIS.

The Gravis is a bit thick, isn't he? The TARDIS is back together (surprise!) & he's cut off from the other Tractators!

Ruddy Gravis, drunk at the wheel...

"Frontios is honoured!" What, by a hatstand?

The Doctor has dumped the Gravis in exile on a lonely planet. 

Wonder what other solo scrapes he might have gotten into on the way back...

Lovely little farewell scene too: "Don't mention it... to anyone!"

Something's up with the TARDIS, though... 

Old school Hartnell-style cliffhanger into the next story! I approve.
Coming Soon... The Leisure Hive


  1. Bidmead's novelization is a good read, if you want to see the little details that were lost in the shooting script.

  2. PS: Of particular value to me in the novelization was the explanation for why Brazen stopped the guards bringing their weapons underground. I had been irritated that he'd forced them to use seemingly worthless clubs. In the novelization, he declared them too unsafe for cramped caves and possibly causing cave-ins if they hit the cave surface. His inner dialog notes that these "homemade shotguns were dangerous enough as it was, having a tendency to explode and kill their user almost as often as their target". I wish this had somehow been explained in the televised story, since it makes sense with their disabled technology (i presume that they are able to resurrect their tech after the Tractators are made harmless). Though... how does that file cabinet lock work without electricity?