Geekbat Tunes

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Series 6: Overview

Series 6

So, series 6 has come to a close- and with it, Troughton and the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe, Black and White, Time and Space- major upheaval is in the works as the show enters a chrysalis with Troughton, regenerating into a completely new incarnation. After a 6-month break (unprecedented at the time, and used to introduce the UK to the new program “Star Trek,” which got the time slot temporarily), the show would return in the greatest revamp that the series has ever seen- even 2005 and it’s Last Great Time War wasn’t as great a paradigm shift as Doctor Who was about to undergo as the 1960s ended and the 1970s began. So, how did this final series of the old paradigm fare?

This series is marketed by lower script quality overall (Partially explained- see the War Games review for more), with a few major exceptions- but also bigger setpieces, far more impressive effects- and almost all video. Yes, this is only a judgement of posterity and not the quality of the series produced- nonetheless, it remains that this is the only Troughton series almost entirely video, with only 2 episodes of the Invasion (reconstructed with animation) and one serial missing- if you count Series 5’s “Tomb of the Cybermen” as a surrogate to the missing Space Pirates, Troughton has EXACTLY one series in video format, and 90% comes from here. Sadly, that doesn’t automatically mean great stories- but I’d call it more good than bad.

Jamie and Zoe make a great pair for the Doctor, probably his best companion pairing. Good writing and performances for the three leads make even poorly written stories watchable. So sad, then, that their journey end here. Or does it…?

Popular fan theory centers around the untelevised Series 6B. The theory is this: That the Doctor’s regeneration- which we did not SEE onscreen, in fact did not occur at the finale of The War Games, but rather he was recruited into the CIA (Celestial Intervention Agency), a branch of the Time Lords that does interfere when it is deemed necessary; something the Doctor has a knack for, making him a natural to recruit as an agent. The Doctor once again travelled in the TARDIS, re-acquiring Jamie, and possibly escaped again, or possibly served out his sentence- until event or events unknown conspired to carry out the original sentence of forced regeneration and exile.

The reason for this theory? Future specials The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors, and The Two Doctors all feature Troughton, looking older than he does in The War Games. No big deal, you say? True, before the New Series’ “Time Crash,” Doctors returning for crossovers were commonly shown older (as you can’t prevent the actors from aging) without any explanation, as if we’re simply supposed to imagine that the actors are the ages they once were when they played the roles, even though they don’t look it. So Troughton’s appearances are just more of the same, right?

Except… the Doctor references the events of the War Games and his forced regeneration. Think about it… a Troughton, free and traveling around, yet with knowledge of this story- implying it occurs AFTER The War Games, yet WITHOUT Troughton having regenerated yet. How could this be, except if he DIDN’T regenerate at the conclusion of this story? And the fact that we never SAW him change…

The theory is simple: First proposed in the 1995 book “The Discontinuity Guide” by Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping, the proposed series 6B takes place in-between the War Games and the forthcoming Spearhead From Space, suggesting that the later-established Celestial Intervention Agency, a Time Lord secret organization, spirit away the Doctor to become their agent, granting him increased ability to control the TARDIS at the price of freedom, as he now has to embark on missions for them. Thus, the Second Doctor of the Two Doctors (who has a TARDIS remote control, an ability even his Sixth self doesn’t have- a gadget given him by the CIA in the style of James Bond’s Q equipping their field agents? Plus, a far greater control of the vehicle than he ever demonstrated during his B&W era), The Three Doctors (Who claims to be on a mission from the Time Lords- impossible as per the War Games because he was only with them for 20 minutes, under guard, before his regeneration- the first they'd ever caught up with him since he became the Second Doctor), and The Five Doctors (Who is aware of Jamie and Zoe’s mindwipe because they’ve already happened)- are all from this mysterious in-between period of adventures. Plus, not only do we not see the change- only the Second Doctor tumbling into darkness, and the Third stumbling out of the TARDIS- he stumbles out with a ring, bracelet, and watch which homed in on the TARDIS some time later- none of which his Second self possessed at the end of the last serial. More Q-style gadgets from the CIA? And the reason that he did not reference this period is simple- when he finally rebelled and the Time Lords DID force his regeneration, they erased his memory of this time. Simplicity itself- the Third Doctor does claim significant memory loss, after all, the extent of which is never revealed! It even accounts for how the Second could have a TARDIS remote that the Sixth (his later self) didn’t know about- because his memory of it had been erased! (Note from Sarah: I totally buy it.)

We even see one of the Tribunal Time Lords again in ‘Colony In Space,’ a Pertwee serial, dispatching the Doctor to go and interfere in the events of a planet- the very thing he was condemned for here! Perhaps this man is an agent of the CIA, responsible for secreting the Doctor away to begin working for them following the end of the trial?

This is further expanded on in the novels- (though novels in the Doctor Who universe are as non-canonical as they are in the Star Trek universe)- 'World Game' suggests that the CIA needed an agent who could discreetly investigate temporal disturbances but also be disavowed- the Doctor’s known wanderings and interfering provided the perfect cover for this! Thus, his sentence is commuted in exchange for becoming their agent. Over the course of the novel, the Doctor gains knowledge of Gallifreyan politics sufficient to blackmail and leverage his way into negotiating his terms- demanding the return of his TARDIS, and of Jamie, his most loyal companion. They alter Jamie’s memories so that he believes he is still back in the Victoria era, and that she is simply away studying (accounting for references made in The Two Doctors), and giving the Doctor a TARDIS remote (with an override giving them ultimate control- thus allowing them to change the dematerialization codes, as per Spearhead). As per the TV Comics, eventually the Doctor did make his break from the CIA, escaping to modern-day (60s) Earth and living in the luxurious Carlton Grange Hotel. From there, he proceeds to have a series of adventure (Action in Exile, #916, up through The Night Walkers, #936)- at which point he investigates a series of scarecrows walking (tell me this wasn’t an inspiration to The Human Nature/Family of Blood’s original novel-writer…), which turn out to have been a Time Lord manifestation designed to use his own curiosity to trap him. They capture him, drag him into his TARDIS, and begin the forced regeneration that they started in the War Games- leading directly in to the start of Spearhead.

Of course, there is no actual evidence for this, and those truly determined that no such 6B ever happened could claim that in the events of the Two Doctors (or a similar untelevised occurrence), a future incarnation simply told him what was going to happen, and his reference was made with knowledge of his forced regeneration to-come, but without The War Games having happened; and that the aged appearance of Doctor and companions was simply due to the ‘just ignore it’ real world circumstances, or some untelevised adventure involving an aging ray whose perpetrator they were tracking when they were briefly interrupted by the crossover story, and later whom they caught and reversed the effects- the sum total being all of this happened at some point during Series 4-6, and Spearhead From Space follows (subjective) minutes directly after The War Games… though of course this denial would include willingly turning a blind eye to a LOT of corroborating evidence!
(Indeed, the ironic part is that the most tangible proof- the Second Doctor’s knowledge of the mind-wipes of Zoe and Jamie from the Five Doctors, was an accident of a hasty re-write; originally, wraiths of Zoe and Victoria were to deceive the Doctor, but give themselves away when Victoria addressed the accompanying Lethbridge-Stewart as “Brigadier,” a rank to which he wasn’t yet promoted when they last met. But, Deborah Watling wasn’t available, Friaser Hines was, and the last minute rewrite for Jamie and Zoe gave the game away by having knowledge that they would have had mind-wiped, putting the Second Doctor’s knowledge of their regeneration into canon and originating the 6B movement accidentally!) One can probably ret-con and smooth out the bumps in total denial if one wants to, and is truly determined to oppose 6B- and yet, for those of us conspiracy-minded and continuity-strict, the clues are out there, and the possibility of a Series 6B, of many more years for Troughton and Jamie that we simply haven’t seen, the possibility is tantalizing, and thanks to the unclear and stylized ending of the War Games in which you can’t really tell what’s happening, the potential is out there… for this reviewer, the conclusion is inescapable… the War Games was not the end of the Second Doctor’s adventures; just of the ones that he remembers. (Note from Sarah: My spine gets all tingly just thinking about it! :)

Meanwhile, the Doctor didn't have so much of a catchphrase this season- the most oft-remembered catchphrase, "Oh, my giddy aunt Nancy!" has yet to materialize, and is apparently primarily a product of the multiple-doctor specials in which he will eventually appear. If anything reselmbled a catchphrase this series it would be *Annoyed offhand dismissal of a dumb idea from Jamie.*

 Ah, Troughton, Jamie- and either Zoe or Victoria (all three combinations were winning teams), how I shall miss thee! Rounding out the third season, the third dominant catchphrase/bit nicely showcases the developing fondness, father/children bond that the TARDIS crew- nay, the TARDIS family, posessed, and a third aspect of the Second Doctor- each year's favorite phrase illuminates yet another facet of why I love this Doctor most of all. Far more than David Tennant's 10th Doctor's so-called 'Children of Time' and all of the dramatic weight that it tried to convey, far more than Hartnell's grandchild- his flesh and blood, so near as we could tell... THESE were the Doctor's children, his family, and watching them grow and bond and work together is the true joy that makes even these reconstruction-dominated, sometimes weak-storied, often slow-paced Second Doctor-era serials a joy to watch. (NFS: I definitely agree. I think that there was a bond and a chemistry that I really don't think I've seen again, even though now I am into the fifth Doctor and I've seen all of the new series, I think they really had something special!)

As we bring this era of companions to a close and start out with a clean slate, let’s end with a look at the companions of the past, eh?

Top 10 Companions
10. Ben – Solid, dependable, rough-and-tumble, Ben was reliable and always ready for action (unless he was being brainwashed by the Macra). Still, he was skeptical, dour, and pessimistic at times, which is probably why he’s last. He was also very moral and conscientious- deeply regretting having to take the life of a Cyberman, almost in tears- and the Doctor could always depend on him. He returned to (presumably) the Mercheant Marines after departing the Doctor… but couldn’t stay long away from the woman that he’d been bonded with through adventure and trial. (NFS: Ben is one of the most forgettable for me unfortunately...I remember...he had hair...and wore shirts.)

9. Polly – I wish I had more to say about Polly. She’s on the list because she was a good companion… but near the bottom of the list because I have so little measure on her personality. Still, a few things do stick out- she was friendly and kind, a real people person. She was open-minded, believing in the Second Doctor while Ben remained skeptical. She was the optimist to Ben’s pessimist. She embodied hope and possibility. One can hope that she and Ben had a very good life together, running their orphanage in India together. (NFS: I liked the possibilities of Polly, she had the makings of an interesting and different character back then, but I think they just didn't how or didn't want to write her.)

8. Susan – Let’s face it, Susan was a pretty weak character. A classical damsel in distress- even a redundant D-I-D with the early Barbara, her actress even left the show for this reason- the writers simply didn’t know what to do with her character, and didn’t develop her. This left her with little more to do than scream, hyperventilate, go weak at the knees, and get in trouble. (Aside from developing a little bit of conflict in the Sensorites as she began to assert herself… don’t bother to go watch it, just read my review and take my word for it.) I’m not against D-I-Ds myself (it's a valid literary archetype, so long as one does not think that it is representative of all women), in the mode that many feminists are, but really… this was pushing it. Still, for all of the abuse that it seems I’m heaping on Susan, it wasn’t her fault (the actress simply worked with what she was given), and she did have some redeeming qualities- enthusiastic, friendly, with a close relationship to the Doctor and a willingness to always play mediator between the quarrelsome Time Lord and his meddlesome human companions, always helping each to see the other’s side- a trait that perhaps future Doctors, from the Third-onwards, adopted from her. Her farewell was a tearjerker. Plus, she opened the TARDIS doors. It was her job. And besides all that… she was the first, and she’ll always have a special place in the pantheon of companions for that. This unearthly child has since settled down on 22nd century Earth, rebuilding a Dalek-ravaged world with David, her true love. It’s rumored that she and her son have had several adventures with the Doctor’s eighth incarnation, suggesting that her travels in the TARDIS may not be over yet… (NFS: I like Susan despite her inability to do much but scream. I think that Carol Ann Ford's genuine likability and charm shone through the character and that's why people like her even though she really didn't do much beyond scream and open doors. That said, I do feel like near the end before she left we did get more of her character, and there was a definite wonderful bond between her and the Doctor that was very palpable and sweet.)

7. Victoria – Despite her annoying behavior in the Abominable Snowmen, in which she went out of her way to intentionally be an irritant, I liked Victoria. Still a bit of a child, she was sweet and innocent, for the most part- a poor orphan with a sensitive soul who eventually found the dangers of traveling with the Doctor to be too much. Her scream was legendary, and her relationship with Jamie, after a few failed flirtations, was almost that of a little sister to his protective big brother… though deep down, some might say his crush never truly abated. In the end, fatigued by the constant danger and evil plaguing travels with the Doctor, Victoria decided to settle down with the Harrises, a friendly family on 20th century Earth. Despite being displaced from her own time, Victoria seems to have adapted well to modern life, and after tangling with the Great Intelligence one more time, years later (with the aid of future companion Sarah Jane Smith), led a quiet and happy life- in current times, getting to know her newly-born grandchildren. (NFS: Victoria didn't bother me, I liked her well enough but I still feel she's too close to being "Female Doctor Companion Model A" as so many of the Doctors female companions are. Written with an interesting and different back story but then nothing to show for it.)

6. Barbara – Taking a little longer than Ian to really come into her own (as of The Aztecs), Barbara started out as a damsel in distress but became a very strong and competent character- whether fending off advances from Caesar Nero or escaping from a Zarbi prison, Babara was one of the more competent and physically capable female companions of the BWW era, a teacher with a passion for history and a deep compassion for suffering peoples- practical but gentle, yet with a steely determination in the face of trouble. After returning several years post-disappearance, and claiming an impromptu multi-year long missionary trip to Africa as cover, she married Ian Chesterton… their first child bore the names of two of the Thals that they met early in their travels. (NFS: I do like Barbara, I didn't at first I thought she was kind of a jerk. But then she grew on me. I thought she was an interesting mix of strong and vulnerable. I agree that she really did come into her own in The Aztecs.) And some say she and her husband have never aged since...

5. Ian – Ian was the original robust companion, the active, gallant hero to the Doctor’s more measured, less physically-active mentor role. A science teacher with a thirst for knowledge and a love of discovery, Ian was chipper and optimistic, always trying to look on the bright side of things. Physically fit and a decent fighter (When Barbara wasn’t accidentally smashing a vase over his head), Ian was perhaps put through the ringer the most of the Doctor’s original companions- ending up in galdatorial fights, staked out in the desert, imprisoned, fighting- and though he was given to bold exclamations in these situations, he always came through. He ingeniously engineered a Dalek-casing-ride escape, and his dance to the Beatles was perhaps the most awesome thing ever done by a companion in life. He remained stalwart and straightforward, ready to make the best of any situation, even while pining for England and home. And the romance budding between himself and fellow teacher Barbara Wright only intensified during their time on the TARDIS… (NFS: I like Ian a lot! He's fun and sweet and he's someone you'd want so much to be friends with. He has that self-assured without being cocky swagger, and is capable without being boring.)

4. Vicki – Vicky was a sweet and spunky child who grew closer to the Doctor than perhaps any companion since (at least in his first regeneration)- I’m not sure if even Victoria was as close to the Doctor; in large part due to the many ways Vicki reminded him of his recently-departed granddaughter. She was spirited and determined, and very clever- tackling challenges head-on, be they locked armories or the problem of blending in to ancient Troy. She and Hartnell shared a special bond, and at times felt more like blood-kin than the Doctor and Susan did. Her time with the Doctor came to an unexpected end for the same reason, though- staying behind for true love. While the reason was noble, her time was far too short… if only we’d had more time. As it is, until very recent times, she remained my favorite female companion, and even now stays a very close second. And while her happy ending was both implied and ensured, her story was written by the Bard himself, and recorded in the annals of history- and her epilogue, the unwritten part of Shakespear’s tragedy, proves that the old adage “All stories have happy endings if you end them soon enough” is not always true, for surely the happily-ever-after that followed the tragedy of Troy would make a far better legend than the sorrows of the prematurely ended tale suggests. I am confident in being certain of a long and happy life for her with her beloved Troillus; Vicki…Cressida, of Troy… has a bright future ahead of her, far in the distant past. (NFS: I think that the Doctor and Vicki were closer because the Doctor, having left Susan realized finally how much she truly did mean to him. I think he kind of kept her at arms length, and realized how much he would miss her when she was gone. I think he viewed Vicki as a second chance and this is truly when he starts to grow more emotionally and realize that you regret not growing closer to people as much as you hurt when they're gone. I liked how Vicki seemed kind of impish in her actions at times, she seems young and playful and in my mind kind of the epitome of the perfect teenager of the 60's.)

3. Zoe – (WARNING: Contains spoilers for Big Finish's "Legend of the Cybermen") Zoe is a brilliant and yet naïve 22nd century prodigy, a genius, a walking computer of knowledge and calculations and intelligence and ability… and yet she has the maturity of a child. Impulse-driven and reckless, likely to act on a whim without considering the consequences, she is almost foolish at times- yet has more brains than all of the other companions put together. Her relationship with Jamie is like that of a bickering sibling, and her sometimes competitive, teasing, almost bickering relationship with the Doctor is not nearly so close as that of Vicki, Victoria, Susan, or perhaps even Barbara. And yet, the Doctor is willing to sacrifice himself for her without hesitation, cares for her like family, and indeed, treats her as a wayward child, a daughter in need of guidance and correction as she grows to maturity. Very attractive (much to the distraction of the many males about her) and a bit of a braggart, she is well aware of her various talents and not shy about pointing out where she has trumped the Doctor. This should be annoying, but due to her immaturity, it’s sort of cute- the little kid bragging about every accomplishment they get over their parents- even when the parents let them win. Sadly, much of her development was undone by the accursed Time Lords, who erased her memories of her adventures with the Doctor and returned her to her own place and time… leaving her with a lot of growing up to do once again. As per the expanded universe, Zoe’s above-average mind resisted the Time Lord mind-wipe, but only subconsciously, revealing her memories in strange dreams. Several years later, when a Cyber-ship attacked the Wheel, the conversion into a Cyberplanner (due to her high innate intelligence) unlocked all of her memories and allowed her to take control of the Cyber-vessel from within, diverting it to the only place she could think of where the Cybermen couldn’t harm anyone- the Land of Fiction (from The Mind Robber). After battling the Cybermen in that realm with fictional constructs, she eventually summoned the Doctor (as with Jamie, his sixth incarnation- when did HE get so popular?!) with a distress call and, aided by an illusory Jamie created to protect him, the Cybermen were defeated. Upon a return to the Wheel and un-conversion, her memories were lost for good. While her life resumed, as normal, she never again reached the full potential of growing and learning maturity that she had with the Doctor- her intelligence ever grew, but that missing part of her personality returned. Dang. Still better than Dodo, but... almost New-Series Donna-like in that living out her future at less than she could have been seems almost crueler than death. An unfair end for a fantastic character- though at least she wouldn’t have known enough to wish for anything else, and would have likely been perfectly content. Alas, poor Zoe.
(NFS: Zoe annoyed me in the beginning. She creeped me out because she was like a kid but they always had her in super short or super tight stuff. I thought the actress did a fantastic job. And while she is not a favorite I will say she is one of the more interesting characters and also was written in character more than most.)

2. Steven – A traumatized space-castaway with years companionless, Steven adapts to life with the Doctor by adopting a caustic, ironic, and very wry sense of humor. His jokes and comments and barbs are among the best on the series, consistently, and he is very strong-willed. He often clashes or butts heads with the Doctor, and has his own ideas about how to do things, and years of being abandoned on his own have accustomed him to sometimes thinking and acting with very little care for others (be they people or animate dolls). Regardless, for those that break through Steven’s callous-but-gradually-softening shell of condition self-preservation, he is fiercely loyal and protective. While his first instinct is seldom to get involved in the trouble of others, once roused to action he is tenacious and determined, coiled full of energy. Harsh and selfish as this description may make him sound, he is really more scarred and haunted by his years as a castaway and captive of a group of unfeeling robots as their zoo exhibit. His is the journey of learning to live with people again, to expand his isolated and protective little world to include others again- to reclaim his humanity. All of his tendencies towards apathy or lack of compassion, towards strong-willed anger, towards sarcastic humor, are defense and coping mechanisms that we see slowly defused over the course of his time with the Doctor. And when he finally leaves, quite abruptly and suddenly (not the dramatic best option in the slightest- see my blog on the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve, and, like ‘The Sensorites’ for Susan, take my word for it and don’t try to watch it…), it is because he has grown and changed so much that the Doctor sees him ready for a role as mediator and wise leader to a pair of conflicting factions. The introvert who cares mainly for himself has become a man capable of looking out for others. (Though, like Zoe and unlike the first 7 on this list, I don’t see Steven finding anyone in the future; probably ending up a lifelong bachelor. Still, I suppose they can’t all be fairytale endings…) His hard, cynical exterior has softened into a cheerful and caring personality. His strong opinions, stubborn will, determined nature, and readiness to act make him the ideal leader and mediator, and help to showcase his growth. Steven departs his travels with the Doctor (too abruptly though, dang-it writers!!!) to go and rule a planet. All in all, not a bad fate, and I wish him well.
(NFS: I thought I was ambivalent about Steven, but I do remember he made this really funny face when he didn't understand things and that made me and my brother laugh. I don't think he's the most interesting of the characters but I think he had solid qualities and is definitely one of the best male companions.)

1. Jamie – Ah, Jamie, the longest-running companion, piper of the McCrimmon clan of Scottland, what can I say about ye? Loyal, brave, fierce, determined… yet sometimes hapless and resigned to the madman you follow dragging you into yet another insane adventure. He would protect the Doctor, Zoe, or Victoria with his life, and though he doesn’t always- or even often- understand the strange technology of the circumstances he’s in, he always gains an understanding of the world he’s part of through his own 18th century worldview and tries to do the right thing (though sometimes his lack of technological knowledge makes him more of a hindrance than a help). He is a trained warrior, a scrappy fighter that won’t hesitate to attack an enemy- headstrong and impatient at times, when a fight is involved; a leap-before-you-look tendency that sometimes makes things worse or ruins the Doctor’s plans- but always done with the best of intentions. Jamie isn’t always the brightest of bulbs, but he’s the moral compass- his heart is always unfailingly in the right place. Typically good-natured Jamie gives the impression that he enjoys traveling through time and space, but would be just as happy dropped off back home in his bonny Scottland- a change you imagine he’d accept with a shrug, and then get right back into life without a second’s glance behind… which is exactly what he does in the end, aided by the thrice-cursed Time Lords’ erasure of his memories with the Doctor. He will undoubtedly fight- and survive- the war on behalf of his bonnie prince Charlie, and perhaps, just perhaps, find that special someone. Whatever the future holds for him, it seems likely he’ll be content. (Whoops! An addendum! Further research indicates that Jamie married Kirtsy McLaren (Polly’s companion fugitive in The Highlanders), and went on to have “more children than there are days in the week” and grandchildren as well. Many years later, as a white-bearded old man, he dies helping his friend the Doctor one last time. In this case, the Sixth incarnation, dying on the planet Marinus (as in ‘The Keys of’) defeating the Cybermen and their weapon to re-shape the galaxy. I suppose, as endings go, it’s one of the better possibilities- but I may just prefer the ‘surrounded by kids and grandkids option, peacefully’ a bit better. Still- a blaze of glory seems fitting for rash, headstrong Jamie- and he still has it way better than the novels gave Dodo.)
(NFS: Jamie is hands down the best ever male companion. He has so many wonderful things about him. He has this charm and easiness about him that makes you smile. You'd feel comfortable with him and probably feel as though you'd known him forever. I love how protective he always is, and how sweet and caring. I like how funny he is and how he and Troughton interacted together! They almost seemed like brothers to me, or best friends or both, and I think the 2nd Doctor and Jamie are the best duo ever.)

Not listed: Dodo (by choice! Oh, and her fate is apparently to have mental problems for the rest of her short life, find and lose a murdered husband, and get assassinated by an agent of the Master a few years later, so… worst companion AND worst ending!) Katarina, and Sara Kingdom (both by lack of visible material- and both sadly deceased in the line of duty, aiding the Doctor).

(As an epilogue, the Supplemental between-series idea proved so popular, novelist Steve Lyons in The Witch-Hunters, created a story in which Time Lord founder Rassilon gave the First Doctor a little extra time to tie up loose ends in his life, during/after the events of the Five Doctors, thus giving Hartnell a sort of Season 4B. The establishment and management of this blog does not support such wild speculations- but endorses Series 6B wholeheartedly!)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Doctor Who: The War Games

Apologies for the length of both sections, in advance.

Serial Title: The War Games
Series: 6
Episodes: 10
Doctor: Patrick Troughton 
Companions: Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines), Zoe Heriot (Wendy Padbury)

The beginning of the end is World War I, into which the TARDIS materializes- or does it? Picked up by Nurse Jennifer Buckingham and Lt. Jeremy Carstairs, the Doctor and Co. soon find themselves fallen afoul of the mysterious General Smythe, a sinister figure who brainwashes people with his monocle into believing what he wants them to- in this case, that the entire TARDIS crew are spies, and to be executed immediately.

Lady Jennifer, in an attack of conscience, helps Zoe to get away, and a sniper attack’s timely distraction allows them to free the Doctor. They take off for the military prison where Jamie is being held- where he has been incarcerated with a redcoat taken from 1745, about a year earlier than Jamie's departure from Scotland... which is many years prior to World War I! The two put aside old enmities and escape, but are caught (the redcoat being killed). The Doctor bluffs the commandant with a bold performance as a prison inspector, but all of this has been an exercise in futility, as they are recaptured by Smythe’s men and taken back to his chateau. (Get used to such exercises…)

Smythe isn’t there, however- he’s just departed in a cupboard, which dematerializes in a strikingly familiar manner… Carstairs and Lady Jennifer again suspect something is up, and free the TARDIS trio, and upon entering Smythe’s office, they find a communications unit which Carstairs and Lady Jennifer cannot see. (New Series fans will recognize a perception filter when they see one- or don’t see one, as the case may be). After breaking through the mental fog, the group absconds with the ambulance- barreling through a strange fog that transports them to a grassy countryside… in which a Roman legion charges them, primed for battle! They reverse out in time, and come under fire from the British as Smythe uses his mental powers to have artillery trained on the ambulance! Escaping, they conclude that the mist acts as a barrier between time zones, and the whole area must be riddled with them.

They return to the Chateau in  hopes of finding a map, which they are able to locate, demonstrating a number of time zones in the area, each labeled with historical Earth wars. The group strike out to search for answers, but are captured by the Germans. They are able to convince the officer guarding them of their claims of alien origin by use of a sonic screwdriver demonstration, but all of this has been an exercise in futility as the commander, Captain von Wiech, dons a monocle and convinces the officer that they are indeed spies. Gasp! The British and German commanders are secretly on the same side! If this were made in modern times, I would suspect it as an anti-Bush satire, but as it is- it’s just further running in circles for the group.

The Doctor manages to re-convince the officer after Von Weich leaves, making the exercise in futility an exercise in futility, and they get back aboard the ambulance, heading for a mysterious unlabeled black triangle at the center of the map. Within that black triangle, Smythe and Von Weich intermingle with jumpsuited technicians, and the War Chief, their superior. They run these war games, using abducted humans conditioned to believe that they are still in their own time- in reality, this isn’t even Earth, and the War Lords (led by THE War Lord- are you getting all of this? There will be a test…) are using the games to narrow down the ablest warriors for their usage. However, the War Chief is not of their race, just an outside consultant…

The ambulance enters the American Civil War zone and an attack separates the group. Carstairs is captured, and the rest take shelter in a barn- where they witness a device like the one used by Smythe materialize and disgorge troops- it’s bigger on the inside! This is a SIDRAT (Space and Inter-Dimensional Robot All-purpose Transporter), and when the Doctor and Zoe sneak inside to get a better look, it takes off with them inside, stranding a helpless Jamie and Lady Jennifer… just in time for a major battle to break out! And who should be the leader of the Confederate soldiers that capture them? Von Weich, in a different uniform and accent! Jamie and Lady Jennifer are freed by a man named Harper, part of a resistance movement on whom the brainwashing doesn’t work, who recognize that all of these wars are set-ups, and cross between time zones striking back at the War Lords. Von Weich is captured.

The Doctor and Zoe end up in the administration center, and take some War Lord headgear to blend in. There, they bear witness to a demonstration where the captured Carstairs is re-brainwashed with an unbreakable programming- wherein he promptly points them out in the crowd. Fortunately, this only convinces the Chief Scientists (Look, these are the only names they gives these guys, okay? I’m doing my best!) that the process is flawed… until the War Chief arrives, recognizing the two from the communications device in Smythe’s office, and the two are forced to flee- Zoe being soon captured. She is interrogated by the Security Chief, a rival of the War Chief. Both the War Chief and the Security Chief are rivals for the favor of the War Lord, leader of the War Lords. (I know… trust me, it isn’t any easier when watching it. For future reference, I will be labeling these men by the names I gave them during our viewing to keep them straight. The War Chief (the outside contractor who provided the SIDRATs to the War Lords) will henceforth be known as Ghengis for his swarthy goatee. His rival, the bland Security Chief, will be known hereafter as Goggles, for the goofy eyeware that he uses for interrogation. And their boss, leader of the War Lords, will now be dubbed “Eric from Accounting,” on account of his looking absolutely not intimidating and completely mild mannered when he finally appears. The Chief scientist will be known henceforth as 'Dr. Gullible,' because he is.)

The Doctor bluffs Dr. Gullible (claiming that Ghengis was only pointing to Zoe as an intruder, not himself (who was standing right next to her), and that he ran too because he was chasing her like a loyal War Lord soldier ought to) and steals the brainwashing device, which he recognizes can also be turned into an anti-brainwashing device. The Doctor uses it to free Carstairs from his mental programming, and the two rescue Zoe. She is able to scan and memorize various War Lord computer files on the known members of the brainwashing-resistant freedom fighters, with the goal of returning to them, uniting them under one banner, and attacking the War Lords in force.

Back in the Civil War zone, reinforcements kill Harper, but are repelled- the rebels plan to send a force of soldiers inside the SIDRAT that the reinforcements arrived in to attack central control- Jamie accompanies them (in hopes of finding the Doctor) while Lady Jennifer is needed to tend to the wounded (bowing out of the story at this point- you have enough characters to keep track of already, dear reader! As a primer: The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe are now allied with Carstairs. There is also a resistance, none of whom are properly named yet. The villains are the War Lords, led by Eric from Accounting (the War Lord). His two lieutenants are Goggles (the Security Chief), and Ghengis (The War Chief, who is NOT a War Lord, he’s an outsider brought in to help). Their minions are numerous, overseeing all of the wars, but we only know two well enough to categorize them: Smythe and Von Weich, the latter of whom is captured. Got it all? Good, let’s continue.)

The invading party of rebels are almost immediately shot down, and taken to Dr. Gullible. The big dope is again bluffed by the Doctor, who frees Jamie and the rebels and sends them back to the barn, making this whole bit an exercise in futility (on the part of the bad guys, for once, but still a total circular path plot-filler). They arrive just in time to thwart Von Weich’s escape attempt, and he is shot dead. (1 down, 4 to go…)

The Doctor, meanwhile, has taken a second group with Jamie and Catstairs, and their escape attempt is thwarted when Ghengis manipulates their SIDRAT into dimensionally shrinking the internal space to its actual size (much as the Doctor did to the Monk, once upon a time). The group is forced out, the Doctor emerging under a flag of truce… and grabs the control crystals, not only restoring the SIDRAT, but enabling manual control. They fly to the Roman zone and ditch the ship, heading back to the 1917 WWI zone… but they are taken prisoner by Smythe’s men. OH, NO- please don’t tell me that everything since their escape in Episode 1 has been an exercise in futility, too!!! Yes, minus a little progress made, they’re taken back to the chateau and ordered to be executed!!! Curse you, circular story! Do you have an end, or simply an endless loop of captures and escapes?!?!? In fact, it seems to me that I could have more easily written this synopsis as a list:
Capture: WWI Brits.
Escape: Lady Jennifer, a Sniper, and a redcoat.
Capture: WWI Brits.
Escape: Lady Jennifer and Carstairs
Capture: Romans
Escape: Throw the car in reverse
Capture: Germans
Escape: Convince the Germans
Capture: Same Germans
Escape: Convince the Germans again
Capture: Civil War (Jamie and Jennifer)
Escape: Rebel forces (as in, rebels against the War Lords, not ‘The Rebs’)
Capture: Civil War (Carstairs)
Escape: The Doctor’s Bluff
Capture: War Lords (Zoe)
Escape: The Doctor and Carstairs
Capture: War Lords (Jamie)
Escape: The Doctor, Carstairs, and Zoe
Capture: The War Chief (The Doctor, Jamie, and Carstairs)
Escape: Violating white flag truce and theft
Capture: WWI Brits again
Escape: Resistance invasion.
Yes, after Smythe (ordered to take them alive, but claiming they died in capture just so he can have the pleasure of execution) brings them in, he is shot dead (2 down, 3 to go…) as the resistance invades the Chateau, freeing the prisoners and taking it as their base of operations. The Doctors restructures the time zone mists, creating a safe barrier around the chateau, preventing any WWI-local forces from retaking it. He then begins de-processing brainwashed men.

Meanwhile, back at War Lord central, Eric from Accounting- I mean, the Emperor- I mean, the War Lord, has arrived to take charge of the situation, and he is not as forgiving as I am. Here’s here to put them back on schedule. An entire LEEEEEEGION of his best troops… etc. Goggles tries to blame it on Ghengis, accusing him of working with the Doctor, but Eric is having none of it.

A SIDRAT attacks, and despite the entire invasion coming from a single doorway, an insufficient defense is mounted, and War Lord soldiers storm the place, taking the Doctor and the brainwashing equipment. Making the capture of the brainwashing device and subsequent deprogramming an exercise in futility- it is now back in War Lord hands to begin ultra-brainwashing.

Capture: War Lord soldiers (The Doctor)
Escape: None…?!?
No, no escape- instead, the Doctor receives the proposal of alliance from Ghengis- the War Chief is not a War Lord, but a Time Lord! A rogue from his people, like the Doctor, he recognizes his old school chum and offers him a ruling place by his side, if he will help to perfect the brainwashing equipment (which the duped Dr. Gullible still doesn’t think works correctly). The War Lord plan is revealed to be an ultimate army- the best fighters from human history equipped with War Lord technology, which Ghengis intends to co-opt as a galactic peacekeeping force. (The old “Once we conquer and rule the entire galaxy, we can bring peace to it…” chestnut.) Meanwhile, Goggles only becomes more suspicious of the two…

The rebels have survived another SIDRAT attack (failing to adequately defend invasion coming from a single doorway again, with the benefit of HAVING A MACHINE GUN SET UP AND TRAINED ON IT FROM BEFORE IT EVEN OPENS), and now have pulled together their forces, including Mexican bandit Arturo Villar, leader of the largest organized resistance group, whom Jamie must bluff as the supposed leader of the rebel army in full Tartan regalia. The group plans to seize a SIDRAT as before, only this time with a much bigger army (it worked so well the first time…?) inside- and begin a daring series of hit-and-raid runs to harry War Lord command posts to force them to respond. However, the War Lords figure out this plan, and the Doctor ‘sends’ them a SIDRAT and leads to their capture, betraying them to captivity rather than seeing them slaughtered as the War Lords planned. (This gambit has worked so well in the past- see “The Two Towers” under ‘Smeagol’).

Capture: The Doctor (Everybody else)
Escape: The Doctor?
Yes, of course, the Doctor is still on the side of good- despite Villar’s disbelief and attempt to strangle him when Goggles, looking to get rid of him, throws him in unarmed with what he rightly believes are angry and vengeful prisoners who feel betrayed. However, before the group can be fully Gollumed, Ghengis arrives with the brainwashing device for the Doctor to begin experimenting on. Even Jamie is wary that the Doctor has sold them out as the Doctor puts him under the device- but when he comes out the other side with his free will intact and is forced to improvise a false brainwashing persona, the Doctor’s loyalty is proved. While oafish Villar spoils the ruse by refusing to play along (opting instead to try and strangle the Doctor again), it is enough time for the ‘processed’ rebels to sidle up to the guards and overpower them.

Meanwhile, Goggles uses security camera footage to reveal Ghengis’ offer and plans of takeover to Eric from Accounting, and Ghengis is arrested. He is freed during a rebel attack, and shoots Goggles dead. (3 down, 2 to go) and then reveals that the SIDRATs are breaking down- he needed the Doctor to help him takeover because his usefulness to the War Lords would soon have been over anyhow. The price of fine locational control and remote control away from Time Lord maintenance is a very short life span for the devices, which no longer have the range to return all of the human captives back to their own times. (In the New Series, the Doctor would tell them to establish some sort of colony on this planet eschewing violence forever or some such, I’m sure…). The Doctor realizes that there is only one way to get everyone home and away from these endless war games… he must contact the Time Lords.

The panicked Ghengis flees rather than facing the justice of the Time Lords, but runs into Eric from Accounting, who shoots him dead. (4 down, 1 to go… I think I’ll go back to calling him the War Lord, now). Villar and his men capture the War Lord, and bring him back to the Doctor… who produces a series of cards which he mentally shapes into a cube, containing all of the pertinent data about their current situation and a call for help. He then says hasty goodbyes and flees in the last SIDRAT, bound for the 1917 zone where the TARDIS is, as a loud oncoming roar can be heard, and the War Lord fearfully intones “They’re coming…”

The Doctor and company run pel-mel across the rocky landscape towards the TARDIS… a seemingly impossible goal as the power of the Time Lords descends upon them, slowing time and increasing gravity, making every inch another mile… time gets slower and slower the closer and closer they get… as it slows down to a crawl.
Capture: The Time Lords
Escape: Run!!!

The Doctor barely manages to get the TARDIS door open, and the three stumble inside, out of the time distortion effect, and the Doctor throws the TARDIS into a mad escape flight- under the sea, in space, all throughout the galaxy- but the Time Lords have located him now, and can track his flight- the voice of the Time Lords rings through the console room, and eventually, the TARDIS is brought to land on Gallifrey, the Doctor’s home planet. The Doctor emerges to face trial, explaining to Jamie and Zoe that the Time Lords are incredibly advanced, having perfected the secret of time travel, and have strict laws of noninterference which he has broken- he’s been on the run since the start of the show, and now his people have caught him. But, preceding that is the trial of the War Lord. He defiantly Saddam Husseins his way through it (“I don’t recognize the authority of this court!”) until his men arrive in a SIDRAT to break him free. They take the Doctor and his companions hostage, intent on using the TARDIS to escape.
Capture: The War Lord
Escape: Eh, they’re not that bright; distract ‘em and run

As soon as they’ve escaped, the Time Lords lock the War Lord and his men behind a forcefield. The Time Lords then shoot him dead. Oh, no, wait. Sorry- just so used to all of our bad guys being dispatched that way. Instead, they vaporize him and his guards alive in a total molecular dissolution, dispersing them as if they never were. (That’s everyone… right? Or are the true villains yet to be revealed…?) The Doctor and companions are taken to separate quarters to await the trial.

Capture: The Time Lords
Escape: Jamie and Zoe

But, even though the three make a run for it, the Doctor’s sad smile when they are captured shows that he knew this was inevitable, and only wanted to give the two one last adventure together. The Time Lords announce that they are to be returned home with their memories erased- they will be allowed remember their first adventure with the Doctor each, but will then remember him departing in the TARDIS, not going with him. They say a tearful goodbye, and…

The Wheel, late 21st century. Zoe reports to Tanya Lernov, one of the Wheel survivors, that she’s seen the Doctor and Jamie off- then goes to resume her librarian duties with the odd feeling that she’s missed something important.

Scotland, April of 1746. Jamie wakes up in a field with no memory of how he got there after having seen the Doctor, Ben, and Polly off. Alone now, his laird and people fled to France, he is alone- he will find a new village, a new clan, and continue the fight. And, as a redcoat quickly learns when he takes a shot at the young Scotsmen, foes of Jamie McCimmon beware the lad’s wrath, no mere piper he!

Gallifrey. Now.
Capture: The Time Lords
Escape: *SIGH*… there is no escape, is there?

The Doctor’s trial proceeds apace, with his defense that he is merely combating evil that needs to be combated, lest it overwhelm the universe. The Time Lords take this into consideration against the violation of their laws, and pronounce sentence: The Doctor will be allowed to continue combating that evil on the planet he seems fondest of, Earth- there, to be denied the ability to travel through space and time, exiled from his people. Bound to one planet and one time, for all time. And to facilitate this new change and protect him from enemies gained as the 2nd Doctor, he will be forcibly regenerated. Over his protests, the transformation begins… and an era ends.

The War Games were, frankly, a bit of a disappointment. As Troughton's, Jamie's, Zoe's, and the Black and White era's swan song, it should have been fantastic. And parts of it were. But it was just too long.

Looking at the history of Black and White Who (BWW), it seems that more stories were influenced by other stories falling through than they were by their own writers. The bizarre two-episode Edge of Destruction was written as a low-budget bottle show to fill a two episode gap in the production schedule. Second series opener Planet of the Giants got an energy and pacing boost by combining the last two episodes into one. The Daleks Master Plan was doubled in length- with padding like the Christmas episode- which, though it didn't drag down the epic, result in a number of odd rabbit-trail plots, because an entire 6-part serial fell through. The Wheel In Space gained the repetitive, dull, Moonbase-retreading portions that weighed it down because of its hasty creation to fill in for a failed script (The cancelled Dalek/Cyberman war). Seeds of Death was padded out by several episodes to cover a missing story, slowing the pace of the still-phenomenal serial. If any story in BWW was poorly paced, padded, repetitive, or derivative, it was a direct result of expansion to fill the gap left by a failed story. One wonders what the Old Who stories of the first two Doctors' eras might have been without these scheduling re-writes and fluff-injection sessions. And no series has been more affected than Series 6, the Second Doctor and BWW’s final series, culminating here. Dick Sharples’ “The Prison in Space”, Paul Wheeler’s “The Dream Spinners,” and Malcom Hulke’s “The Impersonators” [Plus an unnamed Derrick Sherwin story] all fell through- leading The Krotons, The Space Pirates, and The War Games to all be drafted or expanded hastily to fill their places. While a few stories came to be from this phenomenon, or were compressed to their benefit because of the scheduling, by far and large this quota-meeting rewrite practice seems to have been to Doctor Who's detriment. Sadly, the same can be said for this 6-part story... expanded into 10 parts to fill the gap. That's 100 minutes of sheer padding added into the story- almost all in the form of recaptures. This is probably not the first use of the Capture/Escape cycle cliché to pad out running time, but boy, is it EVER the most prominent!

Nearly every episode contains multiple iterations of the following scene:
Characters have been captured by soldiers and are brought to the leaders.
Enemy Leader: "You are spies!"
Character 1: "We are not spies! Let me convince you!"
Enemy Soldier: "I am convinced!"
Enemy Leader: *Puts on glasses* "They are spies! Be hypnotized to think they are spies, ignoring the proof you just received!"
Enemy Soldier: "I am hypnotized! They are spies!"
Enemy Leader: "Take them away, we will execute them soon!"
En route, Character 2 escapes. Character 1 has been captured, believed to be a spy. Soon to be executed, they pace in their cell. Character 2 bluffs their way in and gets the keys from a random lackey. They open the jail cell door and rush in.
Character 2: "Witty banter."
Character 1: "Witty banter response!"
Character 2: "Let's get out of here!"
Character 1 and Character 2 turn to rush out of the cell- and find the doorway filled with the enemy commander and an assortment of soldiers.
Enemy Leader: "So, you have been recaptured!"
Usually, followed by:
Enemy Leader: "You are spies!"
Character 1: "We are not spies! Let me convince you!"
…you get the gist.

This was repeated ad nauseum to the point of disbelief. You literally could not believe that the same scene had just played out AGAIN. This is how 4 extra episodes were added- dozens of 'captured, accused, convince the accuser and gain their trust, then have it all overridden and the effort (and scene's running time) wasted by the villain's hypnosis.' First used in Chapter 1, it's chilling. By Chapter 4, you want to kill small furry animals every time it happens; the repetition will drive you to (justifiable) homicidal rage. Likewise for the get-in-and-free-a-prisoner-only-to-turn-to-leave-and-find-the-soldiers-there-waiting-for-you. Escapes and recaptures are so common as to become laughable; a drinking game involving every escape attempt prematurely ended by the bad guys appearing in the doorway would be fatal due to alcohol poisoning.

These two cliches are repeated over and over and over, to an extent that this description cannot do justice, until the very appearance of the scenario brings disbelieving, nearly-deranged laughter from the nerves-strained audience who literally cannot believe what they are seeing. It's as if the first draft of Microsoft Word was created in 1969 for this serial, just so that the scripts for the middle 4-5 episodes could be created by selecting a 5-minute set of scenes from the end of chapter 1 and copy/pasting it end-to-end and back-to-back over and over again until the next 100 minutes of script are filled up. (And yes, the math suggests that this would mean those same scenes would have to occur 20 times for this to be literally true. Frankly, I think 20 repetitions is an underestimation of this absurdly aggravating chestnut.) This makes the central portion of the serial all but unwatchable, driving potential viewers to madness!

That said, there are moments of brilliance. The first episode is stellar, with a great setting, an intriguing and menacing, seemingly unstoppable villain. The next two are fascinating, rife with interesting concepts, great discoveries, great cliffhangers (especially Jamie left behind as the SIDRAT departs), Roman soldiers attacking a truck, and the like. Even the middle episodes contain a fascinating concept- aberrant, non-affected soldiers from all eras that have broken free of their mind control and formed a resistance, who must be gathered to insight a rebellion. It's a GREAT concept! But it's smothered by the copious tons of padding dumped onto the middle section, and this really kills the serial. Were the War Games composed of the first three episodes, one middle episode containing the rebellion plot, compressing the middle 5 episodes into 1 (which would lose very little if any plot) and then the final two, this serial would be amazing. For the alien planet parts- the brainwashing bits (and the Doctor's great ingratiating lecture students and bluffing bits) are great. And the ending...

Well, the ending is just amazing. The Time Lords have a spectacular introduction- the Doctor fleeing in terror, a roar of eerie wind, and the frightened pronunciation "They're coming." And then a headlong flight for the TARDIS interrupted by a time-distorting forcefield, a desperate mad dash turned into an agonizing, dreamlike crawl (for who hasn't had that dream where your limbs are leaden and your run is in slow motion?) followed by a panicked flight across the cosmos. Truly, the final two episodes are a tour-de-force, showcasing the Time Lords' nearly unstoppable power, as they disintegrate the villain with almost casual ease. The last two are must-sees, and very impressive.

Even throughout, there are diamonds among the rough- cliffhangers are greatly improved from the last serial's awkward transitions, we get another use of the sonic screwdriver (as an actual screwdriver again, in some nice effects), a great compressing-SIDRAT cliffhanger with a very good effect, and some good music- I especially liked the heroic 'American Civil War soldiers' theme that was employed several times. These bits don't make it worthwhile to plow through the horrendous, mind-scarring repetition, but excised from the nonsense of that slog-through padding plotting, they are quite a stellar series of bits and elements- worthy of both recognition, and better episodes in which to be embedded.

Meanwhile, I found the Enemy Politics 'N Strife (EP&S, an acronym I could have saved myself much trouble and typing with if I'd coined it long ago, as it's been around since at least Marco Polo- if not the caveman bickering in An Unearthly Child itself) to be fairly overwhelming. A trope of BWW has been these little cutaways to the villain camp for these spats between leadership of the antagonists- it's from these little sparring sessions that we get our rating convention for this series, the Bickering Dominators. Anyhow... I found all of their drama to be extremely unengaging, especially because their similar names made them hard to keep straight. Regardless, after 6 years it's become a bit stale.

The effects in the serial, at least, were quite good- practical explosions, seamless fade outs, nice forcefield effects, the aforementioned SIDRAT inversion, the sonic screwdriver effect, the slow-motion sequences, even the ending (confusing as it was). Model shots of the Wheel In Space and the TARDIS materializations from Web of Fear and Fury from the Deep, despite being total stock footage reuses (and in the case of Web Of Fear, making no sense… why does the TARDIS have web on it again just because it materializes in space?), are gratefully received because they provide the only remaining sources for those clips (including the cool spiral-from-the-sky-to-land-on-the-water bit from Fury From The Deep) to be used in the reconstructions- without those ‘clip show’ bits, we wouldn’t have been able to see them at all in the first place! The standout, though, would have to be the cube construction- beginning the awesomeness that is the Time Lords sequence and the frantic rush to escape them, which is almost like a whole 1-episode-plus-10-minutes-of-another in and of itself, and clearly the amazing climactic finale highlight of the Troughton era, this effect has the Doctor pull 6 white square-shaped cards from his pocket, place them on the ground, and begin to meditate- as the squares assemble by themselves (in stop-motion) into a cube- the device with which to call the Time Lords. A very cool effect, and a very cool more-than-he-seems moment to inaugurate the beginning of the end for Troughton’s Doctor (incidentally, the message cubes recently returned in Matt Smith's "The Doctor's Wife," which had me utterly geeking out).

We also get some interesting milestones: the first scenes on an (as yet unnamed) Gallifrey, the naming of the Doctor’s race, revelations about the Doctor’s past- that the TARDIS is stolen, that he left- in a brilliant moment and a defining character bit for the Doctor- because ‘I was bored.’ Much of modern Who lore was defined right here, in the excellent final two episodes attached to this padded train wreck.

But, lest I be unclear, it’s not just the effects and a decent plot line that shine in that middle stretch of padded wasteland. There are good bits here as well- they are simply drowned out by the overwhelming majority of copy/paste repetitions of the capture/escape scenario. The different war zones are well-realized, from the Civil War to a Roman legion to World War I. We have an interesting theme with the villains and glasses- both the plus-shaped eye-slit visors they wear at home, and the glasses/monocles that are used as a hypnotism method. An interesting running theme for an unusual people, even if it ends up far too overused due to the repetition of the capture scenario. The presence of another Time Lord who recognized the Doctor, whom he knew in his early days (prefiguring the Master). Some nice evil villains (the field-generals more than the triad of baddies back at HQ).

So, how about the characters?
Lady Jennifer and Lt. Carstairs, two surprisingly sympathetic and well-rounded guest characters who put two and two together and began to break through their mental conditioning, were enjoyable additions to the party for the early episodes. And while Lady Jennifer was written out halfway through (but only after a priceless exchange with Jamie- “You just don’t want me to come because I’m a woman, don’t you?” “No! No... well, yes.”), Carstairs not only gets a great heroic sacrifice, but a surprise re-appearance, brainwashing bit, and eventual release, leading the resistance (and acting as the voice of reason during their capture); he was an upstanding and smart individual, and a fun character to watch- I was glad to see his return.

The Generals- in WWI on both sides, the German of whom is also a Civil War general with a decent- if slightly off-kilter- southern accent, are the ones I consider the real villains of the piece. They are effective and intimidating, seeming almost unstoppable in their hypnotic power- and while their seeming omnipresence to CONSTANTLY foil our heroes becomes irritating after a while, as does their smug superiority and determination to have the TARDIS crew killed, they are effective and menacing, cold-blooded, always in control… and their just rewards are cheer-worthy and well-deserved. Everything after their defeat is pretty much anti-climactic. About the main villains- the War Lord, War Chief, and Other Guy, I should probably have more to say… but I really don’t. The rogue Time Lord, while an interesting notion and noteworthy for his regeneration-regardless recognition of the Doctor, was fairly generic and bland as villains go. His jealous rival was predictable- though frankly, if his Time Lord nemesis was so inept as not to suspect a bugged room, it’s a wonder that it was so difficult for Other Guy to overthrow him. Pretty pathetic. More interesting by far is the easily-fooled inventor of the brainwashing machine- so invested in his craft that he pays little attention to politics… or potential enemies! And hoisted on his own petard at the end. Lastly, there’s the lead villain, Eric from Accounting. I’m sorry, but his appearance is so nondescript and downright plain next to Genghis Kahn the Time Lord and others, he just doesn’t have the villainous look. He just looks like a motorcycle cop. Still, he gets audacity points for raiding Gallifrey, playing Sadam at his trial, and having a great ending. Too bad, though- both he and the rogue Time Lord could’ve been well-expanded in further sequels.

Meanwhile, on the resistance side… we have a gallant Civil War soldier (the tragically-killed African American fighter who gets a very nice fight scene), a dupe (who is easily tricked by the captured Colonel Klink, but gets to deliver a fantastic coup-de-grace), a psychopath (that bloodthirsty nut with whom the gallant soldier fights) and a fun caricature, the leader of the Mexican forces who will not talk to women and tries repeatedly to strangle the Doctor. Since he doesn’t quite manage to screw things up at the end (not for lack of trying!) he’s harmless enough, and a fun comic relief character. The resistance itself gets some fun bits- searching for a hidden tunnel as an explanation for the soldiers pouring out of the bigger-on-the-inside SIDRATs, playing along with the Doctor’s brainwashing ruse, and… defending the chateau very, very badly. One would think that a stationary target with a narrow doorway would be an easy target to aim at and spray with fire before any invading troops could emerge, but these resistance members seem to operate on the courtesy system, waiting for the door to open, for troops to rush out, assume position, take aim, and fire… at which point whatever the resistance was planning to courteously delay until the enemy was ready is rendered moot, since they are all dead. Later, when they have a MACHINE GUN set up and aimed at the doorway, they mow down one invading soldier… then wait for his retreated partner to pop back out and mow them both down in sequence, without trying to fire again. Hardly the Spartan army, these… unable to defend a single 3-foot wide doorway that disgorges enemies in single file, even when they have a machine gun manned by two men pointed directly at it and receive advance warning (by way of the DOOR OPENING) that troops are about to appear. I mean… that was just PATHETIC! (In a non-padded story, they probably would have been competent.) They do at least have a great montage scene of the co-ordinated resistance taking down targets and raising enemy panic all over the interconnected war zones, a well-scored and paced little sequence that makes you want to cheer! …Or at least grumble “About dern time…” begrudgingly under your breath, depending on how much the inept chateau defense irritated you.

Jamie gets a lot to do in this serial- as a canny warrior, he’s really in his element- even coming to terms with a captured redcoat and hatching a clever plan to escape. As well as a great moment where he must impersonate the leader of the rebel forces- in full tartan regalia- because the leader of an allied force won’t accept a woman in the position. Jamie is resourceful, clever, wise, and strong in this serial, and his devastated look as the SIDRAT disappears with Zoe and the Doctor inside speaks volumes about his loyal heart.

Zoe has a slightly lesser, but very significant role, using her wits to free the Doctor, deal with sexist enemy leaders, and defend the chateau (Despite the bungling of its assigned defenders)- unfortunately, save for a few good moments here and there (dressing up Jamie as the rebel leader after being snubbed by a resistance bigwig, smashing a vase over the head of the prison commandant, etc.), her personality doesn’t stand out so much in this one as it has in serials past. Still, every serial can’t showcase every character.

And the Doctor... what a serial this is for him. From clever bluffs and comedic impressions (like his prisoner inspector routine) to his self-sacrificial decision to summon the Time Lords to put things right, The Doctor is scheming, planning, acting, and working overtime to single-handedly turn utter chaos into a victory. He is stout-hearted and brave, even when terrified. Even in the face of his regeneration, he has a fine impassioned speech about the evils of the galaxy (which he gets off to a pathetic start by beginning with the Quarks, clearly still trying to market them as the new Daleks... and which he surprisingly and appropriately concludes with the Daleks, labeling them as the greatest menace of all; I’d’ve thought that they couldn’t have got Terry Nation rights to show or mention them during this period, but they did- kudos!), a funny bit of bickering over regeneration appearances (an interesting notation- that Time Lord technology can apparently shape regeneration outcomes), and even a final bit of humorous ‘mushmouth’ acting as he’s dragged, kicking and screaming, into a kaleidoscope presentation intended to represent the start of his regeneration... or perhaps usher in Series 6B. (Stay tuned next blog for more on this exciting notion!) This scene should be a lot more traumatic- David Tennant’s “I don’t want to go!” x100, a heart-rendering near-murder of a regeneration that has the audience sobbing at their last sight of the Doctor. Yet, unlike the melodrama of the New Series, this regeneration is played coolly and without regrets- wisely ushering in a new, very different era with acceptance and encouragement of the audience to accept what’s to come instead of fear and trepidation. Even the Doctor’s panic at being forcibly regenerated is instantly calmed as soon as he’s told he can choose his new appearance (which is a great comic bit, incidentally).

This was a clever move on the creators' part; they were planning to change the series completely, removing TARDIS travel, setting the show entirely on modern-day (maybe... see future blogs for the UNIT dating controversy in which the Third Doctor was sometimes in the ‘modern day’ 70s and sometimes in the ‘near-future 80s’, depending on whether the writer remembered that week that it was supposed to be the future or not) Earth, changing actors, changing companions, moving to color- it was to be rebranded completely, and treating the transition with humor and grace, making the Doctor accept it so that the audience would accept it, was a canny decision and a courtesy to the production team to come that WASN’T extended by Russel T. Davies at the end of his New Series run (instead choosing to set up a grand tribute to his own work and mourn it’s passing, leaving the audience already biased against the new ‘usurper’ coming in to take its place).

On the other hand, it leaves me unsure of how to feel. The great sadness of Troughton’s passing that’s been building for several serials is abruptly deflated, all the air let out of my sadness (now there’s a mixed metaphor for you!), the moment past almost before I realized it, leaving me empty, confused, not really feeling like mourning his loss, but feeling oddly reluctant to move on. It’s not a great ending for closure, and probably SHOULD have been a tragic ending, story wise- so tonally, it’s strange. For the real world, it was the right way to handle the transition. For the storyline? It’s a hard pill to swallow, abruptly derailing the emotional buildup. It was almost worse for Jamie and Zoe (“Will we ever see you again?” “Zoe, you of all people should know that time is relative.”) Bid a fond goodbye after a failed attempt to liberate the Doctor- one gets the impression from his reaction that he never expected it to work, and merely wanted to give them one last chance to act heroically, some closure of their own- and cruelly, their memories erased of their travels, mentally-ret-conned that each of them turned down an offer to travel with the Doctor, and returned to the time and place of their departure. (It was very cool that they got the actress from Wheel In Space back to reprise her part for this- how far Who has come in terms of ongoing storylines and continuity since those “Faceless Ones happened on the same day as War Machines, just take our word for it even though there’s no evidence” days!) Zoe still remembers the events of Wheel In Space, and Jamie those of The Highlanders, but all of the adventures since reside now only in the Doctor’s memory. Jamie doesn’t remember ever meeting Victoria, or Zoe... Nor Zoe the Land of Fiction and her tangle with Karkus, the Yeti, the Time Lords, the Ice Warriors... all of these adventures are simply gone, and that seems the cruelest of all. All that development, all that change, all that growth... wiped clean by the Time Lords- truly, the Doctor's greatest and cruelest enemy.

If I seem oddly ambivalent and at a loss of words, not my usual descriptive self, regarding this total milestone in Doctor Who history... I am (though clearly not at a loss for words on all of the other elements of this serial!). All of the counting down, the wistfulness, the memorializing, the anticipation... were simply dispelled by the way the regeneration was handled. It gave real-world continuance to the franchise, and for that we should be grateful- but in-universe, it just sort of... petered out. How very different. How very... strange.

Still, the actors themselves have a fitting epilogue. As per the Wiki, Frazer Hines, Wendy Padbury and Patrick Troughton “found the workload too hard. The three decided they'd leave and Frazer was the first, but Troughton asked him to stay until he left too, which was only a few months away at the time.” In a documentary about the departed Troughton, Hines said “that they left with smiles on their faces, feeling like their job was done and it was well done at that.” You can’t ask for more than that. And looking at the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe over the stories we’ve seen lately… done well, it was. It was indeed.

In the end, The War Machines is a promising story with a stellar finale that lags like a rotting, bloated whale in the middle because of story-expansion-to-fill-a-gap-in-the-production-schedule padding. This could still have turned out all right, had the padding not LITERALLY BEEN THE SAME SCENE OF ALREADY-AGGRAVATING RECAPTURE AND KANGAROO COURT SENTENCING AS SPIES REPEATED OVER AND OVER AND OVER TO FILL THE TIME. It just fails, but dang, if that finale ain’t incredible! My recommendation: Watch the last two episodes out of context. They’re worth it.

Great Moments:
The escape from the Time Lords episode 9 cliffhanger, and to a lesser extent, the entire summoning/trial sequence! Plus, the Doctor’s duping the German officer with his second ‘demonstration,’ his prison inspector routine (and Jamie’s ruse), Jamie left behind, Jamie vs. Civil War soldiers, Jamie’s impersonation of an officer, the shrinking SIDRAT, etc.

For ratings, I think I’d have to give the War Games 2 out of 5 Bickering Dominators. The weight of the finale episodes deserve SO MUCH MORE- but in the end, taking the whole into consideration, all they do is keep the story from being a 1 out of 5. Still, check out the more detailed breakdown:
Episode 1 – 3.5 out of 5
Episode 2-3 – 3 out of 5.
Episodes 4-8 – 0.5 out of 5
Episode 9 and 10 – 5 out of 5.
In other words, the beginning an end- the final two especially, are simply MUST-SEEs. Don’t skip them on the sins of their predecessors- they’re almost their own self-contained storyline anyhow, and can be enjoyed without slogging through the misery of the muddled middle mush. Don’t let the ponderous painful prison padding drive you away from the incredible spectacle and legend-shaping, lore-creating tour-de-force finale!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Doctor Who: Reconstruction Retrospective

The sad tale has already been told in this blog- how the BBC, in their folly, burned the masters, thinking that they had backups. How dozens of episodes of classic Black & White Who kissed the flames and never returned to tell. How the massacre of the archives was total and fierce. How the only salvation lay in prints sent to collectors, overseas, or somehow saved from their slated destruction. How, at time of writing, none such had been found since 2004’s recovery of an episode of The Daleks’ Master Plan… and perhaps none would ever be found again... and how last December's joyous tiding- the return of TWO episodes at once, a Hartnell and a Troughton- has brought hope back for the faithful! (A life-size Dalek- the originals, not the horrid plastic abominations they have today in the New Series- awaits anyone who can find another missing episode.)

And yet, I’ve seen every one of these wretched souls, watched every single one from start to finish. How is this possible?

In the days before VCRs, shows were run once and then gone- maybe shown as a repeat again someday, but they had their run and that was that. (Never was that so true than for many of the classic Hartnell and Troughton episodes…!) In those days, the BBC hired people to take ‘telesnaps’- essentially, a snapshot or photo of the TV screen. Their job was to capture important moments, each of the actors, significant scenes, etc.- to be used as promotional images, for magazine or newspaper articles, for actors’ resumes, etc. So, visual reference for what each place, character, and setting looks like still exist- no one torched those archives. Meanwhile, a number of fans made audio-recordings of the show, as that was one personal home recorder that DID exist in those days- a tape recorder. Those, combined with audio prints kept in a separate archive, conspired to preserve the complete AUDIO of every episode (in varying quality). These, along with publicity photos, and the occasional clips loaned out to a documentary or other show, or video-taped off a TV screen with primitive camcorders, could all be combined together to create a sort of slide-show with audio, wherein you could listen to the episode and watch still pictures (and the occasional video clip if you were lucky) or what was supposed to be happening on-screen at the time.

A few groups arose to start putting together these ‘reconstructions’- using still pictures and surviving audio to create a still-picture facsimile of what the episodes once were. Doctor Who fans, a tenacious bunch, strung together these slide-show reconstructions (with little closed-captioning bars at the bottom to describe actions being taken, based on the original shooting scripts, that weren’t obvious from the pictures or the audio). Fan group Loose Canon Productions quickly came to the forefront, using CGI Daleks and Spaceships, photoshop composite images (placing pictures of characters from another episode into the background for this one, or taking images of a guest-star actor from other media they appeared in and pasting their face onto a costume-appropriate body to create an image of an actor for which no surviving pictures exist), hand-created animations (blinking lights are made to blink, doors slide open, etc.), video clips out-of-context that can be re-edited or zoomed to match the action, and even freshly-shot insert footage ('second unit' stuff- close-ups of hands, etc. that can be re-created using replica props and costumes, in which original actors can’t be seen) to create the most complete reconstructions available. Meanwhile, the BBC took things in another direction, releasing the audio portions of the episodes on CD with narration (by various individuals, often the actors who portrayed the companions back in the day) filling the silence and describing actions much in the way that closed-captioning did for the visuals, converting the missing episodes into an almost storybook-narrated audio drama version of themselves. And enterprising Yotube reconstructionists of late have taken the superior Loose Canon videos, added in the occasional higher-quality photos or stills that have turned up since the Loose Canons were created, and merged them with the BBC narrated audio (omitting the closed captioning for redundancy), creating what I consider to be the ultimate reconstruction experience that mixes the best of all possible worlds.

Even so… you’re still mostly watching a slideshow of dull, still pictures (no matter how impressively created) to a glorified audiobook. So… it can be a challenge. Historical stories were the hardest hit, since recovered videos were often from overseas prints, and overseas markets were less interested in ordering prints of stories about the history of Western civilization. Some sci-fis were lost, but historical were hardest-hit… very few of them are intact.

Now that we have vanquished the reconstructions at last with the completion of the final missing serial (depending on how you view Tom Baker's Shada, which was never finished in the first place), The Space Pirates- having already survived the Series-5-end ‘Hump,’ I thought it would be appropriate to look back at the reconstructions past. If you’re not interested in a look at each of the comparative reconstructions, then skip to the bottom for a slightly different, audience-participation discussion.

(Now, keep in mind, when I look at whether the enjoyability or watchability was affected… it always is, by watching stills. These will always be less enjoyable than seeing the real thing- what this section evaluates is whether the story was more affected than the norm, if reconstructedness detracts beyond the simple less-enjoyable nature and does something to actively steal away an element of the story.)

Marco Polo
How much was lost? All of it. The whole thing. All 7 episodes. Not even any clips.
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Loose Canon
How did the reconstruction stack up? It was very nice, though basic- unique in that it was comprised entirely of color photos, giving us our first taste of color Who very early on. I’d call it a very good average baseline.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? I don’t think so. Pacing and length episodes still plagued the show at this juncture, which dragged down the overall enjoyability, but I don’t think having it in video would affect that much.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? Yes, this was the first historical… and the first historical casualty.

Reign of Terror
How much was lost? Episodes 4 and 5 (of 6 total)
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Loose Canon
How did the reconstruction stack up? It was decent, but suffered from a strange overuse of the same closing-door half-second clip every time someone entered or exited a room. Got kind of annoying after a while.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? No, it was largely unaffected, thankfully.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? No- this season-ender and first on-location shooting serial preserved all of the important bits in video.
Note: An animated reconstruction of this one (like the Invasion) will be coming out in fall!

The Crusade
How much was lost? Episodes 2 and 4 of 4 (1 and 3 are intact)
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Loose Canon
How did the reconstruction stack up? Absolutely average.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Not especially- actually, the performances really shone through this one despite the reconstruction, putting this one a bit above-average.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? Nope, just another run-of-the-mill lost historical…
Note: Follows a mercifully intact second series, and a long absence of missing episodes.

Galaxy 4
How much was lost? Everything, all 4 episodes (Minus a 5-min stretch in Episode 1). (Actually, Episode 3 has just been found- but not generally released yet.)
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Loose Canon
How did the reconstruction stack up? Masterfully done and technically flawless, with filmed inserts and the like- this was above average, in the top tier.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Not in the slightest. The story would have been absolute unwatchable garbage regardless.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? No video of the alien creatures, exploding planet, or generally, this series-premiere.
Note: It’s RUBBISH!!!

Mission to the Unknown
How much was lost? Every frame of the single episode.
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Loose Canon
How did the reconstruction stack up? Very well, above average.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story?  A bit, yes. This story is carried by visuals- actions and performances. Both are sadly lost.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? This whole episode is a milestone, the only stand-alone episode of the serial era, and a prequel to the Daleks’ Master Plan.

The Myth Makers
How much was lost? All 4 episodes in their entirety.
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Loose Canon
How did the reconstruction stack up? Pacing and entertainment wise? Far below average, one of Loose Canon’s worst. Technically, and considering extenuating circumstances (see below)? One of their finest, and in the top tier, considering.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Only slightly- there were SO FEW stills (see below). However, most of the humor managed to transcend stills.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? Vicki’s departure, Katarina’s arrival, the Trojan horse model.
Note: No telesnaps exist for this serial, making every image seen a photoshop composite. Viewed in that light, it’s an impressive technical achievement! It’s still just not a very good reconstruction to watch.

The Daleks’ Master Plan
How much was lost? Everything except for episodes 2, 5, and 10 (out of 12 total, 9 are lost, and 3 are saved).
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Loose Canon for the win!
How did the reconstruction stack up? Phenomenal and incredible- probably the best of the best.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? No, save for Episode 7 (the Christmas episode) which was predominantly visual. It’s still a GREAT watch.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? Plenty. The first companion deaths, Dalek mutants, the volcanic planet, the first Christmas special, etc.

The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve
How much was lost? All 4 episodes, every last bit.
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Loose Canon
How did the reconstruction stack up? Slightly below average; a little sparse.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? A bit, yes. Only a bit, though- it was pretty dull regardless of video or still.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? The introduction of *shudder* Dodo… and Hartnell’s dual role.

The Celestial Toymaker
How much was lost? Episodes 1-3 of 4… the final episode survives.
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Loose Canon
How did the reconstruction stack up? Not so hot, unfortunately. Well below average, though that may be due to lack of material.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Yes. This was a very visual story. It was still good, but it could have been amazing in motion.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? Not really.

The Savages
How much was lost? All 4 episodes, barring teeny-tiny scraps of video.
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Butterfly Productions…?
How did the reconstruction stack up? Ugh! It was HORRIBLE!
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Yes. Get the Loose Canon version if you want to check it out- don’t watch the others!!!
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? Jano’s Hartnell impressions, Steven’s departure.

The Smugglers
How much was lost? All 4 episodes, minus, amusingly, every death scene. Due to surviving censor clips cut out of the print, everyone but the main villain dies in video.
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Loose Canon
How did the reconstruction stack up? Very average.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Not especially, though I’d’ve loved to see the Tarot scene…
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? The last regular First Doctor serial.

The Tenth Planet
How much was lost? Episode 4 of 4. The first 3 are intact, but the big regeneration episode…
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Official BBC reconstruction
How did the reconstruction stack up? Above average- the images were slide-show standard, but with a nice slick-looking animated frame.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Not at all, surprisingly!
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? THE FIRST REGENERATION!!!

The Power of the Daleks
How much was lost? All 6 episodes, minus small clips.
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Youtube
How did the reconstruction stack up? Slightly above average, with some nice innovations- but also one SERIOUSLY Uncanny Valley Lesterson
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? A bit, yes. Much of Troughton’s post-regeneration performance is silent… and lost.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? The First Troughton story!

The Highlanders
How much was lost? All 4 episodes
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Unknown fan production
How did the reconstruction stack up? Below average.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Yes. So many of the Doctor’s excellent impressions and roles are strongly visual, this is one of the wrost-suffering serials for it.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? Jamie’s first serial. The final historical.

The Underwater Menace
How much was lost? Episode 1 and 4 of 4- Episodes 2 and 3 survived.
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Unknown fan production
How did the reconstruction stack up? Average.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Not especially, though some model work and set design that would have been interesting was lost.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? No.

The Moonbase
How much was lost? Episodes 1 and 3 of 4.
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Youtube
How did the reconstruction stack up? Average.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Not especially.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? Nope.

The Macra Terror
How much was lost? The whole dang 4-episode ball of wax.
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Youtube
How did the reconstruction stack up? Slightly below average; very dark and grainy.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Yes, it was hard to tell what was being seen.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? The Macra!

The Faceless Ones
How much was lost? Everything except for episodes 1 and 3 (out of 6).
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Loose Canon
How did the reconstruction stack up? Average.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Not in the slightest- still 100% enjoyable despite the reconstruction.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? The departure of Ben and Polly.

The Evil of the Daleks
How much was lost? All but episode 2 (of 7).
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Youtube
How did the reconstruction stack up? Average
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? A little bit, with Jamie’s trials and the playing Daleks, which would've been great to see.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? Victoria’s introduction.

The Abominable Snowmen
How much was lost? All but episode 2 and a smattering of clips (Out of 6).
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Youtube
How did the reconstruction stack up? Above average
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Somewhat, but the reconstruction compensated for it very well.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? Introduction of the Yeti and Professor Travers. Padmasambavar.

The Ice Warriors
How much was lost? Episodes 2 and 3 (out of 6).
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Official BBC
How did the reconstruction stack up? It was PHENOMENAL.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? It compressed both episodes to 15 mins. total, but in exchange, kept the pace so that it wasn’t dull.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? No.

The Enemy of the World
How much was lost? All but Episode 3 (of 6).
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Youtube
How did the reconstruction stack up? Average.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Yes, a bit- the episodes would be so much better if you could SEE the dual performances!
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? The Troughton dual role, HELICOPTERS, and the into-the-void finale.

The Web of Fear
How much was lost? All but episode 1 (of 6)
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Youtube
How did the reconstruction stack up? Poor.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Yes, it was practically unwatchable. Way too visual for audio and dark screenshots.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? First appearance of the Brigadier, return of the Yeti.

Fury from the Deep
How much was lost? All 6 (minus a few clips), more’s the pity…
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Youtube
How did the reconstruction stack up? Above average.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? No, the reconstruction managed to make up for it quite admirably.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? Victoria’s departure, HELICOPTER.

The Wheel In Space
How much was lost? All but episodes 3 and 6 (of 6)
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Youtube
How did the reconstruction stack up? Above average.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? Not especially.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? Zoe’s introduction, the TARDIS compression.

The Invasion
How much was lost? Episodes 1 and 4 (out of 8)
Whose reconstruction did we watch? DVD Animation
How did the reconstruction stack up? PERFECT!
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? No, the animated segments only enhanced it!
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? HELICOPTER!!!!

The Space Pirates
How much was lost? All but Episode 2 (out of 6)
Whose reconstruction did we watch? Youtube
How did the reconstruction stack up? Well above average.
Did the reconstruction-nature of the serial affect the watchability or enjoyability of the story? No, not really- it was a great recon.
Any notable moments or milestone lost to the ages in this one? Nope! Just the last reconstruction.

And last, but not least, in looking back at the Doctor Who reconstructions, the question of ranking came up. So... though even contemplating this is probably just in the realm of futile self-torture, I got to thinking: if you had the abillity to restore 3 of the lost serials in their entirety, (and yes, three is a completely arbitrary number) at the cost of ensuring that three other reconstructeds would never, ever be found in the history of the world... which would you choose? The answers of our review team are below, but I’d be very interested in seeing yours, so leave a comment!

For my picks...
The Faceless Ones (Still the best 2nd Doctor story of it's season, in my opinion)
Dalek Master Plan (A deserving epic!)
The Myth Makers (Doctor Who's best comedy needs to be seen, darn it!)

I know, Marco Polo should, by rights be on the list, but... I enjoy the other stories so much more, so I'm selfish. :-)  Likewise, Tenth Planet's regeneration scene, Enemy of the World's dual performances, and the Celestial Toymakers' visual setpieces are tempting runner-ups, but if I had to pick three- there they be.

I suppose converting the Dominators and the Sensorites into missing serials to take the hit would go against my own rules? *SIGH*

Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve  (As I can never watch it without wanting to wring Gaston's neck anyhow...)
Web of Fear (it's probably a good story with visuals, and the first Brig before he was the brig, but...)
Galaxy 4 (Go to heck, Galaxy 4! You SUCK!!!)

So, those are my picks... what would yours be?

My wife's:
Celestial Toymaker
Enemy of the World
Marco Polo

The Highlanders
The Savages
Galaxy 4

My brother-in-law’s:
The Daleks’ Master Plan
The Highlanders
The Celestial Toymaker

Galaxy 4
Marco Polo
The Macra Terror

Emily Carter (Pre-eminent Doctor Who expert from
The Daleks’ Master Plan
Power of the Daleks
Evil of the Daleks

Galaxy 4
Reign of Terror
Space Pirates

So, besides the fact that my brother-in-law is clearly a Who heretic, what can we infer from this? The Celestial Toymaker was a near-universal choice for keeping, and Daleks’ Master Plan a strong contender- they seem to be the most sought after in our three-person survey, with strong Troughton serials (often containing episodes where he portrays more than one role) comprising the majority of the remainder. For the losses? We each have one serial at least that the other 2/the fan community at large would probably consider it shocking and heretical to condemn (Highlanders, Marco Polo, Web of Fear), and, most importantly of all: Nobody likes Galaxy 4.