An idea isn’t responsible for the people who believe in it.
- Don Marquis
It’s Sunday morning, which has always felt like a strange time to reach a milestone, however trivial in the overall scheme of things. Here goes then.
Me: Well, I didn’t think we’d get here.
Him: Huh? Get where?
Me: The Tenth Planet.
Him: Why not?
Me: It’s taken longer than I thought it would, and there’ve been some really weird moments along the way. Good grief. If we get through this then we’ve watched all the surviving First Doctor footage and all of his stories. Well, apart from Marcopolo.
Him: We also haven’t watched the surviving footage of Galaxy 4.
Me: That’s right. And we won’t be watching it anytime soon either.
Him: Do you think they just have it in a BBC cinema room and they call in BBC workers at lunchtime and they watch it?
Me: That’d be rilly1 cruel – especially if it was every lunch time.
Him: How’d that be cruel?
Me: I’d be surprised if the majority of the people working at the BBC would be clamouring to watch Air Lock.
Him: Well, maybe to differentiate… Maybe some lunch times they watch Marcopolo and some lunchtimes they watch Power of the Daleks and some-
Me: Hang on. Are you insinuating that the BBC have recovered more missing episodes than they’re letting on about?
Him: No. Maybe. Yes. Wibble.
Me: Gosh. And they’re hanging onto them until there’s some sort of special ocassion where they can do a big reveal of this – like an anniversary or something?
Him: Yes. It’s interesting that they found two at once, when they didn’t think they would get any back in forever.
Me: You’re going to love The X-Files.
Him: Is The X-Files a similar sort of thing to the BBC?
Me: I want to believe that.1
Him: Ok. Then why don’t you?
Me: I was being punny, sorry. Shall we finish off William Hartnell?
Him: The first time that I watched this, I didn’t realise it was the Cybermen. I thought they were something else and the Cybermen would come later.
Me: I must’ve mentioned there were Cybermen.
Him: You told me there were Cybermen in this one, but not when they would appear.
Me: They are sneaky.
Him: So, did H. P. Lovecraft write about things he believed in? Cthulhu and that. Was it meant to be a religious book?
Me: Eh? That’s a bit mad. But…
Me: Ok. Some people believe that he was onto something. Mostly something to do with the scale of things and how humans perceive it – as far as I can see – with a bit of… No. It’s scale. The scale of eternity and time and distance and infinity. And how humanity really perceives all of that in tiny, tiny segments that it then forgets in order to stay sane and keep the whole collective notion of reality functional. Hmmm… Something like that, anyway. Just with more tentacles.2
Him: My beautiful arm!
Me: That’s about the size of it.
Me: Shall we?
Him: Sure. Let’s begin. We haven’t watched a video in ages.
And we’re off. The picture wobbles a little bit to begin with, but it’s nothing too worrying. Following the titles, we’re greeted with a rocket lifting off and another experimental flashing typeface. Reassuringly, there are typos.
Him: See? ‘Kitt Pedler’. Spelled wrong.
We’re at a currently un-besieged base in Antarctica. It’s not called McMurdo. Scientists and fellows from all over the world are communicating with the space capsule we saw earlier. The leader of this mixed bunch is a stern fellow by the name of General Cutler. He turns down the invite to join Schultz and Williams in their capsule.
Cutler: The penguins might miss me.
Him: I heard that penguins don’t taste very nice.
Me: I don’t know. All chocolate’s lovely.
The space capsule is now high above the Earth, spiraling through stock footage. Suddenly – Antarctica.
Me: It’s The Thing.
There’s a weird sound effect/piece of instrumentation used to supplement the visuals. We’ll be returning to this.
Me: What’s with the Wile E. Coyote blinking soundcue?
Him: Maybe he’s made it to Antarctica.
Me: Awaiting delivery of his ACME Cyberfleet.
We’re back on the base with a quick shot of some ladies, followed by an Italian gentleman reading a magazine. We know he’s Italian because of what he’s singing. Elsewhere in the room, another bloke is looking through a periscope.
Bloke: All I can see is snow, snow and more snow.
Me: Odd that.
Wile E.: plink
Me: He’s there again!
Wile E.: plink plink
Me: And there!
Wile E.: plink plink plink
Me: And again!
The TARDIS lands in the snow,
In the TARDIS Polly’s been having a happening time going through the Doctor’s collection of out-there threads.
Polly: Hey, Doctor, you’ve got the most fantastic wardrobe.
Me: “Full of cloaks…”
Him: “Why? Have you been frootling?”
Our heroes wander out into the snow.
Him: And that’s the last time that William Hartnell’s in the TARDIS.
Him: He regenerates on the base.
Me: Ah. Ummm…
The Him starts listing regeneration causes and locations. Ben and Polly find a periscope. Turns out that they’re being watched.
Me: Crikey. It’s Chico Marx.
Ben, Polly and the Doctor are borrowed by furry-coated soldiers and taken under ice.
Me: Polly must be an unwitting carrier of Dodo’s Wandering Accent Syndrome. It’s quick too – everyone on the base sems to have caught it.
Him: Dodo infected Polly?
Him: Well, they did hang out together quite a bit.
Our heroes are introduced to Cutler. He’s not impressed.
The Doctor: I don’t like your tone, sir.
Cutler: And I don’t like your face. Nor your hair.
Him: Ah. I’m just glad it’s moving.
|It turns out that the year’s 1986|
Man’s not long gone to the moon.
Something mysterious is happening to the capsule. Shultz has just spotted an extra, oddly familiar-looking, planet. That can’t be right.
Williams: Hey! Hey, Dan! That’s odd. Fuel cells are showing a power loss.
Me: I guess that’s bad then.
Back on the the Base. Panic begins. The Doctor writes a prediction down and hands it to Cutler to open at the end of the show.
Cutler: Planets don’t just appear.
Me: Quite apt for 2012. What with Planet X and all that.
There’s talk of landing the weakening capsule to stop it simply tumbling into a doom of stock footage.
Wile E.: plink plink
Me: Genius. Ahem.
The capsule re-entry goes wrong. We get our first proper look at this ‘tenth’ planet (although, I guess it’s the ninth planet now, if we’re being picky). The landmasses look awful familiar.
Me: It’s the Earth. Upside-down.
Polly gets excited about a half-remembered Geography lesson.
Me: Polly’s very certain about the shape of Malaysia.
Polly: That is Malaysia!
Me: Told you.
The Doctor asks Barclay to read the note he’d handed Cutler. The note details everything that’s come to pass. I’m hoping that Derren Brown works this routine into his next stage show myself. Everyone applauds the trick, and it’s a good one, so that’s only fair.
Barclay: Can you be more explicit?
Me: “Good Lord, sir! You have no idea!”
The Doctor starts to list Cyberhistory, but unfortunately gets interrupted. Seeing as Cyberhistory will eventually end up in at least as much of a tangled bush of contradictive information as Dalek history, this is a shame.
The Doctor: Pretty soon we shall be having visitors.
Meanwhile, in Geneva, someone important is taking a phonecall.
Someone Important: Contact…
Him: “-has been made.”
Someone Important: …Jodrell Bank.
Cutler informs the important someone of the arrival of the Doctor, Ben and Polly.
Someone Important: Intruders? At the Pole? Where did they come from?
Me: “Intruder window!” Bwah ha ha HA! HA! HA! BOOM! BOOM!
Him: Kill me now…
Me: I think it might yet get worse.
Cutler decides this is a perfect time to start shouting at the Doctor. In fairness, he’s got a point – our chum’s arrival might be coincidence, but it sure doesn’t look good.
Me: Bill’s putting everything into this one.
Him: If you say so.
Chico Marx is sent to go and break into the Doctor’s hut.
Outside – in the flickering white death - something spacey is landing.
Me: It’s The Thing.
Him: It’s not.
Me: It sort of is.
Him: It’s not.
Me: It is.
Him: It’s not.
Me: It’s post-The Thing from Another World, which came from the John W. Campbell novella Who Goes There?, which itself had a Weird Tales connection and so wasn’t that far removed from Lovecraft in general and At the Mountains of Madness in particular.
Me: Just to tie it all together for the moment.
Chico’s breaking into the TARDIS, when behind him stride silver giants. The jabolite obscures them, but there can be no doubt… Cybermen!
Me: What do you think of them?
Him: We haven’t seen them properly yet. They could just be blokes with lamps on their heads.
Him: Wouldn’t the Base get cold with that door being left open all the time?
The Cybermen have obviously learned their disguise techniques from the Voord. Actually, I’m fairly sure that Grant Morrison suggested that in a comic strip at some point. Anyway, we’re down at least one Marx.
Me: Sneaky! Disguised.
|Iconic Moment #113|
Me: That’s a damn fine shot. Great cliffhanger.
We’re treated to slightly different credits, that conclude with:
Credits: Directed by Derek Martinus.
Me: He cut William Hartnell’s final line as the Doctor.
Him: Why? What was it going to be? “If I regenerate into a wolf you’d better run?”
Me: Ha! I’ll tell you when we get there.
Me: I feel a bit weird about this. It feels very much as if everything is coming to an end.
Him: The credits in this are awful.
Me: What? The animations or the typos?
Him: The typos.
The Doctor has warned Cutler about visitors. Byron cranks up the orchestra as Cutler tries to gee up the poor chaps on the capsule.
Him: “Be seeing you”.
The Cybermen disguise themselves as Voord and sneak into the base.
Someone important is getting miffed in Geneva. There’s a news report detailing what’s probably the biggest piece of news to hit humanity. Geneva can’t contact the base because there’s something interfering with the signal.
As Barclay and the team try to bring the capsule down, Cybermen sneak in.
Him: “Let’s not look at their faces in the slightest.”
A Cyberman takes off his hood and kills an extra. Cutler blusters and the Cyberman starts to speak. It’s so damn weird, it’s actually a bit unsettling.
Him: How’s he talking without his mouth open?
The Cyberman explains that they have come from the ninth planet, Mondas.
Barclay: ‘Mondas’? But, isn’t that one of the ancient names for Earth?
Him: They’re really creepy.
Me: Aren’t they just?
Turns out Earth had a twin, but they kind of drifted apart over the years. Mondas got mixed up with a dodgy crowd, and has come back because it needs to be bailed out of an awkward situation. Honestly, it’s just a cross between The Thing and A History of Violence when you think about it.1
Cutler warns Geneva.
Someone important fills in what’s been going on for the slow of mind.
After a lot of talking there’s the first example of the cybermassage. Cutler is so relaxed by this, he has a nap.
Him: It looked like he was playing the accordian.
In order to keep everyone alive, Barclay contacts Geneva and says that there’s been a fault and everything’s fine. The Him notices something.
Him: What’s the shiny stuff on his helmet? Is that sellotape?
Me: I’m afraid it is.
Ben grabs a gun and a Cyberman immediately wrecks it. Humanity’s doomed! DOOMED!
Ben is dumped in a projection booth and the Cyberleader carries on his expository chat.
Him: Uuurgh. That mask looks hideous. You can see the eyes… Brrrr…
Both Shultz and Williams are stuffed. It’s a bit grim. To lighten the mood let’s have a countdown.
Him: Is there a Countdown Cyberman?
Me: That’s a good point. Let’s hope so.
All the capsule’s fuel’s gone.
Wile E.: plink plink plinkplinkplnkyplink
Wile E.: plink
Me: He blinks a lot when he’s stressed.
Him: Who does?
Me: Wile E. Coyote.
Wile E.: plink
The Cyberman has some questions.
Mondas is basically going to drain the Earth of everything, and then leave. The Doctor tries a new approach: shouting. Perhaps that’ll be the Cybermen’s weakness?
Barclay: But, you can’t just calmly stand there and tell us that we’re all going to die.
Ben’s found a projector.
Me: “I’ll just watch The Thing while I’m waiting.”
Him: Ben thinks too much, gets it wrong, and gets deleted.
Ben shows a film on a Cyberman.
Him: Is that The Gunfighters?
Me: Looks more like Living in Harmony. Y’know, this might be the only entry we’ve done so far that doesn’t have a hidden Monty Python reference. Oh – wait a moment.1
The Cyberman slightly over-reacts to being in a Western.
Ben kills it.
Him: “Eat lamp!”
Ben’s upset at this senseless waste of cybernetic life. For about five minutes, then he’s over the trauma forever. Navy training must’ve really been something.
The Doctor delivers a fantastic speech. It’s the one that’s always used in the clip shows. Y’know, where he lists different types of emotions. And doesn’t mention cooking.
Me: Go on, Bill.
Fired by the Doctor’s words, Polly stands up to the Cybermen.
Ben gives the cybergun to the newly awakened Cutler.
Cutler uses this turnabout of fortune as an opportunity to contact Geneva and tell them that Barclay was fibbing.
Geneva’s sent Cutler’s son’s to save the capsule. Cutler is unhappy about this.
Cutler: You’ve sent my son to his death. You realise that, I hope?
Someone Important: We are probably going to fight the first interplanetary war.
Me: “-fought solely with stock footage and musical cartoon predator blinkage.”
Cutler’s losing it.
The screen shows that the Cybermen have slightly thought this one through. There’s hundreds of them…
Me: Oo. That went by quick.
Him: ‘Roy Skelton’.
Me: Bless ‘im. You nearly met him too, y’know?
Him: This is the last fully surviving William Hartnell episode.
Me: It is.
Him: Unless you’re counting The Three Doctors.
Me: Fair point.
Him: Or Air Lock. Do you think the BBC has The Tenth Planet episode four?
Me: I don’t.
As the credits chirrup by (sounding like a mobile phone getting signal next to a loudspeaker for some reason), I should point out that William Hartnell doesn’t even appear in this episode. Never mind, here’s a mention for the script editor:
Him: Hey, look! He became ‘Gerry Davies’.
Cutler and his son exchange manly banter.
Him: Do we have all the Tom Baker stories yet?
Me: Um… We do. Good grief. We’ve got Terror of the Zygons and Shada on video – so we have. I hadn’t realised that. Something else I totally failed to notice. I’ve got to stop doing that.
The Doctor’s passed out in order to miss all the talking. A Z-Bomb is mentioned. There’s a lot of shouting, ‘Prepare the bomb!’, stuff like that.
Polly offers to help. She’ll make everyone some coffee.
Me: Oh God.
Ben and the Doctor are imprisoned in a bedroom.
|Ben notices a ventilation shaft.|
Him: What’s going on?
Me: The Doctor’s on holiday, Polly’s become a sterotype and Cutler’s preparing a Sesame Street bomb.
Me: Bless you.
Him: “Sorry. I ‘ave a cold.”
Me: It’s all this snow.
Him: I’m not catching a cold from The Tenth Planet.
Polly arrives with some much-needed coffee.
Me: Oh, for God’s sake, Polly. Stop collaborating!
Polly confronts Barclay with a conundrum. What if, rather than launch the Z-Bomb at Mondas and wiping out everything, they try a different apporach?
Polly: It’d probably mean the death of Cutler’s son, but it’s one life against millions.
Polly and Barclay head to see Ben. The ventilator shaft could be used. Ben could get into the bomb bay and stop it. But that leaves the staff in there to deal with.
Polly: Couldn’t we distract them?
Me: “I could make him some coffee.”
The cybership lands again (well, it’s a different one but there’s no sign of the first, so…) Here they come. Lamps shine and down they go.
Elsewhere, Ben’s in a shaft
Me: Oop. Gone a bit Alien now.
Him: Somehow I doubt that anything’ll rush past him.
Me: Not even an Ood?
Ben arrives as everyone leaves for coffee.
Me: They’re all off to watch Air Lock.
Polly zips to Ben’s bedroom and hides under the covers.
Me: The music’s quite effective here. Go on, Byron.
A guard wanders in to inspect Ben’s bedroom.
Him: “Oh, the ventilation shaft’s open. Can’t be important though, no-one could fit in there. I’ll just leave.”
Ben emerges from the shaft.
Him: Stealthy. Like a shadow.
Ben swings and lands.
Him: “KLANG! KLANG! KLANG!”
Ben checks his notes and begins wrecking stuff.
The Cybermen have walked the fifteen yards from their ship to the TARDIS and the main entrance to the base.
Me: Antarctica’s tiny really.
Me: Not much bigger than Riverside 1.
In the base, Cutler’s become suspicious. He heads straight to the silo and throws Ben over a railing. The Coyote can hardly bear to watch.
Wile E.: plink plinkyplinkplink plink
Back in the console room, Cutler has another chat with his son. Ben’s unconcious, Barclay’s wrestling with his conscience, and a countdown is drawing closer.
Him: Imagine if it was William Hartnell now. The Wedding of River Song would be very different.
Stop the countdown!
Start the countdown!
Him: “Doctor Who invented fire!”
After some relentless teasing, the countdown finally kicks off.
Barclay: T-minus forty seconds…
Barclay: T-minus thirty seconds…
Barclay: T-minus twenty seconds…
Me: It’s quite tense.
Barclay: T-minus ten seconds…
Stock footage plays us to the cliffhanger.
Me: Right. I feel like I should say something, but I don’t know what.
Him: That’ll do.
Me: Here we go.
Him: Doesn’t exist. Doesn’t exist. Just pictures. Oh – it’s moving.
Me: Don’t get your hopes up. It’s the recap.
The Z-Bomb doesn’t launch.
The Doctor’s recovered enough to deliver some cracking lines.
The Doctor: This old body of mine is wearing a bit thin.
Mondas can’t absorb much more energy. Suddenly, Cutler’s son disappears and, as a result, Cutler totally loses it. The Cybermen wander in and kill Cutler.
The Doctor suggests that, seeing as Mondas is doomed, why don’t the Cybermen come and live on Earth? The Cyberman decided to have a chat about this idea.
Ben: Can we trust them?
The Doctor: We have no chance.
Him: Didn’t he mean ‘choice’?
Me: He had a lot on his min- Movement!
Him: Can you stop that?
Me: I wouldn’t have thought so.
The Cybermen take Polly to the ship. They must need hot beverages.
Me: Hartnell looks really old.
On the cybership, Polly has a nice cybermassage and falls asleep.
Back on the base, the Doctor throws a switch furiously.
Me: Go on, Bill!
The Cybermen have never had any intention of cohabiting. In the silo, Barclay and Ben prepare to mount a resistance.
Barclay: Quick! Look busy!
Ben works it out. A trap is set and the Cybermen are overcome by radiation, with an unexpected, and alarming, side-effect.
Him: Why’s it farting?
Me: It’s the only thing we’ll never truly understand.
There’s a confrontation between the Doctor and the Cyberleader.
Me: I note that he took the Mondasian position in relation to that particular moral conundrum.
The Doctor is taken to the cybership.
Me: Bill sounds knackered.
Ben and the scientists have come up with a foolproof plan. Which is lucky seeing as the story’s nearly finished.
Him: So, was Doctor Who the last thing that William Hartnell did?
Me: I’ll have to check to be sure, but I’m fairly sure that The Three Doctors was. There wasn’t much of note between this and that.
Ben and the scientists remove rods from the silo and hide in the corridor. The Cybermen approach and start to burn their way in. Animated smoke rises and our heroes strike. The Cybermen wilt under the radioactive onslaught and the final stand seems to be a success.
It starts getting darker. Mondas melts and the Cybermen are defeated. Hooray!
Me: You’d think that would do something screwy to Earth’s orbit.
Him: What if not all of the Cybermen were evil? Like that Silent? What if it was a rogue Silent?
Me: Well, the Cybermen aren’t evil per se in this, they just want to survive.
Him: Their plan’s not that mad in this story. It’s certainly not as mad as the Dalek plan in Daleks’ Invasion of Earth.
Me: Well, in fairness, the Cyberman do already have a planet they can fly around. They don’t need to nick anyone else’s.
Him: Ah-CHOO! *sniff*
Me: Bless you.
Now that the interference from Mondas has ceased, we discover that Cutler’s son’s alright. Oh, the irony.
Geneva gets in touch with the base. Everything’s fine. Wonderful.
Ben arrives at the cybership and rescues the Doctor and Polly. The Doctor’s in a state. There’s movement…
The Doctor: No… It isn’t all over… It’s far from being all over
Me: What a piece of footage to survive!
They leave the cybership. Ben and Polly reach the TARDIS only to find that the Doctor’s locked them out.
Inside, things are happening. There’s movement…
The door opens.
The Doctor falls to the ground as a familiar wheezing, groaning sound fills the air.
The Doctor regenerates.
|Iconic Moment #122|
|Iconic Moment #123|
Lady and Gentleman, we present: The Credits.
Him: They don’t even mention Patrick Troughton.
Me: We did it.
Him: Yep. So what was his final line going to be?
Me: “Carrot juice, carro-“1
Him: No, it wasn’t.
Me: No, you’re right. It was:
The Doctor: No… No! I simply will not give in!3
1. Sorry. Sorry.
2. Skipping over maths and Kenneth Grant.