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The Friday Docback Tours 'The City of Death'!! DOCTOR WHO Story #105, Win DVDs, Season/ Series 7 Tidbits, And More!!



Merrick here...
...with a look at City of Death, a Tom Baker-era DOCTOR WHO story originally broadcast September-October 1979.  The story is credited to ‘David Agnew,’ who in actuality is a pseudonym for no less than three writers:  David Fisher (The Creature from the Pit - T. Baker, Story #106  and The Leisure Hive - T. Baker, Story #109 ), Graham Williams (producer), and the mighty Douglas Adams.  It features one of my favorite Classic DW dialogue exchanges to date:  
:  You’re tinkering with time. That’s always a bad idea unless you know what you’re doing. 
KERENSKY:  I know what I’m doing. I am the foremost authority of temporal theory in the whole world. 
DOCTOR:  The whole world?
DOCTOR:  Well, that’s a very small place when you consider the size of the universe.
KERENSKY:  Ah, but who can?
DOCTOR: Oh, some can. And if you can’t, you shouldn’t tinker with time.
City of Death (in which not very much death actually happens - the title seems to refer  the ever-present threat to Paris by nefarious forces) marks the episode in which leads Tom Baker (the Doctor) and Lala Ward (Romana) fell in love, a development which is not at all surprising given the duo’s clearly apparent ease and chemistry here.  
CoD (that's City of Death, not CALL OF DUTY) was recently selected as a “Docbacker’s Choice” by Docback participants, and...quite simply...represents one of DOCTOR WHO’s finest moments in a number of regards.  How so?  Read on.  
But first...
BBC Home Entertainment, Aint It Cool News, and the Alamo Drafthouse Invite You To Free Screenings Of Three DOCTOR WHO Classics!!  + Indianapolis And New York City WHOvians Rejoice!  Screenings Coming To Your Areas Immediately!!


Over the past few months, BBC Home Entertainment, Aint it Cool News, and the Alamo Drafthouse have been bringing you some very, very cool theatrical screenings of recently restored classic DOCTOR WHO episodes like The Three Doctors, The Daemons, and Dragonfire.


We're now tremendously excited to announce the next few screenings in our series, all featuring newly restored versions of classic episodes, all occurring on the last Saturday of each month, and all happening at the lovely new Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane in Southwest Austin.  



SATURDAY JUNE 30 - Resurrection of the Daleks


The TARDIS is dragged down a time corridor, forcing the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison), Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Turlough (Mark Strickson) to materialize in a disused part of London in 1984. The corridor links Earth with a battle cruiser in the future that contains the Doctor’s oldest enemy – the Daleks. Having lost the war with the Movellans, only one person can now help the evil race. With shocking consequences for the Doctor, it is time for the Daleks to resurrect their creator Davros (Terry Malloy)

The screening itself is FREE and General Admission, which means first come, first seated.  HOWEVER, RSVP Meal Vouchers are available which either 1) guarantee you admittance to the screening, or 2) guarantee you a reserved seat in the theater depending on which option you purchase.  The price of these RSVP vouchers is applied towards the cost of whatever meal or concessions you enjoy at the screening.   

Resurrection of the Daleks vouchers are now available HERE.  



SATURDAY JULY 28 - Death to the Daleks


This Pertwee-era DOCTOR WHO adventure is described thusly by BBC Home Entertainment...

A power failure in the TARDIS draws it off course, and the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) end up stranded on the bleak planet of Exxilon. They soon meet members of an Earth expedition in a similar situation. The humans are searching for a rare mineral, but first they must find out what is draining their power and avoid what’s inside another grounded spaceship – one of the Doctor’s oldest enemies, the Daleks

Like our previous screenings, admittance to Death of the Daleks is FREE and General Admission, which means first come, first seated.  HOWEVER, RSVP Meal Vouchers are available which either 1) guarantee you admittance to the screening, or 2) guarantee your a reserved seat in the theater depending on which option you purchase.  The price of these RSVP vouchers is applied towards the cost of whatever meal or concessions you enjoy at the screening.   

 Death to the Daleks vouchers are now available HERE.  



SATURDAY AUGUST 25 - Spearhead from Space


In Jon Pertwee's initial adventure as the third Doctor...

The Time Lords have banished the newly regenerated Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) to Earth. But he isn’t the only alien to have arrived, as a swarm of meteorites have crashed into the sleepy English countryside, bringing with them a terrible new threat to mankind: the Nestene consciousness, a disembodied alien intelligence with an affinity for plastic. The Doctor and his newly appointed scientific advisor, Liz Shaw (Caroline John), join UNIT in a race against time to stop humanity from being replaced by a terrifying plastic facsimile race.

Like our previous screenings, admittance to Spearhead From Space  is FREE and General Admission, which means first come, first seated.  HOWEVER, RSVP Meal Vouchers are available which either 1) guarantee you admittance to the screening, or 2) guarantee your a reserved seat in the theater depending on which option you purchase.  The price of these RSVP vouchers is applied towards the cost of whatever meal or concessions you enjoy at the screening.   

We'll re-announce this screening and provide appropriate linkage as soon as vouchers become available.  



SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 29  - information forthcoming


[[[  NOTE: as previous screenings have SOLD OUT, purchasing meal vouchers (thus guaranteeing your admittance to the screening) via the links above  - and far in advance -  is strongly recommended.  ]]]


I am thrilled beyond measure that classic DOCTOR WHO screenings will now be happening in other regions of the U.S. as well!  These screenings are NOT directly connected to Aint It Cool News, per se, but our highly successful pilot efforts here in Austin have evidently paved the way and opened doors for others to partake of classic WHOvian greatness on the big screen in their fine cities - which truly makes me very happy.  

The WHO North America group has partnered with BBC Home Entertainment to bring these same episodes to fans in Indianapolis.  Per their message boards (located HERE)...

We are pleased to announce that we have partnered with BBC Home Entertainment and Tilt Studio to bring a classic Doctor Who monthly screening series and get together for all Doctor Who fans in Indianapolis and surrounding areas. Each month we will screen a digitally remastered classic Doctor Who story that is available on DVD from BBC Home Entertainment. The first meeting is scheduled for Saturday, June 30 from 2 - 5 pm in Indianapolis at the Tilt Arcade & Theatre located on the 4th Floor of the Circle Centre Mall.

The awesome Paley Center for Media in New York City  is also joining in the fun, their schedule can be found HERE.  

Indianapolis, New York City, and Austin will all be screening the same episodes on the same day, at roughly the same time of day!  A rather amazing development as far as I'm concerned, and a trend which I hope both continues and evolves for a very long time to come.   

If you are a part of, or know of, a sizable contingent of DOCTOR WHO fans in your next of the woods...and think they might 
feasibly be interested in screenings of this nature...DROP ME A LINE and I'll be sure your message gets to the proper folks at BBC Home Entertainment. 





To commemorate this weekend’s screenings of Resurrection of the Daleks, the awesome folks over at BBC Home Entertainment are bringing you the chance to snag their two DOCTOR WHO releases for this month.  These are being offered as a set - meaning one (1) lucky recipient will receive these titles together.  
The TARDIS is dragged down a time corridor, forcing the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison), Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Turlough (Mark Strickson) to materialize in a disused part of London in 1984. The corridor links Earth with a battle cruiser in the future that contains the Doctor’s oldest enemy – the Daleks. Having lost the war with the Movellans, only one person can now help the evil race. With shocking consequences for the Doctor, it is time for the Daleks to resurrect their creator Davros (Terry Malloy)
By the late 21st century, mankind has become totally dependent on T-Mat to transport people, food and medicines around the world. When the system breaks down, Earth is soon crippled by global shortages. Traveling to the relay station on the moon, the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his companions discover the horrific truth: the Ice Warriors have hijacked T-Mat, and intend to claim the planet for themselves. Can the Doctor defeat the Martians before Earth is smothered in deadly fungus, and the human race is condemned to extinction?
How do you get this set?  Between now and 11:59 PM CST USA on Monday July 2, I've pre-selected one (1) time of day on one (1) pre-selected date.   Whoever e-mails me at, or closest to, my pre-selected time on my preselected date will win this prize pack.  
Only THREE ENTRIES PER PERSON, PER DAY, will be allowed.  Anyone deviating from this limitation will see all of their entries for that day summarily discarded.  
BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR FULL ADDRESS IN YOUR SUBMISSION.  This is to expedite shipping of your prize only - no Spam lists or mass mailings or anything like that.  All entries will be summarily deleted once a recipient is chosen.  
BE SURE TO SEND FROM A FREQUENTLY CHECKED E-MAIL ADDRESS!!  If I need to contact you and can not do so, I'll quickly move on to the next closest entry.  
IN THE SUBJECT LINE, include the phrase "Those Aren't Soap Bubbles!"  If this is not in your subject line, your message won't be filtered correctly and I'll most likely not see it.  
BE SURE YOU SEND E-MAIL TO THE ADDRESS LINKED BELOW!!  You'd be surprised how many people send entries to the wrong place.  
Have fun, best of luck, and thanks so much for your time and support!  









...Asylum of the Daleks, per THIS announcement over at BBC.

The title of the new story has already increased the excitement building around it. Could the ‘asylum’ be a place or is it some sort of protection? Or does the word take on a new and sinister meaning in this adventure?

...asks the BBC piece.

Personally, I'm kinda hoping Asylum refers to a place where crazy Daleks go to chill-out.  I've always been fascinated by the notion of Daleks as neurotic and angry lifeforms stuck inside of these tank-like hardshells...that's gotta be one of the elements which makes 'em so damn belligerent, no?  So, imagine that conceit...applied on top of a Dalek mental care facility...

To be very clear, I have no knowledge this is the case in any way, shape, or form.  I'm just thinking out loud and for fun.  Knowing Moffat's work, I rather doubt that the Asylum allusion would be as simple as I'm making it.  Of course, my conjecture would, to an extent, be in keeping with The Moff's stated desire for "slutty titles and movie-poster plots" for the upcoming season/series, so we'll see.

A recent issue of DOCTOR WHO Magazine revealed that the episode we know now as Asylum would feature a Dalek from every era.  Here's a video refresher of what that means...



Thanks to Sminkypinky for the heads-up re: the title announcement! 





The unbelievably talented yet somehow perennially under-appreciated David Warner will appear in an episode of S7.  No word on his role, yet.  This per BBC.  
Warner, who once voiced a role for the DOCTOR WHO animated adventure Dreamland, has nailed a number of high-profile genre roles over the years.  He was Jack the Ripper in Nicholas Meyer's TIME AFTER TIME, Sark/Dillinger in TRON, Ra's Al Ghul in the BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and BATMAN BEYOND (both for television), "Evil" In TIME BANDITS, captive and brainwashed Federation representative St. John Talbot in STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER, the assassinated Chancellor Gorkon in STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY, and much. much more.  
Thanks to our friend Sam Jackson's Wig for the heads up about this! 
City of Death 
“Why hasn’t she got any eyebrows?”  Romana, CIty of Death Part One
Set primarily in Paris, City of Death spans 400,000 million years - and hinges on a threat whose consequences couldn’t get much bigger for the human race.  The Doctor, companion Romana, and side-kick cop Duggan (Tom Chadbon) must thwart oily Count Scarlioni (Julian Glover), Countess Scarlioni (Catherine Scheell - who played Maya in SPACE: 1999’s regrettable second season), and their henchmen.  At face value, Count Scarlioni appears to be little more than a high-end art thief/forger.  The truth of the matter is very, very, different...and unfathomably dangerous.  
Since beginning my journey through the history of DOCTOR WHO, I’ve noted one characteristic of the show’s fan base over and over again (pertaining to what we’re doing here in the Docbacks, at least):  WHOvians’ tastes, on the whole, are remarkably refined and accurate.  In other words, DW followers (given my experience with them so far) appear keenly aware of, and honest about, which 'classic' WHOverse stories work - and which don’t . With few, if any exceptions, the stories I’ve been forewarned about by readers have absolutely come up short, and the tales which were exalted have more than earned their keep.  WHOvians, it seems, have good and honest sensibilities.  At least ‘round these here parts they do...
As such, when Docbackers voted City of Death to be the one serial they were most eager to discuss here in our humble forums, I figured it had to be a rather special story.  While I tend to not mind spoilers very much, I don’t go out of my way to seek them out, either.  Thus, when approaching City of Death earlier this week, I knew only what I’d gleaned from extras on DOCTOR WHO DVDs I’ve already seen:  it was set in Paris (more or less), John Cleese has a cameo in it, “and this is the one where Baker and Ward fell in love in real life.”  These were my entire points of association with it, other than noting the numerous times CoD has been championed on the Docbacks - and rightfully so.  

An alien spacecraft, prepping to leave primordial Earth.  This vessel's necessary fate (and the resonance its destiny carries for the survival of two intelligent species) is integral to City of Death's overall story arc,  and provides a poignant undercurrent about the fragility (and cruel replaceability) of existence in the universe.  
Of all the classic DOCTOR WHO stories I’ve seen to date, City of Death is perhaps the most consummate example of WHO that I’ve come across.  It is a perfect storm...and a veritable parade...of the qualities which enable DOCTOR WHO to shine at its brightest, and to endure over so many years.  
The two elements which are (perhaps) most critical to this story’s success immediately leap from the screen.  They are, paradoxically, generally unrelated to one another, but also intricately entwined.  This apparently contradictory statement makes sense when viewing a TV or film production as something of a symphony:  disparate parts being forced together to create a hopefully organic whole. 
The first of these ingredients is City of Death’s pervasive self-assuredness.  Everyone involved here brought their “A Game.”  Baker and Ward’s smooth comfort with each other (as well as  their full investment in the characters and narrative around them) wonderfully accentuates the wink-and-a-nudge earnestness of villain actors to Julian Glover and Catherine Schell.  John Walker’s often inventive photography brings a strange-but-effective teeter totter of travelogue imagery and shaky-cam grittiness CoD’s extensive location work.  Michael Hayes’ direction is brisk - in both location material and studio work.  There’s very little sag here; City of Death is a case study in expedition.  Dudley Simpsons’ incidental music is atypically thematic - going for more substance and impact than the typical DOCTOR WHO scores of that era.  All involved appear imminently comfortable with the material they were given, and altogether “sold” on the immediate universe they’re inhabiting in this four part saga.  Resulting in an..for want of a better word...ease. A vital and wonderful across-the-board smoothness which gives rise to poignancy, excitement, suspense, earnestness, all topped with with the teeniest smidgen of cheese.  This is all the “cool stuff” for which DOCTOR WHO is known...with precious few sour ingredients.  
John Walker's filmed location material brings City of Death an almost visceral grittiness at times.  
Which leads to the second quality:  effortlessness.  Many visual effects folks will assert that the “best effects are the ones you don’t notice...”  - the same holds true for overall narrative movements and structure.   City of Death is organic - one doesn’t notice the tale shifting gears or changes of tones here.   CoD is a well-shaped whole, which is ESPECIALLY impressive given the presence three writers, a potentially fragmenting factor might well have brought about disparity in vibe or sensibility.  CoD feels extremely unified in its various components - as if told by one voice with a singular vision  - a pitfall other multi-authored DW stories have not avoided as skillfully, and a malady befalling even the most high-budgeted, mega-sized works of film and television today.  
High and charm and rich with flavor and energy, City of Death is the CASABLANCA of classic WHO.  Not in terms of its subject matter or plot line, but in regards to its deftness, competence, confidence, and balance. All of which gives rise to a CASABLANCA-like magic and timelessness.  
On the whole, City of Death's location work suggests Parisians were pretty much  unfazed by the story's shoot in numerous exterior settings  This scene, however, featuring investigator Duggan (Tom Chadbon) trying to catch up to the Doctor and Romana, shows a crowd clearly reacting to the filming as it's happening.  The guy in the white jacket and blue pants (right) and the SMILING(?!) lady in the long white coat (left) being chief perpetrators.  
Sometimes magic just happens on-screen, despite the enumerable obstacles and struggles a cast and crew have faced to realize their ambitions.  Which is precisely what happened here.   Is this the best DOCTOR WHO ever made?  I can’t say that - I’ve yet to see all of them.   But City of Death is certainly the best of the Classic WHOs I’ve seen thus far.  That’s a lofty accolade, and it’s a position which is hard-earned.  
My hunch is, once the frightful and bewildering day arrives when I’ve at long last beheld every pre-2005 WHO ever made, City of Death will still be at the top of that list.  I’ll be lost on that day, and in all probability will turn around be begin a probably endless series of re-watches.  City of Death will almost certainly be my starting point. 
The City of Death is availabe HERE in the U.K. and HERE in the U.S. 
IN THE COMING WEEKS - Jumping Continuity With: 

The Five Doctors  (Davison, Story #129) 
Death to the Daleks (Pertwee, Story #72)
The Krotons (Troughton, Story # 47) 
-- titles definite but sequence may flux slightly due to the arrival of upcoming DVD releases --




Glen Oliver




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"The Impossible Astronaut"

"Day of the Moon"

"The Curse of the Black Spot"

"The Doctor's Wife"

"The Rebel Flesh"

"The Almost People"

"A Good Man Goes To War"

"Let's Kill Hitler"

"Night Terrors"


"The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe" (2011 Christmas Special)  





"An Unearthly Child" (Story #1)

"The Daleks" (Story #2)

"The Edge of Destruction" (Story #3)

"Marco Polo" (Story #4)

"The Keys of Marinus(Story #5)

"The Aztecs" (Story #6)

"The Sensorites" (Story #7)

"The Sensorites" (Story #7 - full DVD release) 

"The Reign of Terror" (Story #8)

"Planet of Giants" (Story #9) 

"The Dalek Invasion of Earth" (Story #10)

"The Rescue" (Story #11) 

"The Romans"  (Story #12) 

"The Web Planet" (Story #13) / SHERLOCK - "A Scandal in Belgravia" (Story #4)

"The Crusade" (Story #14) 

"The Space Museum" (Story #15) 

"The Chase" (Story #16) 

"The Time Meddler" (Story #17) 

"Galaxy 4" (Story #18) 

Mission to the Unkonwn (Story #19) 

"The Myth Makers" (Story #20) 

"The Gunfighters" (Story #25)

"The Tomb of the Cybermen" (Story #37) 

"The Seeds of Death" (Story #48) 

"The Colony in Space" (Story #58) 

"The Daemons" (Story #59) 

"Day of the Daleks" (Story #60) + Preview of the DotD Special Edition

"The Three Doctors" (Story #65) 

"Carnival of Monsters" (Story #66) 

"Invasion of the Dinosaurs" (Story #71) and SHERLOCK: "The Reichenbach Fall" (Story #6) 

"The Android Invasion" (Story #83) and SHERLOCK: "The Hounds of Baskerville" (Story #5) 

"The Face of Evil" (Story #89) 

"The Robots of Death" (Story #90) 

"The Talons of Weng-Chiang" (Story #91)

"The Sun Makers(Story #95)

"Nightmare of Eden" (Story #107) 

"Kinda" (Story #118)

"Snakedance" (Story #125) 

"The Awakening" (Story #131)

"Frontios(Story #132)

"Resurrection of the Daleks" (Story #134) 

"The Caves of Androzani" (Story #136) 

"Time and the Rani" (Story #144)

"Paradise Towers" (Story #145) + New WHOvian Documentary / Newsbits

"Dragonfire" (Story #147) 

"The Happiness Patrol" (Story #149) 

"Doctor Who: The Movie" (aka TVM) - McGann) 


Merrick's Personal Journey With The Doctor (How Merrick Got Hooked On DOCTOR WHO)

DOCTOR WHO Title Sequences & DW At Comic-Con 2011

"The Crash of the Elysium" (Manchester version - interactive DOCTOR WHO adventure)

Why Eccleston Left, Here Comes Caroline Skinner, And Season/Series Six Part 1 on Blu-Ray And DVD

New Trailer For Season/Series Six Part 2




1) a Docback should be about completely open and free discourse regarding all things WHO with, obviously, some variation on subject matter from time to time - the real world intervenes, discussions of other shows are inevitable, etc.)... 

2) matters of SPOILAGE should be handled with thoughtful consideration and sensitivity.  Posts containing SPOILERS should clearly state that a SPOILER exists in its topic/headline and should never state the spoiler itself . "** SPOILER ** Regarding Rory" is OK, for example.  "** SPOILER ** Battle of Zarathustra" is fine as well.  " **SPOILER** Why did everyone die?"  Is NOT good.  
And, above all... 

3) converse, agree, disagree, and question as much as you want - but the freedom to do so is NOT a license to be rude, crass, disrespectful, or uncivilized in any way.  Not remaining courteous and civil, as well as TROLLING or undertaking sensational efforts to ignite controversy, will result in banning.  Lack of courtesy may receive one (1) warning before a ban is instigated.  Obvious Trolling or Spamming will result in summary banning with no warning.  One word posts intended to bump-up any Docback's figures on AICN's "Top Talkbacks" sidebar will be considered actionable Spam - they not only complicate efforts to access Docback from mobile devices, but impede readers' abilities to follow or engage in flowing conversation. 
In short, it's easy.  Be excellent to each other.  Now party on... 
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