BBC has issued a new teaser for Asylum of the Daleks, the opening episode of DOCTOR WHO Season/Series 7.
Still no word on the show's start date - word on the street says September 1. We'll see...
...with a look at Spearhead from Space, a four part Pertwee-era DOCTOR WHO adventure originally transmitted January 1970. This is a story of firsts, as Spearhead ...
-- brings us Pertwee’s first stint as the Doctor (the character regenerated away from Patrick Troughton in the concluding moments of the preceding story - a plus-sized tale called The War Games, Story #50)...
-- introduces a character/companion named Liz Shaw (Caroline John, who recently passed away)...
-- is the only episode to date shot entirely on film - except for 1996’s Paul McGann-starring television movie, and including the current show (which is recorded on tape and processed in post production to appear more filmic)...
-- is also the first DW to be shot in color. Bringing us Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart’s peculiarly pinkish uniform and gold tie)...
More on Spearhead shortly, but first...
EARLIER THIS WEEK...BBC RELEASED NEW PLOT DESCRIPTIONS AND IMAGES FROM SEASON/SERIES 7...
BBC has released synopses of the first three episodes of DOCTOR WHO Season/Series 7. Keep in mind, these are officially issued descriptions and, thus, aren't likely to contain anything terribly spoilery.
Episode 1: Asylum Of The Daleks - Kidnapped by his oldest foe, the Doctor is forced on an impossible mission - to a place even the Daleks are too terrified to enter... the Asylum. A planetary prison confining the most terrifying and insane of their kind, the Doctor and the Ponds must find an escape route. But with Amy and Rory’s relationship in meltdown, and an army of mad Daleks closing in, it is up to the Doctor to save their lives, as well as the Pond’s marriage.
Episode 2: Dinosaurs On A Spaceship - An unmanned spaceship hurtles towards certain destruction - unless the Doctor can save it, and its impossible cargo... of dinosaurs! By his side a ragtag gang of adventurers; a big game hunter, an Egyptian Queen and a surprised member of the Pond family. But little does the Doctor know there is someone else onboard who will stop at nothing to keep hold of his precious, prehistoric cargo.
Episode 3: A Town Called Mercy - The Doctor gets a Stetson (and a gun!), and finds himself the reluctant Sheriff of a Western town under siege by a relentless cyborg, who goes by the name of the Gunslinger. But who is he and what does he want? The answer seems to lie with the mysterious, Kahler-Jex, an alien doctor (yes another one!) whose initial appearance is hiding a dark secret.
Al in all, we know know the titles and authors of the first five Season/Series 7 episodes. Asylum of the Daleks is scripted by current WHO mastermind Steven Moffat, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship is written by Chris Chibnall (S5's The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood) , A Town Called Mercy is by Toby Whithouse (S5's The Vampires of Venice and S6's The God Complex), The Power of Three by Chris Chibnall, and The Angels Take Manhattan - which exits current companions Amy and Rory - is by Steven Moffat.
Some new images from this first batch of episodes are also making the rounds. A few of them are presentd here, but you can JUMP TO BBC for a broader (and EMBIGGENABLE!) selction. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. My 5 year old heard rthat title and practically pooped himself. This may well be the first DOCTOR WHO episode he watches...
Spearhead from Space
“What are you staring at, woman?” - Sam Seeley (Neil Wilson), Spearhead from Space Episode Two
There's a new Doctor in town, if that really is the Doctor - along with a new companion, strange energy orbs, rampaging homicidal mannequins, and a pink uniformed, gold-tied Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart!?! DOCTOR WHO reboots, and jumps into color, as it inexorably hurtles towards those damn, damn, tentacles...
Spearhead is written by Robert Holmes, who wrote some of the very best classic DOCTOR WHOs ever made: The Caves of Androzani (Davison, Story #136), The Talons of Weng-Chiang (T. Baker, Story #91), and The Sun Makers (T. Baker, Story #95).
Like Matt Smith’s 2010 debut in The Eleventh Hour (Series/Season 5), Spearhead very much a reboot/re-introduction to both the Doctor character, and the show in general. Incoming companion Liz Shaw (Caroline John) is brought up to speed by continuing Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) - thus we’re re-inDoctornated as well. The still-recovering-from-regeneration Doctor takes a bit to find himself - thus we discover him at the same time. All around, a feeling of rebirth prevails for the first episode and a half or so. Strangely, many other shows would stumble over so many awkward and expository movements - but this is where Spearhead conducts itself with the greatest aplomb.
When we get into the nitty-gritty, however, it becomes startlingly evident that Spearhead is not imbued with the same social awareness and gravitas other episodes best characterizing Holmes’ more notable contributions to the show - nor do Spearhead’s later installments meet the promise of their setup. When all is said and done, this is pretty much by-the-numbers and frivolous, featuring villain-controlled mannequins coming to life, and culminating with the Doctor’s regrettable encounter with foamy, oversized alien tentacles whose design and color scheme would appear quite at home in a Sid and Marty Krofft show.
While Spearhead never equals the sum of its parts, and although some of its parts were unarguably misguided (see the embed above), a few qualities do shine brightly here - very much making this story worthy of note. Due to a set workers strike at the time, Spearhead was shot largely on location, thus entirely on film (and rather well shot at that). Previously, and subsequently (with the exception of the 1996 TV movie), the use of film in Classic DOCTOR WHO had been contained to often scant location work, or miniature photography. Here, the majority of the story was shot on location - necessitating film - and lending Spearhead a harder, “real-world” cinematic quality.
This very nicely complements Pertwee’s more grounded take on the character, and ups the aesthetic of the show considerably. Saying Spearhead’s “look” and “feel” is rather unique to DOCTOR WHO is not hyperbole. It, literally, does look and feel unlike any other story in the series.
Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) - ensnared in a heated press conference, complete with very good handheld camera work, and lens flare.
On BBC Home Entertainment’s newly issued DVD, Spearhead’s image has been lovingly restored to a sometimes startling visual robustness. In terms of picture quality and vibrancy, this may be the best looking “Classic” DOCTOR WHO DVD BBC HE has yet issued. Seeing the result here does make one wish more episodes of the series had been shot similarly. When compared to the classic show’s customary studio style, the film work here lends an air of legitimacy and atmosphere to the proceedings which might well have helped DW reach an even broader audience.
Dudley Simpson’s score is more developed here than in much of his other WHO work, offering a bit more layering and complexity than earlier years of the show traditionally afforded - especially during action sequences. As stated above, Director Derek Martinus (The Ice Warriors - Troughton, Story #39, and Galaxy 4 - Hartnell, Story #18) handles potentially bumpy introductory material here with considerable alacrity, but derails considerably when attacking the meat and bones of Holmes’ tale. He does find some level of redemption later in the game, however, when Auton mannequins spring to life and smite hapless city folk with nasty blaster hands. There are a few very good kills visualized during their assault.
Alas, what ground these moments recover is quickly lost by those damn, damn tentacles.
When all is said and done, Spearhead from Space simply feels a lost. It’s not exciting enough to forgive it’s rather thin plotting, it’s not funny enough to overlook an inherently goofy conceit of mannequins coming to life and chasing people, but it’s too serious to forgive such obvious affronts as those damn, damn tentacles. There’s a lot that doesn’t work about Spearhead, but it’s “on elements” convey very, very nicely. A decidedly mixed bag and an interesting conversation piece, if nothing else...
The newly (and wonderfully) restored Spearhead from Space - INCLUDING A SOMETIMES EXCISED, BRIEF APPEARANCE BY A FLEETWOOD MAC SONG - is available on DVD HERE in the U.S. and HERE in the U.K.
Down to Earth: Filming Spearhead from Space (22:40)
-- Terrance Dicks (Story Editor)
-- Derrick Sherwin (Producer) - says exiling the Pertwee Doctor to Earth was his idea, as was the creation of UNIT...
“It’s the story of the BBC - if it costs money, you don’t get to do it.”
-- Jon Pertwee (1994 interview)
-- Christine Rawlins (Costume Designer)
-- Robin Squire (Assistant Script Editor)
-- Barry Letts (2008 interview)
Regenerations: From Black and White to Color (18:41)
A very fascinating look at BBCs, and DOCTOR WHO’s, complicated transition from Black and White to Color. Insight from...
-- Derrick Sherwin (Producer)
-- Bernard Lodge (BBC Graphic Designer)
-- Timothy Combe (BBC Director in the 1960s/70s)
-- Michael Ferguson (BBC Director in the 1960s/70s)
-- Christopher Barry (BBC Director in the 1950s-80s)
-- Roger Cheveley (BBC Designer in the 1960s)
-- Frazer Hines (companion Jamie McCrimmon)
-- Wendy Padbury (companion Zoe Heriot)
-- Terrance Dicks (Story Editor)
Discusses early efforts towards Color Separation Overlay (CSO = esentially a real-time bluescreen-like process, a la Chroma Key).
UNIT Recruitment Film (4:50)
Various promos for airings of Spearhead from Space, and BBC 2 showing of DW.
Photo Gallery (3:51)
Radio Times Listings
Coming Soon (1:04)
The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (McCoy, Story #151) - now restored and releasing alongside Spearhead on DVD.
The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (McCoy, Story #151)
[SEASON / SERIES SIX DOCBACKS]
"The Impossible Astronaut"
"Day of the Moon"
"The Curse of the Black Spot"
"The Doctor's Wife"
"The Rebel Flesh"
"The Almost People"
"The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe" (2011 Christmas Special)
[RETRO-WHO DOCBACKS - MOST RECENT DOCBACK IS HIGHLIGHTED]
"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 Mind Robber" (Story #45)
"The Krotons" (Story #47)
"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)
"Death to the Daleks" (Story #72)
"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)
"The City of Death" (Story #105)
"Nightmare of Eden" (Story #107)
"Kinda" (Story #118)
"Snakedance" (Story #125)
"The Five Doctors" (Story #129)
"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)
DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SERIES
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
The Companions of DOCTOR WHO + New Trailer & Artwork For Season/Series 7
[Season / Series Seven Docbacks]
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