February 11, 2014

Building the Base Under Siege: DOCTOR WHO - THE MOONBASE

(Special thanks to BBC Home Entertainment for providing a complimentary copy for review. My opinions are my own).

Thankfully, many of my efforts this past week (thanks, in no part, to a harsh winter) were spent reading and viewing a variety of complimentary materials, including one of the final "classic" DVD releases for Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary, The Moonbase,  one of Patrick Troughton's earliest stories as the Second Doctor, as well as an early example of "base under siege"

Like several other stories from the 1960s (including Reign of Terror, The Tenth Planet, and The Ice Warriors, The Moonbase contains animated reconstructions of two "missing" episodes, and the style is...well, it's closer to the anime-derived style of Reign and Tenth Planet than the more Hanna-Barbera-esque style of Ice Warriors....and it does seem to clash with the rest of the story. However, this is a bit misleading, as The Moonbase is....well, it's pretty much a straightforward rewrite of The Tenth Planet. (According to the production notes comment track, it was originally slated for William Hartnell before....well, you know....).

What really makes this episode a keeper....well, it's the second story featuring the Cybermen (moving away from the more ghostly versions of Tenth Planet into a more robotic form). It's also a story that wears its mid-1960s nature on its sleeve. (Not only does a female companion serve as a foil for the Doctor, but he actually asks her to "make some coffee and keep (the others) happy". It's not bad, by any means....but it establishes a formula that would make its home in Troughton's second season as the Doctor (including the recently rediscovered Web of Fear, to be released on DVD in April).

In an article about Who that was published last year (and which I can't find the link), a writer referred to Troughton as the "hipster Doctor". But if there's anything that The Moonbase proves, it's that Troughton not only took over the character, but really laid a strong foundation for the show's future.

After watching The Moonbase, do yourself a favor and watch the Second Time Around featurette on The Krotons DVD. With one more story to be released, fans will have a pretty consistent run of Troughton's Doctor....and The Moonbase is a strong example of why he's so well regarded by fans.

Buy it. Now.

No comments: