Attics can be wonderful, beautiful things. Sometimes they are repositories of worthless junk, but more often they have such wonderful stories to tell. They are full of boxes. Some contain toys from childhood. Others hold certificates, pictures, and correspondence. Still others contain mementos and heirlooms of events both obscure and infamous. There are such stories to be learned, if one can only gain entry and do some research.
That is how it could be for Doctor Who. With 52 years now passed since the show began production, what stories can its artifacts and ephemera tell us? We know the exoteric truths of the show’s production from its primary artifacts — the episodes produced by and shown on the BBC. Surely, there must be more than that. What were the stories, the images, the ideas that never made it onto those tapes? What did time or budget make impossible? What was merely deemed to be poor creative choice?
These are the motivating themes of a new book, Doctor Who: Impossible Worlds by Stephen Nicholas and Mike Tucker. It proposes to take us into the Doctor Who production design department to show how the core ideas of the series transformed from imagination to television drama for over 50 years. In this, it succeeds more than it fails and provides the reader with some rich visual insight into the history of Doctor Who.
Ahhh, what would it mean to know the mind of a Time Lord? It must be something to know what a Time Lord saw. There must be wit! There must be wisdom! There must be an ambivalence, a humor about the mundane moments. There must be perspective that comes from the understanding of time and history as a sometimes malleable thing. So, we are presented with a book called Doctor Who: The Time Lord Letters. What does it tell us?
In the end, it doesn’t tell us much. It tries to create a narrative of Doctor Who history that is approachable for younger television viewers. The actual history of the show is far more complex than that, due to reasons that have little to do with good storytelling. The full-color hardcover title does little to weave together all the historical threads of the Doctor’s lives. Instead, the book’s best appeal is to provide both older and younger viewers with an excellent photo collage of the entire history of Doctor Who. That, I think, is what will keep readers coming back to this book.
The BBC today announced that 9 episodes from Patrick Troughton-era of classic Doctor Who (1966-69) were found earlier this year at a Nigerian television station and will be available for immediate purchase via Apple iTunes.
The episodes come from two multi-part serials for which only one episode each was known to exist: “The Enemy Of The World” and “The Web Of Fear.” As a result of this discovery, “The Enemy Of The World” serial can now be watched whole in the UK for the first time since it was originally broadcast, and for the first time ever in the United States. Episode 3 of “The Web Of Fear” serial is still missing even after this discovery, but a reconstruction from stills and program audio is included to complete the story. All 11 episodes from the two serials exist on film and were digitally restored prior for this release.
In considering the history of the BBC’s venerable series Doctor Who, the most important date that anyone remembers is November 23, 1963. That’s the day that the first episode, “An Unearthly Child,” was originally transmitted. Thus began the uninterrupted 26-year broadcast run that comprises a major part of the series history. That’s the birth date of the series, and the one that will be commemorated with a 50th Anniversary special on November 23, 2013.
As the Radio Times pointed out a few days ago, there are other meaningful early dates to consider. While it is hard to exactly pin down some key dates in the development history of the Doctor Who series, one undisputed date is September 19, 1963. That’s the day that filming for the first version of “An Unearthly Child” commenced. The first recorded scene showed the TARDIS police box landing on the Middle Paleolithic Earth of 100,000 BCE with an ominous human shadow in the foreground, making it at the very end of the script for the initial episode.
Doctor Who Series 7 continues in a story told from the perspective of the Ponds, the Earth has become plagued by the mysterious appearance of black cubes across the planet. The Doctor (Matt Smith) begins an investigation into the cubes, with the assistance of some old friends with UNIT, only to find… nothing!
The cubes offer no clues to their appearance, but the Doctor can’t shake the feeling that they represent a grave danger to humanity…
During TARDISblend 55, we discuss the penultimate Pond story in the Doctor Who universe entitled The Power Of Three, told completely from the perspective of Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill). We also take a look at the guest appearances in this episode, with Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) fulfilling the role of the daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (played by Nicholas Courtney in the Classic Doctor Who series), and the surprising and fun cameos that showed up as well.