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Doctor Who - The Tenth Planet

episode 29

UK 1966
produced by
Innes Lloyd for BBC
directed by Derek Martinus
starring William Hartnell, Michael Craze, Anneke Wills, Robert Beatty, David Dodimead, Dudley Jones, Alan White, Earl Cameron, Shane Shelton, Steve Plytas, Reg Whitehead, Harry Brooks jr, Earl Cameron, Alan White, Callen Angelo, Gregg Palmer, Peter Hawkins (voice), Roy Skelton (voice)
written by Kit Pedler, Gerry Davis, script editor: Gerry Davis

TV-series
Doctor Who, Doctor Who (William Hartnell), Doctor Who (classic series), Cybermen

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Doctor Who (William Hartnell), Ben (Michael Craze) and Polly (Anneke Wills) land on earth 1986, the South Pole. As things go, they soon stumble upon a science station set up by the military and are arrested by the station's commander General Cutler (Robert Beatty), but make friends with the station's head scientist Doctor Barclay (David Dodimead).

Things get out of hands when out of nowhere, a whole planet starts approaching earth, a planet that's the splitting image of earth itself. Soon, an UFO from the planet - which is called Mondas by the way - and out step three Cybermen, emotionless men-machine hybrids, who want to take over the station ... but are ultimately overpowered and destroyed by Cutler and his men. However, their visit has made one thing clear: Mondas has run out of energy and now needs earth's energy to refuel, meaning it soon starts to syphon off all of earth's energy. That's bad news, obviously, made even worse for General Cutler by the fact that his son Terry (Callen Angelo) is an astronaut presently on a rescue mission in outer space, and if the Cybermen succeed he'll flat-out die ... so the General plans to launch a nuclear super-missile to blow up Mondas and save his son, even if that might destroy half of the earth as well. At this point of the story, the Doctor has passed out for no particular reason (actually, actor William Hartnell has fallen ill during shooting, and the shooting schedules were so tight these days there wasn't room for any delay, so if you're stranded without your lead, write him out of the story ...), so Ben does the thinking and sabotages the bomb with the help of Doctor Barclay.

For that, General Cutler plans to have Doctor Who, Ben, Polly and Barclay all shot, when a second wave of Cybermen arrive, take the Doctor and Polly hostage and ask the others to hand the super nuclear missile over to them ... because you know, the Cybermen have a problem as well, if Mondas overfeeds on the earth's energy resources, it will melt away, but you just can't tell a planet to stop feeding, now can you? So the Cybermen plan to blow up earth to fix that problem. Somehow, Ben comes up with idea after idea to stall the Cybermen, lures them into trap after trap, and even takes a few of them hostage. All to no avail it seems, since the Cybermen seem to have a limitless supply of reinforcements, but then their planet really starts to melt, and since Mondas is the energy source of all the Cybermen, they melt with it.

The finale sees the Doctor dying (he will regenerate the next episode as Patrick Troughton, but nobody knew yet the Doctor could do that).

 

An episode that suffers from its budgetary limitations more than most: To reduce the possible destruction of the earth to a few hastily put together indoor sets supposed to portray a science station and a few corny special effects is a bit lame, the Cybermen's UFO looks ridiculous, and the very occasional stock footage fails to impress. On the other hand, this one is a pretty tightly scripted episode that features a few quite well-written characters. And the Cybermen, despite their cheap and unconvincing costumes, look positively chilly, much more so than later, more advanced models, which more often than not put streamelined looks over creepiness. So yeah, this one is fun ... within its limitations.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
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out now on DVD