‘Frontier in Space’ (TV)

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‘FRONTIER IN SPACE’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Space War

This is one of the best ‘Doctor Who’ DVD box sets with the Third Doctor!

‘Dalek War’ is a fantastic set of two linked stories with Jon Pertwee as the Doctor and Katy Manning as Jo Grant. Both tales tell the story of the Daleks trying to provoke a war between Earth and Draconia and the Doctor and Jo try to stop it. The two stories are ‘Frontier in Space’ and ‘Planet of the Daleks’!

This DVD box set was released in October 2009. I have very fond memories watching this box set with my parents. I enjoyed how the plot thickens when the Doctor and Jo discover that the Daleks are the true enemies in, what this became, a 12-part story in two stories from the Jon Pertwee era.

Both ‘Frontier in Space’ and ‘Planet of the Daleks’ are 2-disc DVD sets. I enjoyed watching the stories before I saw the DVD special features afterwards. ‘Frontier in Space’ is an exciting space opera whilst ‘Planet of the Daleks’ is a thrilling tale set on a jungle planet. You can’t ask more than that, can you?

The first story in ‘Dalek War’, ‘Frontier in Space’, is a six-part adventure by Malcolm Hulke. This is a 2-disc DVD set with the story on Disc 1 and special features on Disc 2. This is one great space opera!

‘Frontier in Space’ takes place during the 26th century. Earth and Draconia are on the brink of war! Humans believe the Draconians are attacking them and vice versa. This could mean the ending of peace!

When the Doctor and Jo arrive on an Earth cargo ship in the TARDIS, they are soon caught and accused for being spies for the Draconians. Eventually, the Doctor and Jo are arrested and taken to prison cells where they’re interrogated and claimed to be dangerous criminals of the Earth Empire.

I found this story very intense and engaging to watch. I wondered why the Doctor and Jo were being ill-treated by the humans and accused for being spies. Sometimes I got anxious and I wanted the Earth people to listen to the Doctor and Jo, as they were telling the truth about what they were saying.

It transpires that the attackers of both Earth and Draconian ships are Ogrons, ape-like space mercenaries that the Doctor and Jo have met before. With the use of an hypnotic device, the humans believe they see Draconians whilst the Draconians believe they see humans when in actual fact they are Ogrons.

I found this a terrifying idea when the Ogrons are used to attack the Earth and Draconian ships in order to provoke a war between the two empires. It implies, according to the Doctor, that there’s a third party involved in this matter. That third party happens to be the Master, who employs the Ogrons.

I was really impressed with the direction and epic scale of this classic ‘Doctor Who’ story made in 1973. For its time, the sequences with ships in outer space are truly amazing as well as some of the action sequences. The model work for the ships is so well-done and helps to add to the epic atmosphere.

The cast of ‘Frontier in Space’ is also very impressive. I like how the actors put so much believability into their performances for the characters they’re playing. This includes the humans who seem very antagonistic towards the Doctor and Jo throughout this story as well as for the impressive Draconians.

Jon Pertwee leads the show as the Doctor in this adventure. I enjoyed the Third Doctor’s cool; suave attitude and approach to dangerous situations, especially when he and Jo are accused for being criminals. I was anxious for the Doctor when he was sent to a penal colony on the moon as a criminal.

I especially enjoyed the action sequences for Jon Pertwee’s Doctor in this story. I liked the outer space stuff when the Doctor puts on an astronaut’s suit and goes out to do a space-walk or repair a spaceship. It was interesting to discover that the Doctor is a Noble of Draconia during this adventure.

Katy Manning is wonderful as Jo Grant. I liked it when Jo gets to be more proactive and independent. But she still retains her femininity and truly shows concern and cares for the Doctor. I liked the scenes she shares with the Doctor in this story, especially when she talks to herself in a prison cell.

I liked the black karate outfit that Jo wears in this story. It does suit her and she’s very fetching. I also liked her scenes when she confronts the Master and manages to avoid being hypnotised by him and his control device in the last two episodes. I also liked it when she gives a banana to an Ogron in this.

Roger Delgado returns as the Master in this story. This is sadly Roger Delgado’s final appearance in ‘Doctor Who’. Not long after this story, Roger Delgado got killed during a car accident in Turkey, which is so shocking and sad. For me, Roger gives one of his best performances as the Master in this.

The Master passes himself off as a Commissioner of the Sirius government. He comes to collect the Doctor and Jo from their prisons after discovering they’ve been arrested by Earth authorities. He wants to provoke a war between Earth and Draconia, and employs the Ogrons to do his dirty work.

The Ogrons are back in ‘Doctor Who’! They first appeared in the story ‘Day of the Daleks’ and were employed by the Daleks then. Here they’re employed by the Master, as they attack the Earth and Draconian ships. I like the Ogrons as ‘Doctor Who’ monsters. They’re Katy Manning’s favourites too.

Vera Fusek guest stars as the President of Earth. I like Vera as the President in this story. She’s a woman in power to rule the Earth. She’s also a reluctant leader as she refuses to ‘strike the first blow’ on Draconia. She easily gets frustrated with General Williams and can’t understand these space attacks.

Michael Hawkins guest stars as General Williams. Williams is not a very nice person. He’s a military man who’s very nasty to the Doctor and Jo. He refuses to accept their story and easily accuses them for being criminals. It transpires that he had a history, as he accidentally attacked a Draconian cruiser.

This story features the first appearance of the Draconians. I like the Draconians as an alien race. They’re Jon Pertwee’s favourites too. They’re not monsters, as they’re like people of another alien culture. I like the make-up for the Draconians and the way they speak. They also look so ‘dragon’-like.

The guest cast also includes John Woodnutt (who played Sir Watkyn Bassett in ‘Jeeves & Wooster’) as the Draconian Emperor; Peter Birrel as the Draconian Prince; Harold Goldblatt as Professor Dale; Dennis Bowen as the Prison Governor and Richard Shaw (who was in ‘The Space Museum’) as Cross.

The story ends with the Doctor and company on the planet of the Ogrons. The Master turns up, but he’s not alone. The Daleks are with him! It turns out that the Daleks are the employers of the Master. They’re the ones who want to provoke a war between Earth and Draconia and to conquer the galaxy.

Soon, the Doctor and Jo manage to escape. With a wounded Doctor (after a poorly executed escape sequence from the Master and the Ogrons), Jo helps him into the TARDIS. The TARDIS is on its way, as the Doctor tries to send a message to the Time Lords for help. What will happen next, I wonder?!

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The DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1, there is an enjoyable commentary with Katy Manning; producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks, moderated by former ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ editor Clayton Hickman. There is also an info-text commentary option to enjoy.

On Disc 2, there is ‘Perfect Scenario: Lost Frontiers’; part one of an enjoyable two-part documentary series focusing on the socio-political aspects of ‘Frontier in Space’. There is also a making-of documentary called ‘The Space War’. Both documentaries have cast and crew interviews.

There’s also ‘Roger Delgado: The Master’, a documentary on the actor who played the Master in the 1970s. There’s also the ‘Stripped For Action – The Third Doctor’ documentary that looks into the comic book adventures of the Third Doctor in ‘TV Comic’ and ‘Countdown’/’TV Action’ from the early 1970s.

There is a photo gallery of the story and three PDF materials, including ‘Production Design Drawings’; a ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story and ‘BBC Enterprises Sales Literature’. There’s also a ‘coming soon’ trailer for the ‘Kamelion Tales’ DVD box set (featuring ‘The King’s Demons’ and ‘Planet of Fire’ with Peter Davison).

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‘Frontier in Space’ is a terrific six-part adventure starring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor; Katy Manning as Jo Grant and Roger Delgado as the Master. It is a thrilling opening story in the ‘Dalek War’ DVD box set!

‘Frontier in Space’ rating – 10/10


‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE SPACE WAR’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Ogrons, Draconians, the Master and Daleks in Book

Reading/listening to this ‘Doctor Who’ novelization has been an enjoyable experience for me!

‘Doctor Who and the Space War’ is the novelization for the TV story ‘Frontier in Space’ by Malcolm Hulke. I don’t know why this book was called ‘Doctor Who and the Frontier in Space’ as with so many other ‘Doctor Who’ book titles. But it has been so invigorating reading this story in book form!

The book was published in 1976, three years since the original transmission of ‘Frontier in Space’ on TV. ‘The Incredible Malcolm Hulke’ had written a number of ‘Doctor Who’ books in the Target novelization range alongside Terrance Dicks. His ‘Doctor Who’ legacy goes on in these novelizations!

‘Doctor Who and the Space War’ is divided into 12 chapters. This is rather unusual in terms of how ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations were made. When Terrance Dicks novelized four-part TV stories, he divided the book into 12 chapters with 3 chapters for each of the four episodes to make up the total.

‘Frontier in Space’ was 6 episodes, so to have the story divided into 12 chapters and not say 18 is rather unusual. But of course Malcolm Hulke doesn’t write novelizations the way Terrance Dicks. Nor does he compress the six episodes into four episodes to make up for 12 chapters in the novelization.

Malcolm Hulke allows the story to flow easily and at an enjoyable reading pace. He cuts out certain scenes in the book that aren’t necessarily and were sometimes padding out the story. This included the repetitive Doctor and Jo getting locked up in prison cells as was the custom in ‘Frontier in Space’.

He also adds in certain new scenes in the book that were never featured in the TV story at all. I’m thinking specifically of the interrogation scene made by General Williams to the Doctor and Jo when they’ve been brought back to Earth via the cargo ship and they’re accused for being Draconian spies.

When I purchased ‘Doctor Who and the Space War’ as a book from Amazon, I also purchased the audiobook on Audible to listen to whilst reading the book. The audiobook is read by Geoffrey Beevers. When the audiobook was initially released on CD in 2008, it was released as a 4-disc CD set.

Geoffrey Beevers played the Master in the TV story called ‘The Keeper of Traken’ as well as in some Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. It was great to hear Geoffrey read this story, although it is an unusual choice as he didn’t have any participation in ‘Frontier in Space’ whatsoever. But no matter!

In the audiobook, Geoffrey provides a different range of voices for the characters in the actual story. I like his voice impersonations for the Ogrons as well as the Draconians with their hissing tones on the ‘s’s. His impersonations for the Doctor and Jo during the story are pretty reasonable to listen to.

The voice that Geoffrey gives for the Master is interesting. The Master featured in the story is the one played by Roger Delgado. I’m not sure if Geoffrey attempted to mimic the tone of Roger Delgado’s performance in the audiobook, but he manages to match the same menace for the voice.

Let’s talk about what the differences are from the book to the TV version of the story. In the book, there was a lot more in-depth to the President of Earth when she was seeking for peaceful means compared to General Williams. This explained a lot about the President’s character in book than TV.

More is touched upon about the relationship between the President and General Williams in the book. It’s implied that the two had a relationship once before going up to higher things. The President was also there when Williams was young and provoked war between Earth and Draconia.

One thing I found annoying about the book is the constant ritual of characters saying, “May you live a long life and may energy shine on you from a million suns.” as well as “And may water, oxygen and plutonium be found in abundance wherever you land.” This was never in the TV version of the story.

I found that ritual of exchanging words slowed down the story and it wasn’t as good as the Draconians’ greeting of “My life at your command!” It also felt that the characters of General Williams and the President felt bored when they were saying it, as if they said it over and over again.

A small difference in the book is that the Master as a police commissioner comes from the planet Aldebaran IV instead of Sirius IV. Not sure why this got changed. Also the Indian character of Patel is replaced by a fair-haired man named Doughty. Not sure why this also got changed during the book.

In the book, the Master makes mention of his employers, the Daleks, rather early. This rather spoiled the surprise for me as I was reading the book, since it was revealed at the end of the TV story that the Daleks were behind it all. I’m not sure why Malcolm Hulke had the Daleks mentioned so early on.

The cliff-hanger resolution of ‘Episode Three’ in handled rather differently in the book. Chapter 7 ends with the Doctor and Professor Dale gasping for breath when they’re locked in the airlock and running out of air. But in Chapter 8, it gets quickly resolved when the Master sees the Governor first.

It also gets clarified in the book that the Governor of the penal colony on the moon wanted to have prisoners like the Doctor and Professor Dale killed in the process when he and Cross make out they’re trying to help them. This adds a more sadistic and cruel portrayal of the Governor and Cross.

There’s a new moment in the book when the Doctor requests to the President about releasing the prisoners on the moon. Reading the book, it turns out the political prisoners were all in a bid for peace. This was interesting with depicting how the Earth Empire of the 26th century was portrayed.

In ‘Episode Six’ of the story, there was the scene where Williams’ ship gets pursued by Draconians when journeying to the Ogron’s planet. This scene is omitted entirely from the final chapter of the book. I imagine the scene was originally to pad out the TV story, so it was best to have this removed.

There was also the scene where the Master attempts to hypnotise Jo by word of mouth and also by the hypnotising device to make her see Drashigs and other monsters. This doesn’t get featured in the book version of the tale. It’s made clear that the Master’s hypnotism won’t work on Jo anymore.

The monster that appears on the Ogron planet in the story turns out to be a giant lizard monster in the style of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I like this version of the monster that the Ogrons fear in the book. It is more threatening compared to the blobby absurdity that appeared in the TV version of the tale.

The Daleks also make an appearance in the final chapter of the book as they do in the climax of the TV story. One thing I have to complain about regarding the Daleks in the audiobook is that their voices were not done by Nicholas Briggs as I expected. They were actually done by Geoffrey Beevers.

Now don’t get me wrong, Geoffrey Beevers does a fine interpretation with the Dalek voices in the audiobook and when he speaks through the ring modulator. It’s just I can’t understand why they couldn’t get Nick Briggs to voice the Daleks at the end, since he’s done voices for other audiobooks.

The book ends with a brand-new ending that I was very pleased with. In the TV version of the story, the Master’s departure from ‘Frontier in Space’ was rather shabbily handled as well as the Ogron’s reaction to the Doctor switching on the hypnotising device. This gets changed however in the book.

In the book, when the Doctor switches the hypnotising device on, the Ogrons see the giant lizard monster they worship and fear. The Doctor also uses the Master’s gun to threaten him to stay back but doesn’t fire upon him, as he and Jo get inside the TARDIS to chase after the Daleks at the climax.

I like how the book ends with the Master saying to himself about the Doctor, “Oh well, there’s always tomorrow!” I feel that the brand-new ending for the Master was a mark of respect to Roger Delgado’s performance, since he’d passed away not long after working on ‘Doctor Who’ in this story.

Another thing about the ending of the book is that the Doctor doesn’t get injured as he was in the TV version of the story. He’s actually in good health when he and Jo go off in the TARDIS to set off for ‘Planet of the Daleks’. I like the way the new ending was handled and wish it was like the TV version.

‘Doctor Who and the Space War’ has been a great novelization/audiobook of ‘Frontier in Space’. I enjoyed Malcolm Hulke’s writing and how he managed to novelize the six TV episodes of the story in book. His handle on the climax as well as subtle changes to the plot have improved the story greatly.

‘Doctor Who and the Space War’ rating – 8/10


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4 thoughts on “‘Frontier in Space’ (TV)

  1. Brilliant story, some fans had issues with the climax being unresolved but i see this as a 12 part arc not 6.

    The Doctor in prison attempting to escape was my favourite part of the story, i could easily watch a story with the Doctor in prision planning a revolt & escape especially with the more physical Third Doctor.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Timelord Simon! Glad you enjoyed my DVD review on ‘Frontier in Space’.

    I can understand the fans having issues with the climax being unresolved, especially when it ended on such a blurry note with Roger Delgado’s final appearance as the Master which is sad for me, especially when producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks talk about it in commentaries and documentaries.

    I’m thinking that there’s a third story out there attached to this ‘Dalek War’ box set that follows on everything that goes on with the Draconian-Dalek-Earth wars. It take it that the book ‘Catastrophea’ is that story.

    I felt anxious for the Doctor and Jo when they kept getting locked up by the Earth forces and being accused for being spies for the Draconians. It makes for good story-telling as you wondered what would happen next. The Third Doctor certainly is very action-packed and physical in this story, isn’t he?

    Thanks again, Simon.

    Tim. 🙂

    Like

  3. Loved reading the Audiobook review Tim, i prefer this ending too as i the editing on the transmitted episode is a mess, strange why Briggsy couldn’t voice the Daleks is a mystery as like you say he voices them in other Target Audios.

    As ever a detailed review that showcases the difference between both the tv & novel adaptation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very pleased you enjoyed my enjoyed my audiobook review on ‘Doctor Who and the Space War’, Simon. I’m looking forward to getting into reviewing the novelization/audiobook of ‘Doctor Who – The Pirate Planet’ next.

      Yes the ending of the story in ‘Frontier in Space’ is better in book form compared to the televised version. I’m glad Malcolm Hulke did this when novelizing the story as it pays respect to Roger Delgado’s Master. I’m disappointed Nick Briggs didn’t do the Dalek voices in this audiobook as it would have been a nice surprise to hear in the story.

      Very pleased you enjoyed my comparison of the TV and novelization versions of ‘Frontier in Space’ in my latest review for the novelization/audiobook.

      Thanks Simon.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

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