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Cybermen on the Moon
I’ve enjoyed ‘The Moonbase’ DVD so much!
I’ve been waiting for this four-part ‘Doctor Who’ story by Kit Pedler to be complete and for it to come out on DVD in a long while. And it all came true, as much as I hoped in the same way with ‘The Tenth Planet’ DVD. I’d already seen and heard this story before in two respects so I got a buzz about this DVD in early 2014.
First I’d seen the two surviving episodes of the story, ‘Episodes 2 and 4’, from the ‘Lost in Time’ DVD collection. Secondly I listened to the audio soundtrack CD release with the linking narration provided by Frazer Hines on all four episodes. But somehow, the story didn’t feel complete altogether for me.
This was because half of the story was lost and I couldn’t watch it in its full viewing altogether. I felt the same way about ‘The Power of the Daleks’, ‘The Evil of the Daleks’ and many other lost classic ‘Doctor Who’ stories that were incomplete with few existing episodes that had survived these years.
But in the wake of ‘The Invasion’ DVD, I found that missing black and white episodes of ‘Doctor Who’ could now be complete with animated ones. It took a while for it to happen, but lately we’ve had a lot more ‘Doctor Who’ stories from the 1960s now complete with animated episodes to fill the gaps.
These included stories like ‘The Reign of Terror’, ‘The Ice Warriors’ and ‘The Tenth Planet’. ‘The Moonbase’ was the latest story in 2014 to be complete with animated episodes to fill the gaps. Now we can see all four episodes of this story and be guided by the animation for those missing episodes.
I’ve now had the DVD cover of ‘The Moonbase’ signed by Anneke Wills at the ‘Pandorica 2015’ convention in Bristol, September 2015. I had a nice time chatting to Anneke about ‘The Moonbase’ and it’d been intriguing to hear her compare her ‘Doctor Who’ stories to the ones in the new series.
Knowing the story, I knew what to expect from ‘The Moonbase’. The TARDIS arrives on the moon in the Earth year 2070. The Doctor and his friends Polly, Ben and Jamie step onto the moon surface to explore. They come across a moonbase that contains a gravitron device controlling Earth’s weather.
The TARDIS team meet the moonbase crew, who are popping off one by one, as they get infected with a mysterious disease. The crew, led by Hobson, have no idea why this is happening. The Doctor becomes intrigued, until the Cybermen turn up in full force and the moonbase becomes under siege.
‘The Moonbase’ is a great Cyberman story to feature Patrick Troughton as the Doctor. This is Patrick’s Doctor’s first encounter with the Cybermen, following his previous encounter in ‘The Tenth Planet’. It’s also the fourth TV story of Patrick Troughton’s era as the Second Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’.
Patrick Troughton is really good in this! He’s not the clown that he appears to be from before, since he was asked to tone it down at the insistence of director Morris Barry. Patrick’s Doctor has a clear idea of what’s going on at the moonbase and is very serious when it comes to deal with this menace.
The Doctor’s famous speech in ‘Episode 2′ is a standout moment when he talks about evil in the universe. Patrick’s Doctor is a joy to watch in this and it’s great to see him so reassuring as ever. That moment when he asks Hobson about whether they searched sick bay for Cybermen was so gripping.
It was great to see the Doctor’s companions, Polly, Ben and Jamie in this. Anneke Wills and Michael Craze are great as Polly and Ben. I must admit I didn’t know them well, since most of their TV stories are now lost in the mists of time. But it was great to be watching them in this and ‘The Tenth Planet’.
Polly is great in this, as she helps out when she’s nursing Jamie and describing the Cyberman to Hobson after one of them has taken a sick crewman. I’m not sure I agree about Polly making coffee for everyone at the moonbase, but she comes up with the solution to weaken the Cybermen in this.
Ben’s great to watch in this too. He gets to be the action hero when they sort out the Cybermen. I liked Ben’s relationship with Polly, as they get on well together and there’s a potential romance between them. Ben doesn’t like Hobson’s attitude when they are threatened to leave the moonbase.
Frazer Hines is great as Jamie, but I feel he is poorly used in this story. Since Jamie was a new addition to the TARDIS team, he doesn’t get to do much since the writers hadn’t thought about him when written into the story. So Jamie gets injured and becomes sick in bed, being tended to by Polly.
Jamie occasionally wakes up during the story whilst he’s sick in bed and see a Cyberman before him. He calls it the ‘Phantom Piper’ before he drops off back to sleep again in anguish. So ‘The Moonbase’ is not a great story for Jamie, I’m afraid. Thankfully Jamie’s character does develop later in the series.
The Cybermen are great in ‘The Moonbase’! I love how they’re animated for ‘Episode 3′ of this story, when they threaten the Doctor and company in to ‘stand back from the door’ in sick bay. I also loved it when their mouths open and close when speaking their lines, similar to the new series Cybermen.
The Cybermen’s voices are also brilliant, as they do sound electronic, harsh and got a bit of edge, much like how the new series Cybermen sound. Their designs are also brilliant, making them more robotic as Cybermen should be for me. They’re an improvement on those ‘Tenth Planet’ Cybermen.
I loved it when the Cybermen march down on the moon surface and are advancing onwards to attack the moonbase in full force. They look so beautiful and metallic, when walking on the moon surface in ‘Episode 4′ of the story. It demonstrates how the Cybermen can be a threat and menace.
The guest cast includes Patrick Barr, who’s memorable, as the base commander Hobson. There’s also André Maranne as Benoit, who I’ve seen before as Andre in the ‘Fawlty Towers’ episode ‘Gourmet Night’. It was great to see André Maranne in this, although I’m not sure I could take him seriously. 😀
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the making-of documentary ‘Lunar Landing’ with cast and crew interviews. There’s also a commentary on ‘Episodes 2 and 4′ by Anneke Wills, Frazer Hines, Edward Phillips (who played one of the scientists in ‘The Moonbase’) and sound designer Brian Hodgson. For ‘Episodes 1 and 3’, there are commentaries moderated by Toby Hadoke, featuring interviews with Kit Pedler’s daughters Lucy and Carol; producer Innes Lloyd, assistant floor manager Lovett Bickford and Cybermen actors Barry Noble, Derek Chaffer and Reg Whitefield.
There’s also a photo gallery of this story, a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story and an info-text commentary option to enjoy. There’s also a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Underwater Menace’ with Patrick Troughton, Anneke Wills, Michael Craze and Frazer Hines.
I’m so happy that ‘The Moonbase’ is now complete on DVD. I’ve waited a long time for this story to be on DVD with the animation episodes to complete the story. Now ‘The Moonbase’ can now be enjoyed in its entirety with the Doctor, Jamie, Polly and Ben fighting against the Cybermen. Brilliant!
One warning though! DON’T TAKE THE SUGAR IN YOUR COFFEE!!!! 😀
Check out my ‘Monster File – The Cybermen’ on my blog.
‘The Moonbase’ rating – 9/10
‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE CYBERMEN’
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Sixties Cybermen with New Series Voices
This is the novelization/audiobook for the ‘Doctor Who’ TV story, ‘The Moonbase’!
‘Doctor Who and the Cybermen’ has been an enjoyable story to listen and read to! I enjoyed listening to the 4-disc audiobook CD set read by Anneke Wills whilst reading the book at the same time. It was interesting to compare the differences between the book and the TV version of the tale.
This novelization/audiobook is based on the original TV story called ‘The Moonbase’ by Kit Pedler. The story was novelized by Gerry Davis, who was the script editor at the time of the TV series in 1967 and was co-creator of the Cybermen with Kit Pedler. I enjoyed Gerry Davis’ take on this story.
Gerry Davis was the dramatist between himself and Kit Pedler who provided the science in the Cybermen stories they worked on together. Gerry is a natural choice for novelizing ‘The Moonbase’ into a novel, since he has the writers’ flair and manages to decode the science by his writing partner.
I enjoyed ‘The Moonbase’ story and have now seen in its complete form on DVD with the animation episodes to fill in the gaps of ‘Episodes 1 and 3’. Beforehand, the story existed merely as an audio soundtrack in complete form and just ‘Episodes 2 and 4’ were in existence on the ‘Lost in Time’ DVD.
I obtained the ‘Doctor Who and the Cybermen’ novelization by chance when I purchased an issue of ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ in the summer of 2008. ‘DWM’ had released random copies of Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’ as free gifts. ‘Doctor Who and the Cybermen’ was one of those books.
The copy of ‘Doctor Who and the Cybermen’ that I obtained was one from the 1980s. The book was originally published in 1974. It was later reprinted many times including the one I obtained from 1981. I imagine the 1981 edition of ‘Doctor Who and the Cybermen’ wasn’t different to its 1974 one.
Looking through the book was a pleasure indeed. Inside, there were eight illustrations of ‘The Moonbase’ story by illustrator Alan Willow. It was fun to see some of the snapshots of the story in illustrated form including images of the Cybermen in action and also the Doctor and his companions.
In 2009, BBC Audio released the audiobook of the story with narration provided by Anneke Wills. I enjoyed Anneke’s reading of the story and she’s really into it as the Cybermen are one of her favourite monsters in the series and she clearly loved working on the series with Patrick Troughton.
The book itself is divided into 11 chapters. The audiobook has the story spread out across its four episodic parts, though the chapters themselves do not end with the cliff-hanger endings for each episode. Some of the story overlaps from one episode into the next episode in one of the chapters.
For example, Chapter 7 has the ending of ‘Episode 2’ lead straight into the beginning of ‘Episode 3’ when the Cyberman reveals his presence inside the Medical Unit. This allows the reader/listener the chance to hear the Cyberman’s voice speak pretty early on Disc 2 during ‘The Moonbase’ audiobook.
The book begins with a prologue on ‘The Creation of the Cybermen’ as the first chapter. This is an interesting way to start the story as Gerry Davis touches on the Cybermen’ first appearance in ‘The Tenth Planet’. He explains to the readers how the Cybermen came to be to Mondas being destroyed.
There’s something that puzzled me when reading this book. Gerry Davis states that the Cybermen originally came from Telos and not from Mondas. This rather contradicts things since I’ve always believes that Mondas was the Cybermen’s original home as stated in the audio drama ‘Spare Parts’.
Anneke Wills is a wonderful reader for this ‘Doctor Who’ audiobook. Anneke is well-known for playing Polly in the TV series of ‘Doctor Who’ during the 1960s. Anneke managed to keep my attention throughout whilst I heard read the audiobook and it made me enjoy the story even more.
I enjoyed how Anneke reads for each of the characters in the audiobook of the story. Her character of Polly is well-written and Anneke slips back into performing her character like a pair of shoes she’s wearing. I also liked it when she reads the Doctor and has his spirit remain true in her performance.
It was interesting when reading the Doctor in the story in that he is a silent observer and knows what’s going on with the Cybermen and the moonbase, which matches exactly what he does in the TV version of the story. He also keeps referring to his personal diary in the story which is interesting.
I enjoyed it when Anneke read for Ben in the story. Anneke had a good working relationship with Michael Craze who played Ben in the TV series. Therefore Anneke is able to pitch the exact voice level right for the cockney sailor and she brings out those heroic and courageous aspects of Ben well.
I also enjoyed it when Anneke read for Jamie in the story. In the book, Gerry Davis had Jamie’s dialogue written with the Scottish dialect in the way he talks in English. This is interesting and unusual since we have Jamie saying ‘Och aye’ and ‘I dinna…’ and Anneke reads it like that on the CD.
Here’s a little niggle I have. In the book, it is stated that Ben and Polly come from the 1970s. This is ridiculous since the two Londoners come from 1966 as I’ve always believed that to be the case in ‘The War Machines’. Why Gerry Davis had it stated that the two come from the 1970s is beyond me.
The Cybermen were a joy for me to listen to in the story. They were voiced by Nicholas Briggs, who provides the voices for the Cybermen in the new series. Here the Cybermen sounds so splendid when Nick voices for them, and they sound like the ones from ‘The Invasion’ and in the new series.
Also, the Cybermen are well-written in terms of how they carry out their plot with the moonbase, the Gravitron and everything. Gerry Davis brings out the cold calculating menace of the Cybermen in this story and he also stresses that they are very unfeeling and unemotional to the moonbase crew.
An interesting point about the Cybermen is that there are a few of them that have names like the ones in ‘The Tenth Planet’. This includes the Cyber Leader who is called Tarn in the story and his subordinate Krang. These two are high-ranking Cybermen and it’s interesting they’ve names in this.
Another interesting thing about these two high-ranking Cybermen is that they have black-helmets similar to the Cyber Leader that featured in ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’. Gerry Davis would later write that story for the TV series, thus it’s interesting that he has black-helmeted Cybermen in this.
Some of the supporting characters also have a few changes to them in the book/audio compared to the TV story. First, Hobson speaks in a Yorkshire accent making him sound like Colin Douglas rather than Patrick Barr. Also Benoit has the forename Jules in the book/audio compared to the TV version.
The book doesn’t include the lead into ‘The Macra Terror’ as it appeared in the TV story. This is interesting as the book ends with the Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie leaving in the TARDIS and seeing the Cybermen flying up in space. I’m not sure why ‘The Macra Terror’ lead in wasn’t included in this.
‘Doctor Who and the Cybermen’ has been very enjoyable as a book and an audiobook. I enjoyed Anneke Wills’ reading of the story and Nicholas Briggs does a splendid job in voicing the Cybermen in the audiobook. It was also very enjoyable noting the differences between the TV story and the book.
‘Doctor Who and the Cybermen’ rating – 9/10
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