‘FRONTIER IN SPACE’
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The Space War with the Third Doctor and Jo
Here we are on what is considered to be a high point in Season 10 of ‘Doctor Who’. We come now to the ‘Dalek War’ arc – a 12-episode saga that was featured in one of the best ‘Doctor Who’ DVD box set releases with the Third Doctor! Now it’s in the Season 10 Blu-ray box set with the Third Doctor! 🙂
‘Dalek War’ is a fantastic set of two linked stories featuring Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor and Katy Manning as Jo Grant. Both stories feature the Daleks trying to provoke a war between Earth and Draconia. The Doctor and Jo have to try and stop the Daleks. But will those efforts really be enough?
The two stories are ‘Frontier In Space’ and ‘Planet of the Daleks’! ‘Frontier In Space’ is a pretty epic, exciting space opera whereas ‘Planet of the Daleks’ is a thrilling adventure set on a jungle planet. It’s a shame these two TV adventures weren’t by the same writer. I’ll get into that aspect more later on.
The first time I saw the ‘Dalek War’ stories was in the DVD box set released in October 2009. I’ve very fond memories of watching that DVD box set with my parents when we purchased it back then. The ‘Dalek War’ DVD box set even helped me through times when I was ill at home back in late 2009.
I greatly enjoyed how the plot thickened with the Doctor and Jo discovering that it was the Daleks that were the true enemies behind it all. It’s interesting how ‘Frontier In Space’ and ‘Planet of the Daleks’ were essentially two 6-part stories that eventually became linked into an 12-part epic on TV.
I’m not sure if that was the deliberate intention on the part of producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks when they were commissioning the stories from Malcolm Hulke and Terry Nation as they conceived Season 10. But it seemed to work fine and it does suit well for the Jon Pertwee era.
I’ve had the DVD covers of ‘Frontier In Space’ and ‘Planet of the Daleks’ signed by Katy Manning at the ‘Folkestone Film, TV and Comic Con’ in May 2018. It was my birthday weekend and Katy wished me a “Happy Birthday!” when she signed the DVD covers for me. She was also very lovely to chat to!
When they were originally released on DVD in October 2009, ‘Frontier In Space’ and ‘Planet of the Daleks’ were 2-disc DVD sets. I enjoyed watching the stories before seeing the DVD special features. It’s good to watch these stories again and their special features within the Season 10 Blu-ray box set.
As I said, both stories in the ‘Dalek War’ box set are six-part adventures. The first story, ‘Frontier In Space’ is by Malcolm Hulke. Hulke has contributed a number of ‘Doctor Who’ stories especially for the Jon Pertwee era including ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’, ‘Colony In Space’, ‘The Sea Devils’, etc.
I found ‘Frontier In Space’ to be a great space opera when I first saw it. It takes place during the 26th century. At this time, there are two space-faring empires of the planets Earth and Draconia. It’s very interesting how the future gets depicted via ‘Doctor Who’ terms with Earth having its space empire.
In many respects, the ‘Doctor Who’ version of the 26th century is almost ‘Star Trek’-like with intergalactic spaceships; space commerce; etc. But there are also elements of the ‘Doctor Who’ version of the 26th century that aren’t very appealing, especially when prejudice becomes involved.
In this tale, Earth and Draconia seem to be on the brink of war! The humans believe that Draconians are attacking their spaceships and the Draconians believes that humans are attacking theirs. This could mean the end of many years of peace which have been going on between these two empires!
As this goes on, the Doctor and Jo turn up at a most unfortunate time. The TARDIS lands inside an Earth Empire cargo ship that makes its way back to Earth. They get caught by the cargo ship’s crew who believe they are Draconian spies. The Doctor and Jo soon get arrested and locked in prison cells.
Yeah the Doctor and Jo do get locked up in a lot of prison cells during the course of the story. They get interrogated a lot and are claimed to be dangerous criminals by the Earth Empire. The Doctor and Jo plead their innocence and tell the truth about what’s going on, but they won’t be listened to.
I did find this story very tense, engaging and gripping to watch. I did wonder why the Doctor and Jo were being ill-treated by the humans of the Earth Empire and why they were being accused as Draconian spies. If this is what the Earth Empire of the future looks like, I’m glad not to be living in it.
Sometimes I got anxious and wanted to know what was going to happen to the Doctor and Jo. I wanted the Earth people to stop being narrow-minded and listen to the Doctor and Jo as they were telling the truth. This TV tale does paint a bad picture on how humanity has progressed in the future.
Eventually, it transpires that the attackers of both Earth and Draconian ships are the Ogrons. The Doctor and Jo have met them before. They are ape-like space mercenaries that were in ‘Day of the Daleks’. They’re not very bright creatures and they do resemble Uruk-Hai in ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
Anyway, the Ogrons attack both Earth and Draconian ships in space with the use of a hypnotic device to disguise them. The humans believe that they’re seeing Draconians whilst the Draconians believe that they’re seeing humans. In actual fact, both two sides have seen the Ogrons attack them.
I found it a pretty terrifying idea that the Ogrons are being used to attack the Earth and Draconian ships to provoke a war between the two space empires. According to the Doctor, who works it out, it implies there’s this third party involved in the matter to put the two empires at each other’s throats.
That third party happens to be…Roger Delgado as the Master! I was thrilled to see Roger Delgado back as the Master in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. It turns out the Master is employing the Ogrons to attack the Earth and Draconian ships. But just who are the Master’s employers in this business? 😀
Incidentally, the director of ‘Frontier In Space’ is Paul Bernard. Paul Bernard previously directed ‘Day of the Daleks’ and ‘The Time Monster’ in Season 9 of ‘Doctor Who’. As well as working with the Ogrons beforehand, Paul Bernard has a unique style of directing in terms of casting, design and costumes.
I was very impressed with the direction and epic scale of this classic ‘Doctor Who’ tale made in 1973. For its time, the spaceships sequences in outer space are truly amazing as well as some of the action sequences. The model work for the spaceships is also well-done and also helps add to the epic scale.
The story’s cast is also very impressive. I like how the actors put so much believability into their performances for their characters. This includes the human characters who appear very antagonistic towards the Doctor and Jo throughout this TV adventure as well as the pretty impressive Draconians.
Jon Pertwee leads the show as the Doctor in this adventure. I enjoyed Jon’s Doctor’s cool, suave attitude and approach to dangerous situations, especially when he and Jo get accused for being spies. I became anxious for the Doctor as he got sent to that penal colony on the moon as a criminal.
I especially enjoyed the action sequences for Jon Pertwee’s Doctor in the story. I liked the outer space stuff when Jon’s Doctor put on an astronaut’s suit to go out and 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 got to be more proactive and independent. She still retains her femininity and truly has concern for the Doctor. She cares for him and I liked the scenes Jo has with the Doctor in this adventure, especially as she talks to herself in one prison cell. 😀
I did like the black karate outfit Jo wore in the story. It suits her well and she’s very fetching in it. I also liked her scenes when confronting the Master. She avoids getting hypnotised by him and his control device in the last two episodes. I found it funny when she gave a banana to an Ogron in this.
Like I said, I was pleased to see Roger Delgado back as the Master in this story. The Master passes himself off as a Commissioner of the Sirius government. He comes to collect the Doctor and Jo from their prisons after he discovered they’d been arrested by the Earth authorities during this adventure.
But why does the Master want to provoke a war between Earth and Draconia and why does he employ the Ogrons to do his dirty work? Sadly this is Roger Delgado’s final TV appearance in ‘Doctor Who’. Not long after this TV tale, Roger Delgado got killed in a car accident in Turkey for a film shoot.
This was very shocking and sad to hear and I know deeply affected the cast and crew were when they heard this news back in 1973, especially Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning and the rest. For me, Roger gives one of his best performances as the Master in ‘Frontier In Space’. It’s a tragedy he got killed. 😦
‘Frontier In Space’ was the first time I saw the Ogrons in ‘Doctor Who’ before seeing them in ‘Day of the Daleks’. They were employed by the Daleks in that story of course. Now they’re employed by the Master as they keep attacking Earth and Draconian ships to provoke this war between two empires.
I do like the Ogrons! Despite being useful space mercenaries, they can be dim-witted especially through their voices. They’re Katy Manning’s favourites too! 😀 Stephen Thorne (who was Omega in ‘The Three Doctors’); Michael Kilgarriff (the Cyber Controller) and Rick Lester play the Ogrons in this.
Vera Fusek guest stars as the President of Earth. Vera is very good as the Earth President in this adventure. She’s a female ruler, but also a very reluctant leader. She refuses to ‘strike the first blow’ on Draconia and she gets easily frustrated with General Williams who wants to fight against Draconia.
She can’t understand why these space attacks are happening. There is a sense from her point of view that she wants to believe the Doctor and Jo’s story about what’s happening. But she can’t accept it because there’s no concrete evidence about it. It was intriguing how her position gets depicted here.
Michael Hawkins guest stars as General Williams, who isn’t a very nice person. Williams is a military man who’s pretty nasty to the Doctor and Jo, quickly accusing them for being Draconian spies. He refuses to accept their story about Ogrons attacking Earth and Draconian ships as he finds it absurd.
As the story progresses, it transpires General Williams has had a history with the Draconians during an incident which he created. Apparently he accidentally attacked a Draconian cruiser on a peace mission. Williams had assumed it was armed. But the Draconian cruiser’s missile banks were empty.
This story also features the Draconians. I do like the Draconians as an alien race and they’re Jon Pertwee’s favourites too. The Draconians aren’t monsters. They’re an alien race with culture of their own much like the humans. I liked the make-up design for the Draconians as they appear convincing.
I also like the way the Draconians speak. Their most memorable catchphrase is “My life at your command.” They also appear so ‘dragon’-like, don’t they? 😀 I’m surprised they haven’t made more TV appearances in ‘Doctor Who’. They have made other appearances in the books and audios mind.
The Draconians include John Woodnutt (who I’ve seen in other ‘Doctor Who’ stories as well as Sir Watkyn Bassett in ‘Jeeves & Wooster’) as the Draconian Emperor. There’s also Peter Birrel as the Draconian Prince, who is reckless; doesn’t trust humans and doesn’t approve of woman speaking. 😀
The story’s guest cast also includes Harold Goldblatt as Professor Dale and Madhav Sharma as Patel, whom the Doctor meets on the moon’s penal colony. There’s also Dennis Bowen as the Prison Governor and Richard Shaw (who starred in ‘The Space Museum’) as Cross, also on the penal colony.
The tale concludes with the Doctor and company on the Ogron planet. The Master turns up, but he’s not alone. The Daleks are with him! Yes! It was the Daleks who employed the Master in this business. They are the ones who want a war between Earth and Draconia and to conquer the galaxy.
Soon the Doctor and Jo manage to escape, albeit after a poorly executed escape sequence from the Master and the Ogrons. Yeah, even I felt like that was a bit rushed. I know producer Barry Letts wasn’t happy with it and this is in light of the tragic demise of Roger Delgado who died shortly after.
The original DVD special features were as follows. There was a stereo sound audio mix option for the story; a DVD audio commentary with Katy Manning; producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks, moderated by former ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ editor Clayton Hickman. There was also an info-text commentary option to enjoy.
There was the ‘Perfect Scenario: Lost Frontiers’ documentary that focused on the socio-political aspects of ‘Frontier In Space’; the making-of documentary called ‘The Space War’ and the ‘Roger Delgado: The Master’ tribute. There was also the ‘Stripped For Action – The Third Doctor’ documentary that looks into the comic book adventures of the Third Doctor era; a photo gallery of the story and PDF materials including ‘Production Design Drawings’; a ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story and ‘BBC Enterprises Sales Literature’. There was also a ‘coming soon’ DVD trailer for the ‘Kamelion Tales’ DVD box set (including ‘The King’s Demons’ with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson and Kamelion and ‘Planet of Fire’ with Peter Davison, Mark Strickson, Nicola Bryant and Kamelion).
On Disc 3 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 10’ Blu-ray, the stereo sound audio mix option for the story; the DVD audio commentary; ‘The Space War’ making-of documentary and the ‘Roger Delgado: The Master’ tribute can be found on there. The info-text commentary option; the ‘Perfect Scenario: Lost Frontiers’ documentary and the photo gallery of the story have been updated for 2019 on the Blu-ray.
The new special features on Blu-ray include the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘Frontier In Space’ with Katy Manning (Jo Grant); Richard Franklin (Mike Yates) and John Levene (Sgt. Benton) as well as new series producer Phil Collinson; new series writer Joy Wilkinson and new series writer Pete McTighe. There’s also visual effects footage; a Jon Pertwee introduction to ‘Frontier In Space’ taken from the the 1992 VHS called ‘The Pertwee Years’; BBC continuity announcements for ‘Frontier In Space’ and the corrected ‘Episode Two’ end credits for the Blu-ray disc.
On the PDF front, as well as the ‘Radio Times Listings’ and the ‘Production Design Drawings’ of the story, there are also production documents; scripts; a ‘Doctor Who Holiday Special 1974’ feature on ‘Frontier In Space’ and a ‘Valiant Annual 1974’ feature on ‘Frontier In Space’. You need a special Blu-ray computer drive for that. The ‘BBC Enterprises Sales Literature’ PDF is included on Disc 6 of the Season 10 Blu-ray box set. The ‘Stripped For Action – The Third Doctor’ documentary isn’t included for the Season 10 Blu-ray.
‘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. I found this to be a thrilling opening story in the ‘Dalek War’ saga! I wondered where the story could go next as our two heroes set off to stop the evil Daleks.
With the Doctor wounded from their escape, Jo helps him into the TARDIS. Soon the TARDIS is on its way. The Doctor uses the TARDIS’ telepathic circuits to send a message to the Time Lords for help. What will happen next? Will those Time Lords respond? Where will the Doctor and Jo be sent off to?
‘Frontier In Space’ rating – 10/10
‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE SPACE WAR’
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Ogrons, Draconians, the Master and Daleks in Book
Reading and listening to this ‘Doctor Who’ novelization/audiobook 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 wasn’t called ‘Doctor Who and the Frontier In Space’ as with so many other ‘Doctor Who’ book titles. But it has been pretty invigorating reading this story in book/audio form!
The book was published in 1976, three years after 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 same way Terrance Dicks does. 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 needed 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 get 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 of the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. It was great to hear Geoffrey read this story, although it was an unusual choice since 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 liked 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 were 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 the book than on TV.
More is touched upon in 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 had 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 slowing 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’d said it many times before.
A small difference in the book is that the Master as a police commissioner comes from the planet of 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 very early on.
The cliff-hanger resolution of ‘Episode Three’ is handled rather differently in the book. Chapter 7 ends with the Doctor and Professor Dale gasping for breath when they’re locked inside 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 to the Governor and Cross.
There’s a new moment in the book where 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 whilst 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 it 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 Dalek 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 do feel that brand-new ending for the Master was a mark of respect to Roger Delgado’s performance since he passed away not long after working on ‘Doctor Who’ in this epic adventure.
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 that in 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 into book. His handle on the climax as well as providing subtle changes to the plot improved the story greatly.
‘Doctor Who and the Space War’ rating – 8/10
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