Thursday, March 29, 2012

Doctor Who: Daleks - Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.

We're still in our alternate universe with Peter Cushing as Dr. Who. After the great success at the box office of Dr. Who and the Daleks (it was in the top ten films in the UK that year), the producers were eager to cash in and produce a second movie with the intention of producing a movie every year if it proved successful as well. Thus was born Daleks - Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., a re-interpretation of the second Dalek serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

Only Dr. Who and Susan were retained from the first film. The parts of Ian and Barbara were replaced by constable Tom Campbell and Dr. Who's neice Louise. The constable witnesses the robbery of a jewelry store and goes to the nearest Police Box which is really the T.A.R.D.I.S. and opens it just as Dr. Who cuts out the magnetic locks. The constable collapses shortly after entering the ship. Dr. Who looks at the scanner and sees that things are getting a little wild outside, so he takes off only to materialize in 2150 AD where London is a burnt out husk. What follows is a fairly straightforward adaption of the serial to the big screen other than a few cast/character changes even down to the iconic scenes of a Dalek coming out of the Thames and a Dalek saucer flying over London.

As in the original serial, the movie featured a lot of location filming. To me, this movie was less dated than the first one and was quite enjoyable. It also featured two actors who would later appear in the series proper: Philip Madoc (who played several roles on the series including the War Lord in The War Games and Doctor Solon in The Brain of Morbius) and Bernard Cribbins (Donna Noble's grandfather in the revived series). The only thing that dates it a bit is the fight music (i.e. when they storm the Dalek ship)... it reminds me a bit of the music in the 60's Batman series. :)

In the original serial, the Doctor left Susan behind after she fell in love with one of the rebels. That obviously wouldn't work in this film since Susan is a little girl in these movies. That necessitated a few plot changes. The most notable change was putting different sets of characters in the same situations (i.e. Barbara and a female rebel in the serial were replaced by a male rebel and Susan in certain sequences). The "intelligence test" in the cells was a bit different and the ultimate defeat of the Daleks was completely different from the serial... in fact, I thought it was a bit silly looking in the movie: the bomb falls down a shaft, is diverted by a couple of board and slides down another shaft at an angle. The original serial had Ian block the shaft entirely with boards.

Most of the major differences were just scale-wise. The model shot of the Dalek ship flying over London was more impressive than the shaky model shot in the serial (which can be replaced by CGI using an option on the DVD). The wires were visible in a couple of cases in the movie, but impressive, none-the-less. ;) The set of the exterior of the Dalek ship was more impressive, the chase sequence with a rebel escaping from the ship to be killed by the Daleks was more action-packed, etc. The Daleks were once again fitted with smoke projectors instead of ray guns... proving once and for all that second-hand smoke can kill... or would that be second-plunger smoke... ;)

As I said, a very enjoyable and impressive adaptation, but for some reason or other, it didn't do as well at the box office as the first film, so it was destined to be the last Dalek feature film. :( I purchased a DVD box set that included excellent transfers of both films and, on a bonus disc, a direct to video documentary of the making of the films called Dalekmania which was made in 1995, the 30th anniversary of the first film. In it, they interview several of the cast members and crew about making the films. They also included a few interview clips with Terry Nation. Surprisingly Bernard Cribbins wasn't on there. The interview segments are interspersed with scenes of a mother taking her two children to the theather and them getting transported to the world of the films. All of the theater staff in these segments is played by none other than Micheal Wisher (Davros) in one of his final roles. :) While the theater segments were a bit silly, overall the documentary was very good and consistent with the type of behind the scenes material you'd find on a movie DVD.

Now that we've explored the alternate universe, it's time to move back to the real universe and start the Patrick Troughton stories... with more Daleks... in The Power of the Daleks... sadly lost. :(

It's going to be several days before my next post as I watch the serial and deal with the loss of my mother. :( Stay tuned, though. I'll be back in a few days. :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Doctor Who: Dr. Who and the Daleks

With this post, we jump a time track into an alternate universe... one where Peter Cushing plays the kindly Dr. Who and has just invented a time and space machine called T.A.R.D.I.S. This is the world of Dr. Who and the Daleks, the first of two feature films featuring the Doctor and the Daleks.

My first impression of this film beginning with the opening title and carrying on into the opening scenes is "groovy!" :) This film is most definitely a product of the 1960's. Despite having a bigger budget, to me, this film shows its age much more than the serial on which it is based. Its look is very reminescent of 1960's James Bond films and other films of its era.

I didn't listen to the commentary track, but I did check out all of the other special features on this disc. There is a pretty good "History of Doctor Who" and a good biography of Peter Cushing that are both screens of text you have to read through and flip with the remote. The history was written in 2001 just before the Doctor returned to our screens. There is also a trailer and an image gallery that contains movie posters and production stills. Pretty standard fare for a budget DVD release.

Now, on to the film itself... The title character is actually called "Dr. Who" not "The Doctor," Susan is much younger than on the TV series (about 10?) and unless I misheard, Dr. Who calls her Susie most of the time. Barbara and Ian are not schoolteachers like in the series, but Barbara is also Dr. Who's granddaughter (late teens/early 20's?) and Ian is her bumbling buffoon of a boyfriend. Peter Cushing plays the Dr. Who similar to the Hartnell interpretation except without all the "Hmm"s and perhaps less grumpy. :)

Ian shows up to see Barbara just as Dr. Who has completed the last piece of his time machine T.A.R.D.I.S. (note the distinct abbreviation used in this film although it stands for the same thing) and while he is waiting for Barbara to come down, much comic mischief enuses regarding some chocolates that Ian brough for Barbara. Dr. Who wants to show Ian the time machine, so they go out to the garden where there's a Police Box. Ian goes inside, is astounded that it's bigger on the inside than the outside, then proceeds to bumble around circumnavigating the outside of the ship to make sure he wasn't dreaming. Once they go inside, Dr. Who places the last piece into place, then Barbara comes in, goes to kiss Ian, and knocks him into the lever that activates it... more comic mischief...

This is how they wind up on Skaro, although I don't think the planet's name was ever mentioned. Once they get there, the rest of the story pretty well follows the serial it was based on, The Daleks: they explore a bit, go back to the ship and attempt to take off only to find the fluid link is busted (due to the Doctor's sabotage), explore the Dalek city, get captured by the Daleks, escape from the Daleks to befriend the Thals, then storm the Dalek city and defeat the Daleks' plan to release more radiation into the air to EXTERMINATE the Thals. Once the T.A.R.D.I.S. leaves Skaro, they are supposedly bound for home, but wind up in some other place and time... some things don't change... ;)

Speaking of the Thals, the movie version reminds me of the Eloi from the 1960 film The Time Machine (guess that's appropriate). Perhaps that was Terry Nation's original intention and the original serial didn't pull it off as well. It's been a while since I watched the original serial in its entirety, but I read the novelisation of this story a couple of months ago: Doctor Who and the Daleks (originally entitled Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks). I also went back to the original serial to compare a couple of scenes to see which did a better job.

The scene where they cross the swamp near the lake and find a back way into the Dalek city was, to me, one of the big differences. In the book, it seemed much more perilous than in either the serial or the movie. I got the impression from the book that this was a large lake and the creatures in it were huge. The movie gave a slight sense of that when it shows them climbing the mountain with a matte painting of a lake vista behind them, in contrast, the serial didn't show them climbing at all. The lake creatures really weren't shown in the movie although the serials did some miniature work, which while done on a television budget, gives a better sense of danger than the movie. In the book, there is a scene where they injure one of the lake creatures and its fellows come and fight over the body of the fallen creature. This was missing from both versions.

I also got the impression that the pipes they followed into the mountain were huge pipelines. In the movie, they were small when they sighted them underwater, and a little larger on the mountain. In the serial, they only showed a model shot of largish pipes running into the mountain (in a composited shot) and completely skipped the party climbing the mountain, jumping straight to them being in the caves. I also thought the scene in the serial where they jumped the chasm was more intense than the movie version.

Speaking of differences, I thought the Dalek speech was a little inconsistent... At. Times. They. Were. Pausing. Between. Every. Word, while at others, they spoke almost conversationally. The major pauses reminded me a bit of the speech in Day of the Daleks. :) The Daleks props were slightly larger in this film and some had their sucker arms replaced by pinchers. They also shot smoke instead of ray guns. People were all in a tizzy when the Daleks turned into "Skittles" in the Matt Smith story Victory of the Daleks, but they obviously haven't seen the colored Daleks in this movie. :)

Speaking of the Dalek props, they actually made their debut in the serial The Chase which aired just before this movie was released when the TV production team hired them from the completed film. The Chase was not one of my favorite serials, but when it aired just before the movie, it helped promote the film. The other major differences are that the Doctor was portrayed (although not explicitly) as a human in the movie (although it's only hinted that he's an alien early on in the series) and he invents the T.A.R.D.I.S. in the movie (again something that's implied early on in the series, but later changes to him stealing the TARDIS from the Time Lords). There's no console or central column, or any indication that there's anything other than a single room in the ship. The trip to Skaro was almost instantaneous, and there's no explanation for why the ship looks like a Police Box. :)

I thought it was an interesting re-interpretation of Terry Nation's original script. Perhaps it might have been a gateway for someone not already into the show at that time. :)

Next time... We venture again with Dr. Who. This time to 2150 Earth for a Dalek invasion in Daleks - Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Doctor Who: 029 The Tenth Planet

Moving on in season 4, we come to William Hartnell's last story, The Tenth Planet where the Doctor first encounters the Cybermen, and first regenerates... into Patrick Troughton. Of all the villians and monsters the Doctor has faced over the years, the Daleks and the Cybermen have to be two of the most iconic. The Doctor encounters the Daleks in his second serial, and each incarnation of the Doctor has encountered the Daleks at least once... even in the new series (with the exception of Paul McGann, whose single on-screen outing was against The Master, a villain who was not introduced until Jon Pertwee). Likewise, nearly every incarnation of the Doctor has faced the Cybermen at least once (Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston being the exceptions this time, unless you count Eccleston seeing a Cyberman head in a museum in Dalek, although if Eccleston had stayed on one more season, he probably would have faced them). I'll have to admit that for the longest time, I thought the Cybermen were introduced during Troughton's time as Doctor and The Tomb of the Cybermen was the earliest Cybermen story I had seen. I then discovered that Hartnell encountered them in his very last story... So this is where it all began. :)

All the episodes in this serial exist except the last one. This is probably the saddest of all the missing episodes and is probably the most sought after episode of all the missing ones because it contains the Doctor's first regeneration. Remember we talked about John Wiles wanting to replace Hartnell by making the Doctor invisible during The Celestial Toymaker, then making him visible as another actor at the end of the serial, but BBC management wouldn't allow it. After BBC management changed, the writers concocted another plan to replace Hartnell by having him weaken to the point of death, then regenerate as another actor... giving the show virtually infinite life. How things might have been different if Wiles had been allowed to replace Hartnell his way!

Even though the final episode is missing, we do have the actual regeneration scene from an episode of the children's show Blue Peter. There are also silent 8mm on-air film clips at various points in the episode including some footage shortly before the regeneration. Thanks to this, telesnaps, and the audio recordings that exist for all the missing episodes, this episode is able to be reconstructed. Loose Cannon did take on this story as one of their early reconstructions, but for the official BBC VHS release, the Doctor Who Restoration Team decided to do an "official" reconstruction, so Loose Cannon pulled theirs. It was this official reconstruction that I watched. No announcement has been made regarding the DVD release plans for this serial. None of the episodes of this serial appear on the Lost in Time set, so the BBC probably plans to either release the same reconstruction that appeared on VHS, a new reconstruction, or an animated reconstruction.

I'll have to admit that this is actually the first serial/reconstruction that I watched when I started this project because I wanted to the see the first Cybermen story. I also wanted to see how the BBC felt a reconstruction should be done. I'll have to say that it's good, but Loose Cannon's efforts, especially some of the latter ones are just as good. :)

Moving on to the story, I find it amusing that this is supposed to take place in 1986, 20 years after the serial aired and the year I graduated high school... :) In true B-grade sci-fi movie fashion (and somewhat similar to the "cardboard" sets of Star Trek the original series), the technology is dated looking now even though it might have looked futuristic at the time. You always have to take into account when a show was made, and Doctor Who, until the revival in 2005, never had a big budget anyway. The stories were generally good, and people were able to overlook the sock puppet and bubblewrap monsters. :)

Speaking of sock puppets, the original Cybermen look like they're about to rob a bank with stocking masks on. :p Each time the Cybermen appeared on-screen, they looked different from the previous time, but this is the first incarnation. As a story, this serial works well. The astronauts lost in space due to the rogue planet, then eventually the commander's son being in peril provide just the right amount of tension to keep you interested... Even with the stocking faces, the seemingly 7-foot tall Cybermen are quite menacing. You can see why they brought them back time and time again. By the time you get to the missing episode, you're so absorbed in the story that you may not even realize you're watching a reconstruction. :)

With the single missing episode of this story, our total is up to 5 for season 4. With the end of Hartnell's Doctor, I'm going to take a detour into an alternate universe... that of the feature films where the Doctor is played by Peter Cushing, and his name is not "The Doctor", but "Dr. Who" (as he was credited in the early serials).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Doctor Who: 028 The Smugglers

Three seasons down and three to go in my project to "see them all". :) That brings us to season 4. Season 4 sees the departure of William Hartnell and the start of Patrick Troughton. It is also mostly missing. :( Of the 9 serials in season 4, not a single one is complete. :( Thank goodness for the telesnaps and audio recordings that let us experience them in some fashion... The good news is that season 4 is now 1 episode closer to being complete due to an episode of Troughton's The Underwater Menace being found late last year... But I get ahead of myself. :)

At the end of season 3's final serial The War Machines, Ben and Polly wander into the TARDIS to return the key to the Doctor just before he dematerializes. It's amazing how many companions just wander in like that. :)

This season starts off with pirates in the serial The Smugglers. Arrrrgh! Since all the episodes of this serial are missing, we again turn to Loose Cannon. Unfortunately, this is another one for which I only have the older reconstruction and was unable to get a copy of the newer reconstruction in time for this blog post, but I hope to soon and will re-visit this story at that time. Fortunately, the older one is more watchable than the older version of The Savages. The telesnaps were a little blurry and the audio was a little muddy, but hopefully that will be better in the newer version. Even the older version takes advantage of the Australian censor clips and some 8mm home movies filmed on location during filming of the serial to improve the flavor.

The first episode begins with the Doctor discovering Ben and Polly, getting upset they're in his TARDIS, then telling them that he has no control over when and where it lands. I think this is the first time he's admitted this. Stephen makes a comment along those lines in The Daleks' Master Plan, and the Doctor tells him off. :) This is another pseudo-historical story and is an adventure romp for the Doctor and his companions. Did I mention it has pirates in it? ARRRGHHH!!! ;)

This is actually quite enjoyable as just a pure adventure romp. They kept calling Polly a "lad" much to her dismay. The Doctor told her that was better than a girl in trousers. :p I'm still amazed that someone didn't figure out she was a girl as soon as she opened her mouth. Even pre-pubescent boys have lower voices than hers. :) In The Crusade, they intentionally disguised Vicki as a boy, but there was no indication that they did something similar in this story, so that was the only plot point that didn't quite work, but that's minor... plus... it has PIRATES!

Speaking of pirates (I think I've mentioned them once or twice before), Captain Pike is pretty much Captain Hook from Peter Pan (get it? Pike...Hook...). Anyway, like I said, a very enjoyable adventure romp... Apparently the Eleventh Doctor story The Curse of the Black Spot is loosely connected with this story as it deals with the pirate Captain Avery... whose treasure is the goal of almost everyone in this story. :)

At the end of this serial, after the Doctor re-iterates that he has no control over where and when the TARDIS goes (some things never change), they materialize in "the coldest place in the world" which turns out to be Antarctica, the setting for The Tenth Planet, Hartnell's last story.

Back to our running tally of missing episodes... this serial starts off season 4 with 4 missing episodes. :(

Friday, March 23, 2012

Doctor Who: 026 The Savages

After the Doctor's brush with The Celestial Toymaker, he has a toothache from biting into a piece of candy given to Stephen and Dodo by Cyril. He materializes in America in the Wild West and goes looking for a dentist, who happens to be Doc Holliday in the second complete serial of season 3, The Gunfighters. This serial was released on DVD last summer and while intended to be a historical, it's more of a farcical account of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and features a song commissioned for this serial called "The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon" which is way overused. :) Since we're covering stories that I haven't seen, and haven't been released on DVD, we'll skip over that one and move onto The Savages.

Since all 4 episodes of The Savages are missing, again I had to turn to reconstructions. I had access to the older Loose Cannon reconstuction of this story (one of the first they did), but the telesnaps are blurry and only take up a small portion of the screen. The rest of the screen is filled with subtitles, both the dialog and action that you can't tell from the audio and telesnaps. Loose Cannon's production standards have significantly improved since this one was made and they have since revisited this story and made an updated reconstruction. I don't have the newer reconstruction and was unable to get a copy in time for this blog post. I tried watching this older version, but I had trouble, so I turned to the Elaphe reconstruction I had of this story. Elaphe takes the BBC audio track of the episode containing linking narration and pairs it with the existing telesnaps. Peter Purves did the linking narration for this. Being a "purist", I'd much rather have the unadulterated audio than linking narration, but I had to take what I could get for this one. :) Listening to the audio with linking narration while watching the telesnaps definitely improves the experience over listening to audio alone. I hope to get a copy of the newer Loose Cannon reconstruction and I'll revisit this story at that time.

After having seen The Gunfighters and the teaser for next time showing the TARDIS materializing while being watched by a couple of scruffy looking men (think Tom Hanks in Stowaway) peeking out of the bushes, with the overlay "The Savages", I wasn't expecting much from this story. After watching the first episode, I was still a little "meh," although it wasn't what I had been expecting. Once it really gets going in episode 2, it's a full-on science fiction story that's actually fairly good. I was especially amused by Jano's impersonation of the Doctor. :) I'm wondering if he took on any of his visual mannerisms as well. :) The Elaphe reconstruction was superior to the older Loose Cannon, but I'm looking forward to seeing the smoke effects, the bubbling vats and other things that Loose Cannon did to spice up their newer reconstruction.

This story is the first to have an on-screen serial title and not individual episode titles. This is also Stephen's last story as he is asked to stay to help rebuild society for these people. That leaves the Doctor with just Dodo as a travelling companion. They leave and head back to modern day London (1960's) for the next adventure The War Machines, the third complete serial and the final serial of season 3.

Again, The War Machines was released on DVD a few years ago and I watched it at that time, so I won't really be talking about it here. I will say that there is an interesting documentary on the DVD that explains how the episode was restored to be as close to its original form as possible using 16mm prints, Australian censor clips, Blue Peter footage, and the off-air audio recordings. The BBC pretty much had to do their own reconstruction to release this serial on DVD. :)

Counting the 4 missing episodes in The Savages, that brings the grand total of missing episodes for season 3 to 28 out of 45 total episodes... 62% missing. :( The grand total for the entire series is now up to 56 which is just over half of the total number of 106. :(

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Blog miscellany

I've heard from a number of people that they've had trouble posting comments, so I've changed the comment setting from the default to allow posts without signing in (Google account, Blogger account, OpenID, etc.). Hopefully this won't generate a lot of spam posts. Also, I'm going to be out of town for the next couple of days, but I have a couple of blog posts queued up so that I can just hit publish when I have an Internet connection. :)

I have completed watching all the William Hartnell episodes and will be posting comments on the following stories over the next couple of days:
26. The Savages (Friday)
28. The Smugglers (Saturday)
29. The Tenth Planet (Sunday)

After that, I plan to take a break from the serials before starting the Troughton episodes and watch the feature films starring Peter Cushing as an alternate First Doctor (who is actually named "Dr. Who") in re-imaginings of the first two Dalek serials:

I started watching the first one a couple of years ago, but got interrupted and never finished it. I will probably also watch the documentary Dalekmania and add my comments as part of the second film.

Hopefully you are enjoying reading my meanderings as much as I'm enjoying watching the serials and posting these comments. Leave me some comments to let me know you're out there. :)

Doctor Who: 024 The Celestial Toymaker

Finally, we come to the first complete serial of this season, The Ark, which was released on DVD just over a year ago and marks the final serial produced by John Wiles after only serving as producer for part of a season. Since I've already seen that one, I'm skipping over it to The Celestial Toymaker. Based on what I've heard, I think this is one of the more revered of the Hartnell stories. In the titular role of the Toymaker is renowned actor Michael Gough, who is best known to modern audiences for his portrayal of Batman's butler in the Tim Burton Batman films.

This is a very different kind of story to the previous stories that had appeared on Doctor Who. The stories had alternated between historicals and science fiction. In this, the mischevious Toymaker kidnaps people and wants them to play games for his amusement. If they lose the game, they become his prisoners, but if they win, they defeat the Toymaker and gain their freedom. The serial consists of a series of games that Steven and Dodo must play to get back to the TARDIS while the Doctor plays a game of Trilogic (aka Tower of Hanoi) in order to attempt to defeat the Toymaker himself.

The Doctor spends a large portion of this serial being invisible and some of it being mute. This was due to Hartnell being on vacation during part of the filming. The previous producer John Wiles originally commissioned this story and had intended to use this as an opportunity to replace Hartnell by having the Toymaker alter his appearance and voice while he was invisible and mute. Wiles and the management at the BBC had a falling out over this as well as several other things like Wiles wanting the series to be darker. Due to these disagreements, Wiles left the program making way for producer Innes Lloyd, who produced this serial. If Wiles had succeeded in this and replaced Hartnell using this method instead of the regeneration method which was ultimately used, the series would have been very different!

Only the final episode of this story exists and there are no telesnaps, so I assume that John Wiles had already put things into motion on the production of this story prior to leaving since Innes Lloyd restored the tradition of having telesnaps made. Once again, we turn to the Loose Cannon reconstruction for missing episodes and to Lost in Time for the remaining episode. Once again, Loose Cannon works miracles, using a number of stills and a couple of video clips from the remaining part along with their usual compositing.

This story was fairly good, although it reminds me a bit of The Mind Robber, which came later... during Troughton's time. This is one story that certainly would have benefitted by having the actual video so you can see them playing the games. At the end of the serial, Dodo asks the Doctor if he thinks they'll ever see the Toymaker again, and he answers that they might. Sadly, the Toymaker has not appeared in the series again even though he's immortal. Perhaps Stephen Moffat can bring him back in the new series. :) He came back in some of the novels and in several Big Finish audio adventures.

After having seen this serial, I now understand why the Doctor has a toothache at the beginning of The Gunfighters... Running tally of missing episodes in season 3 after these 3 is 24. :(

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Doctor Who: 022 The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve

After the death, destruction, and mayhem of The Daleks' Master Plan, we move to 16th century France for The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve (aka The Massacre). This is the last of 3 serials for which not a single second of surviving footage exists and since the producer, John Wiles, chose not to have telesnaps made, there is very little visual record of this episode.

Again, we turn to the Loose Cannon reconstruction. Due to the lack of visual material, they again had to work miracles to give us a flavor of this serial. I'll have to admit that I'm not very familiar with this period of history, so I was glad of the inclusion of historical material on the Loose Cannon reconstruction.

This is not one of my favorite historicals. Perhaps it would be better with all of the original visuals. William Hartnell played a double role in this serial, but it was never clarified if the other person just looked like the Doctor or if it actually was the Doctor pretending to be the other person, although the latter was strongly hinted multiple times throughout the story.

I've heard that John Wiles wanted to make the series darker and that he was frustrated that he was unable to do many of the things that he wanted to do... (such as get rid of William Hartnell) The subject matter of this serial is one of the darkest to date, especially for a historical. I know the Reign of Terror, and The Crusade also dealt with darker periods in history, but I didn't feel that the darkness spilled over in the Doctor's adventures quite as much as in this story. Again, not one of my favorites...

This story is the first introduction of new companion, Dodo Chaplet, who appears at the end of episode 4 when she mistakes the TARDIS for a Police Box (imagine that) and enters it shortly before it dematerializes (very similar to what happens with Tegan later). After seeing this scene, I now understand her disbelief when they step out of the TARDIS in The Ark.

The complete loss of the 4 episodes of this story brings the total number of missing episodes in season 3 to a whopping 21 and we're not done yet... :(

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Doctor Who: 021 The Daleks' Master Plan

Before Verity Lambert left the series at the end of Mission to the Unknown, she commissioned a massive epic story starring the Doctor's nemesis, the Daleks: The Daleks' Master Plan. "Dalekmania" was sweeping the UK and a feature film starring Peter Cushing as the Doctor in a re-imagining of the 1963 serial The Daleks was released earlier that same year, so this was the perfect time to do a Dalek story. Sadly, the new producer John Wiles chose not to have telesnaps made during his short time as producer and this serial was never screened outside the UK, so the likelyhood of recovering lost episodes certainly seems grim. :(

This seems as good a time as any to discuss the way episodes were stored, lost, and recovered. Apparently, the master copies of BBC television programs were on 2 inch video tape, but the BBC transferred them to 16mm film stock for sale overseas. Once the overseas stations showed the program, they either sent the film back or destroyed it. In the 70's the BBC decided to wipe these old video tapes (keep in mind that video tapes were not as common and not readily available to consumers at that point). They incorrectly assumed that the film archives contained copies of all the programs they were wiping. They also destroyed a number of the 16mm prints, again assuming that there were copies stored in the archive. It was through the actions of fans such as Ian Levine that this process was stopped. By this point, however, many programs had been irreversibly lost.

Most of the recovered episodes have been the 16mm film transfers - either from collectors (many of whom rescued them from the trash) or from overseas stations who didn't destroy or send back their copies. Australia and New Zealand often censored the episodes, so copies that came back from those countries often had bits missing, although it appears that most, if not all, of the censored material was kept by the Australian government and some was retained in New Zealand as well. This means that we have some "scary bits" from otherwise lost episodes. :) One of the most amusing cuts is from The War Machines where the segment cut by the Australian censors was actually recovered because it was featured in the BBC children's program Blue Peter. :) There's a very good documentary called "The Missing Years" which appears on the Lost in Time: The Troughton Years DVD which goes into great detail about these missing episodes. Also, the Wikipedia article on missing episodes goes into much more detail about the political and financial reasons why the wiping took place.

Understanding a little of how episodes were lost and found brings us back to The Daleks' Master Plan and its teaser episode Mission to the Unknown. Of the 12 episodes of The Daleks' Master Plan, only 11 were actually transferred to 16mm film stock, so the Christmas episode "The Feast of Stephen" is most likely lost forever. :( Neither of these serials was screened outside the UK, so the likelyhood of finding a copy outside the UK is virtually nil although there was a viewing copy of The Daleks' Master Plan (minus the Christmas episode) sent to Austrailia. ABC declined to purchase it and the fate of that viewing copy is unknown. Fortunately, three episodes of this serial DO exist and were lovingly restored and released on the Lost in Time DVD set. Episode 5 and 10 were discovered in the basement of a Mormon church that was in a building the BBC used to own. Episode 2 was returned by a former BBC engineer in 2004. Considering that last year two episodes of two other serials were found, there's still hope that more of these might turn up or the viewing copies sent to Australia might show up. I'll keep my fingers crossed... :)

For the missing episodes, again we turn to the Loose Cannon reconstruction. This reconstruction is unique in many respects. At the time Loose Cannon was working on this, there were only two episodes known to exist (5 and 10) of the 12 episodes. Loose Cannon did a full reconstruction of the 10 missing episodes, then just a few months after they released the reconstruction, episode 2 was returned to the BBC. Due to the time and effort that went into the reconstruction, Loose Cannon decided not to redo the reconstruction. Sadly, this means that the reconstructions of episodes 1 and 3 do not benefit from the opening and closing footage of episode 2. Also, the delegates' makeup and costumes in the reconstructions were largely based on pictures from Mission to the Unknown. When episode 2 of this serial was discovered, it was noted that some of the costumes and makeup of the delegates had changed between the two serials (Trantis, for instance). Another thing that makes this reconstruction unique is the use of CGI. They created some 3D computer models of Daleks and used them to "animate" parts of the story to add a more dynamic element to the reconstruction. Even without telesnaps, the reconstruction is nothing short of amazing. If you're really interested in how Loose Cannon does these reconstructions, there is an episode by episode breakdown for this reconstruction which makes fascinating reading. These guys are doing all this out of their love for the show, but they are certainly professionals and I would be willing to buy a DVD of several of these reconstructions if they were able to make them available.

I originally thought about breaking this blog post into two parts for the first and second half of this story. If I had, my reaction to the first half would have been that this is a decent story. After having watched the entire thing, my reaction has changed: Wow, what an excellent story. This is probably one of the best Dalek stories in the classic series. The last few minutes of the final episode is particulary gripping even watching it as a reconstruction. As you've probably noticed, I'm not doing a synopsis of the episodes. If you want that, there are plenty of places to find that including Wikipedia. I've also tried to avoid spoilers, although some spoilers are unavoidable when talking about this serial.

While the serial is officially 12 parts, part 7 fell on Christmas Day, so they decided to do a Christmas episode (which is now a yearly tradition with the revived series). That means the Dalek story is actually an 11 part story (with the Christmas episode thrown in the middle). Before watching this, my major fear with such a long story was that it would have pacing problems, as is common in some of the classic serials. Of the first 6 episodes, I only felt that there were slight pacing problems in episode 6: the invisible monsters on the planet Mira seemed unneccessary and really added little to the overall Dalek story. The cliffhanger ends with them being unable to see anything on the scanner and the Doctor saying the atmosphere is poisonous.

Then we have the Christmas episode... I think some people love this and others hate it. I thought it was absolutely hilarious and was literally Laughing Out Loud while watching it. The only connection in this episode to the Dalek story arc of the overall serial is a bit of dialog along these lines: "Is the taranium safe?" "Yes, it's right here." "Good, the Daleks mustn't get it." "I'd almost forgotten about the Daleks." "You must never do that." Other than those couple of lines, this episode could easily be watched as a standalone and the rest of the serial can be watched without this episode and still make sense. This episode starts with some bumbling policemen (ala Keystone Kops minus the slapstick humor), then when the TARDIS lands on the set of a silent film, the action really turns slapstick and actually includes Keystone Kops and even silent film cue cards such as "Meanwhile in TARDIS..." When I saw the first of these cue cards, LOL turned into ROFL. :) At the end of all of this, the Doctor turns to the camera, breaking the "fourth wall," and tells the TV audience at home to have a Happy Christmas. While this episode does start with the cliffhanger from part 6, there is no cliffhanger for this episode.

Then we have the second half of the story in which the Meddling Monk reappears and tries to take revenge on the Doctor for leaving him stranded at the end of The Time Meddler. The Doctor bounces around a couple of places being followed by the Meddling Monk and eventually ends up in ancient Egypt and the Daleks follow him there. To me, the addition of the Meddling Monk to the Dalek storyline was overly ambitious and introduced pacing problems for the main Dalek story as it lasted through episodes 8, 9, and 10. Not that I minded seeing the Meddling Monk again, but I think it could have been a serial unto itself. Plus, the bouncing around through space and time being chased by the Daleks had been in done in the previous season's serial The Chase (incidentally the story right before The Time Meddler). The Chase was not one of my favorite Dalek stories, and at 6 episodes had some pacing problems itself. The Dalek story resumed in earnest in the end of episode 10. By episode 12 when the Doctor turns on the Time Destructor and he and Sara are trying to make it back to the TARDIS before everything around them is destroyed, I was on the edge of my seat until the final resolution. When it was all said and done and the end credits rolled on episode 12, I literally said "Wow... just WOW!" It was that powerful and moving. As I mentioned, even with the pacing problems in the center of the story, I think this has to be one of the best Dalek stories in the entire classic series. I certainly hope more episodes of this are found (perhaps the Australian viewing copies?).

This story is notable for several other things besides being the longest serial (other than the 14 episode The Trial of a Time Lord which is really a series of several stories that make up an arc). This marks the first appearance of Nicholas Courtney, who would later play Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart and become to only actor to work with all 7 of the Doctors in the classic series, although his appearance with Six was a cameo in the charity special Dimensions in Time. Big Finish teamed him up Six (for a proper adventure) and with Eight to bring the Brig's total to 8 classic Doctors. While he never appeared with Nine or Ten, he did show up on The Sarah Jane Adventures where he and Clyde talk about the Doctor (Ten at the time) and Eleven tried to call him only to find that the Brig had died in a scene added in honor of the actor's passing early last year. Sadly, his first actual appearance is in episode 1 and the only surviving clip from that episode doesn't feature him, so the earliest film footage we have of him is from the recovered episode 2.

This serial also marks the first on-screen death of a companion: Katarina, who came aboard the TARDIS in the last episode of the previous serial, gives her life to save the Doctor, Steven, and Bret early in episode 4 as the continuation of the cliffhanger from episode 3. Then in the conclusion to episode 12, Sara Kingdom becomes the second companion to die in a hearbreaking turn of events. I've heard people make a big deal out of Adric's death in Earthshock, but to me, these were a much bigger deal. Beside, I don't think fans grieved much for Adric. ;)

Wow... a massively long blog post for a massively long serial. I guess that's fitting. It's truly, truly sad that this one is missing so many parts. I only hope that additional parts are found and we can one day enjoy it in its entirety. Unfortunately, the 9 missing episodes in this serial alone more than doubles the running total for season 3, bringing the total for season 3 thus far to 17. :(

Monday, March 19, 2012

Doctor Who: 020 The Myth Makers

Mission to the Unknown was intended as a prequel for The Daleks' Master Plan, but viewers would have to wait five weeks to see the first episode of that serial. First we rejoin the Doctor, Vicki, and Stephen during the Trojan War where they become part of history in The Myth Makers. This would be Vicki's last story as her character chose to stay behind with Troilus. According to Maureen O'Brien, she had mentioned that she was thinking about leaving, and the new production team wrote her out as of this story without actually talking to her about it and she didn't realize that she was leaving until she got the script.

Yet again, this is another story where all four episodes are missing, so we turn to the Loose Cannon reconstruction. Sadly, due to the new producer John Wiles' decision to not have telesnaps taken, there are no telesnaps and only about a minute or so of surviving footage scattered a few seconds at a time throughout the story. Again, Loose Cannon work magic using set photos, actor photos, scenes from other serials and some creative compositing to give us a feel of what this episode might have been like. The result, again, is nothing short of amazing.

There are several bonuses included on this reconstruction including an interview with Frances White, who played Cassandra. Frances also does the intro and outro as well as a short historical documentary to put the serial in context. These all add quite a bit to the reconstruction and are very similar to the value added content you'd find on a DVD release. In all, a very enjoyable historical, and again, about the right length for the story conveyed.

After leaving Vicki behind, the Doctor heads to the planet Kembel which we last saw in Mission to the Unknown, and which will now be the birthplace for The Daleks' Master Plan...

This single episode serial brings the total number of missing episodes in season three to 8.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Doctor Who: 019 Mission to the Unknown

On to Mission to the Unknown (aka Dalek Cutaway)... This is a rather unusual episode for many reasons: It is the only standalone episode of the original series (other than the feature length anniversary special The Five Doctors) and is the only episode that doesn't feature the Doctor or any of his companions. It was filmed as part of the filming block for the previous serial Galaxy Four and actually came about because the first story in the second season, Planet of Giants, was cut from four to three episodes in post-production. It is also the last story for the show's original producer Verity Lambert.

Due to Planet of Giants being trimmed back by an episode, it was decided to make this standalone episode to fill the gap and to act as a teaser for the massive twelve episode story The Daleks' Master Plan, which would air later during the third season. Terry Nation also hoped that Mission to the Unknown could be used to launch a Dalek spin-off series without the Doctor. While Terry Nation did create a pilot for a spin-off series, it never materialized (pardon the pun). Big Finish Productions has created something very similar with its "Dalek Empire" spin-off audios and has even made Terry Nation's Dalek pilot, "The Destroyers", into an audio drama.

Mission to the Unknown is one of only three serials for which not a single second of off-air footage exists. :( Despite this and the fact that no telesnaps exist for this story, the Loose Cannon reconstruction is amazing. Through creative use of material from The Daleks' Master Plan, set photos, photos of the cast, photos from other serials, and creative compositing of all of the above, Loose Cannon has made it impossible to tell what is actually original material and what they created for this reconstruction.

Add one more to the count of missing episodes for season three to bring the total to 4.

Based on this reconstruction alone, I'm really looking forward to The Daleks' Master Plan, but first we rejoin the Doctor and friends in The Myth Makers... Next time...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Doctor Who: 018 Galaxy Four

Season 3... Ah... Here's where we start to run into trouble... Of the ten serials in this season, only three are complete and many are missing entirely. :( Galaxy Four, the first story of the season, fell into that latter category until late last year when episode three and a missing Troughton episode were discovered in the hands of a film collector. The episode will require some restoration work and BBC and 2|entertain have promised to release it to DVD as soon as possible. Hopefully that will be later this year...

Until then, again we turn to the Loose Cannon reconstruction. Very little exists from these episodes, although oddly enough, there are three clips from episode one which together comprise almost six minutes of nearly continuous footage, missing only a single line of dialog. This six minutes is more than a quarter of the episode! Loose Cannon did a fantastic job in reconstructing this given the limited material they had to work with.

This wasn't the best story I've seen, but it certainly wasn't the worst either. It was quite enjoyable and it will be exciting to see the real episode when it eventually comes out. At the end of this serial, I was kind of surprised that the Doctor didn't make one last desperate attempt to rescue the Drahvin before leaving in the TARDIS.

Interestingly enough, Galaxy Four and the following story Mission to the Unknown were actually filmed as part of the same filming block (and apparently shared a production code) and were intended to be part of Season Two, but were ultimately held over to start off Season Three.

This starts of Season 3 with 3 missing episodes... :(

Friday, March 16, 2012

Doctor Who: 014 The Crusade

Next up is The Crusade, another semi-historical story about King Richard the Lionheart. This one has four episodes and the first and third episodes are the only ones contained in the BBC archives. They were released on the Lost in Time DVD set (along with the audio for the missing episodes). For the missing episodes, again we turn to the Loose Cannon reconstruction.

As I mentioned before, the BBC is good at period costume drama and this story is exactly that at its best. Julian Glover makes a very convincing King Richard and this is certainly one that I would love to see in its entirety. It seems to be about the perfect length for the story it conveys. It's definitely a shame that this one is missing, but the two existing episodes give us a good flavor of the story. Hartnell seems to have hit his stride by this point and he is definitely growing on me the more I watch of him. This is also the first of several appearances by Jean Marsh in Doctor Who.

I don't have the special features included on the Loose Cannon reconstruction, but I'm hoping to get them. I did, however, listen to the commentary with Julian Glover included on the Lost in Time DVD set which was quite nice.

Incidentally, the novelization of this story is one of the six classic Target novelizations that BBC Books has reprinted (one each from the first three Doctors... the novelization of The Daleks being the other Hartnell one). I'm working my way through those in addition to watching the episodes, so perhaps I'll post some comments on them as well.

This brings the total missing episodes to 11: 9 in Season 1 plus the 2 in this serial. The remaining serials in Season 2 exist and have been released on DVD, so this concludes the gaps in Season 2 and now we move onto Season 3...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Doctor Who: 009 Planet of Giants

The second season of Doctor Who begins with Planet of Giants. All episodes of this story exist and it is scheduled to be released on DVD later this year. Again, being impatient to watch all of the stories I've not seen, I couldn't wait. :) This story has been released on VHS, so I was able to watch that release to continue my journey.

This story was fairly good, not the best, but certainly not the worst. After seeing blockbuster movies such as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and The Incredible Shrinking Woman which were inspired by earlier movies and TV series such as The Incredible Shrinking Man and Land of the Giants, the idea seems a little dated, but this serial predates all but The Incedible Shrinking Man, which was almost certainly an inspiration for this serial. In fact, since this serial predates Land of the Giants by several years, I'd be willing to bet that Irwin Allen based the alternate Earth idea on this serial, although it could just be an incredible coincidence. :)

Incidentally, this story was originally written and filmed as four episodes, but during post production, it was decided to merge episodes 3 and 4 to produce a tighter, faster paced story. This created a deficit of one episode which paved the way for the standalone episode Mission to the Unknown, which actually ran during the third season, but more on that later. As River Song, would say... Spoilers! :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Doctor Who: 008 The Reign of Terror

Our next stop to fill in the gaps for DVD releases is The Reign of Terror (aka The French Revolution), a six episode semi-historical story of which episodes 4 and 5 are missing. The exciting thing is that the BBC has undertaken an official reconstruction of these two episodes via animation similar to the treatment they gave The Invasion, although the animation style is different. The animation is being done by Theta Sigma and Big Finish Productions and the resulting product is expected to be released on DVD later this year. There are several clips on YouTube if you want to get an idea what the finished product will look like.

Since I'm filling in the gaps now, I can't wait for the DVD to come out later this year. I'm too impatient. :) The fact that the missing episodes are in the middle of the story makes it that much easier to get into the story and to make it past the gaps. You have three episodes to get into the story before you hit a missing episode. Then you have a couple of episodes missing followed by the final episode of the story which exists. Again, I watched the Loose Cannon reconstruction of these missing episodes along with the existing episodes from the BBC VHS release.

Loose Cannon had a few clips as well as telesnaps from the missing episodes to work with in making these episodes. In all, pretty good. The only thing I found slightly annoying is that there was a clip of a door closing that they kept using over and over every time someone used that door (i.e. snapshot of someone talking, servant enters so show the closing door clip, snapshot of servant speaking, servant leaves, so show the closing door clip, etc.). I guess that's a very minor nitpick and I know they were just trying to add some motion to an otherwise static slideshow, but I felt this clip was way overused... people kept going in and out of the door. :) Other than that, a very enjoyable story. I was kind of surprised to see the Doctor hit someone over the head with a shovel to knock them out. The Doctor is usually such a passivist.

As a bonus on the reconstruction, Loose Cannon included a short introduction with Carole Ann Ford, in which she relates her memories of filming this story and a couple of anecdotes. This was a very short segment, and personally I don't think it contributed much to the story. I think the reconstructed episodes stand pretty well on their own. I'm excited about the forthcoming animations and perhaps they'll get her to do a commentary on the DVD release when it comes out later this year.

BTW, I first thought the Doctor looked silly in that feathered hat, but I think Hartnell actually pulls it off with his pomposity. :)

This is the final story of season 1! So, that's nine episodes missing thus far... All seven of Marco Polo and two from The Reign of Terror. On to season 2...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Doctor Who: 004 Marco Polo

The first stop on our tour to fill in the gaps in William Hartnell's tenure as the Doctor is the serial Marco Polo (aka A Journey to Cathay). This is one of only three stories with absolutely zero broadcast footage. Fortunately, this story was also the most photographed of any of the early stories as well.

The BBC mastered the art of period costume drama, so the sets and costumes in this semi-historical story were very extravagant for what was essentially a low-budget childrens' show. This extravagance is one thing that makes it that much sadder that this story is completely lost. I'm sure it's very high on the list of stories that fans would like to see returned to the archive.

I watched the Loose Cannon reconstruction of this story. Loose Cannon went all out for this reconstruction. Mark Eden, the actor who played Marco Polo filmed opening and closing scenes where many years after this adventure Marco Polo is recalling these events and writing in his journal (as he does during the episodes). Many of the production stills used for this story were in color, so Loose Cannon decided to make this reconstruction in color by colorising the remaining telesnaps. The finished result is quite amazing for what is essentially a slideshow set to the original audio recording. This was the first Loose Cannon reconstruction I've watched. Look on their site for a good explanation of how they do these and how they source the material. It's quite interesting.

Apparently additional telesnaps were found after this reconstruction was completed and those telesnaps were published in Doctor Who Magazine. Loose Cannon has stated that they have no current plans to redo this reconstruction using the new telesnaps (primarily due to the work required to colorise the additional telesnaps). For those of you who may not know, telesnaps are still pictures taken at intervals of a TV screen as the program airs. They are very similar to kinescopes, which are where a film camera was aimed at a TV screen to capture a TV program, usually a live broadcast.

My only real complaint about this story is its length. Seven episodes is much longer than needed to tell the story. Four or Five episodes would have been sufficient and would have made the story tighter. If you're not a purist and want to get an idea of what this story would have been like without watching the full 3 hours of it, try the reconstruction/condensation on The Edge of Destruction DVD in "The Beginning" box set. It's done by Derek Handley, one of the Loose Cannon team members and in 30 minutes, it manages to convey the story with only a slight loss of character development. I think the length is a common complaint during the earlier stories. In all, a good story and I'd love to see it in its entirety if it's ever recovered.

A site I find very useful when watching these reconstructions is the Doctor Who Scripts Project. Since the audio for missing episodes was captured off-air, it can at times be muddy, so these transcriptions and stage notes can be helpful understanding what's happening.

As a side note, I have a few of these queued up to post over the next several days to catch up with what I'm watching right now, then the posts will probably slow down a little as I actually watch them.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Since several of my friends and acquaintances are blogging, I figure I'll try my hand at it. :) I'll start with a little introduction of myself and kind of what I'm going for here. As you can tell by the domain name, I love Science Fiction and Fantasy. This, of course includes most of the big hitters such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, etc. I'll probably deal with a little of each of these in turn. I'm going to start with Doctor Who which is what I'm currently watching and kind of what spurred me to start blogging in the first place. :)

First, a little history on my association with Doctor Who. I first became aware of British Sci-Fi via The Tomorrow People which was running on Nickelodeon in the United States during the late 1970's and early 1980's when my parents got cable TV in 1979. I watched the original series through a couple of times. I was collecting comic books at the time, especially The Uncanny X-Men, so this tale of the next step in human evolution was already familiar to me. :)

I was vaguely aware of Doctor Who somewhere around that time (there are a couple of references in The Tomorrow People), but had not actually seen it. At some point in the early 1980's, I caught an episode of Doctor Who on our local PBS station, and remember thinking it looked pretty cool, but I never actually started watching it and to this day don't remember which story, or even which Doctor, I saw. :(

It wasn't until much later, almost two decades actually, that I had my next encounter with Doctor Who in the late 1990's. Somehow, I even managed to miss the hoopla around the 1996 movie which was so-produced with Fox here in the states! In 1999, I started working with a guy who shared a lot of my interests (gaming, comics, sci-fi, etc.) who happened to be a huge Doctor Who fan. We got to talking about it at work and around the same time, BBC America began showing the Tom Baker stories on Saturdays beginning at his first serial, Robot. They also started showing Red Dwarf and the BBC adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia, so I was watching a LOT of BBC America. :)

I watched Doctor Who faithfully until BBC America stopped showing new episodes (after the end of the serial The Robots of Death). Again, it was a couple of more years before I got back into it, although I remained a closet fan. :) I moved on to another job and one of my co-workers and I were on a business trip around late 2000 and somehow we got on the topic of The Tomorrow People. I did a Google search to show him what it was, and to my delight, I discovered that they were about to be released on Region 2 DVD. I purchased a region-free DVD player that would convert PAL to NTSC and began purchasing them as they were released in the UK. I figured the series was too niche to ever be released in Region 1, which it now has been... sigh. After re-watching The Tomorrow People, I decided to renew my acquaintance with the Doctor by purchasing the Region 1 DVD's that were available. Unfortunately, they had been releasing them for a couple of years at this point and I had a little catching up to do to buy them all. I also purchased the Region 2 DVD of the 1996 Paul McGann movie since it was caught up in red tape and I had no idea when it might eventually be released in Region 1.

This, of course, means I was in the position of being a big fan of the original series by the time it was announced that Doctor Who would be returning to our TV screens in 2005. YAY! I had already managed to see all the episodes of the new series by the time SciFi Channel (or SyFy now) finally picked them up in the US. Meanwhile, I was still playing catchup on all the DVD releases of the now "Classic Series".

Once I finally got caught up with the DVD releases, I began trying to fill in the gaps in what I'd seen by watching the Tom Baker serials that had not been shown on BBC America and had not yet been released on DVD. Since the DVD releases jump all over the place, there are a LOT of gaps. After filling in all of the Tom Baker gaps, I decided to do the same for Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy in order. I also started listening to the Big Finish Productions audio adventures during this time. I've listened to all of them (except the Bernice Summerfield standalones) in production order, including spinoffs, up through the ones that were produced in early 2009. I also listened to the new work Tom Baker was doing with BBC Audiobooks: Hornets' Nest. This lead me to some of the previous audio dramas Doctor Who and the Pescatons, The Paradise of Death, and Doctor Who and the Ghosts of N-Space. I also found a local Doctor Who group (The Blue Box Companions) and began attending and talking to other fans who shared my obsession. :)

Since I had still not seen all of the first three Doctor's serials, I decided to go back and fill in the gaps with Jon Pertwee since at least all of his stories exist (even if some are only black and white). After completing the Pertwee stories, that left me having seen everything from The War Games to present, although not necessarily in order.

Which brings me to where I am now... Sadly, whole stories are missing from William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton. :( Interestingly enough, in the days before VCR's existed or were common, children used to put microphones up to the TV speaker and make audio recordings of TV programs (I remember doing this in the 1970's with a cassette recorder). Due to this, audio for EVERY story has miraculously survived. The BBC has released CD's of this audio (in several formats includings some with linking narration by an actor/actress in the serial) and a wonderful DVD box set called Lost in Time which contains almost all of the orphaned episodes, clips, etc. from missing episodes and incomplete stories.

As I write this, there are only a handful of serials/episodes from Hartnell and Troughton that have not yet been released on DVD (two complete serials, three partially complete serials, and two serials that were previously on Lost in Time but had an additional episode returned late last year):
8. The Reign of Terror (incomplete, but the missing parts are currently being animated for release later this year)
9. Planet of Giants (complete and supposed to be released later this year)
18. Galaxy Four (which had previously been missing all four episodes, but had episode 3 found late last year)
29. The Tenth Planet (incomplete, but the final episode was officially reconstructed for its VHS release)
32. The Underwater Menace (episode 3 was on Lost in Time, but episode 2 was found late last year)
39. The Ice Warriors (missing 2 of 6 episodes, perhaps the BBC plans to animate it?)
47. The Krotons (complete and supposed to be released later this year)
The episodes which were returned late last year need to be cleaned up, have footage restored, etc. and the BBC and 2|entertain have promised to get them into our hands as soon as possible. I'm hoping that will be later this year. :)

Needless to say, with all of these missing episodes, it's impossible to truly watch much of the first two Doctors. While Hartnell's first two seasons are reasonably intact, Troughton only has six complete serials. Thanks to the children with tape recorders I mentioned earlier, we have audio for the missing stories, so the BBC was able to animate the missing episodes for The Invasion to make seven watchable stories from the Troughton era. Thanks to these audio recordings, the existing clips, telesnaps, and a lot of hard work, a dedicated group of fans known as Loose Cannon have produced reconstructions of virtually all of the missing material allowing us to "watch" these missing episodes and get SOME idea what they might have been like. Until either these episodes are found or the BBC decides to produce official reconstructions (either animation or stills like they did for The Tenth Planet), Loose Cannon is the closest we can come to experiencing these episodes without hopping into a TARDIS of our own and going back to the day they aired...

So, I'm going to start with documenting my journey through these early serials of Hartnell and Troughton and we'll see where it goes from there (assuming I've not bored you to death already)... :)