Friday, July 27, 2012

Doctor Who: 041 The Web of Fear

After defeating Salamander in The Enemy of the World, the TARDIS is out of control and the crew is in danger of being pulled out the open door into the Vortex (although I'm not sure if it's been officially called this on the show, yet). Jamie manages to close to the doors, but a strange web surrounds the TARDIS and holds it captive. The Doctor manages to shake off the web and the TARDIS materializes in a London tube station which is oddly deserted and locked. Thus begins The Web of Fear, the second and final appearance of the Yeti (other than a cameo in The Five Doctors and a mention in The Three Doctors).

Sadly, like the previous Yeti story, only one episode of this story still exists in the archives. Again, thanks to Loose Cannon, the telesnaps, and a full soundtrack, we have a reconstruction of the missing episodes to enjoy. Unfortunately, this reconstruction has not officially been released by Loose Cannon, but was leaked onto the Internet.

As you may remember from my post on The Abominable Snowmen, I was not overly impressed with the Yeti despite the fact that they are so fondly remembered by fans. The Yeti in this story are much leaner and meaner and this story was much more interesting to me.

An interesting piece of trivia about this story is that the BBC got in trouble for filming in the London tube stations without permission... despite the fact that they didn't actually use the London tube stations. The sets were so realistic that after episode 1 aired, the London Underground accused them of filming there without permission. :)

This story features the second appearance of Nicholas Courtney on the series, but his first appearance as Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, although he's simply Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart at this point and U.N.I.T. has not yet been mentioned. Apparently U.N.I.T. was already being planned for the serial The Invasion, so they used this story as kind of an introduction to the military being involved with the Doctor. Sadly, the Brig's first on-screen appearance is in episode 3, one of the missing episodes.

At the end of this story, the Great Intelligence gets away and the Doctor thinks they will meet again, but it never happened in the classic series although I understand it happened in some of the novels. Perhaps that's an idea the new series could pick up on.

With 5 of the 6 episodes of this story missing, our total missing episode count for season 5 climbs to 17 and Troughton's totals are: 3 missing stories, 8 incomplete stories, and 45 missing episodes. Next time, the TARDIS crew materializes on a beach near a natural gas drilling platform and discovers that something is in the pipes and they're all out of Draino in Fury from the Deep. ;)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Doctor Who and the Crusaders (Book Review)

I'm still reading the classic novelizations and I'm up to Doctor Who and the Crusaders, the novelization of the Hartnell story, The Crusade, a story which is partially missing. This is the last of the original three pre-Target novelizations which also included Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks (later renamed to Doctor Who and the Daleks) and Doctor Who and the Zarbi.

Since I read Doctor Who and the Daleks before I started this blog, I didn't do a proper book review on it, but I commented a bit on it in my post about the Peter Cushing movie Dr. Who and the Daleks. Looking back at that blog post, I noticed that I didn't actually link to my Google+ post about the novel where I had a few additional notes on it.

I fairly recently watched the serial The Crusade, so I was able to compare it somewhat with the novelization Doctor Who and the Crusaders. This novelization was written by David Whitaker who also wrote the novelization Doctor Who and the Daleks and they share many similarities. Both were intended to be standalone novels before they realized there would be a whole series of novelizations. They also both had a romantic interest between Ian and Barbara. While Doctor Who and the Daleks is completely standalone and even offers another origin story for how Ian and Barbara started travelling with the Doctor, Doctor Who and the Crusaders at least acknowledges the rest of the series and mentions several other televised adventures both in the prologue and also when Barbara is talking to Saladin (as she does in the serial). Interestingly enough, this serial takes place immediately after The Web Planet, and the novelizations were released in the same order as the serials, which is rare for the Doctor Who novelizations.

Compared to the serial on which it was based, the story is essentially the same, but many of the events are rearranged: for instance, Ian doesn't get staked out in the sand until much later in the story. There are also a number of events which occur differently in the book and in the serial: for instance, Ian never meets Saladin in the serial. The book is also much more philosophical: there is a whole discussion in the prologue about how the Doctor can change history on some planets, but not on Earth (they're really referring to our version of recorded history). Ian also has a discussion with Saladin about Christianity versus Islam versus Buddhism, etc. Some of the events in the book are probably more graphic than what would have been allowed on TV: Barbara actually gets whipped (to the point of needing salve on her wounds) in the book while she's in El Akir's harem.

This book is one of several that have been reprinted recently by BBC Books. In these, they add a celebrity introduction and a section called Between the Lines which compares and contrasts the serial with the book. These make interesting reading as well. Although the celebrity introduction in this one was not as good as the one in Doctor Who and the Daleks: the author admits he's never read any of the novelizations.

In all, an enjoyable book. These three pre-Target novelizations were reprinted as the first of Target's line of novelizations in 1973, after which they started producing new novelizations in 1974 which continued until 1994 and novelized almost all of the original stories. A dozen of these have been reprinted by BBC Books recently (6 last year and 6 this year), and I believe they have plans to reprint more. I certainly hope so as I'm enjoying them and buying them all as ebooks.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Doctor Who: 040 The Enemy of the World

After defeating the Ice Warriors, the TARDIS crew materializes on Earth in the near future where the Doctor is immediately mistaken for someone else and people start taking pot shots at him. The Doctor soon discovers that he closely resembles a man named Salamander who appears on the surface to be a benefactor to the Earth, but is slowly amassing more and more power. Salamander is The Enemy of the World.

Patrick Troughton gets to play a double role in this story. Hartnell did something similar in The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve although it was never quite clear if the secondary role actually was the other character or the Doctor impersonating the other character (although the latter is implied). In this story, Troughton plays the Doctor, Salamander, and the Doctor impersonating Salamander. :) Sadly, only one episode of this six part story exists. Again, thanks to telesnaps and audio recordings, Loose Cannon can provide us with a reconstruction of this story.

This story is generally considered to be one of Troughton's best. I was familiar with this story going into it, but didn't know what to expect beyond a few brief clips I'd seen. Wow... I was completely drawn into the story even though it's a very nontraditional story for Doctor Who. I'm not sure how authentic Troughton's Yucatan accent was, but overall, the story worked pretty well. It took a bit of an odd turn toward the end of the story when we meet the "survivors" living in an underground bunker, but that was mostly explained right at the end. The last couple of episodes had me literally on the edge of my seat. :) So far, season 5 is turning out to be really good.

With 5 of the 6 episodes of this story missing, our total missing epsiode count for season 5 climbs to 12 and Troughton's totals are: 3 missing stories, 7 incomplete stories, and 40 missing epsiodes. Next time, the TARDIS materializes in the London subway where the Yeti have invaded in The Web of Fear.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Doctor Who: 059 The Daemons (DVD Review)

Another little sidestep as I catch up on my DVD watching to review the DVD release of the Jon Pertwee story The Daemons which was released earlier this year. I watched the VHS copy of this just before beginning this blog (while I was filling in the gaps of Pertwee stories I'd not seen), so it's reasonably fresh in my mind.

I'll make a few comments about the story itself, then I'll proceed to the DVD review. An archaeological dig near a town called Devil's End, a cult of black magic practitioners led by a Vicar named Magister... sounds like a case for the Doctor. :) The Daemons is considered to be one of the classic Third Doctor stories. It's a fairly decent story with lots of action, but not one of my favorite Master stories or Pertwee stories.

Pertwee's "missing" episodes are a little unique from Hartnell's and Troughton's in that while many of them were wiped, all have been recovered in some format or another. Many exist only in black and white film copies which were sold overseas to stations that didn't have color broadcasting capabilities. Such is the case for the bulk of this story. Of the five episodes, only one exists in its original 2" color videotape format. However, Pertwee's episodes were the first to be shown in the US, so some US fans videotaped the episodes onto Betamax tapes. In 1992, when the BBC was in the process of releasing video tapes of the episodes, someone got the idea of merging the luma (brightness - black and white) information from the film copy and the chroma (color) information from the Betamax tapes to produce something resembling the story as it originally aired. Along with some hand tweaking, the result was pretty decent, but not as crisp as the original episode would have been. However, it's as close as we're going to get without finding original copies of the 2" taped episodes.

There was another process that was used to restore color to an episode of Day of the Daleks, which extracted the color information from chroma dots on the black and white film copy (along with some hand tweaking). I thought this process was much more successful, but they weren't able to use it for all of the black and white copies. I presume such is the case for these as well. The episodes as presented on this DVD appear to me to be identical in quality to what appeared on the VHS release.

Stories longer than four episodes tend to get a two disc release. Since this one is five episodes long, that was the case with this one as well. The first disc contains the episodes plus:
  • Feature length commentary featuring Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Richard Franklin (Captain Mike Yates), Damaris Hayman (Miss Hawthorne) and director Christopher Barry
  • Pop-up Production Notes
The second disc contains just special features:
  • The Devil Rides Out - a nice making of documentary that includes interviews with the cast and crew including the late Barry Letts (recorded for this DVD shortly before he died)
  • Remembering Barry Letts - a tribute to Barry including interviews with the man himself as well as his family and co-workers
  • Location Film - 8mm silent footage of the filming of this story
  • 1992 Colorization Test - an early attempt at colorizing episode 1 as a proof of concept (an entire copy of episode 1)
  • Tomorrow's World - a short clip on the 1992 restoration
  • Photo Gallery
  • PDF materials: Radio Times Listings
  • Coming Soon trailer for the Fourth Doctor story Nightmare of Eden
If this set has any Easter Eggs, I was unable to find them. :) As I said, a fairly decent story and generally considered one of Pertwee's better stories. It's nice to finally have it on DVD as the BBC gets close to releasing all existing stories on DVD. With Death to the Daleks having been released earlier this month (review coming soon), only two Pertwee stories remain to be released on DVD: The Ambassadors of Death and The Mind of Evil. The Ambassadors of Death was supposed to have been released last year, but issues with the color restoration delayed it and it's supposed to be released in the next couple of months.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Doctor Who: 039 The Ice Warriors

After the Doctor's encounter with the Yeti in Tibet, Jamie hopes they'll materialize somewhere warmer. I'm guessing Earth during the Second Ice Age is not exactly what he had in mind. :) Some scientists are attempting to warm the Earth and melt the ice and in the process accidentally uncover the frozen remains of extraterrestrial warriors that have apparently been frozen in the glacier since the First Ice Age. Thus begins The Ice Warriors, featuring the introduction of another recurring monster.

This is one of those stories where some of the episodes exist, but the BBC has not yet released them on DVD or even announced plans to do so. For the VHS release, they did a reconstruction/condensation of the the two missing episodes. For a DVD release, they may release this same condensation, or they may choose to animate the missing episodes, like they did with The Invasion or like they're doing now for The Reign of Terror: the original VHS releases for both of these featured linking narration for the missing episodes. Again, Loose Cannon comes to the rescue with a reconstruction of the missing episodes. I also watched the officially BBC bridging summary of the the two missing episodes which was pretty creative, but crammed two 25 minute episodes into 20+ minutes.

I've seen the other episodes which feature the Ice Warriors: season 6's The Seeds of Death (for which I'll be doing a Special Edition DVD review soon) and the Pertwee stories The Curse of Peladon and The Monster of Peladon. Sadly, they never returned to Doctor Who after the two Pertwee stories although they are mentioned a time or two in both the classic series as well as the revived series, most notably in The Waters of Mars (they are Martians, after all). They've also appeared in the spinoff media such as books and audio adventures, and there are persisting rumors that they may return to the screen in the revived series (after all, they brought back the Autons, Sontarans, and the Silurians who we hadn't seen in a long while). I'd like to see what modern special effects could make of the Ice Warriors.

I definitely enjoyed this serial and it was nice to see how the Ice Warriors were first introduced to the Doctor. I'd love to see the remaining two missing episodes found to make this story complete. Speaking of which, this story's return to the BBC is also interesting. The four remaining episodes were apparently stashed in the back of a cupboard of Villiers House and were found when the BBC was moving out of the facility. Another thing I thought was interesting about this story is that they changed the traditional title sequence where it displays the story name and episode number using large block letters. This isn't the first time they;ve done this, though: they did something similar for The War Machines where the titles were replaced with computer-style block letters.

With 2 of the 6 episodes of this story missing, our total missing count for season 5 is 7 and Troughton's totals are: 3 missing stories, 6 incomplete stories, and 35 missing epsiodes. Next time, Troughton plays a double role and is both the protagonist and the antagonist in The Enemy of the World.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Doctor Who: 038 The Abominable Snowmen

After the Cybermen have been put back into deep freeze, the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria take off in the TARDIS once more and materialize in Tibet. The Doctor discovers he's near a monastery that he's visited before, many years in the past. He has a ghanta - a holy bell, given to him for safe keeping on his previous visit during some kind of crisis (although his previous adventure there remains somewhat of a mystery). He intends to return this ghanta to the monks. When he arrives at the monastery, he has a reunion with an old friend and a meets some new enemies. Thus begins The Abominable Snowmen, the first of two adventures this season featuring a new monster, the Yeti.

Apparently season 5 of Doctor Who was an excellent time to be a tall actor working in Britain. With two appearances by the Cybermen, two appearances by the Yeti, and an appearance by the Ice Warriors (another new monster), five of the seven stories this season utilized tall actors (although The Tomb of the Cybermen was technically filmed during the filming block for season 4). The Yeti and Ice Warriors were created for this season since the Daleks were off-limits due to Terry Nation trying to sell a pilot for a Dalek series.

I was really looking forward to seeing this story: the Yeti are another one of the classic monsters (next to the Daleks, Cybermen, and Ice Warriors). Sadly, both stories in this season featuring them only have one surviving episode each. Despite being fondly remembered by fans, they don't really appear again after this season other than a cameo in the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors. Thankfully, again, we have a full set of telesnaps and the audio track for the missing episodes, so reconstructions are possible. I watched the Loose Cannon reconstruction, although there is apparently an Elaphe reconstruction out there as well. As with some of the more recent Loose Cannon reconstructions, there is computer animation of the Yeti in various places. Some of it works and some doesn't, but it helps to keep the story moving. :)

To be honest, I was a little disappointed by this story after hearing all the hype over the Yeti. I'd already heard spoilers, so I knew what they were going into it: perhaps that was also a factor. It wasn't a bad story and it had its good parts, but it was just sort of middle of the road to me. Perhaps the fans' fascination with the Yeti comes from their second appearance in The Web of Fear. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing the rest of the episodes in this story, though. It was good, just not fabulous. :)

With 5 of the 6 episodes of this serial missing, this starts our running tally for season 5 and brings Troughton's overall totals to 33 missing episodes, 3 missing serials, and 5 incomplete serials. Next time, the TARDIS crew lands on Earth during the Second Ice Age and encounters The Ice Warriors from Mars.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Doctor Who: 037 The Tomb of the Cybermen (Special Edition DVD Review)

Season 4 saw Victoria's father killed on Skaro during the "final" defeat of the Daleks in The Evil of the Daleks. With Victoria's father dead, she has nowhere to go, so she joins the TARDIS crew at the end of that story. As season 5 begins (Patrick Troughton's second season and his first full season), they materialize on the planet Telos, the final resting place of the Cybermen, just as an archaeological dig discovers The Tomb of the Cybermen.

The Tomb of the Cybermen technically isn't a missing story, and since I saw it when it was released on DVD in 2001, it's a little bit of a sidestep from my "project" to fill in the gaps in the televised stories I've seen. I figured it was appropriate since I've bought but not yet watched the Special Edition DVD which recently came out and it's the next story in my sequence. Besides, I've watched every Troughton story since he took over as the Doctor because they've been missing or incomplete, so why stop now? :)

While it isn't missing, it was wiped along with all of the other material that is missing, and the story of its return is one of the more interesting. When the BBC put out the call looking for missing episodes, most of the ones that were returned were returned fairly quickly (from other departments in the BBC, from overseas affiliates, etc.). The ones that trickled in after that tended to be single episodes held by private collectors. This particular story was returned in its entirety in 1992 from a television station in Hong Kong. The BBC was already releasing VHS tapes of episodes by this point, so they did a rush job on this and released it on VHS in 1992 as a film transfer with minimal cleanup and repair (based on the available technology of the time). In 2001, it was released on DVD with much more extensive restoration (using the more advanced technology available in 2001). I've not seen the VHS release, but there is a featurette on the 2001 DVD release called simply "Remastering for DVD" which compares the two releases. There is also an easter egg on this 2001 release that shows a scene from Episode 3 processed with a fledgling version of what is now known as VidFIRE (although there seems to be no explanation for what this clip is).

When 2|entertain began releasing the Special Edition DVD's, the original intention was to revisit some of the early DVD releases which had very few special features, and add additional commentaries and featurettes to better match the current DVD releases. I'm not sure if this generally includes new transfers of the episodes or not. After the first few Special Edition DVD's, 2|entertain began polling the fans to see which stories they would like to see re-released and given the Special Edition treatment. This is how The Tomb of the Cybermen was chosen to be re-released as a Special Edition DVD. As well as the additional material included, all of the episodes were remastered and processed through VidFire. The result is as spectacular when compared with the 2001 DVD release as that release is when compared with the VHS release! The episodes are crystal clear and are probably crisper than they would have been if you'd watched it on TV in 1967!

Apart from the new transfer, there are a lot of special features on this set, much of it new, but most of the material from the 2001 release is retained. Let's start with a list of features from the 2001 DVD:
  • Feature-length commentary by Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling
  • Title Sequence Tests
  • Late Night Line-Up - Behind-the-Scenes at BBC Visual Effects (where the existing clips of The Abominable Snowmen episode 4 came from)
  • Photo Gallery
  • The Final End - recreation of the battle from The Evil of the Daleks, the previous story (also included on the Lost in Time DVD set)
  • Tombwatch - A panel with cast and crew recorded at BAFTA in 1992
  • Remastering for DVD - Documentary on the restoration of the story for the 2001 release including comparisons with the 1994 VHS release.
  • Introduction by director Morris Barry
  • Pop-up Production Notes
  • Who's Who - a feature on several of the early DVD's that shows brief bios of the actors
  • Easter Egg featuring an Unused Title Sequence
  • Easter Egg featuring an a scene of the Doctor and Victoria from Episode 3 which has been processed by an early version of VidFIRE
Features included on the 2012 Special Edition DVD are:
  • Disc 1 (almost identical to the 2001 release extras, minus the Tombwatch and Remastering for DVD featurettes also the Photo Gallery has been updated and moved to Disc 2):
    • Two feature-length commentaries: the one from 2001 plus a newly-recorded one with several of the actors (including Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling) plus the script editor.
    • Title Sequence Tests (same as the 2001 release)
    • Late Night Line-Up - Behind-the-Scenes at BBC Visual Effects (same as the 2001 release)
    • The Final End - recreation of the battle from The Evil of the Daleks, the previous story (also included on the Lost in Time DVD set and the 2001 release)
    • Introduction by director Morris Barry (same as the 2001 release)
    • Pop-up Production Notes (probably the same as the 2001 release)
    • Easter Egg featuring an Unused Title Sequence (same as the 2001 release, but in a different location)
    • Not technically an Easter Egg, but the Episode Selection option on Disc 1 features audio from a trailer for the next serial, The Abominable Snowmen.
  • Disc 2:
    • The Lost Giants - Making of documentary
    • The Curse of the Cybermen's Tomb - a retrospective on the Egyptian origins of the story, most notably Howard Carter and Tutankhamun
    • Cybermen - Extended Edition - an irreverent "history" of the Cybermen from their first appearance in The Tenth Planet all the way through their appearances in the revived series
    • The Magic of VidFIRE - Documentary on the restoration for the Special Edition. This seems to have replaced the "Remastering for DVD" documentary on the original release as that featurette was specific to the 2001 release.
    • Sky Ray Advert - Advertisement for popsicles which featured a Doctor Who giveaway
    • Photo Gallery (completely updated to the style used on recent DVD of a slideshow with audio backing)
    • PDF Materials - Radio Times Listings, Walls Sky Ray promotion (the giveaways shown in the advertisement)
    • Easter Egg featuring the CGI backgrounds used in The Lost Giants documentary
The Tomb of the Cybermen is a very good story and the Cybermen continue to be menacing. It's fantastic that we have this story in its entirety as it is the earliest complete Cybermen story. The Special Edition treatment really works for this story. Even if you already own the 2001 release, it's worth picking up this release as well.

Now, back to the missing episodes, starting with The Abominable Snowmen, another of the classic monsters of Doctor Who.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Doctor Who: The Clockwise Man (Book Review)

The classic Doctor Who series had several lines of books associated with it, even after it went off the air. In fact, several of these lines were what kept the flame alive with fans and enabled Russell T. Davies to bring the series back to our screens in 2005. In addition to the novelizations of the televised stories, there were Missing Adventures detailing the exploits of previous Doctors in original unaired stories, New Adventures following the Seventh Doctor and Ace (and eventually other companions such as Bernice Summerfield), Eighth Doctor Adventures which took place after the television movie, and Past Doctor Adventures which was BBC Books' version of Missing Adventures. There were also a couple of spin-off standalone novels: novelizations of radio plays, stories about the Doctor's companions, etc.

Shortly after the new Doctor Who series launched in 2005, BBC Books launched a series of original books featuring the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler as portrayed on television by Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper. These books have commonly come to be known as the New Series Adventures. These books were launched 3 at a time with the first three being The Clockwise Man, The Monsters Inside, and Winner Takes All.

I recently completed The Clockwise Man by Justin Richards. The Doctor and Rose land at the British Empire Exhibition in 1924, where they discover that people are being murdered. In the process of investigating, they meet, among other people, the deposed Czar of Russia. One character referenced simply as Anna in the novel is most likely supposed to be Anastasia.

I'm not going to go into a lengthy exposition on this book, but I certainly enjoyed it. It was nice to "see" Christopher Eccleston and Rose again. I really liked Eccleston as the Doctor and felt he didn't stay long enough. The novel also featured clockwork men which were not too dissimilar to those later featured in The Girl in the Fireplace. I'm not sure if there was any connection between them, but there doesn't appear to be. The novel also mentioned "Bad Wolf", which was part of the story arc for this season: a nice touch.

I'm looking forward to reading The Monsters Inside next. Too many books to read and episodes to watch. :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Doctor Who and the Zarbi (Book Review)

This doesn't exactly fit in with my ongoing "project" to finish watching all of the televised episodes of Doctor Who, but it does fill in gaps in experiencing Doctor Who fandom: reading novelizations of the televised stories. Until video cassette recorders became available to the masses, the only way to experience an older episode of Doctor Who was through novelizations and the rare rerun (the number of reruns allowed was heavily controlled by contracts - a factor which contributed to the junking of episodes). As with modern movie novelizations, the book, while being based on the screenplay, is often different from what makes it to the screen. This can be for various reasons: the book is based on an earlier draft of the screenplay, certain scenes were unable to be filmed as originally conceived, etc. This is also true of the Doctor Who novelizations. Where possible, the author of the original story was employed to do the novelization, and many times, they took advantage of the opportunity to flesh out the story more than they might have been able to in the screenplay or the aired episodes.

The first ever novelization of a Doctor Who story was a novelization of the second ever serial: The Daleks. At that time, the individual episodes had names, but the serials didn't have official names. While this story is commonly known as The Daleks (or The Mutants - incidentally the title of a Third Doctor story), the novelization was originally published under the title of Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks in 1964 and was later reprinted by Target Books as Doctor Who and the Daleks in 1973. I actually read this one about a month or so before I started blogging, so I didn't do an official review of it for this blog. For my abbreviated comments, see my post on the Peter Cushing movie Dr. Who and the Daleks. I will say, however, that last year BBC Books started reprinting some of these older novelizations, both in paperback and e-book formats, including Doctor Who and the Daleks.

I'm reading these in the order in which they were originally published, not the numbering system that Target Books later devised or the story order in which they aired. The second novelization was of the second season serial commonly known as The Web Planet and was titled Doctor Who and the Zarbi, another Hartnell story. This novel was written by Bill Strutton, who wrote the screenplay for the televised serial, and was published in 1965 (and subsequently reprinted by Target in 1973). This is not one of the 12 novels that BBC Books has currently reprinted, although it was listed in an online poll where fans voted on which books to reprint first.

The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki crash-land on a strange barren planet (much like the Earth's moon) when they lose control of the TARDIS. On it, they find the butterfly-like Menoptra and the ant-like Zarbi. The Zarbi, normally peaceful cattle-like creatures, have become hostile and organized while the Menoptra are attempting to re-claim their planet from the Zarbi and the strange web that is spreading over its surface. The TARDIS crew gets mixed up in this battle and ultimately get to the bottom of what's going on, as you'd expect.

I watched The Web Planet a few years ago on DVD, and it was not one of my favorite stories: not that it was bad, but it just didn't stand out in my mind. The Menoptra were reasonably believable (although the furry body and striping of their costume reminded me more of a bee than a butterfly), but the Zarbi costumes were a bit ridiculous: as bad as the old two part horse costumes where one person is the head and front legs of the horse and the other person is the horse's behind. ;) It just seemed very unwieldy and unbelievable, even for the special effects of the time it was made. Reading the book made me re-evaluate the story and I feel like I want to go back and give it a second chance. The book consists of six very long chapters which probably corresponds to the episodes as they aired since it was a six part story. I haven't compared the book to the televised episode, so I can't say how faithful it was, but I will have to do that at some point now that I have a desire to rewatch the televised serial. :)

The next novelization to be printed was of the serial commonly known as The Crusade, which is one of the serials that only partially exists and is one of the ones I watched early on in my project. Its novelization was titled Doctor Who and the Crusaders and it was also published in 1965 and reprinted by Target in 1973.. It is one of the ones that BBC Books has reprinted. Once I read it, I'll comment on it and compare it to the televised serial since it's much fresher in my mind. :)