Monday, November 18, 2013

The Doctors Revisted

While media will most likely focus on the historical importance of something that occurred 50 years ago today (Friday, Nov 22, 1963) in Dallas TX, not very far from where I sit, and I don't want to lessen the importance and the impact of what that event meant.

I've no doubt many people can recite exactly where they were when President Kennedy was shot (and sorry for the Passive Voice here, but I'm still not 100% convinced it was Lee Harvey Oswald...),

and probably not as many watched the next day as a Sci-fi phenomenon was born, but it was the very next day that the BBC aired the first episode of Doctor Who.

In honor of that day, and that far happier momentous occasion, I will run down some of my favorite stories for each of the actors that have taken on this monumental role throughout the lesser known classic series.

One last thought on the Kennedy assassination and its connection to Doctor Who, because of the shock that many people felt, even in the UK, the Doctor's debut went almost unwatched, but the BBC reran the show a week later to make up for the lack of notice, and thankfully the Doctor would become a cultural phenomenon that continues to this day, 50 years later.

So, without further ado, let's take a look at some of the best stories from each of the 11 Doctors thus far...


It is amazing, to me at least, that although Hartnell is the oldest actor thus far to have tackled the role (though Peter Capaldi who takes over this Christmas is the same age as Hartnell was when he assumed the role), he is the youngest age that we have ever seen the Doctor, and in many ways, he plays the part of the youngest version of our Doctor.

He has a childlike temperament, believes himself to be smarter than anyone else (and, okay, he usually is), and often throws temper-tantrums that are quite like a child's.

My favorite story from his reign is without a doubt The Daleks, which is the second story ever.

The Doctor, his granddaughter, and the first human companions (who at this point where actually kidnap victims, since interestingly enough, the Doctor wasn't the clear cut hero at the beginning that he is today) landed on the planet Skaro where they would meet the Doctor's longest running enemy (and an enemy that will feature prominently in the 50th Anniversary as they are the main adversary of the Time Lords in the Great Time War).

This is where the bonds of friendship really start to form between the Doctor and his human companions, and he learns a little lesson as well, considering that the trouble they find themselves in on Skaro with the Daleks is due to the Doctor lying in order to satisfy his curiosity.

It is a fun story, the Daleks are as menacing as ever in their debut, and this is really the moment that the show becomes what it now regularly is.  This story is also responsible for skyrocketing Doctor Who towards popularity, when prior to this story, there was no guarantee that the show would last much past it.

It also gave us one of the most iconic images in the history of the show.

This was the first appearance of a Dalek and quite an amazing cliff hanger.  I can't imagine having to wait another week after this moment!  Poor Barbara!


Patrick Troughton is probably my favorite Doctor.  He is also the Doctor that has been hit the hardest by the Missing Episodes.

However, recently a couple of his stories have been brought back to life!  Enemy of the World is one of those, and its a great surprise how good that episode is!

Before its return, there was, of course, some interest in the episode since Troughton plays both the Doctor and the villain of the piece.  But most people didn't consider it to be a great story.

There are audios from all of the missing episodes, and due to the fact that directors had photographers take pictures on set of the episodes they directed for their reels (since actual film reels were too cost prohibitive at the time) there are reconstructions with photos and the audio of the episode.

However, there is nothing like actually watching the episode and seeing the expressions on an actor's face.  When we once again had that opportunity for the first time in over 45 years with this episode, many people's estimation of this episode, mine own included, changed.

Troughton's performances are beyond fantastic.  After watching it became my favorite story from my favorite Doctor.


The Third Doctor introduced some of the most iconic characters/villians of Doctor Who: the Master, Sarah Jane, Autons, and the Silurians.  UNIT and the Brigadier became main characters as the Doctor became for a time stuck on earth as punishment for his meddling in time.

This is also when Doctor Who became a colour program!

There are many amazing episodes in the Third Doctor's era (which of course can be said for almost all of the Doctors...), but to choose just one, I think I'll go with the first, Spearhead from Space.

This was the first time that we see the first adventure of a new Doctor and a new Companion.  An Unearthly Child had the Doctor and his granddaughter well in the midst of their travels.  Ben and Polly were still around at the beginning of the 2nd Doctor's reign following from their time with the 1st Doctor.  But the 3rd Doctor and Liz Shaw are both introduced to us right at the beginning of Spearhead from Space.  (incidentally, this wouldn't happen again until Rose, with the introduction of the 9th Doctor and new companion Rose Tyler.  The villain in both episodes would be the Autons.  Fun Fact!)

This was a great story to start a new era of Doctor Who.


The longest running, and arguably still most popular Doctor, obviously has many great stories to choose from.  Since I'm partial to Sarah Jane, I'm going to pick a story from her time in the TARDIS.  Genesis of the Daleks, a story from Baker's first season as the titular Time Lord, has the Doctor's people send him back to the beginning of the Dalek race in order to destroy them before they become the menace they become to the universe.

Along with Sarah Jane and Harry Sullivan, the Doctor faces his mortal enemies and meets their creator Davros (who would be in every Dalek story the rest of the way in the classic series), and ultimately has to make a decision on rather or not it would be morally right to destroy the Daleks before they begin.  Considering the Time War storyline of NuWho, this is a must watch story for fans of the show.


Fun fact about the Fifth Doctor.  His real life daughter is none other than Georgia Moffett, who plays Jenny, the Doctor's genetically created daughter in the 4th season of New Who episode, The Doctor's Daughter.  She really is the daughter of the Doctor!  Georgia Moffett also would go on in real life to marry David Tennant, the 10th Doctor, so she's simultaneously the daughter of the Doctor and the wife of the Doctor!  Time travel plays strange tricks on the mind.

My favorite 5th Doctor story is probably the Arc of Infinity, which brings back my favorite Doctor Who villain, Omega.  The Time Lord that helped invent Time Travel, Omega got trapped in an anti-matter dimension and occasionally attempts to escape.  The last time that happened, the Time Lords sent three incarnations of the Doctor (the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the 10 year anniversary story The Three Doctors) to try and stop him.

This time, there is only number 5!  Will that be enough to keep Omega from escaping and possibly destroying the universe!?  Well, you can probably guess that yes, the Doctor will win, but it is a fun episode nonetheless!


Without question, my least favorite Doctor, but it isn't really his fault.  The BBC was having some concerns with the program, and Colin Baker's time in the TARDIS shows it.

Interestingly enough, in Arc of Infinity from the 5th Doctor's reign, Colin Baker plays a different Time Lord!  (The recent announcement of Peter Capaldi as the next Doctor, despite playing a different character in a fourth season episode of New Who has some precedence!)

One of the interesting stories from Colin Baker's time is the entire 23rd season, made up of four stories all under the umbrella of The Trial of a Time Lord, wherein the Time Lords put the Doctor on trial for his past and future crimes.  Worth a watch, because even subpar Doctor Who is still better than most television shows!


Now known as Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit trilogy, first, he was the Doctor.  And a much darker Doctor than we had previously seen.

In honor of the 50th anniversary, I will highlight the story that kicked off his second season, Remembrance of the Daleks.

This story returned the Doctor to Trotter's Lane, where the whole show kicked off, and even to that fateful day, November 23, 1963.

It references much of the beginning of Doctor Who as well as an artifact that is named after that awesome villain, Omega.

Unfortunately, Doctor Who would end after his 3rd season as the madman with a blue box.

But before it did, McCoy made quite an impression on the fans, and would continue to feature in stories told during the dark years without any Who, making sure that the Time Lord was never far from the consciousness of the people.  This fact would mean that one day, The Doctor would return.


The Doctor Who Television Movie marked that return, although it would be another nine years before the Doctor would make his complete return to our television sets.

The movie isn't great, but it is still extremely watchable, and there are clear moments in the movie that set up what has become the basis of the new show.

In the movie, the Doctor kisses a companion for the first time.  The Doctor has kissed every companion since.

Paul McGann doesn't get much time on screen with the role, but he absolutely nails the character in the time he does get.

It is worth watching for McGann's outstanding portrayal of the Doctor if for nothing else.

And if you absolutely fall in love with his portrayal, check out his audio stories as the Doctor on Big Finish.  (And, side note, his companion from the first many of those audios, Charley Pollard, might be one of my all time favorite companions.)

So, as we get ready for the 50th Anniversary special, do your self a favor and check out some of the Doctor's rich and exciting past.

Until Next Time, Reverse the Polarity of the Neutron Flow!

Josh Man

Monday, November 11, 2013

Missing, Believed Wiped, or How I Still Have Some Hope

Perhaps you heard the news.  Perhaps you follow this sort of thing with a close eye.  Perhaps you have no idea what I'm talking about.

Whichever of those fits you, let me assure you that the recent release of episodes of Doctor Who for these two stories (The Enemy of the World and Web of Fear) was big news.


Film is expensive.  In the 1960s and 70s, the BBC had no idea how cherished past episodes of Doctor Who would become.

In fact, episodes were rarely repeated.  The reason for this was in part because actors feared that once studios had enough material, they would simply cycle through it, thereby taking out the hassle of having to pay actors.  Therefore, actors stipulated that use of reruns were limited, meaning studios had to consistently produce new material.  And remember, at the time, home video wasn't even a remote possibility.

Since shows weren't really ever re-aired, there was no thought of selling these episodes to viewers at home to watch at their leisure, and the BBC needed film for new shows they were shooting, many of the original episodes of Doctor Who were wiped in order for the film to be used for a new show.


Originally, 147 episodes were missing/believed wiped.  Thanks to a variety of sources (private collectors, foreign studios, etc.), 50 have been returned

The most recent returns, five episodes of The Enemy of the World (completing that serial) and four episodes of The Web of Fear (leaving only one missing episode from that serial), constitute the largest single recovery to this point, and that's a big deal.

The BBC upon announcing the find then released the episodes on iTunes, allowing people to watch these episodes for the first time in 45 years!

These episodes (and quite a few others) were recovered thanks to the fact that the BBC had sent copies of episodes overseas to other studios.  Tomb of the Cybermen was found in Hong Kong.  These episodes were found in Nigeria.  Other episodes have been found in Australia, Cyprus, New Zealand, and even Canada!

The Rumours

It is certainly very exciting that the largest single haul of all time of missing Doctor Who episodes was found and released in time for the 50th Anniversary of the show.

Some might also say it is a little convenient.

Just before the announcement that the rest of the episodes in Enemy of the World were found and all but one episode of Web of Fear had been recovered, there were many rumors that many (some reports said all, but sadly, that is impossible as the 7th episode from The Dalek's Master Plan, The Feast of Steven, was never copied and distributed, and more than likely neither were many of the other episodes from this serial, although three episodes have turned up, so with the exception of Feast of Steven, there is slight hope where these stories are concerned) episodes were recovered.

With the obviously erroneous reports that 106 (at the time, that was all the missing episodes) episodes had been recovered, there were also persistent rumors that 90+ episodes had been recovered.

The BBC denied the rumors wholeheartedly, claiming that no episodes had been recovered.

We now know, of course, that at least nine were recovered, so there is no doubt that the BBC's denies were to some extent lies.

The most believable rumor (because, let's face it, even the 90+ number is almost certainly false) claimed that three stories had been found, and even named the stories: Marco Polo, Enemy of the World, and Web of Fear, often referred to as the MEW rumor, taking the first letter from each story.  Considering that it turned out that Enemy of the World and Web of Fear actually were recovered, there is some hope that Marco Polo has been recovered as well, but that it is either still being restored, or that the BBC is holding off on announcing it until after the 50th Anniversary in order to extend the celebration.  What would make the finding of the episodes of Marco Polo significant is that it would mean the entire first season of Doctor Who would be available for the first time since 1963-64 when it aired (although two episodes from the final story, Reign of Terror, are missing, but have been animated for a DVD release).  A complete Season 1 Box Set would be sure to follow.  (I guarantee that I, for one, would purchase it, even though I've already seen and own many of the first season episodes, with, of course, the exception of Marco Polo).

Another possibility in regards to found episodes that people have floated is that Phillip Morris, who found and returned the 9 episodes of Enemy of the World and Web of Fear, actually found many more episodes (the episodes of Marco Polo among them perhaps), but is still negotiating their return.

In order to gauge consumer interest in previously missing episodes, two of the stories were released on iTunes.  Looking at the sales of these stories then would allow the BBC to more properly estimate what they should pay Morris in order to recover further missing episodes.

I actually hope that this is the case, because the response of the public to the two stories on iTunes was massive.  They immediately upon release became the top two seasons (as they were released as "seasons") sold on iTunes.  I bought both first thing in the morning after they were released, and I was not alone.

Myself, I think that at least Marco Polo has also been recovered, and perhaps some more episodes (and hopefully complete stories) as well.

Following the 50th Anniversary, we might finally hear of more episodes that we can finally see again (for many of us for the first time).

A particular date to watch for this info is December 21st.  On that date, the British Film Institute is holding it's Missing Believed Wipe event, where they have announced that they are showing an episode of Doctor Who that was long believed missing.  However, they haven't announced which one.  It could easily be one of the nine recovered episodes, but due to those episodes having (by that point) long been available to viewers for purchase, many believe that this episode will be something that no one in the public will have had an opportunity to view as of yet, like perhaps an episode from Marco Polo?

We'll have to wait and see.

Considering that it wasn't that long ago that there were 106 episodes missing, believed wiped, and today there are only 97, we need to celebrate the recent large find, even if no other episodes were actually recovered.

And if further episodes were recovered and are subsequently announced, that will merit a large celebration as well.

And we might as well be patient.  After all, these episodes have been missing for more than 40 years. If they are somehow returned to us, what is waiting a few extra months to find out about it?

Until Next Time, although, with that being said, I really do want to know if there are more episodes about to be announced and when I might be able to see them.  In case you were wondering, I fall into the "follow this sort of thing with a close eye" camp.  If and when there is any news on new episodes recovered, I will let you know!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Is This Thing On?


Is this thing on?

Insert feedback noise here

Yeah, it has been awhile, hasn't it.

No, no.  No need to look over at the archives.

I'm aware that it has been over a year.

Sometimes, you just need to get back on the horse.

So, what have you been up to since we last talked?

Since last I was on, I awarded another couple of Josh's Choice For Best New Show of the Season.

Those were awarded to

Once Upon a Time for the 2011-2012 year (narrowly beating out New Girl)

and Arrow for the 2012-2013 year (narrowly beating out Elementary)

This year, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the early lead, although I'm enjoying Hostages as well, and look forward to marathoning some Blacklist and Sleepy Hollow soon.

Other big news includes the movement of television off of television.

We had the long awaited fourth season of Arrested Development on Netflix (which, in my opinion, was epic), and a couple of shows that have been getting rave reviews.  House of Cards, staring Kevin Spacey damn near won the Emmy this year (haven't seen it yet. I know, I know, it is in my queue).  And I will be shocked if Orange is the New Black doesn't win the Emmy next year.

Orange is the New Black is one of the best first seasons of television I have ever seen.  It is at times laugh out loud funny, unbelievably heartbreaking, and always amazing.  Incredible acting (the star of Orange is the New Black is the same actress who I liked so much in Mercy, which was the subject of a Before Its Time blog post, a show no one but I watched, although more people should have.)

And of course, we are closing in on the 50th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who.  I really needed to get back to Blogging just so I could give that the coverage it deserves!

Other huge Doctor Who news occurred recently with the recovery of nine episodes that were previously missing.

In honor of the 50th Anniversary, I will be doing a few Doctor Who posts over the next few weeks, including a look at a favorite story (or in a few cases seasons/groups of stories) from each Doctor, a post on missing episodes and the hope of more episodes returning to the BBC in the near future, and of course a review of the 50th Anniversary and Adventures in Space and Time after they air.

So, a lot to look forward to in the near future.

Assuming, of course, that school along with my three jobs don't keep from giving this blog the attention it deserves.

The goal, of course, and the point of this post, was to get myself to get back to blogging.

So, if you're interested in keeping me active again here at Fat Train, a comment or two would probably go a long way in keeping me honest!

Until Next Time, I hope this reaches somebody out in the old Interwebs!

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Due to matters beyond my control, these are busy, busy times, so this will be shorter than my normal Top Ten posts, but being a completionist, (which spell check informs me isn't a word, but I'm pretty sure it is or at least should be) here is my Top Ten of 2012 in descending order.










And my number one movie of 2012...


Until Next Time, see you after the Oscars!