The Moonbase: Cybermen on the Moon

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Dr Who Moonbase

“We got to the moon before the Russians or the Americans,”- Frazier Hines.

Doctor Who: The Moonbase has been released on DVD from BBC, giving older and newer viewers a chance to relive the adventures of the Second Doctor. When the TARDIS arrives in the year 2070 at a moonbase above earth, the Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his crew quickly discover that a mysterious plague is killing off the crew of the base. Small black lines seem to be appearing on the faces of select crew members, their nerves being affected quickly. Polly (Anneke Willis), Ben (Michael Craze) and Jamie (Frazier Hines) soon discover the nature of the virus, and find themselves face to face with one of the Doctor’s most terrifying foes; the Cybermen.

The Cybermen made a quick reappearance after their initial showing in the Doctor Who episode The Tenth Planet. Within a few months, their popularity had BBC clamoring for a new script that would featuring the terrifying metal men. The Moonbase was born. Sadly, much of these episodes have been lost. 2 of the 4 episodes are animated, detracting heavily from the story. The giant animated eyes of Anneke Willis are actually more terrifying than helpful to follow the plot. This is rather tragic, as Polly actually proves herself as a worthwhile companion in these episodes. Whether it’s creating the Polly-cocktail to take out the Cybermen, questioning the Doctor’s knowledge of viruses and bacteria past the Lister-era, or making coffee to calm down angry crew members, Polly is person who does the most in these episodes.

Speaking of Anneke Willis, she is featured heavily (yet again) in the behind the scenes look that BBC includes about the making of The Moonbase. Entitled Lunar Landing, the look at the creation of the sets and Kit Pedlar’s script for the episodes is fascinatnating. As always Anneke Willis brings in the dirt, hinting heavily at issues with costumes and actors behind the scenes. She is like a proper British TMZ.  It was also fun to watch Frazier Hines discuss the creation of Jamie McCrimmon as a full time companion, rather than a one shot character in the episode The Highlanders. All had great words regarding the story arc’s director, Morris Barry. Several times it is mentioned how Barry was able to calm down Patrick Troughton’s clowning antics and pull out a strong and darker image of the Doctor for the story.

I was disappointed that there were not as many special features in this set as some of the past ones, including the Ice Warriors and the Tenth Planet. The Lunar Landing was nice, and there are a few PDF materials including Radio Times listings and a photogallery. BBC has just previously spoiled me with DVDs packed with special features and reviews. However, I am thankful for what I’ve been given; a chance to relive Patrick Troughton on The Moonbase.


Doctor Who: The Moonbase is available now from DVD retailers.


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