The Visitation

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Writer: Eric Saward

Director: Peter Moffatt

Producer: John Nathan-Turner

Companions: Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), and Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding)

No. of Episodes: 4

Season: 19, ep 4 (13-16)

Summary: The Doctor comes to Heathrow, hoping to get Tegan home, but arrives in 1666.  They find a space capsule occupied by Terileptils and an android. The Terileptils are attempting to wipe out humanity with infested rats.

Review: I have a feeling if a story like this aired today, the Whovians would be in uproar.  This is the story that destroyed the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.  It’s hard to imagine the Doctor without it. It’s like watching Batman without his utility belt.  On the other hand, I think this was a bold move on John Nathan-Turner’s part.  He felt that the sonic screwdriver had become a crutch for the writers and had become a deus ex machina.

Tegan and Adric are especially annoying in this story. And this is coming from someone who actually tolerates Adric.  Nyssa, however, gets some good moments to show off her smarts. Season 19 attempted to introduce each of the Doctor’s companions with spotlight episodes, and this one is Nyssa’s.

Aside from that, this story is a notch above average.  The Terileptils’ design isn’t that great. The android looks slightly less silly than Dr. Kettlewell’s robot, but not much.

Continuity: At the beginning of the serial, The Doctor and his friends allude to events in the previous serial, “Kinda.”  The Doctor would not have the sonic screwdriver again until the TV movie.  When the Doctor says “Oh no, not again” at the prospect of being beheaded, he is alluding to “Four to Doomsday”.  Many of the Sixth Doctor’s audio stories alluded to this as the Sixth Doctor was blamed for the fire caused in this story.  The Terileptils are referenced in “The Awakening”.

Trivia: This was the first story Eric Saward wrote for Doctor Who. Peter Moffatt also worked with Peter Davison during his stage career.

The Moonbase

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Writer: Kit Pedler

Director: Morris Barry

Producer: Innes Lloyd

No. of Episodes: 4

Season: 4, ep. 7 (25-28) (Note: on the DVD release, parts 1 and 3 are restored by animation)

Companions: Ben Jackson (Michael Craze), Polly (Anneke Wills), and Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines)
Summary: The Doctor is taking Ben, Polly, and Jamie to Mars, but the TARDIS inadvertently lands on the moon in the year 2090. There, they discover an internationally commissioned moonbase that is controlling the Earth’s weather patterns.  Several of the staff have become ill and the Doctor is blamed.  He manages to convince them to let him prove his innocence by investigating the cause.  He discovers that the moonbase’s sugar supply has been infected with a virus that was planted by the Cybermen. The virus renders all infected under the Cybermen’s control.

Review: Each of the first three Doctors introduced a villain that became a prominent foe in the show’s history.  Hartnell introduced the Daleks; Pertwee introduced the Master.  While it was Hartnell who introduced the Cybermen, it was Troughton who became their most prominent foe.

While I’m glad this episode doesn’t have the sing-song voice for the Cybermen that was used in “The Tenth Planet”, I still don’t like the bulky design.

There are two things that bothered me about this story. First, Polly is once again useless.  And no, finding out that the sugar is infected because not everyone uses it in the coffee she brings doesn’t make her useful.  Polly makes me so glad that Liz Shaw came around and steered the show in a less-sexist direction.

My second problem concerns Jamie.  Because he felt having a character who was from Earth’s past would bog down his story, Kit Pedler had the poor guy spend the first half of the story in a concussion.  But it wasn’t long before the writers started giving him more to do, so I shouldn’t complain.

This story isn’t too bad.  It’s paced well, and the Doctor and companions work well together. The Second Doctor shows early signs of his comedic persona, and it’s a good buffer on the action.

Overall Review: 6/10

Continuity: The moonbase is commissioned by International Space Command, which was introduced in “The Tenth Planet”.  This is the first story wher the Cybermen are able to shoot energy.  The Cybermen also used a virus in “Return of the Cybermen.”

Trivia: This was the first time an optical effect was used on the show.