Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Doctor Who - Earthshock (1982)

Whilst waiting for Series 3 of the new Doctor Who to start this coming Saturday I decided to watch one of my favorite older stories. Earthshock was originally broadcast on BBC1 between 8th - 16th of March 1982 and seen the return of the Cybermen for the first time since 1975's Revenge of the Cybermen. They avoided using the name Cybermen in the shows title so to keep their appearance as a surprise, the shows original working title was Sentinel, they even turned down a chance for the front cover of the Radio Times so as not to give the game away. The show was a chance to give the Cybermen a bit of a makeover design wise, since their last appearance in 1975 a lot had happened in the world of Sci-Fi with the explosion of Star Wars onto the scene in 1977. For the most part the new costumes were good, although the silver moon boots might have been a bit of a mistake looking back.

Plot summary:
Doctor's Party comes under suspicion from a military force, led by Lieutenant Scott, who are investigating the disappearance of a group of palaeontologists and geologists. They are all then attacked by androids - the true culprits - under the control of the Cybermen.

The Doctor manages to deactivate a bomb intended by the Cybermen to destroy an imminent peace conference. He then follows the bomb's activating signal to an approaching space freighter, commanded by captain Briggs, on board which it transpires that an army of Cybermen are concealed. An attempt by Adric to thwart the Cybermen's plans result in the freighter being inadvertently sent millions of years into the past, where it will cause the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The production values on this episode were pretty good, of course we start off in a quarry, what would Doctor Who be though without it's quarry's !? The soldiers costumes and guns are pretty cool, lots of the props for this episode being built by Space1999,Alien,Outland,Flash Gordon model maker Martin Bower. The only terrible part of the guns is the awful electronic pink and white candy stripe beam that the guns fire, for the DVD release there's a choice to watch some new CG FX to replace these ones. The miniature work what we see of it isn't bad either, there's a rather nice model of the inside of the cargo ship that's carrying the Cybermen. The thing I found about most Doctor Who FX is that the stuff they built miniature wise for the show was often under used or filmed badly, poor depth of field etc... but the few model shots we see in Earthshock work well, though the escape pod we see leaving the cargo ship is being viewed on the Tardis's viewscreen so a lot of nice model work is a bit lost. The sets are quite nice looking too, although again it suffers from that TV studio type lighting that a lt of Doctor Who sets suffered from, like everything was being lit purely from overhead.

A surprise appearance is made by Beryl Reid in an Orange wig as the freighter Captain, and unusual choice indeed. Being a fan of Beryl Reid as Kath in the film version of Entertaining Mr Sloane I found it hard this viewing round to take her seriously. Peter Davison was the last good Doctor in my opinion until Christopher Eccleston took over a few years back, and this was the era when he seemed to have a Tardis full of assistants, in this story those being Tegan, Nyssa and Adric in his last story. I still think this story is a good story and holds up quite well even today, and as the Cyber Leader might say 'Excellent' !!


allen said...

I could be wrong...but isn't that the episode where Adric dies?

Andrew Glazebrook said...

Yeah Allen, Adric dies trying to stop the ship hitting the Earth. He's trying to work out the remaining code when a wounded Cyberman destroys the computer and stops him. They played the credits silent with jut the shot of his broken badge that the Doctor had used to kill a Cyberman with, using the gold from it.

I. N. J. Culbard said...

I remember what the first day back at school was like after watching Earthshock; kids talking non stop about Adric dying. I also remember the stir caused by Logopolis (Baker's transformation scene into Davidson AND the Watcher).

allen said... was in highschool when Tom Baker's Dr. Who transformed. I had only seen his performance and new very little about previous characters. Our local PBS station would run the shows together so my Dad and I would watch an hour and a half of Dr. Who from 12:00 midnight to 1:30 am. He was not watching with me when Baker transformed, fortunately, because I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. I didn't realize it was the end. Davidson grew on me, but never to the extent that Baker did. I even did a short film in High School about Dr. Who...had the scarf and coat and a cute redhead who looked exactly like Lala Ward. Enough rambling.

Michael G Clark said...

I love this story and watch it occasionaly myself. I must admit I do like the bit where the doctor leaves Adric to die by stranding him on the crashing spaceship after saying 'piss off Waterhouse, thats for saying Tom was a better doctor.'

Or that may only be in the edit I made. I like the cyber androids, they are pretty creepy.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

Allen you didn't have your short Doctor Who film feature in the magazine Cinemagic at one point did you, I just remember seeing a pic of someone dressed as the Tom Baker Doctor Who stood with some sort of homemade Alien creature in there once !

allen said...

Not me...our production never got too far. We got about a third of it done and then the stupid High School made us tear down our set. We had blue screened some cool stuff and had "The Master" doing some evil laughter and such...but alas, tis but a memory.

allen said...

however...I still have the eighteen foot long Dr. Who Tom (totally rocks) Baker scarf.