December 26, 2012

DOCTOR WHO TRIBUTE

Doctor Who has become quite a tradition around the holidays. The latest Christmas special just aired on Tuesday and featured the Doctor in Sherlock Holmes garb and some very 'cool' snowmen villains! The show first appeared on television in 1963 and has continued to tell the story of a time lord who faces mysteries, ghouls, and villains throughout the universe. The character can regenerate his form when damaged, giving way to 50 years of actors sharing the role. And despite some of the low-budget camp that might not appeal to everyone, it remains a pioneering time-capsule of each era of production. The music and sound FX developed by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop is especially worth exploring. In 2009 the official magazine posted the top-200 episodes. The top on everyone's list was The Caves of Androzani (available on Netflix streaming). This 1984 episode includes a fiendish villain and leader of an android army named Sharaz Jek, who wears a creepy mask and skin-tight bodysuit reminiscent of Danger Diabolik and Kriminal


According to the buzz on-line, the role of Jek was originally offered to David Bowie, but the production coincided with his Australian and Asian Serious Moonlight tour-dates. The Caves of Androzani is pretty edgy and fast-paced for classic Doctor. In fact, the Doctor is mortally wounded at the end, sending him into regeneration. As a way of introduction for Spy Vibers who have never seen this kind of thing, here is a fun tribute to the episode using the Die Another Day Bond theme by Madonna. Try to imagine Bowie in that suit- it would have been amazing! The image above is from Ain't it Cool

13 comments:

  1. I've been a Whovian for many many years now, but I have to confess whilst I believe some contact was likely to have been made with Bowie's people, I imagine it was more a shot in the dark 'don't ask don't get' chance than any actual belief they'd bag him for the role. The producer at that time John Nathan Turner was from a variety background with a keen eye on getting the show noticed, and sometimes that meant stunt casting. He'd been known to ask everyone from Prince Andrew to Sir Laurence Olivier for just walk on roles! Alas, the calibre of 'big name' personalities the show did get would largely mean little beyond the UK, names like Ken Dodd, Nicholas Parsons, Hale and Pace etc. I'm more than chuffed that the role of Sharez Jek was wonderfully brought to life by former ballet star and Ken Russell regular, the late great Christopher Gable. He was far better for the role than Bowie, and that's coming from a Bowie fan.

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  2. agreed- Gable was fantastic! even in the off chance that Bowie could have been approached and was able to do it, i don't think he could have brought the edge of instability and danger that Gable brought to the role. loved it!

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  3. speaking of stunt casting. with Ian McKellen in the Snowmen this week, it's fun to think what they might do with Bowie these days (if he is up for being out and working).

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  4. A tantalising prospect! It's fascinating to see how the revival of Who has gained so much success and 'a name' to attract stars, compared to how it was viewed in the 80s. That era was very much the last legs of the show and it was given little respect by critics or even those within the BBC. A shame really as there was still quality to several of the stories, inc of course Caves

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  5. I'd like to explore the classic episodes more. I kind of came and went with the show through the years and didn't really start to watch obsessively until the modern re-launch. I of course love all of the Cybermen and Dalek episodes, and I tend to gravitate to the 1960s era. Which classic-era stories are your faves? Maybe we can get a recommendation list going? And can think of any that would appeal especially to spy fans? Thanks!

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  6. Well, we could be here all day if I have to pick highlights of the show's 50 year run as I love a great deal of it. Spy fans should definitely seek out Jon Pertwee's first season from 1970 which took Quatermass, Doomwatch and several of the spy thriller craze of the previous decade as major influences. Stories like Inferno, Spearhead From Space, The Silurians and Ambassadors Of Death, but also later Pertwee too like The Daemons and Mind Of Evil. There's also much fun to be had with what remains of the earlier seasons such as Hartnell's The War Machines (very swinging 60s) and I'd recommend all of Troughton's that are available because he was just so perfect in the role.
    Personally I feel you can't go wrong with Tom Baker as that was when the show was firing on all cylinders; The Deadly Assassin owes much to The Parallex View and The Manchurian Candidate, whilst stories like City Of Death, Horror Of Fang Rock, The Talons Of Weing Chiang (Fu Manchu and Holmes pastiche) are brilliantly witty and scary fun.
    You've named the best Davison story here really, and Caves is indeed one of the best Who stories ever. Written By Robert Holmes, a veteran of the show (any of his penned stories are worth catching) Davison's was the era that lost the silliness that Baker's final years tended to have (well, before his very sombre final season) seemingly more attuned to a teenage audience who liked their science fiction to have a bit of science fact. I love his first season especially.
    Colin Baker's tenure is problematic, largely down to the series being more violent and sardonic and not especially in keeping with the core aim of family viewing. That said, Vengeance On Varos and Revelation of the Daleks are both great.
    Lastly we have Sylvester McCoy a much underrated Doctor in some quarters. His Doctor's first season was awful but by his second and the third and final season, his performance was much darker and brooding. I recommend Ghostlight, The Curse Of Fenric (WWII Enigma story with vampiric creatures from the sea) Survival, The Greatest Show In The Galaxy and the noirish Thatcherite satire The Happiness Patrol.
    Phew!

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  7. Oh and The Invasion is a great 60s London set Troughton story with Cybermen invading with the help of a mad Bond like billionaire villain and UNIT fending them off. Seeds Of Doom a Tom story has a suitably Bond like megalomaniac too, played by Tony Beckley, whilst City Of Death has Julian Glover in almost a dry run for the Bond and Indiana Jones villainy that was to come.

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  8. fantastic. thanks! i have some that you mentioned, but many will be new to explore. my mission begins.

    if other readers have recommendations or thoughts, please chime in :)

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  9. I'd definitely second Mark's recommendation of The Invasion for spy fans! I also second his suggestion that all of Troughton's surviving serials are well worth watching, but Invasion is by far my favorite of his and a template for the Pertwee-era UNIT stories. Beyond a Bondian villain, I'd say Seeds of Doom is noteworthy to spy fans for how much it owes to the Avengers episode Man Eater of Surrey Green! I've been told often enough that The War Machines is Avengers-y to have bought the DVD, but I'm afraid I have yet to watch it...

    Pertwee's whole run (or as much as I've seen of it anyway--and I imagine the rest) should make great viewing for Avengers and spy fans. Great stuff. Personally, I love just about everything I've seen of Troughton, Pertwee and Tom Baker (until the very end, at least). My favorite T. Bakers are Genesis of the Daleks and The Talons of Weng Chiango. (You'd definitely like that one, Jason!)

    I just haven't been able to get into any of the Eighties Doctors, try as I might. I really like Davison himself, but have yet to find a story of his I've really enjoyed as much as anything from the Seventies. I confess I haven't seen Caves, because I wanted to save his last story for last, but perhaps I should move it up in the order. It's very hard for me to get past Colin Baker's awful costume, but I've actually liked HIM in the better serials I've seen him in, like Vengeance on Varos. I keep trying to like McCoy, because I like him very much in interviews and in other roles, but I just can't. And I have seen the ones Mark cited as his highlights. Perhaps I just don't respond to the direction the show had gone by then. Oh well. Maybe one day he'll catch me in the right mood...

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  10. great to hear these recommendations. thanks! and great timing- my order of 'The Invasion' dvd came in yesterday! 'caves' was really fun, if you don't mind jumping ahead. i think you'll enjoy the diabolic/kriminal outfit :)

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  11. a note to anyone using Netflix: if you put 'Classic Doctor Who' in your instant list, you can access many old episodes that otherwise don't seem to show up in a general search.

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  12. if anyone is looking for seasons 5 and 6 of the new Doctor, Best Buy currently has each blu-ray season for only $19.99 in-stores.

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  13. I just saw Spearhead From Space (streaming on Netflix) and really loved it! One of my fave stories so far. Pertwee's Doctor IS kind of like seeing John Steed in a SciSpy adventure. Looking forward to exploring more of his serials. Thanks for the tips, guys!

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