Fri, 27 February 2009
With the TARDIS stuck at the bottom of a cliff, the four time travellers have ingratiated themselves into an unoccupied Roman villa. The owner, Flavius Giscard is away campaigning in Gaul. As the Doctor and Ian recline, Barbara and Vicki walk to the nearby Roman village. At the market they are spotted by two slave traders, Didius and Sevcheria. When they return to the villa the Doctor announces that he is off to Rome, some miles away, and will travel there with Vicki. Later that evening Barbara and Ian, now alone, are relaxing when the two slavers burst in upon them. They are soon overpowered and taken prisoner. Ian is sold to one slave owner, while Barbara is to be traded with another and sent to Rome.
The Doctor and Vicki are en route for Rome when they find the murdered body of a lyre player named Maximus Pettulian. The Doctor is holding the man’s lyre when a Centurion arrives and mistakes him for the dead man who is late for an engagement in Rome. The Centurion thus accompanies them to Assysium. Once stationed at an inn there, the Centurion makes contact with the mute assassin Ascaris, who killed the real Pettulian, and instructs him to kill the Doctor. The assassin draws his sword and heads off to the Doctor’s chambers.
The Doctor overpowers the assassin and, along with Vicki, drives him away through an open window. It seems the Centurion has fled, and the Doctor concludes the soldier was in league with the assassin. He decides to maintain his alias as Pettulian and head onward to the city of Rome. Barbara is meanwhile already in the city and is soon sold in open auction for 10,000 sesterces to a man named Tavius, who is highly placed in the court of the Emperor Nero. She is to be a handmaiden to Nero's wife, Poppaea. Tavius is a kindly man but warns that if she tries to escape her slavery that she will be killed.
The Doctor and Vicki arrive at Nero’s court too and encounter Tavius, who seems to imply to the Doctor that Pettulian is part of a secret network in which he is also a player. Further discussion is interrupted by the arrival of Nero himself, a laughable excuse for a leader who seems arrogant, vain and selfish. The Doctor cleverly avoids an extended lyre concert and then have the freedom of the court. On one walk around they find the body of the Centurion who imperilled them earlier.
Ian has been confined to a galley in the Mediterranean but the craft soon runs into rough seas and is broken up. He is washed to the nearby shore and there is found by another survivor of the galley, Delos, who has saved his life and removes the last of his chains. They agree to head for Rome in search of Barbara. When they reach there, however, they are captured by some centurions. Taken to the arena they are set to be trained as gladiators – and their first opponents will be the lions.
It becomes apparent to the Doctor that Tavius had the Centurion murdered and that he too is expected to fulfil some sort of action. Nero decides the Doctor must fulfil an obligation too, and organises a banquet in his honour at which he must play the lyre. He also takes a shine to Barbara and starts to pursue her romantically – and literally – much to the anger of Empress Poppea, who decides to have her poisoned at the Pettulian banquet. Barbara has just left the banquet chamber when the Doctor arrives there, warning the Emperor that he has learnt his wine could be poisoned. It has been, as part of Poppea’s plan.
The Doctor is soon put to perform centre stage and picks up his lyre with the warning that only those with the most sensitive and perceptive hearing will be able to discern its subtle melody. He then creates absolutely no sound but has created a climate in which no-one wishes to make themselves out to be philistines by not appreciating the music. Nero is not convinced, however, and in private fumes against the deception. He decides to have Pettulian fed to the lions.
Meanwhile, at the arena itself Ian and Delos have been trained as gladiators and are set to fight each other. With Nero watching them they are told to battle to the death.
Delos and Ian decide to fight their way out of the arena instead, and Ian is able to shout to the watching Barbara that he will be back to rescue her before he and Delos flee. The Emperor calls off his soldiers when it becomes clear they cannot be caught, planning to have him killed when he returns to rescue Barbara. A crowd of soldiers are arranged at the palace.
The Doctor has meanwhile found the architectural plans for Nero’s new Rome, and deduces that since the year is 64 AD that the Emperor is planning to destroy the city. Tavius arrives and warns the Doctor that the Emperor is planning to kill him too, advising him to fulfil his mission and kill Nero soon. It seems that Pettulian was an assassin all along. The Doctor and Vicki decide to leave quickly but before departing accidentally set fire to Nero’s architectural plans. The Emperor notices this and decides to burn down the city, thanking the Doctor and deciding after all to spare his life. A rabble are bribed into starting the blaze and while anarchy rages Ian is helped into the palace by Tavius, who reunites him with Barbara. Under Tavius’ eye the two are allowed to escape and make their way from Rome and back to the villa. Delos helps them get clear of the palace, parting from his friend Ian. The Doctor and Vicki also escape the city, watching it burn from a nearby hill.
By the time the Doctor and Vicki return to the villa, Ian and Barbara have spruced themselves up, and the Doctor mistakenly assumes that they have not even left the villa. All four leave in the TARDIS but have barely begun to travel when a strange force starts dragging the ship to an unknown location.
Fri, 20 February 2009
The TARDIS crew is still missing Susan Foreman when the ship lands on a planet the Doctor eventually recognises as Dido, a world he has visited before. The trio soon encounter two survivors of a space crash, Vicki and Bennett, who are awaiting a rescue ship, due to arrive in three days time. Vicki and Bennett live in fear of Koquillion, a bipedal inhabitant of Dido which is stalking the area. Koquillion encounters the time travellers and attacks, pushing Barbara over a cliff and temporarily trapping Ian and the Doctor. Vicki finds Barbara injured and rescues her from Koquillion, and they share reminiscences. Vicki’s father was amongst those who died when the survivors of the crash, save Bennett and Vicki, were lured to their deaths by the natives of Dido. She is evidently very lonely, having befriended an indigenous Sand Beast for company. However, when Ian and the Doctor reach the ship tempers are fraught because Barbara mistook the Sand Beast for a threat and killed it.
The Doctor enters Bennett's room, and finds things are not as they seem. The supposedly crippled Bennett is missing, and a tape recorder hides his absence. He finds a trap door in the floor of the cabin and follows it to a temple carved from rock where he unmasks Koquillion as Bennett. Bennett reveals he killed a crewmember on board the ship and was arrested, but the ship crashed before the crime could be radioed to Earth. It was he who killed the crash survivors and the natives of Dido to cover his crime. He has been using the Koquillion alias so that Vicki would back up his story. Just as Bennett is about to kill the Doctor, two surviving native Didonians arrive and force Bennett to his death over a ledge. With no living family and nothing left for her on Dido, Vicki is welcomed aboard the TARDIS.
To preserve the mystery of its true identity, Koquillion was originally credited as being played by "Sydney Wilson" — a name made up by the production team in tribute to two of the creators of Doctor Who, Sydney Newman and Donald Wilson. This was the first instance of an alias being used, in the credits, for a cast member in order to conceal a plot twist in Doctor Who.
This story was released in 1994, on a double VHS With The Romans. It has also been anounced by the BBFC website that 'The Rescue' along with The Romans will be released on DVD on 23 February 2009. The DVD will have a commentary track featuring star William Russell, designer Ray Cusik & director Christopher Barry.
A novelisation of this serial, written by Ian Marter (the actor who played companion Harry Sullivan during the Fourth Doctor era), was published by Target Books in August 1987, nearly a year after his death. Marter died soon after completing the manuscript, which was subsequently edited (with some new material added) by Nigel Robinson, editor of the Target Books line. According to Robinson, he did not have to do too many changes to Marter's manuscript, although he did have to remove an apparent reference to fellatio in an early chapter.
TRANSIT OF VENUS
Performed by William Russell as Ian Chesterton with Ian Hallard as Joseph Banks(Duration: 60' Approx)
William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Ian Hallard (Joseph Banks)
The year is 1770, and daring explorer Captain James Cook and his crew on the Endeavour are navigating the Pacific Ocean.
Into their midst come strangers: the Doctor and Ian Chesterton, who are believed to have come from Venus. But the TARDIS is lost to them - along with both Susan and Barbara - and Ian makes an enemy of the ship's chief scientist, Joseph Banks.
Why is Banks acting strangely? Could it be that the travellers are not the only visitors from the stars?
Fri, 6 February 2009
Warriors' Gate is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from January 3 to January 24, 1981. The serial is the last of three loosely connected serials known as the E-Space trilogy and the last to feature Romana and K-9 as companions.
At a null point in space and time on the interface between our universe (n-space) and E-space (exo-space), a slaver cargo vessel becomes trapped. It manoeuvres the timelines using members of the leonine Tharil race as navigators – and they too are the cargo of the grim vessel, held in cryogenic storage in its hold. A Tharil named Biroc flees the craft on the time winds, leaving it moored and trapped, and ventures to the TARDIS, which has also become trapped in a time rift in this strange dimension. The creature manifests itself in the TARDIS console room and imparts to the occupants the warning that he is a shadow of his own past -- and of their future; and that the others that are following him should not be trusted. The Tharil then disappears, with the Doctor in pursuit. Romana, and Adric are left worried about K-9, whose memory wafers have been shredded by the time winds.
The commander of the slave ship, Rorvik, is increasingly angry about their entrapment in the void and the general apathy of his crew toward their condition. When the ship picks up another object in the void, he and two of his crew members use a portable mass detector to track down the TARDIS. Romana steps outside to confront them and is persuaded to return to their ship with them to examine the damaged warp drive of their ship. Rorvik has, however, worked out she may be a time sensitive like the Tharils and is interested in her for potential profit. Adric and K9 both venture separately into the void in her pursuit.
The Doctor has meanwhile reached a vast stone archway in the void, containing an abandoned banqueting hall, decaying skeletons and partially functioning robot knights known as Gundans. They were built by slaves as part of a revolt against a previous tyranny that ended in a massacre at the feast in the same hall. The slavers used the time winds to descend on worlds and enslave the populations. K9 arrives at the Gateway too and begins to help the Doctor repair the Gundan, which has worn itself out. However, before they can obtain any more information Rorvik arrives with some of his crew and seizes control at the point of a gun. Romana has been taken back to the slaver ship for use as a navigator, while Rorvik has used the portable mass detector to isolate the Gateway. He becomes angry when a Gundan comes to life and walks out of the room straight through a solid mirror, and challenges the Doctor to explain the situation. His response is to walk through the mirror: a step the human slavers behind him cannot take.
Back on the slave ship, a Tharil called Lazlo, who had been left for dead by the slavers when his revivification process seemingly failed, frees Romana from certain death in the navigator’s chair. She hides in the hull of the ship and there finds Adric, and together they work out the slave ship is made of the incredibly dense dwarf star alloy, the remnants of a collapsed star. This heavy metal is the only thing that can hold the Tharils trapped in a single timeline. When they meet K9, the badly damaged robot informs them of dimensional instability and the imminent collapse of the void, which is contracting upon itself. The sheer weight of the slave ship is damaging the delicate balance holding the dimension together. Romana is shortly afterward separated from Adric and K9 and reunited with Lazlo, who takes her through the mirrors too.
Beyond the mirror the Doctor has found Biroc, who explains he was able to pass through because his hand was caught in the time winds. They enter an elegant mansion, seemingly frozen in time, where the Tharil explains that his people were the notorious slavers of the Gateway whose rule was overthrown by the use of the Gundans. As the sorry tale of the decay of their society is retold, the Doctor is reunited with Romana but in a bizarre twist they are returned to the reality of the decaying Gateway in the void once the Tharils’ story has been told – and once more find themselves prisoners of Rorvik.
Based on the reports of the shrinking of the Gateway, the Doctor deduces that the slave ship is indeed the cause of the problems and – more worryingly – there is not much time before the Gateway retracts into nothing. Adric has meanwhile hidden himself inside the MZ, a vast portable cannon which the slavers are going to use on the Gateway and the mirrors in an effort to escape the void. When the weapon reaches the Gateway he uses it to free the Doctor and Romana, and the time travellers flee into the void. When the slavers set out in pursuit they find their ship has moved much closer to the gateway – proof positive that the dimension is shrinking and therefore doomed. In frustration Rorvik fires the MZ at the mirrors, but succeeds only in destroying the weapon. The crazed and infuriated slaver now decides to use his ship’s engines to back-blast through the mirrors and escape the void. It is a foolish move: the backblast from the mirrors engulfs and destroys the ship and all its crew.
The Tharil slaves have, however, been freed by Lazlo and Romana, who has formed an empathy with the race. She elects to voyage through the Gateway with them and help the Tharils. The Doctor gives her K9, who will be restored beyond the Gateway, though he can never return. After they depart, the Doctor uses the knowledge he has gained from the Tharils to successfully pilot the TARDIS through the Gateway and back into N-Space.
The multi-coloured scarf can be seen on the hatstand.
This story was the last story to feature Lalla Ward as Romana. Two months after her departure, Ward went on to marry her co-star Tom Baker in 1981, but the marriage lasted less than two years. Ward is one of two former companions to ever be married to an actor who played the Doctor. The other was Jean Marsh, who played the First Doctor's companion, Sara Kingdom, was married to Jon Pertwee, although the marriage occurred prior to Pertwee landing the role of the Third Doctor.
Ward was seen again as Romana on television in The Five Doctors (1983) (via footage of her and Tom Baker from the unaired story of Shada (1980)) and reprised her role in the Children in Need charity special Dimensions in Time (1993). She continues to participate in the world of Doctor Who by attending conventions, recording audio commentary on DVD releases, performing in several Big Finish audio dramas and by appearing in the BBC's online drama webcasts.
This story was also the last television story of the classic series to feature the character of K-9 Mk. II, played by John Leeson. Leeson, who left the series at the end of Season 16, returned for Season 18 on the understanding that K-9 would be written out toward the end of the season.
The character of K-9 (Mk. III and Mk. IV), voiced again by John Leeson would return in the 1981 spin-off episode, K9 & Company, the 1983 anniversary special, The Five Doctors and the 2006 episode "School Reunion". He would later pop up twice in the first series of spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures. He also appears in the Series Four Finale, Journey's End.
Romana and K-9's journey in E-space is continued in two BBV audio plays.
Working titles for this story included Dream Time.