Mania Grade: C+
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- Rated: TVPG
- Episodes: The Moonbase (Season 4, Episode 23 to 26)
- Starring: Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, Anneke Wills, Michael Craze, Patrick Barr
- Written By: Kit Pedler
- Directed By: Morris Barry
- Original Year of Release: 1967
- Distributor: BBC
- Special Features: Audio Commentary, “Lunar Landing” making-of featurette, photo gallery
- TV Series: Doctor Who
Doctor Who: The Moonbase DVD Review
Back with the 2nd Doctor
By Robert T. Trate
March 25, 2014
The Cybermen tackle the moon!
It has been difficult to go back and visit earlier incarnations of Doctor Who. As someone who grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, I actually found the earlier episodes of Star Trek more intriguing. Ever since I caught the BBC’s specials on revisiting classic Doctor Who episodes, I have had more of an open mind to the old adventures. Mix in the fact that many of these episodes are being restored with animated segments and, again, I am all in. “The Moonbase” brings us up to speed with the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, and his three companions, Polly (Anneke Wills), Jamie (Frazier McCrimmo), and Ben (Michael Craze). After watching Troughton in “Tomb of the Cybermen”, he quickly became my retro Doctor. He was fun, exciting, and his tramp-like qualities made him accessible as a character. Yet, that episode was over a year after “The Moonbase”. How would Troughton measure up this time?
As always seems to happen, the Tardis brings our band of travelers to the wrong location. Perhaps it is the Doctor’s driving, but his companions give him a hard time about not arriving where he promised. Once his companions realize they are on the moon, they want to have a quick look around. All fans of the series, from any generation, know that this is first step to trouble. Once on the surface of the moon, in great sixties’ space suits, they discover a base. Jamie has fallen ill and the Doctor decides to investigate.
We learn that it is actually the year 2070 and the moonbase is actually a weather station for the entire Earth. The Graviton device controls the weather for the whole world and any disruption will cause calamity. It is obvious where this story is heading. A quick look at both the cover of the DVD and a familiar shadow for the characters and we know the Cybermen are to blame.
The crew of the moonbase has taken ill with a bizarre disease that reveals itself through their veins. The Doctor and the moonbase’s commander, Jack Hobson (Patrick Barr), are running out of time and men. To make matters worse, the Cybermen are calling in reinforcements. The Doctor seems to have run out of time. Thankfully, his companions start to piece things together.
It’s a strange episode on a whole as the Doctor takes a back seat to his companions. This might have been the theme or style of the show back in 1966. Having not been born of that I time, I don’t know. I got a feeling that it was to show young people in a positive productive light. It is Ben and Molly who come up with a way to ward of the Cybermen. Thankfully, the Doctor’s knowledge of space and time comes into play in the third episode to actually help save the day.
The episode dragged and it seemed that 90 minutes was a long time to tell this particular story. I try and justify to myself that the 10th Doctor and so on up had all these previous experiences and were quicker to solve problems. This earlier Doctor was still learning. What I loved about the episode was the Cybermen’s reasoning for attacking the moonbase. Pure, simple, and diabolically evil. I also really enjoy the animated segments. There is a certain flair and editing style that helps to bridge the gap between generations. All in all, I know this was a treat to see this restored episode of a classic TV series. As far as Doctor Who and Sci-Fi television goes, I have seen better.
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