"No wonder Jacqueline Hill went on holiday - she probably saw it all coming."

TV I couldn't not share this. I was having a clear out today and found the following. When I first came back to the series in the late nineties, a relative (my auntie) recorded some of the UK Gold broadcasts. Being that kind of person, I put the tapes in proper video boxes and printed up inlays upon which I wrote some mini-reviews.

Eventually, those tapes were packed away (notice not thrown out) but for some unknown reason I kept the inlays along with these initial raw reviews written before I really knew anything about the show -- I don't think I'd even started buying Doctor Who magazine yet. I thought you might find them amusing -- although it's slightly worrying how little my writing style has developed over the years. I won't post them all at once, but here, to begin with, are Billy and Pat. Count how many times you think 'No it doesn't' or 'No it isn't'.

William Hartnell Era

The Plant of the Giants has to rate as one of the dullest hour-ten minutes of anyone's life. God it's Slow. It's annoying. It feels like a thousand years. Oddly enough, the last episode was edited together from two separate episodes - and its still slow. Things aren't helped by the fact that Barbara is reduced to running around like a feckless idiot, just so that Ian can look a bit heroic. It's an example of the schizoid nature of the show that ...

The Dalek Invasion of Earth, although exceeding flabby in places is also unbelievably intelligant at times. Alright, so everything still creaks and the pace is still from snoozeville (heh, heh) but there is some really intelligent character interaction, and genuinely scary moments, especially as the pepperpots fly through London like kings. Susan's leaving scne is also some kind of genius.

The Web Planet is probably one of the slowest, dullest stories Who ever produced. I mean the thing would have seemed long stretched over three episodes, but six!?! Some have tried to excuse it by saying what 'amazing' costume design there is for the period. Yeah - it's amazing the costumer designer managed to keep their job. All this really amounts to is a bunch of guys in fancy dress running around a studio for six weeks. No wonder Jacqueline Hill went on holiday - she probably saw it all coming. When the only exciting thing to happen in a story is one of the monsters bumping into the camera, you really know you're in trouble.

The Space Museum
does have a quite good first epsiode, its just a shame that the programme makers forgot about logic, good characterisation and pace. This is the kind of story which probably gave Who a bad name all those years ago, somehow forgetting what the kids tuned in for each week. Only Hartnell seems to be making a good fist of it, as everyone else doesn't seem to care - and why should they when presented with material like this? Imagine you're making for fourth episode of this and you realise you've got six episodes of The Chase coming up - better conserve that energy guys ...

The Gunfighters. My word. Hmm. I'm sorry, but matter what anyone might imply, they must have done some really good drinking at the DW offices in the 60s. I know -- lets do a historical about the gunfight at the OK Coral and somehow shoe-horn the Doctor into the action. And lets build quite good set but shoot it really badly so that the whole thing looks like it was shot in a school hall somewhere. That'll work.

Patrick Troughton Era

Tomb of the Cybermen has a shockingly contemporary script which really sticks out because of its greatness. I mean how often was it that a companion talked about their life before her travels with The Doctor and at a moment which isn't driving the story along? The Cybermen are particularly menacing despite the rudimentary areas of the cast. That'll be a definite classic of the period then.

The Dominators. Yawn. Its stories like this which Who a bad name. Its starts slow and gets slow-er. Lots of bad acting ensues and then the whole thing slows to a halt in a more of boredom. Just awful.

The Krotons just shows how a lot of what's left of the Troughton era really begins to mass into one story in the memory. And which twerp thought that name Gond was a realistic and not funny at all name for an alien. And the confusing storytelling doesn't help. Want a glimpse into hell? Watch this and the Dominators back to back like I did.

The War Games is long, but the pace is quite frenetic and there doesn't seem to be too much padding. What strikes you is how it feels like the culmination of six years worth of build up. It has everything - the historical elements which made the Hartnell shows such a joy and the science fiction elements of the Troughton years. Everyone gets something to do - and if some of the acting is a touch wooden, the scope is a amazing. This is an action adventure movie years before its time, with a stangely more grown up feel than Star Trek was achieving at the exact same time, across the pond. Amazing.

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