In 1970, The Doctor changed. But not only that, a new terror stalked the high streets and shopping centres of Britain… Something that would make shopping a more frightening experience than it already was. Plastic mannequins with weapons concealed within poorly-manufactured hands… The Autons.
Autons are basically deadly shop window dummies brought to life by the Nestene Consciousness – one of the oldest beings in the universe, a disembodied alien life-form, which created the form of a large, be-tentacled cuttlefish after invading the earth using hollow plastic meteorites. The control of their plastic warriors was generally done through an advance form of short wave radio signal.
During the first invasion attempt, the Nestene Consciousness stuck to their simple initial 2 ranges: The Basic (Which lived in shop windows and wandered around killing indiscriminately) and the Deluxe (more advanced and realistic human replicas, living in waxwork museums which were used to take the place of leaders and other important figures). Both were armed with the now-familiar weaponry – guns concealed in the hands of the Autons, which could only be activated when the fingers dropped down.
Their first invasion attempt failed when UNIT attacked the plastics factory the Nestene Consciousness was hiding in, but as the soldiers discovered that the Autons were impervious to traditional bullets, it was left to Liz Shaw to save the planet by finding the off switch on the tank containing the consciousness.
But the Autons were genuinely scary, and returned to have another crack at humans a year later, this time with a more developed plastic power thanks to an alliance with the Master – who convinced them with some joke shop daffodils. Eventually (and uniquely maybe) the Doctor convinced the Master that the Nestenes would double cross him and they teamed up to send them back off into space.
The Ninth Doctor later discovered them in Henrick’s Department Store, London where he helped a certain shop assistant to escape before blowing the activated Autons up (along with the store). This much later invasion attempt showed the Nestene Consciousness as an angry blob of putty hiding under the London Eye, near Westminster Bridge. He defeated them with “Anti Plastic” (bit like De-Icer. Only for plastic and that).
Their eye for detail has clearly improved over the years, and when they returned at the moment the Eleventh Doctor discovered the Pandorica, they were capable of very accurate human reproductions – and had decided to make a whole new Roman Army for the occasion.
First appearance: Spearhead From Space (1970)
Most heartbreaking appearance: The Pandorica Opens (2010) [Poor Rory!]
Most “handy” appearance: Rose (2005)
Strengths: Resistant to conventional earth weapons, can activate any number of inanimate plastic objects
Weaknesses: Extreme heat, being switched off, over-simplified opposites.
So, after a holiday and everything that surrounds a small Time Lord starting school (he’s doing fine, by the way), The Ood Cast Guide returns with the second of three instalments on our intrepid hero…
The Fifth incarnation came into being with rather a lot of difficulty, having to be carried around in what remained of the Zero Room to help his recovery from Post-regeneration trauma. No other Doctor suffered from this as badly (unless you count the 10th Doctor’s insistence that he needed bed rest…). And on top of this, he was also a few inches shorter and looked daft in such a big scarf.
Despite being dressed as an Edwardian cricketing gent, this Doctor was younger. While noble and wise with a strong compassionate streak, he was youthful in his wonder, enthusiasm and bravery, but also in his naivety and clumsiness.
He is particularly memorable for rarely being seen with less than three companions at any one time, and being the only Doctor to watch one of them die. His time also saw the destruction of the Sonic Screwdriver, and consequently the adoption of a sort of MacGuyver approach to Time Lord-ing…
In the 3 years he spent stumbling from battle to battle, he faced the threats of Daleks, Terileptils, the Master, Silurians and Sea Devils (along with their – ahem – glistening Myrka), demonic faces in the walls of 17th Century churches, Cybermen, a plot by the Black Guardian to kill him using a companion, the Mara and a deformed explorer who liked dressing up for parties.
His end came about in typically noble fashion, giving his companion all the vaccine for Spectrox Toximia while he regenerated into a bubble-permed bit part actor…
Nostalgia is not often kind to this incarnation. Tempestuous at the best of times, the sixth doctor was a rampaging torrent of blonde curly fury one moment, and a slightly shouty BFG the next – and in the rest of the time a little bit petulant and egotistical… starting from his first moments crammed into the cricketing blazer, when he tried to strangle Peri before recovering his senses (although let’s be honest, if you only heard the voice…).
And even with the temporal-boundary-defying (and headache inducing) fashion sense he displayed, this Doctor had to deal with far more earth politics than other doctors, as well as a full enough roster of aliens: from giant money-obsessed grubs, daleks and Gastropods (no, not a new range of poncey pubs) to Sontarans, a Gallifreyan take on the Femme Fatale, Audrey from the Little Shop of Horrors and in a slightly incomprehensible instance, the Cybermen…
All of which he coped with using his trademark mixture of grumpiness and annoyance, with the help of the vocal stylings of two female companions – a barely clothed American girl and the annoying little girl from Just William who “thcweamed and thwceamed until the wath thick” whenever something looked remotely threatening.
Understandably, he then went mental and let himself be tried on Gallifrey by a possible future incarnation of himself who wanted to steal his remaining lives.
Not sure how the end came about for this doctor, but I’m sure it was dignified.
What? What’s wrong with that?!
After a regeneration which had no bad side effects other than the appearance of an appalling wig and the deduction of several inches from his height, the seventh incarnation begun life as a sort of comical time-travelling gnome who seemed to choose a manic toothy grin as the best way to ignore the high-pitched wailing of his inherited companion.
However, despite the dodgy first steps, this was a doctor who went on much more of a progressive journey than many of his previous selves, and his next companion, Ace, would be the making of him – revealing both a darker, more determined and mysterious side to him.
A staunch pacifist, abhorring any kind of violence, he had a curious side as wide as the berth the production team ought to have given to that question mark tank-top, and his nosiness eventually outweighed the whimsical one. This Doctor was a skilful manipulator… his natural showmanship and ability to play the buffoon convincingly become the only weapon he liked using. It frequently meant he could slip in and out of places without being detected (although Lord knows how with that punctuation rash).
During his time in the TARDIS, he battled a number of familiar faces and some worrying new ones in strange places… such as space bounty hunters in Welsh holiday camps, Arthurian planet-wasting monsters next to a UNIT nuclear transport convoy, evils from the dawn of time in a Second World War military base, Daleks in 1960s London, an evolution-manipulating alien intent on assassinating a monarch in a Victorian Manor house, and cat-people (and the Master) in Perivale. Oh, and that’s not even mentioning the Cybermen, Nazis and Elizabethan strangers on the building site that became the Millennium Dome.
The end came when the Doctor was asked to transport the Master’s remains to Gallifrey after he was executed by the Daleks on Skaro. The Master managed to take control of the TARDIS and make it land in San Francisco. On emerging from the doors, he was predictably shot. Perhaps the most depressing of all Time Lord endings?
The briefest of all incarnations, this Doctor was a romantic soul who had no clue what was going on for most of the time. Half human and probably coping with the trauma of coming round in a body-store in a San Francisco morgue, he eventually showed himself to be a remarkable, enthusiastic and energetic incarnation with a fascination for people and the world around him.
His one outing contained a perilous (and seemingly endless) battle with the Master, some far too exciting car chases and the discovery that this doctor could walk through glass windows without breaking them first…
He dressed like a romantic poet, and enjoyed freaking people out by giving them small visions of their own future to encourage them to make good decisions.
It is thought that this doctor was the one involved in the Time War, regenerating into the 9th Doctor not long before he returned to the screens in 2005, but there’s nothing firm about this, and we still wait to find out how this incarnation regenerated… So hop to it, Mr Moffatt!
I am writing at the end of the week where the good Dok-tor was replaced by a bunch of over-made-up European tunebreakers. Eurovision took preference, and Who fans have had to make do with a teaser trailer again.
I also write this just after the first ever get-together of the Ood Cast writers – fine gentlemen, all – and the night before the Moff unleashes what looks to be an even more frightening story than last year’s Blink. Only this time, we have to get through two episodes behind our white knuckles!
I actually quite like the break to accomodate Eurovision. And that’s not just because I like the Eurovision (although, embarrassingly, perhaps, I do – even if it is mainly for Sir Terry) but it affords us a bit of a breather before we set off on the usually terrifying road to the season finale. And it gives us a chance to ruminate on what’s been and get pant-wettingly excited about what’s coming up.
But some take this more seriously than others. Some can’t stand the week’s break (really – think about how long we had to wait for the series to come back, guys – what’s a week?), and others take what they’re given and over analyse to a ridiculous extent.
My colleague Andrew told us about a fan website he occasionally looks at (I won’t bother plugging it, and you’ll see why*), and that the last time he went there, there was a huge spoiler – the title of the still secret Episode 12 – on the front page for all to see, whether they want to or not. I hate this – I really don’t want to know what’s going to happen until it’s on a TV screen in front of me, thank you very much. And that’s why I’m not overly excited by the mid-season trailer. It was much of a muchness to me – nothing very new here – we knew the Daleks would probably be involved thanks for the pre-season trailers that appeared on the BBC Youtube channel, and the trailers and other interviews with past guests seem to have revealed that we’re also going to see Harriet Jones back, as well as Captain Jack and Sarah Jane Smith (although Rose holding a gun is a bit of a jarring image (not sure a certain timelord is going to approve of that…).
Oh, except of course for the glimpse of what could be Davros.
It would be fabulous if it was. But the thing that rankles is this: some fans have taken the images of the dalek-thing that could be Davros, and are analysing it. So they can try and find out if it really is Davros.
I DON’T WANT TO KNOW! I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY DON’T WANT TO KNOW! And I am not entirely sure if people who do things like that are really proper fans of the show – probably obsessives rather than fans. But why inflict this on others? If you want to spoil it for yourselves, go ahead. Otherwise, go out and meet some people in the flesh instead of online.
I just don’t see the point. The beauty of the last series was enhanced for me by the fact that I steered clear of the fan debates and the speculation online. All the episodes were fresh and new to me – and I loved every second of every one of them – maybe with the exception of the bad CGI Mark-Gatiss-monster in The Lazarus Experiment… and anyone who knows how much I like the Master as a character can only imagine the kind of joy I went through in discovering the final three parts of series 3 (or 29 if you’re picky). I’m more immersed in the whole “whoniverse” this time, and I like it, although some of the more critical judgements of fans make me want to stop paying attention. I’m looking forward to whatever is about to come.
*Of course, were there to be a commentary track for these blog posts, I may accidentally reveal that I didn’t plug it because I forgot the name of the site… Of course, I wouldn’t do such a thing on here…