Classic Rewatch: Frontier In Space

Frontier In Space

Doctor Who has always been rife with complex backstories and themes of conflict drawn from the news and events of the time. Call it “present day problems, presented in another day”, if you will. From workers striking against the regime, to species in tense stalemates on the brink of war, to contending with the horrific aftermath of genocide and mutually assured destruction, the program has used our own chaotic world and its occupants as the inspiration for otherworldly tales. When we see the similarities between the happenings on screen, among strange alien species, in far-off locations, at unfathomable leaps into the future, it can certainly give us pause.

This week, we’re joined by friend and fellow podcaster Drew Meyer (of Who and Company) to enjoy — and ponder — the final Pertwee episode to feature Roger Delgado as the Master, ‘Frontier In Space’. Six episodes go by seamlessly in this interplanetary skirmish in the borderlands, with exceptional performances by Delgado (possibly his best), Manning (equally absolutely superb), and the supporting cast, as well as a most enjoyable twist in the final seconds, letting us know that the harrowing tale is not yet complete. We all agree that this story deserves rewatching, as well as recommendations to those wanting to dive deeper into the Third Doctor’s tenure.

EXTRA: We have a few minutes at the Long Island Doctor Who (L.I. Who 5) convention to sit and talk with the pioneering director of Doctor Who himself, Waris Hussein!

Waris Hussein LIWho5

Photo credit @kimalysong

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Classic Rewatch: The Claws of Axos

The Claws of Axos

The most interesting fictional adversaries have more in common than they do in conflict: Holmes and Moriarty. Gandalf and Saruman. Kenobi and Vader. Burger King and Ronald McDonald. What may make their ‘familiar contempt’ even more intriguing, perhaps, are the instances where they must put aside their differences and work towards a common goal — typically their own survival. We present, as a grab-your-popcorn-and-just-enjoy examples, the Doctor and the Master trying to jointly outwit an alien force that is quickly outgrowing and outmaneuvering them both, no thanks to the inherent greed/stupidity of a few humans in power.

(Also, electro-pasta-beasts, ’embiggened’ frogs, and mumbling country bumpkins clumsily riding bikes into freezing ponds. This is Classic Who at some of its finest, people — the agony and the ecstasy in a single story.)

This week, we relish the 1971 classic, “The Claws of Axos”. Pertwee and Delgado are at their finest, the costumes and effects at their most questionable, and the story is aces. Pull up a bowl of psycho spaghetti, and dig in.

BONUS: We play a round of “UNIT Must Have a Star Labs Division”, an alt-universe character improvisation game. (Coming soon to a convention near you!)

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A Masterful Villain

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It makes perfect literary sense. How do you create a villain who is legitimately threatening, an engaging and interesting match for the protagonist’s strengths, but is not over-powerful? Simple solution: You take the hero, and make them evil. If someone is so near to your intellectual and capable equal in nearly all counts, the “chess match” is all the more balanced, and victory that much harder to attain. So it makes sense that Doctor Who showrunners would nurture such a perfect foil, and bring them out every now and again to incite a war of wits. Now, if only there were a way to disguise them, to change their face to keep surprising the hero…

From the moment Roger Delgado stepped into frame and began manipulating the human race in Terror of the Autons, it was apparent that we had a villain cut from the same cloth as our hero. As situations quickly arose that saw the Doctor appearing one step behind, confounded by intellect, technology and physical capabilities matching his own, viewers became invested in a counterpart who was a clear danger throughout time. This week, we look at the Master’s first appearance and compare it to the modernizations of the character recently portrayed by John Simm and Michelle Gomez.

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