Saturday, 11 February 2017

149 The Moonbase: Episode One

EPISODE: The Moonbase: Episode One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 11 February 1967
WRITER: Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis
DIRECTOR: Morris Barry
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
RATINGS: 8.1 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Moonbase
TELESNAPS: The Moonbase: Episode One

"It's you! The Phantom Piper!"

The Tardis lands on the moon. Something here has dragged it off course. The Time Travellers have fun in zero gravity until Jamie is knocked unconscious and rescued by two people from the nearby moonbase. The Moonbase has a Graviton which is used to control the weather on Earth: this affected the Tardis. One of it's operators is taken ill and rushed to sickbay where Jamie has been taken. The Doctor is initially mistaken as the station's relief Doctor but his medical skills can be put to use as the base's Doctor was the first affected. The base's commander Hobson speaks with Earth who aren't helpful and quarantine the base. Nills, his communications expert, is concerned because he feels they are being monitored. Base number 2 Benoit takes Polly to sickbay to see Jamie, but another member of the crew is taken ill. The Doctor goes to Sickbay with Ben to assess the situation and connects Jamie to the monitoring equipment. Doctor Evans is the worst of the crewmen affected by the virus which is leaving a pattern of glowing vein like lines on the skin. Ben is sent to the control room to see what's happening and be useful. He arrives as Hobson goes off duty, noting to Benoit that there have been sudden drops in the base's pressure. Benoit sends Ben to help Ralph in the stores. Ralph wonders if Ben is responsible for some split bags in the stores. While Ben fetches something for him Ralph disappears. In Sickbay Doctor Evans cries out and dies. The Doctor goes to find Hobson, already irate at Ralph's disappearance to break the bad news to him. Just before the Doctor returns Polly catches sight of something in the sickbay but it vanishes through a door before she can get a proper look. Hobson is angry when he discovers Evans' body gone and tells the Doctor to find it or get off the base. Jamie is hallucinating the Phantom Piper of clan Acrimony. The Doctor finds a fragment of silver cloth in sickbay and goes to look for more odd things. Jamie calls for water which Polly goes to fetch. While she is gone a tall silver figure enters sickbay: Jamie's Phantom Piper is in reality a Cyberman!

1_1 1_2

Cracking stuff. Little hints right the way through of who it is causing the problems are finally revealed in the closing moments. Fresh from their successful debut in the Tenth Planet 18 episodes previously the Cybermen are back with a bit of a redesign. In fact the Cybermen are only the second monster in Doctor Who, after of course the Daleks, to make a return appearance!

The Moonbase is a reflection of popular culture at the time, the race to the moon being very much in progress with JFK's deadline of "by the end of this decade" closing in. This is the first Moonbase in Doctor Who: it won't be the last. In Seeds of Death one is controlling the T-Mat network while in Frontier in Space it's serving as a penal colony. David Tennant's tenth Doctor gets to visit the Moon in Smith & Jones, but he's in an abducted hospital building rather than a Moonbase then! Saturn's moon Titan also has a Moonbase in The Invisible Enemy. We'll also see Moonbases in several other sci-fi series including UFO (which you must see if you haven't), Moonbase 3 (or what Barry & Terrance did between seasons 10 & 11), Space: 1999 (just watch the first series, not the second), Star Fleet (which is fabulous) and Star Cops (which I love).

The moon itself controls the tides on the Earth which in turn have an influence on the weather so you can see how a gravity device on the moon *might* be used to control the weather: another example of the "anchored in reality" science that Kit Pedler has brought to Doctor Who.

When the surviving orphaned episodes of Doctor Who were released on DVD as part of Doctor Who - Lost In Time, The Moonbase was one of two 4 part stories that has two parts missing and two existing: the other was the Crusade: subsequently The Underwater Menace was added to the category of 2 episodes existing, 2 episodes missing. The surviving episodes of The Crusade and The Moonbase were presented with audio recordings of the the missing episodes included with them.

Subsequent to Lost in Time both The Underwater Menace and The Moonbase have been released on DVD, with the missing episodes reconstructed using the soundtrack against either telesnaps or animation. However there's never even been the remotest hint that the Crusade might be released in this manner.

When The Moonbase DVD came out it's missing episodes, including this one, were reconstructed with animations. I have nothing against the animations as such, and indeed the Moonbase ones aren't too bad, but feel this technique should have been saved for stories where no telesnaps are known to exist, like The Reign of Terror and The Invasion. For the other stories that are 50% or more complete, and that's The Crusade, The Tenth Planet, Underwater Menace, The Moonbase, The Ice Warriors and Web of Fear, I feel a telesnap reconstruction is more appropriate as it brings us a step closer to the original episodes. I was pleased Tenth Planet's DVD release included it's VHS telesnap recon and delighted that the sadly missing Web of Fear episode 3 is represented by a good reconstruction. Underwater Menace's reconstruction is a little simplified, effectively just a slideshow in order of the frames where more advanced techniques are possible: repeating frames, zooming in and even using stills from other episodes to represent the action as well as dropping in any surviving footage.

Before the DVD for this story was released I had my one and only go at making a telesnap reconstruction for the missing episodes of this story: Telesnaps are available for this story on the BBC website, together with brief scene descriptions and scene timings are available on the CD. From these last two I was able to work out how many telesnaps for each scene and thus how long each telesnap should be on the screen for. I downloaded the telesnaps, put them into Powerpoint, set timings for each slide and voilà: An amateur reconstruction of episode 1 of the Moonbase! Watching it back now I could make some adjustments to the timings within the scenes but overall it's not a bad attempt and has enhanced my viewing of this episode. I had several friends from the TMUK Forum in to watch this episode with me but unfortunately I didn't write down anything they said. I do recall that Ralph Burns claimed that this is his favourite episode ending ever!

The episode is considerably improved for the use of two of my favourite stock music composers: Eric Siday's Musique Electronique: Anaesthesia plays as the Tardis crew walk out onto the moon while the Cyberman's reveal at the end of the episode is announced with Martin Slavin's Space Adventure, something of a theme for the Cybermen as it was also used for their initial appearance in Tenth Planet part 1.

There's a large supporting cast for this story: fortunately most of them are easy to identify as they're wearing name badges, which each has a number on it. Base Commander Hobson is number 1 and he's played by Patrick Barr. He's got a long career in television and films, starting at a very young age. but the only other thing I think I've seen him in is the James Bond film Octopussy where he plays the British Ambassador.

1 Hobson 2 Benoit

Second in command, number 2 Roger Benoit, is played by André Maranne, British TV's default Frenchman. I've seen him in Fawlty Towers as André in Gourmet Night, the superb Yes Minister Christmas special, Party Games, as Maurice, the European Commissioner. That gets an airing every Christmas in our house. He was also in A Very Peculiar Practice, which features a number of Who alumni including the Fifth Doctor and one of the Second Doctor's sons, as a Saul Sieberman in the series 2 episode Art and Illusion. His most famous role is probably a film where he appears as Sgt. François Chevalier, a recurring role in the Pink Panther films. He too has a Bond to his name as SPECTRE Number 10 in Thunderball and appears in the British comedy film Morons from Outer Space.

Number 3 Nils Jensen is played by Michael Wolf. He appears as Van Muller in the Out of the Unknown second series episode The Prophet. Sadly missing from the archives the black robots from this episode were repainted white and used in the Doctor Who story The Mind Robber.

3 Nils Evans

The man with the most prominent Doctor Who form on his CV in the cast is Alan Rowe who plays Dr. Evans, who looks to be numbered 4, and provides the voice of Space Control. He returns in The Time Warrior as Edward of Wessex, Horror of Fang Rock as Skinsdale and Full Circle as Decider Garif. His IMDB entry shows he was a much in demand actor, though I confess Doctor Who is the only thing I've seen him in. He was the partner of actor Geoffrey Bayldon who speaks about Rowe and their relationship during Who's Round #117.

John Rolfe plays scientist number 6 Sam Becket, not to be confused with the Quantum Leap character. He'd already been in The War Machines as the Captain and would return in The Green Death as Fell. He's in the Out of the Unknown surviving fourth season episode This Body Is Mine as Rawlinson, which you can see on the Out of the Unknown DVD Set, the Survivors episode Manhunt as Summers and Blake's 7: Project Avalon as Terloc.

Sam 15 Stacy

Rather overacting in the back of a scene is Arnold Chazen as Scientist number 15 John Stacey. He's in Spearhead from Space episode 4 as an Auton VIP and is the father of actress Debbie Chazen who appeared in the 2007 Doctor Who Christmas special Voyage of the Dammed as Foon Van Hoff.

Also lurking in the back of scenes is Edward Phillips as Scientist number 7 Bob Anders who'd been in The Massacre episode 3: Priest of Death as an uncredited Parisian Man.

7 Anders vlcsnap-00025

Barry Ashton plays Scientist Franz Schultz, number 13. He'll be back for The Time Monster where he plays Proctor and Frontier in Space where he plays Kemp. He's got a surviving Out of the Unknown episode to his name, appearing as Frank in the Counterfeit Man and two episodes of Doomwatch as an uncredited Man in You Killed Toby Wren and The Inquest.

Playing Scientist Jules Faure, number 10, is Victor Pemberton in his first Doctor Who job. He's the first person to appear in front of the screen and contribute to the creation of the program as he'll return to script edit Tomb of the Cybermen, while regular script editor Peter Bryant has his trial run as producer, and then writes Fury from the Deep.

Fraure C wise

Scientist number 8 Charlie Wise is played by Robin Scott who will return in The War Games: Episode Seven as an uncredited Resistance Man.

The first scientist to be seen to collapse is Jim Elliot, number 5, played by Ron Pinnell who appears to have spent most of his career acting in Australia.

Peter Ralph

Mark Heath as Scientist Ralph Adebayo, who's shown as being number 14 in the DVD's photo gallery. It's another prominent role for a black actor in the program this season following Elroy Josephs as Jamaica in the Smugglers, Earl Cameron as Glynn Williams in The Tenth Planet and Paul Anil as Jacko in The Underwater Menace.

I have managed to spot Alan Wells as Scientist number 8 Joe Benson in the control room:

9 Benson 11

This publicity photo shows at least one of the unaccounted for crew members, Number 11 is a Canadian whose name badge I can't read! M'learned friends at Roobarb's Forum assure me is Derek Calder's Scientist Pete Baker. He returns in The War Games as as an Alien Technician / British Soldier in episode 7 and a Time Lord Technician in episode 10.

That leaves just Leon Maybank as Scientist number 12 Ted Braun: he returns as a UNIT Male Operator in Day of the Daleks but I haven't managed to identify him here.

So to recap this is who each of the crewmembers are and their number!

1 T. Hobson Patrick Barr
2 Roget Benoit André Maranne
3 Nils Jensen Michael Wolf
4 Dr. G Evans Alan Rowe
5 Jim Elliot Ron Pinnell
6 Sam Becket John Rolfe
7 Bob Anders Edward Phillips
8 Charlie Wise Robin Scott
9 Joe Benson Alan Wells
10 Jules Faure Victor Pemberton
11 Peter Baker Derek Calder
12 Ted Braun Leon Maybank
13 Franz Schultz Barry Ashton
14 Ralph Adebayo Mark Heath
15 John Stacey Arnold Chazen

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