One fat geek's SUCCESSFUL attempt to regenerate into a not-so-fat geek by watching the entirety of Doctor Who while walking on a treadmill

The Phantom Piper

The Phantom Piper

As soon as I saw Kit Pedler credited as the writer for today's story, The Moonbase, I knew I was in good hands. He pitched the idea that led to The War Machines, and he also wrote The Tenth Planet. Where The Underwater Menace was a mishmash of amateur science fiction tropes thrown into a blender with no artfulness or even logical coherence, Pedler writes stories with a hard scientific edge and clearly defined characters. The only downside to the story is that the scripts had already been completed before Frazer Hines was asked to join the regular cast as Jamie McCrimmon. That leads to some issues.

Let's talk about that.

You Fools! I Shall Destroy You All!

You Fools! I Shall Destroy You All!

Ok, so, let's be honest: The Underwater Menace is... not good. I mean, it's no Planet of Giants, but it's really not good. In fact, I think it exemplifies all of the negative preconceptions of what classic Doctor Who is - cheap sets, tacky costumes, poor writing, pantomime storytelling, it's all there. Usually, for me at least, the show rises above its technical and financial limitations by presenting interesting ideas and captivating characters. But sometimes, like with this story, it's just cheap and badly written.

A Half Million Steps!

A Half Million Steps!

As of this morning, I have taken more than 500,000 steps since the start of this project. When I began nearly three months ago, it was all I could do to last 55 minutes at 3 miles per hour, reaching a grand total of 2.4 miles per day. I have been gradually increasing the speed over time, to the point where this morning I was up to 3.9 miles per hour and a total distance walked of 3.57 miles -- that's over a mile further I am walking every day. I'm not sure at what point I will cross over from walking to jogging, but I expect it will happen before I meet Sarah Jane Smith.

Anyway, today I watched the first half of The Underwater Menace on DVD. The first episode was a reconstruction using telesnaps, and I have to say that although the audio quality was superior I really do think that Loose Cannon does a better job with the video reconstruction. The DVD reconstruction was missing any descriptive subtitles during several passages where they would have been helpful to clarify the action. Also, all of the pictures were static and sometimes poorly timed, as opposed to how Loose Cannon frequently animates things by moving or panning the picture, or by cutting to facial closeups of the characters who are speaking. The second episode, however, was an honest-to-goodness real existing video. I was suddenly struck that, fully a dozen episodes into the Second Doctor's era, this was the first time I was actually seeing Patrick Troughton in action.

Let's talk about that.

Welcome Aboard, Jamie!

Welcome Aboard, Jamie!

Sure enough, Jamie McCrimmon first appeared in yesterday's viewing. But really he had very little to do with the story, he was more than a background character but less than a guest star. With today's viewing, he finally came to the foreground - first in his determination on board the ship Annabelle and then later in his decision to throw in with the Doctor permanently. That's not surprising, given that originally he was not intended to be a companion. After filming had completed on The Highlanders, actor Frazier Hines got a call from producer Innes Lloyd asking if he wanted to join the show as a regular. "But I can't," Hines replied, "you've already filmed me waving goodbye." Lloyd replied back, "Oh, we can just re-shoot that bit!" And so he agreed, and went on to become the longest running companion ever in the history of Doctor Who (at least in terms of televised episodes.)

Let's talk about that.

Patrick Troughton: The Bugs Bunny of Doctors

Patrick Troughton: The Bugs Bunny of Doctors

Before I get to today's viewing of The Highlanders, I need to tell a weight loss story. So, last night my wife and I were getting ready to go out on a date to see a show. I had just put away a bunch of laundry, and I chose a nice gray button-down shirt to wear. As soon as I put it on, it felt a little snug. "That's weird," I thought, "lately I have been fitting into shirts I haven't worn in ages, this should fit me fine..."  I started to button it, and it really started feeling tight. I was beginning to panic, thinking my belly had suddenly bloated in size. It was really frustrating, especially since last week I had a definite road bump in my weight loss progress. I tried to adjust the shirt a little (as if that would make any difference), when my wife looked at me and said, "Are you trying to wear one Ben's shirts?" (Ben is our 23 year old autistic son.)  All of a sudden it made perfect sense. I wasn't suddenly fatter again, I was just stupid! I had mistaken the top shirt from his basket of laundry as my own. Lord, I am moron sometimes....

Anyway, about Doctor Who: today I started The Highlanders, which is notable for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is the last pure historical story every done in the series (unless you count 1982's Black Orchid, which is set in a historical time period and with no science fiction elements, but which is not based on any real historical event.)  Second of all, it is the story that introduces Jamie McCrimmon, who would go on to be the longest running Doctor Who companion of all time.

Let's talk about that.

You Say You Want a Revolution

You Say You Want a Revolution

Given that the fourth episode of The Power of the Daleks ends on the huge Dalek factory reveal, it is no great surprise that all hell breaks out for the last two episodes. The rebel uprising that has been simmering in the background so far comes to full fruition, just as the chief of security stages his coup to seize the governorship and the army of Daleks are finally unleashed upon the colony. The level of mayhem and bloodshed is simply breathtaking for a story of this era.

Let's talk about that.

Baby Factory

Baby Factory

Back when I was in college, my best friend and I invented a fake hair metal band named Baby Factory. (I swear there's a point to this.) Their first album was titled Pre-Mature Labor, with cover artwork that showed a sweatshop factory with conveyor belts manned entirely by babies wearing hard hats. There first big single was O.B.G.Y.N. (Oh Baby, Gimme Your Number). They also had a second album titled Oedipus Complex, with a cover design showing a block of suburban tract houses with the hard hat babies out front mowing their lawns, and each house had big Roman columns framing their front doors. It's been 25 years, and every once in a while I still noodle around with the idea just because it's so fun. I even started actually writing the song once. What does that have to do with Doctor Who? Well, in today's episode there is a big reveal with the Daleks constructing a fleet of new pepperpot tanks, and then manning them with freshly-grown tenticularly blobby baby Daleks. They have literally built a Baby Factory.

Let's talk about that.

My Doctor, the First Real Doctor, Arrives

My Doctor, the First Real Doctor, Arrives

Okay, so I am going to admit my bias right up front: Patrick Troughton is my favorite Doctor, hands down. I can certainly understand when someone picks Tom Baker (or David Tennant, depending on their age), there is a strong argument to be made for either. But it was Patrick Troughton who invented the Doctor as we know him today. William Hartnell was a proto-Doctor, a waspish prick at the end of his first life who spent most of his time imperiously bossing people around with wild arrogance. With the Second Doctor we finally see the mirthful genius who can effortlessly glide between clownishness and terrifying resolve. He set the template for every Doctor to follow, and it is his performance that energized and rejuvenated the show.

Let's talk about that.

Farewell Mondas, and Farewell William Hartnell

Farewell Mondas, and Farewell William Hartnell

This morning marks a huge milestone all around. For me personally, I weighed in at a new low record since I started this project, which is particularly nice given the frustrating trend last week. For Doctor Who, this morning's viewing was the end of the First Doctor's era. Yes, he is my least favorite Doctor. And yes, although I feel badly about his health struggles in later life, I am not much enamored of his behavior and attitudes on set. Even so, he was enormously popular at the time and was by all accounts a great ambassador to the children who loved the program. His final performance (minus his absence from the third episode due to illness) was spot on, and he was given a superb story to have as his swan song.

Cybermen! We've Got Real Mondasian Cybermen! Yay!

Cybermen! We've Got Real Mondasian Cybermen! Yay!

So yeah, I've kind of been looking forward to this story. To my mind, the first Doctor has three truly landmark stories: An Unearthly ChildThe Daleks, and The Tenth Planet. There are others I enjoy more, such as Marco PoloThe Aztecs, or The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but those first three are the ones which are foundational to Doctor Who. The first story, because of course. The second story, because however sick I may be of the Daleks there is no denying that without them there would be no Doctor Who at all. And today's story, because not only does it introduce the second most popular ongoing villains (in my mind it goes Daleks, Cybermen, The Master) but it also introduces the concept of regeneration. Although, it is worth noting that regeneration doesn't get a name for many more years, not until the Third Doctor reaches his end on the Planet of the Spiders. Of course I have been looking forward to today's story, how could I not be?

Let's talk about that.

Progress

Currently Watching:

(Story )


 of episodes viewed
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of stories viewed
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Total Steps Taken:

Total Distance Walked:
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Weight Progress:
 
Blue Line: 5-Day Moving Avg
Yellow Line: Daily Weight

Archives

Latest Posts

The Phantom Piper
5/11/2017 2:27 PM
You Fools! I Shall Destroy You All!
5/10/2017 2:35 PM
A Half Million Steps!
5/9/2017 2:59 PM
Welcome Aboard, Jamie!
5/8/2017 7:57 PM
Patrick Troughton: The Bugs Bunny of Doctors
5/7/2017 8:18 PM
You Say You Want a Revolution
5/6/2017 8:53 PM
Baby Factory
5/5/2017 7:45 PM
My Doctor, the First Real Doctor, Arrives
5/4/2017 8:47 PM
Farewell Mondas, and Farewell William Hartnell
5/3/2017 3:11 PM
Cybermen! We've Got Real Mondasian Cybermen! Yay!
5/2/2017 5:13 PM

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