The Tenth Planet Part 4

Doctor WhoCutler blames everyone from the Doctor to Ben to his own personnel for the failure of his plan to render Earth toxic to the Cybermen, who have now invaded other parts of Earth and taken Polly as a hostage to ensure the Doctor’s cooperation. Time is running out for the Cybermen as Mondas continues to drain Earth’s energy, something which the Doctor warns will destroy their world as well as damaging Earth. The Doctor seems to know about the fate of Mondas and its people already…but he also seems to have a premonition of something else, a momentous change that could render him helpless in the ensuing battle with the emotionless Cybermen.

Order this story on audio CDwritten by Kit Pedler (credited onscreen as “Kitt Pedler”)
and Pat Dunlap and Gerry Davis (not credited onscreen)
directed by Derek Martinus
music not credited

Doctor WhoCast: William Hartnell (The Doctor), Anneke Wills (Polly), Michael Craze (Ben), Robert Beatty (General Cutler), David Dodimead (Barclay), Christopher Dunham (R/T technician), Callen Angelo (Terry Cutler), Christopher Matthews (Radar technician), Dudley Jones (Dyson), Harry Brooks (Krang), Reg Whitehead (Jarl), Gregg Palmer (Gern), Steve Plytas (Wigner), Ellen Cullen (Geneva Technician), Peter Hawkins (Cyberman voice), Roy Skelton (Cyberman voice), Bruce Wells (Cyberman), John Haines (Cyberman), John Knott (Cyberman), Sheila Knight (Secretary), Patrick Troughton (The Doctor)

Notes: For the first Doctor, the entirety of the 2017 Christmas special Twice Upon A Time (a story in which he meets his fourteenth incarnation) happens in the interval between the Doctor rushing out into the Antarctic cold, and Ben and Polly catching up to him in the TARDIS.

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Lost to the eyes of everyone except video pirates for over three decades, the final adventure of William Hartnell’s Doctor packs quite a punch and stands up well. Now, yes, this is the one where the Cybermen are basically guys in body stockings with floodlights on their heads, and their voices are almost laughable at times. But other than the production values – and remember that this was top-of-the-line stuff in ’66 – Tenth Planet is an exciting and tense slice of vintage Doctor Who.

One thing startled me here: the Doctor arrives out of nowhere just before things get hectic, with extensive foreknowledge of the situation. Remind you of any other eras in the show’s history? It really struck me as the sort of thing that Sylvester McCoy often did as the seventh incarnation of the Doctor toward the end of the show’s run. That element of the story intrigued me a great deal.

Another compelling reason to watch Tenth Planet – perhaps even moreso than the debut of the Cybermen – is the regeneration. At the end of part four, almost without warning (as opposed to later years, when virtually everyone watching knew when the outgoing Doctor would hand the torch to his successor onscreeen), the Doctor rushes back to the TARDIS, weakened by the recent struggle. He falls to the floor and changes with no warning or explanation, and truth be told, I’m sure the audience must have been more than a little confused about what was going on back in 1966.

The restoration of episode four on the VHS release, whose absence is the only thing that has kept Tenth Planet from being released on video before now, was accomplished with a great many still photos from the episode as well as a few snippets of surviving film. The regeneration scene – the first in the series’ history – was preserved particularly well. Some fans may be a little disappointed that this historic fourth episode is reduced almost to a radio show…but it’s a quantum leap beyond what has gone before. The first “incomplete” story released on video, 1968’s The Invasion (another Cybermen outing, coincidentally), had its two missing episodes filled in by Nicholas Courtney’s pleasant narration, similar to the approach taken with the 1979 epic Shada, which never finished filming. By contrast, the most recent incomplete release prior to Tenth Planet, The Ice Warriors, cleverly linked its missing segments with a small-scale reconstruction. For those who aren’t satisfied: it’s better than nothing. And when Doctor Who was only in production as an audio entity for the longest time anyway, it’s somehow fitting.