Doctor Who’s second season would remain its most successful for a decade and cemented the show as a British phenomenon. The seasons that followed, however, showed a sharp and steady decrease in viewers as the newness of the series began to wear off. The next three seasons also, sadly, got hit and hit hard by the BBC’s “wiping” policy which left all but a handful of the 128 episodes missing, presumed dead.
All of the audio of these stories are available to listen to, thanks entirely to fans at the time making audio recordings of the episodes for them to listen to later (we all did that with some show or other), and there are reconstructions based on telesnaps and existing footage, some better than others. Because of this, I haven’t seen all of the stories for Seasons 3, 4, and 5, nor have I listened to all the audio. Perhaps that’s a fan-fault, but I’m not going to try to speak expertly about something I haven’t watched or heard. So, I will do my best to fill in the gaps where I can and give you a good picture of what happened in each of these years. ‘Cuz, lots did.
Season 3 – 1965-1966
When last we left the Doctor, he and his crew of Vicki and Steven had just foiled the plot of the Meddling Monk, but this new iteration of the main cast would not last for long. Indeed, only the first story of Season 3, Galaxy 4, featured this grouping in stasis. Season 3 is notable for having the highest number of new companions, and companions shifting, and at 45 episodes, is the longest season of the show to date (it will never be beaten).
After “Galaxy 4” was a one-off episode entitled Mission to the Unknown, which featured none of the main cast. Also called the “Dalek Cutaway,” this episode was used for two things: fill a quota left by excising one of the episodes of “Planet of Giants” in Season 2, and to set up the enormous 12-part The Daleks’ Master Plan, which would hit screens in a month’s time. In between these Dalek-centric things is the four part The Myth Makers, which takes place during the Trojan War. It’s notable for introducing a new companion, the Trojan lady fair Katarina (Adrienne Hill), and saw the departure of Vicki (Maureen O’Brien), the first new companion.
Following “The Myth Makers,” which many in the know say is terrific, is the aforementioned “Daleks’ Master Plan,” which was co-written by Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner and spanned a whole twelve weeks, one of which fell on Christmas Day, the first and only Christmas special in the Classic Series. Things did not go well for companions during this period of time. While Steven (Peter Purves) stuck around, things were less safe for the lady companions. Katarina was a failed experiment. Being from a period in history far before anything even remotely sci-fi was around, it turned out she was too “dumb” to keep writing for, so only five episodes after she debuted, they killed her off in a grand fashion, the first companion to die on Doctor Who.
Also during “Daleks’ Master Plan,” the new pseudo-companion, Sara Kingdom (Jean Marsh), was introduced, but she herself died before the story ended. It was not safe to travel with the Doctor, for certain. This story also saw the brief return of the Doctor’s annoyance, the Meddling Monk (Peter Butterworth). This would be the last serial written by Dalek creator Nation until the mid-’70s.
How do you follow up a massive, people-killing adventure like that? With a story called The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve, of course. Nothing like depicting the bloody war between the Catholics and Protestants in 16th Century France, right? During the story, the Doctor and Steven come across a young lady named Anne Chaplet, whom they assume gets killed at the end. The story ends with them arriving in modern day London and finding a different young lady named Dorothea “Dodo” Chaplet (Jackie Lane), suggesting Anne didn’t die. Oh, and Dodo becomes a companion. ‘Kay?
Next, we have The Ark, which actually exists in its entirety, believe it or not. It’s highly notable for the time, because we actually get to see the implications of time travel on a society. The crew lands on the eponymous vessel which is housing, among other things, one-eyed aliens called Monoids. Their planet has been destroyed and they are living aboard the ship with the humans, who are themselves waiting for the Earth to be destroyed by the expanding sun. Peaceful as the union is, they are made to do a lot of the menial day-to-day tasks. Dodo has developed a cold and it infects a Monoid and kills him, leading to a trial. While they are sentenced to death, the Doctor convinces them to allow him to devise a cure for the common cold and everything appears fine, until…
They arrive back on the Ark, 700 years later, with the Monoids wholly in control. This was made possible by a genetic imperfection introduced into the human body after Dodo’s cold 700 years ago that had no impact on the Monoids. A power struggle ensues, and we get the outcome we expect. While the story itself doesn’t quite deliver on the promise, it is interesting, nonetheless, that we actually get to see what the Doctor and company do to the people they visit, not always a good thing. At the tail end of “The Ark,” the Doctor disappears from the TARDIS.
At this point in the series, William Hartnell was not getting along with the production staff and it’s said he was having trouble remembering his lines. They were trying to find a way to write him off the show yet still keep it going. One solution could have been found in The Celestial Toymaker, a story that saw Hartnell absent for almost the entirety of the run time, even said to be “invisible” at one point. When he reappeared, the initial idea was for him to be played by a different actor, a clever idea, but one that would only have worked once. Ultimately, they kept Hartnell around for another several stories, but the end was nigh.
Following “Celestial Toymaker,” Hartnell gives one of his best performances in the silly yet enjoyable The Gunfighters, which brings the crew to the old west so the Doctor can get dentistry assistance from Doc Holliday. Yep, it’s the OK Corral, complete with Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. While this story is undoubtedly ridiculous, and overuses a specially-written saloon song to the point of ear-stabbing, Hartnell is having a whale of a time. This might well be his best performance.
After that, it’s The Savages, which saw the departure of Steven as companion, going off to help a political transition. None of these episodes exist, so I don’t know much about them. The season ends with The War Machines, a four-part story in modern-day London. The Doctor and Dodo go to visit Professor Brett, who has invented WOTAN, an artificial intelligence built for problem solving. As you might expect, it develops an urge to take over. This story features WOTAN’s onscreen assertion that “Doctor Who is required.” Fans have been trying to retcon this for decades, but really it was just the people writing the scripts not realizing his name wasn’t “Dr. Who.”
The story also saw the introduction of Polly (Anneke Wills) and Ben (Michael Craze), who become companions. During the story, without any fanfare at all, Dodo goes to lie down and never comes back. Awesome; glad we had her around. After 45 weeks, five companion introductions and just as many departures, the third season of Doctor Who came to a close.
Season 4 – 1966-1967
The Doctor, Ben, and Polly begin their travels in The Smugglers, a swashbuckling adventure which doesn’t exist at all. This is followed by The Tenth Planet, which is all kinds of important. Landing on Antarctica in the distant future year of 1986, the crew enters a base which is the headquarters of the Zeus IV rocket mission, running a routine check of the Earth’s atmosphere. Not long after, they see signs of a planet coming toward the Earth. This “tenth planet,” the Doctor reveals, is Mondas, which was at one point in the solar system until the inhabitants wiped themselves out. More accurately, they tried to better themselves via technological enhancements until they cease to be people and are instead… CYBERMEN!
Yet another attempt to find an alien that could rival the Daleks, the Cybermen faired a whole lot better than some of the others, becoming the most recurrent baddies from here until the end of the ‘60s. At the end of the fourth episode, the Cyber threat having been vanquished, the crew returns to the TARDIS only to find that the Doctor is complaining of his “old body” wearing thin and that a “renewal” is necessary. He collapses to the floor and the series takes another giant leap into immortality: the lead actor changes.
This new man is evidently the Doctor, though even he isn’t sure. In truth, casting Patrick Troughton as the second incarnation was a genius move for this very reason. He was not anything like William Hartnell and so the convention was set that the new actor needn’t be an imitation of his predecessor, but that he could be his own Doctor, separate yet the same, with his own quirks and charms. For his first story, Troughton was immediately a mystery, the way Hartnell had been initially, in The Power of the Daleks, the first of two Dalek stories this season, both written by former script editor David Whitaker.
Immediately following the change, the crew lands on the planet Vulcan (no, not THAT planet Vulcan) whereupon the Doctor immediately assumes the identity of a murdered examiner sent to the planet to make sure the human colony is going all right. It isn’t, apparently, especially when it’s discovered that Daleks, who are supposedly helpful and docile, are in the colony’s laboratory. Without knowing it, the colonists are allowing the Daleks to “breed,” believing them to be merely machines. None of this story’s six parts exist, but it’s one of the holy grails for finders out there.
After this, there’s a slew of missing or partly-missing stories, beginning with The Highlanders, the very last pure historical before the sci-fi elements became mandatory. This story introduced a young Scottish lad named James “Jamie” McCrimmon, played by Frazer Hines, who becomes a companion at the end. He would become the show’s longest-serving companion, and the always-loyal, though sometimes silly, sidekick of the Second Doctor. This story is followed by The Underwater Menace, which concerns Atlantis, and The Moonbase, which sees the return of the Cybermen. Both of these are two-parters with two episodes missing, but each are getting a DVD release with animation to fill in the missing stuff. Very exciting.
After that is The Macra Terror, which is completely missing and I’ve heard isn’t very good, followed by The Faceless Ones, which is a creepy story about stolen identity and a missing airplane at Gatwick Airport that’s missing four of its six parts. “The Faceless Ones” takes place on the very day and year that Ben and Polly joined the TARDIS, and so they just leave at the end, after having been gone for most of the story anyway. They sure don’t write out companions very well.
Season 4 concludes with The Evil of the Daleks, which was the last Dalek story until 1972. This is an excellent story which I’ve listened to twice. It’s a seven-parter that only has one existing episode, but the audio is enough to let you know how awesome it is. The Doctor and Jamie, following the TARDIS’ removal from Gatwick, come to an antique shop in 1966 which sells Victorian things that seem brand new. Well, that’s because they ARE brand new and the shop’s proprietor is from 1866 and has a time machine. How could he have one? Well, it turns out the Daleks are behind it and keeping his daughter, Victoria (Deborah Watling), captive. The Daleks want the Doctor to help them with an experiment to isolate the “Human Factor,” which they believe is what makes people able to resist and defeat the Daleks. If they were to find that quality within themselves, they might be able to win. The Doctor agrees to help, much to Jamie’s dismay, and he even seems to be completely fine with what’s going on. He isn’t, of course, and it’s all a very dastardly, and ingenious, ruse on the part of the Doctor. If this story existed in its entirety, I would be watching it right now and not writing the rest of it.
This season ends with the Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria heading off to parts unknown.
Season 5 – 1966-1967
How do you follow up a story like “The Evil of the Daleks,” which explores a time-tested villain in a whole new way? Why, with another great story that explores a time-tested villain in a whole new way. This story, The Tomb of the Cybermen, was thankfully found in Hong Kong in 1992 and now sits as the earliest complete Patrick Troughton story and the only one from Season 5.
On the distant planet of Telos, an archaeological expedition is trying to gain access to an ancient tomb, a tomb with a foreboding Cyberman head on the door. The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria arrive as well, and quickly team up with the expedition, much to the chagrin of the mission’s benefactor, Kafta, who is there along with her huge, mute bodyguard Toberman and shady colleague Eric Klieg. The further they go into the tomb, the more disturbing things they find, including a Cybermat. Their ship has simultaneously been sabotaged to keep them there. It’s soon revealed that Kafta and Klieg are attempting to revive the dormant Cybermen located within to use them to be supreme rulers. Not a great idea, especially with the Doctor right there.
This story is amazing on just about every level. It begins with a filmed scene of the Doctor and Jamie showing Victoria around the TARDIS at which point the Doctor reveals his age, of about 450 years. There is also a very touching and beautifully performed scene in episode 3 between the Doctor and Victoria, in which they talk about family and being able to remember. I’ve included that scene below because it’s so lovely.
It’s also no secret that Matt Smith points to this story as being the inspiration for his take on the Doctor and why he likes Patrick Troughton so much. You can see why. Shame so much of his tenure is missing.
Following this is The Abominable Snowmen, which introduced audiences to the Yeti, which are actually robots controlled by The Great Intelligence, the bad guy in the most recent new series. Both would return two stories later in The Web of Fear which moves the Yeti action to the London Underground and featured the first appearance of Nicholas Courtney as Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, a colonel here but very soon to be known as The Brigadier.
After “Snowmen” comes the birth of another of the Doctor’s recurrent villains, The Ice Warriors. In the distant future, Brittanicus Base is using an ionizer to slow a glacier which is in the process of rolling over Britain. While doing this, they find a huge armored being frozen in a block of ice. Surely thawing him out would be an excellent idea. This is another example of the “base under siege” story, which was a staple of the Troughton era. Two of this story’s six parts are lost, but it’s getting a DVD release next month featuring the missing episodes animated. I’m very excited for this; it’s a terrific story.
In between “Ice Warriors” and “The Web of Fear” is an atypical political thriller, The Enemy of the World. In the early-21st Century, the Doctor and companions are sunning themselves in Australia when he is the subject of an assassination attempt. It appears that he is the spitting image of Salamander, a ruthless megalomaniac. When it’s decided he isn’t Salamander, the Doctor is made to be the double to try to take the bad guy down. Troughton plays both roles and really disappears inside the Salamander character, who is vile and has a Spanish accent. The only episode of this six-parter that exists is episode 3 which is the most boring, unfortunately.
The penultimate story is Fury from the Deep, which is notable because, while no episode exists, the most violent and frightening clips do from when the Australian censor snipped them before the shows aired there. This was the final adventure for Deborah Watling as Victoria.
The season ended with the six-part The Wheel in Space, which saw the Cybermen return for yet another time, this time aboard a space station in the future at some point. This story introduced the Second Doctor’s final new companion, Zoe Heriot (Wendy Padbury), a parapsychology librarian and all-around genius. She’s almost too smart for her own good, but she represents the third prong in what is arguably the best Second Doctor crew, alongside himself and Jamie.
Next week, we’ll return to a season I can actually talk about, as all but one of the stories exists and I’ve seen or heard all of them. Whew, this was difficult. Perhaps one day, the missing episodes will be recovered, after all, two episodes were found just a couple of years ago at a garage sale, so anything’s possible.