Getting Literate

I’m getting literate… I borrowed some Doctor Who DVDs from a friend, and have started watching the Tom Baker run (Doctor #4) from the beginning.

Lawks, but these special effects are bad.

Errr… SPECIAL. They’re special, that’s it. I wouldn’t want to offend any true believers.

Effects aside, I’ve found that in these first several episodes (#75 through #77 — Robot 1-4, Ark in Space 1-4, The Sontaran Experiment 1-2) the show grinds to a snoozy, boring halt when Tom Baker isn’t on-screen for more than half a minute. The man is simply amazing in this role.

At some point I’ll pick up another Doctor (including the current one — I saw part of an episode, and really liked it) but for now I’m eating jelly-babies.

And I LOVE the music. L.O.V.E LOVE. But I grew up on old-school synth-rock, and know how to play the Theremin.


29 thoughts on “Getting Literate”

  1. The October 1967 issue of the English electronic hobbyist magazine Practical Electronics included a free 6″ 33⅓ Lyntone flexi-diskElectronic Sounds And Effects For Electronic Music“. From memory (I haven’t heard the disk for at least 3 decades), most of the short disk involved an electronics boffin from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop explaining the processes they used to create and record a lot of the electronic music and sound effects for the then very new and exciting Dr. Who series. I still have the disk in my vinyl collection. The sound quality was dreadful even when new, and the disk is in pretty poor shape these days, but it’ll probably play. I should investigate digitizing it.

    1. You need to find someone with a laser turntable. I _want_ one of those.

      When I start really making money, that will probably be my first big ‘splurge’ purchase. – $10,000-$12,000 for a laser turntable.


  2. I own the complete first season of the new Doc. I will be getting the second for my birthday.

    Very very good.

    I …was not a huge fan back in the day, just a casual observer. I had a friend that was freaky enough for several people about it.

    He ran around, no matter the season or the occasion, in his very own Doc Who extra long multi-color scarf.

  3. I’m partial to Forbidden Planet’s music myself. First use of all electronic music. The story behind the creators of that music is interesting. The nomenklatura of the hollywood music scene didn’t much care for Louis and Bebe Barron’s creation as they weren’t paid in full marxists, er unionists and the studio had to work around that.

  4. John Pertwee, the third Doctor is pretty fun to watch too. And I liked the guy after Tom Baker, Peter Davison, but I am probably one of the few that did. Tom Baker is fascinating, though, and his Doctor was what finally won my mother over to science fiction shows. She loved to say that he was so ugly that he was cute.

    The first Doctor episodes are interesting. They put a different slant on everything after them. You should really look into watching The Five Doctors. It’s a great way to see the contrasts between the first five. It’s a shame that Tom Baker couldn’t actually be a part of the storyline. They used cut footage from an episode that never aired.

    I was never bothered by the lack of special effects once I got into the show. I saw the whole thing as more of a televised play and let my mind fill in the rest.

    1. I’m another one who likes Davidson, although I keep waiting for someone to call him Tristan (he was in the BBC’s All Creatures Great and Small). That, and he’s the “cow” in the Beeb’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the Restaurant at the End of the Universe scene.

      Pertwee is still my favorite though.

  5. What is it with everyone talking about the theremin these days? I recently got an American Journal of Physics article on interlibrary loan on how they work, and it’s at the top of my “to read” pile. I may have to give myself a crash course on AC to understand it.

  6. I liked most of the Doctors. The first Doctor, William Hartnell, was very superior and treated all of his companions including his granddaughter as inferior. I was really suprised that the series got off the ground after being introduced to the series with Tom Baker as the Doctor. I also didn’t like Colin Baker because I thought he was a pompous jerk.

    Tom Baker is my favorite Doctor along with the rest of the Doctor Who watching world, but Sylvester McCoy was a very close second. I liked that he had a female side kick that liked to make her own explosives. Nitro-9 came in handy in many episodes.

  7. The episode “Horror of Fang Rock” is by far my favorite Tom Baker episode. Good story, decent music, good characterization, incredible tension, and it only suffers a little from the “monster in a rubber suit” syndrome.

  8. Good lord, they started you off with Robot? Really. Grab “The Face of Evil” or “Ribos Operation” or something. They get better later; you’re in for fun. 🙂

    And do explore other Doctors; they’re a lot of fun (each in his own way). Davison and McCoy are both solid, each has their fans and detractors, but they’re nicely approachable. Colin Baker was… not given a proper chance once they finally figured out his character, which makes him hard to watch for some people. Tom Baker you already appreciate even through some episodes that were not their best work, so no more needs to be said, and the first three are a little hard to come by.

    /rant. sorry, i’ve loved the who since i was about 5. although i don’t wear the long multicolor scarf unless it’s cold, and i can get away with it ’cause my gramma made it for me, even if i do privately refer to it as my ‘whoscarf’. 🙂

  9. The Doctor(s)

    As you may or may not know there have been 9 of the Dr’s 13 possible regenerations that have been on the tube (10 if you admit that the Valeyard, prosecuter in trial of a timelord was actually his 13th and final form) In order:
    1. William Harntnell
    2. Patrick Troughton
    3. John Pertwee
    4. Tom Baker
    5. Peter Davidson
    6. Colin Baker
    7. Sylvester McCoy
    8. Peter McGann (I have trouble counting him since he only did 1 film and no TV.
    9. Eccleston
    10. Tennant
    13. I don’t recall who played him.

    1. Autocratic, seemingly feeble character. Interesting factoid, the premier of the Dr Who was on the same day JFK was shot, nobody watched it and it was rebroadcast the next week.

    2. I think of him as Moe Howard, and a loveable buffoon.

    3. Often described as a “dandy,” rather enjoyable to watch.

    4. My first Dr and quite possibly the best incarnation. Although SJS was decidedly painful to watch. Got to see him in person in 87, he seemed like the Dr. Also try and find him playing Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

    5. Least favorite, for some reason I can’t deal with a vet from the highlands as the Dr.

    6. Wasn’t a big fan but I do like the man’s politics.
    Saw him at the same time as #4, wasn’t impressed, but he had some big shoes to fill at that time.

    7. Didn’t see a lot of these wasn’t thrilled with his costume, made me think of an effeminite Karl Kolchak (the REAL one Darren McGavin not the ersatz one that CBS tried to foist on us last year.

    8. Took me a couple stories to warm up to him but ended missing him when he cut and ran after only 1 season.

    9. Jury still out, but I think he may be good, just wish he wasn’t a ringer for Frodo. AND THANK GOD THEY GOT RID OF billie piper, she was bloody awful.

    1. Re: The Doctor(s)

      1. The rebroadcast resulted in the scheduled “Telegoons” episode not being broadcast.
      3. Jon Pertwee was indeed a brilliant actor – also a superb voice man, as evinced by his radio work (“Waterlogged Spa” “The Navy Lark”)
      4. Brilliant man. Totally….

      Not much of a Who fan these days….getting old, don’t watch half as much TV as I used to.

    2. Re: The Doctor(s)

      I dunno, I quite like Billie Piper. She was in another thing recently and did quite well in that too. She’s a better actress than she was a singer. Not bad looking, either 🙂

      Doctor-wise, my personal favourite was probably Pertwee, with Tom Baker second, ‘cos they were the ones I watched as a kid.

      The recent series have been mixed, some have been excellent, some just OK.

      and you still can’t beat the original version of the theme tune. I have it on tape somewhere, along with a whole lot of other 60s and 70s radiophonic workshop effects.

    3. Re: The Doctor(s)

      If I recall correctly, The Valyard (or however it is spelled) wasn’t supposed to be The Doctor’s final incarnation, but was described as being between the Doctor’s 12th and Final incarnation. This would mean that at the end of The Doctor’s 12 incarnation, he succumed to his evil impulses and attemped to steal additional life from himself.

      Now The Watcher was supposed to be The Doctor’s final incarnation, sustained by his will as his body was falling appart. That was why The Watcher was able to fuse with The Doctor and help him trigger the regeneration cycle when he was otherwise mortally wounded.


  10. Don’t worry about offending — you’re right, the old special effects suck (and that’s coming from someone who’s been a die-hard Dr. Who fan for the past 20+ years).

    However, the thing is — they had something in those old episodes that most TV/Movies don’t have any more. They had characters that you really cared about and stories that grabbed you and held on. They didn’t need the effects to keep the audience glued to the screen from week to week.

    Admittedly, in the UK this was also a children’s series, so that could be part of it too. 🙂

  11. I got introduced to the good Doctor when I was 12 by an uncle. My dad and I both got hooked immediately. Baker was our first doctor, remains the only one my dad likes (though he hasn’t seen the newest one; I think he’d approve), and I have wanted my own Whoscarf ever since… closest thing I have is a Gryffindor scarf, which is geeky, but in a very different vein.

    Dad always said “imagine how cool this could be with a decent effects budget,” and by and large I think the newer eps have proven him right. The secret is that the writers don’t _depend_ on the effects. They depend instead on the characters, and that’s much better than a lot of TV.

    …And be honest, Billie Piper wasn’t there to act well. She was there to look pretty, and in my opinion, she did that quite well, indeed.

  12. The real shocker is to look at the old series SFX and the new series SFX, and to realize they were essentially shot with the same budget. Doctor Who has always been shot on a shoestring budget, but these days you can get some pretty nice looking shoestrings for very little money.


  13. If you like Tom Baker in this role, go back and watch “Nicholas and Alexandra.” He plays Rasputin brilliantly. When he’s on-screen, you can see why the czarina fell under his spell. Oh, and in one of the Sinbad movies, he’s the evil sorcerer.

    On a side note, what about inventing an electronic screwdriver?

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