Doctor Who: The Moonbase DVD review

Plodding Sixties serial The Moonbase has some of Patrick Troughton’s best Doctor Who moments.

Following the similarly themed Power Of The Daleks and The Underwater Menace, it was the new dictionary definition of that old Doctor Who staple, the Base Under Siege, and it introduced what is objectively the absolute best look for the Cybermen, but does a part share in better future serials really make 1967’s The Moonbase a classic?

Not really. In many respects the story is a slightly dull and weakly padded retread of The Tenth Planet back at the beginning of the ’67 series, but following so soon after the Cybermen’s debut it firmly cemented Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis’ haunting creations as ‘the other Daleks’.

Like The Tenth Planet a key character spends most of the adventure unconscious (Frazer Hines’ still-new Highlander Jamie, instead of Bill Hartnell’s ailing First Doc) and like The Tenth Planet, there’s a pleasingly multicultural hue to the research station and like The Tenth Planet, defeating the Cybermen hinges on them being unable to resist the power of physics – on the South Pole it was radiation, on the Moon it’s gravity.

It’s still very much the pseudo-scientific golden age before they decided they didn’t like gold.

On the upside Ben (Michael Craze) and Polly (Anneke Wills) are slightly less annoying as companions – Ben’s “Cor blimey” has been toned down a bit, and Polly gets to do something plot relevant in addition to making coffee for the blokes – but it’s having Patrick Troughton in the big black coat that really makes the difference.

Even the weakest Second Doctor story can be lifted by Troughton’s formidable acting talents – bringing a touch of the Hammer horror reaction shot to his sudden realisation of the Cybermen’s whereabouts, and providing the first real definition of the Doctor as we now know him.

“There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things,” he says forcefully, as spines tingle everywhere. “Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought.”

With the first and third parts lost to time, Planet 55 Studios, who managed an excellent Cosgrove Hall-ish job for Reign Of Terror and The Tenth Planet, animate the missing episodes in a tonally seamless fashion. There’s a fairly basic documentary too, but more comprehensive commentaries and interviews.