Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover

Doctor Who
The Moonbase


Starring: Patrick Troughton
Distributor: BBC DVD
RRP: £20.42
Certificate: PG
Release Date: 20 January 2014

The TARDIS arrives in the year 2070 at the moonbase which controls the world’s weather. The base is in the midst of a plague outbreak, which is in fact a poison planted by the Cybermen. The Doctor, Jamie, Polly and Ben arrive, but Jamie is quickly injured leaving the rest to discover and repulse the invading Cybermen...

The Moonbase (1967) was the sixth story of season four of Doctor Who. The story was written by Kit Pedler and directed by Morris Barry. This is one of the incomplete stories, so episodes one and three are presented at animations, two and four are remastered original tapes.

If the plot seems familiar, it’s because it is pretty much a rewrite of The Tenth Planet, the story which first introduced the Cybermen. The show would return to the theme of base under external attack many times, sometimes to good effect, at lot of time because of the lower costs involved.

Pedler had already finished the story when the show decided to keep Jamie as one of the companions, not happy with the idea of a big rewrite Pedler had him knocked out, thereby not having to change much of the tale, what few lines he did have were taken from Ben and some of the bases personnel.

The story saw the introduction of the new look Cybermen. Superior to their cloth covered Swedish predecessors, the modulated vocal continued to create cyber voices which are unnecessarily difficult to understand. The story pretty much follows that first presented in The Tenth Planet, with the spaceship in peril subplot being replaced by one about a plague.

By this point in the show, Patrick Troughton had settled into his role and the interplay between him and his companions seems more naturalistic. The strength and appeal of the story lies somewhere between The Tenth Planet and the far superior Tomb of the Cybermen, with better, more threatening Cybermen. It’s a good story for Anneke Wills` Polly, who gets to do more than run around and scream; consequently she gives one of her more memorable performances, this is aided by impressive guest actors, Patrick Barr (Hobson), Andre Maranne (Benoit) and Michael Wolf (Nils).

The animated episodes work well and the use of light and shade makes some of these sequences more effective than the surviving episodes, although overall there is less movement in these episodes. Some camera movements have been added to try and bring movement.

There are fewer extras on this single DVD disc. You get full length commentaries for all of the four episodes, with episodes two and four having contributions from Anneke Wills, Frazer Hines (Jamie), Edward Phillips and special sound creator Brian Hodgson. Episodes one and three have a combination of commentary and interviews with Pedler's daughters.

Lunar Landing (21 min, 29 sec) is the making of, with contributions from the surviving actors and crew. As per normal it’s a combination of historical and technical information as well as personal recollection of working on the show. You also get a Photo Gallery which has production, design and publicity shots. The disc wraps with a Coming Soon (1 min) for The Underwater Menace as well as the radio times listings, info texts for episodes two and four only.

Taken on its own it’s a vast improvement on the previous release which used telepics to fill in the missing episodes, whilst not perfect the animated sequences allow you to view the story in a more naturalistic way. On the down side you can’t help but feel that this is just an updated Tenth Planet. Still as we wend our way to the last of the releases its nice to see the gaps in the shows long run being filled in.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.

icon icon