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10-3: "Frontier In Space"


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#1

Lantern7

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Posted Mar 8, 2011 @ 1:19 PM

October 2010. I'm in the middle of a rough three-day weekend at the New York Comic Con. While exiting a panel, I notice people getting interviewed. Turns out BBC America is interviewing people for their website, asking them about why they like Doctor Who. Normally, I wouldn't be interested, since I feel like I don't come off well on camera. But they're dangling lots of carrots in the form of BBC DVDs on the floor. I wait, I get interviewed, I'm told to take one of the sets, and I decide to go with the biggest, most expensive-looking thing I could find: the "Dalek War" box set.

The basic story: The Doctor and Jo are drawn into intrigue between the great empires of Earth and Draconia. The first two episodes go mostly like this:

Human Official: You're working for the Draconians! Admit it!

Doctor and/or Jo: No, we're not!

(one battle scene and capture later . . . )

Draconian Offical: You're working for the humans! Admit it!

Doctor and/or Jo: No, we're not!

(process repeat)

Okay, I'm probably not being that fair, but that's what it felt like. Basically, a third party uses the fugly Ogrons and fear-inducing devices to try and spark a war between the empires. That party is the Master, and things do pick up when he makes the scene. There's lots of fighting, Jon Pertwee kicking ass as the Doctor, and Robert Delgado managing to be diabolical without hamming it up too much (hello, Mr. Simm!!) as the Master. Both sides have their share of radicals and doves, so there's no real evil aside from the Master (and maybe the Ogrons he employs, but they're dummies). And there's a huge scene in the sixth and final chapter, where it turns out that the Master was working with another party to take over the galaxy, and that leads into "Planet of the Daleks." Crap . . . I spoiled the surprise. Oh, well.

What do you guys think of this story?

#2

HauntedBathroom

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Posted Mar 8, 2011 @ 5:22 PM

Not much, which seems to be my current response to discussing old stories. I do like Old Who, honest! But this story is hidjously padded. As you pointed out, it is just capture/escape/capture/escape/crap, it's the Master/repeat as required.

The best thing about this story is the appearance of the blancmange monster that the Ogrons all fear, because... "A monster came!!!" You've got to laugh. But to be fair, once you've watched Planet of the Daleks in the second half of this set, this story seems a lot better in retrospect.

And it's not a fitting farewell to Roger Delgado, who is the Master with the smallest ambitions, and so seems more credible.

#3

Carlos1969

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Posted Mar 12, 2011 @ 9:29 AM

It was okay; not bad, but not good either. I like the Draconians; I'm surprised that they haven't made a return to the series. I think there were some good ideas in the initial script, but it should have been four episodes long, instead of six.

#4

O2Sean

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Posted Mar 15, 2011 @ 7:46 AM

The main reason Delgado's Master seems more credible to me is because he isn't hamming it up all the time, as Ainley and Simm did, very embarrassingly. There is no menace and no connection between later Doctors and Masters. I can't believe that this is the same character who would go on to Tigger jump his way through an episode.

I usually enjoy these stories, even with the padding, because I liked the Doctor/companion relationship so much, and there are some fun scenes, like Jo distracting the Master with her constant talking while the Doctor gets away. But I do think the lethargy was starting to show, and it is all over the next story, Planet of the Daleks.

I watched this on DVD some months back and I have to credit Clayton Hickman for having such a fun and adaptable personality when he leads commentaries. The commentary on this was Katy Manning, Barry Letts, and Terrance Dicks, and he gets some good insights, and makes them laugh, and it's a positive experience. It's also nice that Barry got to talk about so many of his stories - so many who were in them are no longer with us, and he passed away last year (or 2009 - I think it was last year), so these were able to capture him in a setting you just can't get in a regular interview.

He was very upset about the ending to the story, because the Ogron eater, or whatever, was supposed to be fearsome, yet the special effects were terrible. He said the director mangled the ending and they couldn't fix anything properly so it just had to go out the way it was. On another DVD, Revenge of the Cyberman, they talk about the fans who waited and waited to get to see stories after only reading the novelizations, and how reality didn't compare to the book. One of those moments was the battle at the end of Frontier in Space.

Roger Delgado's last story was supposed to be Jon Pertwee's last story, I believe, some sort of battle to the death where viewers would learn that the Master and the Doctor were two sides of the same being. That never happened because Roger was killed while the script was being written.

#5

teflonwoman

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Posted Aug 6, 2011 @ 7:44 AM

After watching all of new Who, I've started watching the original Doctor Who. I decided to begin with "Frontier in Space" because that's what was airing when I was born. It stars John Pertwee as the Third Doctor, and Katy Manning as his companion, Jo Grant. Written by Malcolm Hulke, "directed" by Paul Bernard.

Cheesily bad effects: check. Endearing though.
Rubber-mask aliens: check.
Terrible BBC production values: see above.
Slooooow... Can be a good thing, because it lets me do other things while I'm watching?
Leaden acting: All of the characters are pretty much indistinguishable, even the Doctor. Pertwee plays the role completely straight, without a single quirk.
Predictable writing: There are pretty much no surprises whatsoever: They set everything up as obviously as they can, and then hit you over the head with it until you beg them to stop.
Lazy editing: Make that no editing. Not even a single reaction shot or anything. Those scenes DRAG.
No humour whatsoever.
No running! (Though there are a number of terrible fight scenes.)

I'm assuming this was one of the worse episodes. I can't imagine the show would have survived otherwise.

Random observations:
Jo Grant has awesome clothes, and looks like Carey Mulligan.
This was basically a Star Trek episode without the humour.
I recognized London's South Bank from my work for the CCA. I wonder how the architects felt about having it used as a futuristic prison/government building. I also got pretty excited when I saw my first quarry shot.

#6

Beatriceblake

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Posted Aug 27, 2011 @ 3:24 PM

I do like Old Who, honest! But this story is hidjously padded. As you pointed out, it is just capture/escape/capture/escape/crap, it's the Master/repeat as required.

It is hideously padded but I do enjoy the section where The Master kind of rescues Jo from the futuristic prison. I also like the bit where she complains about intelligence work and then The Master finally twigs and says "We'll let you know Miss Grant". It kills me that he always addresses her as Miss Grant by the way.

It's also fun to see the Master passing the time by reading War of the Worlds. I love the relationship between Delgado's Master andf Pertwee's Doctor.

Really though anything above a four part episode was too long. Even good stories like "War Games" have far too much padding.

Edited by Beatriceblake, Aug 27, 2011 @ 3:26 PM.


#7

HauntedBathroom

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Posted Aug 28, 2011 @ 6:24 PM

Well, The War Games was an emergeny patch when a 4 and a 6 part story fell through. The six part story tended to either be a four parter grossly extended (see Monster of Peladon) or a 2x4 bolted together (see Seeds os Doom). That rarely justifies their length, but they cut the costs.

Edited by HauntedBathroom, Aug 28, 2011 @ 6:29 PM.


#8

lacorelli

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Posted Aug 29, 2011 @ 9:37 AM

It is hideously padded but I do enjoy the section where The Master kind of rescues Jo from the futuristic prison. I also like the bit where she complains about intelligence work and then The Master finally twigs and says "We'll let you know Miss Grant". It kills me that he always addresses her as Miss Grant by the way.


I so love the scenes with Jo and the Master. I love how terribly polite the Master is to Jo, and I also love how he always refers to her as Miss Grant. Jo, the Doctor, and the Master had such an interesting relationship. I always felt that the Master rather envied how very loyal Jo was to the Doctor. Kind of like he wished he had a pet like that if only it could be trained to not chew the furniture or in her case not have that pesky moral compass thing.

One scene that tickles me is when they arrive on the Ogron Planet and they're walking down the quarry, how hard Roger Delgado is trying to stay in character while also trying to make sure that Katy Manning doesn't trip and break her neck (she was very nearsighted). It's also so funny when Delgado asks her in the prison scene if she wants "to stay here for the rest of your natural."