DVD Preview: The Moonbase
“Resistance is useless”. The Cybermen return to cement their place in the pantheon of enduring Doctor Who villains, in this month’s DVD release, The Moonbase.
2070: the tides and weather on Earth are controlled from a station on the Moon. When the TARDIS lands on the lunar surface, the Doctor, Polly, Ben and newly-joined Jamie discover the base has been over-run by a mystery plague epidemic. As men begin to go missing and Jamie succumbs to the virus, it's down to the Doctor to work out who is behind the attack...
An exclusive clip from the animated episode three. After the failure of their covert invasion of the Moonbase, the Cybermen begin a frontal assault:
The deeper dive
- The Moonbase marked the return of the Cybermen, after their initial appearance four months previously in William Hartnell’s swansong The Tenth Planet. The costumes were vastly overhauled, but the notion of emotionless distantly-related humans, with mechanically replaced bodies, remained.
- The adventure begins immediately after the previous story The Underwater Menace, with Polly still in Atlantean clam-shell garb, and the male companions in wetsuits. It ends dovetailing directly into the following adventure The Macra Terror, with a giant claw appearing on the scanner.
- Only episodes two and four remain in their original form. The first and third installments have been reconstructed using off-air soundtrack recordings and animation by Planet 55 Studios, who were responsible for the recent recreations of The Tenth Planet and The Reign of Terror.
The making of documentary - Lunar Landing - has some lovely reminiscences from Anneke Wills, Frazer Hines and Cyberman Reg Whitehead, among others. Chief amongst the anecdotes must be Whitehead recalling how one of the Cybermen was “peed on by a stray dog” while the monsters were posing for press shots outside Ealing Film Studios. The animated episodes depart from the normal DVD commentary track, by featuring a mixture of new and archive interview material from contributors and relatives. The recollections of (Cyber co-creator and writer of The Moonbase) Kit Pedler’s daughters, including that he built a “nuclear bomb” in the garage, illuminate a fascinating man, cut short before his time. And watch out for a coming soon trailer for The Underwater Menace!
In many ways, The Moonbase is a slicker reworking of The Tenth Planet, with the Cybermen gaining confidence and menace from their new design, gaping dead eyes and buzzing voices. Troughton too seems more confident than in his first few stories, finding the right blend of gravitas and silliness that would come to typify his tenure as the Doctor. It’s also a story full of tension – indeed, all three cliffhangers are delightfully spooky and iconic. Real behind-the-sofa stuff.
The bottom line
“There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things that act against everything we believe in. They must be fought.”
Region 1 – 11 February 2014 (US, Canada)
Region 2 – 20 January 2014 (Europe, Japan, Middle East, South Africa)
Region 4 – 22 January 2014 (Australia, New Zealand, South and Central America)
Please note: release dates are provisional and subject to change