The Moonbase (1967)

The Moonbase is a story that sadly no longer exists in its entirety on film. This story was featured on the Lost in Time DVD with the two parts that exist mixed in with the two that don’t. This was the first time that the Second Doctor encountered the Cybermen and it was an impressive outing. The story does have similarities to The Tenth Planet in that the Doctor and his friends arrive in an isolated place that is under attack from the Cybermen that is about as similar as it gets really. I just love the claustrophobic feel of this story as it’s not like anyone can just walk out and travel to the next village or vice versa.

The writer’s (Kit Pedler & Gerry Davis) have done a great job in writing a story that continuously keeps the drama and tension up through out the four episodes. In fact they wrote on of the best quotes in Doctor Who history.

“There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought!”

I like the different nationalities that are represented. It creates the impression that in 2070 (when this story is set). All nationalities are working together in relative peace with the strong British leader not standing for any nonscene. In fact Hobbs is a more likeable version of General Cutler in The Tenth Planet. The reason why he is better is that there isnt the emotional thing that Cutler had with his son. Hobbs is still sceptical of the Doctor at the beginning but comes round to his way of thinking once the Cybermen move into the story.

The early part of the story is about the mystery of what or who is killing the crew of the base. It’s not revealed straight away that it’s the Cybermen and that’s very clever by the writers. Morris Barry as the director also does a great job creating some visually stunning moments like when the Cybermen are walking across the service of the moon. It’s the perfect point to comment on the new design of the Cybermen. In their first outing they still looked human but with bits and bobs glued onto them. In The Moonbase, they look a lot more mechanical. I do like this design because it looks like some money has been spent on it whereas the old design whilst I think is a nice design does look cheap.

The regular characters are still finding their feet as it was Patrick Troughton’s fourth story and it was the second one with Jamie as a companion and it’s the classic ‘crowded TARDIS’ syndrome where Jamie is sidelined. He spends the first half of the story either in a coma or suffering from a fever. This is the story where Polly actually shines for once as she comes up with the polly-cocktail. Patrick Troughton is quite good despite this still being early in his run. There’s a sense that the Doctor isnt always the smart figure that he later becomes when it takes him such a long time to figure out what is going on. Michael Craze is sort of in the middle of the action which is a shame really.

The Moonbase is a fine story has some strong characters, good sets, good directing and also some cracking music. This was the golden era for the Cybermen because of all their encounters with the Doctors over the years, it’s the Troughton stories that are the best and this story has to be in the Top 3.

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