It's fair to say Doctor Who is the Keshcologist's time-travel anthology show of choice. Yes, yes, we remember Crime Traveller (which, I'm guessing, came about once the Beeb realised the 1996 TV pilot with Paul McGann wasn't being taken forward); we long for a DVD release of Ken Campbell as Erasmus Microman (which, I'm guessing, came about after he nearly got chosen as the Seventh Doctor, and decided to do his own take on it anyway for ITV); we have undimmed fondness for The Magician's House (which was based on a series of children's books but, I'm guessing, was taken forward by the promise of Ian Richardson being uncannily Doctor-ish on a Sunday teatime). But it's the longevity and endless elasticity of Who that weaved itself into the mindcloth of our woolly little heads. Here are a few stories you may wish to check up on, for context.
The Mind Robber (1969)
The Doctor's time-machine, the
TARDIS makes a sudden emergency detour and gets sucked into an
alternative universe, the Land of Fiction. The hastily cobbled-together first episode takes place
in a white void, and ends with a spooky and iconic shot of the Police Box
exploding, and (the very saucy) Wendy Padbury clinging onto the central
console as it spins off into darkness. The costumes and props were mainly made up of whatever was available from other shows, and daft plot points included Patrick
Troughton having to put Frazer Hines's face back together - he does so
wrongly, and a different actor plays Jamie for the next episode!
Further listening: I Almost Died
The Daemons (1971)
Swishy style icon Jon Pertwee arrives in a stuffy English village where the vicar, a Reverend Magister, is revealed to be his arch-nemesis the Master, attempting to summon up evil hairy god Azal from the dawn of time. Maypoles, morris men, sacrifices, "chap with wings - five rounds rapid", it's ludicrous and archetypal and a rollicking good yarn in the Hammer vein.
Further listening: Village of Death
Sailing ships in space, can you imagine? A race around the solar system, the crews plucked out of Earth history to traverse the solar winds and compete for the ultimate prize - enlightenment. Delightful whimsical concept well executed with neat model shots of the racing vessels. Plus - it's deliciously camp; I direct you to Turlough's troubles in the lower decks, and the fearsome space pirate played by... Nurse Gladys Emanuelle?!
Further listening: Enlightenment
Vengeance On Varos (1985)
The clown-coated Doctor arrives in a seedy world of trial by television, live executions, gunrunners, drugs... oh and there are evil interplanetary commodity traders who are talking molluscs. It pushes the concept of how dark you can make kids' entertainment, and lo and behold a couple of weeks later Michael Grade announced the show was being put on hiatus.
Further listening: Weapons Expo
The Happiness Patrol (1988)
An anti-Thatcher fable with forced jollity the way of life - the TARDIS gets painted pink so as not to depress the people - but don't worry, the trickster-like Doctor will defy the system. (Script editor Andrew Cartmel's job interview: "What would you most like to
achieve during your time on Doctor Who?" "I'd like to overthrow the
government.") Features a hilarious executioner who looked like Bertie Bassett, and who killed people by drowning them in hot sweets. This is one a lot of people our age seem to remember.
Further listening: Climate Dance