Saturday, 11 May 2013

The Moonbase

No rest for the wicked! I moved onto this tale, ‘The Moonbase’, which saw the return of the Cybermen in a plot that was rather similar to that of ‘The Tenth Planet’ – your basic base under siege tale.
Naturally enough, ‘The Moonbase’ takes place on the moon. Kudos for the team for attempting to do ‘the moon’ in the first place! They had to create a set for the moon, and they did that pretty well. The actors then had to mimic weightlessness, which they also did a decent job of. It was story where they attempted a lot of different and difficult things for the time and budget, and although some things didn't really work, all in all it was a pretty good stab.
Cybermen on the surface of the moon!

The gravitron, far from being a ride in an amusement park, was a device used to control the Earth’s weather through gravity. It keeps hurricane out in the ocean and things like that. Actually not that big a device considering what it does, it was still as big as they could afford to make it in the studio space they had. It is manned by another international crew, the commander thankfully not being a maniac like General Cutler of ‘The Tenth Planet’ was.

The Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie arrive on the moon, whilst aiming for Mars. They go for a walk out on the Moon in space suits that don’t look particularly effective or realistic. The people of the Moonbase have almost identical suits as well, with oxygen being supplied seemingly from a small plastic bottle. I rather liked the odd shape of the plastic helmets, but otherwise the suit was pretty rubbish – a miss for the production team there!
The model shots of the moon base are ok, but don’t quite match up with the interior shots, mainly because the gravitron appears to connected to the control area which can’t be seen on the model shots, or indeed the humans! The Cybermen are using flying saucers which are honestly crap. But hey, they had a lot to create on a very limited budget! Thus budget didn’t extend, clearly, to reinforcing the walls. Some of them certainly did shake, especially when Ben was trying to keep the cyber-controlled patients out in episode four!
As for the story-line, it’s ok but certainly no prize-winner. Cybermen infect the base with a virus, reveal themselves, get kicked out, attack the base, the Doctor cleverly turns the gravitron on the surface of the moon and they all drift off into space. There is some doubt about who the Doctor and his friends are initially, but that’s all sorted out by episode three.
The Cybermen have also had a redesign, and for the better. Gone is the ‘stocking’ element to their costumes, their heads are now fully ‘metal’. That certainly is an improvement. The voices are now more electronic, and whilst the idea is good, the realisation makes it very hard to understand exactly what they are saying. Their weapons are more efficient, and they can zap people from a hole on the top of their foreheads which is kinda neat.
It’s much better than ‘The Tenth Planet’. It’s not as confusing, not as silly. I mean sure, the Cybermen sneaking into the moon base regularly to poison the sugar is a bit on the silly side, as is the scene where they are flung into space, but it’s all good fun. Unlike ‘The Tenth Planet’, none of the guest characters are in the slightest way interesting. They whole guest cast is functional. Patrick Barr plays the controller of Moonbase, Hobson, and is very strong, and Andre Marrane is Benoit, his French offsider. The cast is solid, but no-one is given an interesting character to portray.
Ben and Polly (Michael Craze and Anneke Wills) do there bit, and poor Jamie (Frazer Hines) is delirious in bed for much of the first half, and does little after that. I believe he wasn't originally in the story though, so had to be added. Patrick Troughton's Doctor is growing all the time now, and plays the role of investigator well. It suits his Doctor well.
Robson in control.
It was nice to have a couple of episodes to watch, as I head into the next story which is completely missing. I believe there is a DVD release on the way, possibly with animation. A good choice!


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