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Posts Tagged ‘31 Classic Doctor Who Monsters’

31 Classic Doctor Who Monsters #31: Sutekh the Destroyer

October 31st, 2012 No comments

Truth to tell, most Doctor Who monsters aren’t all that scary. But one managed to give me the willies without moving a muscle. The final entry in my October countdown is the villain who even the unflappable 4th Doctor treated as a stone-cold menace…

Sutekh the Destroyer!

Pyramids of Mars (1975)

How do you manage to terrify a Time Lord without leaving your chair? Well, glowing green eyes help, as does a sepulchral voice provided by actor Gabriel Woolf. (Woolf also voiced the Beast in The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit. He’s just that evil.)

The last living representative of the Osirans, Sutekh was so immensely strong that it took his brother Horus and 740 of his fellows to bring him low. Even then he was only imprisoned in an Egyptian pyramid, held immobile by the Eye of Horus hidden millions of miles away on the planet Mars. When his tomb was disturbed, Sutekh dominated the mind of archaeologist Marcus Scarman and through him sought his freedom. Aided by mummy-shaped service robots and various Egyptian-themed pieces of alien tech, he eventually forced the Doctor to bring Scarman to the Pyramid of Mars.

How bad was Sutekh? So bad that he could’ve single-handedly laid waste to the entire Earth, as the Doctor proved to Sarah Jane Smith when he took her forward in time to view the blackened remains that would result if the two of them failed to stop the evil Osiran.

And yet, even Sutekh occasionally needed help. Watch the following clip closely. After millenia of imprisonment, Sutekh the Destroyer arose from his throne…revealing the hand of the BBC crew member who was holding down his seat cushion. (The Hand of Sutekh is clearly visible at the :36 mark.)

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this month-long look back at the fiends and foes of classic Doctor Who! I’m probably going to take a few days off from blogging after this marathon, but come back soon for more geekery!

31 Classic Doctor Who Monsters #30: Azal the Daemon

October 30th, 2012 No comments

As I mentioned Sunday, it’s been a common convention of Doctor Who to explain away supernatural entities as alien lifeforms. Another trope was to give those selfsame aliens all of the credit for our human accomplishments.

Last week I discussed Scaroth, who not only impelled our development but also inadvertently provided the initial spark for all life on Earth. Joining him was the Fendahl, who charted the course of our evolution. On the modern series, the Silence were said to have influenced our technology to their own ends, and the Racnoss prodded the formation of the Earth itself. Really, it’s a wonder we manage to get out of our beds in the morning without alien intervention.

Before all of the above, however, there was the goat-legged giant of Devil’s End…

Azal the Daemon!

The Daemons (1971)

The titular Daemons were an ancient race who helped early humanity win out over the Neanderthals. They then stuck around to give us a friendly shove, somehow overlooking all those Jagaroths, Fendahleens and Silents doing the same thing. The Daemons were said to have destroyed Atlantis, which must’ve been news to Kronos the Chronovore.

The last of his kind, Azal and his spaceship were buried beneath the Devil’s Hump in rural England. Awakened from suspended animation by the Master, the Daemon intended to grant his great power to a worthy successor. He ultimately chose the 3rd Doctor as his heir. Angered by the Doctor’s refusal, Azal attempted to smite the Time Lord until Jo Grant threw herself between them. Somehow, this irrational act of self-sacrifice caused him to short-circuit like a Star Trek computer who had gotten on the wrong side of James T. Kirk.

Azal may have been a Daemon, but he was no match for a deus ex machina.

Tomorrow: dust and darkness. It’s the end of the Halloween countdown, but the moment has been prepared for.

31 Classic Doctor Who Monsters #29: Kronos the Chronovore

October 29th, 2012 No comments

Thanks to the Internet, I can now pinpoint the exact day and date that I first watched Doctor Who. According to an exhaustive listing of Chicago PBS station WTTW-TV’s airings, I find that my very first time was Wednesday, December 10, 1975.

That turned out to be episode one of The Time Monster, a 3rd Doctor story. As someone whose only prior knowledge of Doctor Who came from the two Dalek theatrical films made in the 1960s, it took me a little while to get up to speed on U.N.I.T., the Master and the Time Lords.

The Time Monster is typically dismissed by Whovians, but for 11-year-old me it was quite a trip. Over six episodes the Doctor encountered soldiers from England’s past, visited Atlantis and fought a minotaur. Chasing the Master through time, their two TARDISes wound up nested inside each other like a pair of transdimensional Russian dolls. And that wasn’t accounting for a terror from the Space/Time Vortex…

Kronos the Chronovore!

The Time Monster (1972)

The Chronovores lived outside normal existence and, as their name suggested, actually consumed time itself. Kronos was said to be the most powerful of the lot, and was worshiped by the citizens of ancient Atlantis. Unfortunately, its primary manifestation turned out to be a stuntman flapping around the BBC studio in a bird suit. So, somewhat less impressive than its reputation.

The Master summoned the Chronovore from its crystal prison, hoping to bend the creature to his will. This went about as well as you might expect, and Atlantis took the brunt of Kronos’ wrath.

While there’s been no explicit connection between them, the Chronovores seemed to share some similarities with the Reapers seen in the 9th Doctor story Father’s Day.

Tomorrow: chap with wings, five rounds rapid!

31 Classic Doctor Who Monsters #28: The Malus

October 28th, 2012 No comments

I’m going to spend the last few days of October writing about some of the demons and gods of the Doctor Who universe. While the Doctor has encountered any number of religions and cults, the show itself has never really weighed in on the existence of an afterlife or a big-G god. With the possible exception of the Beast in the 10th Doctor story The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit, seemingly supernatural forces inevitably turn out to be extraterrestrial and/or technological in origin.

Consider the devilish creature encountered by the 5th Doctor in an English village church…

The Malus!

The Awakening (1984)

The Malus was an advance scout sent to Earth by the warlike Hakolians. It took physical form as an enormous stone face embedded behind a church wall, and also appeared as a smaller, imp-like psychic projection. In either mode, it subsisted on the negative psychic energy generated by violence. It hoped to turn the village’s historical reenactment of the Battle of Little Hodcombe into the real thing.

Tomorrow: I tawt I taw a tweety bird!

31 Classic Doctor Who Monsters #27: The Cheetah People

October 27th, 2012 No comments

The final storyline of the original Doctor Who series was ironically titled Survival. The name was neither a reference to the show’s cancellation nor a call for its eventual resurrection, but rather the first word in the phrase “…of the fittest.”

When the 7th Doctor brought his friend Ace back to her English home of Perivale, the two found themselves hunted both by the Doctor’s mortal enemy the Master and his fluffy friends…

The Cheetah People!

Survival (1989)

These living snack food mascots had a curious symbiotic relationship with the unnamed planet that was their home. Visitors to that world inevitably became more bestial before mutating into anthropomorphic cats with the unlikely ability to spontaneously teleport themselves across light-years of space to hunt fresh prey.

Unfortunately, the aggression of the Cheetah People was in turn causing the planet to shake itself apart. Things only got worse when the Master–partially transformed into a feral creature–engaged the Doctor in a violent struggle. Fortunately, the Cheetah world’s influence allowed the Doctor to zap himself back to England before the final fireworks. The Cheetahs themselves vanished to parts unknown, though some later found lucrative work at “furry” conventions. But that’s a story for another blog.

Tomorrow: Malus aforethought!

31 Classic Doctor Who Monsters #26: Mr. Sin

October 26th, 2012 No comments

The Talons of Weng-Chiang was one of the most well-regarded classic Doctor Who stories. A pastiche of Victorian crime tales, it had the 4th Doctor in Sherlock Holmes mode (complete with deerstalker) in pursuit of a Ripper-like murderer of young women. However, what I found most intriguing about the script was not so much its spot-on depiction of fog-shrouded London, but rather its brief evocation of far future Earth.

The titular villain turned out to be Magnus Greel, a war criminal from the 51st Century who fled in a faulty time cabinet. The journey distorted his DNA, forcing him to drain the life essence of his victims to maintain his twisted existence. In recounting Greel’s backstory, the Doctor made reference to having been “with the Filipino Army at the final advance on Reykjavik.” The Filipinos’ role in a war to determine to fate of Iceland–Iceland!–was left to viewers’ imaginations.

Another strange detail of this unseen future was the nature of Greel’s murderous assistant, a ventriloquist’s dummy going under the assumed name of…

Mr. Sin!

The Talons of Weng-Chiang (1977)

Played by Deep Roy–who has one of the best stage names ever–Mr. Sin was a cyborg better known as the Peking Homunculus, a sinister creation whose sole organic component was the cerebral cortex of a pig. And every once in a while, the swine took over.

It turned out that pigs think an awful lot about killing all humans. Left at the controls of a laser cannon, Mr. Sin began blasting away at friend and foe alike, snorting all the while. Shudder.

Tomorrow: cheetahs never prosper!

31 Classic Doctor Who Monsters #25: Scaroth, Last of the Jagaroth

October 25th, 2012 No comments

When Whovians discuss which episodes of classic Doctor Who make the perfect entry point for newcomers, one that frequently comes up is City of Death. Co-written by then-script editor Douglas Adams (of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame), City wasn’t just funny, it also employed a clever sci-fi plot in which a scheme to steal the Mona Lisa became a threat to the very origin of life on Earth. Add to that scenes of Tom Baker and Lalla Ward cheerfully swanning around famous Paris attractions, and even a cameo by John Cleese.

Not to be outmatched by any of the above was a star turn by movie bad guy Julian Glover (The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) as the tragic villain of the piece, a spaghetti-headed cyclops named…

Scaroth, Last of the Jagaroth!

City of Death (1979)

“Last of the Jagaroth” was no idle boast. Scaroth truly was the only surviving member of his race, and even he was barely hanging on. During a failed attempt to blast off from primordial Earth, the sole remaining Jagaroth spaceship exploded, spreading Scaroth across time. Splintered into twelve fragments scattered throughout history, Scaroth’s avatars worked together to influence human development. Their ultimate goal was to build a device that would allow them to travel back hundreds of millions of years and prevent the ship’s destruction.

If massive mucking around with the timelines wasn’t enough to get the Doctor’s attention, there was also the little matter that the radiation released by the exploding Jagaroth craft kickstarted the primordial soup that eventually led to all humankind.

How did the Mona Lisa figure into it? Well, you see, one of Scaroth’s splinters was buds with Leonardo da Vinci, and convinced the artist to paint six copies of what would eventually become his most famous work. Centuries later, another splinter was able to steal the original from the Louvre, then sell seven genuine Mona Lisas to finance his time-travel experiments.

I told you it was clever.

His final avatar, Count Scarlioni, was a well-respected art lover married to a beautiful human woman played by Catherine Schell. While it wasn’t explicitly laid out, it was pretty clear that the Countess realized that she was playing the role of a “beard.” But even she didn’t realize the true nature of the Count’s secret life.

Tomorrow: they call him Mister Sin!

31 Classic Doctor Who Monsters #24: The Quarks

October 24th, 2012 No comments

I’ve long contended that one only resorts to the Cybermen when the Daleks are unavailable. If the Cybermen won’t take the call, there are always the Mechanoids. But if the Mechanoids are enjoying their weekly bowling league, and the War Machines and Robots of Death are also otherwise engaged, I guess that you could do worse than to hire…

The Quarks!

The Dominators (1968)

Let’s face it, the Quarks were not exactly terrifying. Robotic drones in service to the humanoid Dominators, the Quarks were boxy constructions with fold-out arms, stumpy legs and heads resembling spiky disco balls.

I suppose that they could’ve been dangerous–perhaps–if one lacked the ability to slowly walk away from them. A gentle slope would’ve been a serious impediment to their motive power, and a strong headwind could stop a Quark invasion in its tracks.

The Doctor Who comics of the ’60s attempted to build up the Quarks into major adversaries of the 2nd Doctor, and the episode’s writers got into a beef with the BBC about the presumed merchandising appeal of their creations. But aside from a brief cameo during the final episode of The War Games, they have yet to toddle their way onto our screens again.

Tomorrow: the last of the Jagaroth!

31 Classic Doctor Who Monsters #23: The Drashigs

October 23rd, 2012 No comments

In the days before computer animation, the Doctor Who production team had to make do as needs must. With stop-motion special effects a lengthy, laborious process, their go-to technique for realizing various dinosaurs and other giant monsters was good, old-fashioned puppetry.

The results, unfortunately, tended to be memorable for the wrong reasons. Take, for example…

The Drashigs!

Carnival of Monsters (1973)

Though they were native to one of the moons of Grundle, the 3rd Doctor encountered them in one of the artificial environments inside a Miniscope, a sort of trans-dimensional zoo in which various captured species were kept in a miniaturized state for the amusement of paying customers.

Their six googly eyes may not have instilled fear in the minds of most adult viewers, but they obviously impressed the Doctor’s companion Jo Grant. In the next story, Frontier in Space, the Master’s hypnotic device caused its victims to see what they most feared. For Jo, the most terrifying thing in the universe was a toothsome hand puppet.

Tomorrow: Quark! Quark!

31 Classic Doctor Who Monsters #22: The Zygons

October 22nd, 2012 No comments

What becomes a legend most? If you’re a Doctor Who monster, it’s when you’ve got a cool hook, a well-realized design and a nifty spaceship. Oh, and having the Loch Ness Monster at your beck and call is a plus.

I am referring, of course, to the fondly-remembered denizens of that dark Scottish lake…

The Zygons!

Terror of the Zygons (1975)

Despite appearing in only a single televised story, the Zygons are frequently cited by old-school Whovians as being deserving of a comeback on the new series. Why the love?

Well, they were one of the better-designed monsters, with a convincing combination of rubber octopus suit and facial prostheses. (Okay, you did have to overlook that their leader Broton clearly had a microphone embedded in one of his chest suckers.)

They also had a couple of signature gimmicks: “body-print” chambers that allowed them to disguise themselves as other species, and an organic spaceship interior that predated the 9th Doctor’s “coral” TARDIS by three decades.

Their fleshy, organic tech extended to their mastery of cybernetics, culminating in the creation of the Skarasen, an enhanced plesiosaur-like giant that over the years had developed a reputation as the most famous inhabitant of Loch Ness.

The Zygons have yet to make an on-screen appearance in the new series…or have they? In this year’s The Power of Three, the 1890 hotel to which the Doctor took Amy and Rory was later revealed to have been built over a buried Zygon spaceship. We’ll never know for sure which of the hotel staff may have been among the ranks of disguised Zygons.

Tomorrow: the most dangerous monster in Puppetland!