The Moonbase : Part 4
First broadcast March 4th 1967 @ 5.50pm (8.1m viewers)
‘The Moonbase’ is Patrick Troughton’s fourth story in the role and saw a swift return of the Cybermen following their success in ‘The Tenth Planet’. A bit more money was spent on the creatures, resulting in a dramatic redevelopment of their appearance, adding to a truly memorable moment which cemented their place as one of the programme’s key returning villains.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
Much of the strong imagery in Doctor Who which resonates with viewers long after episodes have been broadcast features the monsters and ‘The Moonbase’ sees one of the earliest examples of this strategy, although the first occasion was arguably the Daleks in London as a part of their invasion story broadcast in 1964. At the conclusion of Part 3, reprised at the beginning of this episode, the Cybermen are seen marching across the Moon’s surface beautifully shot by Director Morris Barry. A seemingly endless procession of boots with their silver suits and helmets glinting in the light all send chills up the spine of the viewer and would inspire many more scenes when the monsters are coming. Few can forget images of the Cybermen on the streets of London or Sea Devils or Marshmen rising from the water, for example.
Of course, the Doctor prevails and repels the Cyberman attack forces and the story would serve as a template for the structure that many stories would take for the rest of the Troughton era, the ‘base under siege’. This itself is a development of ‘The Tenth Planet’, the Snowcap tracking station in Antarctica being infiltrated in that story and becoming the Moonbase weather facility in this adventure. With all these ‘base under siege’ stories the Doctor is confronted by a leader, in this case Hobson, and needs to convince them of his knowledge and helpfulness in the situation. Troughton doesn’t dominate the story, sharing the burden of explaining events with Hobson and his second in command Benoit, with his trio of companions largely sidelined, with Jamie notably incapacitated given his recent addition to the team. Ben on the other hand comes across very well, seemingly very knowledgeable about science for a sailor, possibly because Michael Craze took some of Troughton’s lines to bulk out his part.
As a template and taken in isolation ‘The Moonbase’ is an excellent adventure story. The Cybermen are imposing, yet infiltrate the base stealthily, making them a far more credible threat and even more terrifying, plus the dynamic between the characters makes for a thoroughly enjoyable watch.
Also first aired On This Day…
- The Sea Devils : Episode 2
- The Invasion of Time : Part 5