February 18: "Coronas of the Sun" / "The Feast of Steven"

(The Daleks' Master Plan episodes 6 & 7)

Last time the Daleks had cornered the Doctor, Steven, and Sara on the planet Mira.  But fortunately it's the Visians, 8-foot tall invisible creatures, to the rescue as they choose that moment to attack the Daleks and let the travellers make their escape by making off with the Daleks' spaceship.  This is followed by a lengthy sequence in the ship (which curiously makes the same "ship traveling through space" noise as the Earth ship Spar did) where the Doctor creates a duplicate taranium core to fool the Daleks with.  But it needs to be energized somehow, which Steven does with a very dangerous piece of technobabble that nevertheless almost kills him -- and let's just take a moment to appreciate how a good a scream Peter Purves lets loose.  This also has the effect of surrounding Steven in a forcefield that withstands a Dalek blast -- so he's able to make his escape into the TARDIS back on Kembel without harm.

This is yet another episode that probably looked better than it sounds, as it's concerned mainly with making the fake taranium core and the consequences of those actions.  At least the Daleks get a couple good lines though: "You make your incompetence sound like an achievement," the lead Dalek says to Mavic Chen after he attempts to convince the Daleks that he intended for the Doctor and company to be transported to Mira.  But beyond that, this seems like another episode marking time rather than significantly changing events or anything like that.  And this is the second episode in a row with a nice-sounding title that doesn't actually seem related to the events of the episode.

The Doctor has a chat with Bing Crosby. ("The Feast of
Steven" -- off-air photo taken by Robert Jewell.  From The
Destruction of Time - Off-Air Photos
But now it's time for Doctor Who's first ever Christmas episode, "The Feast of Steven", which chooses to take a break in the middle of this Dalek epic and have some fun instead.  "The Feast of Steven" also has the dubious honor of being the least likely missing episode to ever be recovered, since there's no evidence that it was ever telerecorded -- certainly it was never offered for sale and wasn't part of the Daleks' Master Plan package that Australia passed on.  Which is a bit of a shame, because it sounds like it was quite fun.

The first half takes place in a police station, where the Doctor, Steven, and Sara each in turn head into the police station to either rescue the others or because they themselves have been arrested.  This is also the sequence where one of the first Doctor's more famous lines comes from: "Your ideas are too narrow, too small, too crippled... You might say that I am a citizen of the universe, and a gentleman to boot!"  Of course, what's less well remembered is the constable's reply: "He's having us on a bit, isn't he, sir?"

But after the shenanigans in the police station there's a quick reminder that we're in the middle of a serial ("I'd forgotten about the Daleks," Sara says), and then it's off to Hollywood in the silent era.  This part is less successful, in part because it's clearly visual; it's like listening to the soundtrack of a Three Stooges short and trying to imagine what's going on.  Peter Purves does his best narrating the soundtrack (even if he seems to be putting on a bit of a funny voice at times), but alas, this is a sequence that was probably best seen rather than heard.  Still, it's still charming in its own way.  And then it all ends with that (in)famous moment where William Hartnell turns to camera and wishes the audience "a Happy Christmas to all of you at home!"  And we have a photo to prove he turned to camera, too.  And thus ends Doctor Who's only 20th-century Christmas episode.