The Moonbase is an absolutely cracking little serial, and of all these missing stories, this story has such a wealth of photographic and audio material still existing that one can enjoy the story almost as it was originally intended. As with The Crusade, the Lost in Time DVD contains both existing episodes and the soundtracks to both the missing episodes, making the BBC Radio Collection CD virtually redundant. I say virtually, because I managed to get an extra bit of mileage out of mine, using the soundtrack with Frazer Hines narration in synch with the telesnaps on the BBC website to create a decent little reconstruction of Episodes 1 and 3!
I actually rate this story above both The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Wheel In Space, and although I prefer The Invasion as a story, this is definitely the best proper Cybermen story of the Troughton era (the Cybermen we later see in The Invasion are overshadowed by Tobias Vaughn and UNIT. They barely even speak.) Surprisingly for a television show that aired in 1967, The Moonbase has a very realistic feel. The weather control device on the moon is populated by a very cosmopolitan crew, and the design of the place isnt as cringe worthy as other contemporary takes on the future. The story is also very good; fast-paced and exciting. The first episode sets things up wonderfully; Morris Barrys direction is particularly good as he uses shadows of the Cybermen to build up the suspense Joe Ahearne used a similar trick with the Daleks recently in Bad Wolf to similar effect, so Barry must have been doing something right! Sadly, lovely little touches like this dont work on audio, but when combined with telesnaps you just about get the picture.
For the most part a tense and claustrophobic story, much of the plot revolves around the Doctor and his companions investigating the strange plague that is slowly killing the crew of the base. Like certain eagle-eyed viewers at home, the Doctor knows it is the Cybermen behind the plague, but he just cant convince the crew of that until it is too late However, Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis script certainly isnt without humour; and quite clever humour at that. The Moonbase is notorious for the sexist treatment Polly has to put up with, not only from the make a cup of coffee, Polly Doctor, but also from just about everyone else she comes across in the story!
Not you, Polly. This is mens work!
And so Doctor Who is hammered by critics for being sexist, which at times is a fair criticism but not here! These critics forget that it is Polly alone who creates the pollycocktail that destroys some of the Cybermen! If anything, in having Polly help save the day, the writers of The Moonbase were actually taking the piss out of sexist people, not endorsing sexism!
The Moonbase isnt perfect though. As with the previous story, Frazer Hines Jamie is given little to do as the result of being written in at the last minute. Hes unconscious for the first episode, and then spends half the serial in sickbay with a fever. Moreover, after four years of television the Doctor finally visits the moon which is great, but hes accepted far too easily by the crew for my liking. And finally, after all the hype surrounding the Cybermats, they dont really impress at all. The story about how they carry the plague is clever and works well, but sadly the visual effects of the time werent quite up to the job.
Images of the Cybermen coming out of the sewers near St. Pauls Cathedral, or emerging from the Ice Tombs of Telos are burned into the memories of so many Doctor Who fans, but I would argue that the Cybermen marching across the surface of the moon with that evocative stock music (the same piece used in The Tomb of the Cybermen) playing is just as enduring an image... Its a shame its missing.