Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Romans

This is four episodes set in ancient Rome, unsurprisingly. As per the norm, a light-hearted holiday turns into a fight for their lives, as Barbara and Ian get captured and made into slaves. By astonishing luck, the Doctor and new girl Vicki just happen to be heading to Rome (well, all roads lead there – it’s the name of part 2) and both groups manage to get themselves out of trouble again without actually running into each other.

Any excuse for fancy dress.

Any excuse for fancy dress.

Seriously, Barbara becomes a servant to the Caesar where the Doctor is pretending to be his new musician, Ian rescues her without the Doctor or Vicki seeing either of them, and they all escape separately! The Doctor even gets into some fisticuffs this time, although his half of the adventure is rather more light-hearted on the whole. I lost count of the number of times he laughed hysterically in this story. Every other line seemed filled with giggles.

"Do you know Freebird?"

“Do you know Freebird?”

Oh, then he gives Nero the idea to burn down Rome.

Overall, a weirdly mixed tone, more jovial than normal, but a fun romp.

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The Rescue

The Hartnell era continues with ‘The Rescue’, a two-parter about a crashed Earth spaceship on an alien planet, but all is not as it seems!

The crashed Earth ship on planet Dido.

The crashed Earth ship on planet Dido.

I rather enjoyed this one, I must say. Keeping it to two parts meant it was tight and to the point, didn’t overreach itself or drag on, and had a good twist at the end, when a terrorising alien threat is not what it appears to be.

The alien Koquillion regularly threatens the two surviving crew members.

The alien Koquillion regularly threatens the two surviving crew members.

They also pick up a new sidekick, Vicki, who is basically Susan’s replacement, but not annoying.

Vicki calls for help from nearby rescue ships.

Vicki calls for help from nearby rescue ships.

Vicki was an orphan prior to joining the crew of the ship that crashed, and she leaves on adventures with the Doctor because she has nothing to stay behind for.

The Dalek Invasion of Earth

The Daleks’ second ever appearance. At this point, they are unbelievably rubbish villains. They’re stupid, slow, and apparently easily subdued by jumping on them and pulling them over. At least they have overcome their inability to move over non-metallic floors, but their only weapon is still a death ray that they rarely use, and apparently are ineffective against vehicles (Barbara runs over three of the them in a massive truck, which was pretty cool, to be fair).

The Tardis lands on Earth... but not the one we know.

The Tardis lands on Earth… but not the one we know.

They’ve got a load of robo-men (brainwashed humans with metal helmets on their heads) serving as underlings, who are also rubbish, slow, stupid and easily susceptible to being hit over the head from behind.

And apparently they took over the Earth! Something about hitting us with a virus first. They do also have pretty powerful flying saucers.

London in the twenty-second century looks remarkably like London in the 1960s. Just sayin'.

London in the twenty-second century looks remarkably like London in the 1960s. Just sayin’.

Once again, the Doctor and companions are unable to get back to the Tardis because some rubble fell in front of the door.

I’m being pretty down on it but it’s actually more interesting than a lot of the stories so far. They’ve also been using more outdoor filming, which is a rare occurrence, although it does make Future London look like 1960s London.

I don’t know when Daleks first started being scary villains, but I don’t think this was it. They’re more comical than anything.

The Daleks' robo-men slaves plant a bomb or something.

The Daleks’ robo-men slaves plant a bomb or something.

The resolution of this story is super-rushed, and makes no sense! A throwaway line about the explosion at the end taking out all the Dalek ships? Really? All of them, the whole world over, caught up in the same volcanic explosion over England? How the hell did that happen?

That said, there is an unexpected departure at the end when Susan stays behind and the Doctor gives a rather touching speech to her from the Tardis before leaving her. He delivers it well – doesn’t even fluff a line!

Overall, quite an ambitious six episodes and one of the more enjoyable so far, albeit lacking in places. Also bonus points for leaving Susan behind – she’s a tedious character. More Chesterton please!

Susan stays behind as the Tardis leaves.

Susan stays behind as the Tardis leaves.

As Susan departs in this story, I will summarise and comment on her role. I didn’t care much for the character. Her role in most stories was to scream at things and talk really fast. Dated melodrama. However, her passion for adventure did go well with the other companions’ more cautious personalities, and her excitement for exploring often rubbed the Doctor the wrong way, or got them all into trouble.
She ends up in twenty-second century London, shortly after the Dalek Invasion has been quashed. Having fallen in love with one of the resistance fighters, David, she admits she finally wants to settle down after all her travels. The Doctor understands and purposely leaves without her, for her own good. She is left behind, but in a place she wants to be, hoping to rebuild the Earth and start a family.

Planet of Giants

Oh my lol they’ve been shrunkeneded! Bravo!
A space-time accident sees the Tardis (and everyone inside it) get shrunk down to tiny size, and it lands in someone’s garden on Earth.

It's all right, this one's dead.

It’s all right, this one’s dead.

With ‘giant’ sets, big insect puppets and some clever trick photography, this story was quite unlike anything I expected to see in the series. They somehow worked a murder plot into it, too.

Trick photography or rear projection puts our travellers in front of a murder victim.

Trick photography or rear projection puts our travellers in front of a murder victim.

In their small size, everything around them happens slowly. The voices of the large humans are too slow and deep to hear properly. This shows rather good attention to detail, as often these sorts of concepts are poorly portrayed. Granted, it’s still impossible for shrunken humans to breathe the relatively enormous oxygen molecules of a normal sized world, but let’s not get too picky!

Susan takes note.

Susan takes note.

At only three parts long, it didn’t drag too much. Quite watchable on the whole.

The Reign of Terror

Right, this was… okay. Meh.

Barbara and Susan are captured. Again.

Barbara and Susan are captured. Again.

The best part was the Doctor walking through the fields of France to some jolly music, then stopping to help some impoverished workers by pretending to find gold and whacking their slave-driving boss over the head, then walking off again. And then later dressing up as some high-ranking out-of-town official by visiting a fancy dress shop!

Flawless disguise. Gets you into any prison.

Flawless disguise. Gets you into any prison.

I also love how all French people are really posh British people. Correction: I love how all people are really posh British people. Second correction: I love how EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE is really posh British people!

A couple of the episodes were reconstructed because they were missing. Admittedly, that’s better than having an entirely missing serial. Nevertheless, I was not really interested in this story.

The Sensorites

Oh, hell yeah, proper scary alien looking through the window at the end part one!

PEEK-A-BOO!!!

PEEK-A-BOO!!!

Man, that scene would have scared me witless as a kid. I mean, I vaguely recall being scared by Daleks, and they’re just giant pepper pots!

I quite enjoyed these; I prefer the sci-fi stories over the historical ones. Here, what started as monster type aliens, become humanised very quickly once they go down to their planet. Then there’s a few episodes where the treacherous alien tries to gain control and kill the humans in various ways, then this final episode where it all wraps up in the last five minutes!

I really can’t get my head around the pacing of these old serials. Is it because they didn’t know from one episode to the next how many each story they would need to have? Is that why you have episodes where nothing happens at all, and then episodes where the whole plot has to be crammed into the last five minutes? Like in this one, we discover the human survivors, what they were were doing, the Doctor stops their plot, and reveals the identity of the bad alien, and gets his Tardis key back, and then right at the end even gets into a ten-second argument with Ian where he promises to throw him of the ship-THEENDCUTTOCREDITS! Perhaps they were all written this way far in advance, but the pacing is baffling.

This is also the first time that the Doctor and Susan have spoken about where they come from, another planet (as yet unnamed), and that part of the reason they’re still travelling because they can’t easily direct the Tardis back home.

Telepathic communication through the power of... stethoscopes?

Telepathic communication through the power of… stethoscopes?

The Sensorite costumes were terribly bland, but their face masks were effective, cleverly hiding the exposed jaws of the actors by having them covered by big bushy beards. I did find it ridiculous that any Sensorite could pass for a high ranking official just by stealing his sash! But that’s the joys of sci-fi, looking at alien concepts and playing with them. This society has no notion of lying or deception, so it only took one bad egg to throw them into disarray. It could have been explored more, I felt. Again, very rushed ending.

"I am the leader... because of my sash."

“I am the leader… because of my sash.”

Onto the French Revolution next, apparently…