Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Mythmakers

The Doctor and co take part in the siege of Troy! Obviously this means they get captured and/or split up again and the Doctor has to help the Greeks build their giant wooden horse, etcetera, etcetera.

Fight!

Fight!

Amongst the predictable plot, there were some enjoyable characters, although I was disappointed that Achilles didn’t get shot through the heel. Vicki and Steven take on the names of Cressida and Diomedes, and play their roles in the legend. She falls in love with Hector’s brother Troilus and ultimately stays behind with him.

"Is there a doctor in the horse?!"

“Is there a doctor in the horse?!”

Steven gets wounded at the end as the Doctor gets them out of there in the Tardis. One of Cassandra’s hand maidens, Katerina, joins the Doctor and Steven in the Tardis, and into the next episode(s). Will she be a permanent replacement for Vicki? That could be interesting. She still seems to think the Doctor is a god and the Tardis is his temple. Since Troy was being destroyed, chances are she would have died with the city had she not come with the Doctor and Steven.

All four episodes were reconstructed from audio and photos, with the odd video clip and text description. They were watchable but it’s quite action-heavy so it suffers from not being able to see what’s going on more than some of the other reconstructions.

Vicki stays behind.

Vicki stays behind.

As Vicki departs, I will summarise and comment on her role.
A young and inexperienced crew member of a crashed Earth spaceship on a remote planet. She joins the Doctor, Ian and Barbara almost immediately after Susan leaves. She is basically Susan’s replacement, a very similar character, taken under the Doctor’s wing. She has a cheeky sense of humour and an adventurous spirit, but she doesn’t spend as much time screaming or being captured, so this makes her automatically better. As a character from the future, she often has insights into things that Ian and Barbara do not. She’s not around for very long. Like Susan before her, Vicki falls in love and decides to remain behind to rebuild a civilisation. Like Susan, she is safe and happy to stay behind.

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Mission to the Unknown

An episode that doesn’t feature the Doctor at all, or any of his companions. ‘Mission to the Unknown’ (aka Dalek Cutaway) instead focuses on three human astronauts who all end up dead by the end of the episode, but not before uncovering a Dalek invasion plan.

The Space Council members have a conflab.

The Space Council members have a conflab.

As I understand it, this was intended as a teaser for the 12-part Dalek epic that’s coming up, and I thought it was quite effective. Unfortunately, no video material exists, but from the photos at least you could tell the scenery, ship and costumes looked quite convincing and the story was pretty bleak.

It’s spoiled somewhat by the council of one-dimensional alien villains explaining their plan to invade Earth, and in the mixing up of space terms, confusing galaxies with solar systems and so on. Being made in the 60s is no excuse for poor research.

The spacemen try to warn Earth of the danger.

The spacemen try to warn Earth of the danger.

The Daleks are made out to be a serious threat here, with their empire stretching out across space, but if I’m being picky, shouldn’t that mean the Doctor would have known about them when he first arrived on Skaro in the future? I guess that’s time travel for you.

Galaxy 4

Much of this is reconstructed from fragments and pictures, but I am determined to watch every single episode regardless of its condition!

A bit of a shame, as the state of the surviving audio is very poor throughout. So much so that I missed some bits of dialogue that were too muffled. Fair play to the reconstruction team for what they’ve managed, but some subtitles wouldn’t have gone amiss!

Captured by Chumbleys!

Captured by Chumbleys!

Anyway, I got the gist of it. A doomed planet and two different groups trying to leave in their crashed ships: the Amazonian-like Drahvins and the grotesque Rills and their creepy robot drones. It turns out the humanoid women are the bad guys and the rubber suit things are the good guys, thereby teaching kids a valuable lesson in something or other.

The Drahvins.

The Drahvins.


The Rills.

The Rills.

Altogether too much footage of the little robot ‘chumbleys’ driving around making the same irritating noises over and over.

The Time Meddler

New guy Steven snuck aboard the Tardis at the end of The Chase, so he’s now the second companion. He’s amusing, but he’s no Ian. He just doesn’t have that “Science Teacher With An Adventurous Spirit” thing going on. It’ll never be the same again. (Sad face.)

New bloke Steven is not impressed by the Doctor's helmet.

New bloke Steven is not impressed by the Doctor’s helmet.

Still, that now means the Doctor isn’t travelling with any present day (well, 60s present day) companions anymore – both Steven and Vicki are from the future.

The Meddling Monk tries to tamper with the Tardis.

The Meddling Monk tries to tamper with the Tardis.

Anyway, I enjoyed The Time Meddler. I did not expect it to be another Time Lord with his own Tardis, even though he’s never referred to us such. In fact, much of the Doctor’s back story (regarding his species and planet) is a mystery at this point.

The Monk's own Tardis undergoes an unfortunate transformation, leaving him stranded.

The Monk’s own Tardis undergoes an unfortunate transformation, leaving him stranded.

It was fun to see the other Tardis disguised as something else, referencing the Doctor’s “inferior” version, etc. The character of the meddler was enjoyable to watch, and the “what if” scenario of a time traveller breaking the rules was enjoyable. The 1066 setting allowed for a bit of history, and as the story didn’t rely on special effects or complex props, it has aged relatively well compared to something set on an alien world.

The Chase

It starts off fine, if a little silly. Time-travelling Daleks, giant octopodes, and Ian dancing around the Tardis to the Beatles – what’s not to love?

The Doctor's new time scanner picks up the Daleks. And the Beatles on Top of the Pops.

The Doctor’s new time scanner picks up the Daleks. And the Beatles on Top of the Pops.

Moving onto parts 3 and 4, we get an episode set on the Empire State Building in New York (complete with bad accents) and then on the Marie Celeste… fine, silly but fun.

Daleks board the Marie Celeste as they chase the Tardis through time and space.

Daleks board the Marie Celeste as they chase the Tardis through time and space.

But then there’s haunted house. Oh dear god WHAT?! This story definitely takes a turn for the weird. It was a theme park attraction? So, they were actors? But they were invulnerable to Dalek laser? What? WHAT?!!

Poor production, too. Cameraman shadows all over the set, audio cutting in too early.

And then robo-Doctor at the end, for some baffling reason played by a different actor even though he’s the only one in shot (and they’re saying he’s indistinguishable from the original). Wow.

A frankly bizarre turn of events in a haunted house. A low point for the series so far.

A frankly bizarre turn of events in a haunted house. A low point for the series so far.

But anyway, aside from the ridiculous haunted house episode, I thought ‘The Chase’ was pretty good, particularly the final part where the Daleks and the robo-spheres have a massive shootout and their whole city explodes. And then Ian and Barbara leave and go back to London. Sad times.

On the final planet of the Tardis’ escape (they land on a planet originally set for human colonisation), one of the robo-spheres’ captives is Steven, whose survey ship was damaged and couldn’t leave, and he’d been held captive by the robotic inhabitants for many years waiting to be rescued. When the robot city is destroyed, Steven escapes, lagging behind the Doctor, and sneaks aboard his Tardis shortly before it departs.

The planet Mechanus, where Steven is held captive. This place goes BOOM!

The planet Mechanus, where Steven is held captive. This place goes BOOM!

As Ian and Barbara depart, I will summarise and comment on their role.
I can’t talk about one without the other; they arrive together, they leave together. Both Susan’s teachers at school, Ian is probably the best character so far; he handles the serious and the silly perfectly. His natural curiosity as a teacher of science lends itself well to the stories, and he manages to tackle the physical roles too. Barbara is similar, and she plays off of Ian and Susan very well, but she doesn’t get many good roles or chances to shine. She is briefly an Aztec goddess, which is about the most she gets to work with. She’s the sympathetic voice, kind and caring, but can handle herself well too.

They end up back in 1960s London, luckily! At the end of The Chase, they convince (eventually) the Doctor to rig up the Daleks’ time machine to send them back home. It’s the only chance they’ve had, since the Tardis could not be so accurately controlled. They arrive back in present day, the time machine self destructs, and they presumably get back to their normal lives… although not before a delightfully silly montage of snapshots of them both touring around the sights of London.

The Space Museum

A serial in four parts, the first of which is quite a cool creepy sci-fi thing with a “timey-wimey” time travel twist. Starts pretty well. Slow, but mysterious.

The Doctor and co see themselves turned into museum attractions, having jumped a time track into the future.

The Doctor and co see themselves turned into museum attractions, having jumped a time track into the future.

After that, it becomes a more standard fare, with our heroes trying to figure out how to escape their fate of becoming museum attractions. They touch upon the futility of escaping a fate they’ve already witnessed, how choice is pointless without knowledge (something the Matrix sequels went on about in a more bloated and wordy fashion) and it all ends rather anti-climactly with the planet’s original inhabitants (with really silly eyebrows) launching a coup and taking over the place with ray guns that make screaming sounds.

The Doctor is captured, interrogated and even tortured for a while.

The Doctor is captured, interrogated and even tortured for a while.

Fashion disasters aside, it was reasonably entertaining, and ends with a teaser clip of the Dalek story coming next…

The Crusade

Parts 2 and 4 reconstructed. The glacial pacing and melodrama make for some hard watching sometimes. This is just yet another “Doctor meets famous person from history” story (Richard the Lionheart this time), nothing especially interesting and a bit formulaic now.

Barbara is captured. Again.

Barbara is captured. Again.

Really, there’s little more to say about this one. It was very, very dull.

I have noticed the Doctor is getting more and more giggly with each passing story. I shall call him the Chuckling Doctor from now on – quite a change from his first appearance when he was a grumpy old man smacking cavemen over the head with rocks.

The Doctor meets Richard the Lionheart.

The Doctor meets Richard the Lionheart.

I am getting slightly irritated by his constantly adding “hmm?” to the end of every single sentence. To be honest, I’m not much of a fan of his acting, but I’ve still got another ‘season’ before his first regeneration happens, so… hanging in there and hoping for some better stories soon.