Category Archives: Tegan

Resurrection of the Daleks

It’s time to wheel out the pepper pots again, as the Daleks return from the brink of annihilation to retrieve their creator Davros, after losing horribly in their war with the Movellans. How the Daleks ever managed to survive before Davros was retconned into their genesis, I will never know!

The Supreme Dalek observes events through its crystal ball.

The Supreme Dalek observes events through its crystal ball.

Resurrection of the Daleks has a rather complicated plot, particularly by the standards of most Dalek episodes. Although the Daleks free Davros from his space prison, they are not under his command and want to merely use him to find a cure for their deadly virus. Likewise, Davros is unhappy with the Daleks and wants to create a new breed. But the Daleks are also after the Doctor, having snagged him into a time tunnel and pulled him to 1980s Earth, which is also where they’re keeping the virus samples and from where they’re taking humans and then cloning them and brainwashing the clones to use as slaves, and hope to create a clone of the Doctor to invade Gallifrey and kill the Time Lord high council [breathe], all the while Davros tries to reprogram his Daleks to obey him instead. Ambitious bunch, aren’t they?

There are lots of meaningless deaths in this story, the most memorable of which is when one of the fake-policemen shoots some poor sod on the beach.

There are lots of meaningless deaths in this story, the most memorable of which is when one of the fake-policemen shoots some poor sod on the beach.

With all the twists and double-crossings, even between Daleks, it’s hard to know what’s going on at any one time or what anybody’s motivation is. Many of the ideas aren’t expanded upon. The Daleks creating genetic duplicates of humans and brainwashing them could be a huge deal, but they’re basically just slaves or “Dalek agents” to do their dirty work for them. The briefest of concern over a possible invasion at the end is just shrugged off with “oh, don’t worry, the clones are unstable”. Riiiight.

A brainwashed clone of Stien attaches the Doctor to the mind scanner. His performance is poor, even after we learn of his true nature.

A brainwashed clone of Stien attaches the Doctor to the mind scanner. His performance is poor, even after we learn of his true nature.

Davros is Davros, of course, and as over-the-top as ever, but is becoming a generic babbling villain now, with repetitive prose. The Doctor, however, seems to have developed a more ruthless side to him, since he has no qualms with killing the Dalek mutants, nor Davros himself. Who says the Doctor doesn’t use guns? Ultimately, Davros is left to die on the spaceship as it explodes due to the conveniently named “self destruct room”, but is this really the end of him? I can’t believe it. Besides, the Daleks have time travel; they’ll find a way back. I do hope next time it’s a more straightforward adventure. Sometimes less is more.

The Doctor finally confronts Davros in a dramatic conclusion.

The Doctor finally confronts Davros in a dramatic conclusion.

This story sees Tegan finally decide to give up the stressful life of adventuring and stay behind on Earth, not unlike several others before her. It’s not the first time she’s considered leaving the Tardis behind, but this time it is for good. A reluctant companion from the offset, Tegan was caught up in the adventure by accident, but stuck around for a surprisingly long time considering how much she complained about everything. Her departure is a reminder to me that Davison’s tenure is almost up. It’s strange, it feels like it’s barely started.

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I didn’t really think the Tardis was destroyed at the end of part 1 – let’s be honest, that’s never going to happen – but if such a thing were to occur, it would have to be in a far more interesting story than this, and in a manner far less mundane than being caught in a meteor shower.

The Doctor looks good in glasses; he should wear them more often.

The Doctor looks good in glasses; he should wear them more often.

Gravity is the theme here, and a race of Tractators are using it against a crashed Earth colony to smash its people with meteorites, drag them underground, and eventually turn the planet itself into a mobile home. For some reason that is never explained, the colony leaders want to control the flow of information and keep this whole underground business hush-hush amongst the colonists. Predictably, the Doctor and company are accused of being the aggressors, there’s a power struggle amongst the colonists, and frankly by this point I was bored.

I like how the Doctor saves Tegan by pretending she's a robot slave. Speaking of robots, what has happened to Kamelion since he joined the crew?

I like how the Doctor saves Tegan by pretending she’s a robot slave. Speaking of robots, what has happened to Kamelion since he joined the crew?

There are a few things that kept my interest. Turlough recalling his ancestral memories (what?) about the Tractators, leading to a superb piece of overacting. I like Turlough; it’s as if he knows he isn’t going to be in the show very long so he overdoes everything. He’s never dull, I’ll give him that. There’s also some funny business with a hatstand, which apparently the colonists have never seen before and they think it’s a gun or something.

Get back or I'll shoot you... with hats.

Get back or I’ll shoot you… with hats.

There is definitely potential in this idea, but it’s so blandly presented. The direction is poor, particularly where any action is involved, and the Tractators are just your typical silly-looking rubber suit monsters. The odd bit of gruesome imagery, such as the corpse of Captain Revere controlling the mining machine, goes some way to make this memorable, but nothing else resonates. A mediocre effort overall.

The Awakening

The Awakening is another two-part story and, as such, presents a comparatively lean adventure. Nevertheless, as a story of an advanced alien probe spawning a devil-like creature, feeding off of “psychic energy” (Doctor Who sure does love its psychic energies), opening a rift into the 17th century and brainwashing a village of war reenactors, it is by no means small, but it does have to rely on a lot of clumsy exposition to push things along.

The face of the Malus is quite excellent.

The face of the Malus is quite excellent.

It’s all a bit wishy-washy, really, with giant faces, psychic projections and ghostly apparitions thrown into a melting pot of bizarre happenings. The imagery and implications are quite dark, admittedly, and the brainwashed Hutchinson is an entertainingly mad villain, but I found it unbelievable how the whole village just went along with his progressively weirder requests. There is an uneasy atmosphere to the proceedings, where you’re not quite sure how serious everybody is being, whether the threats are real or all part of the game.

It isn't shown, but this guy totally gets his head cut off... right?

It isn’t shown, but this guy totally gets his head cut off… right?

I think they could have played up the “are we in the past?” angle a bit more, or played into the “mysterious happenings in a quiet village” theme, where everyone is acting strangely. Maybe a longer story would have done that, but then again, there is something to be said of a story that doesn’t drag for the sake of it. There’s sadly not much time to develop Tegan’s character or her relationship with her grandfather, which turns him into just a plot device and a reason for Tegan to go wandering off. Oh well.

Warriors of the Deep

Whenever I hear the word “Silurians”, I can’t help but hear it in Jon Pertwee’s posh lispy voice. It’s been a long time since they or their Sea Devil cousins appeared in Doctor Who, in two fairly poor serials, and now they’ve teamed up for round three.

The Sea Devils look like samurai. With ray guns. They are awful shots, though.

The Sea Devils look like samurai. With ray guns. They are awful shots, though.

Although the rubber suits are better, the story sadly isn’t. A group of surviving Silurians has awoken an army of hibernating Sea Devils and plans to attack an underwater base and use it to push the Earth into a nuclear war, wiping out the “primitive” ape life and reclaiming the surface for their own kind. As ever, this comes down to a clash of opposing sides, Silurians versus humans, and, despite the Doctor’s reservations, always results in one side snuffing it. I just don’t think the Silurians and the Sea Devils are interesting foes. There could be a good story to tell, but this is just your typical monsters/aliens attack story.

The inevitable end, but the Doctor doesn't like being forced to kill.

The inevitable end, but the Doctor doesn’t like being forced to kill.

It’s not even particularly well done. Yes, the costumes are a lot better (particularly the Sea Devils – their military armour is a massive improvement over their awful chain mail), but there’s still that very cheesy “man in a rubber suit” effect that dates it so badly. The Myrka is even worse. Ambitious though it may be to have a giant quadrupedal lizard roaming the halls of a sea base, it just looks so bad; it’s like an oversized pantomime horse. The shootouts are cramped and badly staged, the laser effects weak and ineffective, and when Dr. Solow fights the Myrka, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry – she does some sort of judo kick slash interpretive dance in front of it, before it zaps her. It’s so hilariously bad, in fact, that I’m going to link to a clip of it.

"Roaarr!"

“Roaarr!”

On the plus side, the actual sets are well made, with a clean white aesthetic and one room even features a pool! Some of the miniature model work is nice, but you don’t see much of it. The computer stuff is in a dated 8-bit retro style, but the concept of a human/computer interface is at least nicely sci-fi-y, although it amounts to nothing in the end.

The sea base control room.

The sea base control room.

As for the Doctor, I think he’s developed an edgier personality, or the writers just wanted an excuse for him to have more fights. He gut-elbows and face-kicks a couple of the security guards before threatening to blow up their reactor “to keep them busy”. Granted, it’s arguably self defence, but it’s a bit more vicious than his usual routine, and let’s ignore the fact that he’s just infiltrated a secure military facility and shouldn’t be there anyway. I blame the new haircut.

The Five Doctors

Following on from the 20th season is this remarkable anniversary special, originally broadcast to celebrate the show’s 20th year on the air. To replicate the original experience, I would have preferred to have seen the originally broadcast version, but circumstances led me unwittingly to the special edition released much later, with some of the visual and audio effects updated, so I can only comment on this version.

The Doctors meet!

The Doctors meet!

Much like The Three Doctors, the story is little more than an excuse to get the previous incarnations of the Doctor together, plucked out of time and placed inside an elaborate ancient war game. It’s a shame that Tom Baker decided to opt out and that William Hartnell was no longer alive, as this special really ought to be called “The three and a Half Doctors (plus friends)”, but that’s not as catchy. Nevertheless, it’s a delight to see Patrick Troughton (does that man not age?!), and Jon Pertwee back again, while Richard Hurndall takes over as the first Doctor, and some previously unseen footage from Shada is used to explain the fourth Doctor’s absence. Clever!

Trapped within a maze of mirrors, the first Doctor and his granddaughter Susan are reunited. How's that non-existent pocket of 22nd century post Dalek-invaded Earth been keeping you, Sue?

Trapped within a maze of mirrors, the first Doctor and his granddaughter Susan are reunited. How’s that non-existent pocket of 22nd century post Dalek-invaded Earth been keeping you, Sue?

Despite the absentees, The Five Doctors is a glorious celebration of the show’s history, using every available cast member, reference and villain it can reasonably squeeze into its 100 minute runtime. I genuinely had no idea that a 20-year older Carole Ann Ford would return to play Susan, nor the cameos by Jamie, Zoe, Liz and Yates. And that’s on top of a bright yellow Bessie, Lethbridge-Stewart, The Master, Yetis, Cybermen and a Dalek all running around the battlefield (there’s even time to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!). It’s a smorgasbord of nostalgia, a who’s who of Who, and it’s quite amazing that it all works so well.

Turlough doesn't have much to do in this story, but Tegan accompanies the first Doctor into the tower, while Susan remains in the Tardis.

Turlough doesn’t have much to do in this story, but Tegan accompanies the first Doctor into the tower, while Susan remains in the Tardis.

Essentially, the story splits and jumps back and forth to follow each Doctor and a companion as they each take a different route up to the tower of Rassilon. This allows them some breathing space (as well as time to reminisce with old friends), but it does make the story a little scattershot, never settling in one place for very long, until a satisfying culmination towards the end. The lack of arbitrarily dramatic cliffhangers is a blessing; this is just one epic feature without cuts.

Sarah Jane is still Sarah Jane, panicked and often hyperventilating. The third Doctor is still the third Doctor, determined and confident. I swear he cops a feel of her boob at one point.

Sarah Jane is still Sarah Jane, panicked and often hyperventilating. The third Doctor is still the third Doctor, determined and confident. I swear he cops a feel of her boob at one point.

The fifth Doctor is the anchoring point, but he spends much of the story on Gallifrey, outside of the Death Zone, where he uncovers the President’s secret plans for immortality. Yes, sadly, there is corruption on Gallifrey yet again. This is becoming an embarrassing cliché and I can’t blame the Doctor for not wanting to stick around as President. He does get a brief moment to meet his past selves, which is nicely done. You can get a good sense of how the different versions of the Doctor vary. Davison is definitely the least eccentric of the bunch, a normal and level-headed type by comparison. Pertwee and Troughton play their roles much as they ever did, despite the years in between, and Richard Hurndall does a reasonable job of approximating some of Hartnell’s performance, although it would have been more authentic if he’d fluffed his lines a few times and ended all his sentences with “hmm?”.

Lord President Borusa gets more than he bargained for when Rassilon grants him immortality.

Lord President Borusa gets more than he bargained for when Rassilon grants him immortality.

The Five Doctors is hardly a masterpiece of imagination, then, but it’s nevertheless well made and a lovely tribute to the history of the show. The sort of silly-but-fun “why the hell not” exercise I can easily get behind. As it’s a one-off special, the budget would appear to have allowed for better production and visuals. One scene in particular is genuinely great, as a robot ninja busts up a legion of cybermen, teleporting around and lobbing arrows at them, causing them to explode and fall to pieces, arms and heads everywhere. Earlier, a rogue Dalek shoots itself in a hall of mirrors and within its exploded remains is its rarely-sighted grotesque embryo. Marvelous!

Total carnage.  I bet Hideo Kojima was a fan

Total carnage. I bet Hideo Kojima was a fan.

Sometimes logic has to fly out of the window, though. For instance, the second Doctor tricks the illusion of Jamie and Zoe by recalling that they shouldn’t know who he is, since their memories were wiped when they were returned to their time zones. But by the same reasoning, how would the Doctor have remembered that, as it happened almost immediately prior to his regeneration and exile on Earth. He would have had to have been pulled from the past moments before this, but there’s no indication this is the case when he turns up to visit the Brigadier. Similarly, why exactly is K-9 with Sarah Jane? Mk.I was left on Gallifrey with Leela and Mk.II was left with Romana (in a black-and-white photograph). I suppose it doesn’t matter, really; some questions are best left unanswered for the sake of a bit of fun, and this was a lot of fun. Job done.

The King’s Demons

Every time the Master turns up now, I’m caught completely off-guard, though it’s good to know 1980s TV makeup, a wig and a bad French accent are all it takes to pull off a disguise. This time, he’s in 13th Century England with a chameleonic robot disguised as King John, attempting to stop the signing of the Magna Carta, which would obviously be very bad for the future of civilisation. By astonishing luck, the Doctor’s Tardis arrives in time to stop him. Phew!

The Doctor and the Master have a sword fight... not for the first time.

The Doctor and the Master have a sword fight… not for the first time.

There’s not much more to say about this one. It’s kind of fun to see period characters reacting to futuristic incursions as though they’re magical, and the writing is more olde worlde style than they usually bother with, which is something. With only two parts, it’s a shorter story than most, and quite a breezy way to wrap up the season. With its emphasis on history, it’s almost a throwback to the old Hartnell historical serials. Quite fitting that the Doctor should be travelling with an alien dressed as a schoolboy, as this incarnation is basically like a teacher on a field trip.

Tegan is distrustful of the Tardis's new recruit. Again.

Tegan is distrustful of the Tardis’s new recruit. Again.

Shockingly enough, the robot, Kamelion, is not a man in a shiny suit. It’s an actual animatronic, and probably the most remarkable part of this otherwise forgettable story. Freed from the Master’s psychic influence, he’s now tagging along with the Tardis crew. I guess the producers wanted to get their money’s worth out of it.

Enlightenment

Enlightenment brings the Black Guardian ‘trilogy’ to an imaginative and surprisingly satisfying close. What first appears to be a simple Edwardian sailing ship is actually a space vessel that’s been modelled after one, as part of a space race around the solar system against others ships crewed by people pulled from Earth’s history by a group of bored ‘eternals’.

The space race, redefined! The ships are equipped with solar sails and vacuum shields, so although it's fanciful, it's not completely magical. How cool is that?

The space race, redefined! The ships are equipped with solar sails and vacuum shields, so although it’s fanciful, it’s not completely magical. How cool is that?

The Eternals might as well be gods, since they usually exist outside of time and space, can read the minds of mortals and create anything from nothing. What the Doctor quite rightly reveals is that being all-powerful isn’t actually all that, and mocks the Eternals for their reliance on mortals to keep them amused, to give their lives meaning and purpose, even while they consider themselves superior beings. But we are made to feel sympathetic towards them, as the First Officer develops feelings towards Tegan, becoming enthralled by her mind but failing to understand why.

In spite of everything else, I couldn't help wonder how Tegan grew her hair. Did she put a wig on? Did an Eternal magic some new hair for her? This is clearly of vital importance.

In spite of everything else, I couldn’t help wonder how Tegan grew her hair. Did she put a wig on? Did an Eternal magic some new hair for her? This is clearly of vital importance.

With the Black and White Guardians pulling the strings, we have a rather high concept situation here, not unlike something Douglas Adams might come up with. The gods controlling the mortals, while the gods of gods control them. The Doctor is just a small part of a bigger picture, and yet his involvement is humble and believable. The resolution, although a bit schlocky, is quite sweet, with Turlough earning his ‘enlightenment’ through making the right choice, and seeing the Black Guardian off into a burst of flame.

Winner takes all.

Winner takes all.

Speaking of Turlough, he does spend a lot of the story either sucking up to win favour or crying to the Black Guardian for help, but there’s something rather entertaining about how over-the-top he is. He’s far more engaging than Nyssa was, although it remains to be seen if he mellows out now that he’s free of his contract. The Black Guardian continues to be a bad pantomime villain, but somehow this fits in with the godly chess game theme. The Eternals range from emotionless to crazy, with the pirate captain Wrack overacting in all of her scenes. It’s never less than fun, though.

Turlough is picked up by the pirate ship after a spectacular space jump.

Turlough is picked up by the pirate ship after a spectacular space jump.