The War Machines – Story #027

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Jael’s Judgment:

Wow, what a different intro!

It’s always odd to realize that a new companion doesn’t know who the Daleks are. Especially since I know who they are. And I haven’t been on all that many adventures.  But if you ever see a little blue box fly up there in the sky, you shout for me. Oh you just shout.

They actually called him Doctor Who. I don’t like that at all. Just sounds wrong. 😦

The Royal Scientific Club, is that really a thing? And battle bots!

“When you’ve seen the ages I’ve seen, you won’t use the term quite so freely.” -Doctor in reference to Ages. No wonder the Doctor seems so exhausted, come his 9th & 10th regenerations.

  • Story Grade: B

Tony’s Take:

Ever wonder what a boxy Dalek would look like?  Wait no longer!  If you watch this story, the last full story of the First Doctor that we’ll likely ever have, you get to see these great robots in action.  The WOTAN and the War Machines are not as menacing as the Daleks, but the story holds up surprisingly well.  This is another classic sci-fi plot, human vs. robot/computer/machine.  Artificial intelligence, as we know, can be a great thing, but hopefully we also know the point at which we should stop relying on machines.

Point of note: Be on the look-out to see the actor inside of a war machine.  You’ll be able to see him clearly in the black rectangular “mouth” for a longer than desirable length (a couple long seconds).

I am sad that we will be saying goodbye to William Hartnell soon.  Sure he was crabby, old, and didn’t do a lot of acting in the last year or so, but he was the original.

  • Story Grade: B-
  • Not too bad for the first man versus machine story in Doctor Who.  The War Machines are kind of cool, in a “total rip-off of a Dalek” way.

Thank you, William Hartnell.  I mentioned that this is the last full story of his to survive in full; he will be missed.  Thank you, prop department.  you created yet another great 1960s version of an evil robot on wheels, possibly inspiring the battle-bots of today.

battlebots and war machines

The Savages – Story #026

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Jael’s Judgment:

I agree with Dodo, it is funny that the Doctor has no idea of time.

I like that the idea of life force in this adventure includes artistic abilities. Someone very unexpected once told me that creating art is good for your soul. I agree that it an essential part of being a full human being. Art can come out in so many ways, so I wouldn’t want anyone to assume I am limiting it to only painting or some other sort if physical art. But I think that it is important to be able to have that beautiful, immeasurable section of time when you are so lost in what you are doing that everything else melts away. And then to be able to share that very private part of oneself with others. It is important for your well-being.

Steven is leaving. I cannot say I’ll miss him too much, but I did not really see it coming. There’s not much time to get attached to companions over the last several stories. I wonder how much longer Dodo will be with us…

  • Story Grade: A-

 

Tony’s Take:

Ah yes, a story written by Michael Ian Black Ian Stuart Black, sorry.  This is the very common struggle in societies of old and many stories in sci-fi future; the struggle between two “races” of people, where one group believes the others are savages or lesser-beings.

Up until this point, Doctor Who was not really “in your face” with it’s message, but this story definitely hammers the point home.  In later years there will be a phase where every story is a lesson or reflects ideals (whether it’s political leanings or a reflection on current culture), so this story was a bit ahead of its time.

Jael and I live close to a Native American community (the teepee lights at night from the casino serve as a good beacon to get guests within spitting distance of our house), so this story is a brutal reminder of our nation’s dealing with the native people.  Let’s just say that I am glad that the working title of The White Savages was scrapped.  Doctor Who has enough racist, sexist, and other -ist moments in its long history, I’m glad they caught this before adding yet another to the list.

Now back to Michael Ian Black.  I understand that his comedy routine and some of his movies/TV shows might not be certain people’s cups of tea, but there is one thing that I would recommend to ANYONE…  You’re Not Doing It Right.  This book is amazingly funny, and shockingly close to real life.  I am not a book reader, but I LOVED this book.  I urge you, give this book a chance.

  • Story Grade: B-
  • Great message, wouldn’t mind actually seeing if it were ever discovered.  not a classic, but stronger than average.

 

Thank you, Michael Ian Black.  Though this isn’t the forum for such mentions, your book contains more than comedy, though it made me actually laugh out loud many times.  As far as DW thanks, I mentioned this before, but thank you to either Ian Stuart Black or the show-runner, changing the name of the story was only the right thing to do.

The Gunfighters – Story #025

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And now for a new feature on our blog:

GUEST REVIEW!!

We have selected one story from each Doctor that we would like a guest-reviewer to watch (either with us or at their own leisure), and we will include their take on our blog.  Whether they are an experienced Whovian or a complete stranger to the show, we have no qualifications other than the interest by the guest reviewer(s).

So without much more delay, as this post will probably be longer than average, I present, the world premiere of…

Guest Rev-who:

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Name:  Tony’s parents (Far left and far right – my aunt and uncle are in the middle – picture taken in the mid-90s, in a very Gunfighters-y theme)

Blog-link:  None

Can we follow them on twitter?  Nope, but every once in a while I mention them or show them on my stream (@TonyV433).

  • How do you know kroWeW?
    • “We are the creators of one half of kroWeW.”
  • When did you first experience the glory of Doctor Who?
    • “Today, February the 8th, 2013.”
  • How many stories or Doctors have you watched?
    • “None.  Next question.”
  • What is your favorite memory of Doctor Who?
    • Mom:  “We’re making memories right now.”
    • Dad:  “I have no memories.”
  • If you were a companion, where and when would be the one place you’d go?
    • Mom:  “St. Kilian (MN) church in 1965 with my grandma.”
    • Dad:  “I’d want to see King Tut being put in his tomb.  Nope!  I’d want to see the Pyramids being built.”
  • Have you already viewed the story you will be guest-reviewing?
    • “Nope!”

Now this is the point in the review that I tell you that we were staying with my parents and celebrating my dad’s birthday.  As they have teased us about Doctor Who and thought that we were weird for liking such a strange and old show, they were not exactly totally psyched to watch the story.  I asked my dad on the phone, before we went over, if he would like to participate on this blog, and told him they’d just have to give us their opinion about a “movie-length feature”.  I did not tell them that it was going to be Doctor Who until about 2 hours before we started the show.

In the meantime, we celebrated my dad’s birthday by going out to eat:

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This is the photo from the brewhouse/grill that we went in New Richmond, WI.  The place was called Brady’s Brewhouse.  (This is part of my instagram feed, shameless plug.)  After we ate, we went back and made homemade ice cream and got our review on.  So let’s hear their actual opinions…

  • Last, but most importantly, what is your review for this story?
    • “The music was unforgettable,” they said with heavy sarcasm.  “The casting was spot on!” my mom said, again with very heavy sarcasm.  “The accents were over the top and varied between comical and cringe-worthy.”
    • “Steven’s outfit was a bit YMCA,” says my dad, referencing the song by the Village People.
    • “The colors are very reminiscent of the times.”  This is a rip at the age of the story, which I quickly point out is actually younger than my dad who was celebrating his 50th (my mom is a year older than my dad, on top of it all).
    • My dad noted that he “really like the ending.”  He fell asleep for most of episode two… but don’t take this as an insult, he falls asleep at even his favorite movies.
    • My mom made some good, yet contradictory points, “There was a bit too much death and violence, though understandable for the story’s setting.  this is a kid’s show?  Wait, there was no blood, though.  the bartender should have bled out!”  Good points mom, it’s funny how they get away with violence when the graphic nature is the one piece that is censored (blood, guts, and swearing).
    • “The Doctor drank milk!  That was pretty cool,” says my dad.  Not sure if this was just an honest answer or because he is a Wisconsonite.  Either way, my mom also chimed in and agreed, probably because it teaches kids to not only drink milk, but also not to drink alcohol at a bar.  Again, she is full of contradictions, as she does not drink milk.
  • Story Grade:
    • Dad: D+  –  “It was no Gilligan’s Island!”  (thought it would have been a “sleep plus” if you asked me)
    • Mom: C  – “Could have been worse.”  (she sang the recycled song for the rest of the weekend, and may still be humming it now)

 

Jael’s Judgment:

Western meets sci-fi, and with a catchy serenade! “…in the Last Chance Saloon.”

This story mixes all of the classic elements from my childhood. So although this viewing was not with my family, (I have watched it with my father on a previous occasion) it was fitting that we watched this serial with family. In fact I do not have too much more to say. I will let Tony take the rest of this one since our guest viewers were his parents.

(I like listening to the varying American accents. One of the men is completely unsuccessful.)

  • Story Grade: B+

 

Tony’s Take:

Television shows are known to have catchy theme songs to play during their credits.  But what happens if they used a song as a them throughout the story?  Well, The Gunfighters answers this.  As I learned for an episode of Radio Free Skaro way back when, Tristram Cary penned the tune, which is very odd considering the legacy he built for himself.  Tristram was better known for his pioneering is the 1960s synthesizer movement, so for him to write this Western-inspired song and not some experimental oddity, makes this normal (albeit redundant) song the true oddity on his resume.

And now for the meat of my review, and I’ll keep it short.  I INTRODUCED MY PARENTS TO DOCTOR WHO!  What a strange feeling it was.  I was showing them a legendary show, made in the 1960s.  They were born in the 60s!  In England this would be completely backwards, but here in America, the new Who-surge makes this more of a reality than an oddity.  It was strange to see them watch this and hear them laugh and talk about it.  I think that they either took it as serious or missed the absurdity altogether.  My mom really did sing that song for the rest of the weekend, though.

It’s also strange because it seemed as if my mom took to the show more than my dad; my dad is the one who likes more of the sci-fi/nerd stuff.  My dad likes Lord of the Rings (one of the few books he actually read), he enjoys all of the Marvel movies, and like Monty Python.  My mom on the other hand dislikes British accents (odd), and would rather watch a “chick flick” than any type of “nerd movie”.

I was very excited to have my parents be the first guest-reviewers, but I just wish that we gave them a more accessible story.  Oh well, if we show them another, odds tell me that it will be a better story.

  • Story Grade: B-
  • Sure, there is no reason or tricky plot to this story, but it’s just an enjoyable romp.  The song is hilarious for it’s repetitive nature.  Think Classic Who meets Community (NBC show) – It’s like a writer/director just wanted to make a Western and built Doctor Who around it.

 

Thank you, Tristram Cary!  I need not say more.

P.S.  Jael just said, as I nearly hit “Publish” that “this is where the idea for Firefly came from!”

The Celestial Toymaker – Story #024

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Jael’s Judgment:

It is unfortunate that all we have is audio for the story where Joey the clown doesn’t speak. I also dislike being unable to see the game the Doctor is playing as I do not really understand it. As much as I enjoy listening to a good story, I will be happy to again begin enjoying the visual aspects of Doctor Who.

There are many parts of this story that make me cringe. The voice of Clara the clown for example makes me want to crush something. Yet, as frustrating or annoying as parts were, I find myself liking this story when all is said and done.

I do not mean “liking” as in all fun and happiness. Although the title of this story might, in a way, imply that. The Celestial Toy Maker. Toys, games; most people probably think of joy when they hear these words. But in all reality, games are not always fun. Sometimes they are only amusing for those in control. In this case the Toy Maker is bored, a dangerous thing for a person with power. And certainly the games in which the TARDIS crew was forced to partake were not fun for them. This is demonstrated as Steven & Dodo are only amused one at a time as the other us made fun of. It is never fun to lose control of your own life.

Among a few other more theological ideas, I feel as though this story highlights how horrible we all have the ability to be. How to ensure we are doing what is right, instead of what suits our fancy at any particular moment? There are moments where, despite the best efforts of most humans to shield ourselves from being affected by others, we all hold in our hands control over one another. I suppose we must try our best to put ourselves in the shoes of one another, to try to do what is right for each other. Unfortunately I think I am a pessimist and do not expect many to do this for each other. After all, it can be difficult and it is so easy to be lazy.

  • Story Grade: B

 

Tony’s Take:

This is one of the very few moments where I will say that I wish that I had never seen an episode of this story.  The idea and the story telling is actually quite good, however, this is the 1960s and the on screen output is not up to the same standard.  I was able to understand the game that the Doctor’s hand was playing, but the rest of the pictures in my head were far better than that lone episode that survived.  The weird part, I was imagining this story in black and white in my head, which would be very fun to see for one story in present day.

I still am amazed how well this simple story was written, it’s heavily reliant on multiple games being played by the companions and there is no weaving or heavy cliffhangers, but just a bit of good fun.  Since this story was shot on set, it was hard for the one episode to show the very dark set-up that was in my mind, but much like Warren on Radio Free Skaro says about reading the book before watching the episodes, sometimes the old shows just don’t do it justice.

  • Story Grade: B+
  • Surprisingly strong story, but probably just because my mind portrayed very cool images for the games played.  This is an audio adventure I can actually get behind!

 

Thank you, BBC, for losing 3 of the four episodes.  Thank you, brain, you thought of a very dark and interesting image for this story – maybe I should be a director!

The Ark – Story #023

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Jael’s Judgment:

“Everybody do the Dodo.”

These Streets lyrics keep popping into my head whenever the new companion, Dodo, is addressed by name. After a mini-whirlwind of change, we seem to have settled on some semi-permanent companions. Steven… he’s OK, but a little annoying. He does not seem to think things through. He is a bit brash. And his hair is not great. I guess I can overlook all of that. Dodo, well, also a bit rough around the edges. I can overlook that as well, because at least she is a confident woman. Plus she does participate in my favorite moment of this story:

Dodo (to the Monoid), “What do you mean? Are you up to something?”

Monoid (pauses, looks at Dodo, then over his shoulder hesitantly at a guardian, and back to Dodo), “Uhhh de no.”

Just an all around wonderful moment.

Another like for this story; the bottom of the Monoid’s costumes. Very muppety.

They never really seem to make the Doctor concerned about being recognized as a Time Lord versus a human. The Doctor even includes himself with humans, referring to the humans as “us.” I find this odd and am interested to see how this progresses as we continue on with the Doctor’s journeys.

  • Story Grade: B- (Specifically higher for the humor showing through in the Monoid character despite being entirely covered by their costume/hair.)

Tony’s Take:

Oh yes!  My programming of my wife is complete!!  Sure, I have taken Elliott Smith and Doctor Who from her, but she has in turn taken so much of my music and other media favorites.  Case in point?  THE STREETS!  Jael said that she HATED them when I first played them (or more specifically, him, Mike Skinner).  I absolutely love music, and I find three of The Streets’ albums to be top-notch LPs, from start to finish (Original Pirate Material, A Grand Don’t Come For Free, and Everything Is Borrowed).

Click the link in Jael’s write up for a link to a sampling of The Streets… and if this weren’t enough, how about Mike Skinner acting in “The Time of Angels”:

A Kiss From River

Maybe his involvement in Doctor Who helped his cause in my wife’s eyes, I don’t know, but I was beyond stoked when my two favorites (music and Who) joined forces not too long ago.

As for this story, it is very cool to see The Doctor and company visit a group of people in multiple points in their “time-stream”.  The Monoids, a one-eyed furry humanoid, are kind of cool, and it’s easy to see why they are in power when The Doctor visits years later in their story.  Having a history of racism and slavery in our country, this story is very easy to relate with.  While those who were slaves in America never switched the roles and had power over their oppressors, it’s easy to see why the monoids made this switch.

I’d strongly recommend this story, The Doctor gets to save the day, negotiate and preach peace, and make use with time in this actually time travel story.  Plus, the moment that Jael references above, the awkward monoid, is quite possibly the funniest unintentional moment in classic Who history.

  • Story Grade: B
  • A very fun story that utilizes time for one of the first times in the first Doctor’s run.  Add on top of that the ideas about racism and slavery and you have an enjoyable and deep plot.

Thank you, Doctor Who, for getting my wife to enjoy The Streets’ music with me.  Thanks also to the prop/design team, not only did you make up a great “monster” in the monoids, but the design of the Refusians is EPIC!  You can tell that a lot of money went into the design of Refusian costume.

The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve – Story #022

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Jael’s Judgment:

I am getting so lost. I don’t remember what story we are on or who is involved. I keep referencing Daleks, of which there are apparently none in this story. This space and time traveler needs some sleep. I think I need to emulate an earlier time when I watched Doctor Who while falling asleep waiting for my dad to return home from work.

Tony will probably hate this story. It is a history piece after all. I think I had an American French teacher from South America, who was writing a paper on this period while I was studying over in France. At any rate we visited Nantes, where the Edict of Nantes was signed.

So far I am not crazy about Steven.

  • Story Grade: C-

 

Tony’s Take:

French review: Je vulvlavlu, bleablubla dufrabaleu!

So, Jael can speak French, and I am notorious for mocking the language.  She loves me for this quality, and I love her for her abilities.  While we stayed in France she was able to help me along… for the most part.  Sometimes she would forget that I didn’t understand the language and would laugh at me when I couldn’t read the menu or when I just smiled and nodded my head.

Which reminds me of Jael’s favorite Simpson’s line (Skip to around 10:16):

“En francais!”  *Kid’s laugh with a stereotypical French accent*

As for Doctor Who and France… let’s just say that there is an adventure in the Tom Baker era that will done much better (though it is not set in the past – at least as much as this story is).  Why did this story even exist?  There was no change, no plot that really needed fixing; they came, they saw, they escaped.  Nothing was really changed or better by their presence.  I am not quite sure what separates this from an “F” grade, but it wasn’t quite THAT terrible, after all, even the actors had terrible French accents, and for that, I thank them!

BAGUETTE!!

  • Story Grade: D
  • I am not quite sure if it’s a good thing or bad thing that the video does not exist for this story.  If you are looking for good Who, that defines an era or Doctor, feel free to skip.

 

Thank you, France.  Your language is hilarious to me, and a bit maddening.  I like saying all of my letters for the most part.  With that said, your country is beautiful and your labor laws seem like they have some great things to offer (like vacation time for one).  I guess what I am trying to say is that you are alright in my book, France!

The Daleks’ Master Plan – Story #021

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Jael’s Judgment:

We have some video for this story, after the drought of the last couple stories! This means I finally get to see the haircut that Vicki gave Steven. I have been waiting for this moment for days! And let me tell you, it was a massive disappointment. I do not see much difference at all. At most she cut, like, 3 hairs and then maybe re-styled the rest. If you haven’t caught on yet, I am really a hair person.

And with the video, we find ourselves with perhaps more questions than only the audio brings.

Actual discourse:

Tony: “What is that guy doing?”
Jael: “He’s walking, man!”
(And, man, was he walking with style in his skin tight, chocolate whoopie pie covered, total body suit.)

I didn’t realize while listening to the audio, but during the first video episode of this story, I finally put it together. Bret is the Brigadier! Well not the character the Brigadier, but the same actual person.

There is too much testosterone with Bret, Steven, and the Doctor. Yuck. I wish they would all stop yelling. I miss Barbara.

  • Story Grade: C

 

Tony’s Take:

Wow, that was a LONG 12 part story.  After hearing the intro story, “Mission to the Unknown”, I had a terribly different look going on for this story in my head.  The weird tribunal of galactic powers were interesting looking to say the least; the man that Jael spoke of was definitely a high (or was it low) point to the production.  Terry Nation really made a great living off of the Daleks, and his stories really cemented themselves in this long serial, with one exception, he decided to have them much less “KILL” and much more political.

Now let’s focus on someone, a character that would not recur, but the actor who played him would… Nicholas Courtney!  His defining role in Doctor Who is Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.  It’s funny how incredibly recognizable his voice is, but how shocking it is to see him not a UNIT uniform.

For those of you who do are not well-versed in Doctor Who history, Nicholas Courtney was the only Doctor to act with all of the Classic Series Doctors (1-8, including the substitute for William Hartnell, Richard Hurndall).  He even came back for The Sarah Jane Adventures!  The man is a legend, a fixture you could rely on, almost more so than the ever changing Doctor.

Here is an interesting fact about Nicholas Courtney, and how it was with a little bit of luck that he became so synonymous with Doctor Who:

Director Douglas Camfield originally considered Courtney for the role of Richard the Lionheart in The Crusade (1965), a role that ultimately went to Julian Glover. Though Camfield made sure to keep Courtney in mind for future casting. Courtney would make his first appearance in the series, when Camfield cast him in the 1965 serial The Daleks’ Master Plan, where he played Space Security Agent Bret Vyon opposite William Hartnell as the Doctor.

Camfield liked Courtney’s performance, and when the director was assigned the 1968 serial The Web of Fear, he cast Courtney as Captain Knight. However, when David Langton gave up the role of Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart to work elsewhere, Camfield recast Captain Knight and gave the part to Courtney instead. The Lethbridge-Stewart character returned in the next season in The Invasion, promoted to the rank of Brigadier and in charge of British contingent of UNIT. The organisation had been charged with protecting the Earth from alien invasion.

I must also mention that it was very touching that after Nicholas Courtney’s passing, Steven Moffat and the writing team included it in an 11th Doctor story – The Wedding of River Song.

Well, that about wraps up my “intro to Nicholas Courtney”.  As for the rest of the story, it’s always fun to see the Daleks, but couldn’t we have either shortened it to 4 episodes or split the idea in two?

  • Story Grade: C
  • The introduction of such a legendary actor in the Who-niverse makes this a must watch/listen for a true fan.

 

Thank you, Nicholas Courtney and Doug Camfield.  The performance that Nicholas gave throughout the entirety of Doctor Who was always wonderful, never just phoning it in.  Mr. Camfield deserves all the credit for casting Nick and then offering more roles int he future.  Thanks to David Langton, too, his unfortunate bow-out gave us a great constant.

The Myth Makers – Story #020

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Jael’s Judgment:

Well, the Doctor confirmed it. The Trojan war is not just a legend.

I am a little confused about the presence if the Cyclops. Maybe my limited knowledge of Greek mythology is causing this confusion, but I thought that Cyclops were giant and only had one eye. To me it sounded like this one just had (an eye patch over) one eye. And was one of the Cyclops the servant of Odysseus? Whatever. I do not want to get pedantic and anyway, like I said, my knowledge of Greek mythology  is limited and based on literature I read around a decade ago. Maybe it would be worth revisiting those stories, they still sound interesting…

“I do not fear the thunder, you superstitious, dark-dodging decadent!”

This story was really hurt by the lack of video. It was difficult to keep track of where everyone from the TARDIS group was and who they were with.

  • Story Grade: C-

 

Tony’s Take:

First off, let it be known that when Jael sent over her review for me to post (yep, I am the one running the blog, she just monitors the hit count) she named it “The Myth Busters”.  I am guessing that it was a reference to the TV show, but more importantly, the way that this story shattered the myth and lore of the Greek/Trojan war and just decided to take all liberties in writing for a TV show.  Again, this mix of history while having huge flaws and taking liberties are the exact reasons why I hate historicals…

broken record

… Sorry, I am definitely a broken record.  I’ll get back on track and review the story itself, and not the broad style that Doctor Who uses for roughly a third of it’s stories.

This story is INCREDIBLY hard to follow.  there are tons of characters, all sharing a similar voice, and on top of it all, it assumes a certain level of comfortability with Greek history.  I did more research and found out that the characters used in this story don’t even fit with Greek/Trojan history, so even the history buff will be like, “WHAT THE?!?!”

Instead of trying to review a story that doesn’t make sense to me, and does little in terms of plot or reason, how about I share my ties to Greece?

First off, I am not Greek, I am a Euro-mutt, a mixed bag of German, Luxembourger, British, Hungarian, Slovakian, and probably a few other random countries sharing boarders with those I listed.  My last name (and Jael’s new last name), Voda, is Russian, though it comes from my Hungarian/Slovakian heritage, and it means “water”.  My first and middle name is Anthony and Daniel.  Then, when I was in 10th grade, I went through Catholic confirmation and we got to choose a confirmation name, which I treated like a second middle name.  This was HUGE.

I wanted a truly unique name, something no one else had.  I thought about Bosco (as he is a saint, and we had to try to stick with saints), my great-grandma even liked the name Bosco.  I can remember her saying it over and over and laughing.  But then something clicked.  My initials were ADV, my last name is VODA.  I was an “O” away from having my intials be my last name backwards!!  Who else can say that?!

So here it is, my Greek-ness; I chose a truly unique name AND an “O”-name… Olympius!

  • Anthony
  • Daniel
  • Olympius
  • VODA

So when Olympus was mentioned in this story (and the story proved to be rather dull), I faded off thinking of how cool it was to add my own personal flare to my name.  I am glad that I was named what I was, but having that unofficial “second middle name” that I got to choose, that was the cherry on top.

Notes:

“It’s character that counts, not good looks.” -Some dude to Vicki.  This is a typical “foot in mouth” comment made by a man to a woman. He meant well, but the execution was lacking and not thought out.
“But horses don’t grow that high!” -Captain obvious addressing horses 40 feet tall – the Trojan horse.
  • Story Grade: F
  • This story is only meant for the completionists, the elitists, or the masochists.  I am probably judging this story on the media form, which I hate doing, but I just couldn’t follow along.  It’s probably my own fault, but with that said, I am the one judging and grading.

 

Thank you to the BBC for not letting this be the last story of Doctor Who.  OK, it isn’t THAT bad, but everything needs it’s low point(s).

“Mission to the Unknown” – Story #019

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Jael’s Judgment:

(Still not sure why Tony makes me give these grades. We looked back and my average is something like a B-. So right there, if a C is average, I am obviously not grading accurately.)

Alright, let’s get on with it.

This was an odd story. Only one episode and no Doctor. How many Doctor Who stories are there with no Doctor? The characters/voices got a little confusing for me. I wish we could have watched the story, but alas it was an audio only. I kept wondering what the Varga plants looked like.

Gardeners beware: While recently discussing the reoccuring adversaries of the Doctor with my brother, I realized how often plants evolve into threatening, sentient beings. Or other creatures are taken over by plants to become plant/animals. Never really the same types of beings, so they are not a specific reoccurring enemy. But man, watch out for those plants!

Overall, OK story. But probably not needed to understand future stories. I am guessing William Hartnell needed a break.

  • Story Grade: C+

 

Tony’s Take:

The first one episode story and the only one for MANY years.  We are used to one-parters in present day Who, and when they are a two-parter that means something special to us; so it’s strange to “see” such a short story early on and WITHOUT the Doctor.  This was a teaser (or something we may now call – albeit incorrectly – a prequel) to the upcoming story, “The Daleks’ Mater Plan”.

I don’t know that there is much to talk about, so here are some interesting notes about this awkward story:

From the TARDIS wikia:

Terry Nation wrote this episode partially as an attempt to develop and sell the idea of a Dalek television series divorced from the larger Doctor Who universe. The proposed series would have followed the adventures of the Space Security Service, an elite organisation tasked with hunting Daleks. This approach can be seen in short stories and comic strips written for 1965’s The Dalek Outer Space Book (cover dated 1966). An unmade pilot titled The Destroyers was written, but the series concept was never sold. The Destroyers was later produced as an audio play by Big Finish Productions.

Since the story “Planet of Giants” was originally meant as a 4 part story but was edited down to a 3 part story, this left a one episode hole in the contract with the BBC and Doctor Who production team.  The original cast (speculation here) already fulfilled their contract and were too expensive for the show, so they decided to take Terry Nation’s idea and do a one-off teaser for a future story.  Since they would use the sets in the 12 episode story, this meant that there was very little addition cost associated with the production.

With all of this said, William Hartnell is still credited as “Doctor Who” because his contract said he would have lead credits in all episodes, even if he did not appear.

Notes:

Varga plants only on Skaro, they take over the brain and tell you to kill and you become half plant.
Now to warn Earth of the Daleks coming.
I’d like to see this jungle set; wait, actually I wouldn’t, the sound is probably better than the props.
Cory is really infected by the plant, not good.
  • Story Grade: C
  • Short, very short.  This isn’t a bad thing, but a 25 minute episode of Doctor Who without The Doctor can only go so far.  This was a great initial run for the Tardisodes and “prequels” that we get today (even if they weren’t directly because of this fluke of a story).

 

Thank you, Verity Lambert.  This was her last story/episode as producer.  We Who fans owe her all of our thanks for bringing this show to us.  Without Verity, we would not have this show, plain and simple.  Thank you to the BBC as well, they broke the stereotypical mold by going with a young female to run a show.  I am sure that the conditions were far from perfect, and she was probably given Doctor Who because they wrote off the show, but you have to start somewhere.

Galaxy 4 – Story #018

DW18

Jael’s Judgment:

This story was 4 episodes long, but to me it seemed short and sweet. We are in for a dose of several audio only stories.

The Chumblies will always hold a special place in my memory. I first listened to this story on my way to my first ever con, Chicago TARDIS. My mother teaching me to knit in the back seat if the car. Ah, good times. 🙂

The story itself was alright.  A planet on the verge of disaster. Evil women in green. Women that can remind one of ones self on the worst and most thoughtless days. We got to know Steven a little better. He seems alright, even sans beard, if not a bit rash. The Drahvins were intriguing. It was interesting comparing what Tony & I envisioned their appearance to be. I pictured a giant slimy blob, bluish green, with a few tentacles. Maybe a slimier and more liquid Jabba the Hutt.

However, after the adventure is completed all I find myself wondering, is what does Steven’s new haircut look like?

  • Story Grade: B-

 

Tony’s Take:

Like Jael said, this was the second time we listened to this story.  In fact, this was the first audio-only story that we had ever listened to, and it was fittingly on our way to Chicago TARDIS.  If I wasn’t so darn lazy I would go dig up a few pictures from our first Who-con, but having an external hard-drive in a different room than your laptop is the greatest first-world problem that one could face.  (I apologize, maybe I will post a separate entry once we finish all of our reviews… seeing how we don’t want to just close the blog once we review everything.)

I will admit, this story wasn’t the best of stories, but there must be something to be said for an audio-only story that actually holds your attention (for the most part).  Having a wide array of characters, it was easy to follow along, you didn’t get confused or lost along the way, and since it wasn’t a historical, I was a bit more focused.  If I were to focus on one area of this story, what would it be?…

CHUMBLIES!!!

Sounds like Chumlee, but you instantly know that they are a harmless and cute (Is that the right word?  Cute?!  Sure.) robot.

Chumblies

Hey, they even look like Chumlee a little, granted he is wearing a crown.

I have a soft spot in my heart for these Chumbly creatures/robots.  They are supposed to be helpers and are described as clumsy, it’s very much how I would describe my co-author of this blog (my wife, Jael).  She is a great helper, very sweet, but man is she ever clumsy.  I am lucky enough to see her wake up in the morning, which means that I get the pleasure of listening to her run into doors, clip the corner of the bed, or drop heavy things in the bathroom… she is my alarm clock.

It’s also funny how I also thought of Jael when Vicki asked The Doctor, “You think it’s a baby one?”  She was asking about a deactivated Chumbly, and I KNOW that my wife would ask a question like that, I just KNOW it.

Well, that’s all I really wanted to cover.  Listen to this adventure and draw your own conclusions.  Anyone else trying to watch/listen to every Doctor Who story?

Notes:

And down goes Steven.  Knocked out like a victim of Mike Tyson!
The Rills would let the gang go if they cannot fix the ship in time.  They believe in self-preservation.  They would also save the Drahvins.  Rills sound nice and very ethical, like Time Lords in a way.
The Doctor is sick of being surrounded by danger.   I’d actually like a story of just pure adventure and fun stories, no “save the world”, just a frolic.  If done correctly, the stories could be of high interest.
  • Story Grade: B-
  • I don’t like to have an audio-story swayed by it’s lack of original form, but this lost story was not as hampered by the lack of moving pictures as others.  Plus, Chumblies!

 

Thank you to the writer who thought of the word Chumbly and to the prop department that put together the robot.  Even though we may not have video of the story, the stills of the Chumblies are wonderful.  Sure, they are Dalek-like, but they definitely draw a clumsy vibe.