The Macra Terror – Story #034

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Jael’s Judgement:

Right away this reminds me of The Prisoner. Does that make me über-nerdy? I guess the difference is that I stuck with the Doctor through this entire adventure to eventually find out why this colony is odd and slightly disturbing at first glance. I do not think I have gotten through a season of The Prisoner. Isn’t it funny how in both cases extreme pleasantness and “happiness” is stressed, even though the population is basically a captive slave force.

Jamie knows there is trouble. He tells Polly to keep her eyes peeled and distrusts the voice that speaks while they sleep. But the real mystery to me is, what does Jamie look like when in the words of Polly he looked so “smashing”? Did they do something different with his hair?? Regardless I am liking him as a companion. Very reliable and loyal with a bit of a rebellious side.

Ben on the other hand, I am not a fan of Ben’s.

The messages in this story were not very subtle. Make up your own mind and do not be unquestioningly obedient. At least they are not bad messages. Oh, another subtle message, “violence will get you nowhere.”

The whole story I was wondering where they have these stupid recordings singing instructions and “inspiration” to the workers. Turns out the colony has its own version of a Glee Club. Oh joy. And similar to current day glee clubs, it is overbearing and extremely annoying. Yay.

  • Story Grade: B-

 

Tony’s Take:

I find reading my lovely wife’s reviews to be hilarious and confusing.  I shouldn’t be so confused, after all, she has told me that she does NOT want to grade the stories, but I cannot help it.  Maybe it’s the guy part of me, or maybe we are just that different, but I cannot understand how she “rates” these serials/stories.  Reading her review above, I would have expected a C-level grade at the very best, but somehow she is in the B-range.  “B-range” to me is significantly above average as a story, though not quite to the classic level which an “A” would garner.

Rebuttals to Jael’s Review:

  • The Prisoner?!  Nice reference, but we’ve only watched about 5-6 episodes of the series.  I’d say it would have almost been a badge of nerdery, but wait until completion to display that honor.  Now if you just meant The Simpson’s form of The Prisoner, I’ll let you display that proudly, though I have more pride in the fact that I converted you into a Simpsons fan.
  • Do you also see this as an early version of The Happiness Patrol?  I know that mentioning a 7th Doctor story would be incredibly out of order, but we’ve both seen it.
  • Your approval of Jamie is nothing more than a love of the Scottish accent and similar heritage of your ancestors in their Irish homeland (heck, they probably are intertwined, as I am sure they liked to mingle with one another).  As for smashing Jamie?  We’ll never know, since all 4 stories are lost to time.
  • You don’t like Ben?!  Shocking.  Maybe you just like Jamie too much. 😉
  • I do agree with your assessment of the subtlety in this story.  Being mindless slaves in order to be happy does not actually produce happy people, but just numb and distant shells of humans.
  • Your hate towards the Glee club makes me happy.  I am so thrilled that I am with someone who does not want to watch Glee.  Thank you.

As for my two cents?  This story has crabs.  Giant crabs.  I find it a bit hilarious and even ambitious that Doctor Who even tried to show these characters on screen.  Today we have special effects, incredible design/costume teams, and we still do not show everything on screen.  While nothing about the 1960s-era Who is completely believable (heck, most of Classic Who is under-budget, but that’s part of the charm), at least they pushed the envelop.  Much like the guys from Radio Free Skaro, I, too, would absolutely LOVE it if they produced a new-Who with a cheap budget and nearly 100% set/costume design, instead of graphics and tech wizardry.

Macra

It’s unfortunate for Ben and Polly’s characters that The Doctor and Jamie work so well together.  This is probably the reason why Jamie stays and the other two go in the not so distant future (OK, maybe the next story. *SPOILERS!*).

While a bit silly, I will not let the fact that this story is 100% audio bring down my grade…

  • Story Grade: B-
  • A bit of fun and your typical feel-good happy ending.  While not 100% the same, the giant bugs and Macra make it feel like Planet of Giants, which was quite enjoyable.

 

Thanks again to Patrick Troughton for the breath of fresh air.  It’s easy to see why Doctor Who kept building into the show that is so loved now with Patrick as the lead.  His appeal to children is obvious, and I wouldn’t mind being old if I aged like his character.

PS: Look out for the Macra in the new series episode “Gridlock.”

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The Moonbase – Story #033

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Jael’s Judgement:

Again with the Cybermen. They look slightly different then our previous encounter. They sound like the smokers on the anti-smoking commercials that now need to speak through a machine at their throat. While they are creepy and scary, I find myself enjoying their condescending sarcasm. Similar to my enjoyment of the Daleks’ personalities.

“Only stupid earth brains like yours would be fooled.” -Cybermen

Since when is Ben a genius? On this adventure he speaks as if he has gone to school to be some sort of scientist. Then again, I guess next to Polly anyone would look like a genius.

Bad feminist moment of the story: Polly is told to go make coffee … again.

Good feminist moment of the story: After Ben tells Polly, “Not you, Polly, this is men’s work.” She doesn’t listen and follows Ben & Jamie anyway. Good for her.

  • Story Grade: B-

Tony’s Take:

While not the strongest story, at least the Cybermen are no longer Greendale’s mascot!  The design team either forgot how to replicate the old Cybermen, or there was a deliberate decision to actually make them look robotic.  I’d like to think that it was the latter and the realization that Doctor Who is catching on with the public – more money!

MoonbaseCybermen

Being relatively low on the intermediate level Doctor Who spectrum, I have an idea – probably not original – that the Cybermen were possibly influenced by the British coal-miners.  Their helmets look like a coal-mining helmet, and their protective suit is kind of similar to the complete jump suits that a miner would wear.

CoalMiner1

Miners Settle Strike

Am I just seeing things are is there a hint of Cybermen in these coal-men?

Going back to the story itself, I love when Doctor Who not only travels in the future (I’d choose a future adventure myself, if it were a randomly selected time), but when the story is also set in space… YAY!!  With all of these elements, I should have loved this story, especially with a classic baddie, but I didn’t.  Why?  The Cybermen’s role was rather weak, if they were compared to their future incarnations, they would be destroyed in 2 minutes and dismissed as impostors.

What this story feels like is a still relatively new show, growing daily and becoming a cult classic, but still not yet 100% confident in itself.  The first part of this story is that of a virus harming people in space/the moon, but then the show feels the need to tie the virus to a villain that they hope can become a rival – the Cybermen.  A virus in space, though similar to The Ark, could still have been a fun story to tell.  A chilling tale of the cold, emotionless murderers (or “upgraders/assimilaters”, if you are a stickler) on a moonbase would even be fine.  But trying to tie together the two plots seems a bit unfocused and takes away from the evilness of the silver foes.

With all of that seemingly negative talk, I will admit to two pieces of pure awesomeness:

  1. Jamie plays around on the moon and gets hurt… because he’s amazed at weightlessness.
  2. Seeing a classic enemy, like the Cybermen, marching on screen is never a bad thing, especially when used as a cliffhanger.
  • Story Grade: C
  • I’ll never tire of futuristic stories in space.  Even done sub-par (like this one), I still can’t help but be somewhat engaged.

Thank you, again, to the costume designers and whoever else was responsible for redesigning the men in silver.  While it was fun seeing the Cybermen as a weird race of sock-puppet and metal hoses, the newer “upgrades” are much more menacing, especially on the surface of the moon.

The Underwater Menace – Story #032

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Jael’s Judgment:

One question, how are these fish people efficiently swimming? From what I can tell, aside from plastic gills, they do not have any huge physical alterations. Being a former competitive swimmer myself, I can tell you that while human beings can find ways to move fairly quickly through the water, without a different body structure and fins, they just don’t seem very efficient as a food gathering device.

Tony just showed me what these fish people look like. Terrifying if you ask me.

Near the end of the adventure, after they all make it back to the TARDIS, Jamie admits that he feels safe in the TARDIS. Oh, to be somewhere safe, where no menace can touch you. Hopefully we all know what a comforting feeling that is.

  • Story Grade: B

 

Tony’s Take:

Eight months after viewing and I can honestly say that I did NOT forget a thing remember a thing.

*checks wikipedia for notes, reads Jael’s commentary, digs for own notes, eliminates distractions by stopping Coupling from playing in the background*

Alright, I’m back.

Right, The Underwater Menace.  Jamie’s first time traveling with the Doctor… and the story is 50% missing.  The good news is that the missing episodes will be animated, but the bad news is that they were not animated in time for this blog – don;t be surprised to see revisions/double reviews in the future, as more stories are found, animated, or released.

In this story the old tale of Atlantis is played with for the first of three times in the history of the ever-expanding Doctor Who.  The most frightening thing is the idea of converting people into “fish-people”.  There is something much more scary about this compared to the idea of being converted into a cyberman.  At least with a cyberman you are essentially dead and completely different; when converted to a fish-person you are still rather human, but now have to deal with the still very real issues of living in the sea.  Giving up everything you once new on the surface and being thrown into a crazy water-world seems terrifying.

Polly still seems rather useless, but what can you expect in a story where she is not the only companion AND a female character written in the 60s.  Stick ing with the companions, I hope you like Jamie, because he’ll be sticking around for quite some time.

  • Story Grade: C
  • Not exactly a historical, not exactly pure fiction, this is a Who-take on an old tale – Atlantis.  Please, do not let science create fish people!

 

Thank you to the costume designer who created the fish person costume.  Though this is not a story on DVD yet, the still photos and partial clips make this ballet outfit look flat-out ridiculously terrifying.

See what I mean?

UW Menace