The Tenth Planet – Story #029

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Jael’s Judgment:

Since this was the last adventure that we go on with first Doctor, it was sad to have so little of him in the story.

As far as the rest of the characters go Ben is alright. He seems resilient and energetic enough despite the melancholy we witnessed upon our first encounter with him. Polly on the other hand… I am not a fan of Polly. She offers to help in a stressful and dire situation, and all she can come up with to be useful is to make coffee. I mean, I guess coffee would help some people. It just doesn’t seem all that effective. I don’t even know how to make coffee. I would be a useless woman in the 60s. (I like that I can say “would be” since we are talking time travel and I am not restricted to “would have been.”) I miss Barbara. She wasn’t a great feminist, but she seemed more sensible and a bit tougher.

I have been having trouble relating to the TARDIS crew lately. This may be because of its high turnover rate recently. What didn’t change from the last adventure seems to be the accents. Just as I was wondering if the actor playing Cutler also played a pirate in the previous adventure, Tony speaks up asking why they are talking like pirates in the future.

The last appearance of William Hartnell brought with it the first appearance of the Cybermen. I did not realize that they came from a twin planet of earth. I guess I didn’t really know that much about them. I often forget how old this particular foe is, especially when their appearance has changed so much throughout the years. Unfortunately we do not get this first visual of the Cybermen since this is an audio only story. What I can tell you, is that they sound a little like K9.

Best, yet most bittersweet moment of this adventure? We witness the first regeneration! (Oddly enough, I do not remember anyone actually using the word regeneration.) Although this was audio only, we watched some of the footage of the regeneration. I think it was pretty good effects for back then. And even though the special effects have changed over the years, I think the subsequent regenerations have kept in pretty good tradition with this first.

  • Story Grade: C

 

Tony’s Take:

Why, oh why, does the lone episode that is missing have to be the one containing the regeneration?!  Come on BBC!  If I could go back in time to save one lone episode, I am 90% certain it’d be episode 4 of The Tenth Planet.  The good news is that the BBC and restoration team recently announced that this story would finally see a release on DVD with the last part being animated!

Since it hasn’t come out on DVD yet, this first brush with the Cybermen was all in audio form.  Audio-only stories always lack the complete feeling for me, and rightfully so, as this is a television show, not audio-drama.  Even though it was locked in to this confining medium, the story was not all bad.  Coming off a dud like The Smugglers in the story prior, this one actually got me engaged.  Maybe it’s because of such a classic “monster” like the Cybermen, maybe it’s because the story is not a historical, or maybe *gasp* it was a decent story(!).

As there are 3 episodes still remaining and there are backup telesnaps of some of the scenes, we know what the first incarnation of the Cybermen look like…

Cyberman Greendale Human Being

Exactly like a robotic version of the Greendale Human Being!!  (check out the TV show Community if you haven’t already)

By the way, the name “The Tenth Planet” is now very much out of date, since Pluto was demoted and we have 8 planets in our solar system.  Even though those in charge decided to kick Pluto out of our planet-party, I still recognize you, Pluto!  As much as scientists of today would say that this story title is wrong, I will secretly think it is right.

I have tried to tell myself not to get too long-winded, unless I have great things to say or if I can make it a great read.  As i don’t have much more, without just describing the story itself, I’ll cut myself off now.  Before I dismiss you so you can look at the generic closing of the post, heed this advice: Watch this story when it comes out on DVD!  This is historical stuff!  The end of a period (Hartnell-era) is just the epoch of a much longer era – The Great Age of Doctor Who.

(Now, don’t get me wrong, Doctor Who started at An Unearthly Child, but without this regeneration, it could have easily ended when Hartnell collapsed.)

  • Story Grade: B+
  • The costumes are fantastically terrible, a truly defining characteristic of Classic Who.  I cannot wait to revisit this story when it’s finally on video.

 

Thank you, William Hartnell.  Your time as The Doctor made for a foundation that was so strongly built that the legacy is still carried on 50 years later.  Sure, there were some duds in there, but it’s a 1960s sci-fi show in it’s infancy.  The Doctor has changed drastically over the years, but even so, there is always a small piece of Hartnell’s Doctor that lives on (maybe it’s the quirkiness, the scolding, the crankiness, or just the need to explore).

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The Chase – Story #016

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Jael’s Judgment:

The TARDIS travelers are now the Daleks’ “greatest enemies.” That seems to be a pretty sudden start to their extremely long relationship with the Doctor. That 2nd story we tagged along for may have eventually led to the time war. We will see how it plays out, but the Doctor may only have himself to blame for now being alone in the universe.

This story was full of both audible and implied music. We start out right away with the Doctor singing as he and Barbara relax on the sand. The Beatles are shown in the British version of the story. The Daleks repetition of the words TARDIS and annihilate even sound sing-songish. Vicki’s lilting and creepy nervous laughter when the secret door opens.  What I imagine as an eerie wind singing in the background as Vicki & Ian struggle over the sand dunes.  The sea and mystery in my opinion are always musical. Here the Mary Celeste or Marie Céleste involves both! Haunting and fear in the “haunted house” also brings haunting notes to mind. Finally the actual hip background music that serenades the group as they run to the TARDIS.

I am sure that there are many more musical qualities, if not actual then at least subjective moments, that o did not mention. What I did not find musical, or not pleasing at any rate, were the fake American accents from New York and Alabama. Painful.

I cannot say I am all that sad to see Ian go. He has been quite bossy over the past few stories. And despite being a Science teacher, a profession I might think would be up for adventure, he seems very irritable and crabby. Traveling through space and time is not his cup of tea. That is aside from his sword fighting skills, which have really excelled.

Now Barbara I will miss immensely I mean, just this story we found out she loves sailing ships? I love sailing ships! Courtesy of my father, I have one that looks just like the model they used to start out the scene with the Mary Celeste.

ChaseBoat

Ian sure blew up the Dalek’s ship quickly after landing. Now they can never go back. 😦 And I am sorry, but that cannot be the Dalek’s only ship…

  • Story Grade: B

 

Tony’s Take:

I would like to focus the majority of my blog post on the one scene that cannot be viewed in North America on a legally purchased copy native to the area…

THE BEATLES!!!

Yes, the best classical artists to ever grace the planet Earth, at least according to Vicki.  Yes Ian, “Styles change, styles change.”

Recently I began a quest, much like the idea behind this blog, to listen to EVERY one of my CDs.  Having well over a thousand albums on hand, this task is a large one, but I shall not digress further into madness.  I am currently reviewing through Blur, so that means that I have already reviewed the entirety of The Beatles box set.  As a younger person, I was never really impressed by The Beatles, I wanted to find that voice for MY generation, not my parents’ or even grandparents’ generation.  I wrote them off due to them deing from the 60s and because I thought they were mainly that pop band that existed until 1967.  Finally, within the last 5 years or so, I was able to really look at the creativity of older bands and analyze their contribution to current artists that I liked, and I found something shocking… they were better than all of my current day musical icons.

Whoa!  Hold off on the musical review, tony, fall back in line.  Let’s get back to The Beatles AND Doctor Who.  I’ll cite the Wikipedia page for the following bit of info on this magical moment that combined two of Britains most decorated masters of their medium…

  • As you may have already found out through this blog, many episodes of Doctor Who have been lost or “wiped”, as was common back in the 1960s; film isn’t cheap!  What is fascinating about this episode, though, is that this is one of the lucky Who stories to survive, while the episdoe of “Top of the Pops” that the Beatles clip was taken from was actually wiped.  So this makes the clip in Doctor Who the only surviving clip of The Beatles “performing” on “Top of the Pops”!  So you could almost say that The Doctor saved The Beatles, that his Time and Space Visualizer really worked!
  • The sour note of all of this “saving of The Beatles” is that the idea for them to actually appear on Doctor Who was scrapped by their manager, Brian Epstein.  The Beatles were to appear in the episode playing themselves, but in heavy “aging make-up”.  It may have been the only way to see The Beatles together in the (theoretical) 21st century.  As hard as it is to complain of a Beatles performance on Doctor Who, I feel a bit let down knowing the grand idea that never came to fruition.

Now please take a minute to look at the notes I wrote.  I tried to stay away from adding notes, but as I wanted to cover The Beatles, I had to revert to a few of my favorites.  Enjoy the funny links!

Favorite notes:

This must be the story where the Daleks really like to yell and repeat (TARDIS, annihilate, and exterminate are all screamed in the first half of the story).
Mohawked spandex men.  Their water was taken, apparently they are fish-like things.
The Doctor just kind of shoved the fish dude into the octopus while Barbara actually tried to help.  Kind of like George in Seinfeld (pushes women, children, and the elderly).
NEW YORK!  Complete with terrible accents.  And bad Alabama accents.
Uh oh, Daleks meet the Alabaman.  I get a real Randy Quaid vibe from him.  The New Yorker giving the tour is kind of Kramer-ish.  Hey, this story would be great if I could cast those people!!
At least they made a fun story with the real Mary Celeste ship.  Using a historical mystery and infusing it with Doctor Who… THAT’S how it’s done!
“Daleks don’t like stairs!” -Ian playing the role of captain obvious.  (I kind of miss those Daleks.)
Frankenstein is going APE on the Daleks.  Vicki was left behind, though.  No one notices that Vicki is not there?  Finally, Barbara is the one to notice.  Is this just underlying sexism at it’s best (well, actually worst)?
Mechanoids vs. Daleks: Battle Bots!!  Lots if fire and destruction.
Yay!  They made it home!  This slideshow of crazy pictures was weird, but oddly fun.  The Doctor looked in on them with the Time and Space Visualizer, and he is saddened for losing them.  At least he has Susan 2.0, I mean Vicki.
  • Story Grade: C+
  • I really like the variation in this long story.  Visiting multiple places to keep the pace up was a very nice touch for what could have been an overly long adventure.  I mentioned it in my notes, but the involvement and explanation of the Mary Celeste using Doctor Who was a nice touch; you don’t have to set the whole story there, but just use actual mysteries to intertwine Doctor Who “reality”, THAT’S how you go historical in my book.

 

Thank you to the British people for believing those RIDICULOUS American accents.  Who knew that Doctor Who was really just the launching pad for Seinfeld ab out 25 years later?!  Thank you to the group of writers and the show-runner for choosing to set this story in multiple locations, like I said, it helped the pace a lot.

The Space Museum – Story #015

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Jael’s Judgment:

Every evening I come home after work and wish that there was already a tasty meal ready and waiting for me. Unfortunately for me, I think my husband feels the same way. So we are both left exhausted, hungry, and often sitting down for a Doctor Who adventure after consuming a less than satisfactory meal that costs us what little energy we had left to put together. So the first thing on my mind when viewing The Space Museum, is what happened to the Star Trek-ish nourishment producing machine on the TARDIS and how can I get one?

Best line of the entire episode is arguably when the two aliens stroll right past the TARDIS group as the group is speaking, making no indication that they hear or see the group what so ever. The Doctor concludes, “It is extremely doubtful that they are both deaf.” So true. So true.

I am betting there would be some sort of museum taking up an entire planet like this if there were hundreds or thousands of civilizations in some sort of relative grouping. Of course, I am no master of probability like the Doctor is, (eg. “It is extremely doubtful that they are both deaf.”) Speaking of odds, what are the odds that when the Doctor walks through the TARDIS while it is a different time, he does not run in to the dimension that the inside of the TARDIS is in? Or maybe I am mixing up time with other dimensions… Either way it is probably less likely than even the extremely doubtful situation of both of the aliens being deaf. 🙂  See even the Doctor has trouble solving the 4th dimension. I guess that’s why it’s just described as timey-whimey. This is why it strikes me as odd that they are all trying to figure out how to change the future. To me, whether the future they saw was the one which they are currently headed towards or a different one, seems to be down to chance.

We are all thinking it, I’m just going to say it, those Xerons have some super sweet eyebrows. I like how the only evolutionary difference between these aliens and humans is that the Xerons’ eyebrows are about an inch higher. And the Moroks, they just have amazing hair. (I think that Giorgio A. Tsoukalos models his after them. And he would know, they are aliens.) And then the Xerons say something like, “can’t you see we’re nothing alike?!” (in reference to the Moroks.) You know who is like the Moroks? My wonderful co-writer and husband. See below:

MorokTony

(L: Morok R: Tony)

Finally, in addition to the obvious scene with the Daleks at the end of the last episode, there is some foreshadowing regarding this enemy throughout the entire episode. Near the beginning of the story Barbara postulates that “Even the Daleks are friendly to some.” Ian guesses that it is improbable they will meet the Daleks again. To that I say, it is even less probable that all of the Daleks are deaf.

  • Story Grade: B-

Tony’s Take:

Dang, Jael took my favorite part, as well.  I even wrote in my notes:

“It’s extremely doubtful that they’re both deaf!” -Best Doctor quote ever?

It comes out of left-field; you might expect such a quote from Tom Baker, but from William Hartnell?!  What makes it even better is that I cannot tell if he is being sincere in his delivery of this line or if it was actually meant as a perfect line of observational humor.

With the talk of two deaf people just happening to be on patrol together, I’ll put the gears in reverse and go back to the beginning of the story.  There was something somewhat strange going on, everyone woke up with new clothes.  Did The Doctor strip everyone and re-dress them?  If you ask me, I would have made a much bigger deal of this, maybe because I prefer to be more like Tobias Fünke (but only in the “never nude” sense).

The only other point that I would like to talk about with just a little more depth is the fact that Vicki can be quite intelligent.  Between Vicki and Susan, both girls are quite smart, but since this show was set in a rather sexist period, their full capabilities were never really utilized, which is very sad.  Vicki has a decent grasp of time being a dimension, maybe a product of her time period, and The Doctor goes from being a crabby old grandfather scolding a child into treating Vicki as a smart student.

Favorite notes:

Vicki just reached through a museum piece, and The Doctor just wants to scold her and not listen.  The old coot is back!
We might not really be here!  Potentially trippy story.
After snarky remarks, The Doctor is taken to the preparation room.  The Doctor is not a snitch, he doesn’t sell out his companions so easily white-guy!!
Ian does NOT want to be on display, so he Hulk-smashed a piece if equipment.
The message of changing the future could have been done so much better… oh wait, that’s why we have Steven Moffat.
  • Story Grade: B-
  • Overall, this story is decent, flirts with being trippy (which could have been played out quite well) and it does a decent job to stay on point without going long.  This might be the first story where Time is really played with and is the plot-driver.

 

Thank you, Vicki, for showing that you are smart.  thank you Doctor, you did not snitch and you will be handsomely rewarded by the family.  Thank you to the writer who put the line about the two not-deaf guys.  (And for my ego and narcissism, thank you to me for incorporating Arrested Development into our Doctor Who blog.)

The Crusade – Story #014

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Jael’s Judgment:

I like to think of Barbara’s hair as a separate character. It is just so big. And longer in this episode. I’m wondering if she has extensions in again.

Anyway, on to the rest of the story. It was nice to have a few of the episodes on film even though the rest were audio only. It gave me an idea of what to imagine as we listened. Overall the story wasn’t bad. They really do minimize the element of danger that I imagine was quite present in actual earth history. But I guess that’s what you get when watching a show meant to have children in the audience.

Thus far Barbara is my favorite companion. Though Sir Ian continues to display his amazing skills with a sword. Man those science teachers in the 60s must really have had a varied skill set…

On a side note; while speaking with the Oh So Handsome Husband here, it just dawned on me how many companions I am going to have to say goodbye to. I get pretty emotionally attached to some if these characters. This could get rough.

  • Story Grade: B-

 

Tony’s Take:

I have nearly nothing to add to Jael’s review.  The combo death blow of audio-only AND historic-based story make this a snoozer for me.  OK, I’ll go back, it was actually half audio-only and half-video, as two of the four episodes remain in video form, but the video did very little for me, which is why this story gets a below average grade.

Like Jael, I am shocked at how decent a science teacher from 1960s London is with a sword.  Ian is so good with a sword that he even gets knighted!  The other bit of weirdness is the Vicki/Victor bit; she is forced to go along pretending to be a prepubescent boy, since women were treated harshly back in those times, especially when battles were being fought.  I had to laugh at the one line that Victor’s “voice has not broken yet.”  I think that this is a very British and very theatrical way of talking about puberty.  Maybe it was said this way in order to keep it above the heads of the children watching this story?

Lastly, a point is established that The Doctor does not like violence as he tries to persuade the king not to fight and take arms.  He knows this part of history, and that his request is futile, but at least he establishes himself as a man who tries to solve problems without violence.  With that being said, The Doctor is not a completely moral man, as he does his fair share of lying and stealing in this story, but it’s for the greater-good, right?

The wrap-up of the story seems a bit forced and rushed, which is odd since 4 episodes is more than enough to explain this story.

Favorite notes:

Bird noises.  No dialogue, maybe the audio CD with narration would have been a better choice than the DVD of Lost Episodes.  (Oh, harp sounds, trumpets, and drums, too.)  then the end of the episode, just like that.
And now Pat Sajak in The Wheel of Fortune!…  Where are the copyright lawyers when you need them?  The BBC should lay claims to that name.
Vicki is being suited up as a boy (though The Doctor tells one man that she is actually a girl).  The man that he told was confused by a girl dressing like a boy… sounds like people still today.
Classic “no, the other boot” trick.

  • Story Grade: D+
  • Broken record, I dislike historical stories.  Do not try to force Doctor Who into history, play with the unknown throughout history, weave The Doctor into the past, do not force him into a round hole with a TARDIS-sized peg.

 

I would like to thank my lovely wife for doing this project with me.  We are only 6% of the way through our quest, but it’s fun.

The Web Planet – Story #013

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Jael’s Judgment:

The Web Planet? Lame name, for a lame story. Sorry, but this one was booo-ring. The most entertaining part was watching all of the actors try to walk around as the different bugs, especially the ants. I do not know why this story was spread out over so many episodes.

  • Story Grade: D

 

Tony’s Take:

This story SUCKED.  Plain and simple.  I will not sugarcoat it, the writing and setting for this story was a complete failure.  After the first episode I thought that withholding the “monster” and adding an element of surprise was good, and at the end of the last episode, I thought that the underlying theme of freewill and humanity (or in this case, bug-manity?) was interesting.  The problem?  The story was drawn out and lost.  I wrote the following in my notes which sums up the story perfectly in my view, “Great, now a plastic tube that talks to The Doctor.  This story is like a stoner’s dream… boiled down to a lifeless goo and molded into something kid safe.  I am convinced that there is no meaning and the plot was lost by the writer.”

There was one point that I thought could have been great, but again, it was not well played and was instantly buried and written off.  The Doctor mentions ‘evolution’, and I can’t help but wonder what the outrage would have been like in the US for mentioning that on a kids show… in the 1960s!  We can barely get away with it today (talking about small scale evolution of insects and birds).  In future episodes of Doctor Who (around Tom Baker’s time), this point would have been the overwhelming theme and driven home in 4 episodes, not just another small piece to a scattered story which tried to address issues of freewill AND separation of races (the races being the different types of bugs).

One last comment to drive home my opinion of disdain for this story: “This is just ridiculous.” I spouted off to my wife just over 31 minutes into the disc. The steam had already run out, this story just got odd and drawn out.  It makes me really appreciate the better done “future and alien” stories.

After much feedback from an unnamed source (JAEL!!!!!!!!), I have decided to only include a couple of my favorite notes:

The Doctor is still giggly, like he was doing drugs in the TARDIS or magically 30 (human) years younger.
Barbara loses control of her arm temporarily, a la Paranormal Activity.
The Doctor is not worried about Ian losing his pants, even though he demanded that Ian give him his belt.  The belt disintegrated after dipping it in a weird ooze.
Ian caught in a net, Barbara almost walking into the pool of acid, Vicki uncontrollably moves the TARDIS. Could The Doctor finally have to save the day and save everyone?  NOPE!  Still not the hero, savior of all type.
The big reveal of the “monster” is for… an interpretive dancing tribesman that mated with a bumblebee? Odd.
“He’s very good at this sort of thing,” says The Doctor to Vicki I  regards to Ian leaving to find Barbara.  Yep, you’re right, probably because this happens in every story!
The bee-man are acting like matadors and treating the ant like a bull (or maybe they are farmers treating them like a pig, yelling “soo-ie”) and trying to get it to go after them.  This may be the most “WHAT?!”-worthy scene yet.
“Zarbi, yi, yi, yi!!!” or “Zarb-eee-eeee-eeee” your choice. Both silly.
  • Story Grade: D-
  • The only saving grace to this story was the fact that the first episode was kind of enjoyable, and the IDEA was decent.  The actual writing of the idea and the setting for the theme could have been done MUCH better.

 

I am not sure that I really have many people to thank for this story.  I guess my thank yous go out to all of the bug actors.  Those costumes looked terribly uncomfortable, you made the best out of a confusing script.

The Romans – Story #012

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Jael’s Judgment:

“There’s a great deal of difference between resting and being sort of bone idle.” -The Doctor. So true and yet sometimes so difficult to keep from falling into the latter when attempting the former.

So what I am wondering is, what are they doing for money this whole time? They seem to be making purchases during this month long hiatus. LOVE Barbara’s hair soooo much better than the way she normally wears it! I also love the togas the women get to wear. I like flowy things. As Barbara and Vicki perused cloth I thought about how I would enjoy making a dress with Barbara.

Unfortunately the episode continues on with little moments of sexism. Fortunately, Barbara usually has moments of sarcasm that make up for it a little.

Aside from the fashion, I thoroughly enjoyed the camera work. So many great end of scene shots where the camera zooms in for a head shot, “bum, bum, bum” music and a telling facial expression.

As Vicki states, it would be wonderful to be able to witness some parts of history first hand. I often wish I could view my location in the past. That is why I like to stand in ancient buildings, to reach out and touch ancient stone, to read about history. I like to connect.

  • Story Grade: B-

 

Tony’s Take:

“Oh yes!  How I do love Barbara’s hair and dress as well!” is what you will not hear coming from me.  May I go the more typical guy route and say, “TOGA!”  Yep, I think of John Belushi and fun college days, not of women’s fashion.  Now if only this story would have been able to time-travel to the future and steal some of Animal House’s humor, it would have been enjoyable.  Instead, The Romans teeters on humor, flirting with the idea a bit, but never fully committing to the notion.  There are the half-jokes, self-deprecation, and even the funny zoom-in to end scenes, but none of these things really spell laugh-out-loud comedy.

Now, as much fun as it would be to go back in time and enjoy different eras and different civilizations, I really dislike when Doctor Who touches on non-fiction in their telling of the past.  Sure, the random small influences that the Doctor or his companions have on those non-fictional characters can be funny, but I really don’t care when it is played out for the entire story.  If the story was set in Roman times, that is one thing, but to try to portray Nero and incorporate him into the Doctor Who universe for a significant amount of time… no thanks.  I am guessing that it is the love of theatre in England that influenced the writers to cast their stories in these “dramatic” times, and which actors do not want to try to play the “Roman Emperor”?

As Jael hinted at (and as we have hinted at in previous posts), the story touches on gender roles and even in doing so, there are many times where it is still just blatantly sexist.  Looking back on this story right now, it is hard to even remember Vicki’s role in this story… maybe that is because I have watched 2+ stories after this already, or because she is getting the Susan treatment – scream, ac helpless, say a couple interesting things, and then immediately play the part of “just a girl”.

The one part of the story that I somewhat enjoyed was the lute playing.  I almost found this bit funny; while I definitely found their acting skills of playing a lute HILARIOUS!  Oh, speaking of hilarious acting, The Doctor’s fight sequence as they await Nero is also fine acting.

Here are my notes:

And yet again an opening shot of a model TARDIS.
Glad we didn’t have to watch the first month of their Roman life.
The gang is being tracked and The Doctor is going a bit loony.
Ian gets a real Roman hairdo from Barbara, looks authentic to me.
Ian and Barbara get kidnapped, and The Doctor and Vicki found a dead body (and the Roman soldier believes he’s a lutist).
So you want a fight do you?! – The Doctor
It is toeing the line between comedy and absurd acting.  The music and the looks to the camera set it up, but there aren’t many over the top jokes.
Ian and Barbara are slaves, Ian on a ship and Barbara bought by a kind man.
The ship crashes and Ian is free!!!
Nero and The Doctor are such GREAT lute players.
Ian shall fight a lion! Excellent.
Seems that Nero is horny for Barbara, and the empress is none too pleased.
Ian gets to fight the other slave instead and is nearly killed.
Barbara is encouraged to escape, since the empress wants her gone.
And now Rome burns.
Ian and Barbara seem to be very flirty in this episode.
…dragged down, to THE WEB PLANET!
  • Story Grade: C-
  • I have said it before and I will say it again, I really dislike the historic pieces.  The comedy part of this could have been over the top and a nice precursor to such movies as “History of the World: Part I”, but it had to keep it’s grip and not commit to 100% comedy; what a shame.

 

Thank you, Roman culture, for playing the lute.  This out-of-date, seldom-used instrument provides for top quality humor when actors are forced to “play” a song.  Thank you to the camera crew, you did hit the marks, even if the writing didn’t set your jokes up nicely.

The Rescue – Story #011

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Jael’s Judgment:

This was a short one. My review will also be short.

They sure replaced Susan quickly, and with almost exactly the same character. I like Vicki’s hair. I spent a good portion of these episodes trying to determine if Vicki’s dress was just far too short (Hey something else short!) or if she was wearing leggings. That’s about all I have for this one. I had higher hopes when I saw some previews with bug creatures. Secret doors were the best part of this story.

  • Story Grade: C+

 

Tony’s Take:

Ah, time to breath, these two-part stories are wonderful.  Sure, the plots are usually even more simple than usual, but it’s fun and the it does not allow the story enough time to feel like an eternity.

I just read Jael’s review, and it took me about 1 minute.  I agree, Susan’s departure was rather rushed and her replacement was nearly Susan 2.0; the looks, the screams, and the age all seem to point to Susan.  The new companion, Vicki, is introduced as an Earthing from the future that landed on a planet and is awaiting her rescue (henceforth the name of the story).

For being a two-episode story, the plot actually seemed well-structured and still packed with twists and turns.  I think I like this episode because of the condensed time while having the same amount of plot and story as a 4-episode arc.

Parents: Do not worry, Vicki is actually wearing pants.  The black and white nature combined with the awkward clothing choice make this wardrobe choice an unfortunate choice.  On the plus side, Vicki’s collar looks like Kermit the Frog’s, so children should be able to identify with this character.

Here are my notes:

The Doctor was SLEEPING! That’s rarely addressed, very weird to hear.
Planet Dido, they play the best adult contemporary hits. I wonder if Dido will ever collaborate with Planet Eminem, forming a multi-planet alliance called Stan.
Frilly lizard/bug dude!
The Doctor does not seem to be showing many signs of missing Barbara (if any).
Vicki’s collar looks a lot like Kermit the Frog’s.
VICKI IS FINE! SHE’S PERFECTLY ALRIGHT!
Ian nearly gets poked with “razor-sharp” swords from a wall. A silly looking growling lizard thing in a pit is waiting for him to fall.
The man staying with Vicki seems to be pleasant (SARCASM).
And Barbara shoots the weird monster thing with a cheap flare gun. Vicki is mad, because Barbara killed him without knowing that he was not going to harm them.
The rescue ship is on the way! (But we know better, right?)
The Doctor knows better, geez Vicki!
By the way, it looks as though Vicki is pantless and wearing a super short dress. Nope, she has leggings on.
Hmmm, the man vanished when The Doctor came in. Escape doors, taped voices, and spying on the sounds in the main room. This guy is up to no good.
Yep, the dude was no good and killed the entire people on the planet.
The Doctor gets in a fight and is saved by two white princes.
The white dudes scare the man away and he falls to his death. Vicki gets picked up by The Doctor, a substitute for Susan.
  • Story Grade: B
  • There are some very iconic shots and moments in this story, unfortunately they come early and late, while the middle part drags quite long.

 

Again, thank you writing team, especially in conjunction with the scheduling programmer.  As I gushed about above, the two-episode set-up is a definite positive in my eyes.

The Dalek Invasion of Earth – Story #010

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Jael’s Judgment:

Although the group is very split up in this story, with several different story lines taking place at once, the main vein is obviously Susan’s departure. They are preparing us for it throughout the entire story. At first I thought this was nice and well done, but having seen this particular histoire multiple times my opinion evolved. By the end of the story I was bored with how unceasingly it was drilled into us that it might be the right time for Susan to leave. Susan relying more on her new beau than her grandfather. Susan complaining about not feeling as though she belongs anywhere. Just moving from planet to planet with the Doctor to escape danger. Well, I’ve got news for Sus, it seems like the humans are just running on earth too!

Anyway, I thought it a rash decision. She only met the guy a couple days ago and already she’s in love?! I don’t think I was in live with anyone at 16 or whatever age she is. But hey, maybe that’s the way to make decisions and be happy in life. And maybe she had a wisdom beyond her years. And maybe it can all be explained away by Susan’s desire for committed companionship. When they first landed, Susan did ask Barbara if it is selfish to want to stay together.

The music at the very end creeped me out. As did The Doctor when he told Susan that she should “live normally like any woman should do”? What does that mean? Was it sexist or just implying woman meant human?

Overall I thought it was a little anticlimactic for Susan’s last show. :/ I will miss her character. If I was her I probably would have kept the necklace as a keepsake, but whatevs. My overall, mostest, bestest, favorite part is how the Doctor leaves Susan with only one shoe. Hah, that’s what you get for leaving!

Aside from all if the above, I enjoyed seeing more of the early Daleks. It could be just me, but it seemed like there was more variation in the different Dalek voices, giving the impression of slightly more individualized personalities than many of the newer stories. Although now that I think about it there is individuality shown in Asylum of the Daleks and whenever the Cult of Skaro shows up. Visually there were some interesting differences as well. Our view from the Dalek’s eye stock is just a regular camera in a circle. It is not the blue we see now.

Finally, Barbara’s hair is so darn big. I know it has always been big. It is just so big.

And what was up with the slither?? What was that?

  • Story Grade: C-

 

Tony’s Take:

Jael, I do agree with your assessment of the sexist side of Doctor Who, but I will cover that (more in depth later).  But firstly, I disagree that the entire episode was just a set up for Susan’s departure.  Sure, it was a major theme and this plot (as with most plots in Classic Who) was easy to see through, but it there was more going on.  This story was the first true Dalek story in my eyes.  We see Daleks on a different planet (Earth) trying to take over and run a new planet; even saying “EXTERMINATE”.  The shots we see of the Daleks early on, roaming the streets of London and crossing the bridges, and those shots are signature shots of the Daleks.  It’s incredible, because we all know that the Daleks come from Skaro, but as a viewer of a TV show, we also associate them as British, nay, Londoners.

Though the writing gets more and more sophisticated over time, nearly every Dalek story follows this story’s plot-line; Invade Earth (another planet), take over, threaten the people with extermination, The Doctor saves the day.

Now let’s revisit the piece where we do agree.  Sexism in 1960s Doctor Who.  Sexism was not just in Doctor Who, it was a plague in all of business and even at home.  Coming off of the 1950s (at least in America), women knew their places, in the kitchen.  Their goal in life (as dictated by society) was to get married and make babies.  Yes, verity Lambert was the show-runner at the time, but she was still playing a man’s game and the over-whelming majority of the writers were men, so yeah, good luck being able to turn this ship around on a dime.

Jael already mentioned The Doctor telling Susan to do what a woman does, and she already mentioned that Susan fell rather quickly for David.  David was mostly a decent enough guy, but it seems as though Susan had much more to offer the universe than being trapped on Earth.  The writers reduced her to a screamer, but there were other times where she showed great depth and a will to explore.  I would have loved to have Susan find her own TARDIS and find her own companion(s).  As touching as The Doctor’s speech was at the end, the whole sentiment of Susan leaving was not nearly as pretty.

We will see many women leave the show throughout the series leave the show to get married, it’s almost a default was to leave.  Sure, some women and men will want to get off the TARDIS because of love, but to think that it would be due to a week long stop and sparks fly seems naive.  I am sure there are more things I can find when it comes to sexism in this story (and a whole book can be written if you include the entire series), but my concentration level is next to empty since I am watching Coupling right now.  (Check that show out if you haven’t already.  It’s Steven Moffat’s much more impressive version of Friends, and yes, there are a few Doctor Who references in the series.)

I apologize for the quick ending here, there is also the topic of racism in Doctor Who (mention of the RED Indians in the story seems to ring a bell), but I will cover that when we have a much larger showing of racism (say, Talons of Weng-Chiang?).  Read my notes below, there are a few nuggets of decent thoughts, even if they are just fragments.

If you want further detail, here are my notes:

Right away we see a sign about dumping bodies, should be eerie.
Susan twists an ankle and the bridge falls.  The Doctor is still crabby about this and blames Susan, since it blocked the TARDIS, so much so that he threatens to spank her when he and Ian return.  WHAT?!
Bodies floating in the river, men saying they are trying to help Barbara and The Doctor finds out it 2164.  Then we have a weird helmet for picking up radio waves.
The robo-men almost look like Cybermen.  Even the idea of them is similar.
A Dalek coming out from the river, wow!
It’s weird, the first Dalek story was very cool since its the first time we see them; but this story is more of a classic Dalek episode, since they are trying to take over a planet.  Move them from Skaro and suddenly you have true classic Daleks.
Ian and The Doctor get taken by the Daleks.  A man is killed by the Daleks and the rays that kill him sound like very loud and poorly recorded waterfalls.
It will work! – say the resistance team to Barbara’s plan of acting like robo-men with the extra helmets.
Hold that and shut up would you? – The Doctor to the other prisoner after his plan to get the key works.  (Magnets and light, nice work.)
Episode two closes with the initial attack commencing.
The Doctor is saved by two rogue warriors with Susan and Barbara waiting outside.
The ship is cleared and Daleks are tipped.  We also see the Daleks using their laser guns, though it looks more like something used for mating on the Discovery channel.  Ian remains on board, but not locked up.
Finally in episode three do we get to see the Daleks iconic stroll on the London bridges.  The music is even kind of fun, although a bit too upbeat, not just heart pounding intense action.  I’m getting a big Prisoner vibe from this scene and music.
Good, they got the scientist to his headquarters in order to fix his problem with the bomb.  Turns out it’s the metal they are made of, Dalekanium.
Then the scientist sacrifices himself to see if the bomb works.
After a bit of everyone positioning themselves I  the story the cliffhanger for the 3rd ep. is a Dalek bomb!
The Daleks using slave labor to mine definitely has some comparisons to Nazis.
Susan seems to be challenged by the one boy, even as far as liking him. (David)
Wow, Barbara SMASHES the Daleks with a big-rig.
Alligators living in the sewers of London after escaping the zoos.  How cool is that?
Susan cannot climb a ladder.  She nearly falls into the water where a tiny lizard, I mean full grown alligator (wink wink) is awaiting a meal.
Look out for the Slither, Ian!
The Doctor takes out a robo-man with a cane, wicked!  Susan’s is just getting closer and closer to David.
It has resorted to brothers killing brothers.
Susan and David nearly make a baby when he surprises her with a fish.  Full on smooching!
Removing the core of the planet, that sounds like an easy task.  Probably tough with Ian in the capsule though.
YES!  Racism in Classic Who: “I was talking about RED Indians.”  Thanks Barbara, and thank you writing team.  It’s so cringe-worthy, and as much as it was the times, I cannot stand behind that cop-out.
Just don’t call him Doc, thank you.
The view through the Dalek eye-stalk.  Barbara and The Doctor’s impersonation of the Daleks was priceless.
Robo-men turn on the Daleks, thanks to the great voice acting.
I wonder how the BBC could afford such a large explosion; certainly wasn’t stock footage.
Starting a new beginning, a new civilization, but Susan is staying behind to help the new world.  The Doctor knows that this is the end and is hurting because if this.  This is the first time we see him have such raw emotions (besides anger) and the first time he is nearly speechless.
David wants love AND marriage right away.  Susan has to choose between David and The Doctor.
The Doctor decides to just leave her. His speech is touching and very fatherly.  One day he shall come back!  (Oh if he’d only come back.)
And so concludes the first companion send-off.
  • Story Grade: C+
  • There are some very iconic shots and moments in this story, unfortunately they come early and late, while the middle part drags quite long.

 

My thanks go out to the writers for writing such a nice “first send-off”.  Thank you also to Carole Ann Ford; being the first true companion will always be looked back on by history, and you carried out the role wonderfully.  Thank you, Terry Nation (writer) for making a better Dalek story than the Dalek introduction.  The scenes of the Daleks rolling across town and on the bridge felt very powerful and very close to the present day Dalek stories.

Planet of Giants – Story #009

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Jael’s Judgment:

I do not have a ton to say about this story. It wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t great. Thus the average grade of C, on the scale which my husband still makes me use under protest.

I am not really sure why Barbara didn’t inform the rest of the group immediately that she had come into contact with the pesticide…

I’ll tell you what did inspire me about this story, the props! Made me want to be a prop designer. Unfortunately I am unsure about the level of training this would take, especially now, 49 years later. Some if the scaling seemed to be off. I could definitely take care of that. Plus I think I could do a decent artistic job creating props and sets as well. Hmmm, maybe I should think about this as a future career. I am sure there are many career opportunities of this vein in the Midwest United States.

  • Story Grade: C

 

Tony’s Take:

Sorry guys, after the differing viewpoints on that nasty French adventure, we are back to agreeing with each other.  The grades are identical, and our high points are the same (props).  How crazy was Barbara for keeping the pesticide contact a secret for so long?!  Just tell them already!

If you want further detail, here are my notes:

CLOSE THE DOORS!  The TARDIS is acting up yet again.
For once, the mini model TARDIS comes in handy, it’s nearly actual size for this story!
Of course the best idea is to leave the ship to figure out what happened. Next step would be to split up… and there it happens!
The first giant, a giant worm, followed by eggs, and then an ant.
Reduced to an inch, but Ian has difficulty believing that, and he’s a time-traveler.
Ian’s great acting in the matchbox was AWESOME, Susan’s screaming was not.
Weird, didn’t know that Burn’s assistant, Smithers, was in this story.
Why would being smaller change the pitch what the tiny people are hearing?  Shorter people do not hear sounds differently than taller people. If anything, they may not be able to hear certain frequencies because of smaller ear drums.  They would probably sound squeaky, since they’d have smaller vocal cords, but they would also hear each other as squeaky.  Right?
Ian’s walk in front of the dead man was priceless.  Oh how technology has changed.
DO NOT LOOK INTO THE CAT’S EYES!
We are split up again, but we learned about Smithers and the killer, they are disposing the body.
Susan touched the poison wheat, oops, spoiled that one already.  Guess we have to see how it plays out; how will they save her?!
Susan passes out when seeing a giant bug, reminds me of someone close to me.  But at least she and Ian hear Susan once she wakes up.  The gang gets back together in the drain!
Episode 2 really went down the drain, literally.
Barbara, just tell them you are poisoned already!  Geez.
The old cork under the phone trick.  Is this the inspiration for ‘Honey I Shrunk The Kids’?
The screams in unison are priceless, it’s almost like a blooper take, they are almost cracking.
Well, The Doctor just went all pyro, “Nothing like a good fire?!”
The phone off the hook worked, especially when coupled with previous suspicion by the telephone operator.
I’m sure the prop department had fun making all of these giant props.
Glad we had the seed as a visual to see the TARDIS going back to normal size.
  • Story Grade: C
  • The models and props were pretty decent.  The story was nice and condensed (for the 1960s era Who), and the story had average twists and plot-line.

 

All the thanks go out to the prop design team.  Making a bunch of huge props to make the group look small was very well done.  Many times the scale and proportions were well off, but this was probably at the request of the director in order ensure that the actors look tiny, plus it’s just a TV show for kids.

The Reign of Terror – Story #008

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Jael’s Judgment:

Another audio, woohoo for me! Even though there is no video, I feel as though I have a good image of the story playing in my head. I know what the main characters look like and I have been not only to Paris, but specifically to the Conciergerie. I remember my first visit with my French “mother” and her daughter (my pen pal and host,) Capucine.

(Well that was fun! I just took a short break from writing this to rummage through my treasure box to find my first letter from Capucine over a decade ago. I have long since lost touch, but it makes me want to try to make contact again before my next trip there this March.)

I also took Tony to the Conciergerie several years ago when he came to travel and site-see in Northwestern France with me for a couple of weeks  after I finished studying over there. I fondly recall a woman holding me “otage” at a small cafe nearby while my non-french speaking husband went searching for an ATM. What lovely and fun memories this all brings up!

Anyway despite having some personal knowledge himself of the setting, I do not think Tony is a huge fan of this Doctor Who story. Yet the writers must have some affinity for France in this period. After all, as Susan points out, they make  la Terreur the Doctor’s favorite time in history. What does this say about the Doctor?

Personally I find the setting quite interesting, but the story did run a little long. A couple of times I found myself day dreaming and having to really concentrate on following the plot line. I wonder if this one may have actually been more captivating with the visual in addition to the audio. The good news is that the story picked up a little near the end. And while i do not remember the exact details of history, throughout the entire story I feel the environment of many different factions, ideals, and conspiracies was demonstrated fairly well. It was also nice that they touched on the idea of the “right” and “wrong” sides.

The bad news is that I get the impression my partner was even more bored than I…

  • Story Grade: C+

 

Tony’s Take:

Bored?!  BORED?!  Bored would be putting it lightly.  I was lucky to stay with the story because my interest was at a new low.  Sure, it was cool that I had been to a place where The Doctor was, but beyond that, nothing.  The story was meandering and with such a weak plot, so why did they stretch this out to 6 epsidoes?!

The good news?  Well, we finished our first full season of Doctor Who!  I have little more to say, because I couldn’t care less about this story.  Why couldn’t The Doctor be visiting Minneapolis on, say, October 26th and 27th, 1991?  This is history that I would LOVE to revisit if the story has to have no plot line.  (For those of you not well versed in Minnesota sports, this is game 6 and 7 of the 1991 World Series.  I was 7 and would love to revisit the greatest moment in local sport history.)

If you want further detail, here are my notes:

Great, another historical piece. Oh yay!
The Doctor is still crabby at Ian for disrespecting him and The TARDIS.
Ian gets The Doctor to say goodbye over a drink.  Way to go Ian, you got him to go with you to make sure you are in the right time and place.
Close, they’re in France.
Well, it sounds like Ian and Barbara still wish to stay, based on their dialogue.
FRENCH REVOLUTION!!!
It’s probably best that the gang didn’t choose a side.
Oh no! A fire at the farmhouse!  Ian and Susan are worried, and so am I!
OK, Madame Guillotine does sound cool.  Add that to the gang getting trapped in jail, they almost sound like thugs.
At least the splitting up is not on purpose.
Find Jack Sterling – says dying man to Ian.
And the mouth on The Doctor gets him forced into working a chain gang.
And The Doctor gets out of a jam by shenanigans at about the same time Barbara and Susan start their escape. (Poor Doctor, a whole 5k away!) …Too bad the girls got caught.
Glad the jailer left the keys in the lock, lucky Ian!
Oh to see The Doctor in his new wardrobe.
Uh oh, the tailor turned on The Doctor!
Yes!  Ian meets up with Barbara and Susan and of course the Frenchman offers wine.  He is one step closer to finding James Sterling, Webster told him of the man who took in Barbara and Susan, said he’d know James.
Glad that Susan and Barbara were caught and The Doctor is the highest ranking man on charge (2nd Officer).
Ian was set up when trying to search for Susan and Barbara, now he is being questioned by the soldiers.
Track 32 of the 2nd CD has a faint recording of the Doctor Who theme in the background while Barbara is talking… I thought I was hearing things!  (Through at least track 34)
If only The Doctor would meet up, then the gang could get on the road!!
The Doctor is forced to cut a deal in order to stay free and see Susan, the jailer is playing hardball.
NAPOLEON!!!
Glad they are escaping under war.  Scary times, for sure.
“Our destiny is in the stars!”
  • Story Grade: D-
  • This historical piece was nothing more than a story with no plot and running in circles.  I don’t know what it would take to give a story an F, but this came close.  I tried to make sure that the medium in which I took this story in did not detract from my view of said story, again, this is why it was not a total F.  Maybe when the story comes out on DVD I can review it in a better context?

 

Thank you to one of the few cool parts of the entire story, the name Madame Guillotine.  That name just sounds intense; I would not like to meet her.  Also, thank you to the writer who gave The Doctor the line, “Our destiny is in the stars!”  That line sums up The Doctor and can be spoken by every Doctor.