The Underwater Menace – Story #032

DW32

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

Advertisements

The Tenth Planet – Story #029

29

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).

The Smugglers – Story #028

28

Jael’s Judgment:

Who doesn’t like a pirate story?

While this was still an adventure, it had some mystery and intrigue which also made it more of a “story” for me. A lot like most of the fictional books I read. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but didn’t really feel involved.

It started to get a little weird when I realized that all of the pirate accents were really just Irish accents.

  • Story Grade: C+

 

Tony’s Take:

To call this story dull would be doing it a favor.  I had very little interest and did not care what happened.  All I wanted was for the gang to get back into the TARDIS and get to the next story already.

Pulled from Wikipedia:

On initial airing, this story posted the lowest audience figures, at an average of 4.48 million viewers per episode, since the show had started. It would remain the least-watched story in Doctor Who history for twenty years, until The Trial of a Time LordThe Mysterious Planet aired in 1986 and posted an average of 4.35 million viewers per episode.

Sounds about right.  Good on you, British viewers!

I will not explain anything further, and I do not even have some comparison or witty remark to make.  Maybe, just maybe, the video would have saved it some, and for that I give it a barely passing grade of…

  • Story Grade: D
  • Only “watch” this story if you are doing something like us and wanting needing to take in each story.

 

Thank you, Irish actors.  Irish versus Pirate, who can tell the difference?!  (I am clearly being sarcastic.)  In a way, thank you to the writing team, your poor story made for a very short blog entry.

The Gunfighters – Story #025

DW25

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:

IMG_5659

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:

IMG_5649

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

DW22

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

DW19 + 21

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

DW20

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

DW19 + 21

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.

The Chase – Story #016

DW15-16

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 Rescue – Story #011

DW11-12

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.