The Moonbase – Story #033

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Jael’s Judgement:

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

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

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

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

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

  • Story Grade: B-

Tony’s Take:

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

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

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Miners Settle Strike

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 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).

The Gunfighters – Story #025

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And now for a new feature on our blog:

GUEST REVIEW!!

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

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

Guest Rev-who:

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

Blog-link:  None

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jael’s Judgment:

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

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

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

  • Story Grade: B+

 

Tony’s Take:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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