The War Machines – Story #027

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Jael’s Judgment:

Wow, what a different intro!

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

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

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

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

  • Story Grade: B

Tony’s Take:

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

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

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

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

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

battlebots and war machines

The 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 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.

The Daleks – Story #002

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Jael’s Judgment:

These early episodes are clearly a product of the times. With Neutron bombs and fear of radiation poisoning.

We learn a little bit more about our relatable characters. There are the sweet stories of affection. Ian trying to be chivalrous, comforting Barbara. But in the end Barbara is just charmed by the chivalry (or come-ons) of the locals.

I continue to enjoy Susan. She finds drawing to be soothing, which indeed it is. And I too would be delighted by a petrified flower, of course not one that oozes radiation… Her hysterics, in particular her running through the woods continue to be ridiculous. She is extremely difficult to understand when she becomes hysterical. That is a bit annoying.

However, the silly effects or unbelievable (not in a good way) acting are some of the reasons I find these early episodes charming. I enjoy chuckling with my hubby when Susan runs in place or Ian suggests, “let’s split up.” These qualities are endearing.

On a less endearing note we meet the Daleks. Their first appearance, yeah it’s kind of scary despite the corniness. My favorite quality of the Daleks is how they express the panic we all feel in certain situations. With their increasingly high and loud voices, repeating and repeating. Man, I sometimes hear that same voice in my head.

And then there are the Thals. With their white hair, tall statutes, and command of “do not be afraid” like angels.

I find serenity in the fun flirting, the petrified flowers, the smiles I share with my husband, the “other-worldly” Thals, and the fact that we all have our Dalek-esque moments.

  • Story Grade: B-

 

Tony’s Take:

First things first, I think that the only way that I am going to be “consistent” on this blog is the scale in which I grade the episodes (school grades: A+ down to F).  My motives and criteria for grading will not even be consistent; how could it be?!  Opinions are nothing more than subjective “me think”.  The format in which I lay out my ideas will vary widely, and with that, so too will the length.  So without further adieu, here is my review for “THE DALEKS!”  (Hey, they deserve to have their lead story told in all caps, it’s how they speak… and the exclamation point cannot hurt.)

Views on “The Doctor”:

  • He seems to be more focused on science in this story.
  • Calls Ian by only his last name, “Chesterton!”, more often than not.  I love this!  It’s a dynamic that plays to the viewer quite easily, as if The Doctor knows he is being viewed as second-fiddle, the non-hero of the story.  His way of ‘setting things straight’ is by being rather formal and not calling Ian by his first name, like a friend would, but by his surname in order to sound like a teacher or superior.
  • “Old fool!”  Words spoken by Ian, which sum up the lies and shiftiness of The Doctor quite perfectly.
  • It’s hard to draw the line between “The Doctor” and “William Hartnell”.  I wonder how much of tiredness and weakness is actually The Doctor or the old man playing the role.
  • “No, no, they won’t be suspicious at all!” says The Doctor to Ian as he is climbing into a Dalek’s casing!  Oh the simplicity of television of old.  I love how blatantly this statement is made.

Quick bit on the TARDIS:

  • Bring back the automatic food dispenser!  This is one area where British television did things right, they were able to offer a bit of fluff and fun WITHOUT using a corporate sponsor (like Cadbury or some other food/drink company wishing to push their product).  I guess that’s due to how the BBC is a publicly owned entity and cannot sponsor privately held corporations… Good on you!

Two cents on Barbara:

  • Barbara seems like she is the go-to person for Susan, almost like Susan is reaching out for a mother or at the very least another female with which to relate.  Barbara is caring, but either it is the times or the fact that she is only Susan’s teacher, not her mother, that keep her from really owning that role as a full on mentor or guardian.
  • Barbara, when she does assume the care-taking role, does so because she sees just how inept and cold The Doctor can be.

…And now my thoughts on the unsung hero of early Who, Ian:

  • Ian is much more the hero in this show for many reasons, the first of which is that he is easily relatable since he is human.
  • Ian can also be a hero because he is also a science teacher, so he isn’t always totally overshadowed by The Doctor’s reasoning or understanding (like future companions sometimes are).
  • Age is on Ian’s side.  it’s true, he is the typical male role, since he is relatively young and in shape.  The Doctor cannot compete with Ian when it comes to anything physical.
  • Ian is also forced to be the level-headed one more often than not.  With the writers making the women in this show sound like banshees (is this not accurate given the screams of Susan and even Barbara at times?), Ian has to stay focused and keep everyone on track.  The Doctor is often cold and careless, Susan and Barbara are damsels in distress, so Ian is the glue.
  • “Why don’t we separate…?” says Ian.  This statement, meant to be a plot-driver, is one that is often followed in Doctor Who, but rarely said out-loud  especially in such a direct way.  Anyone who has ever watched a horror, action, or drama film/show can tell you that this idea NEVER works.

Overall:

As a story, this is where the long history of cheapness in Classic Who really gets its start.  The thrift of design on the costumes and monsters, the cheesiness of the sets, and the exquisitely bad model shots all make for terribly out-of-date and yet close to the heart television.  The model-shots of Skaro, though bad by many people’s standards, are not a complete failure… the black and white hid what could have been excruciating in color.  Another classic piece of the puzzle is the separation of companions and The Doctor, as described above.  I hope you enjoy this formula, because you have 25 more years of this in the Classic Who catalog.

“What about the Daleks, Tony?!”

Yes, yes, dear reader, I am getting there.  To see your first Dalek is magical, and the way they were teased at the end of the first episode was great… they only show a plunger at the end of a camera while it is threatening a companion.  **SLOW CLAPS**  Now THAT’S iconic, BBC!!  Another piece of classic Doctor Who would be corridors, and thanks to the Dalek city, there are plenty of corridors to get lost in.

The Daleks themselves appear nearly identical to future versions (slight updates are made here and there, but a classic monster needs little revision), and speaking of identical, how about their voices?  Yes, we have two people voicing the Daleks, but the trouble is that between the shouting and numerous Daleks on camera at one time, it’s hard to keep them straight.  Now, you could argue that you don’t have to keep them straight, which is true, but merely relying on blinking lights on a black and white story is a tough task for those who seek clarity.

Lastly, we come to the Thals.  The Thals are a race of alien that had fought against the Daleks for 500 years and become pacifists because of they tired of the constant fighting.  Though i do enjoy the Thals, and like my wife said above, they have a certain aura of peace and humanity about them, the second plot, which drove this story to 7 parts, was a bit unnecessary.  Seven episodes is LONG!  Either revise the script and make it more compact, or eliminate the number of plots that need solving.

I often wonder what the Thals would be like if they were reintroduced to New Who.  I think that they would still be peaceful, but there is still much that we do not know about the Thal people and their history (or what they would become, or who they evolve to be).

  • Story Grade: C
  • While the magic of revealing such a historic nemesis makes this story a delight, the 7 episodes make this way too long for its own good.  If condensed into a 4 part episode, easily in the B range or higher.

 

This post’s thanks go out to Verity Lambert, Terry Nation, Raymond Cusick, and everyone else involved in the creation of these storied adversaries of The Doctor.  Please do yourself a favor and watch the special features on the DVDs.  The story about the creation of the Daleks at the BBC and subsequent rousing make for a fun, yet educational, watch.