The Tomb of the Cybermen – Story #037

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Jael’s Judgement:

Finally! I no longer a blind traveler! We have video!!! This means our ears are not simply assaulted by a piercing American accent, but we have video to distract us. It also means that we get to play Spot the Whiffle Ball on the Cybermen. (Some of them were quite challenging, they were painted silver.) Don’t mistake my sarcasm for dislike. I love every bit of this!

Right away the setting reminded of a River Song/Weeping Angels episode. Maybe it is the archaeology coupled with impending danger.
I think they overdid convincing the viewer right away to dislike Kaftan. They could have made her a bit trickier and let the whole situation be a little more interesting.

They mentioned the Doctor’s age, 450 years I think. And I appreciate that they showed him sleeping. Not that it makes for the most exciting story, but as Tony so often points out, we now rarely see him resting. Maybe that is because he is getting older. I do not get the impression that my grandparents sleep full 8 hour nights. Of course now he is what, over 1,000. That leaves a lot of his time stream that we do not witness! Maybe we are missing all of his moments spent in slumber. Speaking of such ridiculous age, how can he possibly remember anything?? I have a hard enough time remembering when I was 16!

Anyway, enough with my sidetracked rant. I think I am beginning to like Victoria. She is finally trying to be somewhat independent. Although I do not appreciate that she keeps getting yelled at and scolded every time she touches something.

Finally, I am glad the Doctor pointed out that Jamie’s “skirt” is shorter than Victoria’s when she is concerned about modesty.

  • Story Grade: C+

 

Tony’s Take:

So very silvery.  The Cybermen no-longer look grey, but seem to finally shimmer – albeit in black and white.  The build up to the viewing of a dormant Cybermen city (nothing but endless pods containing one Cyberman each) was well done.

Agreement with Jael:

  • No sense of mystery around Kaftan – you hate her and know she is bad, something not done in today’s television production.
  • Seeing the Doctor sleeping may not make for exciting television, but being “human” like he has said, we cannot expect any form of human to NOT rest/sleep can we?  (Go back to my previous review on the Doctor and being human.)
  • Excitement for VIEWING Doctor Who.  It makes sense, get excited to WATCH an episode of a television show, not just listen to an audio recording with narration.  Part of the charm of this show is the fact that it’s long history goes back to simpler and yet more confusing times – erasing any traces of episodes in order to cut down on film costs… Wow.

Disagreement with Jael:

  • American accent?!  What audio CDs are you listening to?!  While I would prefer video over ANY audio story, the people who made these CDs did as wonderful of a job as possible.  (Side rant: What is the use of putting “Collection Six” out?  All those stories are visible and on DVD already. Odd.)
  • You question memory ability?  Obviously Time lords are superior in time and therefor have a complex grab on not only time, but how we perceive time (our memories).  Plus, remember the matrix on Gallifrey?  There is probably some sort of telepathic link or ability to use the group collective to share or download these memories in order to store time/history.  DUH!  😉
  • Victoria is… alright, if not typical.  Not exactly a strong character, but that is no ones fault other than the writers.  Troughton’s Doctor does not seem like one to scold (in my head), so it’s probably a reflection of the times (unfortunately) and nothing more.

PS:  I have probably already mentioned this, but if you plan on getting deep into Doctor Who and the stories behind the lost episodes (how they became lost, where there is hope, and more info than you could possibly want), check out Richard Molesworth’s “Wiped!” books.  (Book 1 and the updated Book 2.)

  • Story Grade: B-
  • SILVER Cybermen!  A decent build to what could have been one of the best Cybermen stories (if not one of the best stories, period), but unfortunately the payoff was lacking a bit.

 

HUGE thanks to the prop team for making the Cybermen shimmer on screen.  *slow claps*

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The Moonbase – Story #033

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Jael’s Judgement:

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

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

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

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

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

  • Story Grade: B-

Tony’s Take:

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

MoonbaseCybermen

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

CoalMiner1

Miners Settle Strike

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Underwater Menace – Story #032

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Jael’s Judgment:

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

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

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

  • Story Grade: B

 

Tony’s Take:

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

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

Alright, I’m back.

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

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

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

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

 

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

See what I mean?

UW Menace

The Highlanders – Story #031

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Jael’s Judgment:

We get to meet Jamie! I am not sure why I am so happy about this. Maybe it is because he is tough even though he wears a kilt. Maybe it is because he is a piper. (On a side note he should take the TARDIS into my future and pipe at my funeral. I really want bagpipes played at my funeral.) Maybe it is the accent. Yeah, it’s probably the accent. Like Amelia Pond’s accent. Speaking of Amy, Inverness gets a shout out! And neither Karen Gillan (1960s) or Amelia Pond (1700s) were even born yet.

“Bonnie Prince Charles.” I am unfortunately guilty along with Ben, when the Doctor tells him he should have paid better attention in History class. Too bad I don’t know more about English history. They do mention the moor, and that I can connect with through books I have read. In fact, I just recently read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. From all of the books I have read, I take it that the moor is a lovely spot for a romantic, historical adventure. The moors just seem so ancient and untouchable. This is of course written with no first hand knowledge of them.

Yay! We got to hear the phrase “Doctor who?” occurring naturally within conversation. And speaking of the Doctor, we are on our second full adventure with Troughton. I will admit that I thought the recorder was going to be seriously annoying. However we find the Doctor in a cell once again bringing out his recorder, and what a nice little ditty all of the prisoners sing together.

His second reincarnation is also a little edgier than the first. He brings more humor to serious situations. Apparently, from what I gather with only the audio, he even smacks a guard’s head into a desk as part of a plan. And then uses some rather silly jokes to fool his adversaries.

Finally Polly does something!!! She claims that crying is no good and takes action. And she has to remove her unpractical shoes! (This is a pet peeve if mine. I hate it when people in television/movies run about in impractical shoes.) And Polly figures out how to get money for her & the other woman and blackmail a soldier. I am so impressed. Where was this Polly in the last few adventures???

  • Story Grade: B

 

Tony’s Take:

JAMIE McCRIMMON.

The most prolific companion to date has finally entered the world of Doctor Who.  I could tell, in an instant, that Jael would love this character.  His Scottish-ness and kilt are too much for any lady to resist. (He says with heavy sarcasm.)  But in all seriousness, she really does enjoy Jamie, he’s a bit of a comedic tool (being from the past and not understanding futuristic things) and yet a very strong willed and courageous companion.  Now if only Doctor Who would pair him up with a solid female companion with a strong character (more than screaming and making coffee), you could have one of the best TARDIS-teams of all-time.

And then there is The Doctor, the genius that is Partick Troughton.  While scheming and trying to play the trickster, The Doctor gives the German alias “Doktor von Wer”… Doctor Who.  Awesome!

And then there is the other disguise of The Doctor.  As this story was all audio, I could only picture Patrick Troughton in a very Monty Python-esque scene:

I pictured The Doctor as the old woman in the clip above, as he tried to disguise himself as a lady.

And for good measure, my mind wandered and thought of further man/woman Monty Python skits.  this time something from Life of Brian:

Do you think that Patrick Troughton, being the top-notch performer that he was, went through that internal struggle for this role and really wanted to be a lady like Eric Idle’s character above?  You’re right, probably not.  But I am REALLY liking Troughton none-the-less.  To even compare Doctor Who to the wonderful Monty Python makes me happy.  Troughton really is making this show more enjoyable and lighthearted (in a good way).  The crankiness of The Doctor is gone, and the show seems much better suited for its audience of children.

And one last comparison of Doctor Who to other pieces of comedic genius.  When Jamie is described as a piper, I couldn’t help but immediately think of “So I Married An Axe Murderer”:

  • Story Grade: C+
  • This is more of a “historical story”, but the Troughton-y moments make it much more enjoyable than in the past.  Not my favorite story, but the new life gives it a better “listen”.

 

Thank you, Monty Python, quite possibly the greatest comedic group EVER.  Thank you and welcome, Jamie McCrimmon/Frazer Hines.  Thank you, Mike Myers.  I know that he is heavily influenced by British culture, as his father was from that side of the pond, so that definitely relates to this blog, right?