The Macra Terror – Story #034

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Jael’s Judgement:

Right away this reminds me of The Prisoner. Does that make me über-nerdy? I guess the difference is that I stuck with the Doctor through this entire adventure to eventually find out why this colony is odd and slightly disturbing at first glance. I do not think I have gotten through a season of The Prisoner. Isn’t it funny how in both cases extreme pleasantness and “happiness” is stressed, even though the population is basically a captive slave force.

Jamie knows there is trouble. He tells Polly to keep her eyes peeled and distrusts the voice that speaks while they sleep. But the real mystery to me is, what does Jamie look like when in the words of Polly he looked so “smashing”? Did they do something different with his hair?? Regardless I am liking him as a companion. Very reliable and loyal with a bit of a rebellious side.

Ben on the other hand, I am not a fan of Ben’s.

The messages in this story were not very subtle. Make up your own mind and do not be unquestioningly obedient. At least they are not bad messages. Oh, another subtle message, “violence will get you nowhere.”

The whole story I was wondering where they have these stupid recordings singing instructions and “inspiration” to the workers. Turns out the colony has its own version of a Glee Club. Oh joy. And similar to current day glee clubs, it is overbearing and extremely annoying. Yay.

  • Story Grade: B-

 

Tony’s Take:

I find reading my lovely wife’s reviews to be hilarious and confusing.  I shouldn’t be so confused, after all, she has told me that she does NOT want to grade the stories, but I cannot help it.  Maybe it’s the guy part of me, or maybe we are just that different, but I cannot understand how she “rates” these serials/stories.  Reading her review above, I would have expected a C-level grade at the very best, but somehow she is in the B-range.  “B-range” to me is significantly above average as a story, though not quite to the classic level which an “A” would garner.

Rebuttals to Jael’s Review:

  • The Prisoner?!  Nice reference, but we’ve only watched about 5-6 episodes of the series.  I’d say it would have almost been a badge of nerdery, but wait until completion to display that honor.  Now if you just meant The Simpson’s form of The Prisoner, I’ll let you display that proudly, though I have more pride in the fact that I converted you into a Simpsons fan.
  • Do you also see this as an early version of The Happiness Patrol?  I know that mentioning a 7th Doctor story would be incredibly out of order, but we’ve both seen it.
  • Your approval of Jamie is nothing more than a love of the Scottish accent and similar heritage of your ancestors in their Irish homeland (heck, they probably are intertwined, as I am sure they liked to mingle with one another).  As for smashing Jamie?  We’ll never know, since all 4 stories are lost to time.
  • You don’t like Ben?!  Shocking.  Maybe you just like Jamie too much. 😉
  • I do agree with your assessment of the subtlety in this story.  Being mindless slaves in order to be happy does not actually produce happy people, but just numb and distant shells of humans.
  • Your hate towards the Glee club makes me happy.  I am so thrilled that I am with someone who does not want to watch Glee.  Thank you.

As for my two cents?  This story has crabs.  Giant crabs.  I find it a bit hilarious and even ambitious that Doctor Who even tried to show these characters on screen.  Today we have special effects, incredible design/costume teams, and we still do not show everything on screen.  While nothing about the 1960s-era Who is completely believable (heck, most of Classic Who is under-budget, but that’s part of the charm), at least they pushed the envelop.  Much like the guys from Radio Free Skaro, I, too, would absolutely LOVE it if they produced a new-Who with a cheap budget and nearly 100% set/costume design, instead of graphics and tech wizardry.

Macra

It’s unfortunate for Ben and Polly’s characters that The Doctor and Jamie work so well together.  This is probably the reason why Jamie stays and the other two go in the not so distant future (OK, maybe the next story. *SPOILERS!*).

While a bit silly, I will not let the fact that this story is 100% audio bring down my grade…

  • Story Grade: B-
  • A bit of fun and your typical feel-good happy ending.  While not 100% the same, the giant bugs and Macra make it feel like Planet of Giants, which was quite enjoyable.

 

Thanks again to Patrick Troughton for the breath of fresh air.  It’s easy to see why Doctor Who kept building into the show that is so loved now with Patrick as the lead.  His appeal to children is obvious, and I wouldn’t mind being old if I aged like his character.

PS: Look out for the Macra in the new series episode “Gridlock.”

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

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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 Keys of Marinus – Story #005

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Jael’s Judgment:

I like that Barbara flexed her independence more when they arrived in the jungle. She was not satisfied to simply take direction from Ian and be useless. Granted it got her into a little trouble, but at least she was not busy being extra  baggage. This all makes me wonder about the relationship between Barbara and Ian before they started out on their adventure in the TARDIS… Were they simply colleagues? Or were they also friends? And if friends, work only? How old are they supposed to be? I guess I am wondering in what ways can I relate to them in order to better understand the mindset of their characters.

Glass beach & acid sea = weird

Mind boggling dreams come true land = creepy (and Altos needed trousers)

Jungle = scary, but bad special effects

Ice land = OK

Trial = BORING (left me thinking, “how many more episodes did I agree to watch”)

Ending = short

And my last note, was anyone else wondering if the cousins of the Monty Python black knight made an early appearance?

Truth be told, I am a couple of days late writing this and getting it to my handsome husband. We watched The Keys of Marinus several days ago. 231 adventures in 365 days is quite a lot. And all of this gallivanting through space is not helping me be rid of a nasty cough that I acquired. So the reader will have to forgive me every once in a while if a few adventures are not very fresh in my mind by the time I get to ” put them on paper,” so to speak.

What I do remember about The Keys of Marinus is wishing that it was a bit more complex. There was not much of a twist to really get the imagination going. Altos seriously needed trousers and the trial was terribly boring.

What I did like was the mind games played on all characters on their initial stop to look for the first key. This seemed like a good story in itself to me. It makes one think an reflect.  On a less serious note I loved the eyeballs on the brainy things! Made me laugh hysterically upon viewing and still brings a smile to my face.

Also what was up with Susan losing her shoe. On an alien planet would you automatically assume that a clear liquid is water?! Well, maybe, in a moment of mental laziness, I could see myself doing just that. Here’s hoping for less and less of those such moments for myself and for the companions.

**Apparently I have already had one of these moments. I already wrote on this episode and gave it to my better half. D’oh. Well, this one is better.**

  • Story Grade: B-

 

Tony’s Take:

So, since Jael reviewed this story twice, does this mean that I have to review it at all?  I agree with nearly everything she said, minus the “too much, too soon” talk; but that is just me, and we all work in different ways.

So what did I think of the story?  Well, I was either in a salty frame of mind, or the acting and writing was just that, ummm, cheesy?  Yeah, cheesy, because I don’t want to say bad.

Notes in chronological order (salty/snarky comments in red):

  1. The Doctor suggests they split up to find Susan, who went missing after nearly taking an acid bath.
  2. Walls that give way to hidden corridors, how convenient.
  3. The Doctor even admits that as long as Ian is free the chances of survival are high.  Ian is still shown as the viewers identifiable character AND hero role.
  4. The Voord are very well designed, he said using heavy sarcasm.  A rubber SCUBA suit and a weird helmet added together equals this “scary monster”.
  5. Great acting with an invisible force field around the TARDIS.
  6. Tricky traveling technique, space-jumping.  Must have been a cool effect back then.
  7. First key is hidden in a place where anything you desire can be yours, for seemingly FREE.  But it’s just mind-games that the Brains of Morphoton are playing on their hosts (and potential slaves).
  8. …And The Doctor again suggests splitting up in the 2nd episode.  Glad this happens because Susan is sent alone into a “Screaming Jungle” so that she, herself, can scream, too.  (Have I mentioned how much I love Susan’s screams?)
  9. When all else fails, smash the ivy with a rock, right Barbara?
  10. I know, I know, the screaming jungle is scary to Jael, and for this I just have to laugh.  Please tell me that you would not be scared of an oversized statue with tiny arms!
  11. EVEN MORE SPLITTING UP IN THE THIRD EPISODE!!
  12. Caught in a tiny net, these booby traps are awesome.
  13. De3O2, great way to work in science while being a sleuth!
  14. William Hartnell was on vacation and it was apparent because after the split he is not heard from until episode 5 (since part way through #2).
  15. Plastic wrap on the walls, because that looks like ice, right?  I apologize for the snarkiness.
  16. Too wide to jump, and yet it’s a short enough distance for me to lay across and touch both sides comfortably (I’m less than 6 feet tall).
  17. It’s also strange how much the time travel itself has changed.  The travel by the 1st Doctor is innocent and the reason why they get trapped is always out of their hands.  Future episodes it is based on severe trouble that must be stopped to save the world/universe.  Both, when played only one way for too long, become old.
  18. I like to think that it is episode 5 of The Keys of Marinus that drove the public’s fascination with court-drama on TV.  Why?  Because the episode is dry and dull and shows like Law & Order and even CSI bore me to tears.  (Though at least episode 5 has judges with squids/octopuses on their heads.)
  19. Another story that ran long.  I actually enjoyed the setting of the original Voord on the acid beach, but then it got all cluttered and stretched out when they had to find the keys.
  20. Another “let’s split up!”, this time by Ian in the last episode.  How is that going, gang?

So, what went right?  Like I said above, the acid and glass beach beach could have been used more, as it was able to provide a longer story than was given.  Jael was also correct in her analysis, the first stop in the land of mind-games was very good and should have been the center of focus for this story.  If the writers would have been able to cut the story down to a 4 episode arc and focus on the beach and brainy-eyed monsters, it would probably be one of the better Hartnell-era stories.  Unfortunately, it falls flat and just turns out to be an easy to solve, long-running scavenger hunt.

Jael, it seems to me that you agreed with my analysis.  Why did you grade this story as “above average” (average being a “C”)?  Am I just being too harsh and critical?

On a personal note, I was very impressed (impressed, is that the right word?) that Jael decided to use the simple phrase “D’oh!”  My attempt to Simpson-ize her is working.  Please, dear reader, ask her what her favorite line from The Simpsons is; I know what it is, but having her say it is much more rewarding (especially given her major in college).

  • Story Grade: C-
  • The Keys of Marinus has a few things that either worked or could have worked, but in the end the story ran long and had many questionable moments (either story-wise, set-wise, or acting-wise).

 

Thank you to the costume designers.  The Brains of Morphoton and the Voord, though comical, showcase what makes Classic Who special.