Archive for November 2009

Colony in Space

November 24, 2009

Well, this just flows like cement, doesn’t it?  Although, to be honest, I like it somewhat better this time around . (this is my third viewing).  The first two times this serial nearly put me to sleep; this time it merely bored me.

 

Great Moments

The Master showing up as the adjudicator.  Not that it’s a huge surprise; he’s mentioned at the opening, so we know he’s going to show up eventually. Still, it’s a grand entrance, with his official robes and all.

 

Random Thoughts

 

In this dispute between miners and farmers over who owns the planet, no one gives a thought to the native population.  If anyone has exclusive rights to the land, it would be them, surely.  Shouldn’t they be consulted?  In reality, miners and colonists alike are imperialists, the latter are just a little nicer about it.

 

The Doctor leaves those colonists in a bad way, doesn’t he?  They’re still not going to be able to grow crops; radiation takes years to dissipate, and exploding the super-weapon has probably made things worse.  And now they don’t even have a rocket . . .they’re going to have to arrange for a rescue ship or face starvation.  (not to mention radiation poisoning)

 

Shipping Report

Master/Doctor – The Master’s proposition to the Doctor really does seem genuine “Marry me Join with me , and we’ll rule the universe together”

 

Jo/Doctor — Having seen inside the TARDIS and traveled to an alien planet, Jo now has a bond with the Doctor that wasn’t there before. This is apparent by their cosiness as they leave the phone box, his arm around her and the looks they exchange.  I won’t say it’s romance, but it does seem rather close.

 

Might make some mention here that the Doc’s self-centered attitude is still apparent as they first materialize on Uxarieus.  Jo is amazed and frightened — understandably –and wants to go back home.  The Doctor responds: “Do you know how long I’ve been confined to Earth!”  Now, look, I know he’s been aching for freedom, but could he give a thought to his companion?

 

Food and Drink

Food is rather important to this particular tale, considering the colonists are trying to be farmers and failing — and running short of supplies as a result.  I have to wonder how the Primitives survive, given the barrenness of the land.  Barely getting by, I would guess, considering how they constantly want food from the colonists.

 

Jo is given a meal in the colonists’ dining hall, which seems to be soup.  Jo tactlessly asks if that’s the first course; she’s told that it’s the only course.  Later, she helps to prepare dinner, which comes out of a box. We don’t see what it is, but the instructions are to add water and be careful.

 

Captain Dent serves the Doctor a brown beverage on his first visit.

 

After the adjudicator decides in their favor, the miners celebrate by drinking wine.  Caldwell seems slightly drunk, and Dent is seen dozing in his chair.

 

Grade: 2/5.

 

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The Claws of Axos

November 23, 2009

Just couldn’t get into this one, although I can’t quite say why.  It should be a bit of campy fun — but it just isn’t; just dull and silly.  Maybe part of the problem is the alien design;  reminds me of spaghetti left in the fridge too long.

Great Moments

None, really — although, when I first saw this one, I was a bit startled to see the Master as a prisoner in the Axon ship.

Random Thoughts

The Spaghetti-people attack — Food fight, food fight!

Jo, of course, disobeys instructions to stay behind.  Well, we knew that would happen, didn’t we?

Where did the Master get that mask?  He doesn’t have access to his TARDIS.

The Shipping Report

The Doctor’s reactions to all of this are rather interesting.  He’s skeptical of the Axons’ story, and suspicious of their motives — and, yet, just can’t resist wondering if the axonite could be his ticket away from earth.  Escape remains his primary motive, although he won’t do it at the price of destroying humanity.  Underneath all that egoism, he’s still an ethical being.

I rather enjoyed watching the Doctor and the Master working together at the end.  They are familiar with each other’s abilities, have clearly worked together in the past.  And then there’s the  Doctor’s embarrassment — humiliation, even — at having to admit that the Time Lord’s have blocked his knowledge of how to work the TARDIS.  That part of the script was well-done.

 

Food and Drink

 

Chinn eats a chicken leg.

Grade: 2/5

The Mind of Evil

November 23, 2009

There’s a lot going on in this story:  sabotage of a peace conference, prison riots, a mind-altering machine, theft of a dangerous missile, the Master, the Doctor, and a partridge in a pear tree.  All the various plot strands are nicely tied together, although the peace conference gets rather abruptly dropped to make room for other material.  A good, tense drama, with a bit too crowded a stage.

 

Great Moments

The Master, attacked by the Keller machine, hallucinates the Doctor laughing at him contemptuously.

 

The Brig,  speaking in a Cockney (?) accent, pretending to be a truck driver.

 

Random Thoughts

I’m a little puzzled about this alien critter, who supposedly feeds off evil impulses.  It does indeed appear to do that when used on the prisoners (as a sort of lobotomy).  But when it attacks others, it stimulates fear-inducing hallucinations, thus implying it feeds off terror.  While fear may provoke evil actions, it is certainly not evil in itself.  Doesn’t quite make sense . . .

 

The Doctor claims to know Mao Tse-Tung.  Truth or more BS?  Whatever, it’s effective diplomacy ; that, and the speaking of his native language has the Chinese delegate eating out of his hand.  (See, the Doctor can be quite charming when he wants to be)

 

Allowing Benton to join the assault party when he’s still suffering from concussion is not very wise.  I can see what the Brig is trying to do — give Benton the chance to prove himself, but it may be at a terrible cost.  The effects of concussion don’t always show up right away; luckily for all concerned, Benton appears to be just fine.

 

Shipping Report

Judging from the alien-induced hallucination, the Master’s great fear is that the Doctor will laugh  at him with contempt.  That speaks volumes about the relationship.  Everyone else, including the Doctor, has visions of life-threatening situations, but the Master fears the Doctor’s scorn.  Also notice the worry the Master feels when he thinks the Doctor may be dead from the Keller machine attack.  Sure, the Doctor is important to his plan, but there certainly seems to be more involved.  I’d venture to say that obsessive love is the root of the Master’s apparent hate.

 

The Doctor seems to  have become a bit more pleasant lately.  He is actually quite polite when entering the prison, even properly showing his pass rather than blustering his way inside.  Or consider this nice moment with Captain Yates, after the Brig has snarled at him :”Yes, it’s going to be one of those days.  Cheshire cat, Captain Yates, Cheshire cat!” On the other hand, he can’t resist making snide comments during the Keller machine presentation, and speaking loudly enough to be disruptive.  Nor has he lessened his abrasive manner towards the Brigadier.  Doc3 seems to making the Brig the focus of his anger, to which the Brig usually responds with a wry smile.

 

The Brig’s reaction is not necessarily the result of superhuman patience;  he knows that he has the upper hand (at least for the moment).  The Doc can insult him all he wants; it doesn’t change a thing.

 

Jo and the Doctor are getting along just fine, and I suspect the mellowing of Doc3 is to a great extent due to her influence.  She actually behaves quite competently in this story — and wins a game of checkers –showing that she does indeed have a brain, and is  quite brave as well.  Her situation as a prison hostage is a very precarious one; consider, she’s an attractive woman being held captive by a group of male criminals.  This being a family show, the obvious implications are glossed over — nevertheless, during episode 5, Mailer makes a sort of smacking noise at her  as she is left behind in the cell.  It makes me wonder what he’s contemplating . . .

 

Speaking of Mailer, he’s one of the few people who actually stands up to the Master.  He insists that the Master return to the prison — and he does!

 

Food and Drink

Jo gives Barnham a box of chocolates as he recuperates. (Where in heaven’s name did she get them?)

 

The Doctor drinks tea with the Chinese delegate, and is offered dried squid and stewed jellyfish for dinner.

 

The exhausted Brig, found sleeping at his desk, requests coffee upon awakening.

 

The Doctor dumps a glass of water on the Master’s desk in order to cover his escape.

 

Jo and the Doctor escape from their cell when they are brought breakfast.  Later, back in the same cell, all they have to eat is that meal’s leftovers — a piece of toast Jo finds on the floor, plus some mugs of water.  To help get their minds off the situation, Doc tells Jo about sharing a cell with Sir Walter Raleigh, and his description of a new veggie called the potato.

 

The Brig and company gain entrance to the prison disguised as drivers of a truck full of provisions.  To make the “trojan horse” more attractive, he also claims to have some booze.

 

Jo brings Barnham some soup.

 

The Brig, Doc3 and Jo have coffee after the crisis is over.

 

Grade: 3/5.

 

 

 

 

Terror of the Autons

November 22, 2009

Season 8 brought more changes to the DW universe, and, once again, we have an episode designed to introduce new characters and a new tone to the series.  The new characters are Jo Grant, the Doctor’s new (incompetent) assistant,  Captain Yates, and, last but not least, a new arch enemy, the Master.  As for the new tone, as many others have pointed out, it’s less “adult” —  and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s certainly makes for a different sort of program.

 

“Terror” effectively introduces the new elements of Doctor Who, although it suffers in comparison with the first auton story.

 

 

Great Moments

Scenes of that horrible troll doll being activated.  Somehow, the creature manages to be scary and sympathetic at the same time.  I suppose it’s because the doll’s initial  movements look like a toddler learning to walk.

 

The materialization of the Master’s Tardis — as a horse trailer in a circus!  And this very uncircus-like fellow who emerges.  Rather startling, all that.

 

 

Random Thoughts

Re the Doctor’s conversation with Brownrose:  Lunch at a gentlemen’s club with Brownrose’s boss?  Not likely, given the Doc’s dislike for bureaucrats and anyone in authority.  I suspect that tale is pure BS — Doc 3 has a talent for it!

 

Jo Grant’s relatives must be very highly placed, indeed.  Not only does she finagle herself a job for which she is clearly unqualified, but she feels quite comfortable with flouting the Brigadier’s orders, and the Doctor’s as well.  Has she never been held accountable for her actions?  And yet she’s such a lovable ditz that I tend to forgive her.  Come to think of it, she’s a bit like a puppy dog, just too cute to be angry at for long.

 

Another appearance of a tame Timelord; in disguise, and quite silly he looks, too.  Nice of him to give the Doc a heads up about the bomb (and how did he know about that, anyway?), but notice he offers no help.  I sort of get the feeling that Timelord society is  quite happy to have the Doctor out there to do their dirty work for them.

 

The Master is quite the boy scout, isn’t he?  Always be prepared!  He even has a mask of himself   ready to foist upon some poor hypnotized pawn in case he has to make a quick getaway. Very handy.

 

 

Shipping Report

The Doctor and the Master — clearly, they have a history. Old  academic rivalry, but certainly there’s more involved.  There’s still much to be discovered about this relationship , so I’ll reserve comments for later.

 

Jo Grant — Sweet, good-hearted, and really very unsuitable for the job of the Doctor’s assistant.  But there’s just something about her . . .at least for the males in her vicinity.  The Doc just can’t bring himself to send her away, and did you catch Yates checking her out?  There’s more than SA, though, at work in her relationship with the Doctor.  She’s adding a much needed element of, well, let’s just call it basic human decency.  Here’s the Doctor at his most boorish, unnecessarily rude and callous.  He once again tries to escape (and fails), and treats the Brigadier with scorn.  It’s Jo who points out that the Doctor is behaving badly ( Jo: “Well, he [the Brig] did save our lives.” Doctor: (after long pause) “You’re quite right.  I’ll apologize later.  If I have the time.”

So Jo, despite her lack of qualifications (and brains), seems to have something the Doctor needs.  Maybe she can teach him to not be such a jerk.

 

 

Food and Drink

Goodge has a lunch of hard-boiled eggs (which he is unhappy about) and a sandwich. He only gets to eat part of it, before the Master kills him.  It must have appealed to the Master’s nasty sense of humor to put Goodge’s miniaturized body into his own lunch box.

 

Rossini pours himself a drink while interrogating the Doctor.  The strong man, less genteel, drinks straight from the bottle.

 

Yates wants to make Jo some cocoa using the Doctor’s bunsen burner. “If you haven’t had a mug of army cocoa, you haven’t lived.”

 

 

Grade: 3/5

 

 

Inferno

November 22, 2009

 

Inferno (very mini review)

 

One of my favorite DW stories; probably would be on my top ten list, if I ever get around to making one.  I love the gritty, tense atmosphere and the contrasting parallel universes.  The alternate reality’s Brigadier is played perfectly — the turned down mouth, especially when afraid, pulling his gun at every other moment, the cowardice underneath is bullying manner–perfect!

 

Grade: 5/5