Posted tagged ‘Leela’

The Invasion of Time

June 24, 2013
A Vardan spaceship approaches Gallifrey from s...

A Vardan spaceship approaches Gallifrey from space (from The Invasion of Time) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Media used: DVD and novelization

What a mixed bag this serial is!  It runs the gamut from brilliance to bilge, and we see the Doctor at his best and his worst — occasionally at the same time.

 

Great Moments

The appearance of the Sontarans just when everyone is celebrating a victory.  I’ll go so far as to say that’s one of the great moments in the history of DW. (The trickster has been tricked!)  And what immediately follows is also classic.  The Doctor tries out his usual cheeky response — first by appropriating authority “I’m the Lord President of Gallifrey, call me ‘sir’” and then gets blasted for his arrogance.

When Stor announces he calls no one “sir” but his military superiors, the Doctor sarcastically remarks that must mean “ several thousand sirs”, but that too falls flat, because Stor proudly proclaims the Sontaran army numbers in millions.

Well, at least the Doc hides his true identity from the Sontarans.

Yes, great stuff.  What a shame it all goes downhill after that.

 

Random Thoughts

One of the great things about this story is trying to figure out the Doctor’s true feelings and motives.  Of course he’s playing a game — a very dangerous one —  to save Gallifrey from the Vardans, but there seems to be something more involved.  The Doctor’s laugh when the Vardans first appear is not the least bit forced.  He rather enjoys the shock inflicted upon the Time Lords. And what about his arrogance towards  Borusa? Yes, he later apologizes, but I can’t help wondering if he gets a kick out of bullying his old teacher.

Gallifrey really needs a women’s movement.  True, Rodan has a position of some importance, but she grumbles how boring it is : “Do you realize I’ve passed the Seventh Grade?  Yet, here I am, nothing more than a glorified traffic guard.”  Leela is the only female present at the Induction ceremony, and she’s only there at the Doctor’s order.  Even the Outsiders are male-dominated, having only one woman among their hunters.

Gallifrey also needs a complete overhaul of their system of government.  Imagine leaving a crucial position like Lord President unfilled!  And imagine a culture that allows someone like the Doctor to demand the office simply because he was the one of the candidates a while back.

 

Shipping Report

The big news here, of course, is Leela and K9’s defection — Leela to be with Andred and K9 to look after Leela.  Like many others, I have some trouble understanding Leela’s decision.  Why Andred?  There does seem to be a subtext of mild attraction in their conversations, but it’s certainly doesn’t amount to much.

It really doesn’t make much sense.  Why would the adventure-loving Leela choose to stick around on a planet with such a staid culture; a place, moreover, that doesn’t value women, aliens, or primitives?  And for a man in which she only displays a mild interest?

My theory:  Leela is getting fed up with the Doctor’s attitude.  Because, really, he’s always been a tad ambivalent about both Leela and K9.  Leela has finally realized that, whatever advantages the Doctor’s mentorship may have for her, the relationship also has toxic elements.  It’s time to move on. Andred just happens to be there, and he seems a nice enough guy.

Personally, though, I doubt if she sticks around for long.  I suspect that she and K9 find a way out of the doldrums of Gallifrey, and seek adventure somewhere else in the Universe.

 

Food and Drink

Lots of jelly babies being consumed, so I will only mention a couple of instances:

Andred and the Doctor each — rather solemnly — eat a jelly baby.  Andred says they’re delicious, but I think he’s trying to suck up to the boss.

The Doc orders the Castellan to get him an orange jelly baby, but there’s none to be found.

Moving on to non-jelly baby topics:

Borusa drinks a mysterious blue beverage while in the TARDIS waiting for the Doctor.

The Outsiders have a meal that includes some nuts.  They also discuss how they’re going to provide food for all those seeking shelter from them.

Rodan has some tablets she’s brought with her as food.  It doesn’t look like she and Leela had much time to pick up supplies, so maybe she already had them with her — the Gallifreyan equivalent of a sack lunch, maybe.  Nesbin asks her if she’s ever eaten flesh or fruit — apparently she hasn’t.

All this suggests that the diet of the average Gallifreyan consists of artificial food.   (Of course, if we want to nitpick, Nesbin only mentions flesh and fruit, but says nothing about grain, vegetables, or dairy.  It’s quite possible a Gallifreyan could be quite happy with a certain restaurant chain’s unlimited salad and breadsticks.)

In any case, we can add another reason for the Doc to leave his home planet — to get some decent grub.

 

Grade: 3/5  (Difficult to grade this one.  Some truly great material, but lots of dreck as well.  I figure the bad and the good cancel each other out, and we end up with a “fair” grade.

June 24, 2013

 

 

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Underworld

June 19, 2013
Cover of "Doctor Who and the Underworld"

Cover of Doctor Who and the Underworld

media used: DVD and novelization

Great concepts, poor execution.  A story based on Jason and the Argonauts (not to mention a large dose of Moses and the Israelites) should be a winner, but it’s not.  “Underworld” is tedious, and, for the most part, poorly acted.

 

Great Moments

The Doctor giving Leela a pep talk after she had been pacified. “You’re primitive, wild, warlike . . .”, and so forth.

 

Random Thoughts

A weapon that pacifies rather than hurts is a rather cool idea.

This is one instance in which the novelization by Terrance Dicks is actually better than the televised script.  The book is a decent read; I didn’t have to resist the urge to nod off as I did watching the serial.

The Doctor, tampering with the fan, says “Whatever blows can be sucked”.  And I’m now going to borrow a line from Gallifrey Base reviewer, Ryback :I Can’t Believe They Let That Through

Or maybe my mind is in the gutter.

 

Shipping Report

The Doc claims that K9 is his second-best friend, which begs the question of who’s number one.  I’d like to believe it’s Leela, but . . .I wonder.  Could it be the TARDIS, maybe?  Or his sonic screwdriver?

 

Food and Drink

The people of Underworld eat processed rock.  Indeed, there’s nothing else, unless the upper caste has gardens that use artificial light.

Tala and Orfe eat emergency rations (food concentrate tablets) as they wait for Herrick to return. I believe this scene is found only in the book (page 66); it’s possible I dozed off and missed it if it played on-screen.

The Doctor takes an apple from his pocket for Leela to throw at the “dragon” door.  She takes a bite from it instead. (This bit of humor is all wrong for the character. She’s a skilled hunter/tracker/warrior on an important mission — why would she assume the Doctor wanted her to eat the apple?)

 

Grade: 1/5

 

 

The Sun Makers

June 17, 2013

media used: DVD and novelization

As a satire, this story is far too heavy-handed to be amusing; as a drama, it is, at best, mediocre.  “Sun” does have some good moments, so it’s not a total dud.

 

Great Moments

Leela gets quite a few good scenes — threatening the Others with a blood bath, trying to rouse  support for rescuing the Doctor, and so forth.

The scenes with the TARDIS on the immense flat gray roof — it’s the only spot of color there.  I found that rather effective.

 

Random Thoughts

This society doesn’t seem to have much of a future.  Who’s going to lead them once the euphoria of a successful revolution is over? (That’s assuming it is successful — there are several cities left to fall.)

The survivors consist of a murderous rabble, mostly uneducated, and a bunch of Company officials, like Marn, who joined up to save their own necks.  I suspect the revolution is going to disintegrate into a violent free-for-all.

 

Shipping Report

Not much to say here.  K9 is now a full-fledged crew member;  the Doc resents the metal dog’s superior chess skills.  The Doctor can really be a jerk sometimes.

 

Food and Drink

Doctor offers Cordo a jelly baby.

Hade is eating something when Marn tells him about the air space violation.

The Doctor offers jelly babies to the correctional center workers.  When he’s freed he gives the whole sack to Bisham.

Hade and Marn give the Doctor a raspberry leaf.  The Doctor mentions raspberry tea.  Hade says that in “primitive times” humans ate large quantities of vegetable matter .

The Doctor, in parting, offers a humbug to Hade. (or maybe calls him a humbug.)

The Others are eating a meal when the Doctor returns (the book identifies it as stew.)

 

Grade: 2/5

June 15, 2013

 

Image of the Fendahl

June 15, 2013
Image of the Fendahl

Image of the Fendahl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image of the Fendahl

media used: DVD and novelization

I found this to be an effective tale, although marred by some sloppiness here and there (e.g., a visit from the Door Fairy, who helps the Doctor escape from the storeroom).  Also, the background story is a tad incoherent.  On the whole, though, it’s an engrossing and atmospheric serial.

 

Great Moments

Any scene with Granny Tyler.

Thea’s transformation into the Fendahl core.

 

Random Thoughts

The Doctor is far more receptive to folklore and superstition than in “Horror of Fang Rock”, although, of course, giving a scientific explanation for it all.

More explanations, this time from the Terrance Dicks novelization:

The mysterious opening door:  The Doctor’s use of the sonic screwdriver has weakened the metal.   When he kicks the door in frustration, it causes the weakened lock to shatter.  Bit of a re-write there, I think.  In any case, no Door Fairy.

Leela found on the TARDIS floor, unconscious or asleep:  The Doctor had left the console room, Leela got bored, lay down and went to sleep. (Just like that?  Just flopped down on the floor and had a snooze?  Like a dog?)

Speaking of dogs, I wonder what happened to Leakey?

 

Shipping Report

Poor K9, the third member of the TARDIS crew, still doesn’t get a chance to do much, except feebly nod his head.  For no particular reason, the Doctor has changed his mind about him, and now refers to the metal dog as “he”, instead of “it”.

A pattern is developing in the Leela/Doctor relationship.  He speaks slightingly of  her, or disparages her abilities; and then, sometime during the story, she shows her worth, thus proving him wrong.  This time, he seems amused when she promises to protect him.  Of course, she eventually does just that, actually saving his life by breaking his connection with the skull.

 

Food and Drink

In the book, the doomed hiker longs for a warm pub with beer and cheese rolls (Page 7)

Granny Tyler works as a cook for the Priory, but only for dinner.  The resident scientists take turns making the other meals.  Max was supposed to cook breakfast in part one but missed his turn because Fendleman kept him working all night.

After her encounter with the new security system, Mrs. Tyler declines to work at the Priory until things are back to normal; the four scientists have to fend for themselves now.

The hiker (now dead) was carrying a thermos of tea (in the book, it’s coffee)

Doc give Ted Moss a jelly baby.

There’s a bowl of fruit on the Priory’s kitchen table (mostly apples and bananas)

The kitchen shelves carry canisters of food supplies (and look like they were takes straight from the Lighthouse!)

Leela gives Granny Tyler a drink of liquor (identified as brandy in the book)

The Doctor eats jelly babies while investigating the laboratory, and offers one to the skull.

The Doctor tells Jack to make tea and get some fruitcake. “I love fruitcake, “ he says. (I suspect he’s the only one who does!)

The Doc’s instructions for making fruitcake involve peanuts mixed with treacle and apple cores — and baking for two weeks.  This recipe shocks Granny Tyler so much that she awakes from her trance.

After the explosion (implosion?) clears, the Doctor speculates that the others are now eating Granny Tyler’s plum cake.

 

Grade: 4/5

June 15, 2013

 

The Invisible Enemy

June 10, 2013

Medium used: DVD

Gah! This is dreadful.  I might be a little more tolerant of this story if I’d seen it on its own, but after a long run of good or excellent material this seems really bad. It’s like listening to Tiny Tim after a Three Tenors concert.

 

Great Moments

As if!

Alright, alright, there is one scene that stood out for me: Leela dealing with that near-robotic receptionist.  That was just a little too realistic and gave me the shudders — forget the giant prawn, fear the receptionist.

 

Random Thoughts

Bad as it is, this serial has an interesting concept in something microscopic becoming, not only visible, but almost as big as a human.  Too bad the execution is so poor.

The use of phonetic spelling is kind of interesting, as well.

I concur with previous reviewers who were disturbed by the way Leela is depicted in this serial.  Previous story lines have established her character as being highly intelligent, but lacking an education ( “civilized” education, that is; she is actually quite well-educated in the skills of her tribe).

 

Shipping Report

This story doesn’t do the Doctor-Leela relationship any favors, does it?

On the other hand, we now have a third crew member, and it remains to be seen how he will fit in.

 

Food and Drink

The Titan crew are celebrating the end of their tour of duty.  There’s a big bowl of fruit on the table and they’re drinking from bottles, presumable something alcoholic.

The base commander  –Lowe? — is drinking a brown liquid in his office when the infected relief party arrives.

After his stint in the freezer –er, cryogenics chamber? — the commander is given a hot drink and a back rub by Leela.  Melts the ice right away, that does.

 

Grade: 1/5

June 10, 2013

 

 

The Horror of Fang Rock

June 10, 2013

Medium used: DVD

A well-crafted tale, suspenseful and claustrophobic.  Very well acted, by regulars and guest stars alike.

 

Great Moments

Those screams are particularly effective.

The many moments that the Doctor is indecisive or lacking confidence.  We’re so used to seeing him as the guy with all the answers that seeing him so unsure of himself is disconcerting. And he actually is wrong sometimes — believing Reuben the Rutan is simply Reuben in shock; and later he realizes that his whole approach has been wrong (“I’d thought I’d locked the enemy out, instead I’ve locked him in.”)

Reuben the Rutan, especially when he smiles — such an evil smile!

 

Random Thoughts

The characters fall into distinctly three groups: the working class crew of the lighthouse and Harker from the ship’s crew ; the gentry class survivors of the ship wreck; and the outsiders, Leela and the Doctor.  The plebeians come across as basically decent and hardworking; and, if Vince turns out to be corruptible, he only becomes so with reluctance.  The three members of the gentry, on the other hand, are portrayed as foolish, sleazy, and conniving.  Skinsale is given the chance to redeem himself, but dies for the sake of some diamonds the Doctor cast aside.

Neither do the TARDIS crew come across all that well.  Leela is indifferent to the fate of those shipwrecked — “They’ll all die, then”, she says in a dismissive tone.  Meanwhile, the Doctor, with his contemptuous dismissal of anything he regards as superstitious, seems more arrogant than enlightened.

Adelaide, although she is supposedly Lord Palmerdale’s mistress, turns to Skinsale for comfort.

And, speaking of Adelaide, I feel a tad guilty for cheering when the Rutan kills her.

I note that the rhetoric of the Rutan is very similar to the rhetoric of the Sontarans. I guess all warlike cultures sound pretty much the same.

 

Shipping Report

Leela and the Doctor are now working together as a team, in spite of some sniping between the two.  He keeps referring to her as a savage, and yet sticks up for her when she senses a wave of cold that no one else feels.  “If she says it’s getting colder, then it is.”

Also note how she’s learned to manipulate him by stroking his ego. “You’ll have no trouble defeating this primitive alien,” she says.  “You’re a Time Lord!” (quotation not exact).  She grins to herself, and we get the sense that there’s a bit of sarcasm there.

 

Food and Drink

The lighthouse crew have a supper of soup and bread that they generously share with their visitors.

The kitchen area has shelves full of canisters and jars of various foodstuffs. I noticed labels for salt, plums, and prunes among them.

Henry demands a brandy, but is disappointed to find that alcohol is not permitted in lighthouses.

Grade: 5/5

June 9, 2013

 

The Talons of Weng-Chiang

June 8, 2013
The Doctor (Tom Baker) and Professor Litefoot ...

The Doctor (Tom Baker) and Professor Litefoot (Trevor Baxter) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

medium used: DVD

This is my absolute favorite from classic Doctor Who.  Sure, it’s not perfect — there’s some padding (but very well-done padding), and the giant rat leaves something to be desired — but those are minor quibbles.

 

Great Moments

Where to start?  There’s so much great stuff in this serial!

Atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere.  I have no idea how authentic the sets, costuming, and dialogue is, but it certainly seems authentic, and draws me right in to the story.

I’m especially charmed by the music hall scenes.

Every scene with Jago and Litefoot, whether individually or together.

Leela trying out the sporting equipment as potential weapons.  Loved it when she handled the golf club as a javelin.

Also, any scene with the Peking homunculus. Very creepy.

 

Random Thoughts

Chang calls both of the women he’s captured for his master “painted drabs”, but only one fits that description.  The other is a respectable servant girl.  I wonder if he is trying to convince himself that these unfortunate women deserve their fate.

The Doctor may be dressed like Sherlock Holmes, but this adventure is more like Fu Manchu tale than Baker Street.

Leela has a way of skewering the pretensions of others with her honesty — including the Doctor.

Doc: “Do you know what this is?” Leela: “You only ask me so you can tell me.”

Litefoot, trying to explain the tea ritual: “And then I ask you if you want one lump or two, and you say one.”  Leela: “But what if I want two?” Litefoot: “It’s always one for ladies.” Leela: “Why ask me, then?”

 

The Shipping Report

It’s towards the end of this  serial that the Doctor finally starts appreciating Leela as a companion.  And it’s about time!  He keeps telling her to stay behind, she keeps ignoring him, and continually displays her competence.  She even saves his life with one of her notorious janus thorns.  I get the sense that he is finally starting to like her.

 

Food and Drink

There’s quite a list this time:

Jago gives his stagehand something to drink from a flask (“You’ve been drinking.” “Not a drop”. “Well, it’s time you started.”)

Litefoot’s housekeeper has left a cold collation, which is more like a cold feast.  There’s ham, roast beef, chicken, tongue, and quail. Leela is awed , “Meat” she exclaims, and grabs a big hunk of roast, eating with her bare hands.  Litefoot, good host that he is, follows suit, although obviously unnerved by her uncivilized manners. (Leela’s enthusiastic response can probably be traced back to the scarcity of game in Sevateem territory.  She probably hasn’t had much meat for  quite a while; and we can also surmise that the Doctor doesn’t keep much meat on board the TARDIS.)

Leela also lifts up a punch bowl and drinks from it.

The Doctor gives Jago something to drink from a vial hidden in his cane.

After chasing the masked man, the Doctor announces that he is going have supper.

There’s a bowl of fruit on Litefoot’s table (mostly pears)

Chiang feeds his pet (i.e., giant rat) a hunk of raw meat.

The Doctor claims to have caught a salmon in the Fleet, which he shared with the Venerable Bede.

Streetwalker says she wants a pair of smoked kippers and a cup of rosie.

Jago says he’s going out for a glass of port.

Doctor promises to bring Leela to the theater and, if she’s good, buy her an orange.

Upon finding the beat-up Litefoot, the Doc tells Leela to get him a drink. “In a glass!  In a glass!” as she grabs the whole bottle.

Doctor jokingly refers to hazelnuts and bread pellets as ammunition.

Doctor offers a jelly baby to Chiang.

Doctor jokes about ordering bird’s nest soup in the House of the Dragon.

After the crisis is over, the Doctor buys everyone muffins.

Litefoot tries to explain the tea ritual to Leela.

Grade: 5/5

June 8, 2013