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Doctor Who Reviews: Doctor Four
Chase123
ROBOT

1
I can see why, today, this failed to capture my imagination or loyalty when I first saw it in my teens on a commercial station. There’s little to interest a first time viewer and as a first episode to an entire show, it’s pretty lame. The whole plot seems to come from a 1940s comic book/pulp novel…maybe. There’s the tendency among writers and even fans to say that this is really a UNIT hold over story (it kinda is) or that it is a Pertwee story (it’s not) holdover (again, it’s not) but frankly NO Pertwee story is as lame, boring, and slow moving as this one is. In addition, there’s little about the Brig, Sarah, Benton or any of the other characters to hold a first time viewer here. They do nothing and seem dull. Sarah, who was so good last season, is here, a cut out Lois Lane, getting into trouble for a story…going off on her own when she might realize there’s danger and needing rescuing…lying and leaving her car. It’s sort of lame and uneven. So, I didn’t stay to watch this. Frankly, someone who grew up watching the sleek LOST IN SPACE Robot isn’t going to be impressed by the clunky 1930s type robot here…it doesn’t look that good (standing still maybe it does), the movements are jerky, and it is not believable as a menace at all. You can run from it faster than it can run and if cornered, it appeared you could kick it over with one push or kick from your foot. Imagination and suspension of belief are two things but this? One can almost miss and ignore the dinosaurs and spiders of the respective Pertwee stories because the plot, action, dialog, stuff going on around them and the thought involved in what they were supposed to be doing was interesting and fun enough…but here, this? No. Just no.

So is there anything good about this episode? Well, yeah. Again, though on first viewing for a person who NEVER saw one single UK series, Tom Baker’s Doctor needed time to grow on. Seeing him for the first time is a bit of a shock. There’s no character to latch onto as an identification character. Tom’s Doctor was just too weird to really like right away…one needed to first get used to the entire British style. Well, after Brain and Evil and Deadly and City and all the others…I love Tom Baker, THE Best Doctor there ever was or ever will be…but seeing him in this story with little support from plot, dialog, script, and characters…no. Just no. Didn’t care to sit through the rest of this story at that time. Now…I can see that HE is the best thing about this story and in particular this episode. Even today, the story doesn’t hold up but Tom does. His antics, post regeneration, are just…wildly funny, grossly different from Jon’s Doctor (can you see Jon’s Doctor lying down in a jeep while talking to the Brig and Benton?) and immensely watchable. I can see why…though…he’d want to get away from Earth, the plot, UNIT, and these characters, even Sarah. Like Baker or the Doctor, I was eager to leave them all behind, take off in that TARDIS (and according to the novel FACE OF EVIL, he does at one moment, wild regeneration trauma affecting him) and go on more important, interesting and exploratory adventures in space as well as time (he doesn’t quite match Hartnell’s historical record for TIME but he does match anyone’s record for SPACE). Whether he’s blowing daisy dust into the Brig’s face, wearing that monocle/eye piece, running wildly so that hat falls off, scarf flowing between his legs, measuring the footprint of the robot with his scarf, urgently telling the Brig (“You must cultivate a sense of urgency” as he seems to be the actor saying these characters and plots are TOO SLOW FOR HIM…Baker as well as the Doctor), trying on new clothes (yes, silly but more interesting than the rest of the scenes and the plot) , or looking at himself in the mirror…Tom’s actions intrigue, mystify, and make one want to see what he’s going to do next (almost an intergalactic, time traveling---but not yet---Howard Stern). Kudos to Ian Marter as Harry, who, again, seems to be a throwback character but has personality. All of his scenes with Baker are well timed, and well acted.

Many of Tom’s well known expressions and words come from this particular episode. Not a great start but Tom makes this, like anything he’s in (except maybe THE HOUNDS OF BASKERVILLE), watchable.
 
Chase123
2
Okay, this episode put me to sleep once. Then it almost did it again. It’s not a bad episode and there’s a lot of back and forth between set pieces and sets and locations. It’s a very functional episode and one that furthers the plot and characterization. I think it’s marvelous how they make it seem as if Kettlewell is a sympathetic good guy on the lines of the nutty professors from the old George Reeves’s THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN tv show. And then… In any case, not a bad episode but rather slow in pacing and a bit cumbersome but functional. Tom’s Doctor spends a lot of this story on his back or on his side, sleeping, recovering from regeneration maybe? Even later when he leans on the jeep, he seems to be supporting himself to stand up straight. Oh, and the Robot attack on the Doctor is …cumbersome and not well done. For one, it looks as if the Doctor can escape easily and…he doesn’t. For another thing, he throws…round marble balls to trip it up…and that fails utterly…and then to make things even worse…he tries to trip it with his scarf? That fails, too, and then he puts his hat over its eyes and it stops…trying to and succeeding in fooling the Doctor into making him think that that stopped it! WHAT? As it’s still, the Doctor examines it, “Extraordinary. Extraordinary.” He gets too close and it knocks him down. Baker does great “in pain” faces and poses and this is perhaps his first one. Clumsy attack. Badly staged and executed. Again, when one is used to the LOST IN SPACE Robot and its movements and attacks… this pales in comparison.

3
A much better episode than one or two. Much more action. When Benton saves Sarah, she’s less than complimentary and he says, “I bet the US Calvary never got treated like this.” Other actors considered for the Doctor: Ron Moody, David Warner, Rich Hearne, Graham Crowden, Bernard Cribbins, Mike Bentine, Jim Dale, and Fulton McCay. The reprise has a filmed insert of Sarah arriving in her car and then the rest of the cliffhanger is re-filmed, different shots. Sarah later tells Benton she and Kettlewell are not members of UNIT and they can leave. She also tells him to go Blanco your rifle or something. Jellico supposedly hit Kettlewell but lets him into the meeting? The entire hit was faked. As the Doctor says, “Kettlewell? You let Sarah go off somewhere with Kettlewell?” It is quite a surprise that Kettlewell is one of the bad guys although he does try to redeem himself in this episode and in the next BUT he is helping Think-tank to blackmail the world. The Doctor’s disappointment in him is obvious in Baker’s voice and tone. All the Kettlewell stuff is nicely done. The meeting itself seems to echo an old AVENGERS episode with Cathy Gale infiltrating a meeting only to have to be saved by John Steed. For the record, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the Cathy Gale episodes but from what I remember they are not as good (if at all good) as any of the Emma Peel and Tara King episodes. In fact, they’re clunky, less polished, and slow moving than the Avengers from Peel to King. In Dicks’ script, Skaro is spelled Scaro. The scenes of the Doctor taking out all his stuff from his pockets, tripping the guard with his scarf, consoling the guard while the guard is on the floor and taking the stand to delay being…captured (?) until his friend The Brigadier gets there may not make much sense but they’re fun, pure Tom Baker, pure Fourth Doctor and one of the zany things about DW from this era (and maybe all eras are like this in some way). After he’s knocked down again (but it seems as if he throws himself down) he winks at Sarah as she’s being taken away by the bad guys. I guess he couldn’t do anything to stop the guy who grabbed her…Jellico—who has to support the Robot as it goes into the truck but the actor makes it look like he’s hiding behind it as UNIT shoots at him. The radio the Brig uses is HUGE. He also says, “Back in the cold war days,” which makes one think this might take place after the Cold War! I’m not going to get into the UNIT debate…frankly I prescribe to the fact that time during this time of UNIT and all of UNIT references were messed up somehow…and that was my theory before the TIME WAR but the idea could be that something messed up time during UNIT’s era. Books that are excellent for this debate include TIMELINK, AHISTORY, and ABOUT TIME are just about the best books on this although there might be others. They have good points to make on every aspect of the series, and some behind the scenes stuff that might make great episodes in and of themselves!

The Brig calls Ms Winters “That wretched woman.” The Fourth Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to detonate the land mines and starts to remove the lock on the door of the bunker. A UNIT man is disintegrated and a UNIT tank is disintegrated so maybe two more men inside are killed. Okay, a good episode.


4
Benton calls Smith and Hampton fire their bazooka or launcher. Harry still calls Sarah Miss Smith. Two more UNIT men are picked up and thrown…dead (?). Another is stomped when the Robot turns giant. A UNIT man slips and semi falls as he runs. “Curiouser and curiouser,” is said by Harry and the Doc adds, “Said Alice.” The wires remind me of similar scenes in GODZILLA and KING KONG VS GODZILLA. The woods behind UNIT men and Bessie are simply beautiful. The Brig hands the Doc back his hat. The Doc is far too happy and smiling at the Robot’s demise. Love the scene where the Doctor cheers up Sarah, acts childish and offers her a jelly baby and a ride in the TARDIS. And Harry arrives. All of this ending is just about the best part of this story. Another good episode but more to come. A good story, saved by ep3 and 4 and of course, Tom Baker, who can make anything good (well, except for Android Invasion, Meglos, Leisure Hive, and The Invisible Enemy).
 
Chase123
ARK IN SPACE

1
A textbook on how to do Doctor Who. As so many of the Pertwee stories (uhm, just about all of them) were, this is a case study in how to do DW right. Yes, the sources are obvious but perhaps not to modern day viewers who did not grow up watching Creature Features, Sci Fi Saturdays, Chiller Theatre, etc. NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST was about an alien that injected eggs into a man’s stomach. IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE was about a man eating monster that gets on board a spaceship en route back to Earth and has to be sucked out into space. Both of these influenced ALIEN and ALIENS, NOT Ark in Space. It turns out both must have contributed to ARK IN SPACE, too. But where ARK IN SPACE succeeds is it rises above the source material to fit it into DW. With just Harry, the Doctor, and Sarah (and a few voice overs and actors pretending to be dead bodies or cryogenically suspended bodies, this is as far from a Pertwee story as you can get and it really feels as if the Tom Baker Years have arrived in full force…which is not true really because they really arrived with ROBOT. That’s thing about DW: sometimes the “eras” fit seamlessly into each other without a hitch and while it changes, it really doesn’t because hopping genres is what DW was all about back when it first started with Hartnell (kidnap-murder mystery, sci fi, horror, fantasy, historical adventure, science prose). So where the Pertwee Doctor, his fem companions and his butch UNIT men were all over the place hob knobbing with lots of other military men, mad and not so mad scientists, goofy and not so goofy politicians, and lots of old, old men and government types…here, we have the Doctor, who’s kinda pissed off at Harry but happy to be exploring again; Sarah who goes off on her own and makes faces at the Doctor when he doesn’t heed her right away and who gets herself right into trouble; and Harry who pushes buttons and gets Sarah into more trouble. The Doc calls Sarah Sarah mostly but sometimes Sarah Jane. He plays with a Yo Yo to go a gravity test. There’s something about the helmic regulator. Harry uses the term Pompey for Portsmouth. The Doc uses the sonic screwdriver. As Sarah does the Soylent Green bit (Edward G Robinson’s death scene) we hear Concerto Grosso in B Flat Major by Handel. Lis is once more excellent as is Marter and Baker…well, Baker does that speech, talks about Nostradamus’s wife knitting him a scarf in witty line, barks orders to Harry, compliments Harry but then tells him he mustn’t take credit for it, it’s entirely due to his---the Doc’s influence, and just, well is just marvelous all the way through. He shines in this environment. And what a risk it is to take the future of the show’s universe here. It really does go there and goes out on a limb to give us the future of mankind…in a space station. The sets are nice, the music creepy, and the action (with the security laser) quite nice. Harry such a nice guy, one can’t help but want to find out what’s going to happen to him. The Doc seems set that Sarah’s fate is already sealed…and it’s quite jarring to think even he believes there’s nothing they can do to get her out of this. If this happened in Moffat’s era, he’d have the Doctor leave her there and nip forward 100 years to let her out and there’d be all this fuss…here, it’s just another scary and unsettling component to the story and then there’s that cliffhanger that’s hard to forget…a Wirn coming right at you…or rather right at Harry. Magnificent. It’s indomitable. Or…one can look at it like…these are three nutters who don’t know what they are doing, getting into trouble and intruding on history…future history and making things…more complicated! There’s nothing at all original about the story but it’s the execution, acting, and direction that makes this a good story and this first episode is tops. I love how the Police Box sign is now lighting up after a few years of it looking like it…it was gone and/or rotted out. The lighting of the Tardis in the first appearance in a darkened room is marvelous.
 
Chase123
2
It’s amazing how fast one can get through these episodes when the stories are good, like this one. Yes, this one is as good as they say it is, despite an old plot and silly looking Wirn. This episode the Wirn hardly feature at all---physically but the threat and mystery is all about them. The original scripts had headless bodies and heads running things…but too fantasy like and silly…it was changed (ARE YOU LISTENING, MR. MOFFAT?). They also had individual story titles like Butterfly and Puffball for eps 1 and 2. What? Vira calls Harry a romantic, to which the Doctor says, “Actually we both are.” The Doc’s nicer to Harry here. Sonic Screwdriver use. Doctor shot by a stun gun, by the mean Noah, who seems…actually possessed before he was touched and “possessed”---did I miss something? Was Noah infected as he slept? “I hate stun guns,” the Doctor says. Gremlins are mentioned. Harry calls the Doctor a first class boffin. He calls Sarah old thing. He calls the group here, “A cocky bunch, aren’t they?” Harry’s only qualified to work on sailors the Doctor says. It’s stated in the text that the writer likes to put double entrende in his dialog. Libri is met and killed…or at least shot. His death will be confirmed in the next episode (?). Tom is exceptionally good again as he says lines like, “It’s almost too horrible to think about,” and “thoroughly digested, I’m afraid.” And “When I say I’m afraid, Sarah, I’m not making jokes.” The Eumenes are mentioned.

The solar stack set is suitably dark but the rest is well lit. The set, the guest stars, the situations, the mystery, Lis, Ian and especially Tom make this episode another winner. Everyone calls this a classic and I can’t see where they are wrong. VERY entertaining and makes one want to watch more.
 
Chase123
3
I wrote down nothing for this episode. I was just so enthralled with watching it. The sticking point for me for this episode has nothing at all to do with the story itself but censorship. I fully remember seeing the scene where Noah begs Vira to shoot him and as he suffers. There are NINE scenes cut from this on the DVD. In syndication, I recall it being shown at least three times. To be fair it IS rather disturbing but I hate censorship in all its forms and here it is on BBC, both UK and USA versions, CUT on the DVDs and videos. In any case, I have seen these scenes and it is very adult in its psychological as well as physiological implications. Tom is just wonderful. Love the scenes where he’s hooked up his own mind to the Wirn skin. This episode puts into place that, at least for me, Tom is the BEST Doctor there ever will be. He’s dark, he’s light, he’s sardonic, he can have hope but be hopeless at times, he’s grim, he jokes, he’s ironic, funny, dramatic, action oriented and introspective. I love when he starts talking to himself and Sarah tells Vira he talks to himself because only he can understand what’s he talking about. The only criticism of this Doctor might be that he’s too eager to destroy his enemies rather than find a peaceful solution…at least here. We meet another crewman who’s name starts with L---Lycett and who dies horribly as food (?) for the grub form. The solar stack is gross as an eye looks at the Doctor. The cliffhanger is adequate as the Noah thing just transforms into a full Wirn even in the face and blocks the Doctor’s escape from the solar stack. The guest stars are good, the acting strong, the action fast paced and the problem intensifying. There’s not a lot of full bodied Wirn, even in this episode, thank goodness. They kind of look foolish. Lis is once more very, very good, protecting the Doctor, asking why he has to hook himself up, why it has to be him. The speech at the start of this episode is a bit over the top but nothing like what would happen in later eras. It all works. It’s all more than functional and entertaining, through provoking, enjoyable, and…a bit horrible. Poor Noah. The actor expressing the pain…does a good job, almost too good. He makes me want to switch off because I almost feel his pain. All in all, a good episode. Again!
 
Chase123
4
Not much to say about this except that…it’s awesome! Tom is at his best, quoting Shakespeare, talking to the wall it seems, snapping at Sarah to get her to move her…self through a tight vent. If you focus on the silly looking Wirn, you won’t like this and any other cast might not be able to sell this because of that but this cast…sells it. The scare in their performances (all of them from Sarah to Rogon to Harry) sells it and makes us feel it. The interaction between all of them is amazing. Two people sacrifice themselves to save the Doctor and his friends and humankind. There’s one nifty shot of the shuttle in space taking off…without ANY sound at all at we see it in space…very cool. The sets are rather good, the tension high, and the situation grim and well done. The action miay be unconventional but it’s good. Another good story and a GREAT Doctor and two great companions. Not to mention two great guest stars. The sonic screwdriver puts in an appearance and so do jelly babies. A joy to watch. In fact, I have to admit Ark In Space, while always good, was not one of my favorites and I was always a bit “meh” about this story but not now. Seeing it on dvd, I appreciate it even more than I used to. Oh and the original had the Doctor use a golf stick to bat away the heads (?) and it was called something like Golfball. Glad they didn’t do that story although I’m waiting for Moffat to do something similar any month or year now.
 
Chase123
THE SONTARAN EXPERIMENT

1
Originally called The Destructors. Harry uses Old Thing again on Sarah…more than once in this story. Sonic Screwdriver. The open ground of Dartmoor Park having posed as a devastated Earth, in particular London, is quiet and quite creepy. Sarah deducts the Doc meant, “I’m busy, Push off.” The Doc hums the song IF You Were the Only Girl In the World from 1916. Now on syndicated copies of this from some other state in the US, intermissions were used where we watched something else…performances of mimes I think …or maybe just a screen that said, “Doctor Who” and Jon rushing from Bessie amid UNIT men or something…but the thing about this is that is accompanied by music from GALLIPOLI and if you ever saw that movie you’ll know that the music from that movie would make a great science fiction soundtrack, too. Well, here it is: used in Doctor Who in both episodes from this and it makes the dead silence…more sci fi and other worldly. Often that music doesn’t intrude into the show but here it was played throughout the entire thing! Clausewitz’s On War is a reference. A good start but then you realize that this is the basic plot of the Z grade sci fi 1950s movie ROBOT MONSTER and in part two, a direct steal as Styre calls his Marshall over a screen set on a rock…just like in the movie and he also performs experiments on the humans as a test AND uses illusions! Still, Sarah, Harry, and Tom are all well worth watching. The dialog and events are entertaining enough. Love the interaction between Sarah and the Doctor, who sometimes is grumpy or absent minded. Poor Roth: if only he stayed away from Sarah…she and later the Doctor who falls down a hole that Harry already fell down…the both get Roth recaptured and eventually he’s killed by the Sontaran in part 2. Seems to me he should have NOT helped Sarah or the Doctor! It is this episode that makes the Doctor very wise cracking and even funnier than he was before. In the Doc’s pockets: galactic passport, a scroll of freedom to the city of Skaro. Styre is on orders of the Grand Strategic Council…and they seem to have more power than the Marshall.

2
A not so scary snake is not so scary. But the mud slurping up at Sarah and the boulder scene are effective. A place looked for was a Medieval ruins called Hundatora (?) but they found a rock called Hound Tor rock. Sarah rescues the Sonic Screwdriver to which the Doctor asks, “What would I do without you?” In the original script, the Doctor tells Sarah, “Lead on, MacSmith.” The Doc was also to say, “Turn hellhound turn.” The fight seems to take it that the Doc knows a kind of kendo. He also says a form of “Not today thank you,” to the Marshall. What seems not very believable is how a whole invasion force will back off because they do not have Styre’s report. BUT the Sontarans do have a rigid code for things. “Brinkmanship, I think they call it.” A lot of people do not think much of this story but I do. It’s fast paced, has lots of movement and action, good dialog, and is tense. AND Styre seems very powerful. The location work makes this story different and the far flung future is…exciting to think about. Another good story. Very watchable and fun.


GENESIS OF THE DALEKS
1
Again, this IS as good as the say. Terry Nations’ original opening is changed here and I think for the better. I love how this episode opens, begins in full force, and has a fantastic middle with action, escape, capture, separation, and then…we meet Davros. Sarah on her own in a classic cliffhanger. In fact, all the cliffhangers from this era are classic and well done for the most part. The entire episode is filled with tense dread and a grim war. The gun found is a gun used in GALAXY FOUR! The Thals that attack the pit outside the bunker in the original script are supposed to be 15 to 16 years old in the original script. A very good start to a scary story. Stories…now I love the TARDIS but stories where the Doc and friends are separated from it …seem much more dangerous and tense. Lots of set up and atmosphere here but lots of good action, too. The interaction between Sarah, Harry and the Doctor is well done, too. Again, lots of good dialog and scenes.
 
Chase123
3,4,5,6
Yes, I just got caught up watching this to bother writing notes. Many people feel that Ark In Space is the type of story that if you do not like it, you’ll never like DW and I agree BUT if you don’t like GENESIS OF THE DALEKS, you are probably watching the wrong TV show and will never like the bulk of DW. Genesis has flaws and faults to be sure (those clams!) but it has far more to enjoy: Harry, Sarah, and the Doctor are at their height here, funny, mobile, jokey, great delivery, wide eyed fascination and horror, appreciation of the helpful allies, mistake ridden at times; there’s villains galore: Nyder, Davros, even Gharman was a villain at first, those bloodthirsty Thals, and of course, hovering over proceedings like hawks but not entirely taking over the entire story ---the gray Daleks. It has danger and death…now, DW has had death before but here…it’s…brutal and I think Genesis might be the foundation for a lot of the brutality that happens later in DW and Blake’s 7 and other shows, for good or bad. It makes things dangerous and deadly. No one feels safe. Even Bettan seems as if she could pull the trigger on the Doctor if she has to. BTW, all the guest actors are good and could easily be companions. The cliffhangers are all memorable. There’s morality (although the often mentioned “Do I have the right” scene which IS so very good is counter acted by the later fact that the Doctor does return to destroy the incubation room) and action. Also if one realizes that today the incubation room scene and the ideas behind it are sort of tame…back in the 1970s, killing embryonic beings is a bit horrific…a horrible movie called the Unborn starring Brooke Adams has her destroying embryos…with, I believe a gun!...but in this time, it’s unheard of to have a hero blowing up a lab of what are basically embryos and…newborns! There’s also a shot of a Dalek looming over Bettan at a bunch of sand bags/trench and the sky behind is purple and lit with flashes of war and smoke, an iconic shot and one that is unforgettable. Michael Wisher, for whatever his reasons of not returning to Davros IS Davros and his performance is the ultimate (although the actor who plays him in Journey’s End does a great job despite that story being a load of turds). What else? The Doctor, attacked by Mutos, kneels down and puts his hands over his head? I’m guessing this incarnation doesn’t know the karate that his former one did? Also love the “I sent Harry and Sarah into that holocaust” line. Tom’s very convincing in EVERY scene. Love the echo effect of Tom and the theme song sting. This is just hard to put down and has rarely been equaled since. In fact, Tom’s whole first season, again flawed, is one long story that is just epic and enjoyable. Current DW should learn from it. There’s also something about being separated from the TARDIS and each other that makes this seem even more edgy and dangerous.
 
Chase123
2
No notes. Just enjoying the episode. And there’s lots to enjoy. The cliffhanger is very good and Sarah’s plight/flight is exhausting and dangerous. Just when one thinks Sarah’s found two friends, one of them gets shot right near her and plummets down to his death at the same time! Horrifying. Baker and Marter are terrific as usual and it turns out the Kaled’s enemies, the Thals, are just as horrible as the Kaleds. Davros’s grand entrance here is quite good. There is NO reprise from the cliffhanger, perhaps the only time that happens. A really good episode!
 
Chase123
REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN
1
I’m not sure what people have against this story but I’ve always enjoyed it and this time is no different. I know it has flaws and faults and many of them but somehow it remains exciting and straight forward as an adventure. Some things do not make sense. Why does the Doctor hide from Kellman in Kellman’s room? To find out more? In a scene by Robert Holmes, it almost costs the Doctor his life as Kellman booby traps the room---and the Doc’s scarf almost hits the floor to be fried. The door to Kellman’s room has his name spelled Kelman unlike the scripts and the credits. In the original script, Sarah sits to read a book! Here, she bumps into the TV machine and starts to watch a documentary THANKS FOR FRYING PAN, about space exploration. She also starts thumbing threw Science Fiction Monthly and a story by EE Doc Smith (Perry Rhodan?) and a story by Ian Watson and illustrated by Mike Little (who illustrated, later, some DW novel covers). It’s a smart move to steer away from futuristic clothing for this as it’s not as far into the future as ARK IN SPACE. The Doc’s hat and coat vanish upon hitting the ark this time. Uhm, Sarah, Harry and the Doc might not have brought the plague in but don’t they bring in the cybermat which kills Warner? In the original script, Warner was female and there was a 5th person, Dr. Anita Berglund. Cary Blyton, nephew of Enid, scored this and the Silurians (and another serial). He also wrote the children’s song Bananas In Pyjamas. Like te Doctor’s arm jokes, “I’m rather attached to it” and “my arm, it’s so handy.” Also I like the commander’s line, “I don’t think you’re Doctor friend is quite right in the head.” There’s also some Harry picking on (“What have I done now?”). This seems to be the Mickey-Rory inspiration in future DW. Sarah says “past few weeks” but some speculate that the adventures on TV would only be a matter of a few days. Perhaps there is a longer adventure in between? Or adventures? I also don’t get the whole reason the TARDIS is drifting back through time. How’d the Doctor know they’d end up here? Why not just leave it on the Ark where and when Vira was? Why does the Time Ring vanish? Why reveal Kellman as the culprit so soon? Love the Doc’s “Who’s the homicidal maniac?” In fact, the dialog is well done. The performances are well done. There’s nothing to really complain about here and the Doc does not turn red or play chess with himself as he’s being taken over or act like a fool as in Moffat’s most recent season. A good start to a good story.
 
Vanessa Doffenshmirtz
The Ark in Space...The green bubble wrap monster..

I showed that the kids over the week-end and giggles erupted. THat was possibly the least convincing monster of the week evah!
I used to be such a sweet sweet thing
Till they got a hold of me.
 
Chase123
Van, the monster doesn't have to be convincing, the acting and the story does. What kids nowadays, my nieces included, seem to look at is: the special effects, the make up, if everyone in it is young and good looking, the costumes but...they seem to care little about the ideas, the plot, the show's ideas and universe as a whole. And they seem to miss the entire mess of episodes like CRIMSON HORROR, NIGHTMARE IN SILVER, and oh, so many others.

Frankly, I can overlook toy dinosaurs and fake looking spiders in Pertwee and the fake looking spiders and fake looking Wirn in Tom's time as well as a host of other things, if the characters are interesting, the ideas are different or presented in a good way, or if there is humor, or something that sets up a whole universe, which present day Moffat era WHO doesn't for me. Shows like BLAKE'S 7, THE AVENGERS, LOST IN SPACE, etc don't have to be convincing me with fake monsters and reused props and masks but with whether or not they are entertaining, funny, scary, interesting, clever, etc. I could give a toss about the Lord of the Rings trilogy looking like its ten million thousand dollars...if it's boring...which it was...and if the characters don't do much...but give me an episode of any of the series I've mentioned and I'll find something better than Moffat Era DW and most of today's series as well...even though they have bigger budgets and computers. They have half the originality, almost none of the special things that make up those shows, and aren't memorable.



2
The motorboats are really called Sizzlas. Harry goes on about the gold but it’s not annoying as it would be if say, Dr Smith from LOST IN SPACE were going on about it. He wants to buy himself out of the Navy and settle down as a doctor in a small village called Drayton Parslow in Buckinghamshire near Bletchley Park. When Sarah is breaking Harry’s gold bonds (!) we can see a camera moving off to the right. In the last episode, the dvd text makes us wonder if Lester and dead crewman Colville were …close (?). Harry calls the cars of the Vogans dodgem cars. Okay, so the Vogan masks don’t fit very well and one can see the eye sockets. What else is there to complain about? I LIKE the Cybermen voices in this story. They sound very mechanical. The Doctor calls them total machine creatures, which at this point they might be. Chronologies have gone to extensive trouble to find where this story fits into Cyberman history but the idea here seems to be the Cybermen vanished a long time ago (and I think the implication is that they haven’t been seen since the INVASION but made sort of wonky by the mentions of Cyber Wars)---and certainly by real life standards they hadn’t been seen since 1968 or 69. They look a lot like they did in INVASION and even WHEEL IN SPACE and they act the same pretty much. The Cybermen really do not feature much in this episode and the first. This is more about the internal politics of a planet of gold and I found it interesting. Again, there is a lot of grim death and danger and brutality. Marter plays Harry, when questioned by Vorus, as very realistic. Sarah goes nag on at him though, doesn’t she, which in turn makes him comment about her calves. Which is hilarious. There’s a lot of running and shooting, too which is what DW is really all about most of the time. The plague nearly gets Sarah and it’s disturbing. Tom plays the Doctor as frantic in the scene where he’s trying to undo the sabotage Kellman did and gets his face blown a bit. I also like his threats to Kellman and Kellman plays a good villain. As for the cliffhanger, love the music, and I thought Lester and Stevenson were goners but then they go and shoot the Doctor…who really seems to be suffering as he lands on the ground and doesn’t go unconscious right away. Good cliffhanger, good episode. And yes, Voga has the Gallifrey emblem of Rassalon everywhere. Even if there weren’t, there’s something Time Lord-ish about the Vogans anyway with what we now know about what happens: factions, wars, political strife, first strikes, missiles, executions. Oh and almost forgot: the caves look fantastic for once and it was worth shooting at the location they shot at: amazing look to the Voga stuff.
Edited by Chase123 on 06 February 2014 01:06:11
 
Chase123
3
2’s reprise was rearranged. The Doc has conkers, a yo yo and an apple core in his pockets. Tyrum crosses his legs. The Doc, Lester and Stevenson sit with the poses of hear no, see no, and speak no…evil. This is the first time a Cyberman says, “Excellent.” It will happen a lot in EARTHSHOCK (19 times I think?). The Doc says, “Everythings of interest to me.” This is the first time we hear the term Cyber Leader. He has a black metallic head. The cave they filmed in has the Witch’s Parlour and the Witch’s kitchen. Alexander Pope and Twickenham is mentioned. Father Bernard and the River Axe legend.

Voga must have worms and mice. Lester asks what the Doctor’s better idea is and the Doctor answers, “I don’ t know.” “I have no idea.” Originally, there were no Vogans, just miners. One was Evan and his son was murdered by the Kellman character’s “plague.” The Doc talks strategy, “Take the Cybermen from behind.” There is a heartbeat sound on the soundtrack as the boulder scene comes into play, similar to what they would do in an episode of Blake’s 7 (Terminal I think). Love this episode.

4
Re-edited reprise. Doctor’s hands change position. Love the “Harry Sullivan is an idiot!” and more Doctor strategy: “Attack the Cybermen from the rear.” Curse of Malias? There were to be gold bombs? A bomb almost finds out Sarah. On Nerva, the Doctor whistles and Sarah finishes it. QUtoing Macbeth, “Out, out dusty death out out…tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow”? Sarah pulls him, “C’mon!” “I think therefore it missed.” Harry calls the TARDIS “old faithful.” Love Harry’s “Better give him a whistle commander, he does have these absent minded moments.” “Aren’t we going to stop and say cheerio?” Love this episode. Throughout the story and especially here, Sarah is played by Lis so well…we know exactly what’s she’s feeling and thinking every moment. And as for Ian Marter, I love his delivery. Excellent! Love the rushed ending where the TARDIS appears and they have to go right off. Lis plays Sarah as tired and upset that the Brig has called them back…


TERROR OF THE ZYGONS
1
Love the music. A stand out score. One can hear the TARDIS sound effect a second before we see the Doc, Sarah and Harry (who has the Doc’s scarf around HIS neck) walking in the woods. This is because of a missing scene that had the TARDIS materialize…but not appear. It’s invisible as it was in THE INVASION. Another scene would have had it appear and scatter some sheep. Tthey thought this was boring so they opted for the invisible bit which is more boring IMO. Battle of Flodden Field 1513 is mentioned. Flowers of the Forest lament for the dead. A lot of bagpipe music. Angus tells Sarah the her friend the Doctor looks like a fellow that can see around a few corners. The Doc in the original script feels the tingle of the Isles. Okay this story is a classic, no doubt but not without flaws. The Zygon plan? Makes sense? Not really. GREAT cliffhanger though as the Zygon attacks Sarah from behind while she’s on the phone and she turns at the last second while it’s hand reaches for her and she screams into the sting somewhat. Love the design of the aliens. I love that the feel of Scotland is had even if they’re not really there. Love the whole GODZILLA rip off. Why does the Zygon have to return to its form to attack Sarah? Love the riffing on the Brig. Love the Doc’s new Scottish hat and scarf for this episode. Harry’s shooting is scary and tense and he can die since he’s leaving the show soon! Well played. Love Sarah’s jokey teasing of the Doctor who shoots her a look of aggravation..before Harry is known to have been shot.

2
Love that the thing moves while Sarah is staring and she sees it. Love the Harry attack on Sarah. Marter does a great job. I also like that Sarah comes up with the idea that someone is watching them or knows their moves. The interaction with the Brig is good and with Benton. I also like the Doctor has his head , chin first, on the table. I also like the monster. I mean it looks fine. It looks like THE GIANT BEHEMOTH and some of the shots are actually fantastic. Tom conveys pain like no one else as the sucker thing sticks to his hand, “Filthy thing!” And love the cliffhanger again. In fact, almost all of Tom’s cliffhangers are well done. The entire feel of this story is well done. Yet, again, there is a lack of some logic but that does not hurt the story: in fact, it’s a lot better than the totally illogical ANDROID INVASION. For one thing here, if the aliens can use gas to knock out everyone…why not just do that instead of spying, sending Harry, etc. I like how the Doctor puts himself and Sarah into a non breathing trance! Originally, he was supposed to touch her forehead and cheeks to get her out of it. The quick glimpses of the monsters are a nice touch. The direction, acting, locations, and music all make us ignore the illogic of the alien plan.
 
Chase123
3
Battle of Culloden, Dunvegan Seal of Macleod?, Isle of Skye. OS (Original Script) had the line “The Brigadier has a touching faith in high explosives.” Douglas Camfield did the Angus singing dub. The Duke’s background was given. His elder brother was next in line but he was killed (I wonder how?). A Boar’s Head shag tobacco sign is in the Inn. Outside Tulloch is misspelled on the sign as Tullock. UNIT has self loading rifles. The Zygon in the woods sequence is very good, very atmospheric. Effective. Something about the Devil’s Punchbowl in Wales. Beauly Firth? Why didn’t all the UNIT men know that the Zygons could change? Sarah’s tongue sticking out was ad libbed by Lis and it’s one of the funniest things here and something I never forgot. As she finds the secret compartment, the music is quite good again. In fact, most of the music here is very good. The sets, the lighting, the music and sound effects are all very good. Sarah knows Harry is Harry when he calls her “old girl.” This is like I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE. “Let’s find the Doc and the Brig fast.” As the Doctor remeets them, he wonders if both of them are Zygons. “It’s nice to see you,” he says to Harry. Explosions sound like the Brigadier. Chischester fish free? An awesome sequence as the ship rises from the lake.

4
The DVD notes that the production notes claim the year to be 1985. Another good episode and a good wrap for this story. Love the ending(s).



PLANET OF EVIL

1
Is it me or does the Doctor leave the TARDIS door slightly open? The TARDIS interior has not been seen since DEATH TO THE DALEKS. He mentions the refractive interference from the time warp. We meet Vishinsky, Salamar, Ponti, Dahaun. Those that were on the planet before them include those that die: Baldwin and Braun. Two others have died before this: Lorenzo and Lumb, we see Lumb’s grave marker which gives some info about the year and maybe the month or time spent on the planet by Sorensen’s expedition. Okay, it has to be said, this is VERY like Star Trek which was very like FORBIDDEN PLANET. In fact, all of this story is like that slow moving movie. This improves on the movie, I feel. That movie also influenced LOST IN SPACE with the whole robot thing and Robbie did appear in two episodes of LIS. AND an ID appeared in LIS’s third season episode SPACE CREATURE. As for the anti matter stuff, the LIS episode THE ANTI MATTER MAN and the at the same time AS Planet of Evil SPACE: 1999 episode—A Matter of Life and Death---also dealt with anti matter so it’s odd to hear Hinchcliffe claim that science journals about this influenced this…which is always possible, I suppose.

Fans and everyone really go on about how good the show is at this time…and indeed, there’s much to enjoy and like but it’s hardly the show’s most original time. In fact, I prefer the Williams-JNT eras for originality alone (at least at the start JNT had some great stories and ideas, a lot from Bidmead). That said, this time does have great contributions from Lis, Tom and almost all the guest stars and PLANET OF EVIL is no exception. It is tense with fairly good acting. Baldwin’s body is in a different position from when he died. The DVD text says that Lis calls the Doctor’s spectromixer a spectomixer but it’s hard to hear the difference. OS had Sarah taking the axe with her but she doesn’t. She has it when she reaches the TARDIS however! The TARDIS doors are on the left side as usual but the right side has this opening area that looks a lot like the TARDIS doorway/hallway from THE TIME MONSTER! It is claimed that this story had the interiors completely made new…or rather they were made new for PRYAMIDS OF MARS and for this story and then the warped, thus the change later to the wooden control room of the later Sarah and early Leela stories. There is that hallway and a wall with roundels through the doors. TARDIS has the word CARS instead of CAR. Uhm, ropes hold the legs of the spaceship? Not exactly the Jupiter 2 is it? Other deaths included Gura and Sommers. The script uses the words Morestran and Morestrian, perhaps typos? Do magnetic windows really need their own power source? A good cliffhanger, another memorable one.

The creature also does not really kill Sarah but affects her in some way. For some odd reason, this reminds me of THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.


2
Another good episode. I like the whole, “Don’ t you ever get tired of being pushed around?” “Frequently.” The Doctor seems really alien here and commanding in a way that this Doctor hasn’t much before this. Not that he hasn’t but here he seems more in control of himself if not the situation. Another good cliffhanger but not sure the freeze frame really works here. Love that Sarah tries to grab onto Ponti as he falls into the pit even though he was being mean to her and the Doctor not moments before. The occuloid tracker is a bit boring but this episode isn’t. It moves along well. Word about the alien jungle swamp: love it. Very well done.
 
Chase123
3-4
I like how the Doctor stares when Sorensen asks him if his hypothesis was wrong. He stares away from Sorensen, his back to him and just barely says the word Yes and mostly to himself, staring. Why he doesn’t stay with Sorensen is anyone’s guess…and he makes this mistake again in BRAIN OF MORBIUS. There’s also
that thing he does in part one where he says he does not know what’s going on but he has an unpleasant theory. He does this again in future. Oh, and notice how the Doctor, early on in part one, takes off his scarf and never puts it back on. He’s also wearing an ascot and it doesn’t really do him any favors here. I’ve also noticed his long sideburns which look like a different color to his hair. Okay, so Baker tells us in an extra that he can’t tell us what he and the good actor Jaeger talked about in the pub but it had to do with drink, girls, betrayal, jealousy, gossip, back biting, more betrayal, more backbiting, and basically sin. Baker is warm as ever when he talks about this and also is quite funny. Practically anyone we’ve come to know in the crew is killed off, except Vishinsky, who has a good relationship to Sarah Jane Smith. Uhm, if the hatchways are all closed ---how does the Doctor get through them? He does use the sonic screwdriver to open a regular door---and oh, take note: it’s a sonic screwdriver, NOT a weapon, not a lance, not a laser gun, okay!? The Doctor keeps turning his back on Sorensen, too. Note that they are also doing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Love how when Sarah tells the Doc it is Sorensen, he gasps, “Of course,” in that “I should have known” way that he will do again in future. So, not a bad episode but not fantastically great either. The actors rise above the material…mostly. Some fans/books criticize Hancock for overacting but I think he makes Salamar interesting. Hancock and the man who plays Vishinsky worked out how their characters got where they were and what their backgrounds were. Salamar got where he was because of his family’s money. Vishinsky was there to keep an eye on him. ABOUT TIME lists a lot of the flaws in the episode. I still enjoyed it. We never find out what made Sarah react to the thing and why it seems never to kill her? Does it have something do to with her rings? They keep showing her hands going flat out. Is it that she’s the only human out of time? Or is it that she’s the only female?


PYRAMIDS OF MARS
1
Yes, this episode is as good as they say it is. Tom is most alien in this episode and his staring, wide eyes, his snappish snaps at Sarah and Laurence Scarman, his comments are unusually alien and high brow. The forces are more powerful than anything even he’s ever faced and he lets them know it. I like how when Sarah and Laurence follow him he waves them off and yells at them without making a sound. This a frightened fourth Doctor…and it’s unnerving and funny at the same time. Okay, WHY doesn’t the Doc want Laurence to call the police? I mean he can’t stop a gun wielding Namin can he? He’s resorting to lying on his back ontop of or near a wounded Dr. Warlock. Marcus Scarman is already dead and the Doctor will tell Laurence that in a cold fashion, angry mostly but his warmth comes through in his later tones. As in PLANET OF EVIL (they dropped the THE early on), Sarah sees the beastie first. The cliffhanger (used in an episode of the UK version of QUEER AS FOLK) makes the Guardian very dangerous, evil and alien. The location work is very nice but it does make the inside sets (which are okay and nice, too) look a bit shabby than they should. All in all, this version of THE MUMMY and possibly WIZARD OF MARS, works well. The ambience is danger, danger, danger with Collins and Namin dying by episode’s end and Warlock slightly (?) wounded. I wonder why the Doctor uses his scarf to stop Namin as it seemed if he just hit the man from behind, Warlock might not have been hit. I also like the dialog throughout, especially when Sarah introduces herself and the Doctor to Laurence and when Laurence questions the Doctor and when the Doctor explain that he’s ahead of him, sometimes behind him, but mostly ahead. He also claims that “time is my business.” And when something interferes with it, he has to do something. He seems very inadequate to stop Sutek or even the Guardian. A good start!
 
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