Tuesday, November 4, 2014

ClassicWho Reviews: Day of the Daleks to The Green Death

Day of the Daleks

     YO DAWG, I HERD U LIEK TIMELOOPS

     Sir Reginald Styles is just hanging out in his awesome mansion when a guy wearing fatigues just suddenly appears out of nowhere and tries to shoot him. UNIT and the Doctor arrive to investigate this “ghost”, as an international conference is to be held there.]

     Even though Styles now claims he saw nothing, the Doctor takes the opportunity to sample the wine and discovers muddy footprints-clearly not ghostly. He discovers the “ghost” soldiers are using a crude time machine, pursued by Ogrons. When the Doctor tracks down the source of the soldiers-and finds a Dalek.



     Yes, yes, we get it. There, he discovers that the soldiers are rebels, trying to stop an event that weakened Earth and led to the Daleks’ takeover. (One of their takeovers. They do this a lot.)

     Also, they use the mindprobe.

     This was the only one I could get of this season. (Rest assured, I have plans of obtaining the ones I couldn’t find at the library. IT WILL BE DONE.) Next stop, three whole Doctors squabbling at once!


The Three Doctors

     A strange energy blob has arrived at UNIT headquarters, attempting to capture the Doctor. On Gallifrey, they are slowly being sucked into a blackhole, because back then blackholes were like the supervillains of sci-fi. The Time Lords finally give up and decided to let the Doctor and his past selves meet up to figure this out, because it will take three times the zaniness to deal with this problem!
"My bowtie is bigger than your bowtie."
"This isn't a bowtie competition!"


     Hilarity ensues as the Second and Third Doctor start insulting each other, while the First Doctor (trapped in a time eddy and meeting remotely) tries desperately to get them to stop fighting long enough to think. The Brig is horrified to have to deal with Two and Three (even more so when Two decides to handle the crisis by asking Jo how to play “I Am The Walrus” on a recorder), but in no little time the energy blob has transported the TARDIS, containing two Doctors, one Brig, one Sergeant, one Jo, and a Dr. Tyler (who in my head canon is now Rose’s grandfather) into an anti-matter universe. In fact, this is the anti-matter universe that is keeping the Time Lord’s hold on time travel steady.

     It is ruled by the most dramatic Time Lord ever, Omega, who has gone a little crazy from being locked in there alone so long. It’s up to the Doctors to figure out how to keep Omega from destroying everything, and how precisely to chew more scenery than him.

     This is the first serial where someone realized, “Hey, throwing the Doctor’s different incarnations together would be endlessly hilarious!”, and done for the tenth anniversary at that. The beautiful irony of the Doctor essentially finding himself annoying is played to its fullest. Combine that with the Brigadier’s constant snarking at them both, and Hartnell basically saying “DON’T MAKE ME TURN THIS TARDIS AROUND” when things get out of hand, and it’s an entertaining serial.

     It’s also one more step on the road to highlighting that Time Lords really are jerks. Omega was essentially locked in an anti-matter universe, alone, just to keep their secrets safe. He is very much a tragic villain in this case, especially as it was his brilliance that allowed the Time Lords this amazing ability in the first place. Talk about gratitude. (The Time Lords are rarely grateful for anything.) All in all, it was a fun anniversary serial, it introduced variety to the show as the Doctor was released from exile, and it was quite bittersweet, as Hartnell was already very ill and this would be his last appearance on Doctor Who.


Frontier in Space

     The TARDIS appears on an Earth cargo ship in the 26th century. This lasts long enough for a shape-changing ship, seemingly belonging to the Draconians, to come along, attack the ship, and promptly get the Doctor and Jo in trouble with the very ridiculous justice system of Earth. The attackers that board are Ogrons, and they appear to be using some sort of hypnotic sonic device (that is not a screwdriver), but by the time they’ve gone the two men on board are somehow convinced Jo and the Doctor are Draconian spies.

     Meanwhile, the Earth president (wearing a very funny non-professional dress) and the Draconian ambassador, son of the emperor, are bickering over who shot who. It appears the Draconians have similar claims of Earth ships ambushing their own.

     When General Williams arrives with Jo and the Doctor in tow, nonsense ensues as they attempt to get the two to admit to being spies, while the Draconian prince becomes convinced they were hired by Earth’s government to pretend to be spies, and therefore must be questioned. (Also the Doctor uses his mind to break a mind probe. He has a tendency to do this.)

     By the time the charade is over, the Doctor and Jo have somehow been “outed” as career criminals, and the Doctor is trying to lead a prison escape from the moon. Meanwhile, Jo is on Earth, when, a very familiar face arrives…


     WHAT. Jo decides to go along with the Master for the time being, probably due to the higher probability of having a snarkfest, and to “rescue” the Doctor. As the plot thickens, the Doctor must find a way to warn both Earth and Draconia that they’re being used as pawns in a greater war…a war started by…



     WHAT.

     I love this serial, but it’s really a huge jigsaw puzzle plot. It had some great characterization, such as Jo resisting the Master’s attempts at hypnosis with the utmost politeness; the Doctor boring the Master to distraction by telling his life story; and of course the wacky outfits we are apparently going to wear in the 26th century.

     And it only gets more complicated in the next serial. Really, it seems like the Daleks just have dozens of plots lined up, ready to go, just in case the Doctor shows up or something. (But at least they haven’t yet started making plots specifically to drawn the Doctor in…)


Planet of the Daleks

     After the Doctor is wounded by the Master, he calls for help from the Time Lords, who land the TARDIS on a jungle-like planet. As the Doctor becomes catatonic, Jo leaves the TARDIS to find help while plants spray sap around. As the TARDIS is covered by sap, Jo discovers another wrecked spaceship with a dead pilot inside. Before she can make the smart choice and run away, she is discovered by…Thals! Yeah, some Thals are still alive! While the Thals go to search for the TARDIS, Jo hides from the “patrols”, and the ship is searched by some strange invisible being.
     Once the Doctor is rescued, he discovers the Thals are the last remains of a military unit that was trying to find out what the Daleks were planning this time around. It appears the inhabitants of Spiridon can turn invisible at will, and the Daleks were hoping to harness that.

     However, after the Doctor is captured, he discovers that not only are there thousands of Daleks, they are manufacturing a deadly bacteria that will kill all who are not immunized against it. The Doctor has half a day to stop the Daleks before they release the bacteria on the planet, destroying everything.

     Ah, another fun little romp into the twisted minds of the Daleks. They really love their complicated schemes. Straightforward conquest is too mainstream. It also reminded us that the Thals are still around, and still fighting the Daleks. The Doctor has become an old legend to them, but one that has stuck with them all this time. While previously he had to whip the Thals into action, here he warns them against using violence as the go-to answer: he doesn’t want them to glorify war.

WE WILL NOW PLAN ALL OF OUR BATTLES UTILIZING FIGURINES


     The effects were…questionable. The “army of Daleks” were clearly toys (although I suppose a tiny Dalek ray to the toe would hurt pretty bad), and the Spiridons were invisible people walking around in large purple furs.  It also introduced a Dalek weakness that has never shown up again: they really don’t like the cold. (I can sympathize, as I sit here wrapped in a shawl because it hasn’t hit 70 degrees in here yet.) Unfortunately, Spiridon is a planet that spews ice like lava. (Which is actually a THING. How cool is that? Pun not intended.)

     So, all in all entertaining, but not the best. (But I still liked when the Doctor declares, after pushing a Dalek into ice lava, “I took great satisfaction in doing that.”)


The Green Death

     The Doctor is preparing for a very plot-important trip to Metebelis Three when he hears of the mysterious death of a miner in South Wales. (It should be noted that in the Doctor Who universe, Wales is almost as dangerous as New York City. Apparently there is a rift, but we’ll get there later.) He apparently was found dead and glowing, which isn’t usually how miners die. So the Doctor decides to hop over to Metebelis Three for a quick jaunt, while the Brig and Jo head down to investigate the miner’s death.

     Very shortly thereafter, the Doctor arrives back from Metebelis Three, having annoyed the locals, with only a small blue gem which will also be very plot important. Jo, meanwhile, has been sent off by Professor Jones to investigate the mines, because his work is far too important. Poor Jo just can’t get a break with all these geniuses around. Brig and the Doctor arrive just in time for Jo to find another green glowing guy, and also giant maggots.

     No, really, there are giant maggots.

"Don't worry, Jo, I'll protect you with the power of my Herbal Essence hair."


     The Doctor swipes an egg, and they take it back to Professor Jones’ lab to study. There, they eat mushrooms like a bunch of hobbits, Jo and Professor Jones attempt to have chemistry together after he had spent most of the day shouting at her, and the maggot hatches, luckily killing the mine minion who came to steal the egg back.

     The Doctor returns to the mines, dresses up as one of those old ladies from Monty Python, and discovers the BEST VILLAIN EVER.

     BOSS. Literally, Bimorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor, proving A.I. really is a crapshoot, because BOSS will play classical music as he plans to take over the world, BOSS will declare his plans in the MOST GRANDIOSE VOICE POSSIBLE, BOSS WILL EAT ALL OF THE SCENERY AND LEAVE NONE FOR OMEGA.

"What is the sound a doggy makes?"
"MOO."


     Meanwhile, Jo accidentally discovers how to cure everyone by knocking things over in Professor Jones’ lab. He shouts at her a bit, because this is how to establish chemistry between two characters. The Doctor realizes he can use the Blue Jewel to break mental conditioning, and BOSS serves up some more helpings of Large Ham

     By the end, Jo and Professor Jones have inexplicably decided to get married and run off to the Amazon together, and the Doctor hands over the blue jewel and looks so devastated that it’s the only part of this serial that really hit me hard.

     I sort of liked this. I feel like the parts with Jo and the Professor were forced (remember what I said about unsatisfactory companion departures? This is one of them.) She says he reminds her of the Doctor, but whereas the Doctor superciliousness and impatience seem more out of forgetting he’s around a bunch of puny humans, with Professor Jones it’s just annoying. He really is rather mean, which is why their relationship just doesn’t work for me.

     The Doctor’s reaction to Jo leaving is the only thing that made it work. It’s subtle, and showing him driving off through the darkness is one of the loneliest scenes. It’s part of the theme that decreases with subtlety as the series goes on: the Doctor needs companions..


     That said, the scenes in the mine were creepy, and again, BOSS IS BEST COMPUTER.



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