Thursday, January 15, 2015

ClassicWho Reviews: Terror of the Zygons, Planet of Evil, Pyramids of Mars, The Android Invasion, and The Hand of Fear

Terror of the Zygons

     The Doctor and Co., along with UNIT, arrive in a tiny village where a fourth oil rig has been destroyed in an odd manner. While Sarah Jane chats with the locals to find information, Harry discovers one of the oil workers on the moor. But before he can question him, the worker is shot dead, and Harry is severely injured. When Harry disappears from the hospital, the Doctor starts discovering a very odd scheme.

     This serial introduced the Zygons, red, sucker-covered creatures who can take on anyone’s form. Also they have a cyborg Loch Ness Monster, for reasons that are never really explained. Their planet was destroyed in a stellar explosion (later revealed to be one of the casualties of the Time War, and cementing my theory that all the crazy alien weapons in Deep Storm were left there by the Time Lords). So, the Zygons’ plan to fix this problem is to TAKE OVER THE WORLD.

     This was a bit of a crazy serial, especially since it does indeed reveal that a member of Parliament is an alien spy. Also, the Doctor dresses as Scottishly as possible. Because of course he does.

I don't know if "Scottishly" is a word, but it should be.

Planet of Evil

     Previously, on Doctor Who, Sarah Jane wanted to go back to London. Zeta Minor is close to London, right? Right???

     The TARDIS picks up a distress signal from a scientific expedition, and there are dead bodies, which means, of course, that the Doctor is blamed. Because in this universe, if you are found anywhere close to a dead body, you are immediately and irrevocably guilty!


     However, they soon discover it’s much worse than just a random killer. Anti-matter is infecting the expedition, and turns the leader into the Antiman, and possibly Ant Man.

     This was an okay serial. Nothing about it stood out much, except for the bizarre idea that anti-matter can turn people into apes.

     Also, the Doctor used a gun, once.

Pyramids of Mars

     This serial. THIS SERIAL. This serial has everything-Sarah Jane’s improbable sharp-shooter skills, the Doctor at his snarky best, and THE MIGHT OF SUTEKH.

     In 1911, Marcus Scarman excavates a pyramid, which is just straight-up asking for a curse. He, of course, does find something odd, and gets blasted by a green ray.

     Meanwhile, on the TARDIS, Sarah Jane finds Victoria’s old dress just in time for a trip to the past, and a jackal-like face appears. When they land near the Scarman home, they discover wacky Egyptian hijinks ensuing.

     There, they are cornered by the inhabitant of the house, an odd Egyptian fellow who is not the Black Pharaoh, and his butler (“He’s so violent!”) When Scarman’s old friend Dr. Warlock (NO SERIOUSLY) arrives, he, the Doctor, and Sarah Jane manage to escape, and are pursued by mummies to Laurence Scarman’s house. There, they find that Scarman has noticed an odd signal coming from space: Beware of Sutekh.


     Before you know it, Warlock and Scarman are dead, Sutekh is managing to mindrape the Doctor, and it appears time will be rewritten and the Earth will be destroyed!

     This serial was amazing. The Doctor had plenty of one-liners, and a few very alien moments (one that stands out to basically everyone is when he is so absorbed in finding a way to stop Sutekh that he basically shoves a newly dead body aside without a thought). Sarah Jane had quite a lot to do (including developing improbable aiming skills), and Sutekh is such a hammy, over-the-top villain that I think he’s my favorite of them all.

     So much so, that Sutekh returns to do a behind the scenes extra for the DVD.

The Android Invasion

     While the Doctor has no idea when they are, he is at least fairly certain they’re back on Earth, to Sarah Jane’s relief. This relief is short-lived when men in white hazmat suits shoot at them using their index fingers (no, really) and a soldier leaps off a cliff. When the pair investigate, they find money all minted for the same year, some kind of escape pod nearby, and OH DARN THEY’RE SHOOTING AT US AGAIN.

     The village nearby is empty until a group of people are brought in on a truck, all in some kind of trance. The Doctor heads off to the nearby defense station to call in UNIT while Sarah Jane stays behind to act as spy. But then the dead soldier arrives at the pub, looking very much alive, and the Doctor finds even the UNIT personnel acting odd, it’s clear there’s something far bigger going on.

     This was a very enjoyable one. It set up a nice puzzle, gave us a villain with a scheme that will actually work, despite being overly complicated as usual, and had a genuine surprise near the middle. The Doctor’s plan to get off the Kraal ship is brilliant and idiotic. Fun to be had all around.

"Well, if the fall doesn't kill us, the stop surely will! HAHAHAHA--why aren't you laughing?"

The Hand of Fear

     Long ago, on the planet Kastria, a criminal called Eldrad destroys the barriers that keep the solar winds from destroying the surface, and is subsequently sentenced to death. Nothing but Eldrad’s hand survives.

     Lucky for us, the Doctor and Sarah Jane arrive at the BBC Quarry in Wales, nearly get blown up, and Sarah Jane finds the hand. Eldrad uses this to possess Sarah Jane and send her to the nearby nuclear reactor, regrowing Eldrad from the hand.

     Eldrad appears to be a very attractive female alien. Cue the catcalls!

Being a rogue Timelord certainly has its perks.

     She wishes to return to her home planet, but when they arrive, they find it a barren wasteland, and the Doctor realizes that listening to a pretty lady in distress probably wasn’t the brightest idea.

     This was a fun serial, and a good send off for Sarah Jane. Judith Paris made for an excellent villain, and it’s quite sad that they chose to then shove Eldrad into a male form that has a louder voice than Brian Blessed. (Although when he comes tearing out of there and calls out for the Doctor and Sarah Jane and starts excitedly talking about how they’re going to go conquer stuff together is kind of adorable. He just wants friends to take over the universe with!)

"And in the morning, I'M MAKING WAFFLES!"

     It also gave a good reason for Sarah Jane to get fed up. The poor girl has just been possessed and has no memory of what she did during the possession, and then had to watch as the Doctor tried to help the thing possessing her. And then, when she thinks maybe it would be nice to visit Gallifrey, the Doctor reveals she can’t. (Probably because they would wipe her mind too-“Don’t you forget me, Sarah Jane” is probably the most heart-wrenching thing on that entire series.) Also, I find it amusing that Sarah Jane apparently had, at some point, moved a bunch of extraneous stuff onto the TARDIS-if the tennis racket is any indication.

"I don't need anything! Except this. Just this tennis racket. And this owl. Just this tennis racket and this owl. And the yellow coat. Just the tennis racket and the owl and the yellow coat. That's all I need, too. And the suitcase. The tennis racket and the owl and the yellow coat and the suitcase. That's all I need."

     This will not be the last time the Doctor accidentally strands a companion in Scotland... 

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