Monday, February 2, 2015

ClassicWho Reviews: Castrovalva, The Visitation, The Five Doctors, The Resurrection of the Daleks, Planet of Fire, Caves of Androzani


     The Doctor has just regenerated into Peter Davison, and is feeling more than a little loopy. After wandering lost through the TARDIS, unraveling his scarf and trying to find the Zero Room, the Master attempts to force the TARDIS to the beginning of the universe, presumably where it will be destroyed in the Big Bang. They make it out when the Doctor jettisons part of the TARDIS….which unfortunately contained the Zero Room. With Adric mysteriously missing (he was possibly on a bender, if the actor’s state of health at the time of filming was anything to go by), Nyssa helps the Doctor build a coffin-like box out of bits of the TARDIS walls, and Tegan discovers a place called the Dwellings of Simplicity, which sound very pleasant.

     HA! Did you really think they would be pleasant? After arriving at a lovely castle, the Doctor has no time to relax at all, because they are basically in the Matrix. They are in a “recursive occlusion”, made by block-transfer computations via Adric, who has been captured by the Master.

No, seriously. What.

     This was a fun little beginning for the Fifth Doctor. He’s much calmer than his previous incarnation, but he’s ridiculously snarky. (“That’s democracy for you.”) It was also, if I recall, the first serial to feature the Zero Room.

     And it ends with the Doctor putting celery on his coat, because of course he does.

Celery's great, but don't even mention carrot juice.

The Visitation

     The Doctor is still trying to get Tegan back to Heath Row. They’ve made it, all right, they’re just…315 years early. Tegan is not pleased. While bumbling about outside, they run into highwayman/thespian Richard Mace, who tells them about the plot. A “comet” landed nearby, and the townspeople are all in a tizzy over it.

     The Doctor and Nyssa crawl through a window, to Mace’s horror, who believes stealing is fine but breaking and entering is just right out. There, they find an android who looks like he might be from KISS, who kidnaps Tegan and Adric. The others escape, discover a spaceship, and are attacked by mind controlled townspeople wielding axes. Against a spaceship. Yes.

     The Doctor, who is surly today, makes Nyssa go build an android jamming device, because the sonic screwdriver isn’t that useful yet. Then, after building the device, she also has to build a sonic booster for said device.

     Meanwhile, it appears the fugitive is a Tereleptil, who has been banished from his planet, and who wants to…yeah, take over the world. Tegan has been mind-controlled to release a plague via rats to destroy the population of Earth. A fight ensues, which causes a fire at their location, which is…


     Also, the sonic screwdriver is destroyed, but presumably the software is stored somewhere, because otherwise Day of the Doctor couldn’t work out the way it did.

In Earthshock, Adric dies in a fiery blaze, and a lot of fans were very happy about this. I did not see it, but it’s referenced as the greatest serial ever. (Poor lil’ Adric.)

The Five Doctors

     Five for the price of one!

Well, okay, Tom Baker was a waxwork, but...

     In various parts of the Doctor’s timeline, someone uses a time scoop to grab the five incarnations and some companions and bring them to Gallifrey. The First, Second, and Third Doctors arrive in the Death Zone, along with Susan, Sarah Jane, and the Brig, while the Fourth Doctor and Romana get stuck in the time vortex. The Fifth Doctor, meanwhile, is trying to have an actual pleasant vacation with fellow snarks Tegan and Turlough (the TARDIS will not see this much snark again until Amy and Rory), when he feels the pain of his incarnations being taken out of their respective timelines. They head for Gallifrey, where they meet up with the others, and basically throw a party on the TARDIS.

"My boy, if you would just let me remove that vegetable..."
"Psst, what's with the celery stick?"
"We don't know, Susan. We don't know."

     Meanwhile, Lord President Borusa, Chancellor Flavia, and the Castellan discover all these hijinks, as well as a draining of the Eye of Harmony (which has nothing to do with ponies). They summon the Master, because they figure he’s the only one crazy enough to help, and offer him a new set of regenerations (which becomes a very happy plot point eventually). But the Master can’t get anyone to believe him, even with the seal, and is knocked out by Cybermen.

"No, seriously, why are you wearing that stupid cape again?"

     Meanwhile, the Fifth Doctor heads to the Capitol to investigate the goings-on; they find a transmat device and some of Rassilon’s old writings on not-magic in the Castellan’s quarters, but the Doctor is still suspicious. Which is a good thing, but a little too late, as Borusa reveals his Evil Plan ™ and temporarily takes control of the Doctor’s will.

     In the Death Zone, the other Doctors and their companions have made their way to the Tower of Rassilon. The Master attempts to kill them all, but the Brig just punches him out in the most hilariously anti-climactic fight scene ever. But now the question is this: just why are they all here, why is Borusa doing all this, and what did they really think would happen when they tried to get the Doctor to be president?

     This was a fun 20th anniversary, with lots of amusing cross-serial interaction and jokes, and introducing us to more of Time Lord society (and, as said before, some very important plot points).

I just had the weirdest dream...

The Resurrection of the Daleks

     At a London warehouse, some futuristic humans are gunned down by a group of men wearing Very. Funny. Hats. They are working for the Daleks, who presumably designed the hats for maximum humiliation. They are planning on rescuing Davros from a prison station In Space.


     Meanwhile, the Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough happen upon Sergeant Stien, who managed to escape the Funny Hatted Men from before. They return to the warehouse, where they find a bomb squad dealing with “unexploded bombs”, and Turlough is so smart he manages to wander into a time corridor and wind up on the Dalek ship. After a brief fight, in which a Dalek is defenestrated, Tegan is knocked out, and we get lots of exposition from Davros (who has basically been conscious in his cryogenic chamber for 90 years, and is incredibly bored) and Commander Lytton, who helpfully explains this cool plague the Movellans developed against the Daleks.

     Back in the warehouse, we get to see that Daleks aren’t exactly helpless without their armor. Sure, they’re squishy, but they also have tentacles, for strangling and cephalopod tea parties. The Doctor shoots the Kaled mutant repeatedly, because he is a pacifist, you guys,  and the cat brought in for the cat scare is given a bowl of milk for its efforts. Stien reveals himself as a double agent, and apparently the Daleks have plans to clone the Doctor to assassinate the High Council on Gallifrey. Mind-probing ensues. Also, Davros is smart enough to realize that the Daleks are totally going to betray him, and takes steps toward controlling them.

"And I will ban all pepper shakers from the world."

     Everything is set for the really big fight at the end, wherein the Doctor, despite gunning down a Kaled mutant in cold blood, won’t just shoot Davros. (Not that it helps. He and the Master are having a competition for “most times a villain can inexplicably come back to life”.)

     I enjoyed this serial, even though it’s hard to take Daleks seriously after watching them spew shaving cream. However, I thought it was actually a nice send-off for Tegan, who basically can’t stand the pressure anymore of constant “adventuring”, particularly when it ends so horribly. (Not gonna lie-I did kind of feel sorry for all the Daleks exploding shaving cream at the end. That’s such an ignominious way to go.)

     And then deviantART user despisedandbeloved made this:

Planet of Fire

     On the planet of Sarn, people worship s god called Logar. They have a chosen one, who has a plot symbol burned into his arm.

     Meanwhile, an artifact with that same symbol is found on Earth by an American archaeologist, whose stepdaughter thinks it’s completely legit to run away with two men she just met. She tries to escape the boat by swimming away with said artifact, and of course nearly drowns, because Peri isn’t the brightest crayon in the box. She is saved by Turlough while both are as little clothed as possible, who then decides to ransack her backpack, because that’s a good idea, and discovers the artifact, revealing that he has the symbol burned into his arm as well.

Move along, nothing to see here...

     The Doctor, not thinking that maybe they should take the girl back home, decides to go to Sarn. So Peri gets to run off with two men she just met anyways. While they poke around outside, Kamelion first takes the form of Peri’s stepfather, spawning a thousand uncomfortable fanon ideas, and then falls under control of the Master.

     Sarn is having a very unhappy day. First, they’re told the mountain they worship is in fact a volcano, and then a second chosen one shows up, and then the Master arrives and declares himself to be the Outsider, who is some super important prophet in their religion. Naturally, this means the Doctor is thrown into jail, because reasons.

He did a THING.

     Turlough reveals that Sarn is a prison world. There was a rebellion on his home planet, and the losing side got shipped away. Even though he was a child, he was still a criminal-by-association, because his home planet is full of jerks. The Master, meanwhile, is revealed to be very tiny because he somehow shot himself with the tissue compressor, and that is why he is possessing Kamelion. Peri tries to squish him, and the Master has broken things trying to get the cure for his shrinkage problem and that’s why the mountain is about to blow up. Turlough does the only smart thing and calls his people for help, even though they’re Complete Jerks.

     In the end, the Master “dies” (because of course he isn’t dead), and Turlough discovers the jerks on his planet were kicked out of power, presumably for being jerks. Peri would prefer to travel with a man she just met, so she and the Doctor head for further adventures.

     This was a pretty decent serial. It gave Turlough a good back story, and honestly, I do like Peri, even though poor Nicola Bryant (the actress, not the character from The Thick of It) can’t do an American accent to save her life. I feel like Peri gets a bad rap simply because she winds up being the only companion around to be inevitably kidnapped. Also, Anthony Ainley is amazing as usual.

" 'Perpugilliam'? What was your mother smoking?"

Caves of Androzani

     What does it take to make the Doctor really crazy? Well, this serial answers that question.

     The Doctor and Peri arrive on Androzani Minor, the source of a powerful medicine called spectrox, only found in the caves of gigantic freaking bats. They go out to explore, only to get shot at, then step into poisonous webs. They are also shot, but luckily those were android duplicates, manufactured by the Phantom of the Caverns, Sharaz Jek. He is in a kind of war with the businessman who controls the spectrox sources. It turns out Jek likes kidnapping people for forever because he gets lonely, and decides the Doctor would be a good friend to talk to, and Peri a good “friend” to…

Jek, we need to talk about your being endlessly creepy.

     Hey, that rash isn’t looking so good, is it? Yeah, you’re going to die a lingering death without the spectrox. Then, everything goes downhill, as an attempt to escape leads the Doctor to getting captured and taken to Androzani Major and snarking at people a lot. Meanwhile, Peri is unconscious, and Jek gets increasingly creepy toward her. The politicians start killing each other off, and the Doctor hijacks a ship to get back to Androzani Minor, while fighting off regeneration. He convinces Jek to give him directions to the Gigantic Freaking Bats, and since Jek is inexplicably in love with Peri, he does so.

The Doctor gets a little intense when he plays GTA V.

     The Doctor manages to get Peri back to the TARDIS in time, but, having spilled some spectrox, gives her what’s left and then becomes SO OVER THE TOP HAMMY IT’S LIKE A WORLD OF HAM JUST FELL INTO THE TARDIS.

     I love Sixxie.

Look at that hair! Even the hair is crazy!

     This was probably the darkest serial of the Fifth Doctor’s run. Between the creepy intents of Jek to the Doctor’s traumatic regeneration, it sort of paves the way for what the Sixth Doctor himself will be like.

     Also, since yesterday was my 500th post (about the Super Bowl, no less), we are going to celebrate with the Sixth Doctor.

Awesome celebration.

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