Posts Tagged ‘clothing

11
Mar
10

Story 024: The Celestial Toymaker

Apparently I spoke too soon when I said the show’s budget must have gone through the roof for Season 3. The Celestial Toymaker is a mildly entertaining story that doesn’t suck. That’s about the best I can say about it. For the first time, though, I really got the feeling that Doctor Who was a show for kids. It wasn’t just that this story featured a diabolical toy-making villain. But the whole plot and action structure screamed children’s entertainment. It wasn’t bad….it just wasn’t particularly appealing.

Looking at a Toy

The TARDIS lands and we see both Dodo and Steven wearing terribly ugly clothes. It seems that Dodo enjoys playing dress-up as we saw her in the terrible Crusade outfit and now this polka dot dress with a jaunty cap. I suppose this probably intended to highlight her youth and innocence…but she’s not actually that young. She seems to be maybe as old as 18, but they are certainly portraying her as 12. And Steven. I was under the impression that he was Ian’s age, or maybe a little younger. In his 30s. But his striped shirt and behavior in this story indicates he’s supposed to be 16 or 17. These things just contributed to the kids’ show feeling of this story.

The Doctor begins to disappear, and then tells Dodo and Steven they are under attack. He has figured out that they have landed in the world of the Toymaker, villain he has apparently had dealings with in the past. Other than that, we get no other background information on the Toymaker. He apparently enjoys turning dolls into people, people into dolls, and playing games. He also dresses to the nines!

The story’s focus is on Dodo and Steven. While Steven thrived on his own in The Massacre, he doesn’t work quite as well with Dodo. I just didn’t feel their connection, perhaps hampered by his immaturity. The Doctor, instead of mysteriously going somewhere else for two episodes, is trapped in the Toymaker’s lair playing a Tower of Hanoi game. For the producers’ convenience, the toymaker makes the doctor invisible and takes away his voice. So, the Doctor is in the episodes, but William Hartnell is not. He must finish his game in 1023 moves, but not before Dodo and Steven have won their games and located the TARDIS. It’s all a race against the clock, and the toymaker doesn’t play fair. He moves the Tower pieces on their own and his minions cheat at the games against Dodo and Steven.

Toymaker in his Robe and Scary Clowns

Dodo and Steven’s games consist of an obstacle course, locating a key in a crazy kitchen, sitting in the right chair, and a version of hopscotch. While they “win” all of the games, in reality the people they play against just mess up. For example, they had officially lost the hopscotch game to Cyril, but in his excitement he stepped on the electric floor and was burnt to a crisp. So, they won by default. Their opponents in the obstacle course are a couple of terrifying-looking clowns that are incapable of completing the course without cheating. These scenes are intended to be great fun and light-hearted, while at the same time suspenseful for children. Since I am not a child, it’s difficult to say how well they succeeded. But, since they were mildly entertaining, I’m going to say they got the job done. I just never felt like there was any serious danger.

Once the Toymaker has been defeated, we learn that he is immortal and destroys his world whenever he loses a game. Therefore, the Doctor does not make his last move in the Tower game. It becomes quite the paradox: if the Doctor wins, they will be destroyed. If he does not make the final move, they will be stuck in the Toymaker’s world forever. This is a rather sinister plot twist that is resolved rather easily with a nice use of foreshadowing. The Toymaker had been commanding the Tower pieces to move. So, the doctor, setting the TARDIS to dematerialize, commands the Tower pieces to move so that he can be in the TARDIS and leave before the world is destroyed. While I rolled my eyes a bit at this, it wasn’t so bad in retrospect. It did provide some needed tension at the end. The Toymaker lives on, and the Doctor indicates that they could meet him again some day. The Wikipedia tells me that he does appear in future novels, but not in any televised adventures. That’s too bad, he would have been a nice recurring villain, assuming his stories matured.

Back at the TARDIS

As I said at the beginning, this story was alright. I don’t think it was as good as any of the earlier Season 3 stories, it seems more like a Season 1 entry. But that feeling may have to do with Dodo’s similarity to Susan. I wouldn’t say I’m a Dodo hater, but she didn’t win any points from me this story. I don’t see much depth developing for her yet. And Steven really continues to be stuck in the shadow – even Dodo outshines him in this story, I felt. It seems that Peter Purves simply cannot share the screen with other stars, he’s easily overpowered.

In the cliffhanger, the Doctor eats a piece of the Toymaker’s candy and begins to act as if he’d been poisoned. The next story is The Gunfighters, a wild west tale. So, I’m guessing it just went down the wrong tube because I’m not sure how they would deal with him being poisoned in Tombstone.

19
Sep
09

Story 008: The Reign of Terror

Apparently season finales were not much of an event in 1964. The Reign of Terror was so boring I had to watch a couple of episodes twice because I fell asleep. I was never really interested in European history after the Middle Ages anyway. One thing I will say, though, is that this story is a bit darker than has been established thus far in the series. Despite that, it resorts to a strange lightness in certain parts. It makes the story feel a little uneven overall.

An indignant Doctor, who had vowed to a whiny Ian at the end of the last story that he would get them home to London, claims that he has done so. The picture of trees on the monitor seemed good enough to convince the travelers that they were indeed in London. Ian lures the Doctor out with the promise of a pint, and it’s a good thing. Otherwise Ian and Barbara would have been left alone in the woods where they found a dirty little boy that told them they were in France. They weren’t concerned with the kids dirtiness, for some reason. Apparently even in the twentieth century the British maintained a hatred of the French that included an assumption of poor hygiene and/or child care. Also, the French kid spoke English. In fact, everyone in France spoke English, without an accent even. This is starting to bug me.

The travelers find a farmhouse where we learn they have landed smack in the middle of the Reign of Terror (the Doctor’s favorite part of Earth history, apparently) and we witness what is (I think) the show’s first instance of human-on-human violence. Some rebels are shot and killed, and the Doctor is attacked and left for dead in a burning farmhouse. Dark times, indeed. Susan, Ian, and Barbara are imprisoned in Paris, later rescued from the guillotine and become part of the resistance, which is apparently housed in a shabby-chic mansion somewhere.

While all of this is happening, the most curious part of the story happens. The Doctor, who survives the fire, goes on a walk to Paris to rescue his friends. Aside from the absurdity of the 90-year old doctor walking all of this way (with his walking stick from the Kahn, I might add) in the summer hear, he is detained and forced to do manual labor. He makes some light-hearted jokes, then hits the foreman with a shovel! He become momentarily deranged, primarily out of concern for Susan. I wasn’t sure whether to be impressed or horrified. But, nonetheless, he clobbers the dude, then walks off toward Paris to the beat of some sweet happy tunes. This whole sequence confused me — the darkness of murder, revolution and prison and the doctor is making jokes and clobbering to a lighthearted soundtrack? It was more than a bit odd.

Look at that awesome hat!

Look at that awesome hat!

Not as odd as the crazy hat the Doctor wore when he was pretending to be some mayor or governor or something to fool the jailers into letting his friends loose. We meet Robespierre and Napoleon (who is not nearly as grumpy as I would have expected). In the end, of course, Robespierre is removed from power, even though Barbara (AGAIN!) wants to change history and do something to stop Napoleon. I’m not even sure Napoleon played an actual role in the removal of Robespierre, but that’s what happens when you get your history education from a science fiction television show. Or, if I’m wrong, what happens when you don’t pay attention in your public education.

As the travelers leave France, the Doctor gives some monologue about travel and destiny and life. This did give the conclusion an air of season-finale and was kind of a nice touch. I would hope, though, that since the Doctor knows exactly when and where they were that he can get them back to London. I know he does by the second story of season 2, because the Daleks return. Before that, though, is Planet of Giants….after a reflection on completing season 1, I’ll be watching that. In the meantime, I’ll look forward to seeing how/if the show changes for season 2.

05
Sep
09

Story 005: The Keys of Marinus

Susan and a Rubber Suit Guy (Note the Screaming)

Susan and a Rubber Suit Guy (Note the Screaming)

After leaving China, the travelers land on a strange island with an acid sea. Some crazy guys in rubber fish suits (they’re called Voords) appear to be the villains. They meet some old dude that gives them some complicated story about a computer that makes everyone on the planet? the universe? obey the laws without complaint. The guys in the rubber suits are immune to the computer and try to stop it. I’ve gotta say I’m with the guys in the rubber suits on this one. The last thing I need is some computer acting as my conscience. Plus, the old guy forces the travelers to go in search of the five keys he needs to run the computer. He puts a forcefield around the TARDIS and won’t let them leave until they bring the keys. The flaw in his plan, though, is he removes the force field as soon as they leave. So, why don’t they just leave and return immediately to the TARDIS? Who knows. Either eay, it’s a good thing he turns the force field off because the rubber suit guys send him to sleep with the fishes immediately thereafter.

To find the keys, the travelers must use these special Dick Tracy watches that take them to where the keys are. The catch is that they have to overcome some dirty tricks. The best of the tricks is a city in which all of the citizens are fooled into thinking they are getting their fondest wishes, but really they live in a rat hole. The strangest fondest wish is Barbara’s. She wants to sit on a psychiatrist’s couch, eat grapes and have everything brought to her by scantily clad women. Why is it that all of the women in the universe are scantily clad except for Barbara?

Brains in jars. Awesome.

Brains in jars. Awesome.

The best part of this episode is that everyone is being controlled by brains with eyes that live in jars. Does it get any science-fictioner than brains in jars? Awesome. Barbara goes nuts and smashes them all. For once, she’s the hero. One person who is NOT the hero is Susan. More screaming? Oh yes. She screams when a Voord attacks. And again it happens at an episode cliffhanger (the episode is titled The Screaming Jungle of all things), so it was double the screams.

Following the brain smashing, the travelers are joined by Altos and Sabetha, each of whom had previously gone in search of the keys. Good to see they made it far. Altos and Sabetha are painfully flat characters and wooden actors. And neither of them wear very many clothes. This seems to be a theme. Altos’s pants are extremely tight and extremely short. Like hot pants. The Doctor moves ahead with the brilliant strategy of splitting up to get the keys. He doesn’t appear again for a couple of episodes and the story suffers for it. One interesting note is that the doctor is carrying his walking stick, given to him by The Kahn during Marco Polo. And Ian is wearing his ugly dragon shirt through the whole episode. And just like everyone speaks English, no one finds the dragon shirt odd. If some dude landed on my planet I’d ask what the hell the dragons were on his shirt.

The best part of the story comes when the Doctor returns and acts as Ian’s lawyer. Ian is on trial for killing a guard. What is neat about it is the planet on which our travelers are has a system that believes you are guilty until proven innocent. He successfully acquitted, presumably just moments before his execution. There is some decent drama here. The Doctor believes he knows where the key is the whole time, but waits until he can prove Ian’s innocence to bring it up. Why it was hard to do so, I’m not sure, considering the actual guilty party admits it out loud not once, but twice. The first time wasn’t enough, apparently.

The traveler’s return to the acid sea island and return the keys, but, wait! It’s not the old guy! It’s a rubber suit dude wearing his clothes! The rubber suits are dispatched without much issue, though. Immune to the computer, not so hot on the fighting front. Our travelers lead Altos and Sabetha to run the world together. I fear for that world, I really do.

This story had the feeling of an old DOS-based game. Like Commander Keen. Maybe those games were inspired by the Keys of Marinus. Overall, I enoyed it. The concept was clever and it didn’t seem to drag. The least interesting episodes were those without the Doctor (freezing in a cave? a key in a block of ice? more cave jumping?), but he is the most interesting character on the show, so that’s to be expected. I was pleased to see Barbara take more of in-charge role with her brain smashing and investigation of the Ian Affair. It seems that Ian and Barbara are maybe starting to enjoy their travels with the Doctor. Maybe it was the trip to China and the sweet shirt Ian got. I wonder if he’ll take that back to London with him.

Question: Is the Doctor’s Chinese walking stick a permanent part of the show? Do the alien people ever put on clothes?

31
Aug
09

Story 002: The Daleks

Ah, the arrival of the most evil race in the universe. Or so I’ve been told. To be honest, I’m not sure how deadly a group of mutants in R2-D2 costumes can be, but there they are. This is another intriguing story, although it goes on a bit long.

Our heroes land on Skaro, although they don’t know t, of course. The planet is dead with lots of burned up trees and such. Off in the distance is an exciting-looking city the Doctor would love oh-so-much to explore. And here his cantankerousness gives way to conniving and deceitful as he claims he needs mercury for some broken piece of the TARDIS. Once there they are, as expected, captured by the Daleks.

Now, at first I kind of felt for the Daleks. They thought that they had been left unaffected by some ancient neutron bomb and the poor Thals (a human-like race that lives peacefully in the woods) were mutated, jealous and out to kill them. There was a sad innocence in all of it. Plus, to be honest, the Thals were kind loserish. They’ve never fought? Even over a woman? When all of their women are seemingly attractive and scantily clad? Really? Thals….more like Tools.

Anyway, those glimmers of romance between Ian and Barbara are replaced by romance between Barbara and some Thal guy. And then she puts on those sweet Thal pleather pants. Phew. Ian must have been pretty angry at that, but he hides it well. Or maybe there was never any Ian-Barbara fling to begin with.

The Daleks, however, are not innocent. They are evil bastards. But, they may not be as evil as our travellers who force the Thals into fighting the Daleks. A few of them die, including two forgettable souls that drown in some crazy swamp.

Back to the Daleks…they are actually deformed mutants, presumably from the ancient bomb. However, they claim the Thals are the deformed ones…I wonder if that’s accurate? One thing about the Daleks that is definitely deformed is their voices. I admit, I don’t have the best hearing. But I had to turn on the subtitles to understand them at some points. It was either my poor hearing, television speaker, or poor original audio. Probably a combination of all of those things. That was a bit obnoxious, but I got past it. I hope their audio improves in future Dalek stories.

I could have done without the seemingly endless cave canyon jumping. Maybe one or two jumps and I would have had the point. It was a dangerous trip. Perhaps it was all very edge-of-you-seat in the sixties, but I found that wanting.

In the end, our heroes escape with the piece to the TARDIS, Barbara gets her hot pants and says goodbye to her Thal lover and off they go.

With the exception of the cave jumping, this was another good story. The Daleks, once I learned they weren’t as innocent as they initially seemed are a great race of villains. The fact that they see through those cameras is pretty great. And the subjective camera techniques when they moved/attacked was pretty impressive. It was almost (but not nearly as good) as the subjective shots in Psycho. I’m sure that movie was the inspiration for such a technique.

It seems that a pattern is developing to the stories already: travellers arrive, get nosy, get captured, escape, help someone along the way. I’m looking forward to future Dalek stories, although I hope they don’t include the Thals. I already have the DVDs for The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but it’s not until Season 2, so they will have to wait on the shelf. I’m excited to get to them.

Question: Were the Daleks the mutants as we naturally believe, or is it how they say and the humanesque Thals are the mutations of Skaro?




About These Adventures

This blog exists to document my trip through over 30 seasons of the British science fiction television show Dr. Who. Prior to beginning, I had never seen a single episode of Dr. Who and will be learning the show's mythology and experiencing it all for the first time. I began sometime in July of 2009. Hopefully it doesn't take me over 30 years to reach the end.

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