Posts Tagged ‘romance

07
Feb
10

Story 020: The Myth Makers

This story has some good stuff going for it, but I wasn’t ready for a character departure! The story had a good pace at 4 episodes. It was lacking a bit in action and the story was simple, but like Galaxy 4, clever. The integration (and changing) of a few different myths and legends really helped the story, I think. It added a bit of smirkiness like The Romans.

Speaking of smirkiness, The Myth Makers is a truly funny story. Not in the slapstick style of The Romans, but in the well-written witty way. I found myself giggling out loud a few times, while trying not to wake my wife. The changes to Homer’s story were great. Most of the characters lose their heroic natures, which I found refreshing. I was a fan of the changes to Paris. Mostly because I hate Orlando Bloom, so anything that makes his character look like a moron is good in my book. His cowardly, nervous, please-everyone personality was perfect. The dialogue was good, full of one-liners. And the Doctor was great, at his best, both grumpy and funny. Especially when he didn’t want to try out his own catapult-flying-machine and so came up with “Plan B” and then feared for his life while in the horse.

Zeus arrives

The TARDIS appears on the plains of Troy smack in the middle of the battle between Hector and Achilles. Now one would think there would be people all over. But, no. The scene for their battle shifted to some secluded part of the plain and they apparently encountered one another by accident. Additionally, Achilles does not appear to be the fearful warrior of legend. Instead, he’s kind of wimpy and Odysseus is skeptical of his ability to defeat a warrior of Hector’s ability. In fact, Achilles probably would have lost the battle had the Doctor not appeared shortly after Hector mocked Zeus.

Having won a great battle, Achilles believes that the Doctor, having appeared from nowhere out of his strange blue temple, is Zeus himself. Foolishly, though not surprisingly, the Doctor agrees that he is Zeus and reluctantly follows Achilles back to the Greek camp. Shortly thereafter, Steven, who cannot seem to do anything the Doctor tells him, is captured and also brought to camp. He and the Doctor are asked to prove that they are gods…and, of course, they cannot. The Doctor indicates a number of times that he must get back inside the TARDIS. For once, he seems to be uninterested in meddling, he just wants to get away. This is probably the most sensible the Doctor has ever been. Too bad the Greeks won’t allow it.

The Trojans take the TARDIS into the city, with Vicki still inside. They are about to set fire to it as a sacrifice, when Vicki emerges, claiming to be from the future. Now, why did she leave the TARDIS? My guess is that it cannot be burnt. It’s not actually made of wood, is it? I mean we’ve seen it fall off of cliffs and such. I would think they would light it on fire, it wouldn’t burn, and they’d keep it in the square as a monument. Vicki could have sat tight, at least until the cover of night. Instead, she comes out and King Priam, despite the protests of his daughter, takes Vicki in, giving her a more appropriate Trojan name: Cressida. Of course, Cressida is the Trojan that defected to the Greeks and then fell in love with Troilus, Priam’s youngest son. Conveniently, Troilus is right there and sure enough, he and Vicki fall in love.

The Trojan Horse

Like it was his idea to burn Rome, the Doctor comes up with the brilliant idea to build a gigantic wooden horse. There’s a great shot of his blueprints for the horse that says “Plan B: Trojan Horse.” I thought that was humorous. Anyway, the Doctor is hiding in there with all of the soldiers. At this point I wanted to punch the Doctor right in the face. He keeps wanting to wuss out. He keeps talking, risking their discovery. He even wants to jump out after the horse in Troy. What the heck was his problem?I will say that the horse was pretty impressive looking. There was a small bit of surviving footage of the horse. It didn’t appear to be show footage, but like it was filmed off screen. Like someone was really proud of the horse they had built. I’m glad that some actual footage of the horse survives, because I was really curious to see it.

Vicki, by Steven’s suggestion, convinces Troilus to leave the city. Outside the city he meets Achilles, and it is he, not Paris, who is given credit for killing Achilles. A nice revision, and way to include the hero’s death, I thought. After a slave helps the Doctor get an injured Steven into the TARDIS, the ship disappears, presumably with everyone on board. But as Troilus stands on the plain cursing Cressida for doublecrossing him, she walks toward him, having escaped the city. I was shocked. How was Vicki still there? Did the TARDIS come back? No, she never entered it. And she is leaving the show. Vicki was my favorite companion so far. I feel that there was more to do with her character and such a quick departure was unfortunate. No goodbyes were said at all, something that I imagine is going to become common places with last minute escapes and such. Like Susan, Vicki lasted just over a season. Also like Susan, she left because she was in love with a boy. Can’t a woman in the Dr. Who universe leave to be on her own rather than to identify herself as the love of some man’s life?

Vicki’s apparent replacement, Katarina, was given hardly an introduction in this series. In fact, she barely speaks until the TARDIS is left and she tells the Doctor that she thinks she’s dead. Wonderful. I imagine it would be difficult to explain to someone from prehistory about time and space travel, let alone one who thinks she’s passed on. And I still don’t feel as if we know Steven very well. He was good in the Time Meddler, but Galaxy 4 wasn’t written for him. So, we now need to get to know another new companion before we’ve gotten to know him. I can see how this might be very challenging for the writers, I’ll be interested to see how they handle it. Especially with the epic Dalek’s Master Plan coming up.

Overall, the story was good. It was consistent and well-paced. Like I said, it was funny. Vicki’s surprising off-screen goodbye was a disappointment, but also like I said, I didn’t want to see her go. It was probably the best story of the season so far, though it’s only the third, so that doesn’t say much.

The reconstruction I saw was not very good, but I saw on a website today that there is a newer, better, version that has been made recently. I probably won’t watch the new reconstruction, but it’s good to know they made a better one. The Dalek’s Master Plan is next and it’s huge, hopefully I can get to it soon. And hopefully Katarina doesn’t suck, because I really liked Vicki.

23
Oct
09

Story 012: The Romans

The Romans is a truly enjoyable story. It has a great mix of humor, which was my favorite part. The story begins with the TARDIS falling off of a cliff into some bushes, an event I wasn’t exactly sure why it happened. I thought perhaps at the end they would wake up and it would all be a dream and they had been knocked out in the fall, but nope. Plus, it wouldn’t make sense for them all to have a dream together. I suppose maybe the Doctor could have dreamed it and they could wake him up and he could bust out “and you were there, andĀ  were there, and even you!” in classic Dorothy style. But, whatever, that wasn’t the case.

What WAS the case, though, was that our heroes were squatting in some rich dude’s Italian villa just outside of Rome. When we catch up with them, they’d been living there for almost a month! I felt like this was a bit out of their character…lounging in someone else’s house, uninvited, presumably wearing the owners’ clothes and drinking their wine. Also, they were selling his produce at bargain basement prices. Thieves.

It was an interesting historical/educational episode. Although I think the educational aspects were toned down a bit compared to the interminable Reign of Terror, they did a nice job making Nero look like an absolute loon, and worked in the burning of Rome nicely. It was amusing that it was the Doctor’s accidental idea.

We got to see Ian show off those fighting skills he learned in the Aztecs fighting as a Gladiator. It would have been better to see him fight in a giant arena.

Highlighting the humor was the scene in which the Doctor, Barbara, and Nero chased each other through the hallway a la Benny Hill. I could almost here the music playing as they ran up and down the corridor, poking their heads into different rooms and just missing one another.

We got our first look at Vicki in action and, unfortunately, she didn’t really do very much except follow the doctor around. She was kind of superfluous. I have a feeling this may be what they had in mind for Susan’s character, but Carol Anne Ford’s own thoughts on the character kept getting in the way. I hope that they realize it’s a mistake and give this character slot a more active role. Susan and Vicki both have so much more potential.

Finally, there is some indication that twentieth century English is not common to all beings in the universe ever. Barbara corrects Vicki once or twice to make her language seem more Roman/Latin (Londinium). A couple of characters also note the strangeness of the the names Ian and Barbara. I thought that was an acknowledgement a long time coming. I understand that they can’t have everyone speaking a different language….but a “the TARDIS helps us to communicate with all races” or something would be sufficient.

Strange note: the travelers’ Roman friend Tavius is shown holding a cross that he wears around his neck. 64AD is awfully early for any Romans in Rome to practicing Christianity. In light of that, I wonder why they chose to show the cross. Only Christians can be good people? Couldn’t he have been a good Roman without it? I tried to look him up to see if he was supposed to be someone famous, but found nothing. Just an odd production choice, I guess. Or maybe there’s a religious theme to the show that I have not yet picked up on…I’ll tag this one just in case.

Finally, the old romantic notion between Ian and Barbara reappears at the end of the story. Once they learn they have arrived back at the villa they are squatting in, it looks like they’re going to drink some wine and get busy. There’s even some good-natured pillow fighting. But, alas, they fall asleep and the Doctor returns.

I enjoyed this story a lot. I’ve found the historical stories so far to be rather bland, but the humor was good and the story moved along pretty well. It seems that Susan has been entirely forgotten, but Vicki is a suitable replacement for me. Let’s just hope they actually give her something to do. And forbid her to scream.

10
Oct
09

Story 010: The Dalek Invasion of Earth

More like Awesome Invasion of Earth!

A Roboman with his TinFoil hat

A Roboman with his TinFoil hat

The second dalek story really delivers with some classic sci-fi action. There were, as I have come to expect, some questionable choices. But overall, the story is a good one that I hope is a sign of the type of show that is to come. It has an eerie beginning, probably the best beginning so far. A man with a tin-foil hat walks to the edge of the river, lets out a tortured moan, rips off his tin foil and walks into the water. It’s disturbing and intriguing and wonderful.

The travellers land in a deserted London under a bridge with a sign instructing them not to dump any bodies in the Thames. While creating a visually creepy mood would have been a bit difficult if shooting on location on a small budget in 1964, the show does a decent job. The location is creepy in its silence and in the location in which they landed. Unlike landing in the French forest, whoever, they are immediately skeptical. Apparently they learned their lesson. Susan, in a moment of idiocy tries to climb up a bank and succeeds only in twisting her ankle and burying the TARDIS in debris. The Doctor and Ian then go off to try to find some place with some tools to dig it out. In the meantime Susan and Barbara are captured.

After the creepy silence of the first episode, the story pretty much goes on a nice climb to climax, with really only one setback. It turns out the city is silent because the Daleks have invaded and the dudes in the tin foil hats are robomen that they ask to do their bidding. These are very similar to early notions of the zombie: unconscious laborers set to work by evil forces of (usually capitalist) domination (brain eating didn’t come until later, although there’s a great one from the early sixties called I want to eat your skin or something like that). So, the zombies capture people and the Daleks either zombify them or kill them by turning them into photgraphic negatives. It’s a strange way to die.

The daleks are after some precious metal. The guy leading the resistance, I forget his name, but he’s in a wheelchair and slightly deranged. I’ll call him Dr. Strangelove. Dr. Strangelove calls it dalekanium. So, the daleks have a mine out in the country (Bedfordshire?). Luckily, the travellers have arrived just when they are about to drop a bomb into the Earth’s core and turn the planet it into a gigantic spaceship. Brilliant! This is totally B-Movie schlock at it’s best. One of the greatest diabolical plots of all time. Luckily, Ian is able to foil it by blocking the bomb tunnel with a door prop. He is also able to braid about 4 feet of wire into approximately 100 feet of rope in about 3 seconds. Ian is like MacGyver.

Hussie!

Hussie!

Susan, still back in London, has fallen in love. Hard. She even makes out with the boy. They had just met! What a hussie! Luckily her ankle has healed so she’s able to help carry the doctor, who was half zombified through the city and help her new boyfriend dismantle a bomb. She’s a pretty tough girl now that she’s grown out of her screaming phase.

The worst part of the story is when Ian and some other guy are trying escape the dalek mine and get back to London (this is still pre-bomb). A strange creature called the Slither comes after them. It’s a cliff hanger at the end of one episode, then they fool it into jumping down a giant hole at the beginning of the next. Other than excitement and showing off some not-so-hot costume work, I’m not sure what the point of it was. Are slithers like the daleks’ watch dogs? No idea. I didn’t get the point of it and could have done without it. I also could have done without the running from the daleks 10 minute montage in the second episode. We saw barbara running through all of London dodging Daleks. This was the first time my wife has watched any Dr. Who with me. She refused to watch any more after that interminable chase scene. That’s how bad it is.

The Daleks visit London.

The Daleks visit London.

One story note: The doctor says that their previous encounter with the Daleks happened a million years in the future. How could he know that? And if it was in the future, what were they doing on Skaro if they could fly everywhere? And why were they referring to the bomb that deformed the Thals as happening a few centuries earlier? I wonder how this fits into the overall Dalek timeline….I guess I’ll find out eventually.

The best part of the story, though, was the very end. Susan tells her new boyfriend how much she’d like to be able to settle down, but she can’t leave her grandfather. The doctor, recognizing that she is leaving her childhood behind, shuts her out of the TARDIS to leave her behind. She’s standing there, begging to be let in, wearing only one shoe (I think the doctor has the other?). He gives a great speech about the her future and rebuilding Earth and that her place is no longer with him, but on her own. It’s a surprisingly touching moment. You don’t usually see emotional departures at the beginning of a show’s second season, but Dr. Who pulled it off. As much as Susan irritated me, it was sad to see her go and even sadder to see the doctor realize he had to leave her. It’s the first of what is bound to be many cast departures, I hope they do them all as well as this one. The Wikipedia tells me that Carol Anne Ford was bored with Susan’s character because they wouldn’t let her expand it. I can see the frustration, she had become much flatter than she needed to be. Apparently Ford reprises her role later, although I don’t know when or why. Maybe the doctor returns as he promises just before he leaves her in a deserted London some time in the future.

Left Alone

Left Alone

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?

27
Aug
09

Story 001: An Unearthly Child / 100,000 BC

Let me start by saying that the pilot episode, An Unearthly Child, is great television. Yes, it has some 60s cheese. Yes, the F/X aren’t the most impressive ever. But, what a great introduction to the series. The music is the first thing that gets you. It’s entirely electronic, which was unique to its time. And totally groovy. I could totally see some mod chick doing some far out dance moves to it. I dig the opening music. The wavy graphics are neat, too, if primitive. I’ll be interested to see how the theme and graphics change over the years.

The perhaps too-nosy Barbara Wright, a history teacher, complains to dorky but well meaning science teacher Ian Chesterton about this incredibly smart yet extremely odd student, Susan Foreman. When we meet Susan I don’t find her particularly odd at all. A bit curious, maybe.

Now, a note about Barbara and Ian. It seems that there is a bit of romantic attraction there…maybe they’ve gone to dinner a time or two. Perhaps Ian is a creepy junkyard adventure away from sealing the deal, hence his willingness to follow her meddlesome self to the junkyard where Susan apparently lives with her grandfather, the Doctor. The doctor finds Ian and Barbara snooping around outside his police box and he is wonderfully cantankerous. He completely owns the screen when he is there. I’m not sure whether or not we are supposed to like him or root for him or not. I suspect that will come over time, but at the beginning, what a grumpy old man.
Ian, Barbara and SusanIan and Barbara continue to be a pain in the Doctor’s ass and break into the police box, which is, of course, the TARDIS, the Doctor and Susan’s space and time travelling ship. The idea that the ship is huge on the inside while the size of a phone booth on the outside is neat. It may have been unique in its day, breaking sci fi ground for years to come. The honeycomb walls and flashing lights of the interior are pretty typical space ship fare.

The Doctor and Susan are, as we learn, from some far off planet. The Doctor’s name is not Foreman as Ian supposes. Instead, he remains nameless. “That’s not his name? Then Doctor who?” I find this very intriguing. Why leave your main character essentially nameless? He is just Doctor. It adds a bit of intrigue and Dr. Foreman just doesn’t have the weight it needs to be the title of a show. It’s a boldĀ  move in any case.

Angry at Ian and Barbara and Susan for their meddling and whining, the grumpy Doctor kidnaps them all and we travel off into time and space. We land in some stone age civilization in the middle of a power struggle between who can make fire and who can bring more meat. Oddly enough, everyone in the stone age spoke English. I suspect that pretty much everyone everywhere in the universe speaks English. I wonder if in future episodes this will be dealt with or explained in some way. Our heroes are captured, they make fire, they are held prisoner and they escape just ahead of a deadly flying spear.

Overall, this first story is very enjoyable and I hope is an indication of what is to come. I imagine there is some maturing in the story telling and refinement of the characters. But at this early stage, the show is pretty strong. The dialogue is a bit corny, but in general the storytelling is good. The power struggle in the stone age Tribe of Gum most likely indicates some political commentary in the stories to come, as is present in most science fiction. The characters of the cavepeople were pretty flat, with the exception of the competing leaders. Our heroes, however, begin to round out nicely. Susan is an interesting girl — almost like a mature and knowing adult but still possessing an innocence of some sort. Ian thinks he’s more macho than he is and has a bit of arrogance that I imagine will get him into trouble in future stories. Barbara is obviously going to be the one that tries to keep them all straight. But the one that really does steal the show is the Doctor. He is in charge of the screen and in charge of the action. A bitter old man, but I sense a soft side underneath. We will see.

So, the TARDIS is either broken or the Doctor doesn’t know how to control it. It seems to me tat it’s a little of both. Susan notes that it’s broken because it didn’t change shape when they landed in the stone age, and the Doctor claims he can only pilot it when he knows exactly when and where they are. hhmmm…..

Some questions: Does the doctor ever get a name? Does the interior of the TARDIS change over the years? And if so, how? Will the romantic tension between Ian and Barbara continue, or was it just character introduction fluff? What’s the deal with Susan and the Doctor’s home planet?

Some answers: The TARDIS is a police box because it is supposed to take the shape of something that fits into it’s surroundings.




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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