Posts Tagged ‘Vicki

26
May
10

William Hartnell: Reflections and Rankings

William Hartnell lasted for 29 stories, just over 3 seasons. At this point, I have no one to compare him to, so I guess I’ll go ahead and say he’s my favorite Doctor. For now.

I almost liked Hartnell’s Doctor more at the beginning of the show than at the end. His grumpiness and mysterious nature was interesting and had potential for some good character exploration. But, as often happens with television shows, they start to determine the direction of the show and characters change. This was even more evident with Susan, originally strange and precocious and eventually just whiny and annoying. The Doctor fared better, though, as is evident by the fact that the show continued.

Hartnell showed some pretty decent range, handling his grumpiness, his sensitive side, his adventurous nature and his intelligence with ease. He easily moved between story structures, fitting into all of them. His comic timing was almost always spot on.

The Hartnell era did suffer, though, from some incidents of poor story telling. Even worse was the slow pace of a lot of the stories. This is likely just a side effect of television in the 1960s, but Hartnell’s age made it a bit worse. While in my reviews I try to give the show credit where credit is due, the truth is many of the stories are incredibly dated. While the sci-fi conventions may have been new and/or unique at the time, a lot of them have become rather tired (such as computers taking over the world). I ignored that fact for the sake of my reviews, but many other reviews I have read complain about the cliched nature of many of the Hartnell stories. While I don’t believe that is fair (many weren’t cliched at the time), it does affect our opinions of them. And that characteristic of being dated is not helped by William Hartnell being so old. It can sometimes make a lot of the stories seem older than they are.

Additionally, there is a decided lack of action in many of the stories. While that doesn’t bother me too much, it made some of the longer stories, especially in Seasons 1 and 2, drag. The missing and reconstructed episodes didn’t help much.

Overall, I enjoyed William Hartnell’s Doctor. Obviously, or I wouldn’t still be watching. I enjoyed his clever wit and thought he gave the character a nice depth. Depth, of course, is something lacking in many of the companions. Here are my rankings of the companions from the Hartnell Era:

Female
1. Vicki – Cute, endearing, adventurous, and a good relationship with Hartnell’s Doctor.
2. Barbara – A bit uneven, but strong when she needed to be and not afraid to keep the boys in line.
3. Susan – Intriguing, but her character was unable to deliver. Not sure if it was Carol Anne Ford’s or the writers’ fault.
4. Polly – Hot, strong, and smart. Would be higher than Susan if she played more of a role.
5. Dodo – Could have been higher on the list, but was really a background player.
6. Katarina – Dumb as rocks and only around for a couple episodes. Great death, though.

Male
1. Ben – I like his attitude. Very no-nonsense-let-me-at-em. I like the cut of his jib, you might say.
2. Ian – While I didn’t buy Sir Ian the warrior, he kept the Doctor in line and approached problems thoughtfully.
3. Steven – Started so strong, but faded fast. Had no real role of his own. Again, not sure if it was the actor or the writers.

Overall Top 5
1. Vicki
2. Ben
3. Ian
4. Barbara
5. Susan

Now, for some story rankings. I’ll do 5 favorite and 5 least favorite. That should not be confused with “Best” and “Worst” which might not be the same.

Favorite
1. The Time Meddler – Great comic interaction between the Doctor and the Monk, a glimpse into the Doctor’s world, a strong performance from both Vicki and Steven.
2. The Daleks’ Master Plan – This would be number 1 if it weren’t for the Chase and Egypt episodes. Chen was a great villain, the Time Destructor conclusion was intense.
3. The Myth Makers – Very clever and funny, generally a treat. It also features a good (if unexpected) departure for Vicki.
4. The Daleks – Take away the cave jumping, and this story is a great introduction to a great race of villains. I wonder whatever happened to the lame Thals…
5. The Sensorites – This story gets a bad rap, but I liked it.

Least Favorite
1. The Chase – The Daleks were bumbling disasters, the comedy was unfunny, the plot was unimaginative.
2. The Edge of Destruction – Why was this story even made? Nothing happened and this was the point at which Susan’s character began to devolve. And the explanation of the melting clock and the stabbing made no sense.
3. The Crusade – Boring!
4. The Reign of Terror – Boring!
5. The Smugglers – Boring!

I’ve already watched most of The Power of the Daleks, Troughton’s first story. I can’t decide whether I’m enjoying it or not, which probably isn’t a good sign. At any rate, I’m looking forward to the next era of Doctor Who!

Advertisements
27
Apr
10

Season 03: Reflections

Season 3 was the most consistent in terms of quality so far. The subject matter, on the other hand, varied widely giving us a taste of aliens and humans, past, present, and future, and a companion carousel that didn’t exactly lend itself to depth of character.

Generally, the stories were good, but unremarkable. In fact, as I look back over the list, it’s difficult to decide which ones I think are worth mentioning, beyond The Daleks’ Master Plan. All of them are better than much of Season 2, but there really aren’t any standouts, good or bad. Part of this may have to do with the large number of missing episodes. It’s difficult to get a good feel for a story when it can’t be watched in its entirety. I mean, sure you can have an idea of the quality of the plot, but the scenery and the photography and the acting are difficult to gauge.

The companions, on the other hand are easy to gauge: generally crappy. Vicki, who stuck around for only two stories in season 3, was the stand out. She is probably my favorite companion so far. However, Steven suffered from a steady decline of characterization and Dodo never really had any characterization to decline. Neither of them developed much of a personality, although Steven shined on his own in The Massacre and Dodo had some bright spots here and there. So they could act, they just weren’t really given the chance to. We never got to know Dodo at all and her departure was, quite simply, awfully done. I have a feeling they just didn’t know what to do with her. She was supposed to be so young that had to keep her kind of naive (to a fault, some might say). But this also ruined Steven’s character because they apparently felt they had to lower his maturity level as well (see the Celestial Toymaker). The introduction of Polly and Ben at the end of the season seems promising. Ben seems to have a backbone and at least Polly’s good-looking.

By the end of the season, William Hartnell was clearly beginning to tire. The season was ridiculously long (44 episodes, running from September 1965 to July 1966). And the role he was playing was starting to tire as well. He was increasingly out of place amongst the youthful companions, and it’s not surprising that he only lasts a couple of stories with the hip Londoners Polly and Ben. The grandfather role he played with Susan and Vicki disappeared almost immediately. Dodo’s lack of development may have been in part due to this change in the Doctor. Overall, I have enjoyed Hartnell. Of course, I have no other Doctors to compare him to, but his wry wit and strong general acting have been worth continuing this journey. We’ll see how his forthcoming departure goes.

The upcoming fourth season includes 9 stories, 2 of which are Dalek stories. It may be sacrilege to say this, but that might be overdoing the Daleks a bit. Remember what happened when they put both the Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Chase in the same season? There are no completely in-tact stories from Season 4, and unfortunately the Doctor Switch-Over is one of the missing.

Favorite Story: The Daleks’ Master Plan

Least Favorite Story: The Celestial Toymaker

Best Villain: The Daleks (or maybe Chen from the same story….)

Worst Villain: Wotan was groundbreaking, but not exactly engaging.

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.

26
Jan
10

Story 018: Galaxy 4

It seems a shame that this story was destroyed. Galaxy 4, the Season 3 opener, was innovative and entertaining, and even had a bit of an educational moral at the end. There are no surviving episodes and a painfully small number of stills. There are a few minutes of the first episode that somebody recorded off of their television, but of the reconstructions I’ve seen thus far this one was the most lacking in visual accompaniment. That being said, Loose Canon, who did this reconstruction did an admirable job. They re-created stills by pasting together images from other episodes, added some rudimentary animation, even physically acted out some short clips. The sound was of low quality in some places, but as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, my ears aren’t the best, so others may find it just fine.

The Gang and some Chumblies

The story was simple enough, but it was a step away from the typical get taken prisoner by bad guys and then outwit them plot line. This had a bit of it, but I got the impression that the Dr. Who storytelling is getting a bit more sophisticated, at least in creation. The story itself is straightforward, but some additional thought went into the planning. The travelers land on an unnamed planet and meet small robots that Vicki (looking rather cute in a sleeveless dress, incidentally) calls Chumblies because of the way they move. I’m not sure what moving chumbley means, Loose Canon just had the rolling smoothly along. Fearing the chumblies, the travelers go with a blonde woman they meet, thinking she is saving them. Turns out she’s a member of the Drahvins, a race of Amazon-like women from a planet in….you’ve guessed it…Galaxy 4. We learn that the planet is about to explode in the coming days. I didn’t really catch why. Natural causes, I suppose. Or maybe the Daleks put a bomb in the core and Ian wasn’t there to stop it with a broom handle. Ha!

The Drahvins

The Drahvins were a pretty well-developed race for Dr. Who. Throughout the story we learn a bit about their reproduction practices, the fact that there are soldier clones that can’t think, that they are bent on killing and universe domination…Their leader, Maaga, is a first-class witch. and we get our first look at the Drahvin’s sinister side when she insists that Vicki stay while the Doctor and Steven return to the TARDIS to check the astral projection and learn when the planet will explode (in two days). The Drahvins are incredibly concerned with getting off of the planet, although they admit that the Rills, another race, have offered to take them along when they leave. It was quite obvious to me that the Drahvins were the bad guys, although it was apparently quite the twist at the time. Hot blonde chicks that are villainous murderers? Never!

The Rills on the other hand are peaceful folk that have no reason to kill anyone. In fact, they want to help people. They even make one last request to the Drahvins to join them in leaving the planet. The women don’t comply, of course. No, instead they are busy keeping Steven for ransom while Vicki and the Doctor go to see the Rills. The Rills need an atmosphere of ammonia and they’re really ugly. So, they don’t go out. They send the Chumblies around instead. A note on Steven. Peter Purves introduces the story and reveals that this story was written for Ian and Barbara and that many of his lines were written for Barbara. He was upset that his character didn’t really come out much. Watching the story, I think he was justified in being upset. He actually has very few lines. And, Vicki and the Doctor going off alone harkens back to the Ian and Barbara days. This lends some more credence to my theory that Ian and Barbara’s departure was unexpected and rushed. If anyone knows anything about it, I would love to hear.

A Rill

Vicki, the Doctor and a Chumbley rescue Steven, who was being suffocated in an air lock, re-charge the Rills’ ship’s battery, and get back to the TARDIS just in time. The Rills also leave, and the Drahvins are left to explode. Now, the Drahvins being the bad guys was supposed to be a twist…a real shocker. But the 21st century in me says it’s not that revolutionary: beautiful women are not to be trusted! In fact, they use men to make babies, they treat their clone-slaves poorly, they’re a threat to the Doctor, Steven, and the Rills (the only one we meet is presumably male), and they’re bent on domination. In the end, they are punished for their evilness and left to be blown up. Sounds like your typical masculine/patriarchal story to me. Not that I was offended or thought it was bad, I just found it ironic that the story that was supposed to have a surprising twist and be shocking was just a reinforcement of classic ideals.

All told, I enjoyed the story. It wasn’t my favorite, but I appreciate the innovation and improved story telling. A lot of the story was just noise. I presume something was happening, but I couldn’t see it. And in the final episode of the version I watched, the text that described the action didn’t appear on the screen. I could see the black text box scroll by along the bottom, but the text itself was just below what was visible. The moral at the end of we shouldn’t judge people just because they look different was well-placed. And 1965 was right in the center of the civil rights movement in the United States and I know that in England at the time there was an influx of immigrants from former colonies, especially the Caribbean. So, the message was timely and a bold move by the producers. It was a good season premier, it’s just too bad it starts a string of two seasons that are mostly missing.

15
Jan
10

Story 017: The Time Meddler

Now this is more like it. A historical/educational story meets a science fiction story with great intrigue. The Time Meddler was a great story to end the season with. And at 4 episodes, it was just the right length. It gave us a proper introduction to Steven, some more “goodbye” to Ian and Barbara, we met someone else from the Doctor’s planet, and featured what I felt were good performances all the way around, especially from Vicki, with maybe the exception of the bumbling Vikings. Jules was right in his comments, this one was good.

A space helmet for a cow?

The TARDIS lands in Northumbria in 1066 days before the Viking invasion. Steven, refusing to admit that he has indeed been travelling through time and relative dimensions in space, seems like a great companion and complement to both the Doctor and Vicki. I like him much more than I ever liked Ian, although I suppose one story isn’t quite long enough to form a firm opinion of him. He is skeptical, but nonethless adventurous. He is very anxious to explore the modern-ish items that they find in the monastery. So much so that Vicki has to hold him back. He seems smart but not annoying, enthusiastic but not ridiculous, and skeptical and grumpy enough to keep the Doctor from getting out of control. He also seems to have beeter chemistry with Vicki. I wonder if that’s why we saw so much of Vicki and the Doctor together separate from Ian and Barbara….maybe she just didn’t mesh with them very well.

At any rate, the Doctor notes sadly at the beginning that he misses Ian and Barbara, even noting his loss of Susan. Vicki comforts him. It’s the kind of scene we should have had at the end of The Chase.

The Monk

We meet a monk who is looking suspiciously at the TARDIS, and we soon learn that he is the only monk living at a recently re-opened monastery near by. He’s the only one living there because he’s…..wait for it…..not actually a monk! He has things like phonographs and other more modern conveniences, which is all very intriguing. It turns out that he is also from the Doctor’s planet and he travels around (he can control his TARDIS) changing the past. His goal for this trip was to destroy the Viking fleet so that William the Conqueror could better be held at bay by Harold’s army. I suppose his intentions were noble enough, but as the Doctor told Barbara repeatedly, meddling with time can be disastrous. Even Vicki and Steven, both Earthlings, discuss the implications of changing time. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I love time paradoxes and to see a potential paradox discussed in practical terms was good.

Of course, there are some instances of being taken prisoner and some escapes and a couple of battles. They were pretty typical Dr. Who fare. Although it was pretty funny that the Vikings were knocked out for seemingly hours after a blow from what looked like a piece of paneling. And the idea that the Doctor could convince the monk that his stick was a Winchester rifle was also a bit absurd. All that aside, however, getting inside the monk’s TARDIS was great. It was pretty much the same as the regular TARDIS, of course, lthough the Doctor marveled at the monk’s “Mark 4” model. HA! Multiple TARDIS models…..but going along with that is the implication that there are multiple travelers from the Doctor’s planet out there. All traveling around, apparently abiding by some rules, although the monk has chosen to disobey. The Doctor notes that monk’s time is about 50 years later than his own.

Vicki in the Monk's TARDIS

Some Questions: Why are they traveling? How many are out there? Was the planet destroyed so they left? Like Superman? Or when they travel is it like going on vacation? Except for the Doctor, whose TARDIS is broken? Is TARDISing like RVing?

In the end, the Doctor steals some device from the monk’s ship, stranding him in 1066 Northumbria. The device makes the TARDIS small on the inside, presumably the same size inside as outside. This is a brilliant move, although I’m not sure why the Doctor didn’t also steal the device he needs to be able to control the TARDIS or to camouflage his ship. Those would have been smart to steal. Now he’s going to have to continue with the broken TARDIS although, I suppose that’s all part of the adventure.

Tiny TARDIS

The story and season ended with sillhouettes of the three characters over an image of space. It didn’t have the thoughtful voice over of season 1, but the concluding story itself was far more satisfying than Reign of Terror, so the monologue wasn’t necessary. I think they ended with the best story of the season.

10
Jan
10

Story 016: The Chase

Wow. That was awful. I like campiness. I enjoy B-movie schlock. But this was terrible. It wasn’t even so-bad-it’s-good. The Chase is a Dalek story, but only barely. And even the Daleks were disappointing. Terry Nation must have been having a bad day. I suppose the concept was alright: the Daleks develop a time machine that is capable of tracking and following the TARDIS. Not the best concept, but it could work. However, it does not work. It stinks. Here’s my impression: Terry Nation had a bunch of concepts that he couldn’t/didn’t develop. So, he strung them all together into a single, incoherent, poorly directed story.

One thing I liked happened at the very beginning of the first episode. We see the Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki just chilling in the TARDIS. It was a neat look into their “daily” lives, if there can be such a thing. During this scene, the Doctor is building some machine that allows them to view any moment in time. Do they use it to see what Susan is up to? No, no. They watch the Gettysburg address. And, The Beatles. They view a clip fromTop of the Pops from 1965 in which the band is playing Ticket To Ride, a great tune. (Interestingly, the 25 seconds that appear are the only surviving moments from that show that apparently fell victim to the great BBC destruction of the late-60s/early-70s.) Ian and Barbara begin dancing and singing along. Now, they left London in the Fall of 1963. Beatlemania was in full swing, but the chances of two teachers in their late 30s enjoying it I would suspect is low. Nor would they know the words to Ticket To Ride. That aside, Vicki notes that The Beatles remain famous throughout history. Wonderful foresight, there. I can’t imagine a show in 1998 that would dare to claim Hootie and the Blowfish would become lasting classical music.

The Daleks locate the TARDIS

But back to the story. The travelers end up on some desert planet, and the Daleks arrive. How do the Daleks get around so well in the sand? Then, they go to the Empire State Building. Here we meet an irritating and stereotypical tourguide. That speaks with such an awful fake New York accent….”Heah in da tawllest buildin’ in da woild…” and an even worse Alabama boy with an even worse accent full of “gawl-ly” and “aw shucks.” While I’m sure that Brits don’t actually believe Americans sound like these people, I’m going to take this opportunity to say: Americans don’t actually sound like those people.

Then, they end up in a haunted house. And Barbara, Ian, and Vicki are terrified. Terrified? They’ve fought Daleks, burned Rome, defeated the animus. And the cheesiest haunted house in history sends them running for the hills? And why did Frankenstein actually attack the Dalek? Am I to assume he would attack a person? That’s not a very well-designed theme park attraction.

They land on the Marie Celeste. A boat that turned empty because the entire crew abandoned the ship for fear of the Daleks, beings they’d never met and who made no attempt to harm them. Simply asking “Where are the time travelers?” was the deadliest weapon ever. Way more efficient than the weapon that turns victims into photographic negatives. and how did the Daleks get up the stairs?

Daleks vs. Mechanoids

The story looks up a bit at the very end when the travelers are holed up in a cave, waiting to blast the Daleks with some strange machine the Doctor built. But it’s better when they are taken prisoner by the robot inhabitants of Mechanus (the Mechanoids?). They become exhibits in a zoo and meet Steven, who has been held prisoner for two years. He has apparently made a stuffed panda bear his best friend. His captivity has made him, as one from Alabama might say, crazier than a shithouse rat. So crazy, in fact, that re-enters the burning building to find his stuffed panda. Not even Tom Hanks jumped in the ocean to retrieve his volleyball. The last we see of Steven, he is practically crawling through the forest. However, my reading of some other reviews tells me that he is a new traveler that is going to join us in the Time Meddler. I didn’t really see enough of him in this to make much of an evaluation of him as a permanent character. I suppose he is valiant, going back in after the panda and such. I’ll have a better idea after the next story, I suppose.

The most important part of this horrible, useless story was the departure of Ian and Barbara. The Dalek’s time machine is apparently superior to the TARDIS in that it’s not broken. They can actually control where it goes. So, once the Daleks are defeated (in a surprisingly well-done battle with the mechanoids), they ask the Doctor to help them work it. The Doctor is angry, but Vicki tells him that it’s their choice. This whole exchange was done well..but the actual departure was, like the rest of the story, a let down. When Susan left the interaction was touching. This time all we got was an angry Doctor storming into and back out of the Dalek machine. Then, without a visible goodbye, Ian and Barbara were gone. It didn’t seem like Terry Nation knew how to handle the leaving, so he almost didn’t handle it. He kind of reacted like the Doctor..angry and then dismissive. The Wikipedia tells me that in the original script Ian and Barbara do not leave…so I wonder if this was a sudden decision written in at the last minute. As if they realized the departure was just as awful as the rest of the story, the writers put in a photomontage of Ian and Barbara enjoying London and the Doctor and Vicki watch them on the fancy time-watching device. It brings some better closure, but them leaving the show, especially after the farewell Susan received, seemed rushed and not very thoughtful.

Overall, this story sucked. The Daleks were no longer evil villains, but stammering idiots. The story was a hodgepodge of junk and B-Sides. Ian and Barbara’s farewell was handled poorly. We didn’t get a very good introduction to the new character. This was by far the worst story of the first two seasons. I’ve heard/seen good things about the Time Meddler, the season 2 finale. I like the injection of time plots in these last three stories (Space Museum, Chase, and I’m guessing the Time Meddler based on the title). I hope/imagine that they are starting to set up some more serious show mythology.

01
Jan
10

Story 015: The Space Museum

On Display

The Crusade ended with a creepy scene in which the travelers are in suspended animation. I thought it was a good sign for the story to come. And, after watching the first episode of the Space Museum, I was not disappointed. It turns out they were frozen because the TARDIS was in the process of jumping a time track. When they were able to move again, their clothes had been changed (unconcerned, the Doctor notes that they have been saved the bother of having to change themselves). Things they do seem to have no impact on their environment — Vicki drops a glass that fixes itself. In a nice, subtle touch, as the Doctor drinks the water, the level does not decrease. They don’t leave footprints, and other people on the planet cannot see or hear them. They’ve landed on the planet Xeron, home of a space museum. And after walking through it, they discover themselves in cases. They have jumped the time track and ended up in the future. They then had to wait for themselves to arrive so they could prevent their display-case future.

I love time travel paradoxes. And the idea that if you’re in the future you have to wait for the present to catch up is one of my favorites. I first encountered it in the Stephen King miniseries and novella The Langoliers in which King deals with the issue mostly in the past, but also in the future. This made me very excited for the rest of the story. And while the remaining three episodes didn’t really deal with the time track (except to point out yet another broken piece of the TARDIS machinery), I enjoyed them just the same.

Exterminate!

Much of the action involves getting lost in the museum’s corridors, which is kind of boring. But my enjoyment of the time paradox kept my interest. In an entertaining segment, the Doctor, having escaped being captured by Xeron rebels, is hiding in a Dalek case that is on display. He says something in a Dalek voice as he pokes his head out of the top. Interestingly, Vicki says that she always thought the Daleks seemed rather harmless. This reminded me of my first impression of them that they were kind of innocent villains. More on the Daleks later. In another scene, he outsmarts the Moroks, a group of space-colonizing aliens that have taken over Xeron. They have a TV screen that shows the Doctor’s thoughts, so he thinks of humorous things like a bicycle instead of the answers to his questions. It doesn’t help, however, as he gets sent to the Preparation room to be prepped for the display case.

Vicki ends up with the Xeron rebels who are incredibly incompetent. They apparently can’t figure out that they need to obtain weapons in order to defeat the Moroks. But Vicki lets them know what’s up. And her suggestion of storming the armory is what changes the future. One of the more exciting scenes is the laser gun battle between the rebels and the Moroks.

The Moroks

The rebels and Moroks were, for the most part, pretty anonymous. As is common in depictions of alien races, they all had incredibly similar facial features and hairstyles (stereotypical faceless foreign enemy, anyone? Like the Japanese in WWII movies.). The Morok governor is bored with his job and therefore kind of boring to watch. The only Xeron name I could discern was Darko. In general, the story wasn’t very exciting. But I liked it anyway because of the time concept.

I’ve read some other reviews of some of the stories, including this one and The Crusade. It seems that this is widely held to be one of the worst Doctor Who stories. And everyone seemed to love The Crusade. I really enjoyed this one and didn’t care much for the Crusade. This seems to be a bit of a trend where I don’t really agree with the other reviews I see. I’m not sure why that is. I can’t be that different from your typical Who fan, except for my knowledge of the series. I wonder if my opinion of these early stories will change as I learn what the show is capable of. One review called the Space Museum B-grade science fiction. I may be wrong, but I was under the impression that ALL Doctor Who was B-grade science fiction. That’s part of the reason I became interested. Ridiculousness like stopping bombs with door props and laser-gun shoot outs are part of the appeal.

I must admit that I’m kind of tiring of William Hartnell. His “hmm?” and “he-he” habits are irritating. He seems to be phoning in his performances. He figured out what worked and kept doing it. I have a feeling that if he remained the doctor, the show would not have lasted. His character was getting stale. And Ian seems to be getting grumpier. He’s more easily angered these days. The show definitely seems to be heading toward some form of climax, probably in the Time Meddler, the season finale. I’m not sure when the Doctor changes, but I know it’s coming soon.

Before that, though, there is the 4th episode cliffhanger. As the TARDIS leaves Xeron we cut to a Dalek watching it move through space. They say that our heroes are once again traveling and that they must be caught and (of course) exterminated. A couple of things of note here: The Dalek calls them their biggest enemy. This, I would guess, sets up the Dalek mythology for the rest of the series. This is likely the moment they went from occasionally recurring villain to archenemy. Second, the Daleks now seem to have their own TARDIS-like machine to follow the Doctor’s crew.

Some questions: When did the Doctor become the Dalek’s greatest enemy? Given the timeline issues between The Daleks and the Dalek invasion of Earth, this could happen at any time. When are the Daleks? Does the Dalek timeline ever become clearer? Can they only track the Doctor when the TARDIS is moving?

The next story has all indications of being a Dalek story, something that I was not expecting. Now that I have returned to regular Who viewing, I’m looking forward to it.




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.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 11 other followers

Archive Calendar

September 2017
M T W T F S S
« May    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930