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 Taking a Dive into Classic Who

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Rust
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:32 pm

It's just going to be fun to get some more samplings of Pertwee. Outside Inferno, he's sharing the limelight with other Doctors.

Speaking of Inferno, with all my newfound knowledge of Classic Who over the course of this adventure, I'm tempted to take it for another spin. Inferno after all was my very first Classic Who story and I wasn't familiar with things like Classic UNIT, Sergent Benton, or the Brigadier.


And for amusement, here's the tally of my classic stories collection, by Doctor (For this list The Five Doctors is included with Davidson, The Three Doctors with Pertwee, and The Two Doctors with Colin):

Hartnell: 4
Troughton: 2
Pertwee: 4 (Counting The Dalek War)
Tom Baker: 8
Davidson: 2
Colin Baker: 2
McCoy: 1


I find it hilarious that despite the fact I went into this endeavor determined not to make it Tom Baker Heavy it's turned out that way anyway. Curse that Fourth Doctor! He foils plans even when he doesn't realize it! Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:28 pm

It happens, I mean he had the most episodes!
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Fri Mar 18, 2011 8:08 pm

So I put in The Daleks today, and got through four episodes of it.

After watching An Unearthly Child and being struck at how familiar it was, I must say The Daleks feels very unfamiliar and is fascinating territory to explore. Companions who do not wish to be drug about all Time and Space and a self centered, egotistical Doctor. The hostility between Ian and the Doctor is palpable in some scenes, and Barbara keeps looking like she wants to wake up from a horrible dream. This is made all the more brilliant by Susan's happy go lucky nature and reinforces the fact this is a life she enjoys and has grown accustomed to.

The Dalek introduction itself was extremely well done. I especially love how Ian, the Doctor, and Susan enter a room only to come out and have the corridor filled with Daleks. That was infinitely more terrifying then the modern rendition of hearing them a half mile off screaming "Exterminate!"


The "Pre-Genesis" History obviously doesn't mesh with the modern origin of the Daleks, but at the same time it works well enough. Obviously the Thals, in the five hundred years since Genesis had supplanted the Kaleds completely with the Daleks, and they'd gotten a bit of their history wrong. Not surprising given their reversion to a slightly primitive Farming community. The glimpses of a "Pre-Dalek Dalek" does strike me as both a design mesh with the current Dalek design and the combat suits seen in Genesis.

In short, no The Daleks don't match origins with Genesis of the Daleks, but there's enough leeway to explain away the inconsistencies.

I can even buy the Daleks being confined to their city, since they were trapped in the Kaled Science Bunker for who knows how long, and likely adapted to life within its confines.


In any event, The Daleks is a good tale, if a bit on the long winded side. It strikes me that initially the show was serving as an education tool in critical thinking and problem solving, since this story definitely has the characters explaining everything.

I'm looking forward to wrapping it up (I ended on The Expedition), but the story just isn't grabbing me like the pilot did. A lot of great sequences broken up by a lot of meandering dialogue.


Also got to love the inherent sexism of the 60s.

"You trust a girl? You'd been better off trusting a man."
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:22 pm

Wrapped up The Daleks. Gah, the Middle draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagged. Still, "The Rescue" was extremely well choreographed and shot and very intense, action wise.

Only thing that disappointed was the Daleks - for whatever reason - stopped counting at "3" and the counter assault should have seen the detonation occur. But it's a minor thing.
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:14 pm

So I watched Frontier in Space tonight.

It has been awhile since I watched an episode this well made and fantastic. The effects were amazing for the time and the costuming original (Love the Light Blue Gis in the place of Prison Uniforms. Plus the see through Croc-like sandals). The Draconian makeup was intricate and deserves special mentioning given its outstanding quality. It also makes me miss shows like the original Star Trek (TNG onward had a issue with "Forehead of the Week"), Farscape, and Babylon 5...shows that actually put some effort into making the Aliens look like bipedal humanoids, not bipedal humans with superfluous differences. To that end, the consistent, slight hiss at the end of the Draconians "s" sounds was also a pleasant surprise.

The story - someone starting a war between Earth and Draconia - was very well done as well. The character motivations were very believable and they did a good job at presenting a government official being pressured to go places she does not wish to go. Seeing a Female as President of Earth was surprising as well as pleasant. She does a good job of being a woman of principle as well as a head of state with a increasingly unruly population.

But really, I think what struck me most was that, since space travel is supposed to be a mundane affair, that the ships don't have names. That just seemed so...real. Same with the banter between the Cargo Pilots at the beginning of the story and the news reports as the story progressed. This story just went out of its way to make the whole situation and setting *real* and it paid off wonderfully I thought.

Really, I was blown away by the whole production. Getting to see Pertwee in action again is always a joy, and seeing him travel and his general devil may care attitude is a lot of fun to see.

Jo Grant is a brilliant companion. I was first introduced to her in The Death of the Doctor, but seeing her in her prime is a real treat. She's a good counterbalance to Pertwee and can that woman ramble.

This is also my first encounter with Roger Delgato as the Master, and oh what a treat he was. I can see where Simms performance came from with Delgato, because the man has a playful streak that Simms and RTD just amplified to eleven. The wicked glee the Master took when reading all the charges the Doctor was accused of was hilarious to watch. And the two have phenomenal chemistry together!


Things started getting shaky towards the end, but seeing as how this definitely feels like a "Two Part Event", The swift conclusion with the General changing his tune with a literal scene change was the only part that really bugged me, given his stance throughout the story. Also the final "Space Walk" sequence where the Doctor goes to repair a damaged circuit, the wires are painfully obvious.

All in all, I can't wait till I get off work tomorrow, because I have a feeling first thing I'm going to do is pop in Planet of the Daleks and keep this adventure rolling!


Though the last thing I want to say is, when Pertwee commented that he didn't steal the TARDIS, merely borrowed it I got a huge grin on my face. 36 years later, Matt Smith says the exact same thing - right down to the "...always intended to bring it back..."

Some might call it cribbing lines, I call it character consistency and it's great to see where the character I enjoy today in Matt Smith's performance got his start. It's why I started collecting Classic Who in the first place.

Furthermore, the identification that this point in time, Earth is a "Great Galactic Empire". That line had me wonder which one this was, the Second or Third Great and Bountiful Human Empire? Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Sat May 07, 2011 3:18 pm

While waiting for the new episode of Doctor Who, I did put in the first episode of Planet of the Daleks.

Picking up where Frontier in Space left off, it features the Doctor getting off a telepathic message to the Time Lords after being wounded escaping the clutches of the Master and the Ogrons. The episode opens with the Doctor passing out and lapsing into a deep, hibernation coma that drops his body temperature to below zero and reduces his heart beats to one every ten seconds. Jo is understandably concerned by this, and when the TARDIS suddenly lands (Jo suspects the Time Lords remote piloted the ship in response to the Doctor's message), she decides to go out and try to find some help for the Doctor.

Finding herself on a Jungle World, he eventually stumbles across a downed space craft with one dead individual aboard. Meanwhile, the Doctor rouses from his self-imposed coma only to find the TARDIS' emergency atmosphere generators have kicked in despite the planet outside having a breathable atmosphere. The Doctor tries to exit the TARIDIS, only to discover the doors are jammed.


All in all, a good start to a new adventure. The Doctor's coma was a bit of a Hi-then-bye plot point for my tastes, but eh. The Jungle sets were well done, and it's nice to see a alien environment beyond "Abandoned Rock Quarry". The perils of the Jungle were also well realized, and the green screen effects that were used for the Invisible inhabitants of the world were also very well done. Though invisible inhabitants and Jungle worlds made me wonder if the Doctor wasn't going to get into a fight with a Predator. Laughing


The return of the Thals was a surprise, especially seeing them with space capability and definitely not pacifists now. What struck me as odd was they still identify their home planet as Skaro. Is this ever resolved, or are we to assume the Thals were wiped out by the Daleks prior to the Last Great Time War?

Speaking of the Daleks...while their involvement in Frontier in Space kinda killed the surprise reveal at the end, it still was a very cool reveal none the less. Again, the effects work was rather brilliant in this regard.


So, thus far, I'm digging it.
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Sat May 07, 2011 4:15 pm

Rust wrote:
The Doctor's coma was a bit of a Hi-then-bye plot point for my tastes, but eh.
This was an amendment made by Terrance Dicks to Terry Nation's script. Dicks had to hastily rewrite the ending of Frontier in Space during the filming since the "Ogron Eater" looked pretty dire and the production team knew it. As a result the beginning of Planet of the Daleks need to continue from that so the coma plot was quickly thrown together.

From "A Brief History of Time (Travel)"
"Unfortunately, Letts was by now extremely unhappy with the Ogron Eater, feeling it looked like little more than an unthreatening formless blob, rather than the scripted gargantuan lizard. To make matters worse, the monster was a key element of Hulke's climax. As written, the end of part six would see the Ogrons recapturing Williams and the Draconian prince, and the Master then confronting the Doctor and Jo. The Doctor activates the hypnosound machine, appearing to the Ogrons as the Eater. The Master shoots at him, only to have a panicking Ogron felled by the weapon instead. The Master escapes, pursued by Williams and the prince, while the Doctor and Jo set off in the TARDIS to pursue the Daleks. Letts decided to minimise the use of the Eater as much as possible, and so new material -- featuring only the Doctor and Jo -- was written which could be edited into the climax. This was recorded during the first studio day for Planet Of The Daleks on January 22nd, 1973."

Rust wrote:
The return of the Thals was a surprise, especially seeing them with space capability and definitely not pacifists now. What struck me as odd was they still identify their home planet as Skaro. Is this ever resolved, or are we to assume the Thals were wiped out by the Daleks prior to the Last Great Time War?
Never resolved. This is the furthest point in time we ever see the Thals. The only story they ever appeared again was Genesis, and that was from an earlier part of their history. We never find out what became of them.

Terry Nation's original script for Planet of the Daleks had all the Thals completely wiped out at the end of the episode but the production team rejected it fearing disapproval from the higher-ups at the BBC.
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:36 pm

*TARDIS Wheeze is heard*
*Steps out*

Ah, yes, Hello! Been gone for awhile have I? Sorry about that. Crazy time. Absolutely crazy time. Got married you see - fun that - kinda got off the Who train for awhile - burn out. But I'm back now! Still haven't finished watching Planet of the Daleks or the Eighth Doctor's movie, but I got a slew of new Classic Adventures with some extra scratch and I thought I'd share my thoughts.

First thing's first! Remembrance of the Daleks! I bought it, and I finally remembered I had it, so here we go!

I'm familiar with Slyvester McCoy's work via another of his adventures Battlefield, which really is the worst of the classic stories in my collection. By comparison, this really is a good story. Nice effects, great dialogue, good actors, and a companion that can actually take care of herself (Seriously. Ace rocketed up to my second favorite companion slot when she used a rocket launcher to destroy a Dalek. Only Jamie maliciously shiving a Sontaran can top that). As an aside with Ace, am I the only one who thought it was implied she slept with Sergent McTraitor? Ah well. All in all, a good adventure and a nice little "skirmish" of the Time War. Even if that concept came later, the whole idea of Daleks mastering time travel, overthrowing Gallifrey, the Doctor vaporizing Skarro (Bye Thuls, the Doctor really should have thought about that one before he went ahead and did it...)...let's face it. It's another of those retroactive "Shots in the Time War" adventures. Especially with how the Doctor had left stuff in 1963 as though he'd planned on all this happening before An Unearthly Child, which is impossible because he hadn't met the Daleks yet.


Second Up, and today's outing:

I ended up putting in Hartnell's The Ark tonight. It's funny, being brought into the franchise with New Who (The first full episodes I watched were The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit though I didn't really get into the show until my now-wife introduced me to it), and going back and watching the Classic Show, it makes you appreciate the effort and dedication of the writing staff to make the show's admittedly loose continuity at least maintain some semblance of coherency.

The Doctor, Stephen, and new companion Dodo land on a ship fleeing deadly solar flares on Earth (Sound familiar?). There, a small group of Humans known as Guardians watch over the DNA cells of both the Human race and a race of beings known as the Monoids (Of which is a subservient race to Humanity) as well as samples of plant and animal life from all across Earth to settle on a unknown planet. Unfortunately, Dodo brings with her the Common Cold - a disease long wiped out in the annals of Human History, to the point the disease itself is all but unknown, records of it lost in a great war centuries earlier. Now, with Human and Monoid falling sick, the Doctor and his companions must race to find a cure for this unintended plague...and then deal with the aftermath.


This adventure took me by surprise. Beyond the obvious connections to The Beast Below, the fact the DVD case billed the Plague as being the major portion of the story gave me an expectation about the adventure that didn't pan out as that plot lasts all of two episodes. First off, I have to say that given New Who's contributions to this time period, I figure this ship (So dubbed The Ark by Dodo) is the United States' evacuation ship. No other nation would be so arrogant as to call itself the "sole remnant of the Human Race" while fearing a unknown intelligence and subjugating another species without regard or even comprehension they were doing it. The second part of the story - where the TARDIS takes them 700 years into the ship's future to discover the Monoids have risen up and overthrown the Guardians and the roles are reversed - isn't all that thrilling to be honest. The world building in the first part gets thrown out in the second part and turned into a generic adventure tale.

This tale is Dodo's first outing as a companion and man is she duuuuuuuuuumb. Not Perri quality Dumb, but more "She's going to get shot by a Dalek" reckless abandon and ignorance. It's not that she does anything overly annoying or offensive...it's more the fact she doesn't really do much of anything at all. Steven is the much more pro-active companion, which is nice to see in a show dominated by female sidekicks. Yeah it's a little misogynistic, but dang it I'm glad to see there are competent Male Companions beyond Rory out there.

The adventure is also very Special Effects heavy for a show in 1966. If some of the effects look shaky today, I give it points for trying. I mean, Star Trek didn't try to depict a burial in space till the second movie and they sure as heck never showcased a nuclear detonation in space. The reach exceeded the grasp, but it was realized well enough to never be eyerolling like Invasion of the Dinosaurs.

The Creature of the Week - the Monoids - are kind of hit and miss. On one hand, they are delightfully alien despite their uniform bowler hair cuts. On the other hand, in the second part where they become the threat and thus are focused on more, the deficiencies of the costuming become glaringly apparent. Torn gloves, blatant seams, and Number One was eating his mask in a few scenes. Though fair being fair, the masks were solid enough to make me forget to look for the eye holes for the actors fairly quickly. I think their expansive gesturing helped account for that.

Props to the actors playing the Monoids - if they weren't moving the mask's lone eye, they were making grand sweeping gestures (Which actually makes sense in character, since initially they spoke in a form of sign language) which helped distract from the rather doofy costuming.

Overall, The Ark is a story that had a lot of heady concepts floating around - race relations, ignorance, fear - but failed to realize any of them. The biggest one - that the Monoids and Humans had to learn to co-exist - was a rush job towards the end without any resolution. They had a kind of build up with Number Four and his faction, but they never seemed interested in helping the Guardians, they just didn't want to follow Number One.

Not a bad classic adventure by any means, but nothing real spectacular in the annals of Who history. Though it'll make you weep at the end, when you get to see the set up to the lost adventure The Celestial Toymaker.
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:24 pm

Today's Classic Who outing was the Patrick Troughton adventure The Seeds of Death.

The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoey find themselves in 21st Century Earth, where everything and anything is handled by Earth's T-Mat system. But when the primary relay station on the Moon mysteriously goes dark, it may herald an even greater danger then a shut down of food and medical supplies...

Seeing as how Troughton is my favorite Doctor, I couldn't pass this one up and Jamie and Zoey are old friends as well. Really the Troughton/Jamie/Zoey dynamic really worked well in the classic series and I really like how they play off one another.

This adventure is also my introduction to the classic nemesis of the Doctor - The Ice Warriors. And, well...they're kind of stupid. Not so much their plans, but the design is just....no. The "Commander" model is serviceable, but the foot soldiers...

It's difficult to feel threatened by a alien menace that would be thwarted by a QWERTY Keyboard.

I did like their plan however - to forcibly terraform Earth by using the T-Mat to spread spores throughout the globe that would cover the Earth with a fungus designed to absorb oxygen. That was actually clever and for a tale told back in the late 60s, it felt a lot more urgent and threatening then say The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poisoned Sky. Fungus beats Smoke, I suppose.

Also, the Doctor was rather dark in this adventure. He showed no hesitation in whipping up weapons to take out the Ice Warriors, and even gloated about diverting and destroying an entire Ice Warrior Battle Fleet. It was a bit of a departure from Troughton's other outings I own, but not a undesired one. If anything, it fits the darkness that clings to him in the modern series.

Special Effects and Set Work were very well done and impressive. I especially liked the effect of the Ice Warriors' sonic weaponry.

All in all, a nice addition to the collection. Next up will be the Third Doctor, Jo, and UNIT squaring off against their old foe The Master in The Daemons.

EDIT: Floating observation - One thing I really liked about The Seeds of Death was the subplot story of how Humanity had abandoned manned space flight with the completion of the T-Mat and how Space Travel is all but dead, with only a handful of enthusiasts still even bothering to try to make the attempt. It's a compelling mirror to our own modern Space Program as how to Space Shuttles tethered us to our own gravity well for decades.
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:37 pm

Well, I guess there's no putting it off any longer.

Jon Pertwee's adventure: The Daemons.

It starts out well enough - a widely publicized archeological dig to uncover a 8th century burial mound with a curse attached to it. The local town of Devil's End is suffering mysterious occurrences, the local white witch warns of calamady, and the town's new Vicar looks suspiciously like Roger Delgato.

Oh man, this adventure seemed like it would be so much fun. I had been really looking forward to it, especially after seeing Delgato's Master and Pertwee's Doctor interact in Frontiers in Space. But ultimately I'd have to rank The Daemons on the same level as Colin Baker's The Two Doctors - namely being one of the worst examples of the show in my collection. That's not a bad thing ultimately - it's always good to have examples of some flops so you appreciate the true efforts all the more. But man, am I glad this wasn't the episode that ultimately got me into Classic Who (Which was Pertwee's Inferno).

First and foremost, I guess I will compliment The Daemons on some aspects. The Master's Daemon Worshiping Cult was suitably creepy and the episode really played up Delgato's hypnotizing ability - which works well as he was the local town Vicar/Cult Leader. It also gives some validity to the outlandish resurrection in The End of Time, as the Master's had experience with Cults and "Magic" before.

Also, the effects for the Heat Shield were simple and incredibly effective. I give it the highest praise I possibly can, because with just a black charred line and some fireworks, they utterly sold me on the concept of the Heat Shield. I never once questioned that it really was there.


Unfortunately, that's about all the good I can say about this adventure. The plot was just...ow (Jo ultimately defeats the alien Daemon WITH LOVE. *twitch*), Delgato and Pertwee were rarely in the same room together so there was little byplay between the two (and what time they were together was spent trying desperately to stay ahead of the scenery chewing Daemon), and the town of Devil's End went from a humorous little anecdote to a gigantic cliche in less then an episode.

There's a scene that shows some malevolent force changing the road sign to prevent the Doctor from getting to Devil's End on time. That change reveals Devil's End is in the same region of towns like Satanhall and Abbadon. Subtle. Oh and the name of the local pub? "The Cloven Hoof". Now I'm not a super-orthodox Christian or anything, but what the freaking crap? Suddenly the local Vicar being a Cult Leader isn't shocking so much as mandatory. And hey look, the townsfolk are a superstitious, ignorant lot who quake in fear at even a hint of the supernatural. I'm fairly certain some of them peed themselves when the Doctor (As "The Great Wizard Que Quai Quag" *twitch*) summoned Betsy with a remote control.

The costuming is also hit and miss. The Master's cult attire is very MANOS: The Hands of Fate chic, and the scenery chewing Daemon's makeup is very much satyr-esque, but the Master's Weeping Angel hench-creature...oh ow.

And yes, I know it's not technically a Weeping Angel, but I don't remember if they explained what the heck the Gargoyle thing was, and they insisted it was made out of stone, and people vanished when it touched/shot a sparkler at them, so it's a Weeping Angel in my book. But did they have to recruit the local Mime performer outside the BBC? How can anyone be menaced by a man wearing a rubber mask and prancing around in a grey body stocking with visible zipper in the back?

Overall, really disappointed in this one. I went in thinking it'd be a fun adventure, and I ended up with Lovecraft-lite. Here's hoping Davison's The Awakening can put on a better show.

Yes, I said Davison. Because while he's my least favorite Doctor, much like The Daemons the story behind The Awakening sounds like fun.
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:37 pm

So sorry you didn't like this one, as it is one of my all time favorites. Oh well.
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:00 pm

If you dislike the Daemons that much, you can sell your copy to me for 5 dollars. Cool
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:03 pm

Ronpur wrote:
So sorry you didn't like this one, as it is one of my all time favorites. Oh well.

Me too. For Doc 3, Im hard pressed to pick between Daemons, Inferno, and Ambassadors of Death as my favorite.

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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:39 pm

If it's any consolation, I've got Spearhead from Space Special Edition sitting on my desk, waiting for me to finish up Davison's jaunt before going back to Pertwee. I might not have cared for the story, but it hasn't dimmed my love for the era. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:29 pm

Glad to see this thread come back to life! I really enjoy reading the reactions of first-time Classic viewers.

And sorry to my fellow Pertwee pals, but I agree with Rust on The Daemons. It's one of my least favourite Pertwees. Never cared much for it. Some iconic moments, for sure, but the whole thing falls a bit flat for me. I don't care for occult stories, even if the creature turns out to be an alien at the end.

Great review of The Seeds of Death. I disagree with your comment on the design of the Ice Warriors, though. But the rest of the write-up was great, especially the "edit" at the end.

Can't wait to read your thoughts on Spearhead!
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:57 pm

Going to have to wait till I get The Awakening finished first. Probably will sit down with it tomorrow, and Spearhead Thursday. Been spending way too much time on the computer lately, so I'm in the mood for some DVD action on the couch.

And I think the thing that annoyed me most about The Daemons was this entity had been watching/developing mankind for eons...but is thwarted by the illogical nature of seeing someone be willing to sacrifice themselves for another.

I call bullpocky. Hundreds of Thousands of years, and nobody before Jo was willing to take a bullet for a buddy?
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:27 pm

Well then, I popping in Peter Davison's The Awakening intent on watching an episode or two before bed. Turns out the whole thing is only fifty minutes long - no wonder it was so cheap.

A quick, unexpected visit to Teagan's grandfather results in the Doctor, Teagan, and Turlough being drawn into a bizarre series of events - 1984 and 1643 seem to be "bleeding" together as war game reenactments of the English Civil War become closer and closer to the real thing.

Overall, I was pleased with this adventure. While Davison is a dullard in the role of the Doctor, the script here thankfully only needs the Doctor around as a exposition machine while events play out around him. Turns out some extra terrestrial entity known as "The Malice" - a creature making use of psychic energy - is manipulating the very fabric of time and space to give itself the power to destroy the Human race as the opening move in a aggressive invasion/colonization plot. It's possessed the town leader/magistrate and the war games are designed to get people's aggression levels up to the point the Malice will fully awaken. All the while this is happening, psychic projections - like "bleed offs" of energy - keep appearing and disappearing all throughout the village. Only the local School Teacher and her friend have seemed to keep their wits about them.

It was a nice, fun romp. The plot was a touch out there, but it was a nice tale of alien menace on the more low key scale. The effects used for "The Malice" were actually really good and the costuming incredible. Solid performances all around by the cast, even Davison (Though I still find him far too stiff and wooden to warm to) and remarkable little ham and cheese for a outlandish tale of the 17th century come to the 20th century.
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:20 pm

So instead of watching A Town Called Mercy or The Power of Three (Hey, we only get so much New Who till Christmas. I'm rationing myself so I don't go through withdrawals), I decided to put in Jon Pertwee's opening adventure Spearhead from Space.

This is my first Classic Doctor post-Regeneration story (And coincidentally, the first of which to have survived), so I tried to go into it with the mentality that I'd never seen Jon before and to judge him on the merits of Troughton's Doctor to start with.

When a cluster of Meteorites land in the English Countryside precisely six months after a similar experience, UNIT gets suspicious. More then that, however, is the meteors also herald the arrival of a familiar blue police box, in which a man in very familiar clothing stumbles out of and promptly collapses. The Brigadier is delighted to have his old comrade The Doctor at hand, but is at a loss when he finally meets the mysterious stranger...as he's never seen him before in his life.

The Doctor spends the majority of the first and second episodes bedridden with most of the air time given over to UNIT's investigation, a country bumpkin who has hidden one of the meteors, and this adventure's primary adversaries: The Autons!

I was bracing myself for the Autons, because I'd seen a few clips here and there of this adventure and the Autons seemed to be kind of silly looking. However seeing them in motion - and seeing there are multiple variants of them (Love the clever use of Spray on Tan to denote a "Human" Auton) - I rapidly changed my tune. There are some scenes where the Autons look positively terrifying.

Jon Pertwee's outing as the Doctor is fantastic. Unlike many actors who simply jump into the role with utter disregard for the man who they are replacing, Pertwee's opening two episodes are spent doing his best to utterly mimic Patrick Troughton. His vocal inflections, his mannerisms, facial expressions...utterly scream Troughton. It's only when the Doctor assembles his own get up from the wardrobe that he becomes his own man. It's so natural and organic that you don't even notice when he dresses down the UNIT HQ exterior guard he's stopped being Troughton's Doctor and is now his own man.

I also never knew Jon had a tattoo on his arm (of what looks like a snake).


The Special Effects for the episode are done very well. The Nestene's representation in the tank especially - I'm trying to figure out how they did that. The Tentacle Nestene was good looking too, but in a more Eldrich Horror manner. The Autons, as I've said, I was impressed with.

The story also was solid. While there's a inherit distrust of plastic in the undertones of the episode (The Doll factory's opening shot being chief among this idea - showing the various doll parts being made and assembled in cuts akin to a slaughterhouse line), it doesn't impede the story.

All in all, a great outing.
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:48 pm

More soon to come in this space. Federal Refund came in today, so I splurged a bit.

The Ambassadors of Death, The Talons of Weng Chiang, and The Greatest Show in the Galaxy are all on the way.
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:47 pm

So I went out and spent money I shouldn't have, and ended up coming home with Tom Baker's The Robots of Death and Sylvester McCoy's Dragonfire. I decided to pop in the latter to start with.

So The Doctor and Mel decided to stop off on Iceworld - a intergalactic trading station in search of the Iceworld's legendary Dragon. Along the way they encounter a intergalactic rogue named Gitz, a waitress named Ace with a mysterious secret, and run afoul Iceworld's ruler - the ruthless and cold blooded (literally) Kane.

All in all, the story had a lot of good ideas marred by some really atrocious editing. Also I'm beginning to cool to McCoy's performance as the Doctor. I know the man is a Trained Clown, but he plays that up far too much in this adventure - needlessly rrrrrrrolling his rrrrrrrrs and the prat falls and almost prat falls. The Doctor, oddly enough, was really annoying.

This also marks Mel's departure and Ace's arrival. Ace - as always - is a joy and she marks the beginning (well, maybe some other Companion does, but she seems to be the first) of the "Mystery Girl" Companions a la Clara. A 20th Century Teenager somehow thousands of years into the future and light centuries from Earth.

But who cares about all that? She likes EXPLOSIVES! Who doesn't love pro-active companions whose skill sets involve making Nitro for fun?

The villainous Kane works well for the story, somewhat of a Mister Freeze type character who has to constantly keep his body at negative 198 degrees Celsius and armed with a host of Slave Henchmen and Brainwashed Mercenaries. Kane's overall goal is to acquire the Dragonfire from the legendary Dragon, which will power Iceworld (Which is a spaceship) and he can then extract revenge for his exile from his homeworld that occurred 3000 years ago.


Like I said, some great ideas: The Revenge Plot thwarted not by the Doctor but by the relentless drumbeat of Time (1000 years after his exile, Kane's homeworld was destroyed in a Super Nova. He's spent the past 2000 years plotting against a dead world), Ace's mysterious past, Gitz being a cold hearted bastard (He sold his entire crew into slavery for 17 crowns a piece), and the Dragon's connection to Kane. Plus Kane's hapless minions - most of whom don't seem like evil people.

Indeed, there's a two person squad sent after the Dragon in the third act that I was sad to see get killed off...mostly because they weren't evil. They were just following orders for a guy who routinely flash freezes people who displease him. I also loved the little world building involved with them being on a "A.N.T. Hunt". A.N.T. standing for Aggressive Non-Terrestrial (aka Not Humanoid).

But the editing of the story is just atrocious and McCoy's not taking the script seriously at all (McCoy. The only man trying desperately to salvage The Happiness Patrol) just drags the whole thing down. The editing is the key culprit here because it literally never gives you time to breath and you feel like you're constantly missing thirty seconds to a minute out of scenes (The sequence where Ace gets fired is just painful to watch at how rapid fire it is).

The maddening thing about the editing was they kept interspersing shots of a little girl that looks like she wandered off the Toddlers and Tiaras set as she awkwardly bumbled around the scenery as Kane enacted his plan to purge the Station. I kept thinking there was something important about her (Since the Dragon goes out of its way not only to protect her from Kane's minions - who weren't going to hurt her anyway - but also carry her back to the Juice Bar), because she kept showing up in seemingly critical locations.

She wasn't important at all. She was just a little girl wandering around.

...thanks for that waste of time I guess? Heavens forbid you slow down and let your actors breath during exposition because you've got to cram the little girl into the plot.

I think I understand what they were shooting for there - the Little Girl was supposed to be some kind of counterpoint to the violence of Kane's purging of the station, but it doesn't work because this little girl who by sheer luck happened to be under a table in the juice bar when Kane's forces started shooting up the place...the very next scene has her drinking out of a dead patron's milkshake glass before skipping away happily.

SURROUNDED BY THE CORPSES OF THE PATRONS.
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:59 pm

So today I watched The Ambassadors of Death.

What can I say about The Ambassadors of Death? It's long, there's no doubt about that. It's only ten minutes shy of a three hour run time...but while I was aware the story kept going, it never felt boring to me. Not like Inferno that felt like it simply put the second act on repeat after the Doctor's return from the sideways world.

What I found most impressive about The Ambassadors of Death was the overall story. Now if I'd been watching this when it originally aired in 30 minute chunks...this story unfortunately would have been very, very boring. It's a plot that plays out like a chess match - a lot of moves and counter moves and not very exciting when taken in doses. But when combined together?

Ultimately, the story is one of fear and mistrust. A highly regarded and decorated military officer - when confronted with the prospect of alien life in the universe - suffers a tremendous mental breakdown. The plot is essentially a look into madness - as the General sets in motion a intergalactic incident in order to "warn" the people of Earth of the existence of hostile aliens in the galaxy. Unfortunately for the people of Earth, the General is only seeing what he's convinced himself of seeing.

I LOVED this story. It's long, I grant that. But the tale it's weaving is one of the ages in the Franchise. Plus it's one of the rare few where the "Monster of the Week" are actually good guys. The plot, like I said, is essentially a chess match so it makes it feel like not a lot of forward momentum is happening, but I feel the pacing is deliberate, to help truly illustrate not only how insane the General is, but how seriously he takes his own insanity.

It actually sort of reminded me of an episode of NCIS where Gibbs gets drawn into a plot by a former colleague who is schizophrenic...except just with radioactive aliens that can kill with a touch instead of a hallucination of a long dead soldier. No one is really in the "wrong" (Well, save the guy just exploiting the Ambassadors for his own ends), it merely depends on your perspective.

Now to decide between The Talons of Weng-Chang, The Robots of Death, or The Greatest Show in the Galaxy next.
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Sun Apr 28, 2013 4:58 pm

Robots of Death. That is one of my all time favorites.
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PostSubject: Re: Taking a Dive into Classic Who   Today at 10:16 pm

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