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  1. #341
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    The Return Of Doctor Mysterio is exactly what was promised: a charming callback to the more lighthearted superhero movies as well as our first glimpse of a Doctor who's moving to a new era.

    WRITTEN BY

    Steven Moffat, who has given me hope that he can deliver some truly great storytelling one last time. You can definitely feel he's starting to let go, but in a good way. He's building the bridge for Chibnall with characters who are all set for new and thrilling adventures and I couldn't be happier.

    PLOT

    The Doctor accidentally gives a young comic book nerd superpowers and discovers in the future that he's become a superhero known as "the Ghost". Meanwhile, the servants of Hydroflax come to Earth to colonise the planet and replace their key authority figures.

    ANALYSIS

    It's a superhero romantic comedy mixed with a sci-fi thriller. And the problem is that whilst both are pretty well handled, they just don't mesh very well. At one point, I began to get annoyed because the story spent so long on the relationship between Grant and Lucy that it seemed to be losing focus.

    Actually, scratch that, there is very little focus at all. It's incredibly hard to follow what exactly is going on and why it all matters. The pacing is sadly atrocious and lets down what is actually a really good story. It just has this incredibly random, disjointed feel to it. It's a fun, witty, even heartwarming adventure with no cohesion.

    CHARACTERS

    There's just something awesome about seeing Peter Capaldi do slapstick comedy. You never expect it from him, but it actually works really well in this story. My favourite scenes with him was when he was interacting with the young Grant. The young nerd and the old fogey, both outcasts. They connected so well and both of the actors gave great performances.

    Matt Lucas is great! I know people went mad over Nardole's return, but it does actually make sense and work within the narrative. He has this quiet eccentricity to him, and some deadpan wit that matches with the Doctor's perfectly. They immediately come across as great pals, and I can't even begin to explain how much I've missed this sort of companion. I'm glad we're having him around for Series 10 as well.

    I was told Justin Chatwin was not a particularly good actor, and boy, they were wrong. I actually wouldn't mind if he was a superhero lead in a show. He's fairly charismatic and the father-son relationship he had with the Doctor was a highlight of the episode.

    Now for the less successful characters... I didn't like Charity Wakefield as Lucy. Not one bit. First of all, her doll is creepy. And her obsession with the Ghost bordered on psychosis. At least that's what I got from her performance. I didn't like how aggressively she handled the Doctor, it was... weird. I'm not sure if she was intended to be neurotic(as a counterpoint to the sassy and confident Lois Lane), but whatever they were going for, it didn't work for me.

    The villains were weak. I never cared for the Hydroflax gang to begin with and I don't see the point of bringing them back if all they were going to do was try and conquer the Earth. In fact, given their newfound proclivity for taking human hosts, I'd rather see the Slitheen make a comeback.

    NOTES

    *So, yeah... apparently the Twelfth Doctor still has trouble with human anatomy as he thinks a child is 36 and needs to draw glasses on Superman to figure out that he's Clark Kent. I don't get it, no other incarnation has this trouble.

    *What race is Nardole supposed to be, exactly? Because he's super British(he can't tell a restroom from a little boys' room).

    *Are there actual cases of reporters breaking into office buildings to get their story? Or is that just a movie thing?

    *I just want to say... I love the name "Dr. Mysterio". It's the only nickname that Twelve has that I actually like("Dan Dangerous" from Scotland Yard, ???)

    *Seriously, what was up with that creepy doll? If I was the Doctor, I would've burnt it and called for psychiatric help.

    *Why was the intro not Christmassy, like the other Twelfth Doctor Christmas specials? Is this part of Moffat's attempt to tone down the Christmas elements from the episode to appeal to grumpy fans? I definitely missed the snowflakes.

    *Those spaceship corridors look identical to the ones from Under The Lake. A little redressing would've been nice.

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    1) The Doctor mentions that New York has plenty of time disturbances, which was established in The Angels Take Manhattan. Not really a necessary callback, but a logical one.

    2) The Harmony Shoal bad guys were established in The Husbands Of River Song. As I already mentioned, I don't think they're particularly interesting bad guys. Didn't need to see them again.

    3) Nardole explains how River Song's death affected the Doctor to Lucy and Grant. This was definitely an unnecessary callback. We didn't need to bring River up in this episode. The Doctor's moving on from the past, that's it. That's all we needed. Why would Nardole tell them this? It seemed cheesy and even out of character for him. I'm pretty sure the Doctor would've told them if he wanted them to know.

    4) UNIT make a cameo at the end, and apparently, we're going to have another Harmony Shoal story since they possess one of the officers.

    BEST QUOTE

    "With great power comes great responsibility." - Technically a Spiderman quote, but hey, classics are classics for a reason.

    CONCLUSION

    It's a bit of a headache, but hey, you can say the same about alcohol and we all love that, eh? Eh?
    ...
    It's a good episode.


    Now, let's talk a bit about Series 10. Personally, my feelings are mixed. My main hope of course is that Peter Capaldi does not regenerate. If that happens, I'm already satisfied since it means we get to see his incarnation improve under Chris Chibnall!

    Some truly wonderful news is that Rona Munro, the writer who penned Survival(a story I cannot wait to review), is coming back to do an episode in Series 10 called The Eaters Of Light. I'm certainly excited.

    I'm looking forward to the historical episode that's been promoted. I also can't wait to see more of Nardole and especially "the Landlord", played by David Suchet.

    Now, things that concern me: Bill Potts. From the Series 10 clip and that one-off scene with the Daleks, she seems like a rerun of previous new series companions. Plus Ace(but she's almost a new series companion anyway). I'm just not sure if it's going to work or not, yet. I hope it will, and that Nardole's presence is enough to ensure a unique dynamic between her and the Doctor.

    Also, the Emoji Planet. I don't even... that's a rubbish idea, okay? That's just a rubbish idea.

    And of course, as I mentioned above, more of the Harmony Shoal aliens. I just don't care for them as villains right now. I hope they're more interesting next time.

    Still, at least positive thoughts definitely outweigh the negative ones, and I'm looking forward to Series 10!! Merry Christmas!!


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  2. #342
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    The big shock about Earthshock is that it's actually kind of rubbish.

    WRITTEN BY

    Eric Saward, who previously charmed with The Visitation and now takes on the role of script editor.

    PLOT

    The Cybermen want to invade Earth. Again. The means to do so are a bit convoluted, but they involve androids, bizarrely constructed bombs, a freighter with the ability to travel through time(if its only slightly augmented with Cyber-technology) and a bunch of Earth dignitaries coming together(which, as The Return Of Doctor Mysterio reveals, is a fairly timeless concept).

    The resulting conflict leads to the unfortunate demise of one of the Doctor's companions, for the second and last time in the series thus far(companions with "wiggle room" do not count).

    ANALYSIS

    First of all, the positives: Peter Grimwade does a stellar job directing the story, and really giving it some energy and pace. The Cyber-march in particular is a memorable sequence, worthy of their appereances in the 60s. Another perfectly filmed scene was Adric's death. I could feel the tension ramping up with every passing second, especially since we were brilliantly told ahead that the spaceship HAD to crash. It was one of those "slow-motion car crash" moments that you just can't look away from, even though you know the outcome.

    Malcolm Clarke returned to do the music for the first time since those dreadful electronic beeps in the Silurian stories. He completely redeems himself, however. The music here is atmospheric and creepy, and he even wrote one of my favourite scores in all of Doctor Who: "March of the Cybermen". Hey, whilst everyone are talking about bringing back old villains in New Who, could we have some old music back?

    The rest, however, is rather drab and boring. It's one of those infernal runarounds without any interesting character development or story twists or anything. Earthshock exists mostly to shout "Look, the Cybermen are back!!" without actually doing anything new with them. It's a classic example of style over substance.

    CHARACTERS

    Let's talk about the guest stars this time first. James Warwick does a rather splendid job as military leader Lieutenant Scott and though we know little about him, Warwick exudes competence and confidence in the role. The Third Doctor would've loved having him around.

    Some military people, blah-blah-blah(none of them noteworthy).

    And then Beryl Reid happens. Oh boy, does she happen. I'm not familiar with Reid as an actress prior to this, but good grief, has there ever been a more miscast role? It's like a prelude to the infamous Eastenders crossover. Look, I'm all for variety and everything, but you just can't have any actor play any role.

    June Bland does noticeably better and is somewhat believable, but at the same time, she too feels like she's from a completely different(and far more grounded) show.

    Let's talk about the Cybermen: this redesign has become somewhat iconic as its the first time the Cybermen really had a fixed look for a while. People seem to like the transparent chin plate(through which you can see the biological mouth move), but personally, I found it distracting and I'm glad this idea gets abandoned in future stories.

    David Banks is awesome. He is perhaps as badly cast to be a cyborg as Beryl Reid is to be a starship captain, but at the same time, he is simply so charismatic that you don't want him to go away at all. Judging from the interviews, he might've made an excellent Master(and certainly more fitting for Davison, because of his youth). Overall, the Cybermen are reinvented as simply another alien race rather than the frighteningly careless beings devoid of emotion, but at least they're a very good ordinary alien race.

    Peter Davison gives a solid performance, though I question his boisterous entrance onto the spacecraft, where he tracked the Cyber-bomb signals. In some ways, he still seems like a slightly confused actor trying to find his way, but in some ways, that also makes him more likable! He's the first "underdog Doctor" trying to make his way in the big world and it's really endearing to watch.

    What's not endearing is his continued clashes with the TARDIS crew. The strop at the beginning of the story was reminiscent of the early Hartnell stories, but if that was the case, I wish they'd just address how the regeneration has robbed him of his confidence and had him actively worry about that. Same thing with Peter Capaldi in Series 8 - if you're going to fundamentally change the persona of the Doctor, you need to have it addressed and brought to the forefront for it to be satisfying. We NEED to see that the man we know is still in there if you want us to continue.

    Nyssa, for whatever reason, spends most of the story hiding in the TARDIS with the Earth military(who are actually kind of pointless in the second half of the story, now that I think about it... why have them tag along?) and constantly telling them not to go out, even after the Doctor's been gone for hours. Which is a pretty big U-turn from all the usual "What if the Doctor's in trouble?" dialogue that the companions always say to justify going into danger.

    Tegan is surprisingly at her best in this story(that vacation in 1920s England must've worked wonders for her). For once, she's the glue holding the TARDIS crew together, seems genuinely interested in what the Doctor has to say and even manages to take down some Cybermen!! Bravo!

    Adric... poor, poor Adric. Well, I'd like to start off by saying that I don't think he's the worst companion ever. Apart from select moments in a few stories, I didn't even hate him. He was awkward, yes, but also earnest and unique amongst the Doctor's friends and at his best, I genuinely liked him. He was particularly good next to Tom Baker, one of the few times that the Doctor's developed a father-son relationship with anyone.
    Why they decided to have him act all snooty at times, I've no idea and that's sort of what spoils his legacy, but not too much. As I already mentioned in my Four To Doomsday review, Adric was an isolated child from another universe and likely found it difficult to cope with the Doctor's life. We should've seen more of that, yes, but I think Matthew Waterhouse gave it his all and that's really what matters in the end.

    NOTES

    *It's so refreshing to have the military act like natural officers, as opposed to modern stories like the Zygon two-parter. The only reply to an order is "sir", not some silly remark or immediate nervous breakdown.

    *The lovable, old "Shouldn't we tell the others?" "Nah." cliche comes to play at the very beginning between soldiers and might be the very cause of everything that went wrong in this story.

    *It's interesting how such a large chunk of this season takes place on Earth. It's the third time in a row now, and with the length of the classic stories, you really notice.

    *I am completely on the Doctor's side as far as the argument with Adric is concerned. If the
    Doctor doesn't want to risk taking his ship into E-space again, he shouldn't have to. Especially since Adric was a stowaway to begin with!!

    *"Why should they(the androids) care if we attack the hatch?" a dimwit asks. Um, because the only reason they're there is to defend it against intrusion, maybe??

    *Would advanced Cyber-androids really break down when having to choose between duty and survival?

    *A VERY out-of-character moment: the Cyber-Lieutenant actively argues against his leader's orders! You can't blame David Banks for this...

    *When did the Cybermen find out about the Time Lords? I mean, Gallifrey was introduced after their 60s appereances and as far as I can recall, none of that was ever mentioned in Revenge Of The Cybermen.

    *I get that it's the future and anything's possible, but I find it hard to believe just how disinterested the Captain is in her crew being slowly killed off. She doesn't even care about the supposed murderers in front of them, freely letting them sit around on her bridge!!

    *The Cybermen now have a concept of punishment, and are actively trying to hurt the Doctor for what he's done... okay? Even the Doctor points out that the Cyber-Leader is unusually "flippant" for a Cyberman.

    *I get that this was also done in the 60s, but the Cybermen wrapped in plastic look ridiculous.

    *Eric Saward seems to have borrowed from the concurrent Star Trek: The Next Generation and elaborated that the freighter travels at warp speed(directly contradicting the Pertwee era, where the hyperdrive was used in the humans' future), powered by an antimatter engine.

    *This MUST be asked: is it really possible for some Cyberman machinery to alter the warp engine to such a degree that the freighter can travel back in time? I know time travel has been done as such in Star Trek, but it seemed very random here.

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    Oh God... so many references! So many references!!!

    1) The Doctor tries to pressure Adric into reading the book he received from the Cranleighs, "Black Orchid". A completely pointless reference to the previous story.

    2) Adric demands that the Doctor return him to E-space, where he was found in Full Circle and specifically to Terradon, not to Alzarius(how bloody obscure and detailed is that?? Even I couldn't remember what Terradon was and I saw Full Circle only a few months ago!) Anyway, I like that they harken back to E-space, but seriously... bringing the exact location of Adric's people into this was just insane.

    3) Adric argues that it's not impossible to find a new CVE to travel through, since the Monitor on Logopolis confirmed they're not random. Again, whilst all of this continuity does make sense in context, they're expecting the audience to remember way too much. Anybody who missed season 18 would be completely lost here.

    4) Adric plans to track down Romana and K-9 after getting home. This is like if the Eleventh Doctor STILL talked about Rose. It's touching that Romana and K-9 haven't been forgotten, but I can't approve of this.

    5) After a heated argument, Adric spitefully says that since his regeneration(which Adric witnessed in Logopolis), the Doctor's become decidedly immature. It's at times like these that I REALLY wish Tom Baker was around to smack some sense into these people... and yeah, pointless reference to regeneration is pointless.

    6) The Cybermen, after analysing the Doctor, re-affirm that he has two hearts(a nice reminder), that he is a Time Lord, and that Time Lords are forbidden to interfere in history, which was established way back in The War Games. For some reason, I get a thrill whenever they mention this law. I love The War Games and everything it brought to the show.

    7) In probably the most continuity-heavy moment of the series thus far, little snippets of the First, Second and Fourth Doctors appear on the Cyber-scanner as recordings taken during those stories. After such a long gap between appereances, I think it's nice that they brought the audience up to date on the Doctor's long history with the Cybermen.

    8) This is later elaborated on as both the Cyber-Leader and the Doctor himself talk about how he froze them in ice tombs of Telos, how Mondas was destroyed and how the Doctor prevented the Cybermen from destroying the planet of gold, Voga(which happened in Tomb Of The Cybermen, The Tenth Planet and Revenge Of The Cybermen respectively). It's nice hearing about the previous stories almost as if they were legends, but these were not necessary references, apart from the last one, as they needed to set up using the gold in Adric's badge to stop the Cyber-Leader.

    BEST QUOTE

    "Now I'll never know if I was right." - Adric's final words.

    CONCLUSION

    It's not a great story or something I'll want to revisit any time soon, but it is a thrill, in a way.
    Last edited by rushy; January 27th, 2017 at 05:38 PM.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  3. #343
    Captain cosmichobo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    JN-T was keen on the idea of using the footage from old stories as seen in Earthshock, and previously at the end of Logopolis. We see it again during Mawdryn Undead, too.

    As for this story being bleh - bah! I love it! Ok, maybe it's just because I love the Cybermen, and in particular this new re-design... Maybe it's because I love Adric, and yes, whilst he does die, it's certainly an Adric-heavy story. I think seeing the fight between Adric and the Doctor was quite amazing, considering the fact that, probably not since Hartnell's dummy spits, had we seen the Doctor argue so thoroughly with a companion - actually I'm thinking of The Chase, which was also to do with a companion(s) wanting to leave...
    as seen on YouTube - thecosmichobo
    "How Doomsday Should Have Ended!" • "Bigger on the Inside?" • "The Doctor Falls - With Hartnell!"
    "The War Games - In 10 Minutes" • "Announcement of Jon Pertwee's death" •
    and lots more!

  4. #344
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    In memory of the great Sir John Hurt, I've decided to give the War Doctor another chance by delving into his first Big Finish box set, Only The Monstrous.

    The Innocent is a solid introduction that actually makes me feel better about the show's decision to retcon the Doctor as a kind figure during the Time War.

    WRITTEN BY

    Nicholas Briggs. Why hasn't he written a televised story yet?

    PLOT

    After destroying the Dalek fleet with a Time Destructor, the War Doctor crashes onto the peaceful planet of Keska and is faced with the memory of his former, heroic life when he finds them under siege with nobody to help...

    ANALYSIS

    Basically, what this story does is establish the character of the War Doctor, and re-affirm that he's not some kind of anomaly. We see this depressing, grim incarnation in a situation that any one of his other selves could've found themselves in and all I can say is, he hasn't lost his touch. It really helps to connect his incarnation to those others.

    I was quite surprised at how easy it was to follow what was going on, as I remembered having some real trouble with the medium(the lack of description for the surroundings bothered me, as I couldn't tell what exactly was going on). For the first time, I wasn't constantly checking the time and hoping to just get the story over with(even when it was good).

    I'm now very excited to get into more Big Finish, specifically the rest of the War Doctor stories although I will of course finish the televised stories before seriously tackling it. Still, it means that I will definitely not be done with this franchise for years and years to come.

    CHARACTERS

    In case you've missed or forgotten my thoughts on The Day Of The Doctor, I was really not impressed with the War Doctor. I missed Christopher Eccleston's sober Doctor badly(he's my favourite of all of them) and I thought that the only man who could've replaced him was Paul McGann, which Dark Eyes only seemed to prove.
    I don't want to say John Hurt's Doctor was dumbed down for the kids, but that's the feeling I got. Moffat writes every Doctor the same(making it even sillier that he wouldn't bring back McGann), so Hurt got the same carefree silly lines that the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors did and it just diluted the point of his Doctor completely for me.

    Here, however, Hurt gets to be the leading man of his own story and as a result, both his performance and position in the franchise improve. I feel like I finally know what kind of a man he is and that's someone in deep denial of himself and the universe around him. He's a joyful, caring, free-spirited person buried under a veil of pessimism and ruthlessness.
    In a bizarre paradox, he's a good man who strives to be a bad man because he thinks that's the right thing to do.

    Rejoice, played by Lucy Briggs-Owen, is a great "what if" companion. We don't learn that much about her backstory, except that she's the daughter of an important official, but her stoic "kindness for the sake of it", patience and curiosity balanced out with the War Doctor's grumpy doomsday-promoting perfectly. She was like an older, wiser Lynda with a Y.

    Cardinal Ollistra, played by Jacqueline Pearce(of The Two Doctors and Blake's 7 fame) is a really interesting character, in that she still holds the Doctor as something of an embarrassment, like the Time Lords did in the classic series.

    NOTES

    *Okay, so Big Finish now has the new series licence, but they still have to fake the TARDIS sound effects and the intro music? Are those rights held by someone else?

    *I could swear there's sound effects from Terminator Genisys in this(the Time Destructor).

    *They never really explained what kind of an effect the Time Destructor had on the Doctor apart from injuring him enough to make him sleep for a year. I kept wondering if the reason he looks so old is because of the Destructor, but that's never confirmed.

    *So, what exactly happened when the Doctor declared that he's a monster? I know it sounds absurd, but did he punch Rejoice in the face in a fit of rage? Because that's what it sounded like. Somehow she ended up falling off of the boat.

    *I hope the Doctor's dreams come back to play in future episodes, because they kept repeating those every time he lost consciousness and it didn't seem to lead anywhere.

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    1) The Doctor uses a Time Destructor to stop the Dalek fleet. This horrific Dalek weapon was introduced in The Daleks' Master Plan, where the First Doctor activated it, resulting in Katarina's death by rapid aging and the Daleks being reversed into fetuses. I think it's a really interesting concept and I'm glad to see it make a return here.

    2) When talking about the Time War, the Doctor mentions how the Time Lords sent him back in time to stop the development of the Daleks in Genesis Of The Daleks(a concept that, as far as I know, can be attributed to Russell T. Davies). This is another neat reference.

    3) The effect of the Time Lords capturing the Doctor's TARDIS at the end seems to be identical to their first appereance in The War Games(a strange windy sound followed by time slowing down). Another neat, subtle moment that adds to the War Doctor's legitimacy.

    BEST QUOTE

    "What is war, if not the embodiment of hypocrisy?" - Cardinal Ollistra.

    CONCLUSION

    We're only getting into the thick of it next time, but this was a really nice way of getting to know the War Doctor. It elevated him in my eyes exactly as I hoped it would and I'm properly hyped for some Time War madness next episode.

    Goodbye Sir John, and thank you for these performances.
    Last edited by rushy; January 28th, 2017 at 02:00 PM.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  5. #345
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    The Thousand Worlds surprised me with how connected it was in plot to the previous episode. As the box sets are described as "anthologies" and the plot was well wrapped up, I thought we were going to get into a completely unrelated adventure here. In an ingenious twist, however, we get both a sequel and delve into the Time War at the same time.

    WRITTEN BY

    Nicholas Briggs. I wonder how many hours of Doctor Who he's written in comparison with the supposed record-holder, Steven Moffat.

    PLOT

    The Doctor is drafted by Cardinal Ollistra to recover a Time Lord lost in the "Null Zone" part of Dalek territory, where no time travel can occur. To his horror, however, he finds that the Null Zone is in fact a devastated, future version of Keska that the Daleks are using as a laboratory to regain their advantage in the Time War...

    ANALYSIS

    It's brilliant. That's all there is to it. I'm completely engrossed in the story and the intrigue. There's a sensible hero, real stakes, mysteries... this is Doctor Who. This is science fiction. I think I've just been converted into a Big Finish fanboy. The thought of going back to Moffat and JNT after this is kind of depressing, lol.

    I loved the twist of revisiting Keska because as I said, I didn't expect to return here at all. And the hellish industrial landscape was exactly the sort of place I'd imagined the War Doctor to be in. So I got what I thought I wanted and what I didn't even know I wanted. How great is that?

    The story's still far from a resolution, but I'm eager to find out what the naughty Time Lords are really up to with this mission...

    CHARACTERS

    John Hurt continues to absolutely nail it as the War Doctor. But first, I do have a slight criticism: I think there might be one too many witty lines(at one point, he actually has to whisper them under his breath in front of Daleks, risking extermination for a great number of people). It's nowhere near the pantomime levels of recent TV Who, but it's a mild issue nonetheless.
    Other than that, though, he's a fantastic, gruff lead and a great hero for a series where pretty much the entire universe is out to get him. I've really fallen in love with the War Doctor, guys. I may actually kind of like him more than some of the 'proper' Doctors.

    Rejoice returns! Battered and aged, but as loyal and inherently wise as ever. Whilst I miss the innocent attitude, her experience adds a new layer to the complex dynamic she has with the War Doctor. And by complex, I mean it's the same old "he needs someone to remind him he's not a monster" thing, but actually done right. It's in their personalities, not some artificial nonsense like in the TV show.

    Veklin, Bennus and Arverton(played by Beth Chalmers, Kieran Hodgson and Barnaby Edwards, respectively) are a curious trio. It's a lot of fun to see more Time Lords(or Gallifreyans) with interesting personalities and I have a feeling that we'll be exploring their backstories soon. As far as characterisation goes, Veklin's cynicism and obsession with duty is maybe slightly overplayed, but she bounces off of the simple-minded Bennus wonderfully.

    Then there's Seratrix, played by Alex Wyndham, who is eerily reminiscent of the renegade Straxus from Dark Eyes, although the soft-spoken actor and storyline seem to suggest he's not as treacherous as he looks. We'll see.

    Jacqueline Pearce continues to charm as the Doctor's equivalent of a nasty aunt.

    NOTES

    *Would one Time Destructor really set the Daleks back so far that they have to resort to working with minor genocidal aliens? They didn't have another fleet ready or something? I thought the Time War was waged throughout the universe, not confined to certain battles. Now it just feels like a regular war again.

    *Also, why don't the Time Lords send someone back in time to find a flaw or plant a weakness in the Daleks' technology so they could strike them in the future when they're supposedly at their weakest?

    *Nicholas Briggs also directed the story, and I must give him extra credit for using sound effects so well that the story came to life despite the restricting audio format. It's a bit late for that credit I suppose, given that he's no doubt done this so many times before, but as a newcomer, I find it amazing how easy it is to follow the story.

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    1) When pressed to tell his name by a desperate slave, the Doctor refers to himself as "John Smith". A nice touch, although it feels a little weird to hear the War Doctor use the name.

    CONCLUSION

    The plot thickens. But will it pay off?


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  6. #346
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    Time-Flight is an imaginative and fun adventure story, scuppered by dreadful production values, poor casting decisions and JNT's decision to involve the Master(kinda hell yeah?).

    WRITTEN BY

    Peter Grimwade, who directed Earthshock. A man of many talents, it seems.

    PLOT

    The TARDIS finally arrives at Heathrow airport... by accident. There, the Doctor discovers that a Concorde plane has vanished into a time warp and proceeds to run an experiment on another Concorde that takes him, Tegan, Nyssa and the flight crew into prehistoric times, where the Master has laid a trap...

    ANALYSIS

    Basically, if you strip away the horrible visuals, replace pretty much everyone in the guest cast apart from Nigel Stock(professor Hayter) and Richard Easton(Captain Stapley) and not involve the Master, this would be a brilliant romp. Yet it seems like everyone involved decided that this was to be the somber epilogue to the season. Which definitely makes sense from an overall arc viewpoint: Adric has just been killed and another confrontation with the man who tortured him, concluding with the unfortunate abandonment of another companion sounds like the perfect closing chapter.

    So why on Earth did they pick this script to do it??? If any story screams "holiday", it's this one, with a setting that suggests dinosaurs will show up any second, a crazy Arabian wizard as the (original) main villain and a focus on planes(which we usually use to travel to relaxing locations). Even the presumably rewritten ending, where the Master's TARDIS is repelled off into time and space like a ball in a cricket match, sounds hilarious.

    As it is, Time-Flight is still enjoyable, although the second half is considerably weaker and I'm guessing that's the half that Grimwade didn't write or at least originally plan, as it largely abandons the storyline we had up to this point in favor of messing about with the components of two TARDISes until I had no idea who had what and what it all meant for them.

    CHARACTERS

    Peter Davison spends most of this story over-acting. I mean, I've heard his out of breath delivery of lines is the norm(which I find really worrying, because I hate it when he does that), but seriously, he hits you with every emotion he's asked to deliver. It's that very earnest way of behaving that's usually reserved for when you're interacting with toddlers(which, I just realised, is kind of genius since he is a Time Lord).

    Tegan and Nyssa both did very little in this story, but they also both had shining moments. I liked that Tegan's character development in Earthshock stuck and she continues to be a warm and enthusiastic presence on the TARDIS(boy, that's not something I ever thought I'd say about Tegan). Of course, she's still snippy as ever, but now it's in a fun way. That is, of course, until she's randomly abandoned at the end. Um, what??

    Nyssa's role in the episode is to serve as the mouthpiece of the Xeraphin. Why her? Because... she's alien, I guess. She's also become a bit sassy, which I find funny(has to be Tegan's bad influence).

    I absolutely adore Anthony Ainley as Kalid. I have no idea what the thought process behind him was, but it's one of the most entertaining performances in Doctor Who history. There should be a comic book made where he teams up with Soldeed, the BOSS and Mavic Chen(GUARDIAN OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM). He just has this big grin on his face the whole time and happily wobbles about, rambling nonsense whilst messing about with time and space. I can just imagine him in morning slippers, dancing awfully to pop music and resolving to conquer the world after coffee, because why not?
    And then, in the middle of the story, he randomly vomits out green muck and is revealed to be the Master. Sure... well, my personal theory is that Kalid is actually a Gallifreyan superhero that the Master was cosplaying. And speaking of the Master, it's a pretty generic appereance, as his presence was very clearly last-minute. No memorable lines or cool moments.

    Even though professor Hayter was a humorless, stuffy character, I really liked him. Mostly because he combined classic British manners with the lecturing personality of my grandpa. He was mildly endearing that way.

    Captain Stapley almost made for a better Brigadier than the actual man. He's a charming man, driven by duty and yet compelled to hang on the Doctor's every word. The kind of guy who looks at everybody fondly. God bless Stapley. I love people like him.

    Not gonna spend too much on the rest of the flight crew, since they were never fleshed out properly, but suffice to say, none of them are particularly good. They talk awkwardly, with pauses between dialogue and can never figure out what to do with their hands. The extras are even worse, though, although it may be a case of poor direction since apparently nobody told them to actually act frightened at the prospect of being murdered by a psychotic alien. By the time Tegan instructs them to go to Concorde, they're just happily chatting away as if nothing was wrong in the world. Facepalm.

    The Xeraphin are quite interesting, if somewhat underdeveloped aliens. I would've loved to have seen more of their Jekyll-and-Hyde dynamic, but they're pretty much dropped right after their introduction to become a McGuffin.

    NOTES

    *Do pilots really say "we're flying supersonic..." so casually? Is super a casual word amongst pilots? I have to know.

    *Why on Earth would the person monitoring the airplanes at Heathrow airport be doing so inside a small, poorly lit room???

    *"Aren't you forgetting something important?" Did Tegan just seriously suggest that the Doctor forgot Adric's death?

    *She redeems herself by making the perfectly natural observation that they could simply use the TARDIS to retrieve Adric from the spaceship. Nobody saw him die, nobody mourned his death. There is literally nothing that would change if they just went and got him out of there. Unless Adric's bloody remains had something to do with the way Earth was shaped.

    *I get that the TARDIS crew need a time out after Adric's death, but is "the crystal palace, opening day!!" really the best choice? I'd suggest a spa, not a circus.

    *Is it really possible for 80s airport security tech to pick up the TARDIS's arrival immediately?

    *More of Davison's over-acting: he grabs the newspaper furiously as if the Daleks themselves were after him, then casually comments on cricket scores.

    *I must point out that I like how the show has reconnected with contemporary Earth since the JNT era began. It feels consistent in a way that it hasn't since the Pertwee days.

    *I find it very unbelievable that the Doctor could just get by on his name in UNIT. Literally anyone could impersonate him. And even without so, they didn't even bother to show up and check?

    *The Doctor tells the Concorde pilots that they're all safe because of his TARDIS, whilst apparently forgetting that nobody except him as any clue as to what the TARDIS is.

    *I have to admit, whilst the continuity is often pointless, I am warming to the idea of the TARDIS crew mentioning their past exploits like mature adventurers.

    *How could Nyssa and Tegan just walk into the TARDIS without being disoriented by the change in gravity(as it was lying on its side inside the Concorde)??

    *As much as I like Stapley, I must question how he developed such a healthy respect for the Doctor despite him only having gotten them trapped in prehistoric times by that point?

    *Poor Nyssa: why does alien possession always cause breathing problems in sci-fi?

    *Instead of just shouting at the hypnotised people, why not try slapping them?

    *Okay, I understand you've completely run out of money. But did you guys really look at the Plasmatons(aka the walking turds) and think: yup, we can go with that?

    *Why does Kalid create a giant snake to kill the flight crew instead of just using his powers to choke them all to death or something?

    *Okay, I get that Kalid is the bad guy, but he's not done THAT much harm to them... so why do they completely ignore him when he collapses to the floor and starts vomiting?

    *Why does absolutely nobody question who the heck the Master is, and more importantly why he pretended to be Kalid?

    *At one point, we return to Kalid's control room to see the flight crew stripping apart the alien technology! Methinks some Adam Mitchell action was required here.

    *Right before Hayter accepted the Xeraphin's offer, why did Tegan grab Nyssa? She had no idea what would happen! For all she knew, she could've absorbed the knowledge of the universe by touching her!

    *Maybe I missed something, but how did the Master find the Xeraphin? Especially since his TARDIS was apparently already breaking down?

    *So, are the Xeraphin just representations of good and evil(in which case, how can there be other ones?) And if they're just members of the race, why would the Xeraphin even have evil people in there?

    *The TARDIS travels around in this story almost as often as in a Matt Smith episode.

    *What was the point of the Doctor sending the TARDIS back to the Concorde with Nyssa and the flight crew and then just randomly wandering around the Master's base before arriving there himself?

    *Best scene of the entire season: the Master's TARDIS breaks down because of the Doctor's components and he accuses the Doctor of sabotage, at which point the Doctor turns to Nyssa and irritatedly growls: "What's he talking about, Nyssa, have you been tampering with the TARDIS?!"

    *If Kalid is supposed to be from Arabia, what was up with his face?

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    1) Continuing from the events of the previous story, the Doctor reveals that the Cyber-Fleet was dispersed and that he took the crew of the freighter back home in the TARDIS. And of course, Adric is dead. All of this was pretty vital after last episode, I think.

    2) The Doctor mentions that Adric died saving others, like his brother Vash(from Full Circle). Nice, but Vash has never been mentioned once since that story and I'm not sure Tegan and Nyssa even knew Adric had a brother, so it's a bit weird to bring him up here.

    3) The Doctor uses his UNIT credentials to get him out of a problem and also name-drops Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. All of that is utter fan service.

    4) Nyssa wishes, that she'd known about the TARDIS's gravity alignment system when they were on Castrovalva. A subtle callback to a similar situation. Okay, I'll let it slide.

    5) The Doctor wishes he still had his scarf. This one's just stupid. You DO! Just go into the TARDIS and get one!

    6) In order to distract Tegan and Nyssa, Kalid uses his machines to transmit images of the Melkur(from The Keeper Of Traken) and a Terileptil(from The Visitation). Good character-based moments, but not for the casual audience. I especially like Nyssa's description of the Melkur as "what comes from that killed my father"(Tegan KNOWS about the Master!!)

    7) The Doctor mentions the Master's off-screen escape from Castrovalva. Nice of them to reference the fact that we never saw it happen, just to confirm it's not a continuity error.

    8) For some reason, the Master's TARDIS still looks like a pillar. Is his chameleon circuit broken?

    9) The Master's penchant for miniaturising people returns once again... remember people, Delgado did it ONCE. Was it really that memorable?

    10) At one point, the Doctor thinks about materialising his TARDIS around the Master's, which leads Tegan to retort: "You know what happened before(in Logopolis)!" I just don't see why this needed to be in here.

    BEST QUOTE

    Professor Hayter's reaction to the Doctor's story: "I've never heard such an extravagant explanation!"

    CONCLUSION

    So much lost potential.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  7. #347
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    I've now concluded the War Doctor's first box set and I must say, if this is the general quality I can expect from Big Finish, we might as well end the TV series now and hand over the TARDIS keys to Nicholas Briggs.

    The Heart Of The Battle somehow managed to nail everything a good ending should have: a tragic conclusion, action sequences, great hero-villain back and forth and best of all given the setting: incredible insights into what it means to fight a war.

    WRITTEN BY

    Nicholas Briggs, who I may soon start calling my favourite writer in the franchise. He's exactly the kind of sci-fi writer this show needs - big on concepts, with an emphasis on character building.

    PLOT

    At the heart of the Dalek invasion of Keska, the Doctor and his associates find a Time Lord who claims to be able to make peace between Gallifrey and Skaro. Driven to prove this is impossible, the Doctor challenges him to help uncover the Daleks' plot whilst also coming to the awful realisation that they were all set up...

    ANALYSIS

    It's stellar all the way through. The tone is perfectly pitched, so the story is mature, but not depressing. In a way, it still feels like a Doctor Who adventure, just one that's of a higher caliber(thanks to the much longer running time) and in a far darker setting.

    The plot is airtight. I love how the motivations and schemes of both the Time Lords and the Daleks are a complete mystery to the Doctor until the very end, just like it is to the audience.

    But what made this a truly legendary story was the conversation between the Doctor and Cardinal Ollistra at the very end, possibly the first time that the Doctor didn't get the last word on a story. Absolutely brilliant.

    CHARACTERS

    I've really fallen in love with John Hurt's growling monster of a Doctor over the course of this box set. There's just so many layers to him - his insistence on being irredeemable, yet his constant attempts to bring levity and peace to every situation speak of a very conflicted and sad man. I can't wait for more stories with him, and if they're as good as this one, he may yet become one of my favourite Doctors.

    Jacqueline Pearce's Cardinal Ollistra is one of the most interesting Time Ladies, as she's been gifted with the ability to excuse away every dark, vile act she does. This leads to the absolutely fantastic conclusion to the story that I simply must spoil: she takes the Doctor to the far future of Keska, where the horrible events of this story have formed the planet into a paradise and the Doctor's lost friend Rejoice is rightfully heralded as a hero.
    Meaning that her orchestration of the deaths of millions led to something good. That is literally Genesis Of The Daleks levels of intelligent writing.

    Lucy Briggs-Owen was a really good companion. She managed to portray a much older and wizened version of her character very well. I genuinely believed she had been through decades of war since her original encounter with the Doctor(where she was quite naive and happy).

    As I had anticipated, Kieran Hodgson's Bennus is revealed to have a secret, although not quite as important as I thought. Nice foreshadowing, though. I hope he and Alex Wyndham's Seratrix return in future War Doctor stories, as they're a really entertaining pair, in an "opposites attract" kind of way. But then again, the ending seemed to suggest that nothing can grow until long after the Time War, so... who knows?

    Traanus, played by Mark McDonnell is the final major player, and a leader of a race of violent aggressors who are quite similar to the Klingons, except they lack in honor. So, original series Klingons then. Another wonderful performance, as he seems like a mindless brute at first, only for the writing to reveal over time that his intelligence lies in his ability to be cruel in so many ways...

    NOTES

    *Just as Veklin starts to get the truth about the peacemaking Time Lords out of Seratrix, the Doctor interrupts them with "None of this matters...". Um, yeah, it kind of does! I know defeating the Daleks is paramount, but surely you could spare a moment to find out what the heck's even going on!

    *I know I'm speaking as a human with no war experience, but what kind of logic does negotiating with the Daleks make, even if they are unstoppable? What makes Seratrix think they'll be satisfied with the Null Zone?

    *I was actually rather shocked that the Doctor went and pushed the big red button in this story, killing a number of scientists in order to defeat the Daleks.

    *The "Thousand Worlds" used by the Daleks to attack Gallifrey do remind me of the 24 planets they had to collect in The Stolen Earth to destroy reality. Daleks really do love collecting planets for their evil plans, don't they?

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    1) The Daleks' plan to drive planets around in space is the same one they had in The Dalek Invasion Of Earth. It's a cool concept, so I'm glad to see it revisited.

    2) The Null Zone device was taken from the Omega Arsenal, which also holds the Moment from The Day Of The Doctor. Makes sense. They mentioned in that episode that most of the weapons from the Arsenal had been used against the Daleks.

    3) The Daleks having a wireless connection with one another was established in Asylum Of The Daleks. It's used to much better effect here.

    BEST QUOTE

    DOCTOR: (about Rejoice, after seeing her statue in the future) "Did she survive?"
    OLLISTRA: "I don't know."

    CONCLUSION

    An action-packed, but intelligent finale that sets the stage for a new, brutal era of Doctor Who.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  8. #348
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    For most of its runtime, Arc Of Infinity was just... lame. Quite possibly the blandest, most witless Doctor Who story ever. However, the excellent characterisation given to a returning villain in the final episode makes it a tremendous lost oppurtunity instead.

    WRITTEN BY

    Johnny Byrne, who previously penned The Keeper Of Traken. I wonder if he was restrained by the concepts he had to include in this story.

    PLOT

    Omega makes another attempt to break free from anti-matter, this time through the Matrix on Gallifrey, using the Doctor's stolen biodata to form a clone body. In desperation, the Time Lords recall the Doctor to execute him and dispel Omega's plan. Meanwhile on Earth, an investigation in Amsterdam leads Tegan to Omega's TARDIS.

    ANALYSIS

    A lot of this story is just boring drivel. The mystery of who Omega is and what exactly is he doing is stretched out for three episodes, meaning that everyone just runs around like headless chickens. By the time the Castellan reveals his conspiracy theories about the Doctor, Borusa and Omega, it's almost become comical.

    The idea that the Doctor would willingly go to Gallifrey and step into an execution chamber on the off chance that he might find out what's going on is ludicrous. As is Tegan's cousin and his friend stumbling into Omega's TARDIS and her arriving to Amsterdam just in time.

    Fortunately, the final episode actually ends up giving Omega the depth that his character had lacked previously and his demise is genuinely tragic.

    CHARACTERS

    The Fifth Doctor's flaws have never been more highlighted than in this episode. Where once was Tom Baker playing the Time Lords like a fiddle, now stands an awkward boy who is completely helpless when faced with the authoritarian men around him. Even once he is rescued by a guntoting Nyssa with a TARDIS on standby to leave, he submits to the Time Lords' will, purely because he thinks the villain might be clever enough to retrieve him.
    As the universe is about to crumble due to Omega's reverting into antimatter, he stops to help an old lady he ran into pick up her fruits. It's just an idiotic level of passivity.

    Surprisingly enough, it's probably Nyssa's best story so far, as she has a lot of chemistry with Peter Davison without other companions around. There's an adorable gentleness to their relationship as she's pretty much the only one to still really look up to the Doctor. Plus, she's not afraid of weaponry and continually proves her bravery by standing up to the Time Lords.

    Who the heck cast Alastair Cumming and Andrew Boxer? They're supposed to play a pair of ordinary people in a mildly humorous situation, but I've never seen two such weaselly looking actors.

    Michael Gough(of Batman fame, and of course the Celestial Toymaker) plays Councillor Hedin, apparently an old friend of the Doctor's who inexplicably turns traitor, believing that Omega's exile was disgraceful and that he will be charitable towards Gallifrey. It's not a bad performance at all, but grossly underwritten. I badly wanted to know what emotionally compelled this kindly old man to go so far for Omega, but he's just unceremoniously killed off shortly after this reveal.

    Paul Jerricho as the Castellan, and Colin Baker(!!!) as Commander Maxil served as an oasis of entertainment in the desert. They're both so insanely dedicated to their jobs that watching them fail at it was hilarious. Colin in particular gives a wonderful performance, giving the impression of a bullish man who solves all of his problems by pointing a gun at it.

    The friendly Time Lord Damon(played by Neil Daglish), who serves as Nyssa's sidekick in trying to save the Doctor, is a worse actor than Matthew Waterhouse. He can't emote at all. Even when they believe the Doctor has been killed, he's just calmly delivering his lines like HAL 9000.

    Okay, let's talk about Omega. Way back in The Three Doctors, he was a mildly cool villain. A good concept combined with a good voice, but not particularly effective or interesting. For the most part, not much has changed here, except that he's in a really crappy costume that makes him look fat and diseased.

    However, once he's able to convert into Peter Davison and wander off into the city of Amsterdam, we finally get to see Omega from a completely different perspective, that of a man who's been trapped alone for a very long time. He appears to be enchanted by the smallest things, like a child who smiles at him, and a musical steam organ. Once his body reverts to anti-matter, however(which he deliberately ignores, not even willing to imagine failure and having to return to the anti-matter universe), Omega simply chooses to die and the Doctor is actually forced to euthanize him to prevent universal catastrophy.

    It's a brilliant moment of near-redemption, and a great send-off for a villain who was never that great to begin with. So the question is, why couldn't the story of Omega's suffering been the actual story we were going with, as opposed to wasting three episodes on Gallifrey, wondering what the heck was going on?

    NOTES

    *I'm not kidding about Gallifrey, by the way. The set design is awful, with lots of white, beige and brown everywhere. The technology all looks dated, like 60s Star Trek, but not nearly as endearing.

    *I like how Nyssa reminds the Doctor to fix things in the TARDIS. They seem almost like a couple sometimes.

    *There's no transitioning to between the scenes in Gallifrey and Amsterdam at all. Casual viewers would be utterly lost from part 1.

    *The good old stasers are still around, and as dumb as ever.

    *The gunfire from Omega's soldiers rips off the negative effect from Dalek weaponry.

    *Nyssa doesn't even blink when she hears about Gallifrey or the Matrix.

    *Somehow, the Doctor and Nyssa are able to deduce everything that's happening on Gallifrey before they even go there!

    *Why does the Doctor want to break out of the Citadel's security compound rather than just wait and see what his people want from him?

    *Colin Baker shooting Peter Davison is awesome. Just saying.

    *"Of that fact I am more than aware!" Yeah, the dialogue doesn't always shine here...

    *Tegan just goes along with a random googly-eyed man, who won't even tell her what happened to her cousin until she goes along with him? Stranger danger!!

    *The story seems to forget that Borusa is the Doctor's teacher, as the two barely acknowledge one another.

    *Also, Tegan's new haircut is a massive improvement. She looks really hot now.

    *Tegan thinks every country is completely disinterested in lost tourists from other countries. Well, I wasn't around in the 1980s, but nowadays, definitely not.

    *How did Tegan lose her job? And it's a bit annoying to see her not care in the slightest after all the trouble she gave the Doctor about it last year.

    *And speaking of that: the look that the Doctor gives when Tegan announces she's back to stay is priceless.

    *"So much for your JUSTICE!" Nyssa exclaims before leaving the room. Gosh, why are everyone so melodramatic in the 80s?

    *If Gallifrey is in such danger, why do they wait a whole episode before executing the Doctor? I didn't hear any explanation for it, they just let the Doctor sit in the TARDIS for a while before deciding to finally do it.

    *The room where they execute the Doctor is memorably called "the place of termination".

    *And it's not exactly the cool erasure from time we see in The War Games. No, it's just a tube of steam. And when the Doctor is terminated, we can clearly see Omega appear around him, which everyone finds odd, but nobody really seems bothered about it.

    *If the Doctor's mind is in the Matrix, why doesn't he appear in some kind of terrain like in The Deadly Assassin, as opposed to idiotically floating in the Time Lords' representation of the time-space continuum?

    *If the Doctor needs money to operate a phone booth, can't he just check in the TARDIS? Surely he has coins in there somewhere!

    *Would a post office really hand over letters just because it's "very important"?

    *So, are kids supposed to understand what "psychosynthesis" means?

    *How do the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan know where to look for Omega after he's escaped from the crypt?

    *Why do the Time Lords not get involved with chasing Omega down? They mention that he's in control of the Matrix(which somehow prevents the Time Lords' ships from leaving Gallifrey), but how can he be, after he converts into a clone body and escapes his ruined TARDIS?

    *"Why couldn't you be content to survive as you are?" That is the most idiotic question I've ever heard the Doctor ask. 'Why aren't you happy in your eternal prison?'

    *Can't Omega kill himself in the antimatter universe? And if not, why does the Doctor not want to euthanise him, he's clearly suffering and never hurt anyone before going mad from spending an eternity in there with nothing, but his will to keep him around!

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    1) All the usual Gallifrey story staples are around, like a Castellan, the Matrix and Borusa.

    2) The Doctor repairs the audio in the TARDIS scanner, which seemed to be non-functional in Earthshock.

    3) Temporal grace(inability to fire guns in the TARDIS) was established in the Fourth Doctor era and is now broken, for reasons unknown, as we saw in Earthshock. I guess it's neat to tidy up that continuity error, but they could've just left it there.

    4) "To stay, the creature would have to reverse its polarity." The line actually makes sense, and it's a cute callback to Pertwee's famous line.

    5) The Doctor mentions that the Time Lords have a recall circuit in the TARDIS(presumably installed in The War Games) and it's only been used twice before. One was in Meglos, when they demanded Romana's return, but I'm not sure about the other. Since this is a Gallifrey story, I guess I won't mind them mentioning Romana again. And it is nice that that subplot from season 18 was resolved. I'd sure love to know what that other incident was, though.

    BEST QUOTE

    "Well, you know how it is. You put things off for a day and next thing you know, it's a hundred years later."

    CONCLUSION

    The story only really starts in the last episode. It's worth watching only for Omega's scenes on Earth and the double-act of Maxil and the Castellan.

    Since I didn't have room to do it in the last review, let's review season 19 here. Sadly, it was pretty poor. There are some stories I liked more than others, but all of them were flawed. And the main season arc(getting Tegan to Heathrow airport) was pathetic, particularly after the complex season 18. Don't get me wrong, there is a precedent for a simple story arc: much of season 13 was spent on trying to return Sarah Jane to London. But there, it was more of a lighthearted recurring gag and the focus was still on having fun.

    Here, they make Tegan miserable and the Doctor's excuses are desperate instead of teasing. As a result, all enjoyment gets sucked out and the adventures become more of a drag. Why should we enjoy it if the characters don't?

    Bringing back the Master sounds like a good idea on paper, but unlike Delgado's cool and laidback villain, Ainley uses every cliche in the book and his return is actually boring, because you know he's just going to be laughing maniacally and threatening everyone with his tissue compression eliminator.

    Overall, a really weak first year for Peter Davison. Fortunately, season 20 sounds good: Davison has had time to settle into the role so if the writing is good, then so should he. I love the idea of making every episode about a returning villain in the anniversary year, Tegan seems to have loosened up(somehow) and there's less companions to bicker with. Go softly on!


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  9. #349
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    We rejoin the War Doctor with his second box set, Infernal Devices. And oh my God, the first episode, Legion Of The Lost, is probably the creepiest Doctor Who story I've ever experienced.

    WRITTEN BY

    John Dorney. I'm not familiar with Big Finish writers, but let me tell you, this guy is awesome.

    PLOT

    After destroying another Dalek superweapon, the Doctor is saved by a remote Time Lord base, where he discovers that the High Council has allied themselves with demonic sorcerers who resurrect their dead soldiers.

    ANALYSIS

    It's terrifying. The Doctor is essentially without an ally, as even his companion stand-in is under the influence of the technomancers' magic, and the Time Lords are blindly eager to do anything that will help them win the War. Morality is completely abandoned in favor of religious fanaticism and murder. And because of the near-supernatural power of the technomancers, the Doctor's usual tricks are largely useless. It's a very oppressive story.

    CHARACTERS

    John Hurt does a great job portraying the Doctor's outrage at how low the Time Lords have sunk, and sheer terror of the technomancers. It's largely his pained reactions and monologues that really sell the threat here.

    His companion is Zoë Tapper as Collis, a resurrected Gallifreyan, whose personality becomes disturbingly different as a result. She has a lovely, small character arc about overcoming the evil within her which leaves hope for the Time Lords' future(that will be up to the new series).

    David Warner(I didn't even recognise his voice!) is excellent as the villain, Shadovar. Rather like the Daleks in Power Of The Daleks, he promises to serve the heroic side whilst also blatantly taking advantage of them until they can do nothing about it. I like how unthreatening he sounds initially, before ramping up the requests and frightening dedication to his evil masters.

    Jamie Newall's Co-ordinator Jarad is slimy in the best of ways. At times, he comes across as an intelligent man and at several points, I expected him to join the Doctor yet he persisted in bowing to the technomancers with an excuse akin to "I was just doing my job". Even after they're defeated, he still has the audacity to whine at the Doctor for saving the universe.
    The only odd thing about this character is his use of human proverbs like "Voila!" and "Straight from the horse's mouth."

    Jacqueline Pearce only has a short appereance at the end, but I've already grown to love her as a recurring character. She's kind of like an edgier Brigadier, sending the Doctor on assignments and getting him out of trouble.

    NOTES

    *Why doesn't the Doctor use the Annihilator on the Varga plants? Is plant life that much different from Time Lords and Daleks that it wouldn't work? Or does the Doctor think that wiping out mindless, genetically engineered plants of terror is genocide? Either way, I'd have liked to have heard a reason.

    *As in the previous box set, the story opens with the Doctor getting knocked out hard and offered a lovely drink upon waking up. Damn, Hurt made that juice from Keska sound so delicious that I still want one.

    *I was almost afraid that they weren't going to explain away the source of the technomancers' powers, because bringing the supernatural into Doctor Who for real would be a big no-no.

    *Like his other incarnations, the War Doctor is particularly fond of tea. Good for him(coffee can go to hell, though)!

    *More of the nicer side of the Gallifreyans: I liked the inspiring speech given by Captain Scolex to his men. It's that right kind of military where we got the Brigadier from.

    *So, the Horned Ones are creatures from a dimension before this universe, that now wield massive power because of their alien nature here. With this, and the Celestial Toymaker, isn't it just weird how the Tenth Doctor refuses to believe the Beast might be from a prior universe in The Impossible Planet?

    *I really liked the War Doctor's insistence upon leaving the dead deceased, even if bringing them back would only have positive consequences, pointing out that regeneration alone is traumatic enough. I much prefer this characterisation of the Doctor to Hell Bent's.

    *The incidental music is sometimes pretty jarring in this episode, due to some poor editing. Tsk tsk.

    *The undead Gallifreyan army, enslaved to the will of the Horned Ones is creepy af.

    *At one point, it's mentioned that the minds of Gallifreyans past(and not just the Time Lords, which is interesting) are all saved in the APC net. I presume that is the Matrix?

    *Apparently, "disorientating" is a real word. Funny, I've always heard "disorienting". I guess it's because I watch American shows?

    *The argument between the Doctor and Collis about the ethics of resurrection is incredibly well-written. I especially liked the comparison to meat-eating, and considering that the victims of the process were already wiped from time. Bravo.

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    1) The Daleks still use the Varga plants against their enemies, like they did in The Daleks' Master Plan. I kind of wish they reappeared in the new series again too, they're creepy.

    2) The Doctor reverses the polarity as he takes apart the Annihilator. Cute, but not necessary per se.

    3/4) The Doctor tries to get access to the base's restricted area by pretending that Cardinal Ollistra gave him a warrant of authority after the Keska Incident. This later turns out to be psychic paper.

    5) The concept of the same people dying repeatedly in the Time War was first mentioned in The End Of Time. I'm not certain if this story is referencing that or if that's where they got the idea, but it's an interesting callback regardless. I always thought the intention in that story was that temporal weapons(causing time loops) were used in the War.

    6) I'm not sure if it's just widely used in meditation, but "Ohm!" was also used by the Buddhists in Planet Of The Spiders.

    BEST QUOTE

    "It stirs the echo of a memory, yes!" - Just a really great line in my opinion.

    CONCLUSION

    I love sci-fi horror. This series continues to impress me.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  10. #350
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    Snakedance is an emotionally wrenching exploration of good vs evil that adds a whole new dimension to the TARDIS crew.

    WRITTEN BY

    Christopher Bailey. This is a sequel to season 19's Kinda. Bringing Bailey back for another run was a great choice, as he delivers a far more impactful and coherent story this time.

    PLOT

    When the TARDIS goes off course and Tegan begins to see bad dreams, the Doctor suspects that the Mara may still yet be inside her and hypnotises Tegan to find out what it wants. After arriving at the Mara homeplanet, it's up to him and Nyssa to track down the source of its power and destroy the evil within her once and for all...

    ANALYSIS

    It's like Bailey is Dr. Frankenstein pulling on a lever and sending a jolt of lightning through the Davison era. Suddenly, the TARDIS crew come across like real people who change due to circumstance, it feels like we're visiting a genuinely alien culture, the guest stars perform flawlessly and the drama is subtle and mature, clearly the result of a writer who had a lot to say.

    CHARACTERS

    Whilst Davison's incredibly fast and loud delivery continues to grate on me, he had some very charming moments in this story, most notably in the early scenes in the TARDIS, where he was adorably oblivious to Nyssa's change in costume and later on, when he telepathically connects to Dojjen and fights off the Mara alone.

    It has to be said that Janet Fielding is RIDICULOUSLY hot as the Mara. That sly grin and playful attitude just slay me. She has a ball playing the villain and it's easily her best performance to date, and as Tegan too. For a brief moment, we get to see Tegan's childhood and Fielding plays the naughty child perfectly. And after all was said and done, her breakdown really got to me. All the theatricality blew away on the wind, leaving behind an incredibly frightened woman. I've gained a new respect for her.

    With the massive focus on Tegan, Nyssa suffers slightly, but her interactions with both the Doctor and her early on in the story were priceless. I like how Bailey gives her a sort of motherly role on the TARDIS, keeping the Doctor's excitement in check whilst also caring for Tegan. Still, it felt like a lot of her scenes were just filling up time and trying to make some - any - use of character, which lead to her long search for Tegan in the town and multiple attempts to get the Doctor out of prison, which only end with her in jail with him. Can't have everything, I guess.

    Martin Clunes(in his acting debut) knocks it out of the park as the utterly spoiled rich child of an official who gets in way over his head when the Mara decides to use him as a tool to regain its power. As everyone familiar with Clunes will know, he has a very expressive, stretched face which works perfectly for the nosey brat that he plays and makes him look quite intimidating and greedy once he actually wields power.

    His mother, Tanha, is played with lovely upper-class panache by Colette O'Neil, whose character is so likable in that Downton Abbey kind of way that her complete uselessness when it comes to her son's out of control antics comes as a surprise over and over again.

    John Carson's Ambril is another likable character, a sort of slightly grumpy, but well-meaning archeologist whom you could imagine Jon Pertwee being best chums with, but whose closed-minded insistence on following hard facts leads to his miserable cooperation with the Mara as he desperately tries to save real historical artifacts whilst paying no heed to Lon's dark impulses.

    Preston Lockwood's Dojjen is a work of genius. He never says a word on-screen, merely meditating throughout most of the serial until finally providing support to the Doctor via telepathy. He's basically an upgrade of the wise woman from Kinda, but much more effective due to being mute and having a clear, established mission.

    Brian Miller(Elisabeth's Sladen's husband) has a hilarious role as the con artist, Dugdale, though the purpose of the character is kind of vague. He basically exists simply to tie Lon and Tegan together and afterwards shuffles after them in a hypnotic trance. Could've just killed him.

    NOTES

    *Nyssa's repeated attempts to earn a compliment from the Doctor on her costume are just adorable. Man, do these two have developed chemistry!

    *And as always, the obligatory Moffat nagging: the Doctor's oblivious nature is handled subtly, making it funny, not hamfisted("What are you doing with your eyeballs?!")

    *How does the Doctor connect the TARDIS malfunction with Tegan having some bad dreams? He's awfully jumpy in this story.

    *The Mara effects in this story are a major improvement over Kinda's. They've clearly learned from that story. I especially like the hidden snake transition(from arm to arm).

    *What exactly happens to Tegan once she puts on the Doctor's anti-dreaming machine? Is she still in hypnosis? Because she acts like she's sleepwalking. And once they find the Mara cave, why does the Doctor not snap her out of whatever she's in, because she's clearly terrified and there's no more need to be now that they found what they're looking for!

    *I hate hate hate it, when they have the Doctor not even try and bother to win an official's trust, instead just ranting like a madman until he's locked behind bars.

    *The Mara having fun in front of a mirror is a nice touch. So far, this season has a trend of revealing the more enchanting side of villains.

    *A question that reminded me of The End Of Time... who came up with the prophecy about the Mara returning? Did the Doctor visit Manussa in the past? Actually, the birth of the Mara would make a great Big Finish audio.

    *Now what are the chances of Nyssa wandering into the exact same tent Tegan did(it's a big town), and finding her anti-dreaming device?

    *How can the Mara possess two people at a time in this story. It clearly didn't have this power in Kinda.

    *And if the snake on the arm is what controls them, how can the Mara separate herself from Tegan and still maintain power over her? Yeah, I don't get much about the physical side of the Mara at all. Can the snake multiply? What is the significance of the snake vs the mental power?

    *The Doctor setting the archeologist up to a fall with the "six faces of delusion" helmet was pure British comedic genius.

    *What prompts Dugdale to offer partnership and his life's story to someone who's desperately talking to mirrors and is clearly suffering some kind of mental breakdown(he even looks creeped out in the previous scene)?

    *One serious problem that the story had was that it was over-edited. The setting changed constantly and without any necessity. We don't need to see five seconds of someone holding a vase before resuming the same scene we had earlier!

    *Where are all the guards in this story? Nobody protects the classified Mara caves or the holding cell(they even leave the door open!!)? Is this like Traken, where everyone are just expected to be nice?

    *Why does the archeologist, who up until this point showed nothing, but disdain towards Dojjen, ask Chela to read out the final page in his journal?

    *Why would the Federation ban Snakedancers if they believe the Mara is gone? Surely it'd be... I dunno, nicer to just keep them around for the sake of it.

    *For the first time in this marathon, I noticed the Doctor and his friends running through identical corridors from the same angle Curse Of The Fatal Death-style

    *This is probably unintentional, but I love that the dust of fear in the play that's supposed to
    flow through Lon's fingers actually sticks to his hands. It's a great touch. He also obviously picks up the crystal in greed as opposed to his ancestor, though the trifecta is incomplete since he drops the branch of despair like he was supposed to.

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    1) The Doctor finds traces of anti-matter in the TARDIS, leading Nyssa to wonder whether Omega has returned. This is never brought up again, so I'm not sure what the Mara had to do with it. Weird.

    2) In her dreams, Tegan recalls knocking apples onto Aris's head whilst being controlled by the Mara.

    And that's it! Kudos to Bailey for restraint on this angle.

    BEST QUOTE

    "Once a man fell asleep, dreamt he was a frog. When he woke up he didn't know if he was a man who dreamt he was a frog, or a frog who was now dreaming he was a man. "

    CONCLUSION

    A fascinating and gripping tale about overcoming the evil within through purification of the soul.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  11. #351
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    Why was Master written for Doctor Who? When did a charming teatime show turn into a Shakespearean play about the mishaps of childhood coming to punish us in adulthood, and a pondering on the definition and motive of a murderer?

    WRITTEN BY

    Joseph Lidster, a man whose talent cannot be overstated. He's making the show itself look bad compared to his work. It's weird. I don't know how I feel about it. It actually does feel like William Shakespeare decided to do some fanfiction.

    PLOT

    On the 10th anniversary of his new life after amnesia, Dr. John Smith invites his closest friends to his mansion in order to run a social experiment and determine what kind of a man he truly is, or was. Things quickly go horribly wrong however, when supernatural events begin to occur within the house and a mystical, frightened doctor appears out of nowhere...

    ANALYSIS

    What this story amounts to is a very long conversation. All of the people involved are deep down responsible for some amount of evil, which has led them to that particular night in the mansion and slowly, all the cards are laid on the table. The only real source of conflict is the Doctor's bargain with Death, which is essentially meaningless anyway since the Doctor would never kill the Master.

    Thus, the drama comes from the characters' facing their own weaknesses, particularly John Smith, who is forced to confront his dark nature as the universe's worst monster. It's an ingenious character drama, mystery and even ghost story.

    CHARACTERS

    Sylvester McCoy does a sublime job playing a jaded and guilt-wracked Seventh Doctor. Despite his comedy roots, I can't remember a single joke from this story. Death even points out at one point that he's abandoned all of his trademark gimmicks and his misery only increases after a certain plot twist regarding the Doctor's past on Gallifrey.
    But what I liked best about him is that even though he no longer believes there's a happy ending for either of them, he still refuses to kill the Master, simply because that's not the kind of person he is. Now that's a hero.

    Despite the title of the story, Geoffrey Beevers only has one scene as the Master. For the majority of the runtime, he plays John Smith, a beloved village doctor with a mysterious past, but a good heart. Knowing who he really is, it's extremely interesting to see the contrast between Smith and the Master. More than once, I was fooled into believing the Master had returned, when in reality Smith was merely playing it up for his own ends. The way they ultimately resolve Smith's storyline is brilliant and I shan't spoil it... though I can tell you that they don't just cast Smith aside in favor of the Master.

    Philip Madoc returns to Doctor Who as Victor Schaeffer, a blustering police detective, who turns out to have a surprisingly creepy backstory. I really loved the way Victor's character was developed, as he went from a harmless, likable, mustachioed Inspector Japp figure to a legitimately frightening lunatic. And I didn't even recognise Madoc's voice! Maybe it's just the fact that I'm so used to his War Lord performance, which is completely unlike all other performances he's given.

    Anne Ridler is also fantastic and multi-layered as Jacqueline Schaeffer. I loved how naive she came across despite being clearly middle-aged and how her prejudices emerged in stress despite her charitable ways.

    Charlie Hayes(daughter of Wendy Padbury!) is alright as Death. She has a smug disinterest, sort of like a Moffat character, but at least it's explained here that it's because she sees everyone as her toys, so it's appropriate to the character. Frankly, I would've liked to have seen more of her and learned her mentality and why she was there to begin with. Because... you know, she's THE GRIM REAPER.

    NOTES

    *When playing the mild-mannered John Smith, Geoffrey Beevers sounds uncannily like Patrick Troughton. He could seriously do Second Doctor audio plays.

    *Why did this story need to take place in some future colony as opposed to the actual time period it was clearly inspired by? I hate these random Earth knock-off cultures, like in Voyage Of The Damned, Mummy On The Orient Express and many others I can't think of right now. It's lazy. There is no reason why this story couldn't have been set in the actual Victorian era.

    *I almost think the Victorian era was chosen purely so the writers could get away with calling Smith "the master"(of the house).

    *The Doctor's pondering "Is your red my blue?" made me giddy, because it's actually something I've often wondered myself. Do we all see the same color or is our perception of it actually different without us even knowing it?

    *Why was the Doctor hit by lightning when he arrived at the mansion? Was it just an excuse to get into the building?

    *And why was he so confused when Smith didn't recognise him? They make a big deal out of the Doctor not expecting Smith to be so different from the Master, when... wasn't that the whole point?

    CONTINUTIY ADVISOR

    1) As a human(?), the Master's name is John Smith. I'm not really sure why. They never explain it or bring attention to it other than the Doctor's momentary confusion when he tries to give himself a human name. So I'm gonna give this a thumbs down.

    2) Death discusses the Seventh Doctor's development from a clownish figure to a planet destroyer and mentions his former spoon-playing and metaphor-mixing, both of which were his early quirks. Since this story is all about the characters, it absolutely fits.

    3) Perhaps unintentional, but the concept of the Master losing his memories and becoming a human with a heart of gold is revisited in Utopia, five years after this story. It's a great storyline that worked wonders the second time as well.

    BEST QUOTE

    "We can't pretend to be what we're not. Inside of us, we're fated. I am evil. Don't you
    understand? Don't you understand, I'm not human! I am not a doctor, I'm not John Smith! I am the Master. I am evil and I am fated to kill and destroy... and my heart is black, my soul is tainted! If you stay near me, I will kill you! I can't help it! It's what I am, inside!" - John Smith. Can you see why he fooled me?

    CONCLUSION

    I am still largely unfamiliar with the Seventh Doctor era so I won't comment on the Cartmel Masterplan, but other than that, this was a terrific, immersive and contemplative nugget of drama gold.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  12. #352
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    Mawdryn Undead actively frustrated me. In four episodes, it went from being one of the most enjoyable Davison adventures to an embarrassingly convoluted, self-aware mess of storylines.

    WRITTEN BY

    Peter Grimwade of Time-Flight fame. Why does he make his stories so hard to follow?

    PLOT

    Do you really want to know? Alright, a convoluted space phenomena traps the Doctor's TARDIS(this was dodgy back in the 60s) on a spaceship that just happens to contain a bunch of immortals who want his regeneration energy to die(???) and have a transmat inexplicably aimed near a school on Earth where Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart teaches maths and an alien just happens to be exiled in(never explained) and he just happens to become the tool of the Black Guardian!

    ANALYSIS

    It started off so well. The concept of having the story take place simultaneously in two time-zones is a great idea and I love that the Brigadier is so involved with it. The Black Guardian's return is properly ominous, Mawdryn himself is a terrifying villain and it all moves at a fast, enjoyable pace.

    But once all the characters return to the spaceship, the story becomes incomprehensible. Which time zone is the spaceship in? How can the clearly broken transmat cross time periods with nothing, but the Doctor's homing device? Where did that thing even come from? What is a warp ellipse? How does the two Brigadiers meeting short it out and how does that kill Mawdryn and his people? What the heck is the Black Guardian even doing? Why would Mawdryn infecting Tegan and Nyssa with the regeneration mutation cause them to age or deage depending on whether the TARDIS moved in time?

    I'm sure all these questions have a good answer, but they just kept piling up until I threw in the towel and just let the story wash over me. It's one of the most disappointing experiences I've had watching Doctor Who, because it started out so great. After all the blandness we've had lately in the Davison era, this was a boost of energy. Shame it overloaded and became this schizophrenic disaster where stuff just... happens. Characters say and do things, but nothing adds up to any sort of logic or consistency.

    And did I mention this is a corridor runaround like no other? How many bloody times do they have to walk around the ship looking for one another? Is it really that big? I swear, the 1977 Brigadier spent like two episodes just wandering around aimlessly. Not to mention Turlough, who spends like half of the story shouting at thin air aka the Black Guardian. Nobody even questions his presence there! He's supposed to be a schoolboy and yet they all just take it as a matter of fact that he's an alien!

    Oh, to hell with it.

    CHARACTERS

    Peter Davison puts in a rather charming performance. I imagine he was quite over the moon to be working with Nicholas Courtney.

    And speaking of Courtney, seeing the Brigadier again was easily the highlight of the episode. I especially loved the montage from his previous stories and seeing him step out of the TARDIS on an alien surface for the first time. Perhaps it was not intentional(without the mustache, he's like a different man), but I liked that the older Brigadier came across as slightly more bumbling and less ordered.
    Seeing him and the Fifth Doctor together was quite odd, because their dynamic was very different from the ordinary snappy back-and-forth we're used to between these characters. Davison's youth was quite noticeable in these scenes as well.

    Perhaps it's because of the reused writer from season 19, but Tegan's character development seems to have gone a little backwards. She's started whining again and that does not make me happy. I was becoming really fond of her as a companion. At least she had a very touching moment at the end, where she thanked the Doctor for being willing to sacrifice himself for her. In any case, she's grown leaps and bounds.

    Sarah Sutton remains a little stiff and awkward, and despite massive improvements in her character this season, I'm really not gonna be sad to see her go. People like to say that Adric was the third wheel in season 19, but in my mind it was always Nyssa. I'll elaborate in the next review.

    David Collings gave a really great performance as Mawdryn, and I feel like the script let him down somewhat. He was so convincing as the fake Doctor that I actually felt annoyed whenever they gave unsubtle hints towards the opposite(when he melodramatically insisted that Nyssa take the TARDIS back to the ship, for example). As a villain, he was multilayered: a repenting criminal forced to do more crime. That's definitely not your everyday megalomaniac, and the character constantly swayed between dark and light so as to keep you guessing.

    Valentine Dyall returns as the Black Guardian. Now, I was very fond of the Key to Time arc and Dyall himself is suitably menacing in the role, but unfortunately, this story really does not function well as his return because it already has a villain with an equally complicated backstory behind him - Mawdryn. After we've established the Guardian's influence on the school and his plot to kill the Doctor, he takes a back seat to Mawdryn and only occasionally appears to berate Turlough, leaving his comeback very unsatisfying and even unjustified.

    I mean, there's no universal threat this time. The Black Guardian is simply being petty and wants to kill the Doctor. Considering the events behind his last appearance, I would've expected his revenge to be cataclysmic. Something like The Celestial Toymaker on steroids. This sort of assassination seems way too lowkey for who is possibly the most powerful enemy the Doctor has ever faced.

    And besides, was it really wise to bring him back now, anniversary season or not? If anyone who viewed the show in the 1970s is reading this, tell me: was the Black Guardian a popular villain? Did The Armageddon Factor really make such an impact that people were ready for him to dominate the anniversary season four years later over the iconic monsters? Or did Ian Levine just bring him back because he wanted the story arc tied up?

    And my thoughts on Turlough as the new companion? I like him. I think Mark Strickson is a bit over-the-top as an actor, but he's got an interesting screen presence and I can imagine him becoming quite a fun character once this story arc is done. The only real issue here is that absolutely nothing about him is explained or even questioned by the other characters. He literally just joined the TARDIS crew, as the Doctor put it.

    NOTES

    *The direction in this story is pretty poor. An obvious example is the colorful background used in the Black Guardian scenes, but I'd also like to note the bizarre wide angle close-ups during the scene where Hippo and Turlough steal the Brig's car. Plus, the director might also be partially responsible for all the confusion I went through in the later half of the story.

    *I must say, I've gotten tired of the Davison era habit of talking about the previous story at the start of the next one. It worked in the Hartnell era, because they tended to end the previous story on a cliffhanger as well so we'd be excited to see the story continue, but here, it feels like they're just doing it for the sake of doing it.

    *Another problem in the Davison era is the overuse of boring technobabble. It worked in Season 18 and Castrovalva because of Chris Bidmead's presence, but now, it just's tiresome to listen to the Doctor and Nyssa constantly shout about warp ellipses and transduction barriers. At least give me an idea of what they mean!

    *I hated the implication that the Brigadier wanted Hippo flogged for damaging his car. I know he's got a military mind, but that's just a big no. He also berates Hippo for his "disgusting body" later on. That's the Brigade Leader right there!

    *When the TARDIS returns to Earth only to disappear again, I love the Doctor's little head shake to the Brigadier, basically saying "I got no clue".

    *The Brigadier has a bald spot. Le gasp!

    *Okay, this part really made me chuckle: when the Doctor announces that he knows about UNIT, the Brigadier hushes him since he's talking about a secret organisation. I have to ask: since when? Who didn't know about UNIT back in the Pertwee era??

    *Apparently, the original idea for this story was to have Ian Chesterton return, which went nowhere since William Russell was unavailable. Chibnall, the ball is in your court now! Make it happen while it still can!

    *I wonder if professor Yana's memories slowly coming to the surface was based on the Brigadier's in this story, because they both hear the important names whispered in their heads in a tense sequence.

    *But in this case, it is followed by an absolutely amazing montage of the Brigadier's past adventures. It really hit me(especially since I was watching the improved special edition... don't judge me, that was the only one available on the internet) that I've been on this marathon since 2013.

    *I've also never understood why the Brigadier seems incapable of comprehending the concept of time travel. I mean, does he not watch TV or read any books? You'd think regeneration was harder to swallow.

    *Why did Turlough leave behind the Black Guardian's crystal when he escaped from the school? At that point, he was under the Guardian's direct control, wasn't he?

    *Whilst thinking the Doctor is Mawdryn, the 1977 Brigadier asks this: "How did his features change so quickly?" Um... what? Jon Pertwee became Tom Baker in about a second.

    *How does Mawdryn know so much about the Doctor? Did he steal the Time Lords' databanks as well? Do the Time Lords know about UNIT and all that?

    *If Tegan and Nyssa are aged or de-aged depending on where the TARDIS goes, can't they just transmat to Earth?

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    1) Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart makes his first appereance since Terror Of The Zygons.

    2) Tegan still has bad dreams about the Mara, and the Doctor finally explains that Dojjen didn't destroy the Great Crystal because it was necessary to trap the Mara with it to destroy it permanently. Couldn't they spend two lines on this in Snakedance?

    3) Nyssa reminds Tegan that she simply walked into the TARDIS obliviously back in Logopolis. I presume somebody told her the story afterwards, since she wasn't there. But it's always nice to see Tegan put into her place.

    4) Nyssa wishes they still had the Zero Room to help Mawdryn. An utterly pointless callback to Castrovalva.

    5) The Doctor namechecks Sergeant Benton, Harry Sullivan, Jo Grant, Sarah Jane Smith and Liz Shaw and the Yeti in an effort to boost the Brigadier's memory. A great scene(I especially liked what happened to Benton).

    6) The Brigadier assures Tegan and Nyssa that he's seen regeneration twice before(technically once, but he was there for the after-effects of the other time). This occurred in Spearhead From Space and Robot, respectively.

    7) After recovering from his regeneration, Mawdryn dresses himself in the Fourth Doctor's burgundy coat. Always nice to see that lovely bit of clothing.

    8) The Deadly Asssassin's 12 regenerations rule is affirmed in this story. People sometimes criticise this decision, but I think it's a good idea to give the Doctor some natural limitations(even if it's just an illusion - we all know he'll continue to regenerate as long as the show lasts).

    9) The Doctor once again reverses the polarity of the neutron flow. Ah, what the heck, it's the anniversary season.

    BEST QUOTE

    "Someone's walked over my grave." - The Brigadier. A great saying, and one that I've never heard before.

    CONCLUSION

    It's a cocktail of stories that could've easily been great on their own, with possibly the weakest plotting I've ever seen on Doctor Who.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  13. #353
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    Terminus is mostly boring filler, but it has some genuinely good ideas in it.

    WRITTEN BY

    Stephen Gallagher, the lunatic behind Warriors' Gate.

    PLOT

    Instead of just explaining themselves to the guards, the TARDIS crew arse around for three episodes on a time-travelling leper ship fuelled by something that can blow up the entire universe(and ostensibly caused the Big Bang) before realising they need to shut down the engines and cure the lepers and their drug-addled guards.

    ANALYSIS

    I like the idea of visiting a leper ship on Doctor Who, and the guards' own plight is creative and interesting as well. I just wish it wasn't preceded by three episodes of corridor-roaming and nonsensical technobabble. There's not even any good dialogue or exceptionally fun characters to fill the time.
    All that Terminus is in the end, is just a bunch of irritated people with different problems pointing sticks at each other for no valid reason for 75 minutes and then there's a nice, cosy, happy ending.

    The direction is non-existent. I can't remember the camera doing anything except just sitting there, no matter what was going on. And whoever allowed the actors playing the guards to wear those noisy plastic costumes should've been fired(although I do like the Dune-esque design).

    There's not much else to say: it's not horrifyingly bad, but it doesn't even reach the "vaguely watchable I guess" territory. It's the blandest Doctor Who story I think I've ever seen. I guess it's commendable that there's really no villain even, but that just adds to the blandness in this case. It's a story that could've been effectively told in two episodes and even then it would've been merely alright.

    CHARACTERS

    Peter Davison is... there, I guess.

    Turlough and Tegan, I kid you not, spend the entire story completely isolated from everyone else, just looking for the way back to the TARDIS. Good lord. Oh yeah, FYI Turlough's still dealing with the Black Guardian(that's about as much as the story gave us about those two as well).

    Time to say farewell to Nyssa: I must say, I did like at least the concept of her character. A sweet, timid princess with scientific training who is both eager to learn and has no ego. She's essentially the perfect companion. But due to a combination of poor writing, lack of development and Sarah Sutton's poor acting skills(the only time I remember her changing her aristocratic facial expression was when she dipped into the water on Castrovalva in what looked like a blooper), her character almost always felt stagnant.

    People love to hate Adric, but I firmly believe Adric was ten times the companion that Nyssa was: he had a far more interesting backstory, genuine chemistry with Tom Baker, a teenage thirst for self-dependence... and whilst Matthew Waterhouse was no Olivier, he could at least give the impression that he was emoting.

    The only time I felt Nyssa wasn't a pointless tag-along was in Arc Of Infinity when she and the Fifth Doctor were on their own, and it seemed like they had a really nice, deep need for each other's presence. I genuinely loved that. But one story(which was fairly dismal outside of that anyway) cannot remedy three seasons of poor writing.

    As for the rest of the cast, I thought Liza Goddard as the fluffy-haired pirate was pretty cool. Apart from the arrogant leader, I liked all the guards. They weren't special or anything, but they seemed like the kind of people you'd have a great time with in a pub or something. Especially Bor, played by the charming Peter Benson from Heartbeat.

    There was also the Garm, a walking wolf who can cure lepers or something. I don't know. I don't care either.

    NOTES

    *Whilst she is technically right, I find it grossly unfair that Tegan judges Turlough simply based on the way he talked with the Doctor! I mean, he's an alien, isn't he? ... Is he? Um...

    *Nyssa uses an abacus to calculate... suuuuure.

    *Sarah Sutton barely wears any clothes in this story. In fact, both she and Tegan seem to find skimpy white underwear in fashion these days, which I am totally onboard with.

    *I like that the casual opening allows us to see the characters' life in the TARDIS a little, kind of like The Chase.

    *Yeah, Turlough go ahead and SHOUT at the Black Guardian when every person in the TARDIS can hear you.

    *So, what exactly does that face on the TARDIS emergency exit represent?

    *Why would Nyssa have died if she stayed in her own room as opposed to using the exit?

    *Remember the "I'll explain later" jokes in The Curse Of The Fatal Death? It's completely a Fifth Doctor thing.

    *The cliffhanger where the lepers first appear is actually pretty hardcore.

    *"Do you see any more computer blocks?" Yes, but make sure to keep the shooty things away from them.

    *Okay, so I have to ask... why does a hospital ship have time-travelling capacity and a map of the entire freaking universe? And why does Doctor Who persist in having the universe be finite in size?

    *The multicoloured buttons on the ship's console are almost as bad as the ones in Star Trek or the Fourth Doctor's secondary console room.

    *So, Nyssa falls ill on a leper ship and the guy terrified of lepers doesn't suspect she's been infected?

    *I love how the camera specifically focuses on Nyssa tearing off her skirt. I think it's the only time the director woke up.

    *I double love how the camera blatantly shows off Nyssa's knickers when she's unconscious. Mary Ridge, you shameless lady, you.

    *How does this leper ship even work? Where are the lepers coming from and going to? What exactly does the wolf do? Where does he even come from?

    *Why doesn't Goddard just run behind the guard choking the Doctor as opposed to trying to ricochet her blaster shot to hit the guard? A little risky, no?

    *And then, like idiots, they leave the guard armed. Facepalm.

    *So, what leper parted with his-her baggy clothes so that Nyssa could cover herself up? Actually, why did she want to, if she was so hot from the sickness?

    *Why does the guards' robot always flail its arms about?

    *Considering that Nyssa hasn't got a clue where she is or who the guards are, why does she put up so much of a fight when they want to move her?

    *So, Turlough tells Tegan to wait in a corridor and runs off(to talk to the Black Guardian). And she never asks any questions?

    *Why would the Black Guardian release Turlough into the TARDIS without demanding to know what his plans are? I mean, the Guardian's got all the cards. Turlough shouldn't be able to deal with him like that.

    *So, the wolf takes Nyssa off the chains, then the girly guy attacks the guards, then he puts her back in chains, and the girly guy attacks again. What is this, chronic hysteresis?

    *To be fair, the entire universe being a paradox of itself caused by a fuel leak is pretty ingenius.

    *As if this was a comedy, the girly guy doesn't even notice the wolf taking Nyssa away the
    second time. When he's done fighting with the guards and the wolf has juuuust left the frame with Nyssa, he sees the chains and just inanely screams "No!! Nyssa!!" WHILST THE WOLF IS STILL CARRYING HER AWAY A FEW METERS AWAY.

    *So, at one point, the entire ship was going to be sterilised and I think that was a cliffhanger at some point, but then it happened and... nothing?

    *I love how the Doctor pauses when Nyssa reminds him that along with the TARDIS, he'll also be seeing Tegan again. It's not even subtle or anything, it's canonical at this point that the Fifth Doctor hates Tegan.

    *Another example of this is when Tegan can't get the Doctor's attention(what did she even want?) until Nyssa needs something.

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    1) The Black Guardian still wants Turlough to kill the Doctor. Apart from causing the TARDIS to land on the ship, this has zero effect on the story.

    2) Turlough gets Adric's room(which, contrary to Turlough's comment, looks nothing like a "boy's room". Also, isn't he supposed to be a boy himself? And why doesn't he get his own room? I thought the TARDIS can create and erase an infinity of them.

    3) Before handing Adric's room over to Turlough, Tegan removes one of the Kinda necklaces. It's a nice, subtle moment, but why that of all things? Wouldn't it just remind Tegan more of the Mara?

    4) The Black Guardian tells Turlough(who is messing with the TARDIS console) that he is "touching the Heart of the TARDIS". I usually don't include moments like this, because it's not a continuity reference per se, but this random line came to mean so much more in light of Boom Town.

    5) Nyssa tells the Doctor that she intends to put the skills she learned on Traken to good use. One would think she'd also mention the skills she learned on the TARDIS, but whatever. It's nice that she finally gets to fulfil her destiny and all.

    6) As Nyssa departs, we hear a musical cue from The Keeper Of Traken(Roger Limb also composed the incidental music for that story). I think that's a very charming touch.

    BEST QUOTE

    DOCTOR: (after walking in to the two pirates) "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know it was private."
    KARI: (pointing a gun at him) "That's alright. We're in the mood for company."

    CONCLUSION

    Pedestrian to the extreme. Avoid at all costs, unless you want to wank off at the sight of Sarah Sutton's undies. And Peter Benson's Liverpudlian accent.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  14. #354
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    Enlightenment is superb science fiction, combining a variety of genres(period drama, futuristic thriller, adventure, mystery, quest...) to create something fresh and awe-inspiring.

    WRITTEN BY

    Barbara Clegg. She doesn't seem to have many credits to her name(aside from 7 episodes of Coronation Street), but there's no denying that she is an inspired writer perfectly suited for this programme.

    PLOT

    Desperate to foil the Black Guardian's latest scheme, the White Guardian uses what's left of his power to redirect the Doctor's TARDIS onto a creepy yacht. The crew quickly find themselves in the middle of a race of immortal beings who are manipulating reality for their own amusement.
    As the Black Guardian looms over all, it's up to the Doctor to outwit the Eternals themselves and ensure that the yacht reaches its destination before any of the others...

    ANALYSIS

    The level of detail, cohesion and charm in this story is outstanding. More than once, I found my questions answered as events unfolded, which is always lovely. The special effects are awesome - even though I guessed the ships were in space, the reveal itself just blew me away. Assisted by Malcolm Clarke's howling score, the scene felt downright ethereal.

    I love that outside of the TARDIS crew, all of the characters are Eternals(or Guardians). For once, literally everyone are more powerful than the Doctor and could kill him and his friends at a moment's notice. Thus, he has to rely solely on his intelligence and play on the Eternals' thirst for amusement.
    Meanwhile, we get the continuation of the Black Guardian story arc that finally, finally starts picking up some speed with Turlough essentially having a near-mental breakdown over his fear of the Guardian's revenge. I heard that the story was originally written without the Guardians, but they fit into the themes of... well, enlightenment like a glove since that's what the original Key To Time arc was about. Being wise enough to surrender ultimate power.

    CHARACTERS

    Peter Davison thrives in this story, solving riddle after riddle. He serves as the bridge between the TARDIS crew and the Eternals - not quite helpless, but also vulnerable to their telepathy. That, plus the incapacitation of the White Guardian, makes him literally the only one who could possibly save the universe from the future of "dark Eternals". It's exactly the kind of story the Fifth Doctor needs - brainy, dashing and all involved play by the rules.

    Although the storyline given to Turlough is exquisite, I've never really been able to buy Mark Strickson as a cowardly weasel. He looks like Daniel Craig's younger brother and I think he has an inherent swagger. So the moments where Turlough panics come off as somewhat hokey. In this case, the writing itself and Strickson's likability as an actor carry him through.

    Janet Fielding doesn't have too much to do as Tegan apart from a creepy subplot where one of the Eternals takes an overt liking to her mind and follows her around. It's tinged with tragedy, since the Eternal isn't really malevolent nor wants to hurt her, but it's still uncomfortable and I'm not entirely sure what the writer wanted to say with it.

    Cyril Luckham reprises his role as the White Guardian, though he doesn't seem as confident in the role as he was in The Ribos Operation. It fortunately fits the character, but I think the awful dialogue and the bird on his head might've had something to do with it.

    Lynda Baron(who famously sang The Ballad Of The Last Chance Saloon) gives a hilariously hammy, but still menacing portrayal of an Eternal captain who prefers to surround herself with cruelty and is willing to go to any lengths to win the race. She's a great, unpredictable villain and her scenes with Turlough are priceless.

    Keith Barron's stoic Striker is almost Brigadier-ish in his sense of fair play and willingness to help the Doctor, but his lack of morality and alien attitudes keep them on their toes. He showcases best the soullessness of the Eternals and it's made me wonder... is he the way he is only because of the human traits he happened to pick up?
    Could Wrack(Lynda Baron's character) only be evil because she happened to run into the Black Guardian? Did the Guardian create the whole scenario and imprint the desire for enlightenment on the Eternals? Are they like galactic jellyfish, waiting to be influenced by any wandering mind?
    You know it's the sign of a great writer when these sorts of thoughts pop into your head.

    NOTES

    *Turlough criticises the Doctor for not understanding what's going and says that "he never does". But... Turlough just came onboard and has barely spent any time with the Doctor. How would he know? Or is he hinting at the Doctor's inability to guess that Turlough is trying to kill him?

    *The Doctor hears random echoes, which later turn out to be the White Guardian and increases the power to the TARDIS to hear him properly. But that's a huge risk... how was he so certain that the echoes were related to the power of the TARDIS?

    *Why is the White Guardian's power depleted?

    *Shouldn't both Tegan and especially Turlough ask who the White Guardian is?

    *Why does the Doctor get upset when Tegan leaves the TARDIS to deliver him the White Guardian's message? Why would she just stand around there after hearing something important? Does he think something else might happen and she should be there to hear it? In that case, why doesn't he just say so?

    *The TARDIS flashlights are really badly designed, they're shaped like huge jars.

    *Did Marriner climb on top of the TARDIS to be so close to the TARDIS scanner? What is it with the 80s and villains appearing on the scanner anyway?

    *Why does the ship's human crew not question the sudden appereance of Turlough and the Doctor? Even if they're supposedly crewmembers as well, I'd be a little confused if two people showed up on sea, one wearing a cricket uniform.

    *Marriner keeps insisting that his cocktail will make Tegan feel much better... and she finally decides to drink it without insisting on knowing what's in it?

    *Why does Turlough not tell the Doctor immediately that the crewmembers are being forced to drink the rum?

    *Why is Marriner so obsessed with Tegan in particular? Wouldn't the Doctor logically be the one who is so different from the other ephemerals and with a complicated mind to explore?

    *The Black Guardian's evil laugh is the stuff of legend. "Nyeee he he he he!"

    *Something that really upset me: the Doctor explains in great detail that they shouldn't reveal the existence of the TARDIS to the Eternals and yet Tegan continually demands to be allowed back in. Tegan's priorities are always out of whack. I do find it realistic that a companion would like to chill out during an adventure, but only if it doesn't increase the danger they're in!

    *One of the more believable moments of cowardice came when Turlough spurted out that Jackson intended to cause a mutiny onboard, leaving the Doctor in shock. Davison sells it.

    *I love how Turlough's hair stays immaculate even after he helplessly tumbles about in space.

    *Usually, I'd put Turlough's blatant manipulation of Wrack up to bad writing, but here, it
    might actually be him taking advantage of the Eternals' naivete when it comes to ephemerals.

    *After hearing that the Doctor's in the wheelhouse, Tegan announces that she must see him and then... sits down to have a chat with Marriner?

    *How can the competing captains have dinner on Wrack's ship? Is the race still on or is it on pause? If it's still on, isn't this wasting time? If it's not on, are all of the captains even aware?

    *Why didn't Wrack give Turlough some fancy dress for the party?

    *What lead Turlough to muck about in what's obviously an airlock and worse, sealing the door behind him?

    *And after he's rescued by the Doctor, HE seals the door as well. I know he turned on the vacuum shield, but still! Safety hazard, much?

    *What's up with the Fifth Doctor's tendency to flip a coin until he gets the desired result? He's just like the crappy version of Two-Face from Batman Forever. How is this supposed to help you decide, even on a psychological level?

    *Why is space circling around under the grate in Wrack's airlock? Is her ship spinning?

    *Okay, so the cowardly Turlough is suffocating in the airlock and the Black Guardian laughs over him. Instead of getting on his knees and begging for another chance to kill the Doctor, which is literally the only thing that might placate the Guardian, he just asks to be saved? Yeah, sure. That'll work.

    *I know this story wouldn't work half as well with some made-up alien cultures, but why did the Eternals pick Earth, specifically? They could've added a line where the Black Guardian reveals he picked Earth to torture the Doctor further or something.

    *What leads Turlough to guess that Wrack is in cahoots with the Black Guardian?

    *I love how, in the midst of a dramatic scene where the Doctor rushes about, trying to destroy the jewel Wrack gave Tegan, he just lightly taps it with an axe as opposed to hitting the floor with all his might.

    *Why on earth do they pick up the shards with their hands as opposed to just throwing the rug out? There's a lot of dust there that they did NOT get out in time.

    *And if the power multiplies when the number of unique crystal pieces increases, why didn't Wrack just send everyone back with a dusty pile?

    *Funnily enough, both Cyril Luckham and Valentine Dyall have shaved their goatees since their last appereance. I guess the Guardians have to maintain a singular style of fashion.

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    1) The Doctor comforts Tegan, who isn't a very good sailor, with the familiar "Brave heart, Tegan." I'm sure he's said it before in a story, but I don't remember which one. Even so, I love the quote.

    2) Tegan tells the Doctor he needs someone who won't run away in times of peril, at which point Turlough retorts that he explained what happened on Terminus. I don't really understand this, since at no point did Tegan or the Doctor display any disappointment with Turlough in that story. And why don't they try to coax courage out of him instead of berating him anyway?

    3) Tegan finds a framed picture of his Aunt Vanessa from Logopolis inside her cabin room. A sweet touch, especially since the picture is of the original actress.

    4) The White Guardian reminds the Doctor that he once denied the Key To Time to the Black Guardian, which occurred in The Armageddon Factor. A nice way to get newer fans interested in that period of the show, I think. I always love it when they make older adventures sound like legendary events from long ago.

    BEST QUOTE

    "Time override. Locking must have been in the coordinates." - Davison-era technobabble at its finest.

    CONCLUSION

    A lovingly-crafted, shining example of imagination, brought to life by some of the best production work I've seen in the 80s.
    Last edited by rushy; April 5th, 2017 at 03:26 PM.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  15. #355
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    The King's Demons is a funny, easygoing escapade and a nice break from the complex storytelling of late.

    WRITTEN BY

    Terence Dudley, who previously wrote Four To Doomsday and Black Orchid. He has a knack for fun little adventures.

    PLOT

    After receiving an unusually warm welcome from King John in 1215 England, the Doctor and his companions become his guests at Fitzwilliam Castle only to discover that he is in fact an android manipulated by the Master(hell yeah!) for the purposes of rewriting Britain's democratic development.

    ANALYSIS

    I really enjoyed that. The historical, Robin Hood-era setting gives the story an interesting background by default and that same sort of mischievous atmosphere carries the story. Another huge element in its favor is the use of the Master as a lovable rogue, which suits Anthony Ainley like a glove.

    It's fun and engaging, the plot is clever, the guest stars are strong and it doesn't outstay its welcome. It's the perfect story for a lazy afternoon.

    CHARACTERS

    Peter Davison is, as the Master put it best, a "medieval misfit". His straightlaced incarnation doesn't acquit himself to the gritty time period as well as the others might have, but Davison himself seems to be having a great time, particularly when the King gives him permission to wave a big sword around at anyone he pleases.

    Sadly, the companions really suffer from the short, snappy pace and no time is devoted to them all. Turlough is literally out of the plot for most of the story by being locked in the dungeon and Tegan spends most of her time either complaining about the cold or being inexplicably stuck in the Time Vortex during the lengthiest TARDIS jump ever.

    Anthony Ainley's theatrical performance fits the story perfectly, meaning that for the first time in his tenure, he's a credible threat. It's great seeing him throw barbs at the TARDIS crew and of course don another ridiculous disguise(a French knight in the service of an English king! Because he really wanted to woo some ladies with that accent).

    Gerald Flood has a double role. As King John, he is simply marvellous as a wickedly evil Shakespearean villain(even more so than the Master himself!) and as the robot, Kamelion, he's sort of like C-3PO! Shame that Kamelion never caught on, because I would've loved to have Flood as part of the regular cast. But that android, yeah... it really hasn't aged well and it's blatantly obvious that the production team had no idea how to operate it properly.

    Michael J. Jackson is earnest, but realistic as Sir Geoffrey de Lacey and I was not surprised to find out that he actually has been in a Robin Hood production. He's got exactly the right kind of regal air to him.

    ANALYSIS

    *Why does Tegan insist on pointing out all of the Doctor's flaws? It's a nasty habit. Fortunately, this story is self-aware enough to recognise that and Tegan sort of gets her comeuppance at the end.

    *So, a blue box arrives from nowhere in the middle of a joust, three strangers emerge and King John just lets them talk to one another for a full minute whilst everyone stares awkwardly?

    *This awkwardness later carries on to the Master's reveal, at which point nobody reacts until the Doctor and the Master are done catching up. That's just poor scriptwriting, which is a shame given how good the rest of it is.

    *I know the Master wants to keep the Doctor and his companions out of his way, but what actual reason does he have as Sir Giles to arrest Turlough?

    *And why does the Doctor never bother to even ask the King or Ranulf where Turlough might be? He and Tegan barely even notice his absence.

    *The swordfight is very poorly choreographed, to the point where even the actors should've noticed that it wasn't worthy of being recorded. It takes a full second between each move!

    *The Master reveal in the cliffhanger is really cheesy and has already become a cliche.

    *So, the Master appears and yet the only thing Tegan says is "Tissue Compression Eliminator!" ... yeah. It is. I'm sure there could've been a more natural way to reveal that what the Master is holding is his weapon.

    *Why does the Master just hand the Eliminator over to the Doctor? He says something about it being a mistake for the Doctor to accept, so it was deliberate, but I don't see how it helped the Master at any stage. In fact, the Doctor sabotaged his TARDIS with it later on!

    *And with the Eliminator in his hand, why can't the Doctor just kill the Master? I know it's the Doctor and they're former friends and all, but come on. Not only has the Doctor killed people with guns before, the amount of people he's indirectly killed to stop them from harming others is insane. Is there really any reason to allow the Master to continue to leave?

    *Why would the jailer, who probably has no idea about what's going upstairs, obey the orders of the Master and release Hugh and Isabella?

    *Mark Strickson's delivery of "He is the evil one!" is priceless. It's written to be a retort to the Master's claim that the Doctor is evil, but Strickson makes it sound like he's describing the Master to someone. In a very over the top fashion.

    *Considering when this takes place, I'm surprised that nobody questioned Tegan's clothing or King John's decision to make her his squire. Did they think Tegan was a boy??

    *When did Sir Geoffrey find out about the Doctor's TARDIS? Once he's lead the Doctor to the dungeons, he starts talking about the "blue engine", but he arrived to the castle as a prisoner and wasn't there when it first materialised, so how would he know about that?

    *Even though most of the men in the castle are undoubtedly Ranulf's, is it really wise to speak of the King's judgement being affected by demons in a loud voice?

    *Apparently, Turlough has experience with horses, as he happily volunteers to help Sir Geoffrey with his, and then slaps the horse on the backside to make it move.

    *Ranulf's guards are abysmal at their job. I already mentioned the jailer, but they also allow Tegan to enter the TARDIS without argument(despite wanting to kill her) and then let the Doctor escape whilst they gawp at it disappearing.

    *Why would a war robot be susceptible to psychokinetic control from two different sides? And why does the Master even reveal such a weakness to the Doctor?

    *The confrontation scene between the Doctor and the Master over Kamelion is brilliant. It feels like one of those classic James Bond scenes, where he has dinner with the villain and discusses his inevitable demise. It's all so polite on the outside.

    *Why did the Doctor set the TARDIS coordinates for King John's room anyway? And when?

    *Why wouldn't the Master order his guards to immediately remove the Doctor instead of giving him the chance to try and alter Kamelion's shape?

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    1) The Master's previous exile on Xeraphas(which began at the end of Time-Flight) is mentioned, and he reveals that he escaped with Kamelion's help. It's a neat little explanation and I like that they worked Xeraphas into Kamelion's origin.

    2) Tegan asks whether the TARDIS landing in 1215 all of a sudden(yeah, why did that happen actually?) could be a Black Guardian trap? The Black Guardian of course harassed them in the previous three stories. But it's a forced in, pointless reference.

    3) The Master teases the Doctor after his initial failure to control Kamelion and tells him he should regenerate already. It's not necessary at all, but I do rather like the line, so I'll just leave that up in the air.

    4) Turlough reminds the Doctor that they were heading towards his planet. Seriously now, why did the TARDIS end up in 1215 England? If ever there was proof that the TARDIS takes the Doctor whereever he needs to go, this is it.

    BEST QUOTE

    RANULF: "He is said to be the best swordsman in France!"
    DOCTOR: "Fortunately, we are in England."

    The Doctor is more nationalistic than Superman

    CONCLUSION

    I can definitely imagine watching this time and time again.

    And with that, season 20 comes to a close. Like with Davison's first year, it was flawed and I struggled with the Black Guardian trilogy(I seriously fail to see why he needed three stories... couldn't we have had a much more interesting season with more classic monsters?), but ultimately, I feel it came out more positive than the last one. There was definitely more energy to it and going down to two companions at a time helped.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  16. #356
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    The Five Doctors is a party of a story, that shamelessly revels in wistful nostalgia with a completely cavalier attitude to internal logic.

    WRITTEN BY

    Terrance Dicks, the legend. Possibly the only long-running Who writer without a single flop. Script editor during one of the most respectable eras of the show. The man behind the Second Doctor's regeneration and the Fourth Doctor's introduction.

    PLOT

    The Doctor's first four incarnations are scooped out of time and placed into the Death Zone on Gallifrey, shortly followed by the Fifth Doctor, whose very existence is at stake. Scattered in a large arena with many of their old enemies about, the Doctors and their various companions make their way to the Tomb Of Rassilon at the heart of the Zone to uncover the terrible dark secret from the dawn of Gallifreyan history that has led them all there...

    ANALYSIS

    Objectively speaking, The Five Doctors is not a good story. It is full of production errors, the writing is thinner than a plastic bag and it doesn't really represent 20 years of Doctor Who all that well.
    But what makes it work is the LOVE. This was acted, directed, written, produced, filmed and designed by people who love this show unconditionally and are just here to metaphorically shake its hand. In a unique way, it transcends the normal rules of television by being more about the journey to get here than the endpoint - this special - itself.

    But yeah, it's really crappy. The direction is rudderless(thank God for Peter Howell's musical score and the gorgeous set design!), there are more holes in the plot than in Swiss cheese, the special effects are really goofy and even the acting at times is all over the place!

    On the other hand, Dicks(who once famously had to write a ten-parter in a week) manages to effortlessly juggle Doctors and companions by placing them in a gameboard scenario, thus avoiding an overload of backstory and convoluted plotting. This does leave many of the characters seeming rather bland and replaceable(particularly Turlough and Susan), but I'd say that's an acceptable loss.

    Another major victory for The Five Doctors is in atmosphere. I really like the cold Welsh landscape chosen to represent the Death Zone, as it gives the story a dreary, inhospitable feel(though perhaps not quite as hellish as one would imagine, nor does the Death Zone fit in with any of the previous or subsequent depictions or descriptions of Gallifreyan terrain).
    On the studio side of things, the set for the Tomb Of Rassilon is exquisite, give or take some mathematical formulas pretending to be Old High Gallifreyan, and adds a perfect gothic touch to the final act.

    CHARACTERS

    Since most of the companions in this story are largely dispensable, I'll skip them and focus solely on the eponymous Doctors and other Time Lords...

    Richard Hurndall deliberately avoided doing a William Hartnell impersonation(so there's no use in complaining that the two are dissimilar). What we have here is his own unique take on the character. Hurndall plays the Doctor like a cranky schoolmaster, completely confident in his own abilities and experience. Whilst he lacks Hartnell's lovable rascally nature, he makes up for it with sheer entertainment value.

    Patrick Troughton charms the socks off as ever. I'm not sure why the Second Doctor picks a bone with everyone in this story, the sly old dog, but watching him fumble about is easily the highlight of the whole story.

    Jon Pertwee seems to be somewhat lacking in energy and left without his old snappy delivery, though his comic timing and authority are still brilliant. Sadly, I must confess he's the least interesting Doctor here.

    Peter Davison is cleverly isolated and highlighted from the other Doctors by having much of his screentime spent on uncovering the truth in the Capitol. His performance is also, in my opinion, the greatest he's given thus far. Coming literally face to face with the past, the Fifth Doctor displays confidence and a wonderfully bubbling irritation towards his other selves. Interestingly, he also carries the same cynicism as his predecessors, something that seems to have become a growing theme with this Doctor after first emerging as a carefree, childlike tourist in time.

    Anthony Ainley continues his self-aware streak from The King's Demons to great success. His motivation in this story is simply superb and leads to a string of cracking scenes, to the point where I found myself wishing for a lighthearted Master spin-off. Big Finish?

    Philip Latham gives a spellbinding performance as Borusa. Whilst not really anything like the Tom Baker-era incarnations of the character, his recurring presence since The Deadly Assassin gives the role some depth by default and Dicks really capitalises on that to form a uniquely pragmatic villain not interested in power in itself, but who has become so jaded in his work that he feels the need to serve his planet for all eternity. Borusa's tale is a tragic one and Latham walks the tightrope between over-the-top villainy and a tragic, fallen hero without fault.

    NOTES

    *The new TARDIS console looks fabulous.

    *In the very first scene, did they forget to dub Tegan's laugh? Because Janet Fielding seems to silently cackle and it's... weird.

    *There's an odd moment, where the Doctor takes a look at Turlough's drawing(a nice addition to the character, courtesy of mr. Dicks), then stares warily at the landscape of the Eye Of Orion and then the two share a chuckle. Did I miss something?

    *As in The Three Doctors, the First Doctor is picked up from a garden, which makes me think that he just had a breather before being pulled out of time again for another multi-Doctor adventure.

    *Whilst I'm not sure it was intentional, I love that they got David Savile from The War Games back as another military man opposite of Patrick Troughton.

    *Why would he not know nothing about the Doctor(the spiritual founder of UNIT) though, seeing as he is the Brigadier's successor? No wonder the Doctor took such an instant dislike to the poor fellow! I hope Crichton featured in some spin-off as compensation.

    *Why doesn't Sarah Jane listen to K-9? He's a computer! And since when is she so covered in make-up?

    *How can Turlough tell that the Doctor's body is "alright" and that the TARDIS instruments are functioning perfectly?

    *Apparently, Gallifrey no longer requires any kind of fanfare. I mean, I guess it was kind of self-explanatory by that point in the 80s, but it would still have been nice to make the High Council's appereance a grandiose moment(I know all about the special edition, but I'm reviewing the original here).

    *Susan and Sarah Jane suffer the worst from the interchangeable writing, as they had the most emotional and character-based farewells. The reunion with Susan in particular should've been emphasised.

    *Why does the Death Zone drain so much energy from the Eye Of Harmony as to put the entire planet at risk?

    *Sarah Jane's legendary fall must of course receive a special mention. Possibly the worst bit of directing in Doctor Who history.

    *Jon Pertwee liked Elisabeth Sladen's "teeth and curls" line so much that he nicked it for himself, now leaving us to ponder over a possible multi-Doctor story with the Third and Fourth Doctors. Get to it, writers!

    *I love that they make fun of the "you can make the tea" trope from the 60s in one very hilarious scene.

    *Wobbly set alert! The console used by the Castellan to transmat the Master clearly moves as he steps on the platform.

    *Anthony Ainley's mildly confused delivery of "These thunderbolts are everywhere" after a laser special effect nearly hits him always makes me laugh.

    *"I am the Master, and your loyal servant." Facepalm.

    *The use of the scrolls to frame the Castellan is really daft in my opinion. I mean, would he really keep them in his room if he meant to hide them? And then burn them after they've already been discovered?

    *Is the Yeti that attacks the Second Doctor and the Brigadier a robot or the real thing(as implied in The Abominable Snowmen? Because it sure doesn't act like the robot ones in any way.

    *In the same scene, where is the bright light shining behind the Brigadier coming from? They later explore that part of the cave only to find a locked cave.

    *The fake David Banks used as the Cyber-Leader in the "bomb the TARDIS" scenes is cute.

    *For a perfect killing machine, the Raston Warrior Robot sure has a hard time catching the Doctor and Sarah, who, despite the Doctor's warning, seem to be in constant motion.

    *How does the Cyber-Leader not notice the Master picking up a gun from his fallen subordinates in plain sight, especially since it was the Master who just killed them?

    *Why does Tegan get upset with the Master for destroying the Cybermen? I mean, it was a bit rough, but she's faced them before, she should know there's no saving them.

    *By far the best moment in the entire special is the Second Doctor's reaction after facing the phantoms of Jamie and Zoe. He simply moves on, shaking his head and mumbling: "Yes, yes, it's sad..." It speaks volumes.

    *The Brigadier accuses the Doctor of leading him astray "on many occasions". Um, when exactly? I honestly can't remember a single time.

    *Why doesn't Rassilon just tell Borusa that immortality really sucks, so he'd give up on it?

    *Well, it must be asked: how can the Doctors recall the events of The Three Doctors. I have some theories about the Second Doctor below, but the First and Third ones also reference those events. Could it be possible that those errant memories were erased by regeneration?

    *Whilst the Shada clip is completely out of place, it's so charming that I can't fault its inclusion here.

    *Why exactly is the Doctor the only one who can succeed Borusa as Lord President? I thought Time Lords were old, dusty figures. Surely any one of them would be more qualified(at least in their eyes) than a figure like the Doctor? Or did the First Doctor impress them so much that they're inclined to forgive his actions time and time again(this would not surprise me... I always thought the First Doctor left Gallifrey to make a political statement and inspire his people to leave their comfort zone.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  17. #357
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    SECOND DOCTOR'S VISIT TO UNIT HQ

    This time around, I'm gonna skip the Continuity Advisor paragraph for obvious reasons, and instead focus on one of the most confusing Doctor Who scenes of all time: the introduction of the Second Doctor in this story. Unless you're into extreme fanwanking, skip this.

    It all starts with the Brigadier having a nice drink in UNIT HQ(apparently having regained his mojo between Mawdryn Undead and this), until an aged Second Doctor(we can ignore this since Jon Pertwee looks older too, but it is a factor in the Season 6B theory) makes his presence known and claims that for once, he was able to steer the TARDIS and arrive at the appropriate time.

    1) The Second Doctor piloting the TARDIS on his own is ludicrous. One of the main running themes of 60s Doctor Who was the Doctor's complete and utter inability to take the TARDIS where he wanted it to go, hence why he called the Time Lords to help send all the soldiers back to their time zones in The War Games.

    The Doctor continues to explain that he read about the Brigadier's upcoming speech and is here as the guest of honor. The two then banter some more and go outside for a walk after the Doctor's done criticising the decor of UNIT HQ.

    2) Even supposing that he just happened to pick up a newspaper that mentioned Lethbridge-Stewart's name, why would this incarnation care? I mean, he's only met the man thrice and purely on professional terms. Frankly, the Second Doctor would find it boring.
    3) The Second Doctor has only been in UNIT HQ once... in The Three Doctors. This and later lines would make it crystal clear that he at least does remember the events of that story. With the other incarnations, it's implied.

    And then the Doctor namedrops "the Terrible Zodin" and suddenly says "they were covered in hair and used to hop like kangaroos".

    4) This was apparently Patrick Troughton ad-libbing, but still... what on earth is he talking about?

    Suddenly, out of the blue, the Doctor announces that he's bending the rules of time and must leave with haste.

    5) Why bend the rules of time at all if his later incarnations could easily show up to that speech?
    6) Shouldn't this incarnation be terribly afraid of the Time Lords' intervention? You'd think they'd notice this sort of ting.
    7) Why this sudden urge to leave? What about the speech?

    Now, let's take into account the Jamie and Zoe scene and the Season 6B theory(in case you're unfamiliar, it suggests that the Second Doctor did not regenerate at the end of The War Games and had a number of Time Lord-affiliated adventures in a controlled TARDIS after that).

    If the Doctor was indeed working with the Time Lords during this time period...
    1) Seriously, why visit the Brigadier?
    2) It still doesn't explain his sudden hurry to leave or the nonsense about kangaroos.
    3) How did he even manage to show up anyway? Wouldn't he be either on some mission or Gallifrey? Unless he's on vacation or something , in which case, I refer you to my original question.

    BEST QUOTE

    "A man is the sum of his memories, you know, a Time Lord even more so." - The Fifth Doctor about his dissolving timeline.

    CONCLUSION

    So here we are again... back where it all started. Three and a half years ago, this was the first proper classic story that I watched. So it's only appropriate that I close this review with the same words I used back then: "Classic Who for the win."


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  18. #358
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    The second part of the Infernal Devices box set, A Thing Of Guile starts off slow and unassuming, but reveals its brilliance over the course of the story.

    WRITTEN BY

    Phil Mulryne, who also wrote the opening story of The Churchill Years(based on Ian McNeice's interpretation of Winston Churchill in Series 5) and a few Fifth Doctor stories.

    PLOT

    After saving the universe from the Horned Ones and foiling the Time Lords' misguided experiments, the War Doctor has become a prisoner of Cardinal Ollistra, who uses an electronic leash to ensure his allegiance whilst they investigate a secret Dalek base concealed from Dalek High Command itself...

    ANALYSIS

    When I first started this episode, I was quite surprised at how little it engaged me. The characters were needlessly sniping at one another(a major pet peeve of mine), the main plot seemed like a rehash of the earlier box set and the Trojan war horse analogy reminded me of Moffat's writing(his love for creepy poetry).

    It slowly became more and more interesting as we explored the asteroid and discovered the Daleks' renegade experiments(a clever reflection of the previous story) and then... the twist: the characters were MEANT to not get along pointlessly all along, because they were affected by Ollistra's psychic weapon, the Anima Device.
    To others, this may seem like an interesting twist, but to me, it was akin to Darth Vader's "No, I am your father." It instantly brought back all the memories of Clara and Twelve in Series 8, and any old modern day blockbuster, and rolled the trope on its head.

    And it of course helps, that the actual Dalek storyline(when we finally get to it) is also very interesting and rooted deep in classic Dalek lore.

    CHARACTERS

    John Hurt almost reminded me of Jon Pertwee's Doctor in this, with all the moralising and complaining. But apart from the Anima Device's effects, I was quite surprised that the War Doctor chose to spare the long-suffering Kaled mutant when he begged for death. I'm sorry for sounding insensitive, but it seems to me like euthanisation would not be out of this incarnation's vocabulary.

    The relationship between the War Doctor and Cardinal Ollistra grows ever more interesting. Here, the Doctor finds himself her prisoner, not ally, and it becomes more obvious how differently they approach fighting the Time War. Their acidic rivalry is one of my favourite things about this series and the way they keep surprising one another keeps the storyline constantly unpredictable and interesting. Jacqueline Pearce is of course, no stranger to conniving, villainous performances as her stint on Blake's 7(which I've yet to see) will prove.

    Captain Solex and Co-ordinator Jared from the previous story sort of take the companion role in this story, in the sense that they(and Ollistra) travel with the Doctor in this adventure. We also learn more about them and get a better sense of them as noble Time Lords twisted in different ways by the War: Jared devolves into a bitter coward(the Doctor defends him after his death by saying that as a bureaucrat, he shouldn't have been on the battlefield in the first place).
    Solex of course abandons morality in favor of survival, as his actions with the Technomancers proved. Here, he too shines in a more positive light as his discovery of the Daleks' awful experiments finally breaks his denial of the Time Lords' darker side.

    I also really liked Commander Trelon, played by Oliver Dimsdale. A Time Lord fan of the Doctor's, who really exemplified what that sort of character should be like: not Osgood, who becomes full of herself and wears his clothes, but someone who becomes a genuine down-to-Gallifrey hero following his teachings and sense of morality.

    NOTES

    *I'm getting really tired of all the "It's an Earth expression!" jokes.

    *Why is the Doctor made a prisoner anyway? I mean, doesn't Ollistra recognise that he just saved the universe(including the Time Lords) from destruction?

    *Perhaps it's due to the Anima Device, but the Doctor seems to show a remarkable lack of interest in the lives of those onboard the Tempest as the Daleks are attacking it. This may also be because of his hardened personality now, of course, but then he refuses to euthanise a Kaled mutant, so... I'm confused.

    *Although most of the story was retroactively improved by the Anima Device(not to say saved), I still found one thing really bizarre: the story follows a sort of B-A-C format, where it starts off in the middle of action, then cuts to several hours back in time until we get caught up with events and then it cuts to the future. I mean, what's the point? Was it just for the teaser?

    *Whilst it's understandable that the Doctor is sulking after being tied up with the artron leash, you'd still think he'd want to investigate the hidden, renegade Dalek base himself instead of letting Solex and Jared wander outside on their own whilst he hangs back in the TARDIS with Ollistra.

    *You have to love the "Eldritch worms" living on the asteroids. What a name.

    *Stasers can get "energy jams"? Really? That was the best you came up with?

    *Where exactly do the crew of the Tempest transmat to when they flee the ship?

    *Why on Earth would Trelon spitefully reveal to the Daleks that there are Time Lords on the asteroid?

    *Since the characters become separated in the Dalek base, we get a lot of the "talking to him/herself for the audience's sake" trope.

    *What exactly was the mutant Kaled made out of? I mean, he seemed to know everything about the Daleks and their experiments, so presumably he was once a Dalek, but in that case, why betray them and reveal everything to the Doctor? Surely he'd have some kind of leftover loyalty to his own race?

    *Did the Doctor take the Anima Device from Ollistra in the end? Because leaving it in her hands would be extremely careless.

    *During this review, I kept mis-writing the Anima Device as "the Anime Device". The latter sounds more horrifying to me.

    CONTINUITY

    1) During an argument with the Doctor, Ollistra reveals that the Anima Device is from the Omega Arsenal, at which point the Doctor says that some of those weapons should never be used. This is of course clever foreshadowing to The Day Of The Doctor, in which the War Doctor steals the Moment from the Arsenal. Not necessary, per se, but a natural tie-in regardless.

    2) Solex complains that the Doctor ruined the Time Lords' scheme to resurrect their soldiers, which happened in the preceding story. A completely natural reference, given that it just happened.

    3) Ollistra berates the Doctor for his actions on Vildar(planet, where the Doctor obtained the Annihilator from under the Time Lords' noses) and Aldriss(planet of the Technomancers). Same as the previous reference.

    4) We hear the original staser sound effect from The Deadly Assassin. That's just great.

    5) To make up for the gaps in Solex's history lessons, the Doctor quickly recaps the events of Genesis Of The Daleks. Makes sense, given the events of this story.

    6) The Kaled mutant reveals that Dalek scientists are attempting to think outside of conventional Dalek wisdom. This was alluded to in Doomsday, with the creation of the Cult Of Skaro, though in that story, the Dalek High Command were responsible for it. So, I'm gonna put this reference in the back-burner to see if the next War Doctor stories do anything with it.

    BEST QUOTE

    Whilst not original to this story, the Doctor's quoting of Odyssey at the beginning and end of the story is a nice, macabre touch.

    CONCLUSION

    Slightly middling, but still of a very high quality of storytelling. I am definitely looking forward to what happens next.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  19. #359
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    The Pilot is an enthusiastic introduction to the exuberant new companion, but with one of the most throwaway alien threats the series has ever introduced.

    WRITTEN BY

    Steven Moffat. Oh, Steven-Steven-Steven...

    PLOT

    Whilst on a secret mission on Earth, the Doctor and Nardole make friends with a school cook named Bill Potts, whose friend disappears into a strange puddle of water. Soon, the trio find themselves being chased by the shapeshifting liquid throughout the entire universe. But what does the shapeshifter truly want from Bill and can the Doctor shed his past once again...?

    ANALYSIS

    The start of this episode really impressed me. Moffat clearly has a lot of love for his new character, and her presence and the mystery behind the Doctor's latest ventures definitely gave the episode a fresh feel. His claim of being able to start watching the show from this episode is fairly true. I say fairly, because... well, there are still flaws.

    The big letdown in this episode is the storyline. We're presented with a number of mysteries like... what is the Doctor doing in the school? Why is Nardole there? What is inside the Doctor's vault? Who is Bill's crush? What does the puddle mean? And practically none of them are answered, leaving the rest of the season with quite a load to carry. There is no satisfying conclusion to the episode, and the realisation that the puddle merely wants a passenger is nothing short of a letdown.

    I mean... all that TARDIS travel and running about for that? Couldn't the Doctor have just figured it right there and then? The ending of this story really scuppered what was so far quite a lovely episode.

    CHARACTERS

    Peter Capaldi rocks(literally) as the Twelfth Doctor. All the awkward humor from The Return Of Doctor Mysterio is gone, and he is once again in that sweet spot between the grumpiness of Series 8 and the midlife crisis of Series 9. That being said, I'd still have preferred if he didn't a hoodie, but that's just my thing.

    Bill Potts is a bit too loud for my liking, but that's completely personal. Pearl Mackie is clearly very excited about the role and I have no actual problems with either her performance or character. And I very much appreciate that the episode didn't draw any attention to the fact that she's a lesbian. Very well done, Steven.

    Nardole... sort of works? He has a few funny lines and his role as the Doctor's butler is a very unique and interesting take for a companion, but I really, really, REALLY do not like his more naughty side. And his constant nitpicking of the Doctor's flaws got on my nerves. Please don't let him become another Clara.

    NOTES

    *So, apparently Nardole is a cyborg, which is pretty cool! I can picture the Doctor putting him back together Frankenstein-style. IT'S ALIIIIIVE!!

    *I love the meta commentary on giving the TARDIS an out of order sign.

    *Bill's story about fattening up a girl she liked with chips was quite clever and witty.

    *We should've spent way more time on Twelve's lecturing. It was the only thing I liked about Listen. They keep building up his skills and then what do we get? A few moments in a montage.

    *So, why exactly does the university let the Doctor get away with everything? Is the university going to be the Coal Hill of this season, because we definitely need to revisit it to answer some questions.

    *Small nitpick, but what happened to that nice fade effect for the names of the actors we had in Series 8 and 9 in the title sequence? The current one looks kind of cheap. Not to mention the repositioning of Capaldi's eyes.

    *How can a security door have a "friendly" lock that lets in potential companions willy-nilly?

    *Christ, I'm tired of Moffat's habit of giving people extrasensory perception when it comes to the Doctor. "You can smell the wind in their coats." Rubbish.

    *Twelve is apparently a horrible liar, which really gets on my nerves, because he's smarter than that.

    *When Bill discovers the water running, why doesn't she tell her aunt, just in case someone is intruding and she might have to call the police?

    *Let's be honest, the puddle is a Flood knock-off. Same fear factor.

    *The music cue from Series 5 as the TARDIS was revealed really got me. I'm honestly nostalgic for some of Murray Gold's stuff. PLEASE use the Master theme for John Simm's comeback(he has a Master beard now!!).

    *The toilet and kitchen jokes were dumb.

    *Nardole's "Human alert!" did get a chuckle out of me, though.

    *Is anyone else tired of the bigger on the inside puns?

    *Why doesn't the Doctor explain that the TARDIS translates things into English, so the acronym makes sense in the far more complex Gallifreyan language?

    *I know Bill has a crush on Heather, but it's really thick of her not to shout when her head emerges from the puddle on that faraway planet(is that the planet of the Ood?) and even more so to hold hands with her when the Doctor is frantically yelling at her to stop.

    *The Dalek cameo wasn't bad, per se, but their fear factor has sunk really low, hasn't it? I mean, the Doctor's now using them to fix his own problems.

    *When did the Doctor promise not to travel with a companion again? And who to?

    *Did some time pass before the Doctor materialised outside to invite Bill? I mean, he did say time made him change his mind...

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    1) The River and Susan pictures were pointless, sorry. We're done with River Song and the show has never bothered to introduce Susan Foreman.

    2) The Doctor holds his classic-era sonic screwdrivers in a jar and later throws one to Nardole. Utterly pointless fan service. He could've just given Nardole his actual sonic or at a strech, an Eleventh Doctor one. Or maybe Nardole could've used River's sonic, that would actually make sense.

    3) The Doctor plays "Pretty Woman" on his electric guitar, just like he did in The Magician's Apprentice. I don't even get the point of this reference.

    4) And for Mark Gatiss' amusement(or so I heard), the TARDIS briefly travels to the Movellan War depicted in Destiny Of The Daleks. WTF?

    5) Bill talks the Doctor out of memory-wiping her by asking how it would feel if someone did that to him... which of course happened in Hell Bent. With Clara Oswald. Groaaaan.

    BEST QUOTE

    "Imagine if time all happened at once! Every moment of your life laid out around you like a city. Streets full of buildings made of days, the day you were born, the day you die, the day you fall in love, the day that love ends, the whole city built from triumph and heartbreak and boredom and laughter and cutting your toenails, it's the best place you will ever be!

    Time is a structure relative to ourselves. Time is the space made by our lives, where we stand together forever. Time And Relative Dimension In Space... it means life." - The Twelfth Doctor's university lecture.

    CONCLUSION

    A charming, but flawed opening that pumps you up for Series 10, but also raises one too many questions.
    Last edited by rushy; April 16th, 2017 at 02:39 AM.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

  20. #360
    Lieutenant Colonel rushy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going Through Doctor Who (Spoilers all Eps aired on BBC/BBCA)

    Smile is a patient, atmospheric mystery episode with an unfortunately clunky ending.

    WRITTEN BY

    Frank Cottrell-Boyce, writer of Series 8's widely panned In The Forest Of The Night. This serves as his redemption.

    PLOT

    The Doctor and Bill take their first trip together to a future Earth colony that appears to be completely abandoned, save for the Vardy(emoji-based robots). Once they discover that the humans have all been killed in a typical machine takeover, the Doctor becomes adamant that they must destroy the colony to prevent any further hostile events. But is it the wise thing to do?

    ANALYSIS

    I really dig the majority of the episode, a wonderful callback to the best of 1960s Doctor Who, where the first part of the story featured the main cast on their own, exploring. For the first time in ages, we have a companion without pretense or lack of enthusiasm, and a Doctor who gets to exercise his brain, brilliant!
    The location filming is a visual feast on the eyes, and the setting is completely plausible as a futuristic, but also comfortable environment.

    However, the story completely deflates at the very end, in which - at a very fast rate - we find out that the colonists are still around, the Vardy are sentient, the Doctor mindwipes the Vardy to protect them and then quickly organises an arrangement to allow both the humans and the Vardy to co-exist.
    It's way, way, waaaaaay too fast. It's a whole other episode, squeezed into five minutes. The Vardy being sentient creatures on their own comes completely out of nowhere(Twelve's nasty habit of pulling plot points out of his arse returns in full force), and then we're supposed to buy that the humans can co-exist with these... erm... creatures... who inadvertently killed their family members and also have to pay them taxes?
    Aaaaand then we have to buy that the Doctor would just wipe the memories of the Vardy without any moral dilemmas. And THEN we have to buy that the Doctor didn't do it before he knew the Vardy were sentient to save them all a lot of trouble.

    Yeah, Frank just couldn't go without reminding us all that, indeed, he wrote In The Forest Of The Night.

    CHARACTERS

    In some way, it feels like this is the real beginning of the Twelfth Doctor's era, and the past two series were a false start. But it's true that of all the Doctors, Capaldi took the longest time really getting a grip on his character(or at least the writers did). But the way I see it, every new series Doctor has had at least one brilliant season(namely Series 1, 4 and 5). This HAS to be Capaldi's, it simply must be.

    Pearl Mackie continues to be an enjoyable presence as Bill Potts, though her constant questioning of minute details of the Doctor's life is sort of starting to get on my nerves(picture me scowling as she began extrapolating the Doctor's meaning in life from the TARDIS door panel).

    I give up with Nardole. Even if he does have a legitimate reason to be there, Matt Lucas is being completely wasted in this part. I'm just tired of seeing him now. And of course, next week he's barely going to be in it too.

    The Vardy were the highlight of the episode for me, I thought they were adorable, and easily the most memorable monsters since the Silence(that goes to show how creative new Who is with its monsters). When one started to wobble after the Doctor, I was just begging for it to become a new companion. Lord knows he'd be more useful than Nardole.

    NOTES

    *When Bill started to talk about having chairs around the console, I was like "yeah!". I've always wanted to have a little monorail around the console where the Doctor could comfortably sit down and spin himself to whichever controls he needs to reach.

    *I'd love to have one of those mood indicators, only where I can see it. I used to have a mood ring.

    *Food cubes! We're going all Star Trek this week... this colony could be straight out of the rebooted movie series.

    *No other race in the universe uses emojis! That's awesome.

    *The human colonists' steamy old spaceship gave me a huge nostalgia hit for the David Tennant days.

    *So, the Doctor tells Bill that they're in a trap and her response is "beautiful, though". Um, who cares about the decor if it's a trap??

    *Although it's sort of un-redeemed towards the end, I like how the Doctor ends up being wrong about the colonists not being there. He really needs to slow down with the assumptions.

    *I was about to ask why the Doctor couldn't just memorise the map(given his huge brain) when they revealed that he just wanted to keep Bill safe. That's really clever writing.

    *Okay, am I the only one who thought the Vardy were spelled "Vardi"? I think the latter looks much more dignifying.

    *The ending teaser into next week's episode is very First Doctor, I approve.

    CONTINUITY ADVISOR

    1) The Doctor tells Bill that he stole the TARDIS, because he felt like it(as seen in The Name Of The Doctor). I'm so happy to hear this version of events again. He's probably lying to hide the whole Hybrid thing, but frankly my dear, I don't give a... and yes, of course it's a fitting callback given that the two are just beginning to learn about each other.

    2) Nardole reminds the Doctor about the oath he made to stay on Earth and guard the Vault, both of which were first introduced in The Pilot. I can't wait to find out more, this sounds really interesting.

    3) The Doctor reveals to Bill that Earth will be evacuated in the future, and that he ran into a few of the ships. Of course the most notable case being in The Beast Below, where he ventured onboard the starship UK. That's some nice, logical continuity.

    BEST QUOTE

    "Look at this building. Look at it. You know what I like about humanity? Its optimism. Do you know what this building is made of? Pure, soaring optimism." - The Twelfth Doctor seems to like us again, wa-hey!

    CONCLUSION

    In spite of the clunky ending, this episode is a lot of fun to watch and pleasingly brainy.


    "Change, my dear. And it seems, not a moment too soon." - The Sixth Doctor.

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