Episode 24: The Celestial Toymaker

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The Celestial Toymaker

Episode 24: The Celestial Toymaker
First Doctor
Companions: Steven, Dodo
Written by Brian Hayles and Donald Tosh
Directed by Bill Sellars
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Celestial Toyroom
The Halls of Dolls
The Dancing Floor
The Final Test
(Missing #1 – #3)

Description
A maniacal gamer makes trouble for the Doctor and his companions.

Evaluation
Okay, let’s discuss why the Celestial Toymaker hasn’t been back on Modern Who. I know I will encounter him again in audio adventures and various stories throughout the novels but the character hasn’t been back on TV and this needs to be rectified. Maybe it’s the use of the Mandarin costume (which should not be replicated because holy racism, Batman) but there has to be some way that the Toymaker comes to Modern Who. The character is fun and I would love to see Capaldi’s responses to the Toymaker’s snide remarks.

The entire episode is a series of games in which Dodo and Steven must play in order to win back the TARDIS. The Doctor is forced to play a separate game in front of the Toymaker. If the Doctor wins the game before Dodo and Steven reach the TARDIS, the Doctor actually loses and Dodo and Steven become dolls for the Toymaker’s amusements. The entire structure of the installments and novelization rely on the interactions between Dodo and Steven. Apparently, William Hartnell was on holiday during the shooting of installment two and three, hence why there are parts in which the Doctor has been silenced or you only see his hand.

Dodo and Steven make the story work well and there is a fondness between them that allows the reader/viewer to want to see them succeed. I’m glad that this book pointed out Steven’s constant rashness. There’s even a line in which Dodo is described as being “…irritated…(with)…Steven’s tough guy attitude…” Why was he written this way?  There are brief moments when his snarly attitude breaks free and I can see an opportunity in which he could have became my favorite, but then it passes and I’m left with the annoyed face. I want to like him but he’s a product of his time. (Not his character’s time but the time of the episode’s production.) Then again, Ian wasn’t this bad. Again, stomach through until the end.

The story itself is fun and light. The problem I’ve been having with some of these episodes has been the larger than life, intense storylines. The Daleks’ Master Plan nearly killed this blog as it became a drag to get through the storyline. Having recently finished the 9th series of Modern Who, I appreciate the balance of humor with serious with the placement of the episodes. I know that I’m not watching these classic programs in the manner that they were presented (a 30 minute episode once a week) but I can’t help but grumble. One idea that I might try in the future, once we’re past the First and Second Doctor with their missing episodes, is to only watch one part of the serial a day. That way I can process the episode as it was presented instead of binge watching the episode with multiple parts in one sitting.

The last installment of The Celestial Toymaker was fun to watch as it is available on the Out of Time boxset. The ending didn’t feel cheap and it did leave the possibility for the Toymaker to return in the future. (Please let the Toymaker come back for Capaldi’s next season. PLEASE!). The entire story was a lot of fun and worth the time and effort to find and read.

Historical Mentions
The Toymaker is played by Michael Gough, who would later play Alfred Pennyworth of the Batman films. He was married to Anneke Wills, a companion of the Doctor starting in Episode 27.

 

 

Episode 23: The Ark

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The Ark

Episode 23: The Ark
First Doctor
Companions: Steven, Dodo
Written by Paul Erickson and Lesley Scott
Directed by Michael Imison
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Steel Sky
The Plague
The Return
The Bomb

Description
Ten million years in the future, before the Earth is destroyed by the expanding sun, the Doctor and his companions meet the last survivors of the planet.

Evaluation
First of all, can we talk about how much I adore Dodo. What a breath of fresh air compared to Steven’s dourness. Her interactions with the Doctor brought a much-needed levity that had been missing since Vicki’s departure. It’s not entirely Steven’s fault; it’s just the way he’s been written. I liked the balance between Steven and Dodo and I hope that it continued in future episodes. (Though Steven’s interactions with the humans without the Doctor and Dodo were great.)

This episode was fun. It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst. I found myself distracted throughout the various parts but still able to pay attention to the plot lines.  There really wasn’t much of the episode that seemed to stand-out. The aliens, the Monoids, were great but I was distracted by the wigs.

In terms of the plot, I really liked the use of Dodo’s cold. I was reminded of The War of the Worlds as the Martians were defeated by the common cold. It brings up an interesting point in that we don’t always see the different implications the Doctor and his companions have with diseases and immunities. What airborne diseases are the human companions taking back with them when they leave the Tardis? Has this issue been brought up in future episodes? Does the Tardis have a decontamination process before each departure? Do companions have to go through a series of immunization shots before traveling? Questions. Questions. Questions.

This serial also had the best cliffhanger so far when the Doctor and companions find themselves returning after a considerable amount of time. There was some great world building in these four episodes and it was fun to watch the show play around with group and race dynamics. I can’t help but wonder how this episode concept would play out in modern Who?

And how wonderful is the last moments of the last episode? A disappearing Doctor? Yes and please!

Historical Mentions
This is the first adventure with Dodo Chaplet.

The first mention of the Earth’s destruction due to the Sun’s expansion. This concept would be later explored in the Ninth Doctor episode “The End of the World.