Episode 35: The Faceless Ones

doctor_who_the_faceless_ones

Episode 35: The Faceless Ones
Second Doctor
Companions: Polly, Ben, Jamie
Written by David Ellis and Malcome Hulke
Directed by Gerry Mill
Wikipedia Entry

Description
The Doctor and his companions fight against a dangerous alien race.

Evaluation
I listened to the audio of this weeks ago and it had no impact whatsoever beyond the acknowledgment that I had listened to it on my commute to work. It’s not a bad story but I found myself bored and it was frustrating.

The serial begins with the TARDIS landing on an airport runway. As a plane lands the Doctor and his companions scatter. Polly sees a man murdered and runs to find help. She is captured as the Doctor and Jamie begin to investigate the crime scene. Ben is later captured. The core of the story involves the Doctor and Jamie trying to find and save Ben and Polly as well as fight the aliens that have kidnapped young travelers. A young girl, Samantha Briggs, becomes involved as her brother has been missing and she suspects it has to do with a suspicious travel company, Chameleon Tours.

The premise starts out fine but this was a serial that should have been edited to four episodes instead of six. This was Ben and Polly’s last story and they are barely in the narrative. Polly has a bigger part than Ben’s but with the introduction of the side character of Samantha, they’re both pushed aside and ignored until their final goodbye. With a quick look, I discovered that the actors, Michael Craze and Anneke Wills, were contracted up to the first two episodes. They’re ending was pre-shot and inserted. It’s a damn shame because I really like Ben and Polly. From what I’ve heard and read of their adventures, they have been charming companions and not nearly as appreciated as they should. As much as I have enjoyed Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor Adventures, I wish that Ben and Polly had been introduced earlier in the Hartnell era. They played off Hartnell quite well and it would have been a delight to see more of those adventures.

The Faceless Ones is an entertaining episode but only towards the end of the serial. Samantha Briggs was an interesting temporary character and I think she would have been a great traveling companion as she had great rapport with Jamie.

 

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Episode 27: The War Machines

The War Machines

Episode 27: The War Machines
First Doctor
Companions: Dodo, Polly, Ben
Written by Ian Stuart Black and Kit Pedler
Directed by Michael Ferguson
Wikipedia Entry

Description
On a visit to Earth, the Doctor discovers a super-computer who is creating War Machines intent on taking over the world.

Evaluation
I love this episode. I love it and wish we had more like it. At least more like it during Stephen’s run. The story is great. The character interactions are wonderful and the writing/direction is tight and beautiful. Love it. Love it. Love it. Love it!

This episode highlights the problems I have had with the Stephen era. I didn’t like the character and, honestly, I thought he was too negative for the series. Yes, he had some bright spots here and there but I never connected with him. With the new companions, Polly and Ben, I fell in love instantly. There was great chemistry with these two new characters and they worked well with the Doctor and Dodo. This new pair reminded me of a younger Ian and Barbara, which is what this series needed. Again, I felt that Stephen was far too serious and Dodo was never given the chance to be as light-hearted as she was in this episode. Even when the Doctor was interacting with Polly and Ben for the first time, it just felt right. I couldn’t help but have my heart swell with giddiness with the chemistry.

When the story moves to the party scenes, with Polly and Dodo mingling and meeting Ben, it’s a great representation of that time: carefree with the world of possibilities at their feet. It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of other worlds and the seriousness of important subjects. As I mentioned in The Gunfighters, there needed to be a balance, more light-hearted with the serious drama. This was the first episode in a long time that it felt that this balance had been achieved. This felt like a much-needed reboot and we’re all better off because for it.

The villain of the story, a super-computer, was brilliant. The War Machine devices were similar version of the Daleks, which was distracting. We’re never given an explanation of the alienness of the WOTAN computer. Was this secretly a Dalek invasion? Even with the distraction of the Dalek-like War Machine, I can see this type of story being played out in Modern Who. Speaking of Modern Who, the military presence in the third installment reminded me of UNIT. I know that the official version of UNIT wouldn’t happen until the Second Doctor’s run, specifically the episode The Invasion, but I can’t help but wonder if this is a precursor to UNIT. I’ll say more once I get to The Invasion, but this might be where the foundation for UNIT was created. An alien threat in which regular weapons are ineffective? A mysterious man who knows how to defeat the alien threat? Let’s set-up a taskforce to fight the baddies!

The Doctor is called Doctor Who a few times throughout the second installment. It’s a little strange but luckily it doesn’t last beyond this small scene.

Dodo’s departure was crap. The character deserved better than a footnote. The actress, Jackie Lane, had her contract end during the production and it was not renewed. It feels weak, though I don’t believe that Dodo was never given a real opportunity to shine. Quite a pity since she had such potential at the beginning of her run, even more so at the beginning of this episode.

Overall, despite some bumps and bruises, The War Machines is a solid affair and worth the effort.

Historical Mentions
This marked the last appearance of Dodo and the first appearances of Ben and Polly.

According to the episode’s Wiki page, this marks the last appearance of the St. John Ambulance emblem on the TARDIS. It will be not be seen again until the Eleventh Doctor’s run.

 

Episode 26: The Savages

The Savages

Episode 26: The Savages
First Doctor
Companions: Steven, Dodo
Written by Ian Stuart Black
Directed by Christopher Barry
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
This was the first time in which each installment had no title cards

Description
The Doctor visits an advanced society that is protecting a large secret.

Evaluation
This was an entertaining story. The overall plot involves a civilized society and a lower-class culture of “savages.” This is a power-play storyline that is similar to the various moral stories that were presented in the original Star Trek. What is a savage? Who determines the welfare of the greater society? Is a civilized world a better world when you consider the consequences? Are the savages really savages or are the “civilized” society the true villains?

The novelization handled the story well and I was curious as to how the citizens handled their changes in the coming years.

Steven’s casual dismissal of Dodo was irritating. “She always gets feelings likes that,” said Steven. “She imagines things.” I haven’t seen an example of Dodo being flighty or exhibiting hysteria. That Steven doesn’t want to listen to reason when everything looks “too perfect.” I was a little sad at Steven’s depature but I’m not going to miss his character. He was far too pushy and impatient for my liking. I think I’ll miss the potential that Steven could have been.

This is one of those novelizations in which I really want the original footage to be found. Great pacing, interesting dialogue, fun overall.

Historical Mentions
This was the last appearance of Steven Taylor.

 

Episode 21: The Dalek’s Master Plan

The Mutation of Time

Episode 21: The Mutation of Time
First Doctor
Companions: Steven, Katarina, Sara Kingdom
Written by Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner
Directed by Douglas Camfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Nightmare Begins
Day of Armageddon
Devil’s Planet
The Traitors
Counter Plot
Coronas of the Sun
The Feast of Steven
Volcano
Golden Death
Escape Switch
The Abandoned Planet
Destruction of Time
(Missing #1, #3, #4, #6, #7, #8, #9, #11, and #12)

Description
The Doctor faces his greatest enemy with the fate of the Earth in the balance.

Evaluation
Dear BBC,

Honestly guys…out of all the episodes to be destroyed, you had to choose the huge, massive, epic twelve part blow-out. It would have made this review a lot more easier if you had not deleted these episodes.

Sincerely,

Me, the annoyed viewer

I’ve been sitting on this review for a bit because I just can’t seem to commit to reading the second part of this adaptation. I don’t know if it’s because of its scale or because the story just isn’t connecting as I hope it would. I have some quotes and notes from the first part of the adaptation but this is one of those times that I just have to walk away. Maybe I’ll be able to come back and look at this installment with fresh eyes but I have to move on to the next episode. I miss talking about Doctor Who and this blog was a nice escape from my busy life.

There might be one reason why I’m having problems updating this blog beside the aforementioned busy schedule; the new Doctor Who episodes have simply drained me. There’s no life in the series anymore. You can see the actor’s trying but it feels like fan service instead of earnest storytelling. I miss the heart of the show, which is messing with the heart I had for the classic seasons. Talking with my friends about the program I have discovered that I’m not the only one who has this feeling.

So, the plan is to push through this feeling and start blogging again. I love the First Doctor. I love the adventure he presents and I love his companions (though Steven needs to tone down the sexist attitude ASAP). Thank you, Katarina for your sacrifice. I wish we could have more episodes with you. While the previous companions had many examples of how dangerous it can be to travel with the Doctor, you were the first one to show the audience that it’s not always fun and games.  Thank you, Sara Kingdom for being a badass. You were amazing and interesting and I wish we could have had duel adventures with you and Katarina. Thank you Bret Vyon. Your moral ambiguity was fun to watch and I wish we had more of your story as well.

And with that, let’s move on. Let’s begin that push towards the next chapter.

Historical Mentions
The only appearance of Sara Kingdom and the first death of a companion.

Episode 19: Mission to the Unknown

Special Note

Mission to the Unknown was originally a one-shot story that presented background information for the larger story, The Daleks’ Master Plan. This review will examine the book adaptation of Mission to the Unknown which has elements of The Daleks’ Master Plan within its narrative. Consider this post as Part I of a two-part series examining this epic chapter of the Doctor’s adventures.

Mission to the Unknown

Episode 20: Mission to the Unknown
First Doctor
Companions: n/a
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Derek Martinus
Wikipedia Entry

Description
An expedition from Earth discovers a deadly secret on a jungle planet.

Book Evaluation
I know that there have been times when I’ve read a Doctor Who adaptation and immediately thought, “Damn it, man! Why on God’s green earth did you have to destroy those tapes.” I probably should pre-apologize for how many times I’ll probably will mention this as we head towards the bulk of the Missing Episodes. This episode, which will be paired up with Episode 20, is one of those times in which I have feel very angry about the Missing Episodes. This would have been amazing to watch. I know that the audio still exists for this Episode and for Episode 20 but it’s not the same as having the full experience. I believe that is one reason why I haven’t updated in quite some time. I had thought about pairing the readings with an of the surviving audio adventures but it turn out to be too time consuming for someone with two jobs. Maybe in the future, but I’m anxious to get back to blogging, so no on the audio…for now.

So what can we say about the book adaptation of Mission to the Unknown. This is a strange thing in that Mission to the Unknown was actually a one-off episode in which it sets up the background for Episode 20. There’s no Doctor or no companions. There are humans exploring a planet but no connection to the Doctor until towards the end. In this book adaptation, it doesn’t start with this part but rather the after-effects of The Myth Makers. (And now you see why I wanted to push Myth Makers first instead of this episode.)

The adaptation begins with the point of view of Katarina, who served as a handmaiden for Cassandra, the Trojan prophetess. Before we go any further, I have to mention how much I really liked Katarina. There’s a part later on that I’m not happy with in how they treated this character but I have to mention that I admired her spirit. Katrina was the first companion of the Doctor’s in which her background was of the past as opposed to the present or the future. (Barbara and Ian were of the present timeline, while Vicki and Steven originated from future timelines. Susan could be considered neutral as she began her travels at the same time as the Doctor.) Even though Katarina possesses a more innocent mind due to her background, she is still a fighter and more than worthy to be aboard the TARDIS. It does get a bit tiring of how some of the “modern” characters will talk down to her like a child. She’s from the era of Troy, of Myth thrust upon a future setting. She’s doing pretty well considering the shock of the transition.

As we begin this story, the Doctor and Katarina are dragging Steven from the battle of Troy back to the TARDIS. Unlike the previous book adaptation, in which it is mentioned that Steven was fine as they left Troy, he has been wounded and it is feared that he might be in danger due to infection. The Doctor is worried about infection, while Katarina, who has seen wounds similar to Steven’s in her experience at Troy, is sure that Stephen is on his way to his death. As the Doctor sets course to a time of civilization in which antibiotics are more readily available, we now shift to a jungle setting, or the setting of the one-off episode call the Mission to the Unknown.

Let’s pause here and consider what it might have been like for the audience. Here they are expecting another exciting episode with the Doctor and they get this strange jungle episode in which men go mad and the jungle screams only add fear to those brave, or stupid, enough to explore. This entire portion is a great part of the book adaptation. It’s creepy, strange, and unworldly. I know that Doctor Who is a science-fiction program but because of the historical elements that are showcased in the show, sometimes that sci-fi portion is ignored. This portion combines the older sci-fi mentality and adds a bit of horror for a very entertaining read. I couldn’t help but consider Jeff Vandermeer’s recent Southern Reach trilogy which has roots in the weird fiction genre. There is a desperate struggle between the jungle and the human explorers only to discover that there is a bigger threat beyond the power of unworldly nature: the Daleks.

I know I’m repeating myself but I really liked this portion of the story. It sets up Episode 20 so well and provides a feeling of fear for the audience members. They know that the Doctor is about to face the Daleks in later episodes but as the jungle is a vicious force of nature, will the Doctor have more than one enemy in battle?

From here on in, the book adaptation becomes an adaption of Episode 20: The Daleks’ Master Plan, hence the need to make this a two-parted review. Except for the following notations, I will be pausing in this review and continuing to exam the rest of the adaptation in correlation with The Daleks’ Master Plan in the next post.

The thing that I really liked about this book was the various characters that were introduced and how the story began to play around with genres. At first it was a survival piece with the Doctor trying to save Stephen and the new character, Bret Vyon, who is trying to survive the jungle planet to send vital information about the Daleks back to Earth. The story will later morph into a spy/suspense thriller mixed with those sci-fi elements I touched upon previously. This marked the first time that Nicholas Courtney would play a role in Doctor Who. For those unaware of Courtney’s history with the program, he would later play the wonderful Brigadier Alistair Gordan Lethbridge-Stewart. The Brig is one of my favorite characters in some of the episodes I’ve seen from the Third Doctor. And it’s one reason why I’m anxious to get through some of these book adaptations so we can start our journey to UNIT. (I don’t want to rush my First Doctor adventures as I do love Hartnell but I realize I’ve been stuck in this era for a bit too long.)

The Daleks’ Master Plan also introduces Sara Kingdom, a great badass character played by the amazing Jean Marsh. There’s a great tension between Vyon and Kingdom that plays out really well in the book. And it’s something that I look forward discussing in the next post.

Episode 20: The Myth Makers

Special Note

This is the one and only time that I know of so far in which I will skip a serial and move on to another. The episode Mission to the Unknown is an anomaly. It’s a one-shot episode that doesn’t star the Doctor and provides background for a serial that doesn’t happen until after The Myth Makers. I would have reviewed it first had there been any footage left. Alas, this is one of those missing episodes. I thought I would try to read the novelization for the one-shot but it’s mixed as a two-part adaptation with The Daleks’ Master Plan. When I attempted to start reading the Mission to the Unknown adaptation, it mentions Katarina, a companion that is introduced in The Myth Makers. With this in mind, I decided that the best option would be to skip Mission to the Unknown for now and push ahead to The Myth Makers.

The Myth Makers

Episode 20: The Myth Makers
First Doctor
Companions: Vicki, Steven, Katarina
Written by Donald Cotton
Directed by Michael Leeston-Smith
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
Temple of Secrets
Small Prophet, Quick Return
Death of a Spy
Horse of Destruction
(All Missing)

Description
The Doctor and his companions find themselves in the middle of the Trojan War.

Evaluation
A random Google search for
The Myth Makers lead to a wonderful discovery. Some lovely person had cut and pasted the audio transcript of the series with the remaining footage of the episode. While it is nowhere near the level of reconstruction that has been seen in the professional BBC releases, it’s still nice to have something to view instead of nothing at all.

And this is why I love the Internet.

I really wish that I had watched these installments before I had read the novelization. This was a vastly entertaining story. The characters were delightful and the overall story arc was intriguing. I even wished that the story just revolved around the Trojans instead of the Greeks merely because of the comedic exchanges between Paris and Cassandra.

This was also an interesting serial because it felt as if this was the first time we see the Doctor face the consequences of history. With The Aztecs, the Doctor and his companions understand they are merely observers of history. In any of the historical episodes (Marco Polo, The Reign of Terror, The Crusades, The Romans and The Time Meddler), the Doctor may play a part in history but often it is within the sidelines or as the potential carefree participant. The Doctor’s companions often find themselves in the thick of the adventure, seeing first hand the various tragedies in history The Romans is a fine example of this when Barbara and Ian are sold into slavery while the Doctor and Vicki find themselves on a vacation with Nero. With The Myth Makers, the Doctor is forced to design and build the Trojan Horse. He is forced to face the slaughter of the Trojans by the Greeks. He is shocked and distressed by the entire affair.

I can’t help but consider David Tenant’s tenure as the Doctor, specifically in the episode, The Fires of Pompeii. He is forced to play a vital part in history, setting in motion the deaths of thousands of Pomeii citizens. He’s devastated by his actions but they are necessary for the noble good. The Doctor faces the same dilemma in this episode, having been forced to concoct a plan to finally end the Trojan War. I don’t know if that was the intention of the writers but it works and it’s worth noting.

This episode was a little heartbreaking as well because it features Vicki’s departure. Having appreciated Maureen O’Brien’s portrayal of the character, I was sad to see her character leave the TARDIS. But what a way to leave as a part of Greek Mythology/History; becoming Cressida and falling in love with Troilus. It’s a different interpretation to the myths and poetry produced about this era and it’s fun to watch.

But when one companion’s departs,  another companion enters. I’m still baffled by this idea of an introduction. In the last installment of this serial, jealous Cassandra assigns a handmaiden, Katarina, to watch over Vicki, spying on her movements. When the Greeks attack Troy, Katarina, follows Vicki towards the TARDIS. Katarina later finds Steven in the battle areas and brings him back to the Doctor. She ends up staying in the TARDIS, becoming a new companion as Vicki becomes Cressida permanently, choosing to stay for love; quite like Susan once did in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

Here’s the problem with this entire Katarina business. There is no mention of her and then BAM! THERE SHE IS and now she’s part of the narrative. The reconstructed serial that I was able to watch for these installments had VERY limited footage, so I don’t know if she was in the background for any of the other Trojan scenes, but it feels weird to not have her part of the program if she was to be a new companion. Granted, I do have some knowledge of this character and I understand that she won’t be staying long in later episodes….….but come on! I will admit that maybe I’ve become spoiled with Nu! Who in which new companions have an episode devoted to their introduction. (Then again, Vicki had a huge episode to her introduction. Steven had the tail end of an episode for an introduction but it was established pretty quickly of who he was and what was his motivation to join Team TARDIS)

Overall, I really wish I could have seen the full version of this episode. While the audio tracks are fun for at least gaining some understanding of the presentation, the full experience would have been more intriguing. I pre-apologize for the previous statement because I have a feeling I’m going to be saying that a lot as we head towards the Missing Episode Eras. Oh, what could have been, what could have been…

Book Evaluation
The Myth Makers is a strange adaptation. This story took me a long time to finally finish because I just couldn’t get into the storyline. I attribute my lack of enthusiasm with this adaption to why it has taken me so long to update this site. (That and other life things) My one regret with this installment was that I found the fan reconstruction after I had finished the adaptation. I believe it would have been more helpful in pushing me to finish this story earlier than later.

I was about a fourth into the book when I realized what my issues with the narrative; Homer as the narrator of this story. The Homer depicted in this story is written with a modern voice instead of one resembling his various works. Take this quote for example:

“…but Steven had elected to climb into a small tree, where he looked ridiculously conspicuous against the rising moon, rather like a ‘possum back on the old plantation. And the hound-dog had him in no time at all.”

Huh?

Now I know I don’t possess the knowledge to be an authentic Greek scholar outside of the magical world of Wikipedia, meaning I don’t know what types of plantations the Greeks might have had or if they hound-dogs or ‘possums, but this reads as if Homer is comparing Steven’s situation with one resembling some form of an  American Southern comedy. It doesn’t fit with the setting of the story.

The problem with this adaptation is that the author felt the need to have a narrator. There was no narrator in the original broadcast. Why was there one needed here? It’s a frustrating question because the author of this adaptation is the same author who wrote all four installments of this serial.

The different shifts between story-lines (Greeks vs. Trojans) did not need a constant narrator to discuss the character’s actions or histories. There should have been a third person narrative, which would have worked out fine as it has in previous adaptations. I found myself ignoring or skimming the parts in which Homer was discussing his interpretation of the events. I was more engaged when the focus was on the characters of the story.

The story itself, once you remove the Homer aspect of the tale, is quite engaging. This is one of those stories that I wish the full visual episodes were still available. I feel grateful for the fan audio reconstruction but it’s really not the same thing.

In terms of the differences between the books and the visual broadcast, Steven is injured in the broadcast, which leads into the next episode. The ending of the book glosses over the battle sequences and Vicki’s departure. There is still great dialogue between the Trojan characters, but there is a minor focus on Helen and her role in the entire war/affair. There’s part of me that wishes that the book adaptation would merge with the visual broadcast to give the viewer a larger, overall vision of the Trojan War.

It should be noted that Katarina is barely mentioned throughout the book until the end, similar to her introduction in the visual broadcast. Again, this is the part where I lament about missed opportunities.

Both versions of the story have merits just as they have misses. Yet, they do complement each other. It would be in your best interest to watch/read them closely together.

Episode 16: The Chase

The ChaseEpisode 16: The Chase
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin and Douglas Camfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Executioners
The Death of Time
Flight Through Eternity
Journey Into Terror
The Death of Doctor Who
The Planet of Decision

Description
Fleeing from the Daleks, the Doctor and his companions find themselves being chased through time and space.

Evaluation
I liked this episode and then I was deeply annoyed by this episode. The initial premise of this serial was interesting; Daleks chasing the Doctor throughout time and space. Yet, the serial only goes about fifty percent in the effort/presentation. Some of The Chase scenes involved historical scenes that could have been edited and pushed for four parts instead of the longer six parts. The pacing is off and I felt bored at some times which should have been the opposite effect. The best part about the historical Chase bits was the Peter Purves scenes in New York. It was quirky enough that the sequence could be as long as it was.

I thought the opening sequence with the Time-Space Visualizer was very interesting because it reminded me of the Guardian of Forever in the original Star Trek series episode The City on the Edge of Forever. A quick Wikipedia search led me to discover that this particular Star Trek episode premiered in 1967, two years after this episode of Doctor Who aired. I can’t help but assume that writer of that Star Trek episode, Harlan Ellison, might have been a Doctor Who fan or was aware of the program.

The first part of the serial should have been the benchmark that the rest of the installments should have achieved. There is a great suspense to the first episode with the companions being separated from each other and the TARDIS. The first time that Barbara and the Doctor sees the Dalek emerging from the sand is chilling. It serves as a reminder that these creatures are horrifying and worthy of being one of the Doctor’s greatest enemies.

One of the problems that I have with this serial was that there are many “convenient” moments within the episodes that explain how the Doctor is being followed or how he escapes. While it’s fun to see these technical aspects of how the TARDIS operates, I can’t help but be annoyed. This feeling comes up again with the double Doctor plot. While the clone robot Doctor plot was fun to watch the manner in which it was presented was a little laughable. The voiceover from the fake Doctor was not lip synced very well and the fake Doctor was far too skinny to be an exact replica of Hartnell. I can’t help but wonder why they didn’t just use Hartnell for those scenes.

The final battle scene with the Daleks and the Mechonoids was a great ending. I feel that the beginning episode and the last episode were the strongest parts of the serial. The installments in the middle should have been edited to fit within these exciting episodes.

DVD Note: I usually don’t comment on the special features of the DVDs but the third disc of this DVD set has this great documentary about Daleks. “Daleks Beyond the Screen” Highly recommend.

Historical Notes
The cowboy character at the Empire State Building was played by Peter Purves, who would later play Steven Taylor, the new companion introduced in the last part of this serial.

This is the second time that Ian has destroyed one of Barbara’s cardigans, having destroyed one to use as guide through the Space Museum.

Book Evaluation
I found the book to be a little bit more fun in terms of back-story than the serial. In terms of storytelling, the serial is better but not by much.

In terms of the back-story, this almost felt like an encyclopedia for all things early Who. Okay, maybe not that extensive but I found myself writing down little things that I found interesting if I were ever to create such encyclopedia.

Things of note:

  • When the Daleks discuss their greatest enemy, there is mention of how the Doctor has changed his appearance many times over the years. While this adventure was set in the First Doctor’s adventures, I can’t help but wonder where the Daleks were in their timeline in relation to the Doctor’s timeline.
  • The book mentions that is almost 750 years old but had yet not reached his first regeneration.
  • Vicki mentions that in her timeline on Earth there had been work towards inventing a machine that would allow historians and scientists to tap into the Time Vortex to witness and record events of history. It should be noted that Vicki stems from the 25th Century. I couldn’t help but think of Captain Jack Harkness and the Time Agency of the 51st Century. It’s interesting to note the evolution of the understanding of time and how it affects science work throughout Earth’s history. As the humans were just beginning to understand the Time Vortex in the 25th Century, how long did it take before the Time Agency of the 51st Century to be a full functional time travel entity?
  • Often times the Doctor displays a great deal of arrogance that jeopardizes his companions. While this a past issue with the Doctor, and will be for the future incarnations as well, it’s distressingly annoying to read. I do realize that this is more of a youthful issue with this incarnation but it makes the Doctor seem entirely too careless when his companions’ lives as well as his own are on the line. This is made even more apparent when Vicki is left behind at the The House of Frankenstein, forced to fend for herself, and to sneak onto the Dalek vessel in order to regroup with her fellow travelers.
  • The book explores a lot about the technology of the TARDIS and the Dalek ship, particularly with one scene in which Vicki is trying to make contact with the TARDIS using radio transmissions. The Daleks also create a replicate Doctor. Since I have only begun in my Doctor Who viewing adventures, I can’t help but wonder if this is attempted by the Daleks later in their encounters or is this a one-off attempt?
  • Steven discusses a great expansion period that Earth experiences in the future but were distracted by the Draconian conflict and then the Third Dalek War.

In terms of the character development, I think the serial presentation is the better of the two in that showing the emotions the Doctor tries to hide when Ian and Barbara leave is more impactful than how the adaptation presents the scene. The book adaptation left me feeling that it was a mundane exit as opposed to the serial in which I found myself crying and hugging my couch pillows. I do appreciate how much sass Ian has when he talks to the Doctor. The Doctor is never has forthright as he should be with information and can be condescending when he explains things to his human companions. Ian retaliates with sarcasm and wit which irritates the Doctor is the most amusing fashion.

 

Episode 10: The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Dalek Invasion of Earth

Episode 10: The Dalek Invasion of Earth
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
World’s End
The Daleks
Day of Reckoning
The End of Tomorrow
The Waking Ally
Flashpoint

Description
The Doctor and the Daleks face off for the fate of Planet Earth.

Evaluation
I know I’ll repeat this again in the end but this episode is completely brilliant. The characterizations, the story, everything was spot on. It was also the first time that filming was conducted outside of the studios. The empty city of London was a wonderful bonus for the story, showcasing the terror of a planet in ruins. Granted, there are always some cheesy aspects of the production. There’s a small animation sequence towards the end that amused me but as it fit with the storyline quite nicely, I didn’t think too much about it.

The acting skills of all of the cast continues to be impressive. The facial expressions of Ian and the Doctor at the end of the first installment was breathtaking, even more so as the horror of their situation becomes apparent for both the cast and the viewer. There’s hints of the future Doctor in the second installment. Ecceleston was fantastic in that he would always be quick to the chase and was annoyed when no one else was. Hartnell’s Doctor begins to showcase this when he dismisses a fellow captive, pushing him aside when he continues to blather about without adding anything useful. The scene is a delight and wonderful for those who have come to Who first with the reboot and later for the early episodes. (And like many Doctor Who episodes, it never quite works out like you think it will).

This comes up again in the later part of the episode when the Doctor stands confident and strong as a we see through the view of a Dalek his attack against the humans and the Time Lord. And like many future adventures of the Doctor, we find that it’s because he took a chance, a gamble, and won. This, again, begins to push the idea that the Doctor has moved from a runaway traveler to a man who will fight for injustice in the universe.

I was initially worried about the Susan/David relationship but there’s genuine chemistry between the two characters that tugs at the viewer’s heartstrings. Even when the Doctor is confronted by David’s respect for an elder’s opinion, there’s a sense that David is attempting to impress a potential in-law. The entire sequence is adorable. The ending was very emotional and more prove that Doctor Who is more about heart than just science fiction.

Barbara’s side story continues to show her strength as a character. One of the best scenes in this episode is when Barbara pushes through a Dalek barricade using a fire truck. When Barbara and Jenny, one of the fighters against the Daleks, are captured in the middle of the fifth episode, the woman who sold them out remarked that they would have been captured eventually. It was only because of Barbara’s continued belief of good character that is her downfall. It’s because of moments like that this that drama of the traveler’s situation becomes heartbreaking. Survivors are shown to be pitted against each other just for a chance to live. People will sell out each other just for a can of food.

The idea of using the Earth has a spaceship is quite brilliant. The question that I can’t help but ask is why did the Daleks choose Earth as their primary target? It’s not something that is discussed in the episode and only because I have knowledge of future episodes do I have a small understanding of their reasoning. I wonder if Barbara and Ian ever realized their role in the Time War that would consume the universe before the Ninth Doctor emerges.

On a side note, the robomen look like early versions of Cybermen. I can’t help but wonder if they were the inspiration; even more so when David mentions that there is a transfer process from human to robomen.

Overall, this episode is one of my favorites. The story and characters are engaging. The impact of this episode has a ripple effect to future episodes in regards to Daleks, companions, and the role of the Doctor as the protector of the Earth.

(PS: My favorite moments will always be the humans against the Daleks. You’ll know what I mean when you watch the last episode.)

Historical Notes
Thanks to the discs on their backs, Daleks can now move without the use of magnetization on metal floors.

The Dalek Supreme has a pet called the Slyther, a nasty creature that attacks Ian and Larry.

Susan’s last adventure with the Doctor, Barbara and Ian. She stays with David to rebuild Earth and to create a life for herself.