Episode 36: The Evil of the Daleks

Standard

doctor_who_the_evil_of_the_daleks

Episode 36: The Evil of the Daleks
Second Doctor
Companions: Jamie, Victoria
Written byDavid Whitaker
Directed by Derek Martinus
Wikipedia Entry

Description
The Doctor and Jamie are forced to play a game of life and death in the Victorian age.

Evaluation
This another audio that I listened to instead of reading the adaptation. At about 18 minutes into the audio presentation I became distracted as I heard this playing in the background:

I originally heard Hold Tight! in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. In the film, it is played right before a violent, dramatic sequence that still leaves me breathless every time I watch it. I had to re-listen to this part of the audio presentation because I found myself singing along to the song and not paying attention to the story.

After the Doctor and Jamie say goodbye to Ben and Polly, they watch as the TARDIS is loaded up and shipped to an unknown location. They are later kidnapped and sent back to the middle of the Victorian Era. The Daleks are behind this kidnapping and force Jamie to submit to an experiment in which “the human factor” will be discovered. This unknown quality is what the Daleks believe to be the reason why humans have been able to continually defeat the Daleks.

The episode is a typical Dalek story in which the silly tin pots underestimate the power of human kindness and ingenuity. It’s not to say that the story is boring but there were moments that I felt were predictable. Jamie is a character with a good heart and will always lead the cause for good. The Doctor is clever and has the charm to fool the Daleks once again. Humanity is great but there are still those who would sellout for fame and money, which leads to their own destruction. My biggest worry about this serial was the introduction of Victoria. I hope she doesn’t become just the damsel in distress for future episodes, though I have a feeling she will.

The Lost in Time DVD set does have the second part of the episode available for viewing.

Overall, it is a solid episode. The acting and writing were spot on. It is a bit slow but the end is fantastic and I wish that the last part had survived.

Episode 31: The Highlanders

Standard

Doctor_Who_The_Highlanders

Episode 31: The Highlanders
Second Doctor
Companions: Polly, Ben, Jamie
Written by Elwyn Jones and Gerry Davis
Directed by Hugh David
Wikipedia Entry

Description
The Doctor and his companions land in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden; Scotland 1745.

Evaluation
Random note: Did you know that Diana Gabaldon is a Doctor Who fan and named her lead male character after Jamie? While I’m not a fan of Outlander, I thought the connection was fun. (I really tried to get into the book, but I wasn’t feeling it. I might try watching the show. With my crazed schedule of late, I’m not making any promises)

The story begins as the trio land in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden, which was the final uprising of the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart, also known as Bonnie Prince Charles.

“A few hours previously, the largely Highland Scottish troops of Prince Charles Edward, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, had drawn up their battle lines against the English and German Army led by the Duke of Cumberland, who were fighting for King George. What was at stake was the entire future of the British monarchy.”

For more information about the Battle of Culloden, here is a bibliography list from Wikipedia.

As the story unfolds, Ben, Polly, and the Doctor land in a cold, wet land. Ben immediately recognizes the weather as English-like weather. The problem is that they don’t take the moment to consider that it might not be the same timeline they originally came from. When a ten-pound cannonball lands near them, the Doctor knows the TARDIS has landed in a battle. Ben and Polly believe it to be a reenactment happening and run off to investigate. The Doctor, the cautioned participant for once, follows to ensure their safety.

Meanwhile, fleeing the battle is the Laird of Clan McLaren, Colin McLaren along with his children, Alexander and Kirsty, and the clan bagpiper, Jamie McCrimmon. Colin has been injured and the group is looking for shelter, fast. They come across an uninhabited  cottage; a cottage that had moments earlier been discovered by the The Doctor and his companions. Confusion occurs on both sides. As Ben and Polly hail from London, the McLarens believe them to be the enemy. Ben and Polly are confused as to why someone would want to attack them, still not realizing that they are in the past. The Doctor is just trying to call everyone down. Eventually, the McLarens allow the Doctor to examine Colin and Polly and Kirsty go off to fetch fresh water. Ben foolishly sets off a musket, allowing the Redcoats, who are searching for rebels.

The Doctor, Colin, Jamie, and Ben are captured and place in jail instead of being hanged because of nefarious plot by Solicitor Grey, who is the Royal Commissioner of Prisons. Grey has been shipping prisoners to the colonies, specifically Jamaica and Barbados; an illegal act that Grey hopes will provide him with generous funds. Meanwhile, Polly and Kirsty have a run-in with a British officer, Lt. Algernon Ffinch. They steal his money and, later, blackmail him to avoid capture.

The story ends with the Doctor and Ben enabling the prisoners to fight against their captors. Kirsty and Colin sail away to avoid capture from the English. Jamie accepts the invitation to travel with the Doctor, Ben, and Polly.

The Highlanders is a fun time travel romp. The characters were fun and the use of history was great throughout the story. As someone who is not as familiar with British and Scottish history as she might want to be, the overall story didn’t feel dumbed down and left enough for me to understand as well as provide enough of a lure for me to explore later.

Polly continues to be amazing. She’s fun, feisty, and not afraid to be tough and feminine. There’s a fun balance of this modern woman with Kristy, who is the daughter of Colin McLaren, the leader of the clan McLaren. At first I was annoyed with Kristy because of the way she is presented in the narrative. It’s unfair to compare Polly’s modern mentality with Kristy’s 1700s mentality. This is what Kristy has been taught and I believe that she has never had an example in which a woman could stand and fight before Polly appeared. Granted, I should just get off my soapbox and not freak out about a Doctor Who adaptation, but it bugged me so hence the mention. Still, it was fun to read the interactions between these two women and it provided a nice break in the story.

Poor Algernon Ffinch. While I may have glossed over him in the story explanation, he was a fun character to discover. A fob and an idiot, Ffinch is fodder for the story, but it’s fun to see him fluster around Kirsty and especially Polly. He has a happy ending in the end but he was also a nice break in the more tenser portions of the story.

Overall, it was a very entertaining story. I still adore Ben and Polly and their interactions. I love this sassy version of the Doctor. And I love the introduction to Jamie, a character that would continue to travel with the Second Doctor until the end of Patrick Troughton’s run.

Jamie, suddenly afraid of the strange looking object, hung back. He was going with these strange people into something he only dimly comprehended. Where would they take him? Would he ver see his native glen again?

As he hesitated, Polly turned back and grasped his hand. “Don’t be afraid,” she said, “it’s much nicer inside than it is out. There’s so many wonderful surprises waiting for you, you’ll see.”

Jamie allowed himself to be drawn through into the small police box. The door closed behind him and he saw to his astonishment the large, hexagonal, brightly-lighted interior of the time machine.

Special Notes
On the Lost in Time DVD boxset there is a listing for some surviving Highlanders footage. When I went to watch it, there was barely anything.

Historical Mentions and Notes
This was the last time the series would focus primarily on historical events until the Fifth Doctor episode of Black Orchid. 

The Second Doctor is shown to be very fond of hats

 

Episode 27: The War Machines

Standard

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 23: The Ark

Standard

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.

 

Episode 22: The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve

Standard

The Massacre

Episode 22: The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve
First Doctor
Companions: Steven, Dodo
Written by John Lucarotti and Donald Tosh
Directed by Paddy Russell
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
War of God
The Sea Beggar
Priest of Death
Bell of Doom
(All Missing)

Description
The Doctor and Steven are in a race for time in 1572 Paris.

Evaluation
This was a quick read. A nice historical story that didn’t really add to the mythology of the Doctor but a mere filler episode, or at least that’s what I took from the reading.

Well, I hate saying this, and I know I’ll repeat this on any lost episode, but seeing this would have been more interesting than reading the story. St. Bartholomew’s Massacre is an interesting piece of history and I felt that the adaptation grazed over the consequences and the historical significance for a thriller story. From what I’ve read in the Wikipedia entry, the ramifications of the massacre were shown more than the book version.

I wonder about Steven. He really hasn’t been my favorite companion. Granted, it’s not his fault as he had the task of replacing Barbara and Ian, the original (and most beloved) companions. Steven needs someone to balance his character. I’m hoping this will be Dodo in the future episodes.

Overall, the story is okay but I wish for a little something more.

Historical Mentions
It is hinted in the book adaptation, not the original telecast, that Dodo is descendent of the family of Anne Chaplet.

Episode 21: The Dalek’s Master Plan

Standard

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

Standard

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

Standard

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 17: The Time Meddler

Standard

The Time MeddlerEpisode 17: The Time Meddler
First Doctor
Companions: Vicki, Steven
Written by Dennis Spooner
Directed by Douglas Camfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Watcher
The Meddling Monk
A Battle of Wits
Checkmate

Description
Still reeling from the departure of his first human companions, Barbara and Ian, the Doctor finds himself in a struggle for control with a Time Meddler.

Evaluation
This is one of my favorite serials. Everything about this feels correct. The acting, the story, the episode pacing, everything was correct and perfect. Compared to the previous serial of The Chase, this is a far superior serial. It serves as a great introduction to a new companion. It’s also a great episode to introduce any new Classic Who fan to the series if they are merely curious about the program.

What’s really great about this episode is that it builds the foundation for Modern Who. We get a glimpse into the world of the Time Lords outside of the view of the Doctor. (Note that the Doctor is not yet named as a Time Lord yet but there is an understanding that the Monk and the Doctor are of the same species.) We get to see that there are different models of the TARDIS and different interpretations of the meaning of “interference”.

The Doctor is simply delightful in his interactions with the guest characters. The foundation that is built with Steven and the Doctor is fun and delightful. Overall, I think this was the perfect episode to present after the lackluster serials of The Chase and The Space Museum. I can’t help but wish the energy presented in this serial had been present in the previous two.

Historical Notes
This was the first introduction of the Meddling Monk, a fellow Time Lord.

Villain Introduction
The Meddling Monk

Book Evaluation
Like the visual presentation, the book adaptation is a tight, fun story that is highly entertaining. The characters and the action are well-balanced. The writing is crispy and the story flows quite well. I found that I read the adaptation quickly and was never bored with the prose.

In the book adaptation of The Chase, Steven is mentioned briefly as having escaped from the burning building, not dead as the Doctor, Barbara, Ian, and Vicki had assumed. The description of how Steven smuggles onto the TARDIS is brief but it does inform the reader that he is on the time vessel. The adaptation of The Time Meddler gives a two-page prologue which gives the reader a bit of a background of how Steven came upon the ship in the first place. It’s a great character introduction and I think it adds to the drama of the adapted storyline.

 

Episode 16: The Chase

Standard

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.