Episode 36: The Evil of the Daleks

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.

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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.

 

Episode 30: The Power of the Daleks

The Power of the Daleks

Episode 30: The Power of the Daleks
Second Doctor
Companions: Polly, Ben
Written by David Whitaker and Dennis Spooner
Directed by Christopher Barry
Wikipedia Entry

Description
As the Doctor emerges from his first regeneration, he finds himself in a battle for survival against his deadliest enemy.

Evaluation
I’m excited for when I can stop reading adaptations. It’s not to say that I don’t enjoy reading them but I’m finding it hard to maintain this blog as my concentration wanes with each written adaptation. It’s taken me six months to finally start reading the Second Doctor’s first story. I’d like to finish the Second Doctor’s adventures by the end of the summer or September at the latest so I can dive into my growing DVD collection. Must push myself in the coming months.

The story begins as the Doctor emerges from his first regeneration into the Second Doctor. Ben and Polly are understandably confused by everything that has happened and are quick to doubt the Doctor when he claims that he is still the Doctor. As the story progresses, Ben and Polly begin to believe the Doctor’s claims but only through trial and a lot of tribulation.

The adventurous trio find themselves on the planet Vulcan where a colony has been created. The Doctor is mistaken for someone called The Examiner. The actual Examiner had been killed mere moments of his and the Doctor’s arrival. The Doctor pretends he is this Examiner to discover the lay of the land and why the man had been assassinated.

What the Doctor discovers is something far more deadly: the Daleks have returned. Unfortunately, the Doctor not only has to deal with the threat of the Daleks but the greed and desires of some of the colony’s officials.

The overall story was fun and I could imagine being entranced if I had the opportunity to watch instead of read the program. In terms of the guest characters, why are humans so stupid? Well, not stupid, but our desire for power does tend to lend towards destruction. This is a serial about the power of money and how, if it isn’t checked, becomes far more important to safety or even common sense.

Despite the exploration of this common trope, the story was well written and it was fun and exciting to read once I pushed myself into the story.

Historical Mentions

A fleet of heavy transport aircraft and dark helicopters bearing the logo of UNIT – the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce – settled down later that day by the Cyberman saucer. A select team of men led by Lieutenant Benton of the English division of UNIT secured the saucer, but found no signs of life.

This was the first mention of UNIT that I’ve encounters so far. It should be noted that this adaptation was written in 1993 so this mention would have been tacked on to create continuity towards the Third Doctor. Sarah Jane Smith is also mentioned in this prologue.

The Doctor refers to his regeneration as a renewal.

According to the Doctor, at the time of his first regeneration he had been traveling for seven hundred and fifty years.

The Doctor produces a flute, one of the Second Doctor’s signature products, while searching for his diary.

The metal triangle the Doctor takes from the laboratory is similar to a piece that Susan took from their first adventure on Skaro.

 

Episode 14: The Crusade

The CrusadersEpisode 14: The Crusade
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Douglas Camfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Lion
The Knight of Jaffa
The Wheel of Fortune
The Warlords
(Missing #2 and #4)

Description
The Doctor and his companions are thrust into the war and politics between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade.

Evaluation
A solid and engaging episode that sadly is incomplete, thanks to the loss of footage. Overall, with the combination of the visual footage and the book adaptation, this was a fun story that should have had the missing segments animated.

Serial Evaluation
The serial was originally presented in four episodes. The first and third episodes still exist, while the second and fourth are only available through an audio presentation. Unlike previous missing episode presentations such as The Reign of Terror, there is no animated sequence to accompany the audio presentation. The serial, audio and visual, is collected in the Lost in Time set, which also includes footage from The Daleks’ Master Plan and The Celestial Toymaker. The best part about this presentation of The Crusades is that William Russell reprises his role of Ian Chesterton and introduces the footage in character.

Like with the presentation of Marco Polo, I can’t help but feel sad at the lose of footage. While the audio is engaging, the visual footage was fun and delightful. Bonus: I always feel a little giddy whenever William Hartnell starts his adorable little giggle.

Speaking of Hartnell, the fun chemistry that his Doctor displays with Vicki is touching. I’m a tremendous fan of Susan’s character but it’s fun to see a different approach with Vicki. Their interactions are some the best things about this visual presentation.

There’s also a hint of the war within the Doctor, specifically with the use of violence. While later incarnations will discuss their role in various wars, specifically the Time War, there is still a vague notion of that the Doctor has merely escaped or ran away from his people. When he discuss war with the Earl of Leicester, there are hints of the Doctor’s understanding of the true impact of war and how it has scarred his past.

This was the first serial that starred Jean Marsh, who would later play the character Sara Kingdom. Her portrayal of Joanna, King Richard’s sister is incredibly fierce and awe inspiring. While the part is small, Marsh brings a great deal of light and strength to the character. It’s fun to watch her stand her own against her brother’s plans.

Book Evaluation
The beginning of the story describes life within the TARDIS, how the companions and the Doctor relax between adventures. As much as I appreciate the newer Doctor Who story lines, I find these little bits of normality between the Doctor and his companions to be entertaining. There’s something so beautifully domestic in these interactions. I think it might that within these first story lines of this Doctor we are able to see his growth in character and begin to appreciate how these companion interactions have affected his outlook on the universe.

The book adaption really emphases a love story between Ian and Barbara; something that has only be hinted at in the past. It’s not distracting to the overall storyline but it can a little silly compared to how the characters interact on the screen.

One of the things that I appreciate within this adaptation is the exploration of Barbara’s character, specifically her growth as a strong female lead as she continues her companion adventures. The book discusses her use of wit, humor, and intelligence as she adapts to new situations. There isn’t an emphasis on her physical strength, which is a refreshing take considering how more modern audiences use the term strong-female character as one who must have a robust nature to match the physicality of male action heroes. Within the past decade or so, the definition of strong female has shifted to include those of use who don’t fit into the action-packed category. Women can be strong outside of physical strength. It’s nice to see positive example of this with the description of Barbara’s developing character. Barbara doesn’t have to be the physical type to save the day; her strength comes from her mind and it is within this role that Barbara’s character is actively celebrated.

Having said that, there was a part in this book that was never in the telecast; Barbara was lashed by the villain of the story. While it might make for a compelling storyline, I truly didn’t see why it had to be included in this adaptation or why it was even necessary at all. Keep in mind that Doctor Who was meant to be a child’s program; such plot devices seem barbaric to be included. Granted the show’s first episode did deal with potential killings in the era of cavemen.

Historical Notes
In her initial conversation with Saladin, she mentions past adventures such as The Web Planet, The Romans, and The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

 

Episode 4: Marco Polo

Marco Polo

Episode 4: Marco Polo
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Written by John Lucarotti
Directed by Waris Hussein
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Roof of the World
The Singing Sands
Five Hundred Eyes
The Wall of Lies
Rider from Shang-Tu
Mighty Kublai Khan
Assassin at Peking
(All Missing)

Description
At the roof of the world, the Doctor and his companions meet one of Earth’s greatest adventurers: Marco Polo.

Evaluation
This is one of the problems with watching the First Doctor adventures. Some of the episodes are missing. Marco Polo was a seven-part episode that entailed great costume changes and elaborate set designs. The audio track still exists as well as production stills and off-screen photos called ‘tele-snaps’. There are two different ways to enjoy the story. On The Daleks/The Edge of Destruction DVD there is a condensed version of the episode using the audio and the stills as a means to tell the story. There is also a book adaption published by Target Books. For the purpose of these two formats, this evaluation will be split into two.

Serial Evaluation
I really wish this episode has survived the great BBC purge. The audio presented on the DVD is only 30 minutes and only skims the surface of the story. Apparently there is a larger audio version of this available through BBC audio which I’ll have to seek out when I have a little bit more time (and money). The story entails the Doctor and companions coming into contact with Marco Polo on his travels to meet Kublai Khan. Marco wishes to take the TARDIS to Khan as a means to buy release so he may return back home to Venice. From there the episode is a struggle for survival through the caravan travel and a fight to regain access to the TARDIS. The companions make an impact on Marco and his traveling companions.

For what was presented in the 30 minute presentation, there’s also a discussion on a friendship that is formed with Susan and a girl named Ping-Cho. Much of their conversations stem from the fact that Ping-Cho has been engaged to marriage to a much older man to maintain relations with the warlord factions. It’s interesting to note Susan’s disagreement with how Ping-Cho has been forced to marry. There seems to be an underlining element of feminism that serves on the outskirts of some of the early Doctor Who story lines. It’s refreshing to see because Susan and Barbara are in perfect positions to be just pushed aside as the helpless females of the group. Yet, Ian and the Doctor are witness to their strength and acknowledge that they are vital part of their group.

Book Evaluation
The book adaptation was actually written by the same person who wrote the episode, John Lucarotti. It’s an incredibly short read for those of us who read fast. It’s still a short read for those who read slow as well. The pacing of the book reads like the episode installments in that there are moments in which the plot slows for establishment and then builds up to create tension. It moves in waves as each installment’s issues come to light, failure in the adventure leads to more exposition until finally a conclusion is created. I don’t want to seem as if I’m demoting the book because it clearly is an adaptation, but it was refreshing to see the tension build and imagine it as if it were an episode. Reading the novelization just enhanced my desire to see the episode instead of merely reading about the action.

The story is simple enough. As it was established in the 30 minute audio presentation, Marco Polo wants to keep the TARDIS and use it to exchange his freedom so he many return to Venice. The Doctor and his companions spend their time trying to convince Marco that they must let them leave as soon as possible. The Doctor, sneaky Time Lord that he is, plots and plans alternative routes of escape as the travelers move their way through Ancient China. There’s a sub-plot involving a warlord who wants to take over Kublai Khan’s power. The sub-plot hinders the Doctor’s plans, creating suspense throughout the story.

The ending has an interesting discussion on the source of power within our Ancient Histories. What does it mean to have power and how is power represented in everyday mundane interactions? Does power have a symbol and can leaders become great leaders by obtain objects or through their actions? Granted, these are elaborate questions for a conclusion presented in a limited amount of time. I couldn’t help but wonder these questions when we see the actions and thoughts of Kublai Khan as he interacts with the Doctor.

Overall, what was presented in the audio format was too short and left me wanting. The set designs looked gorgeous and the costumers looked elaborate. The book adaptation serves as a great example of what could have been. As more money had been poured into this episode than the previous one of The Edge of Destruction, it’s sad that one can not appreciate what looks like a stellar episode.

Historical Notes
N/A