purplecat: The  First Doctor (Who:One)
It occurred to me, as I was watching this, that we have a surprising number of Dalek stories left to view. I went and counted and a full quarter of the remaining stories (including this one) are Dalek stories. I guess we'll see if they get spread out or cluster.

At any rate, when viewing The Daleks' Masterplan there was a certain amount of confusion about which Dalek-Chase-Story-Starring-Peter-Purves Tame layman had already seen. I thought it was probably this one. He remembered some of this (so I think I was correct) but he also got confused on several occasions while watching with the other Dalek-Chase-Story-Starring-Peter-Purves.

Famously (for a value of famously that means "among certain Doctor Who fans") Peter Purves, who has a comedy role in one episode of The Chase, so impressed the production team that they brought him back two weeks later to become a companion. I can only think that it was his personality not his performance that impressed them because Morton Dill (from Alabama) is really not a great performance, even if you forgive the fake American accent. Steven Taylor, on the other hand, is pretty watchable from the get go. It is a shame that after the first 5 minutes of the next story his toy panda mascot is never mentioned again, because we became quite attached to it.

The Chase does not have a great reputation and its easy to see why. The format, in which The Daleks pursue the Tardis through time and space encountering the crew in a variety of locations, feels like an attempt to get out of any kind of detailed plotting in favour of a few set pieces. The Daleks, while not as reduced to comedy villains as some fan commentary had led me to expect, are a bit on the comical (utilising several different chants the effect of which is not to make them seem more chilling) and useless side (getting beaten up by a robot Frankenstein at one point). However having gone into this with low expectations I found it perfectly watchable. I'm not as big a fan of Ian and Barbara as many people are, but I do like Vicki, who has a number of nice moments here and who's relationship with the first Doctor is charming and so I was quite happy to watch this Tardis team just having vaguely random short adventures in time and space. Some of the sequences were more forgettable than others but the chase format, while hackneyed, at least kept things moving along.

There is a sequence where the Daleks construct a robot version of the Doctor in order to "infiltrate and kill". We were very interested by the places in which the duplicate was played by William Hartnell and where he was played by Edmund Warwick. This was obviously not determined only by when both characters had to be in shot at the same time, so presumably also depended upon some of the almost "as live" production which meant Hartnell was somewhere else in the studio at that point.

The final two episodes introduce the Mechanoids who, allegedly, were at one point intended as a recurring monster. It was interesting to contrast them with The Daleks. They are clearly more unwieldy, seeming to move more awkwardly around the set. One of the paradoxes of the Daleks is that they work in spite of (or perhaps because of) the sink plunger. The Mechanoids had little arm like things that while less ridiculous in principle, looked a lot sillier in practice. Mostly the Mechanoids served to highlight the mysterious genius of the Dalek design - they did have a very pretty city though.

This is definitely not a story I would recommend trying to view in one sitting, but as a series of 25 minute episodes spread out over a period of time, it is surprisingly entertaining. You have to let it roll over you as slightly mindless entertainment, but it manages not to be dull, has its moments of charm, and is saved by its variety of setting and plot.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)

A Doctor Who version of one of those grid based logic problems.  I don't really have the enthusiasm to transcribe the clues without knowing someone would really like a transcription, but please feel free to drop a comment if you would like them transcribed.

From Tides of Time Trinity 1991. Credited to Mark Dunn who, I'm fairly sure, won't mind me sharing.
purplecat: The Eighth Doctor (Who:Eight)

Paper Doll of the Eighth Doctor in his Night of the Doctor outfit
The Eighth Doctor gets shoes!


Also, I think I may be getting the hang of this (7 doctors after I decided to stop leaving white bits). Some white outlines are left, some have been removed.
purplecat: The second Doctor reading his 500 year diary. (Who:Two)
From The Web Planet to The Web of Fear: two stories which have remarkably little in common beyond the word "Web" in the title.

One thing the do have in common though (as well as the word "Web" in the title) is having been novelised early and well. To be honest, the novelisation of The Web of Fear is one of Terrance Dicks' 120 page jobs, but it is gripping and terrifying (at least if you are 9 years old). When, in 2013, all but one of the episodes of The Web of Fear were found, along with all of The Enemy of the World, it (of the two) was most anticipated and there was something of an air of disappointment once it was actually available. The memory, people felt, had in this case cheated.

For my birthday in 2013 I had a party on the 23rd November. The original plan had been to watch about three Doctor Who stories including the anniversary special, but when The Web of Fear was found I extended it earlier in order to watch this as well. To be honest, like many people, I think I was a little underwhelmed.

This time was very different. Oddly, tame layman recalled nothing of the earlier viewing (maybe he was in the kitchen making supper?) and he was genuinely gripped in the early episodes, and genuinely surprised and pleased when the Brigadier put in an appearance. Frankly the first two episodes are as gripping as my memories of the book suggest. It is difficult to tell with the third episode which consists only of telesnaps. The fourth is basically padding. There is a lot of running around shooting at yeti and a lot of the characters the story has been successfully building up are rather summarily bumped off, leaving a much smaller core group to carry the final two episodes. I suspect it is this fourth episode that is at the heart of the diappointment. It is ambitious for the 1960s but I suspect the collective imagination had built up the running fights through the streets of London into something impossible to realise at the time.

This feels eerily like a UNIT episode. I'm not sure if the producers already had UNIT in mind when creating it, but it has that feel of The Invasion and some of the early Pertwee stories, where the military have a much larger and more obvious presence. On the whole I think the story benefits from this. There is more excitement and more of a feel of realism (give or take Yeti in the London Underground, obviously) than in many Doctor Who stories.

The character work is often excellent. Anne Travers is a stand out - not only one of the show's first female scientists (a character type it was to lean into heavily for the next five years or so) but one of the better examples of the genre - able to stand up for herself, level headed, and equipped to help the Doctor. However the Brigadier, the unfortunate "Staff" (Sergeant Arnold in the novel but referred to by everyone as "Staff" here), Evans the cowardly but clever (professionally Welsh) Private, even Blake and Weams (two largely red-shirt characters) have a distinctiveness and life to them that mean you don't get the various soldiers confused with each other.

Rewatching this felt a bit like rediscovering the story. I'm not sure what went wrong in 2013. Maybe watching it all in one go was a mistake. But this took me back strongly to reading The Web of Fear at age 9 and experiencing the thrill of the Yeti in the London Underground.
purplecat: The Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria. (Who:Jamie)

Jamie and Victoria running away from a Yeti.

This is not, I believe, actually a shot from The Abominable Snowmen but in fact a mocked up photo-shoot for Doctor Who's Tenth Anniversary (though I could be wrong about that).
purplecat: The Eighth Doctor (Who:Eight)

Eight Doctor Paper Doll with a green coat, sonic screwdriver, but no shoes
But still has no shoes.


I've been a little snippy about some of these dolls recently, so I shall pause here to note that this coat properly covers the shirt sleeves underneath and that, in general, I have no complaints about this outfit at all.
purplecat: The  First Doctor (Who:One)
I was pretty wary going into The Web Planet. I was fond of the novelisation as a child, as were many people, but since its release on video it has not enjoyed a good reputation. 1960s Doctor Who's most ambitious attempt at creating an alien world seems to have been generally viewed as slow and marred by costumes that illustrate clearly what happens when ambition is greater than ability.

I actually thought it was fascinating in lots of ways though there are definitely places where it is both incoherent and/or slow.

I think it is the ant-like Zarbi whose costumes I have most often seen derided, but I thought they were actually the best of the four alien races on show. They look a lot less like men in ant suits than I was expecting. The butterfly-like Menoptera do look like men in suits but are no worse than a lot of Doctor Who aliens. I liked the attempt that had gone into giving them distinctive body language and the wire-work as they flew around (albeit in relatively few scenes) was impressive. The Larva Guns do look a bit like a stage costume but are quite cute - Tame Layman wanted one at any rate. The underground Optera are the weakest of the four and look as if they are made out foam. This is not helped by the fact they jump rather than walk - frankly the story would probably have benefitted from excision of the whole Optera sub-plot. Maybe Ian could have banged his head for a couple of episodes and William Russell gone on holiday.

So the costumes are a range from poor to surprisingly effective. But the sets and sound design are astounding. It is still very theatrical in feel but the whole thing is genuinely successful at creating a strange and alien feel. I'm not sure about the effect created by smearing vaseline on the camera lenses for the outdoor sequences. Tame Layman was very impressed when I explained it to him. Sometimes it definitely added to the eery feeling of the story but at other times, frankly, it did just look as if someone had smeared vaseline on the lenses. But really, apart from that, I thought there was a sense of the alien here that I'm not sure exists anywhere else in Doctor Who.

While the story is quite slow, I'm not sure that's a huge problem initially. It needs to be fairly slow in order to show off the alien world, but by episode 6 it is beginning to outstay its welcome - tame layman suddenly lost interest about 5 minutes into the final episode. It is also oddly incoherent in places seeming to jump forward in the narrative where you might expect some kind of linking scene. The final scene, in particular, where all the disparate groups meet at the Animus and fall under its sway is difficult to follow. From the book I recall that the sudden appearance of Ian and the Optera is supposed to tip the balance (I think they distract the Animus long enough for Barbara to use the Menoptera weapon) but in reality people seemed to be stumbling around, Ian appears and then everything is resolved.

It's not a perfect story by a long shot. But there is nothing else quite like this in the whole of the Doctor Who canon. It is part stage play and part science fiction of the weird alien society kind and is a sumptuous as Doctor Who at the time could afford to be. On its own terms I would say it mostly works.
purplecat: The Seventh Doctor (Who:Seven)

Seventh Doctor Paper Doll wearing a duffel coat.  He has a weird expression.

Yesterday I went looking for the paper doll book, confident that I had stashed it somewhere accessible, but could not find it.

It was on the kitchen table...

Anyway, only a day late, here is the Seventh Doctor in his duffel coat. I observed that some of the white was intended to cover the umbrella so I have compromised on my "no white outline" policy by leaving that bit of white outline in place. I'm not sure about the head that exists just to have a strange expression. In principle I think this is a clever idea, but the actual expression doesn't strike me as particularly quintessentially seventh Doctor.
purplecat: The second Doctor reading his 500 year diary. (Who:Two)
The Mind Robber occupies a story-telling space with The Celestial Toymaker that is somewhat unique in Doctor Who. While there have been many "oddball" episodes since, there is something about these two stories with their overt invocation of other fictional characters/children's games as real within the story that makes them seem far more like each other than like anything else in Doctor Who canon. The Celestial Toymaker is frankly rather dull (although I reserve the right to change my opinion should the missing episodes ever be found), The Mind Robber on the other hand is quite highly regarded in Who fandom.

I'm sure I've seen The Mind Robber before and I've certainly read the novelisation but not a great deal of it rang any bells on this rewatch. The things I'd particularly recalled - that Gulliver uses only dialogue from Swift, that the trees in the forest are made out of words - didn't somehow seem as clever in situ as they were in my memory, though like all clever details the effect is undeniably reduced when you encounter it a second time.

The story was beset by production problems. Most notably the first episode had to be invented from whole cloth with no sets very late in the day. The result, while undeniably impressive under the circumstances, doesn't actually make a lot of sense and in retrospect feels very much like the filler that it is. Then Frazer Hines came down with chickenpox and had to be replaced for an episode (something that would have been difficult in most other stories but works in this context where the Doctor is set the task of assembling Jamie's face and gets it wrong).

All in all you've got a clever and inventive script with yet further inventiveness being used to offset the last minute problems. It is easy to see why fandom likes this.

On the other hand I felt it failed to really come to life. I'm not sure if this was over-high expectations or the very theatrical nature of a lot of the sets or just one of those things where some days, some stories don't particularly do it for you.

After all it has a truly impressive animated medusa, Zoe (rather improbably) demonstrating her martial arts skills, and the companions getting trapped in a giant book - really what more could you want from a Doctor Who story?
purplecat: The second Doctor reading his 500 year diary. (Who:Books)

Cover off Jenny T. Colgan's In the Blood Dr Who novel.  Bluey white icey background.  Ten and Donna.  They Feed on your Anger.  They Need your Despair. tagline
Today in book covers I can easily lay hands on "In the Blood" which I've just read. It was OK as Who novels go, though erred a bit on the side of The Internet is evil and everyone would be happier if they just talked face-to-face with each other.
purplecat: The Seventh Doctor (Who:Seven)

Seventh Doctor paper doll with hat and dark jacket

This is, at one and the same time, both exciting and disappointing. Exciting because it is just the jacket, so the trousers are the same ones as for the base doll! So at last we have something that is more an item of clothing and less just another doll stuck over the top of the last one. Disappointing because the question mark umbrella doesn't adequately cover the previous umbrella and I'm not sure it would even if I were not cutting off the white outlines!

The head is odd too - but I think that is inevitable given the top of the hat has to line up with the top of the head underneath given the placement of the attachment tabs.
purplecat: The  First Doctor (Who:One)
I first saw The Gunfighters at a WhoSoc meeting in the early 90s. Back then it was still renowned as the Doctor Who story with the lowest ratings (though Wikipedia tells me this is a myth, though it is apparently the Doctor Who story with the lowest audience appreciation score). Since then its been through a bit of a re-assessment where people seemed to like it, and then gone back to being, if not widely derided, at least generally considered a bit sub-standard.

I rather liked it back then, and was somewhat anxious that I would like it less this time around.

To be honest, I mostly like the song - which itself seems to have been re-evaluated and then re-evaluated again. The song, The Last Chance Saloon appears both within the story, various characters sing it in the saloon, and at various moments in the soundtrack acting as a chorus to the action. I think it is a great conceit, though in the first episode - where the Song mostly reprises the refrain "There'll be blood upon the sawdust in the Last Chance Saloon" - it edges towards becoming tedious. However later episodes change up the words a bit and I found I wasn't getting tired of it at all.

The Gunfighters is a Donald Cotton script which means, more or less, that it's a comedy with an alarmingly high body count. It isn't as out-and-out funny as bits of the The Myth Makers, and that may be part of its problem. It's comedy is at the level of "makes you smile from time to time". The cast seem to be having fun, but that's not quite translating itself to the screen. There's some nice stuff with Steven and Dodo acting as if they are in a theme park Wild West rather than the real place - which admittedly makes them both seem pretty stupid but I don't think that's a problem just with this episode, they are both very child-like in the preceding story as well. The sympathetic characters: broadly speaking Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Kate and (to a lesser extent) Doc Holliday all have slightly divergent but understandable motivations - and again, there are nice bits where Earp demonstrates that he's the person who is the expert in managing the situation and the Doctor had better do as he's told.

That said, it's also quite confusing: neither Tame Layman, nor I, know much about the Wild West, and the story assumes a familiarity with the characters and background to the O.K.Corral that we didn't really have. We'd more or less sorted out who everyone was by the end (I think) but there were moments in the middle where we were quite confused... and of course, its a Donald Cotton story so its relationship to historical accuracy is probably tenuous at best.

The novelisation chooses to place the Doctor himself in the action at the O.K. Corral - having him press-ganged by the Earps into walking up the street with them (and makes a point of how dangerous his rather erratic control of the shotgun they've given him is). It came as a surprise, therefore, that he is actually completely absent from the denouement; as is Steven, while Dodo appears randomly from nowhere to get in Doc Holliday's way. One of the problems Doctor Who often has in depicting history is figuring out how to actually involve the Tardis crew in the action. It looks like Cotton just gave up trying when he got to the final episode.

All that said, The Gunfighters is an interesting beast. The attempt at a comedy historical, with the deliberate framing of the song, and the attempt to nevertheless ground out some of the humour in the tragedy of the deaths of people's loved ones may not quite work but, insofar as its a failure, it's an interesting and well-intentioned one. Given I went into it with some trepidation and a fear that the memory had cheated, I was pleasantly surprised.
purplecat: The Tenth Doctor (Who:Ten)


The original Sally Sparrow (illustration to Moffat's story in the 2006 Annual by Martin Geraghty)
purplecat: The second Doctor reading his 500 year diary. (Who:Books)

Fury from the Deep book cover.  An oil rig in the background with bright green seaweed in the foreground.  The writing proclaims this is a classic adventure of the second doctor now a bumper volume!

Given all the moving of books currently taking place, this was the most accessible Target novelisation when the random picture generator said "Target Book Cover". I feel it has the potential to be quite an atmospheric image but the seaweed is a little unconvincing.
purplecat: Graham and Ryan from Doctor Who. (Who:Graham/Ryan)

Graham and Ryan from Doctor Who.  Grey splodgy background. Graham and Ryan from Doctor Who clutching each other. Graham and Ryan from Doctor Who in the sunshine. Graham and Ryan from Doctor Who. Graham and Ryan from Doctor Who.  Graham in his witch-hunting hat.


Snagging is free. Credit is appreciated. Comments are loved.

Textures in the first by [livejournal.com profile] erniemay and in the last two by [livejournal.com profile] simpleandclean.
purplecat: Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor (Who:Five)
Warriors of the Deep is an oddly schizophrenic Doctor Who story remembered chiefly for one disastrous special effect and its closing line: "There should have been another way". Which in a way simply highlights its tendency to lurch from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Well, sublime may be stretching things a little, the nuts and bolts of the narrative have all the ingredients necessary for a gripping base under siege style tale, and some of the production looks competent to good. It is well documented that studio filming on the story was drastically curtailed due the announcement of a General Election and the Myrka monster is the most obvious casualty of this. Before it appeared I was hoping it was going to prove not quite as bad as fan memory would have it.

"Oh look!" said Tame Layman within seconds of its appearance. "It's a pantomime Myrka."

So, yes, the Myrka is that bad. It's impossible to know, as I believe the puppeteers inside it have claimed, that if they had had a little rehearsal time it would have looked much better. Certainly as a static costume there isn't much wrong with it. It's just every time the dratted thing moves it looks deeply ridiculous.

However the rest of the sets and the costumes are pretty decent, if a little 1980s. Tame Layman even commented on the effectiveness of the white scaffolding like frameworks for creating levels in the sets, though he also laughed at the bubble wrap bed sheets.

It's not documented that the script was written in a hurry, though writer Johnny Byrne (so Wikipedia tells me) complained about Saward's rewrites - including increasing the body count (so much, so Eric Saward). However it feels like a script in need of another draft. A major sub-plot revolves around the human antagonists gaining mind control over the base's sync-operator Maddox - only for them to use it entirely to get him to trash stuff, rather than actually operate the base's missiles which, presumably was the reason why he, as the only person with access to the system, was targeted. Meanwhile the Silurians and Sea Devils slowing invade the base. It was quite nice to have a base-under-siege story that didn't involve endless capture and re-capture of the base instead focusing on the invaders' remorseless advance. I'm sure this was, in part, a side-effect of only needing to fill four episodes where Troughton base-under-siege tales generally had to fill six or more. On the other hand the Myrka as well as being a terrible costume seemed to have little purpose. The Sea Devils were clearly far more effective at taking the place over than the Myrka.

It's a shame in lots of ways. I think Warriors of the Deep could have been a solid, gripping story that would been held in high regard. It's let down by a script that has all the right elements but hasn't quite assembled them together neatly enough and, well, by one truly appalling special effect.

Yaz Icons

Feb. 24th, 2019 01:39 pm
purplecat: Yasmin Khan from Doctor Who. (Who:Yaz)

Yaz smiling Yaz looking puzzled Yaz in her police hat Yaz from Demons of the Punjab.  Side view with flower in hair. Yaz outside the Tardis looking shocked.

Not 100% happy with any of these to be honest. I may need to give it another go some time.


Snagging is free. Credit is appreciated. Comments are loved.
purplecat: The Sixth Doctor (Who:Six)

Paper Doll of Colin Baker: Trousers and Waistcoat but no coat.  He has his hands on his hips and looks a bit cross.  Probably because of the lack of a coat.
You were all waiting for this one with baited breath, I am sure, and yet you will have to wait a little longer to see him in his full glory.

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purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
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