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  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 Fourth Doctor (Who:Four)
The Power of Kroll is not generally considered highly and certainly tends to be compared unfavourably with the rest of the Key to Time season that surrounds it. However, I had a feeling going in that it might not be that terrible and so didn't mention its reputation to Tame Layman, though I did say "All Hail Kroll!" to which he responded "Oh, it's one of those stories is it?"

And it honestly isn't that bad. On the other hand, it's not really that good either.

The biggest problem is the swampies (or, I suppose, the bad CSO of a giant squid attacking the swampie camp, but mostly I feel one is missing the point if you complain about the effects in 1970s Doctor Who). The swampies are clearly intended as an analogue for Native Americans and the story clearly wants to say something about the displacement of native peoples and the need to respect their cultures, unfortunately the swampies contrive to look faintly ridiculous and we are never invited to actually respect their culture (what little we see of it), nor does anyone ever really seek to present a point of view on what is worthwhile about their culture (beyond a little bit of random Earth people all live in metal boxes stuff which doesn't even really reach as far as suggesting that they have lost touch with nature). Their worship of Kroll (which is about all we know about them) is mostly held up for ridicule, particularly by the Doctor. Robert Holmes, of course, is neither the first nor the last author to attempt to address an injustice and contrive to be rather offensive about the victim of the injustice in the process, but he normally had a defter hand than this.

Swampies aside, the story has several decent characters, with a spectrum from narrow-minded ideology to pragmatism and compassion on display in the debates both within the refinery and in the swampy camp. The location filming is actually rather impressive and makes a change from quarries. One feels that series 11 NuWho with its anamorphic lenses and love of scenery would have made much of the flat landscape of marsh and reeds. The nuts and bolts of the plotting is perfectly coherent and has several clever bits, including the story behind Kroll's great size. We get to see the actor who played K9, which excited tame layman no end.

I suspect The Power of Kroll suffers both from comparison to the first stories in the Key to Time sequence, which are much better than this, and from a few key production points that let it down but it is mostly a perfectly solid Tom Baker story.
purplecat: The second Doctor reading his 500 year diary. (Who:Two)
The Abominable Snowmen was one of the very first Doctor Who novelisations I ever had, so I'm very familiar with the story. I'd never actually watched it all the way through, however, though I had seen the second episode (the only one remaining) a couple of times.

Superficially, its another Troughton base-under-siege story and yet it feels very different from the stories that surround it. Possibly this is because Troughton's bases tend to be full of scientists with a clearly defined external threat. The Abominable Snowmen is mostly about understanding what the real threat is, and instead of a base full of scientists, we have a Tibetan monastery full of monks and moreover, we have an antagonist who is working much of the time to minimise loss of life and is fundamentally sympathetic to the Doctor and his companions. It is also, of course, one of Doctor Who's few forays into non-Western history though it isn't very obvious that it is supposed to be set in the 1920s.

Victoria has been one of my companion disappointments with the randomiser, but she's not too bad here and given the novelisation is probably the first time I came across the character, that might explain why, as a child, she was always one of my favourite companions. I think quite a lot of the book is written from her point-of-view and she is given more inner strength than often came across on the show. That said, she is more inconsistent, than uniformly strong here. Her characterisation veers wildly almost from scene to scene, at one moment she will be your typical companion: curious, a bit reckless, determined to investigate and moments later she is the Victoria we saw more often: timid and anxious to be somewhere safe.

Somewhat to our surprise it was quite difficult to find a reconstruction of the missing episodes on YouTube. Our normal source - Loose Cannons - didn't seem to have one. Our options appeared to be two different animated versions, we picked the one that looked to have been made from telesnaps/screenshots and were, after a while, quite taken with the effect of animated still pictures against CGI backdrops. We thought it was something that with a little more time and money could have been very effective. However that gave out after episode 4 and the final two episodes were full CGI affairs made, we were fairly certain, using machinima techniques (i.e., moving the characters around inside a game engine). This was quite odd in places since much depended upon the models available in the engine. Mostly it was OK, but the final confrontation was rendered almost incomprehensible - Jamie and the monk, Thonmi, disappear behind a screen from where smashing noises are heard, the search for the right thing to smash takes place entirely unseen, meanwhile the Doctor, Victoria and Padmasabhava stand around doing nothing (presumably in reality there was much acting of struggling against mind control going on, but the 3D models weren't really up to that).

As the story which introduced both the Yeti and the Great Intelligence to Doctor Who, you would expect The Abominable Snowmen to have been an obvious choice for an attempt at animation. Instead it seems strangely neglected. I wonder if there is a concern that it will fare no better than The Talons of Weng-Chiang if exposed to 21st century fan attention - certainly the Tibetan monks are all played by people with names like Norman Jones and one has a nasty suspicion that the writers did not know a great deal about Tibetan buddhism.

That said, I nevertheless wish more of this story existed. I remain very fond of it and think it is an interesting and different take on the base-under-siege format. More than many, I think it is a story that would have benefitted from being able to see what the actors were doing.
purplecat: The  First Doctor (Who:One)
The Tardis doors open during flight and as a result of "space pressure" the Tardis crew are all shrunk to the size of an inch. Planet of Giants is one of those Doctor Who "might-have-beens". The idea of a minaturised crew was mentioned in the original outline for the series but seems like an outlandish idea now, one that, as presented here, doesn't quite fit in with the show's internal logic (even given the show has a massively inconsistent internal logic). The result is a story that is quite strong on visuals, particularly set design, but a little weak in terms of story - even more so given that episode 3 was originally intended to be two episodes, and this shows in places. Dudley Simpson's first score for the program is oddly intrusive.

Episode 1 is probably the best. The reveal of the problem takes up a lot of the episode and the secondary plot - of the development of a deadly insecticide that will eventually wipe out life on Earth, and the attempt to cover up its effects - is interestingly topical (particularly for 1964). However, as is so often the case, its easy to set up a situation in an engaging fashion, but less easy to resolve it. The result is a lot of the Tardis team climbing up things or down things. There is some really pointless stupidity on the part of Barbara (and weirdly not even stupidity that is needed to move the plot along). Barbara gets her hands contaminated by some of the deadly insecticide. Initially she doesn't mention this because events keep interrupting, but then it moves on to a point where she is just wilfully not telling people she is ill, until the Doctor works it out. At this point Barbara persuades the rest of the crew that nevertheless they need to stay to expose the creators of the insecticide and everything continues. That said, the plot about the insecticide is actually mostly resolved through the intervention of a nosey telephone switchboard operator and the Tardis crew have relatively little to do with it. Meanwhile, a lot of the discussion about how Barbara will recover if bought back to her original size, just rather highlights some inconsistencies about what does and does not shrink (or grow) under "space pressure" so that Tame Layman started worrying about how everyone's miniature lungs were coping with Oxygen.

At the end of the day Planet of Giants is an interesting curiosity. At only three episodes, at least it doesn't really have the time to get too dull, and it definitely looks good (better than I suspect it would have done if made 10 years later when CSO would probably have been used extensively) but the plot doesn't really work and its not clear the writer knew what to do with the concept beyond showing off some nifty ideas about how miniature people would interact with everyday objects. It's kind of Doctor Who does The Borrowers and fun for that, but there isn't much else there.
purplecat: The Third Doctor (Who:Three)
Insofar as there are unloved Pertwee stories, Planet of the Spiders, is unloved. I think The Time Monster has worse rep in fandom, but Planet of the Spiders is often discussed as too long and derided for devoting an entire episode to a chase scene.

Tame Layman loved the chase episode. This may have been because it gave him an opportunity to debate the merits of hovercraft as a mode of transport, with particular reference to 1970s attitudes to the same, but frankly one of the advantages of a chase it that events at least keep happening.

Personally, I think the story slows down mostly with events on Metebelis 3. The buddhist retreat in the UK is more relatable, as well as being something of a period curiosity, while society on Metebelis 3 is one of Doctor Who's more generic attempts consisting primarily of evil overlords/spiders, oppressed peasants (complete with Mumerset accents), and reckless young men. It doesn't help that a lot of the scenery is CSO. The spiders, a brave attempt at puppet work by the production team, are the most interesting thing there. There is a genuine attempt to differentiate them and give them some politics. The puppets themselves occasionally veer on the edge of ludicrous (especially during the several scenes where the spiders debate among themselves) but mostly, I think, the production gets away with them.

I'm inclined to agree that the story could use a trim, but its the Metebelis sections that really need the attention, not those set on Earth.
purplecat: The  First Doctor (Who:One)
I was really, really, not looking forward to the moment the randomiser would throw up The Aztecs. As a story it is generally highly regarded in fandom, in part because it has the structure of a tragedy and in part because it is the show's first attempt to address the question of whether history can be changed and possibly because it is one of the few times the show has ventured outside of European history. I've read the novelisation and watched the third episode as part of the original randomiser, plus of course reading a lot of fan commentary down the years and the whole concept has always made me curl up with secondhand embarrassment in the way some sitcom plots do.

I don't think I've ever met anyone else, even people who dislike the comedy of social embarrassment trope, who it takes the same way. When I discussed episode 3 in the original randomiser the other mailing list members were rather fascinated by my reaction, though I don't think we ever came to a real conclusion about it.

Watching the whole thing was, well, it wasn't as bad as I had expected. As Tame Layman said, towards the end, the story touches on a lot of quite meaty subjects (which are less well discussed in fandom, to be frank, than the can't change history thing). One of the moments I was most dreading was Barbara's decision early on to use her status as a god-like figure* to prevent a human sacrifice - a lot of commentary has focused on how this derives from her desire to change history and "save" the Aztecs which, even allowing for the fact she is new on the Tardis, is really something she needed to talk through with the Doctor before embarking upon - however in context it is clearer that this is, if not exactly a spur of a moment thing, a straightforward matter of the fact that she is not prepared to be complicit in allowing human sacrifice**. Ian, who has to hold the victim down, prefigures this with his own reaction to being given the task. The Doctor manages to convince Ian that, for the safety of all of them, he must go through with it but Ian is generally much more likely to sacrifice ideals for brute pragmatism and is in a position of less notional power than Barbara. I still think the way it is presented involves Barbara being a bit stupid, but it wasn't the total idiocy it has always been in my imagination.

That said, The Aztecs does seem to involve the Tardis crew taking turns to hold the stupid ball as they blunder through Aztec life making only minimal attempts to understand it and fit in, and apparently unaware of quite how precarious their position is. Weirdly, Ian who volunteers to become a warrior, more or less gets away with his stupidity even though, best will in the world and accounting for the fact he has done national service, I would not frankly rate the chances of a schoolteacher from the 1960s against the Aztec warrior elite. The Doctor, the only one who really appreciates the situation, gets away more lightly. He is aware of the risks he takes and even though he is out-maneuvered occasionally he's not obviously being stupid about it. He does manage to get accidentally engaged to be married, but frankly he doesn't seem too put out by the idea - just going to show really that the Doctor has always been a flirt. Susan gets to carry the stupid ball big time however, particularly in episode three which was the episode I had previously watched in isolation. I'm not really prepared to give her a pass for being a teenager. She and the Doctor are supposed to be experienced travellers and one feels she ought to have known to keep her head down and hope they could get away quickly, rather than loudly railing about how she wouldn't conform to Aztec marriage customs.

So, yes, there is a lot of stupid going on and, in particular, a lot of stupid that is driven by a lack of a nuanced appreciation of a society and culture. Obviously, that is partly the point. Writer John Lucarotti wants to explore cultural misunderstandings; the West's dogmatic assumptions about its own superiority and mission to "save" other people; he wants to have the debate about the tensions between cultural respect and morality; the fact that if a god orders you to do something you don't agree with you are as likely to decide the god is false as to change your beliefs; and it wants to explore how far people are prepared to go to preserve their own safety and that of those close to them or, alternatively, to promote their ideals. I can see why the people who hold the story in high regard do so, but I would still have enjoyed it more if there had been a bit less stupid on display and perhaps if it had been prepared to explore the moral dilemmas inherent in the situation a bit more, and focus a bit less on the fact that you can't change history "not one line".

I'm not sure I'll watch it again. The Aztecs still pings badly on my personal embarrassment meter, but I'm glad I saw it once.

* As a result of a frankly bizarre bit of tomb robbing. I really doubt Barbara is the kind of person who, on finding a mummified body, would just casually strip it of jewellery.
** In more recent years some of the commentary has centred around whether Barbara is more fundamentally in the wrong here for not respecting Aztec culture. There is obviously a hugely complex debate about moral relativism but, broadly speaking, its an over simplistic position to assume a culture gets to do whatever it likes just because it has a different set of ethical norms. I do not actually think it was wrong, per se, for Barbara to take the position that she can not stand by and do nothing while a human sacrifice takes place ostensibly with her blessing.

Resolution

Jan. 24th, 2019 08:36 pm
purplecat: The Thirteenth Doctor and Tards (Who:Thirteen)
I'm in two minds about Resolution. I thought it was an excellent Dalek story - strongly evoking Dalek from series 1, but to be honest I didn't think it was such a great Doctor Who story.

I'm in the camp of fans who think that Dalek stories generally work better the fewer Daleks you have. When you have an army of Daleks (given the Doctor has to defeat them), they often end up looking both weak and a bit stupid. Individually, you can emphasise their power, ruthlessness and cunning without making them impossible to contain. Lin's possession was excellently done, scary and a logical progression of what we've seen previously from the Daleks. The scene where the Dalek builds its own casing was great, and a nice echo of the Doctor building her own sonic screwdriver. The confrontation with the army was a great (if somewhat unnecessary) set piece. All in all it was a story that show-cased the Dalek nicely and even managed to do something a little different with it.

The rest of the story though I wasn't so keen on. There was a moment when the Doctor first started tracking the Dalek in the Tardis, that I was worried that we were in for 40 minutes of the Doctor watching events unfold on a Tardis monitor while the Dalek ran amok. Fortunately that isn't quite what happened, but after the strong opening the structure of the story is essentially an extended chase in which the Doctor mostly fails to find the Dalek in time and when she does find it, fails to effectively contain it.

The interplay between Graham and Ryan has been one of the strengths of the season but, to be honest, I felt it had reached its natural conclusion at the end of The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos and what we got here felt rather tacked on, seeming to stop the story instead of fitting naturally into the story. Other weaknesses were inherited from series 11: Yaz was underused (again) despite the fact that the Dalek steals a police car and murders two police officers which, you would have thought, would have provided an excellent route to showcase her and her background a bit more. Cute as Mitch and Lin were, and nice as it was that they weren't simply killed off once the script had no more use for them, the Tardis became even more crowded than usual. It was nice that Ryan's Dad and Chekov's microwave oven got to feature in the defeat of the Dalek but I was a little disappointed that it was Ryan's Dad's idea - once again we missed the chance for the Doctor to do something brilliant (apart from slide across the floor obviously - it depresses me that the most brilliant thing she did in Resolution was slide across the floor).

I was interested by the moment the Doctor asks for affirmation from the others that she has offered the Dalek a chance. It was a odd moment of anxiety. Previous Doctors, of course, have often offered their enemies false choices, effectively goading them into self-destruction. I wasn't quite sure if this was an implied criticism of that previous behaviour, or the first real sign we've had that this Doctor has a weakness - some anxiety about whether she is fair enough or kind enough or something.*

I thought Resolution was one of the better Chibnall scripts for this series. It was fast paced, exciting, with some nice bits in it. But I still fundamentally feel that the Doctor isn't getting enough to do in these stories, and it was the same here.

* While it would be nice for her to have a bit more character depth, I'll be disappointed we get some kind of storyline about a flaw so female coded as lack of self-confidence.
purplecat: The Sixth Doctor (Who:Six)
"You thought The Woman who fell to Earth was a bad regeneration story!" says I. "Wait 'til you see this!"

Strangely enough, the Teenager, was not motivated by this statement to watch The Twin Dilemma with us.

Actually way back when, in 1984, The Twin Dilemma was the story from the previous season that I chose to keep on video tape while over-writing the others with different programmes (Betamax tapes were quite expensive (at least on my pocket money) so space on them had to be rationed). This, in retrospect, seems like an odd choice but just because fan wisdom has consigned The Twin Dilemma to the very bottom of the polls doesn't actually mean its bad, does it?

Well, there are moments, particularly when Maurice Denham is on screen, that The Twin Dilemma shows signs of being good. It is not unusual for a Dr Who guest star to appear to think they are in an entirely different show from the rest of the cast. However normally this manifests as scenery chewing, while everyone else vainly tries to take things more seriously. In The Twin Dilemma we have the reverse. Denham's Azmael is restrained and dignified while everything else is over the top and garish. But then the eponymous twins will put in an appearance, or a particularly clunky piece of dialogue will go down, or the "super genius" villainous Mestor will do something pointless and/or idiotic and you'll realise that yes, it really is bad.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course. I think there is lots that is rubbish about The Twin Dilemma which has nothing to do with the Sixth Doctor himself, however the introduction of the Sixth Doctor at his most unpleasant does not, in retrospect, help the story. At the time, in so far as I remember, one of the things I liked about the story was Colin Baker's performance. This was in turn fuelled by some of the pre-publicity. I think in particular an appearance of Colin on Blue Peter where he was enthusiastic and entertaining in person, and the clips selected as previews (the "noble brow" speech, I think) seemed equally funny and entertaining out of context. In context, well, the attempted strangulation of Peri is uncomfortable to watch and the resolution awkward. Since the show is unwilling to really examine what it would be like to be stuck in a time and space machine with a dangerously unstable Time Lord who might attempt to murder you at any moment, it falls back on making Peri whiny and petulant. Thus is a Doctor and companion dynamic established that it would take the show far too long to overcome. A better script/better direction might have redeemed this presentation of the Doctor, but what we get is heavy-handed and clunky, lurching as awkwardly as the Doctor from peril, to comedy, to exposition.

Weirdly, large sections of the plot seem to have been lifted from Frontios earlier in the season. I'm not sure if that's pure coincidence, or a sign that The Twin Dilemma had to be written and produced in a hurry. However, given Frontios is pretty decent despite its dodgy monster costumes and story of giant woodlice trying to take over the universe via planetary mechanics (woodlice that turn back into harmless creatures when cut off from their leader), there is no reason The Twin Dilemma could not have been pretty decent with its dodgy master costumes and story of giant slugs trying to take over the universe via planetary mechanics (slugs that turn back into harmless creatures when cut off from their leader).

The Twin Dilemma is better than Time and the Rani. Somewhere in there, there is an at least half-decent story. We get glimpses of it from time to time - from Azmael's quietly despairing dignity, to the hints of politics both on Earth and on Jaconda. But the script feels like a first draft, the sets and direction look like they were thrown together at the last minute, the twins acting ability is functional at best, and stilted at worst. It was an unfortunate start to the Sixth Doctor's era and where Time and the Rani turned out to be very atypical for the Seventh Doctor, The Twin Dilemma functions more as a template for the era. Much of what was wrong with the 1985 season of Doctor Who has its roots here and that probably makes it a worse regeneration story than Time and the Rani, because its effect was far more long-reaching.
purplecat: The Thirteenth Doctor and Tards (Who:Thirteen)
The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos is an odd episode. It manages to be both very like most of series 11 and something of an odd-one-out. Similarly it is both like a traditional NuWho finale and like a traditional classic Who season ender. The whole is not quite the sum of its parts.

As with much of series 11, most of the emotional heft of the episode is being carried by Ryan and Graham, particularly Graham's desire to kill Tim Shaw. As viewers, we pretty much know he's not going to do it - or at least I never for a moment considered there to be any possibility he would go through with it. It's a nice end to that emotional journey but doesn't really have quite the space it needs and it ends in a kind of bathetic humour, that ultimately doesn't work as well as some of the Graham and Ryan stuff elsewhere in the season. Meanwhile, since Graham and Ryan are dealing with Tim Shaw the Doctor is left somewhat on the sidelines not dealing directly with the major antagonist. We add to the flesh-eating water in The Ghost Monument, and the Doctor's limp from The Tsuranga Conundrum a reality bending psychic field around the planet which seems like it should have an obvious plot payoff and doesn't. In this case it seems mostly to be there so that Paltraki can only explain what is going on in fits and starts rather than providing an info-dump all at once. It also seems possible the psychic field is supposed to explain the behaviour of the Ux, but in lots of ways that explanation raises more questions than it answers, though the Ux are, in general under-explained and rather poorly motivated.

On the other hand, unlike much of series 11, there was a genuine bad guy. The Doctor got to stand up to him. We began to have a more nuanced explanation to her "no guns" attitudes of earlier in the series and there was a bit more story to get our teeth into (no pun intended) than we have had with many of the other Chibnall episodes. Sadly Tim Shaw is not that compelling a villain and his final incarceration is unsatisfactory. Maybe, because we never believe Graham will kill Tim Shaw, we are never really asked to confront the question of whether killing Tim Shaw (who has wiped out several planets since the Doctor last failed to kill him) might actually be a reasonable course of action. The Thirteenth Doctor's tendency to ignore the bigger problems and the bigger villains, to dodge complex moral questions by simply walking away, continues and it remains unclear if this is meant to be a virtue or a flaw or is just some weird coincidence arising from the way these stories have been constructed. The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos not only has no conclusions about this it barely seems to recognise it as a point of discussion despite it being implicit in the return of Tim Shaw.

In classic Who the last story in a season was nearly always just another story. The Battle of Ranskoor av Kolos has much of this feel to it. Although we have the return of Tim Shaw, it's not something that has been building all season and, though the stakes are high, they are not presented in a particularly epic fashion.

It's a perfectly fine story, probably in the bottom half of those this series, but not terrible. I'm not fond of the overblown NuWho finale and I like this better than some of those, but it is a shame the series couldn't end on a stronger note.

Although, obviously, possibly it did, depending upon one's views about Resolution.
purplecat: The Thirteenth Doctor and Tards (Who:Thirteen)
It Takes you Away starts well, looking as good as series 11 often does, and with a set-up that's both novel and atmospheric. Then it all sort of falls apart a bit.

I don't object to the sudden turn to the left, while it would have been fun to have a monster story set in the Norwegian forest, the idea that actually its not that at all, and the reveal that the monster is entirely made up by Erik is both clever and, in an entirely different way, equally horrific.

I didn't particularly mind the frog on the chair, that's a gloriously bonkers Doctor Who kind of concept. I did think the frog on the chair was rather poorly done though. It looked like a fake frog on a chair which may, just, have been deliberate but I suspect was lack of budget. However this was one of those moments when I think the dialogue let the show down. I could not tell whether the Doctor was genuine about wanting to stay with the frog (the performance suggested she was, but she didn't really seem to have been there long enough for that to be earned) or whether the Doctor was bluffing the whole time and looking for a way out (which doesn't really seem in character for the thirteenth Doctor). In the end I just couldn't quite believe in that scene and undermined the whole frog on a chair concept.

I did think the antizone was kind of pointless. The flesh-eating moths seemed, in the end, to be a lot less dangerous than their publicity suggested. Certainly Ryan and Hanne didn't seem to have much trouble with them, and all the stuff about the Doctor needing a thread to find her way conveniently went away at the end. It was obviously there to inject some actual peril into the episode but it felt like the modern series equivalent of running down corridors.

All the stuff with Graham was great (arguably one of the problems with series 11 is that all the stuff with Graham is great) from his sandwich (the sandwich was the best bit, to be honest), to his interactions with "Grace", to Ryan finally calling him grandad (we all knew it was coming, but it was nice that the show got there). However almost everything else I could have quite happily lived without.

I know a lot of people liked the story, but frankly I thought it the weakest of series 11.
purplecat: The Third Doctor (Who:Three)
For some reason I'm constantly surprised by how grounded in reality a lot of the Pertwee era feels. There's obviously something about being embedded within an Earth organisation, but in some ways it's the details: travelling places by car, using locations to represent themselves. It happens in other eras as well of course, but there's something about the style of Pertwee stories that seeks to makes even its more outrageous ideas seem more everyday - at least some of the time (I'm not about to claim Carnival of Monsters feels grounded in reality).

In The Mind of Evil it is particularly the prison sequences (and the storming of the prison by the army) that convey this feeling, similar perhaps to the way I was struck by the high profile presence of the army in Claws of Axos. This may be because Doctor Who often treats even the presence of soldiers by populating the background of a scene with a couple of extras so it is a bit startling when you have lots of people on screen scaling walls with ropes and so on.

The rest of the story doesn't quite work. It's not that its disparate elements: murders at an international peace conference; a new technique for "curing" prisoners; and a nerve gas missile convoy don't fit together but some of the plot connections between them are rather thin and its easy to forget how you reached point B in the story from point A. It is also quite a convoluted plan on the Master's part, but then the Master likes over-convoluted plans so that is probably fair enough.

It's a very good story for Jo, who organises a prison recapture, knocks out the odd rioting prisoner and generally holds the fort at Stangmoor Prison, despite the presence of the Master, his henchfolk and an evil mind parasite. This shouldn't need saying, but it does.

All Pertwee stories are watchable, and nearly all of them are solid from a plot point of view. It's not my favourite era of Doctor Who and this isn't my favourite story from that era, but even so, I'd happily watch it again.
purplecat: The Thirteenth Doctor and Tards (Who:Thirteen)
In many ways, The Witchfinders was the most traditional of the Doctor Who stories in series 11. It had a beginning, a middle and, most importantly, an end. It had proper monsters and a proper villain who was proper defeated, albeit one who was not as interesting as the historical celebrity. I'm not surprised that lots of people really liked it. I thought it was a good strong story, but I preferred the other two historicals of the season. I suspect it was trying to tell a tale exploring misogyny, just as Rosa explored racism and The Demons of the Punjab explored religious intolerance. Its distance from the events allowed it a lot more freedom both to make stuff up, and to insert the Doctor and aliens more directly into the narrative, both of which gave it the feel of a much more traditional structure but, at the same time, rather watered down its messages.

Lots of people seem to have liked the moment where the Doctor complains that she would have been able to get on with things more quickly if she were male. I really disliked this bit. Part of the point of the Doctor is that 90% of the time he/she walks in and assumes authority just because, the other 10% of the time the story tends to revolve around the fact that no one in power will believe him/her. I wanted the first female Doctor to have this same ability just to walk into a room and 90% of the time just get away with bossing everyone around and the other 10% of the time I didn't want her ineffectiveness to be about her gender. I mean, yes, obviously 16th century England and all that, but Doctor Who has always been happy to hand-wave issues of the Tardis crew not obviously fitting in when not convenient to the plot and, again, I feel the thirteenth Doctor should be able to get away with this too. I suppose I don't want being a woman to be much of a thing from the point of view of the Doctor herself.

That aside, this was definitely one of the better stories of the season, again we get some stuff show-casing Yaz's skills and hinting at her police officer background of the kind we really needed more of earlier in the season to give her a more solid grounding as a character. The plot was solid. Alan Cummings was hugely watchable. Graham got to wear a hat.

Kerblam!

Jan. 12th, 2019 02:06 pm
purplecat: The Thirteenth Doctor and Tards (Who:Thirteen)
This was another strong episode. The construction of the hunt for the villain, with its undermining of expectations was well done. The very on point parallels with Amazon also worked well. I'm not going to call it satire because I don't believe it was structured that way, but it isn't the first Doctor Who story to model its alien/future world on something existing in our world sufficiently closely that it can be treated as a critique and I doubt it will be the last. There was an actual villain, though not one who showed any real interest in chewing the scenery.

I had a lot of opinions about the whole depiction of Artificial Intelligence, specifically the system's decision to kill Kira in order to make a point to Charlie, but they would form a long essay on machine ethics and the likely legislation surrounding AIs. Suffice it to say on Thursday after the episode I pitched an article on the subject to The Conversation and actually got a response to the effect that they'd have published it if I'd thought of the idea on Monday. I won't bore everyone with it here. I think the AI behaviour works fine within the context of Doctor Who, but its highly unlikely it would work like that in the real world.

Lots has been written about the implicit politics of the episode. This is definitely a story I'd hold up as supporting my thesis that Chibnall (so by extension the Doctor Who he oversees) is interested in systems of oppression but recognises that the Doctor isn't really a suitable hero to tackle them. I think we see here something working towards the idea that you can change the system by engaging with it and influencing those with the power to enact change, and also the acknowledgment that change is show (despite the undertaking to employ more people* and to give the current workers a holiday, they only pay these people for half the time they are giving them off). All that said, on the assumption that that is the kind of discussion the episode is trying to have, I think the execution was a little clunky. Certainly many seem to have interpreted the story as ultimately in favour of Amazon Kerblam! and against people who agitate for better treatment of its workers. That's not my reading of it, but its a perfectly valid reading given what is on screen.

This is also the first time since The Woman who Fell to Earth that we see Yaz act in ways that are clearly influenced by her police background. I wish this kind of thing had been in the scripts from earlier in the series. It feels like too little, too late at this point. The juggernaut that is the relationship between Ryan and Graham has irretrievably sucked the oxygen out of the other characters and their interactions and episode 7 out of 10 is too late for them to gain any momentum.

I don't think Kerblam! is as good as either of the historical episodes that preceded it. It's probably better than any of the Chibnall scripted SF episodes though. It has a clearer idea of what its trying to do and a more equitable use of its characters and I think the series as a whole would have benefitted if it had been appeared earlier.

* The AI expert in me worries about how this would work economically, but I'm already overlooking the ethics and legal issues with AI in the story so lets overlook the economic issues as well.
purplecat: The Fourth Doctor (Who:Four)
I was looking forward to The Ribos Operation. I've seen it at least a couple of times and had a positive memory that it looked good, had pretty solid characterisation and a nice sense of humour. It isn't an especially showy Doctor Who episode but, in some ways is the better for it. It doesn't raise over-high expectations, nor does it try to deliver on special effects beyond its ability. I was also expecting Tame Layman to like it, its a decent fourth Doctor episode with, again, a good sense of humour and I thought he'd be all over Binro the Heretic and the trials of a scientist in a superstitious culture.

Tame Layman was mostly rather unmoved by it and his main comment, in episode four, was that it was a bit of a pantomime. Now we had just watched Demons of the Punjab and I think pretty much any Tom Baker episode would look a little pantomimic next to it, but this was the moment in which the Doctor, Romana and Garron all try to hide in an alcove by lying on top of each other so you could see his point. In fact, while fandom has tended to laud Garron and Unstoffe as a classic Holmesian double-act, there is a fair bit of the DNA of pantomime in their interactions, schemes and sleight of hand.

All that said, of all the episodes of Doctor Who to get labelled "pantomime", The Ribos Operation would not be the one that instantly sprang to my mind. Everything I remembered about it still holds true: it does look good (in part because the BBC Costume department, as I've noted before, was much better at costumes with a historical flavour than it was at envisioning futuristic clothing). The characterisation is a little broad brush perhaps but the characters do benefit from being distinct and memorable with (mostly) their own agendas. There is plenty of humour not just from the "Holmesian double act", but also between the Doctor and new companion Romana and the pair of them and Garron. But I can also see why this doesn't make top ten lists, its a little too straightforward, it doesn't quite embrace its atmosphere of a medieval ice planet and the humour is often a little too arch and pleased with itself... and in direct comparison with Demons of the Punjab it does look a bit like a pantomime.

Poor Ribos Operation, I fear that circumstances on this viewing were against you.
purplecat: The Seventh Doctor (Who:Seven)
The Curse of Fenric is, probably correctly, considered one of the best seventh Doctor stories. However I've always felt vaguely dissatisfied with it. There was much talk at the time about how much of the story ended up on the cutting room floor, so we opted to watch the extended version which restored a great deal of this lost material. I'm not sure that really helped. Its flaws, which are the flaws of many of the stories overseen by Andrew Cartmel, are not really addressed by the additional scenes.

I feel like I'm being churlish because I do like the story and the Cartmel era a lot. Maybe it is just that Curse of Fenric comes in for so much praise that it makes me feel contrary. We have the single most unconvincing seduction scene I have ever seen in visual media. The villain destroys all his henchmen for no readily apparent reason, in fact a number of events take place because the plot requires them to and not because they actually make sense (e.g., Kathleen Dudman being left behind after the evacuation of the base). It's been said that Cartmel was deliberately trying to evoke some of the stuff that was happening in comics at the time and I do wonder if this sensibility explains why so many of the scenes are cut short to a ridiculous extent: the Doctor and Ace show up, they exchange three or four entirely to the point remarks with someone in the scene and then they leave. I think a comic would start such scenes in media res (though I can't really see why the show could not do this). In the first episode, in particular, it's like the two of them just keep popping up places and then dashing off. Ace forms strong emotional attachments (to the Baby, to Sorin) apparently out of the blue. It doesn't help that a lot of the dialogue is... a bit not good (see unconvincing seduction scene). The extended version makes a great deal, in the dialogue, that "undercurrants" is a theme. This doesn't actually help any character sound like a real person actually talking the way real people do.

On the plus side, it has a lot of cool ideas and visuals. The idea of the curse of Fenric descending through the generations in this isolated location is revealed well. In fact, in general, the back story and the way all the various elements tie together is done well (which may be an advantage of the extended version) and actually makes sense. Nicholas Parsons is unexpectedly excellent as Wainwright, making the most of a part written with considerable nuance - and in fact interesting stuff is done in general with the various characters wrestling with their consciences over their behaviour and the behaviour of their "side" in the war. The Timey-wimeyness with the baby, while a bit heavy-handed is an interesting idea. Given the budget, the production both looks and sounds impressive.

I prefer Rememberance of the Daleks, both because it is playing to the fans and because it seems to be having more fun. The Curse of Fenric takes itself more seriously and is trying to do more with its various themes, but while I can admire its ambition and its earnestness, and admire how well it manages to pull everything off, it is still not quite good enough to make me warm to it.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
I can finally say of a famously long Doctor Who story that it's no better than it deserves to be given the length. It is a shame because, I've been impressed by the longer Who stories of the late sixties and early seventies and was starting to wonder if it was actually a strength of the show.

"Ooh! I've seen a story with Peter Purves in it where the daleks spend the whole story chasing the Doctor!" Tame Layman said at the start. He was thinking of The Chase which I've not seen, but it did rather highlight the fact that not only are there 12 episodes of this but that it reusing an idea from only a few stories earlier.

The Daleks' Master Plan feels like something very different from The Invasion, The Silurians and The Ambassadors of Death which all have a certain similarity. In fact The Daleks' Masterplan feels more closely aligned to the serialised Flash Gordon series from the 1930s (I think), that I recall showing on BBC2 when I was growing up than it does even to much of the Doctor Who that surrounds it. Most of the episodes feel oddly self-contained as if the writer only had a rough idea of where the story was going and was content simply to move from the cliffhanger at the start of the episode to the cliffhanger at the end, with a certain amount of action involving Daleks pursuing the Tardis in order to regain the Taranium core in the middle. I am certain that I read at some point that the two credited writers, Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner, alternated episodes each challenging the other with a cliffhanger, although wikipedia and later writing about the story suggests more that Nation wrote the first half and Spooner the second. However one can see, from the shape of the thing, how the idea that they alternated could have gained some credence.

The story has a delight in its crazy aliens which has rarely been matched since, possibly because budget and higher costuming standards/good sense have prohibited it. However this idea of a vast galaxy/universe with a myriad of races is also reminiscent of Flash Gordon and the races and cultures of Mongo.

On the whole I would say that Nation's half of the story is the stronger, which is a shame because the character of pseudo-companion Sara Kingdom, introduced halfway through is one of the story's high points. From reading synopses, I had always got the impression that Sara was something of a caricature of the highly-efficient "kick ass" female soldier (which, frankly, given the time would have been a radical departure for Doctor Who as it stands) but in fact we get someone who is much less of an emotionless automaton, who has a sense of humour, and a genuine connection to the Doctor and Steven (while also being an efficient, capable soldier) and so feels dramatically rounded for an "independent woman" character in a 1960s SciFi show. Of course, some of this may be in Jean Marsh's performance and not in the script itself but I would have loved to see more of her, particularly in a set of episodes where I hadn't begun to tire of the format. In contrast, Nicholas Courtney's first appearance in Doctor Who as Sara's brother, Bret Vyon, is oddly forgettable.

Mavic Chen is another strong point. I kept wondering why he reminded me so much of Tobias Vaughn from The Invasion. There are some obvious similarities: Chen has allied himself with the Daleks, as Vaughn did with the Cybermen and both show awareness of the fragility of their position. However, where Vaughn recognised he was disposable and planned to mitigate the fact, Chen only occasionally shows a glimmering of understanding of quite how precarious his position is. Then I realised that actually they are played by the same actor - demonstrating if nothing else, I suppose, that The Talons of Weng Chiang was not the first time the show chose to indulge in black/yellowface (Chen has a Chinese surname, but his make-up suggests a darker skin).

I also still like the Meddling Monk, but it's undeniable that he isn't as good here as he was in The Time Meddlar. His pettiness has an edge of vindictiveness, not present in the earlier story and his cowardice is too predictable.

We were relieved that three of the episodes of this 12/13 part epic actually exist. They were generally a great deal more watchable than the variety of reconstructions we sourced from Youtube. Of these an animation of the first (zeroth?) Doctor and companion-free episode Mission to the Unknown was the most interesting, and had pretty accomplished animation for a Youtube effort. Although I think it unlikely this will ever be re-appraised as a classic, I do think it a shame that more of it doesn't exist. The episodes that do remain were refreshing and entertaining enough when they did come along that I can imagine the story working quite well in a mindless entertainment sort of a way if there were moving pictures to accompany it. Sadly audio and reconstructions of various kinds only highlight the way much of the story (from the point where the Doctor steals the Taranium core to the point where the daleks recover it) is simply and extended multi-episode chase sequence.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
People compare Mark Gatiss who stories to the Pertwee era surprisingly often to my mind. I think he's on record as saying it's his favourite era of the show and it's true his stories tend to have a straight up monster or villain but the Pertwee era is typified, I would say, by the presence of overtly political themes (absent from Gatiss') work and a fairly sparse and functional approach to setting where Gatiss' (possibly because of his interest in Victoriana) tends towards the Gothic. In fact, apart from the fact Gatiss doesn't borrow from Horror tropes, I would have said that the Hinchcliffe era was a better point of comparison.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that, no matter what the rest of the Internet might think, I can't really imagine Empress of Mars in the Pertwee era.

More under the cut )

This is, I get the impression, the episode that Gatiss has always wanted to write and I think it shows. It is having a lot of fun, telling a ripping yarn, and manages to feel both like a Doctor Who story and like a Scientific Romance.

Oxygen

May. 26th, 2017 10:01 pm
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
Oxygen struck me as, structurally, being very similar to Knock! Knock! and, like Knock! Knock!, I feel I like it less than it deserves to be liked.

Both Oxygen and Knock! Knock! tell neatly self-contained stories. These are well-produced and acted with scripts that are thoughtful while fitting recognisably within the mould of a Doctor Who story. Fond as I am of the Sylvester McCoy era, it would have struggled to produce two stories of this high quality in close succession. In fact if these had appeared during a Sylvester McCoy season, I suspect I would have rated them as highly as stories like Ghost Light and Curse of Fenric.

This isn't a Sylvester McCoy season though, my expectations are different, and somehow neither managed to really grab me.

I don't really want to nit-pick at Oxygen, but among other things I'm dubious about the economics on display. I've mentioned a couple of times when discussing this season, about how you identify that point in a fantastical show, where it's breaking its own unstated rules of consistency. The problem Oxygen had for me specifically as someone who has hung around space scientists a bit, is that its very emphasis on the realities of surviving in a vacuum made me expect more realism from the rest of the Space Science. The reality of space is it is really, really expensive to put people up there (in weight terms, even if you're not factoring in the expense of training someone and are, apparently, discounting any value in human life) so you probably don't want them randomly suffocating even if they are not being as productive as you might like. This then, of course, made me think of the practices of Victorian factory owners and making your workers indebted to you for their use of oxygen (and thereby imposing a form of slavery) and that somehow seemed more plausible though not, obviously as likely to produce space zombies. Like the "how does agriculture work on Christmas?" problem I had with Matt Smith's final story, this distracted me far more than it should have done.

I'm not really qualified to comment on the depiction of disability. [personal profile] hollymath has written eloquently about how hurtful she found it though I've seen other commentary that was cautiously optimistic or at least "jury still out" on the subject.

I was disappointed that the blue alien had no function in the story beyond making a simplistic point about racism and then dying.

Did I like anything about the story? Yes, actually. I really liked the interactions between Bill, Nardole and the Doctor. This is the first time we've seen them operating as a team and I liked the way the dynamic of two companions (who aren't romantically linked in any way) worked, particularly the way that the two of them can jointly put different perspectives to the Doctor. In fact I really like this softer version of the twelfth Doctor and both his new companions.

I did think the story was well-paced, well-acted and I liked that it was allowed to be about something and that its resolution tied back to its themes and the set up of the problem. I'm far from convinced it is really Oxygen's fault that I got distracted by picking holes.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
I have vague memories of starting to watch The Daleks once and then giving up because I felt it was too dull and slow-paced. This rather surprises me now. I'm not sure if that is age, or watching it much more episodically, or simply that I'm now more used to the pacing of 1960s Doctor Who. At any rate, I thought it went along at a pretty decent pace all told and while the plot wasn't exactly full of twists, it did keep progressing from Dalek city, to the forest, to the lake and the caves and then back to the city again.

Much has been written about the design of the Daleks and its contribution to their success. It's difficult not to be impressed. Even today most Doctor Who monsters definitely adhere to the "man in a suit" model, so seeing something from so early in the show that really doesn't look remotely like a man in a suit. The fact that the fundamental design of the Daleks has altered so little since then is probably a testament to its longevity. Even the sink plunger which ought to tip them over into the ridiculous seems to work, and to continue to work. While the design of the Daleks has been much praised, the design of their City is also pretty impressive, both in terms of the exterior shots of the whole city and the internal corridors. There isn't anything in this story that looks risible and a great deal of it looks very good indeed.

Some of the dialogue is also surprisingly nuanced for Doctor Who and a reminder that, at this point in time, its writers viewed it as an ensemble show. I'm particularly thinking of the discussion in the forest over the morality of pressurising the Thals to help them, though I'm not quite sure (even in 1963) why the dynamic of this is the Doctor and Barbara attempting to persuade Ian to persuade the Thals, as if the Doctor and Barbara can't have a go at a bit of persuading themselves. In fact, I'm not at all sure what this story's attitude is to the concept of Ian as the leader. It seems to be implicit in quite a lot that happens, but then the script also undermines him - particularly in the sequence when it becomes clear that only Susan can venture back to the Tardis to fetch the anti-radiation drugs where Ian is basically a bit of a tit about the whole situation.

On the down side, the Thals are rather bland, more so than I remembered from the novelisation - though they do avoid the 1970s mistake of looking like a bunch of actors who have never done a day's physical labour in their lives. They are almost uniformly kind, thoughtful and a little bewildered looking - the only excepion really being Antodus who's cowardly and bewildered looking. My memory from the novelisation is that they were better differentiated than this, but the novelisation is a slightly different beast. I was aware that there was supposed to be a potential romance between Ganatus and Barbara and so spotted the various hints of this, but Tame Layman was a bit taken aback at the end when it was made more explicit in their farewell. Susan is also fairly ill-served by the story although I'm beginning to feel that Susan is often ill-served. While the Randomiser re-watches have improved my opinion of many of the 60s era "screamer" companions, I think my opinion of Susan has dropped. Sadly, the most interesting thing about her is her background. Otherwise, an awful lot of the time, her role in any story just to scream hysterically and panic. Here she is given a moment to shine, when she fetches the anti-radiation drugs, but the script undermines her even then by focusing mostly on her fear and not on her bravery.

I don't know why I formed such a low opinion of this story the first time I came across it. It is mostly intelligently written, well-designed and pretty pacey to watch. As the story that first introduced the Daleks its significance in the history of Doctor Who is clear and it is a story which I think a moderately tolerant modern viewer could easily enjoy.

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