Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Doctor Who-Flesh And Stone
                                 Following Amy's psychokinetic  experience with the Weeping Angels,the Doctor decided to open trap himself within the maze of Angels and was able to enter inside the Byzantium followed by Amy,River,Father Octavian and his troops. When inside the ship,they find a gigantic forest that,as River points out,serves as an Oxygen factory supplying the environmental needs of the ship. At this point however it is providing yet another environment for the angels whom,as it seems have deeply effected Amy as she is counting backwards from ten to herself unawares. Still communicating with "Angel Bob",the Doctor learns the angels are actually toying with the team to conceal their real purposes. He learns of this when the same crack opens in the wall that he'd seen in Amy's childhood bedroom appears around them,and that there is a massive rip in the fabric of time that's not only somehow effected  by Amy but on which the angels are intent on feeding from.

                                    Upon joining his companions to flee from the angels,Amy nearly dies at the time the Doctor determined she had an angel inhabiting her body from earlier when her eyes were fixed on it and the two had merged. Asking her to close to her eyes to stave off death in the company of some of Octavian's troops while he and River went off to investigate further. Of course Amy herself begins to ascertain the problem when the troops around her proceed to investigate a white crack that appears around them and,each time one is absorbed by it they cannot seem to remember each other. Unable to open her eyes the Doctor,realizing the danger of the rip in time that would eliminate Amy and everyone else from existence asks her to follow his voice and,at the crucial moment when the angels grabbed her River Song managed to get the ships teleportation unit function in time to get Amy about of trouble. 

                                   At first fully intent to sacrifice himself in order to close the rift in time,much as Octavian had done earlier to the angels and to the dismay of River Song,he realizes the the angels and their own space/time displacement could just as easily accomplish this. After deactivating the ship's gravity in that area,the angels are blown into the rift temporarily closing it. Upon bidding River farewell,imprisoned for the murder of a "good man" in a future time,Amy requests of the doctor they return to Earth shortly after her previous departure. At first making it clear she is questioning her decision in regard to her upcoming wedding,she first moves in on the Doctor who she has apparently developed an infatuation for. Upon resisting her advances,the doctor realizes he must again bring her along on his journeys since the numbers he and River earlier calculated aboard the Byzantium match those on the clock and calender on the night he and Amy returned to her home.

                                  This is a story that illustrates,sometimes in almost wrenching detail,the Doctor experiencing a somewhat rare "dark night of the soul" where a lot is happening in a very short amount of time. The hectic pacing and dialog of this story isn't the only source of this atmosphere. Especially towards the end of his experience on the Byzantium,the Doctor shows signs of being completely overwhelmed,
vulnerable and completely lacking in control over the situation. It's a tribute to the acting talents of Matt Smith that the doctors frustration and the possibility that Amy Pond's entire existence is in grave danger is delivered with such authenticity. Not to mention the possibility the end of time and the universe itself was perhaps at hand. Also there's the possibility that the "good man" River Song freely admitted to murdering might,in some future time,be another incarnation of the Doctor. Again,this is left to time to find out. The Doctors resistance to Amy's romantic advances not only perhaps adds some mystery to his future association with River Song but also to knowledge of Amy's future of which she is not even aware. A very successful,involved and satisfying cliffhanger overall.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Doctor Who-The Time Of Angels
                             In a museum in the distant future,the Doctor and Amy discover a device called a home box containing glyphs from high ancient Gallifreyan,the language of the time lords. Upon returning from the TARDIS,they end up intercepting a spaceship called the Byzantium about to crash land and someone suddenly floats through space from the ship to the TARDIS who turns out to be non other than River Song,the doctors mysterious companion from his future who knowledge of him and the TARDIS's operation both confuses and delights Amy. River guides the TARDIS to the planet Alfvava Metraxis,where the Byzantium had crashed on this 51'st century human colony .The militarized cleric Father Octavian leads his troops,River,Amy and the Doctor in search of a  Weeping Angel ,a deadly anthropomorphic stone creature able to displace other life forms in time if ones eyes are taken off of it,that was on board the ship and whom the Doctor had encountered before. 

                     While observing the behavior of the angel on a viewscreen Amy becomes fixated with the angel and,although told not to take her eye of it is soon made aware of the fact,as the doctor points out that any image of an angel becomes an actual angel. Traumatized by the incident,Amy is rescued by the Doctor and River and led by Father Octavian and his troops to a place called the Maze of The Dead,filled with many statues which may or may not be weeping angels. While many of the troops are displaced and killed by the angels the party-including the Doctor and Amy,soon begin to find themselves confused by many strange distractions. The Doctor is at mislead to feel guilt over one of the troops contacting him from the dead,while Amy is temporarily paralyzed when she believes her hand has turned to stone. In the end the Doctor determines the only way to stop the angels,who on Alfvava are dying and trying to regenerate is to trap himself within the Maze of the dead.

                 This cliffhanger sets up from very interesting presidents for the Doctor. He is confronted by two mysteries from his life. One is River Song,played with vigorous cunning by Alex Kingston,from his future who comes off as trying to direct the nature of his missions in a specific direction. Still it burns Amy,as it probably does many,that the exact nature of her relationship to the Doctor remains unknown. Also there's the Weeping Angels,literally embodiments of a horror story character that takes a person out of time itself if one blinks and eye or looks away. For their part the crew of the Byzantium come across as futurist Christian military crusaders. They have a bit of an agenda in regard to their discovery of the Weeping Angels as proof of their cause perhaps,yet as is often the case find they are actually biting off far more than they can chew. Once the doctor is faced with with the idea his and Amy's fears have begun physically manifesting themselves,he has to make a choice even he isn't sure about.
Doctor Who-Victory Of The Daleks
                           Following their adventure on the Spaceship UK,the Doctor is summoned to World War II era England by an old acquaintance of the Doctor in non other than Sir Winston Churchill himself. Arriving a month late from the summons the Doctor arrives to find not only Churchill requesting he help England win the war,but to demonstrate the new strike force created by his scientific advisor Erwin Bracewell called an Ironside. However one observation of the ironsides reveal them to be none other than Daleks. Through a direct attack on one of them,the Doctor is able to reveal the Daleks original programming,and the fact they've been looking for him with their broken down spaceship parked behind Earth's moon. For Amy's Pond's part,she is more than happy to assist in saving the history of her planet,though she and the Doctor are both puzzled as to why she cannot remember the previous Dalek invasion of Earth. Transporting himself in the TARDIS aboard the Dalek spaceship,the Doctor learns that the Daleks were near extinction after their previous encounter and bought their ship to Earth to regenerate their progenitor device they intended to use to create a new Dalek army. 

                Though threatening to destroy the TARDIS and the Daleks,the Doctor is then threatened with the destruction of Earth if he does so via a beam from the Dalek ship that keeps London's power generators from shutting off,ending the city blackouts and leaving London vulnerable to German attacked. After being confronted with the new,multi colored and more powerful Dalek army the Doctor returns to Earth with more revelations: that Bracewell is not only a pre-programed android created by the Daleks but is a living bomb designed to destroy the planet as well. First they try to use his advanced scientific knowledge to create space flight capable fighter planes to stop the Dalek power beam. But this ends in failure with some casualties. By appealing to deep human emotions programmed within him such as love and regret,the Doctor and Amy are able de-activate the bomb with Bracewell,at which time the blackout of London is restored and the Dalek threat to Earth stopped,though the new Daleks escape in their spaceship. After a final offer from Churchill for the doctor to help him win the war,he and Amy leave Earth after sparing the life of Bracewell. Still confused as to her lack of memory of the Dalek invasion of Earth,Amy departs with the Doctor as the same crack in the wall she'd once had in her bedroom re-appears on the wall behind her.

               Though happy to help the revered Winston Churchill,played in the proper valiant yet puckish manner by the great Robbie Coltrane,the Doctor again begins to lose control around the Daleks,the only race he feels complete disdain and fear of due to their annihilation of the time lords. His violent loss of self control in front of Amy and Churchill when confronted with the "ironside" Dalek is one of the best expressions of his feelings towards the Daleks. The character of Erwin Bracewell is,although the unwilling protagonist of the story,is a character one would tend to sympathize for. Realizing in under an hour his entire life and experiences were a lie,he is put into a position of putting his life back together knowing he's not what he realized. One speculates the reason the Doctor spared his life was because he felt the same struggle within him: that his hatred of the Daleks and what they represent and wish to destroy them is always sabotaged by the Daleks constantly using his loving and protective feelings towards humanity as a bargaining chip. These qualities all make this a wonderfully theatrical,visually stunning and well written story for the Doctor and the Daleks.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Doctor Who-The Beast Below
                           While Amy Pond is adjusting to a life of time/space travel,partly by floating outside the TARDIS in a contained pocket of air,the Doctor lands them in 29'th century England. Though at this particular point England is a gigantic space faring city escaping an Earth ravaged by solar flares. Within the Spaceship UK as it's called,the Doctor and Amy discover a lone child crying,and a world of people ignoring her and each other's emotional reaction. Having determined they are dealing with the police state,the Doctor and Amy soon of an voting booth where one learns the truth about this repressed society and are given the choice to either forget what they learned or "protest" and be sent to an underground cavern once they reach 16 and therefore voting age. While at first Amy chooses to forget,she warns the doctor by video before hand  to do the same as herself. He does but before he can do much finds himself in "the beast below" as it were. Once there he and Amy,covered in bio matter determine they are in the mouth of a very large creature at the heart of the ship.  They are rescued by a masked lady called Liz 10,the current queen of England who is immune to the effects of the memory erasure by royal lineage. She wishes to help the Doctor to uncover the conspiracy that she finds distasteful to her morals. Though for his part he is curious as to the mask Liz 10 wheres which,in addition to appearing antiquated is perfectly fit to her face. Plus her assertion the Spaceship UK flies without an engine.

                                  These questions are soon answered when the trio are guided to the power center of the city and find a massive brain is providing power to the entire ship. Herself electing to to test herself at the voting booth Liz 10 discovers she herself was responsible for all of this by allowing the capture of an immense space creature called a Star Whale,the last of an extinct race who,while volunteering to power the Spaceship UK was tortured by humanity into doing so out of fear for survival. That not only reveals she's been kept alive for centuries but gives the doctor a near impossible choice:to either destroy the Spaceship UK to save the star whale or maintain this inhumane act. While many of the adult protesters on the spaceship have been sacrificed to the whale in order to maintain order,the whale is not consuming the children in same manner.That not only reveals she's been kept alive for centuries but gives the doctor a near impossible choice:to either destroy the Spaceship UK to save the star whale or maintain this inhumane act. In a moment of revelation when she sees the star whale respond with affection to the petting of the surviving children,Amy realizes the reason the star whale volunteered is because,being the last of it's kind,empathizes with human children so Amy presses a button labeled "abdicate",at which time the whale is no longer the power source of the  spaceship and everyone is able to survive intact. Though vexed of Amy interfering in his work of course,she convinces him to allow her to continue on in her voyages with him even as the Doctor receives an urgent message from Winston Churchill.

                              This is one of those Doctor Who stories where the plot thrust is directly linked with the character development. On Spaceship UK,it would appear that the concept of government conspiracies and class war have followed humanity into the future and outer space as well. Especially the lengths by which the aristocracy of the spaceship are willing to go to conceal knowledge of the what's happened with the star whale from a already overwhelmed population. Again the idea of the children being the ultimate source of morality showcases how vital generation changes can be. This leads directly into the Doctor and Amy's play in all this. When faced with the possibility of perhaps having to destroy the star whale to save billions of lives,the doctor is riddled with an atypical level of uncertainty,in fact relating himself as a time lord to the star whale as both being the last of their kind and burdened with seemingly impossible tasks. Even though Amy's revelation,bought on the by doctors help,wins the day in the end it's a blow to the Doctors now fragile ego and he considers sending her back to Earth until,of course,she reminds him of his connection with the star whale before the two decide to depart together,and both a bit wiser for the wear.
Doctor Who-The Eleventh Hour
                                       As David Tennant officially exited the show in 2009,Doctor Who faced a similar situation as it had after Tom Baker left the show in 1981. Tennant shared the same level of fame in the role as Tom Baker had in the classic series. And the parallels went beyond that too. Again,a very renowned doctor was being succeeded by the youngest person yet to take the role. At age 27,actor Matt Smith broke the record held up to this point by Peter Davison as the youngest actor ever to portray the doctor.  This was a character very much dependent on maturity and a sense of existing at a point beyond time. So age and wisdom were at the very core of the role. On the other hand,being played by a human actor,would Matt Smith's acting abilities override concerns about his age as they had with Peter Davison? Well he'd certainly have the right debut story to figure it out.

                             Having newly regenerated and his TARDIS having crashed on Earth,the Doctor finds himself in the home of a little girl named Amelia Pond. She has been praying to Santa to fix a crack in the wall through which she's been hearing voices. After a post regeneration crisis that nearly has the doctor eating the confused Miss Pond out of house and home,the doctor gives this hole in the wall his sonic screwdriver treatment he discovers the crack represents a hole in the universe through which a voice saying "prisoner zero has escaped" can be heard. Attempting to repair his TARDIS he whisks away,promising Ameila he'll return in five minutes. Upon arriving back he has to break and enter into the home where he's knocked out with a cricket bat by a young lady whom he believes is a police officer. Turns out is in fact a very grown Amelia Pond. 
Now calling herself Amy,the doctor has to convince her of what he now knows: that a shape shifting alien prisoner is using Earth as an escape point. 

                      This despite it being twelve years,not five minutes since she last saw him. Meanwhile a nurse at a local hospital named Rory Williams is confronted by coma patients all saying "doctor" again and again. Correctly believing something is amiss he proceeds to capture photos on his iphone people outside who also seem to be in the hospital. The doctor encounters him in the midst of this,having already encountered one of these "people" in a hidden room in Amy's home. The Atraxi guards searching out the prisoner have designated Earth to be destroyed if the prisoner isn't handed over. By utilizing the talents of people around him to created a worldwide computer virus that allowed time to stop for enough time to divert the shape shifter and the Atraxi,and utilizing his persuasive talents on the Atraxi he is able to permanently avert the Atraxi from Earth. He leaves Amy and Rory again to repair the TARDIS. When he arrives back? Well two more years have passed and again Amy is reluctant to join him but upon seeing the interior of the newly renovated TARDIS decides to give the time lord another chance and become his new companion.

                    Being that this episode takes place in the modern era,the newly regenerated doctor faces many challenges around him. As usual he's in a world where he knows an alien intelligence is about to destroy everything but,as he points out,people are more interested in taking their iphones out for a snap shot than helping save anyone. So there's a lot of fantastic wit here about the media-centric  society of today's ill preparedness for anything beyond it's reach. Matt Smith pulls off the role of the doctor extremely well not by being old headed but rather reveling in his youth,often thinking and talking faster than anyone can understand him and flaunting his occasionally goofy awkwardness.  Most impressive is the introduction of companion Amy Pond. Karen Gillan portrays Amy,the lonely girl whose life was almost sent astray by the phantom time lord,returning to the right place at the wrong time,with the right mixture of wonder,skepticism and bewilderment. And her being the one who has to trust his position in her life to save the world. A wonderful Doctor Who regeneration story that shows,even after all these decades,the doctor's still got it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


                         Because I was looking to get a broader outlook on the classic Doctor Who series before getting into the currently more talked about modern relaunch,I haven't yet posted many reviews for the modern series save for one review months ago for the ninth doctor series starring Christopher Eccleston. I am hear to inform readers of this blog that this is all about to change.

            In five days from this writing,Matt Smith will be celebrating his 30'th birthday. It's an auspicious day for me,not only because he has been making enormous contributions to a line of actors playing the role originated by William Hartnell in 1963,but because Doctor Who's 50'th anniversary is coming up in a month. So I would like to take this time before Matt Smith's birthday to take a look at some of the newest Doctor Who episodes and review them.

          Doctor Who had an enormous effect,in it's original serialized format,during it's first run in both the UK and eventually the world over. Unlike many other high quality thoughtful science fiction programs though,Doctor Who has made a well realized and successful television comeback. And because of that fact,as well as the shows golden anniversary coming up soon thought it was the right time to celebrate the modern series a bit more than I have been.

Monday, October 22, 2012


          It's a little hard to get away from the fact that,at this point I am lot closer to nearing 100 posts for this blog. For the most part,they have been reviews of classic Doctor Who stories from the first run. That is going to change in the coming weeks and months. Being that it is an election year in the US,I am running an election of my own here on Tardisiriffic. And that is for you to vote from a list I am providing of Doctor Who episodes that you would like me to review here for my 100'th video. Keep in mind,upon reading this please leave your votes/comments on the blog post,not under the link wherever I am posting on Facebook. This is partly to get viewers to comment within the blog. I appreciate your votes and,whatever wins out in terms of the context I hope my review lives up to it!   Also note you have one week to vote. Thank you very much! And the contestants for the 100'th post contests are:

The City of Death


Horror Of Fang Rock

The Deadly Assassin

The Time Meddler



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Doctor Who-The Ambassadors Of Death
                            For this seven part Doctor Who epic,the Doctor and Liz Shaw find themselves investigating a mysterious disappearance in outer space. A British space mission called Mars Probe 7 has disappeared and the now so has the recovery capsule sent to investigate. The doctor for his part vaguely recognizes the piercing sound coming from the recovery capsule,before the disappearance of that astronaut,as being a type of coded message he and Liz Shaw would be capable of decoding with the proper equipment. Though the Brigadier,working with the British space program on this mission,is willing to go along with this as Professor Ralf Cornish who is overseeing the affair are willing,minister of technology Quinlan holds up the mission control with a pistol just as they are preparing to bring the recovery capsule in for re-entry. Upon landing Cornish and the UNIT crew discover no astronauts in the capsule and an automated message. They are able to trace the astronauts to a warehouse in London where UNIT soldiers are ambushed. It is soon revealed that the astronauts passed through an unusual high intensity radiation belt in space and are being held by a para government organization for future research. 

                      But with their evasive attitude and secrecy,the Doctor determines the story doesn't hold up. After Liz Shaw receives a message supposedly from the Brigadier,she finds herself kidnapped by members of this organization who actually kidnapped these astronauts,who are really aliens that feed off radiation and can use it to harm others if needed,to commit a bank heist. She meets a fellow scientist of her acquaintance there,who tries twice to help her escape. By this time determining the real astronauts are still in space due to the breadth of the conspiracy and the assassination of Quinlan,the doctor volunteers to travel into space himself. There he encounters a space ship where the original astronauts are being held for ransom by an alien race who ambassadors were kidnapped on Earth. Upon returning with this information,the Doctor is able to stop obsessed military General Carrington from making a televised message advocating the destruction of the aliens before making the exchange with the aliens for the return of the astronauts.

                   Timed however unintentionally with the near disaster that was Apollo 13,this serial blended an elaborate action-adventure sci fi thriller with a compelling concept regarding peaceful aliens being used by human criminals to blackmail an Earth already paranoid about alien invasions. The character of General Carrington is particularly effective in this regard,as unlike the Brigadier he is willing to allow his fear to motivate every decision he makes-even if it means going above and around the law itself. This atmosphere of space travel and governmental conspiracy goes well with present and near future headlines of that time. And there are many strong in-story elements as well. Here Liz Shaw again proves herself a more than noteworthy companion as she is able to foil the gang of criminals holding the alien Ambassadors for ransom as well as the Doctor would've been able to. This also marks the first time in Doctor Who that the doctor himself journey's into space without the assistance of the TARDIS. In the end this is a story that works very well on every level of it's intentions.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Doctor Who-Frontier In Space
                                 Following it's departure from Inter Minor the TARDIS finds itself in a near collision course with an Earth cargo ship of the 26'th century moving through hyperspace. Upon arrival Jo encounters another spaceship on the viewer and,after hearing a high pitched buzzing sound  the ship changes shape to a Draconian battle cruiser. By the time the crew meet the doctor in preparations for their forthcoming battle,they too see him and Jo as Draconians. This causes confusion on Earth as their President the ambassador of Draconia,seeing as both races had been at peace after years of war,were similarly believing each other to have been responsible for the attack on the cargo ship. Still locked in the cargo ships hold the Doctor deduces the sonic hypnosis used in this process allows an adversary to hallucinate about a feared enemy. By the time the enemy attacks,the one of the crew of the ship try to use the Doctor and Jo as hostages they learn it is in face Ogrons,not Draconians they are facing.

                              Now accused of being Draconian spies,the Doctor and Jo are locked up and taken to Earth,where they appeal their case of the Ogrons sonic hypnosis device to the President of the planet. Unable to provide evidence for their case,the pair are held on Earth until they are again captured  by Draconians for the same reason. After a couple more such related mishaps the Doctor is subjected to a mind probe. When the probe,while indicating the Doctor's innocence overloads he is sent to a Lunar penal facility for political prisoners while Jo remains on Earth. The President of Earth than receives a letter proving the Doctor and Jo's guilt due to the fact their actually citizens of the neutral world Sirius IV and career criminals. The commissioner from this world doing this is none other than the doctors old nemesis The Master,whose true intention is to take the Doctor back to Gallifrey to be tried for his time meddling crimes. 

                         And this sonic hypnosis and use of the Ogrons are part of the Master's plan. After yet more escape artistry from the Master as well as Earth and Draconian pursuers the Doctor is at last able to convince the two original parties to take a journey to the Ogron home world to prove his story. Of course still with Jo in his capture,the Master is already there trying to again hypnotize Jo and this time fails. Upon the Doctors arrival with the Earth crew,the Ogrons plan an ambush while they themselves are menaced by a yellow slug like alien called The Eater. The Master later reveals himself and kills the Earth crew with the help of a group of Daleks with whom he's forged an alliance to kill the doctor. Of course the doctor uses the same sonic hypnosis device to confuse the Ogrons before leaving their home world,after which he activates the TARDIS's telepathic circuit to the time lords warning them of the new risk the Master poses to them.

                        The main thrust of this particular story would be the latin term Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges,basically meaning "for among times of arms,the  law falls mute". Even when aware of the deception involving the Ogrons,both human and Draconian distrust between each other doesn't enable them to see past their mutual acrimony to the actual source of the problem. The fact the the Doctor and Jo are captured over and over again,to the point of the Doctor himself actually becoming a literal political prisoner,showcases the how much of a dissident character the Doctor really is.  Again The Master is prepared to manipulated the political wranglings and  racial tensions he is dealing with in order to facilitate his single minded goal of taking over the universe and killing the Doctor,the one person who truly stands in his way. That quality makes this one of the Doctor Who serials that truly qualifies as one of the serial's most well written political thrillers.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Doctor Who-Carnival Of Monsters

                             For this four part serial the TARDIS,as is often the case for this period of the show misses the mark for Metebelis 3 yet again and finds itself aboard the S.S. Bernice,only to the find that the ships crew are locked in a perpetual time loop and themselves with it.  For their part the crew are convinced Jo and the Doctor are stowaways,but the pairs attempts to convince them of their situation continues,of course to fall of deaf ears.Though the ship has apparently disappeared from 1920's Earth on route to Bombay,and are being menaced by a dinosaur the Doctor is not convinced in the least of the reality of their surroundings,and upon the TARDIS being stolen by a giant hand, soon discovers an escape route leading into what amounts to,from his perspective an elaborate antique power supply. They soon find themselves in a totally different environment menaced  by large monsters with six eyes. 

                                What they soon discover is that the TARDIS had in fact materialized into a device called a miniscope,a miniaturized menagerie of creatures collected from all over for the amusement of other species. These were devices the Doctor once petitioned to outlaw. The hand that stole the TARDIS was,in fact that of an alien conman named Vorg and his assistant Shirna,who themselves are trying to amuse the joyless gray skinned tribunal on the planet Inter Minor with their miniscope. Not convinced of it's ethical and sanitary implications,tribunal member Pletrac attempts to have the device,with the Doctor and Jo inside,destroyed by a decade called the erradicator. The Doctor escapes while Jo again braves the time loop in the Bernice. After convincing the tribunal and Vorg of their mutual short sightedness he is able to defeat both the monsters,the Drashigs who literally consume everything in their path and using the TARDIS return all the specimens inside the miniscope to their proper times and spaces before departing Inter Minor,leaving Vorg with the bewildered Tribunal.

                           Despite it's typically limited special effects budget this episode was in many ways defined by it's visually stunning elements such as the inner machinery of the miniscope,the colorful and hilarious costuming of Vorg and Shirna and the historically appropriate period interiors of the SS Bernice. All this despite of the unconvincing visuals of the Drashings. A footnote also that Ian Marter,later to play Tom Baker's fourth doctor companion Harry Sullivan is here in a scene stealing role as Lt. John Andrews about the SS Bernice. Between Vorg's flim flam artistry and the Inter Minor tribunals constant petty political bickering this is an entertaining,provocative and witty satire. Worked into the storyline too is the similarity of ethical understanding shared by the Doctor and kindly Jo Grant,even if she is occasionally mildly slow on the uptake. The Doctor and her both share the same distaste for the enslavement of any sentient creature for someones entertainment. And it's this mutual sense of morality that is a motivating factor in everything they do in this story.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Doctor Who-The Time Monster
                                    In this final story of Doctor Who's ninth season, the Doctor awakens from a dream involving The Master and a series of images he does not recognize. With the help of Jo Grant,the Brigadier and UNIT in general the focus turns towards Cambridge where two physicists Dr. Ingram and Dr. Hyde are working on a device called TOMTITT (Transmission of Matter through Interstitial Time) that would allow solid matter to be transported to other locations,even through solid matter. Aided by the assistance of Professor Thascalos,the experiment soon goes bad when Dr. Hyde is aged decades in a few short seconds by an intentional overload shortly after the doctor and UNIT's arrival on the scene. Thascalos,which as it turns out is yet another name for the Master,is using TOMTITT as a means to contact Kronos. Thought of on ancient Earth,in particular of the city of Atlantis as a god of time,Kronos is actually an omnipotent being  called a Chromovore that consumes time more so than even the time lords can maneuver within it.

                          After thrawting The Master's attempts to use TOMTITT to manipulate time,and thereby reversing Dr.Hyde back to normal age (though Sgt. Benton is reduced to infancy) The Doctor and Jo pursue the Master,himself having kidnapped Krasis,high priest of Kronos in ancient Atlantis to the 20'th century and journeying with him to ancient Atlantis to find the crystal that will allow him to control Kronos and therefore time itself,in their TARDIS. In ancient Atlantis they meet the ancient King Dalios,himself the age of a time lord whom the Master cannot manipulate. His mate the Queen Galleia become infatuated with The Master and is nearly lured into using him to gain power for herself. The end result of this is the Master succeeding in releasing Kronos into Atlantis and being the result of the cities destruction. Having escaped in their TARDIS's the Doctor than plans to destroy the Master (and himself) with a time ram,whereby both TARDIS's would be destroyed so the Master would be deprived of his plan. When this happens,the two TARDIS's are removed from time to the domain of Kronos,who offers the doctor a debt for allow Kronos to escape to it's domain. He wishes he and Jo to return home,but also allows the Master to escape torment by Kronos in a moment of mercy. Although the Master escapes the TARDIS arrives in time for Ingram and Hyde's final attempt to exaust TOMTITT to restore the flow of time to normal,restoring everything including an adult,and naked Benton.

                This is probably one of the most spacious and elaborate of the Doctor Who serials of it's day. And it's somewhat hard for me to see why it generates so much negative responses from even strong Whovians. The pace is very exciting,the low budget special effects are very psychedelic and clever and the story elements are extremely clever. In the Chromovore Kronos,the doctor and the Master have met their match in terms of a life form that can deal with time even more broadly than themselves by consuming it. In this episode the Master's villainy is played up to frightening proportions. Not only does he show no remorse for his diliberate destruction of Atlantis for his own personal gains,but is even prepared to murder in an instant a terrified Jo Grant,dismissing her as "embarrassing to him" in the same manner as the doctor's antique TARDIS which,by the way was given a make over at the time of this episode. Between the captivating sciences of matter transportation and theology,as well as an excellent speculative recreation of a possible culture of Atlantis this is one of the finest serials of the third doctor era.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Doctor Who-The Mutants
                                                In this six part Jon Pertwee era story,the doctor receives an unusual package from the time lords that is set to be opened only for an intended party. Unaware of it's purpose he and Jo depart on th TARDIS to pre-set coordinates to investigate the matter further. They find themselves in the 30'th century in Sky Base,a facility in orbit around the planet Solos operated by the human empire. The empire,led in this particular case by Marshal are attempting to convert Solos's atmosphere into one compatible with human life,which would mean the end of the humanoid lifeforms already inhabiting this world. Inadvertently involved in this squabble regarding the Solanians near independence from the Empire and  Marshal's attempts to stop this to gain power,it's discovered the package opens for Ky,a Solonian involved in the struggle. The reason for this becomes apparent when Jaeger,Marshal's scientific head in charge of the atmospheric change operation is pressed to have the doctor help the empire in their endeavors.

                                     Meanwhile there is a problem. Solos,with an atmosphere polluted by human settlers that natives can survive in but humans cannot is believed to have caused a plague in which natives are mutating into hostile,bipedal Scorpion-like creatures.  With Jo,Ky and even some of the disaffected personal of Sky Base being consistently held prisoner by Marshal for resisting his single minded mission Jo and Ky escape to the surface of Solos where,temporarily separated from Ky,Jo finds herself in an unusual glowing cave,and before fainting encounters a figure in some type of special suit. Upon the doctors reuniting with Ky and another confrontation with the Mutts,the local name for the Mutants they inspect the box only Ky can open. Inside are stone tablets with writing that Ky reveals would only be understood by a human teacher named Sondergaard,thought long missing.

                                 It isn't long before they meet up with Sondergaard however. Already aware that Marshal's reasons for declaring Marshall law on Solos is due to the presence of Thaesium,an important power source that would have great value for humanity. Sondergaard has come to understand the Thaesium is the source of mutations around him,but still unaware in what capacity. Upon studying the stone tablets gifted to Ky from the time lords the doctor and Sondergaard discover they are ancient local glyphs symobolizing the planets 2,000 year orbit around it's sun,and that each season of Solos is 500 years long. This leads the conclusion that these are not in fact mutations occurring but a natural stage of an evolutionary change in the Solarians that has been delayed by Jaeger and Marshal's experiments with the atmosphere. 

                            Upon escaping from Marshal yet again,Jo is able to contact a space shuttle containing Earth leaders. They arrive in time to hold a trail where Marshall actions are subject to scrutiny Sondergaard,who remained on Solos to try to bring the mutant Solarians to the council as proof presents them during this time. Meanwhile the doctor has discovered a crystal in this Thaesium gave that he researches and discovers it's a key regenerative favor in the Solarians evolutionary process. He gets it to Jo and Ky before they are again imprisoned. The combination of the crystal and the high Thaesium radiation dosages result in Ky undergoing the full evolutionary change into a nearly Omnipotent humanoid being who enevitably defeats and kills Marshall and frees the Earth council whom he'd held captive. Sondergaard agrees to stay on Skybase to help undo the damage done on Solos before the doctor and Jo depart.

                               This serial is one of the most complex and provocative episodes of the third doctor era. In addition to exploring the political improprieties of imperialism that Doctor Who was already well acquainted with,it also explored though in brief the inherent racism involving maintaining such a system. The "outworlder" humans and the Solarians were depicted as using "separate but equal" segregated facilities.  There's also an implication that Marshal had a better idea of the Solarian's evolutionary process than he led on,and feared it because it would spell the instant independence of the race from his falling and bloated empire. Throughout the serial too you notice that while Jo Grant,as is often the case spends most of the serial imprisoned in some fashion or other has learned to become very Wiley,and more than capable of getting out of trouble without the help of the doctor. This was an important step in the growth of her character. And this intricately written serial was in many ways an excellent way to express this point too.




Friday, October 12, 2012

Doctor Who-The Curse Of Peladon
                           The early 1970's were very fertile creative ground for TV and film writers,especially if you happened to be writing for science fiction where one could take ideas from real life situations and deliver them to the public in a way that was far enough from the truth to be safe but close enough to the situation to be familiar and plausible. During the Jon Pertwee era Doctor Who became much like Star Trek in America in that regard,focusing parallel issues from reality within the story. While this worked wonderfully with the stories involving UNIT on contemporary Earth,script editor Terrence Dicks and producer,the late Barry Letts both came to the conclusion that the idea of the time lords using the doctor as a time/space travelling secret agent as it were,as presented in 'Colony In Space' would not only work wonderfully with the third doctors James Bond-like manner,but also add some extra variety and vitality to the show. Not only that but real life again laid the groundwork when England was in negotiation's to join the European Common Market. All of these issues combined went into the making of this story.

                      On a test run with the TARDIS,an attempt to return to Earth results in a crash landing on the planet Peladon,where the TARDIS is knocked over the cliff. Searching for help in the nearest populated area,the Doctor and Jo find themselves forced to pose as Earth delegates who along with representatives from Alpha Centauri ,Arcturus and Mars are trying to persuade Peladon,the young heir to his planets royal thrown,to join the Galactic Federation. The delegates are all attempting to persuade Peladon,himself about to be crowned king,to join while his ward Repesh is repeatedly standing in this way,insisting that a cursed creature called Aggedor will run amok killing people if the planets old ways are discontinued.  The divided and lonely Peladon tries to ask Jo,posing as an Earth princess to join him in marriage. But one member of the royal family has already been killed before the delegates arrived and Peladon is compelled to go by the wishes of Hepesh in all things.

                        The Doctor,based on past experience that the Ice Warriors,the delegates from Mars are involved. And he proceeds to investigate the situation. He finds Aggedor is actually merely a wild animal rather than a mythological monster and that he,along with the Arcturan delegate are being used by Hepesh in order to assure that Peladon does not join the Galactic Federation. Due to his divided position,Peladon is not in the position to grant the doctors request upon returning to present Aggedor for what he really and instead settles on a fight to the death with his mute kings champion Gran. Gran loses by default during what turns out to be an assassination of the Arcurtan delegate. With the help of Joe and the realized interest of the Ice Warriors and the Centurian delegate,the doctor is at last able to convince Gran of Aggedor's true nature and Aggedor,suddenly aware of Hepesh's deceit ends up killing Hepesh before the the thrown. After Peladon makes one last marriage plea to Joe,she leaves with the doctor in the recovered TARDIS...just as the real Earth delegates arrive.

                        While very much a story of political intrigue and therefore based heavily in plot and dialog,this is one of the finest stories of the Jon Pertwee era and justifiably considered one of the all time best classic Doctor Who serials ever made. David Troughton,son of Patrick who portrayed the second doctor is magnificent as the torn and unenviable Peladon. Realizing he's been put in the position of either betraying his own people's traditional ways or starting a war,his anxiety manifests itself in his personal loneliness in trying to wed Jo Grant. For her part,it's easy for us in the audience to empathize with Jo's lack of understanding how he cannot see the correlation between his personal needs and political ambitions. Repesh is the embodiment of the ultimate conservative character,defeating his own purpose in terms of his views by conniving and conspiring in order to keep his people from joining the Galactic Federation. Even he admits his wrong headedness just before his death. Though interestingly enough the doctor's unraveling of the conspiracy itself came from his own self protective act of fruad the act did,in his case,end up justifying the means.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Doctor Who-The Daemons
                                    During Doctor Who's eighth season,a single adversary was chosen for during this entire season who'd present a challenge for the Doctor. This was The Master,a renegade time lord only with the opposite agenda of the Doctors. He used his intelligence and adept mind control abilities to manipulate others,including human beings,into facilitating his attempts to have absolute power over all living beings and destroy the doctor. Up until this point the character had focused much of his energies on economically oriented corporations on Earth. As the season went on his attempts at completing his mission of achieving absolute power began to grow quite a bit broader in scope. In this final story of the eighth season,The Master begins to tango with powers that were in fact somewhat beyond even his control.

                               The BBC is televising a broadcast about a legendary Pegan legend revolving around evil doings at a place called Devils End. Interrupted only by a lady announcing herself as a local  white witch named Olive Hawthorne,the members of UNIT watch the program for amusement while the Doctor seems to take news of an evil occurrence is to take place very soon involving the opening of a rock door known as Devil's hump. Upon the doctors arrival,he and the BBC reporter are frozen by a message freezing wind. Surprised by the sudden TV blackout,Yates and Benton go to investigate. Once the doctor is recovered,he and Jo return to the dig site to find a tiny space ship in the shape of the cavern surrounding it though weighing tons. Meanwhile the area church has a new Vicor known as the Magister,actually the Master using the latin peculiar of his name.

                               It is at this point the Doctor realizes that the Master is conjuring the power of an ancient alien race called the Daemons who,for thousands and millions of years have been assisting humans in their technological progress as part of a scientific experiment for their own benefit. They are depending on the power hungry emotions of the Master and the spiritual fear of the members of the local cult he's surrounded himself with in order to summon the Daemon Azul,in part by striking terror through the autonomous stone gargoyle Bok,to gain the power he seeks. Even as these locals attempt to murder the doctor in a May day ritual it's up to him and ally Hawthorne to convince the fearful locals they are facing science and not magic. In the end it's not the psionic amplifier the doctor constructs that stops the Master,but rather Jo Grant's plea of sacrificing herself to save the life of the Doctor before the resurrected Azul that defeats him and saves the planet from destruction and at last brings the Master to justice,at least for now.

                        This particular serial is said to have been Jon Pertwee's personal favorite. And it's easy to see why in it's captivating,provocative plot,well written story and uncommon use of convincing special effects-such as the murderous stone gargoyle Bok. In terms of the story line,this is also a creationists nightmare. Over and over it champions that what people consider the demonic is,in fact,ancient science and with the idea that even the Devil himself is only a mythological understanding of an ancient alien race. The people of Devil's end are seemingly incapable of understanding this,until the Doctor is able to explain to them-even the benevolent Olive Hawthorne that "magic is only the science of the mind" as Pertwee himself once put it in song. The significance of Jo's relationship with the doctor is confirmed when she selflessly offers her life in exchange for the doctors. This is not only the event the is the defeat of Azul but exposes the townspeople to the Master's exploitation of them. This is one of the very finest episodes of Doctor Who from it's time,as well as a wonderful treatise on how,through religion and superstition, the power of fear to overcome knowledge.

Doctor Who-Colony In Space
               In reality done for budgetary concerns,and within the cannon of the Whoinverse as a reprimand from the other time lords regarding the his interference in time,the Doctor had remained stranded on Earth during the first season of Jon Pertwee's tenure in the role. This allowed for the program to have a somewhat more cohesive flavor since it was set primarily in one location with a set group of actors on each episode and serial. On the other hand Doctor Who wasn't about a cohesive flavor. It's basic premise was set anywhere in time and space. And having it set in one particular part of that continuum ,with the Doctors memory of the TARDIS's de-materialization circuit's function blocked by the time lords,was beginning to seem like something of a contrived plot complication than a motivation for change within the series. So considering that,as well as the Doctors fellow time lord nemesis The Master having departed Earth in his own TARDIS the show presented itself with the opportunity to again leave the bounds of Earth and again journey through time and space.

               While looking into the possible new location of The Master,the Doctor decides to finally show Jo Grant the inside of the TARDIS. Ironically it is at that moment the TARDIS is whisked away by the time lords to the planet Uxarious,with vague information about a "doomsday weapon". There the doctor and Jo find a group of Earth colonists terrorized by what they believe is a giant monster created by a supposedly primitive native culture who,it seems have stolen the TARDIS. Unfortunately the colonists,escaping from a polluted and overpopulated Earth  in the mid 25'th century are in physical,often armed conflict with an Earth mining group called the IMC (Interstellar Mining Corporation) who are planning to strip mine Uxarious for a mineral needed for the power supply on Earth. IMC have in fact created this giant monster using a mental manipulation device and giant robots as a way of getting the colonists out of the way of their operation. It is suggested that an Earth adjudicator be sent to mediate the matter. Interestingly enough,upon arrival it's learned by all parties it is in the fact The Master.

             Meanwhile the Doctor and Jo find themselves trapped in an underground city with the natives,only to be warned away staving off an execution and observing curious hieroglyphics describing a catastrophe that turned the once advanced native culture into primitives who practice ritual sacrifices.  The Master meanwhile is using his legal trickery posing as the Earth adjudicator to convince the IMC and the colonists the Doctor is an agent for the "primitive natives" until the doctor arrives and tries to expose the Master's identity. The doctor and Joe are then taken prisoner by The Master,still trying to play the already adversarial IMC against the colonists  and demands that he be shown the way to the primitives dwelling otherwise Jo will be gassed to death. Upon arrival The Master explains how he stole information from the time lords records about the native Uxarians as having been a once technologically advanced race who were diminished to their current state from the radioactive effects of an enormous doomsday device that could,in effect create a nova from any star. The doctor is able to convince the Uxarian leader to destroy the doomsday device,as well as the dying Uxarian race to prevent the master from wrecking havoc with the device. Afterward the colonists,at the sacrifice of their leader to keep the IMC from evacuating them forcibly,help retrieve the TARDIS as the Doctor and Jo return to Earth as the IMC and the colonists begin a more fruitful relationship.

           While this serial is a bit overlong and could've been somewhat better stated in four parts rather than six,and the Master does ultimately escape from the Doctor as always,this story is a very complex and telling one. Basically it tells the story well of an extreme example of the exploitation of the working class by economically motivated corporations. The IMC become so intent on their goal,they become corrupt against their own people. And the colonists are forced into taking up arms and even mistrust of one another as a result. Amid this conflict,they are unable to see the Master's deception at first since he has again played the bureaucracy card to his favor. The Uxarians are an example of the end product of possessing ultimate power: the destruction of their advancement in the pursuit of it. They are more than happy to commit self genocide to stop The Master from gaining the same device that destroyed their civilization. Also notable is the closening of the Doctor's relationship to Jo Grant,either as a father figure or unrequited lover perhaps, as they take their first steps journeying into time and space together. While the first parts of the serial drag on a bit long,when Robert Delgado's Master comes into the story,the plot and the pace quicken to a captivating speed and vitality.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Doctor Who-The Claws Of Axos
                            During the first couple of years or so of the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who,the doctor was stranded on Earth with his memory of how to run the TARDIS's dematerialization circuit blocked by the time lords. Not only that but,during this entire season of the show he was continually menaced by The Master,the Professor Moriarty to the doctor's Sherlock Holmes. This necessitated a lot more creative writing on the part of the Doctor Who staff. One major reason being the unavoidable fact that any alien encounters would have to come the doctors way rather than his usual method of either seeking them out or stumbling into them. This was particularly effective when human beings vulnerabilities were addressed directly in the story.

                            A group of rather petulant scientists from a nuclear plant supplying power to all of Britain are in the process of pressuring UNIT for assistance when UNIT is called upon to investigate a UFO crash in the same area. The scientists travel along and encounter an unusual spaceship belong to gilded,sculpture like golden skinned humanoids calling themselves Axos. They offer the team a substance called Axonite,which they claim will not only help refuel the Axos dwindling power and nutrition  supply but offer humans a nearly unlimited source of power. Before long one of the scientists Chinn,involved with the British government is ready to distribute Axonite to all the major powers in the world.

                            It takes the bio replication of Filer,one of the scientists,Jo Grants capture and a near catastrophic accident while studying Axonite for the doctor (and later UNIT) to realize the truth: the AXOS are not in fact humanoids but merely a part of a multi faceted living organism that is on Earth to drain the planet of all it's living energy to maintain it's nutritional needs. And the Axos,their ship and Axonite are all one and the same. Finding that the Master is being held prisoner by the Axos in lieu of him leading Earth and the Doctor to the slaughter via the parasitic alien UNIT,the doctor and the scientists all go out to stop Chinn from distribute the Axonite. In the end the doctor is forced into an uneasy alliance with the Master in order to use his TARDIS just enough to lock Axos in a time loop and stave off it's catastrophic hold on Earth.

                           This story  one of the most compelling and engaging of the Jon Pertwee era. As the faux humanoid Axos pointed out,while they were acting primarily on their biological imperative,that it was the greed of the humans as well as the egoism of the Master that were the real enemy. One is left to wonder if Axos were an invading race or a type of cosmic cleanup crew for psychologically doomed worlds. In this story you get the sense the doctor and the master's relationship is more co dependent than it seems too. The Master,when actually faced with a nearly sure fire attempt to kill the doctor in order to destroy Axos seems hesitant to do so. And although exercised as a deception,the doctor seemed genuinely protective of the Master's well being during their temporary alliance. This story not only has a great morality play on the consequences short term politics,but also gives us yet another glimpse into the character of the doctor (and for that matter the time lords) complex psyche.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Doctor Who-Terror Of The Autons
                        Following the departure of Caroline John,and therefore the doctors companion Liz Shaw the producers of Doctor Who had a necessity to create a new companion for the doctor. The fact that he was stranded on Earth also meant that there would have to be someone from within the UNIT organization he was advising to do so. Enter Katy Manning,an eccentric actress who got the part of the new companion Jo Grant largely on the basis of her strong charisma and personality. This completed the lineup of what is sometimes called the UNIT family,consisting of the doctor,Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart,Sgt. Benton and new arrivals Captain Mike Yates and companion Jo Grant. Since previous villains such as the Daleks and Cybermen seemed to be unwieldy at this juncture a new villain was created. This time it was someone from the doctors own race as well.

                      A mysterious traveller referring to himself only as the Master arrives at an English circus where he hypnotizes one of the carnies. He uses him to get to a nearby radio telescope where he does the same to one of the researchers there and shrinks the other to death. This incident draws in the attention of UNIT,where the doctors new companion Jo Grant has just arrived much to his chagrin. When he goes to investigate the incident at the telescope he finds the door booby trapped with a bomb and Jo follows him to investigate. Her encounter with him ends in her being hypnotized in the same manner and used to nearly blow up UNIT with the similar bomb. 

                   While her revelations,plus a visit from an advising time lord help the doctor in understanding whom he's actually dealing with,The Master has put himself into an advisory position in a polymer manufacturing plant,hypnotizing or even murdering anyone who stands in his way with autons he's created from the Nestene consciousness he plundered earlier with the help of one of his hypnotized companions. These autons take the form of humanoids,chairs,artificial flowers and even a murderous doll-all with the intention of allowing the Master to destroy humanity,take over Earth and destroy the doctor.  While the doctor is successful in destroying the Masters attempts to contact the Nestene consciousness to accomplish his mission and thereby stopping the autons as well,the Master manages to escape. Though the doctor managed to plunder the dematerialization circuit from his TARDIS so if the doctor was trapped on Earth,so would the Master.

                This is one of the most exciting and compelling Doctor Who adventures of the Jon Pertwee era. And an excellent introduction for Katy Manning. While at first perceived as a clumsy interloper who was  involved with UNIT purely through nepotism,her willingness to succeed and eventual helpful assistance to the doctor following her being hypnotized by the Master endear her to the doctor and the rest of the UNIT staff as well. The Master for his part is an excellent adversary for the doctor. Not only is he on his intellectual level,but his mission being essentially the polar opposite of the doctors makes him the ideal counterpoint. Given his suave portrayal by the late Robert Delgado,the Master's ability to manipulate key industries and institutions on Earth to facilitate his misdeeds point to the avarice and inefficiency of the modern industrial world. That plus the addition of darkly comic characters such the murderous "devil doll" and the new smiley faced autons add a fractured fairy tale element to what was already a well written and developed story.