Doctor Who: The Expedition

Spoilers for the episode

Story:

They’re still stuck on the planet and nobody can really decide on anything. Everyone seems to think Ian is the one to convince the Thalls to fight. While the Daleks discover they need radiation to survive and that’s just too bad for everyone that doesn’t.

Thoughts:

The Daleks have duplicated the radiation medicine and they’re going to distribute it amongst themselves. They have a laserscope that seems to let them look at images from anywhere and they conclude that the Doctor and his companions are siding with the Thalls to attack them.

Meanwhile Susan’s decided to climb a tree and Ian’s given up on convincing the Thalls to help them, he doesn’t say what his methods were, but he’s tried everything he knows. Been in this situation a lot have you Ian.

He doesn’t blame them though because they’d be risking their lives for strangers and not getting anything out of it. Barbara’s not impressed by this. They’re trapped on the planet and the Daleks will find a way out of the city and come and kill them.

The Doctor can’t make a new fluid link and he’s discovered they really do need more Mercury. Well at least something good came out of this situation.

Ian forgives him because what’s happened has happened. Barbara tells them to stop wasting time and do something. It never crosses her mind that she might be able to do something but considering the Thalls are as sexist as humans are they probably won’t listen to her.

The Doctor has decided to use the Thalls because they’re a ready made army and they can move quicker than the Daleks. Except they have no guns and don’t like violence. I think he’s being a bit optimistic and it looks like the Daleks were right to be worried.

He then says this is no time for morals when Ian gets stubborn and refuses to allow the Thalls to fight for them.

I don’t know what Ian thinks the Doctor’s going to do to convince them because at the moment there’s no danger in them helping. Ian doesn’t want to have the Thall’s deaths on his conscience and Barbara says what about their deaths. They have this argument quite loudly in front of Thalls but they don’t seem to notice.

Susan makes the best point in that the Thalls should get something out of helping them. Like protection from the Daleks.

Ian decides to change his mind again and decides to pick a fight with Alladon to see if they can fight or to show them they can fight (I’m not sure which because I think it’s obvious they can fight).

He says he’s going to trade their history records for the fluid link unless one of them stops him. Alladon doesn’t think he’ll do it but doesn’t make a move to stop him.

So he decides to grab a woman (who I think is Alladon’s love interest) and is going to swap her for the fluid link. It takes a while but Alladon eventually punches him knocking Ian over. Alladon then looks devastated at what he’s done and like he’s only just understood what Ian was trying to do.

Meanwhile the Daleks are reacting badly to the drug and discover they’ve evolved to need radiation so tough luck for those that don’t because they’re going to radiate the planet with another neutron bomb.

They test this theory on the other dying Daleks by giving them more radiation and seeing if they survive. They do and so the plan goes ahead but first they’ve got to take a stock count of all their bombs and radiation supplies.

Back in the jungle and Alladon’s having an existential crisis. To fight and live or to die without fighting. It’s like it’s just occurred to him what his moral stance on violence means. The female Thall says she would have hated him if he’d done nothing to save her. It’s never brought up that she could have done violence to save herself.

Barbara is being told about the terrifying swamp full of mutated creatures. It’s the perfect defense for the back of the city. I wonder where they’re going to have to go next.

The writers really have something against mutation even though that’s what drives evolution. And I don’t think they understand radiation.

Ian’s decided to go to the city. Alladon says he can’t let them die and do nothing and then they will die when the Daleks find a way out of the city to attack them.

They decide to go through the swamp because the Daleks don’t defend it while another group distracts them at the front of the city.

They get to the swamp and some time has passed. It’s lucky the Daleks are doing a stock take or the planet would be nuked by now.

Two Thalls decide this is a good time to discuss what happened last time they were in the swamp when a Thall got dragged under by a creature.

Ian catches up to them and we get a wonderfully patronising sexist conversation. The Thall is surprised Ian let Barbara come along but Ian says he’d be more surprised if he could have stopped her. As if you get to decide where she goes. Her life is on the line too she gets to be part of saving herself.

Barbara wants to stop for a rest being the weak woman that she is but they’ve got a deadline to meet the Doctor in two days.

They make camp, Ian sees a creature in the water and a Thall tells them to sleep but immediately starts monologuing which is counterproductive to the previous statement.

The next day they discuss what they’re going to do. The Daleks get their water from the lake so there must be a way through. While Barbara is there making everyone drinks.

Then a Thall goes to fill the water bags and gets dragged under. I don’t care which one he was and I don’t know if he had a name.

This should have been called planning the expedition. It’s only the last part where they’re trekking through the jungle and it’s like one scene. Most of the expedition is implied.

The first part is a lot of discussing pacifism again which I wouldn’t be against if it didn’t feel like ideas keep getting repeated. Ian keeps flip flopping on his position and the Thalls don’t know what they think.

It’s a very doctor light episode. You think he’s going to do something when he says the Thalls are a ready made army and he can lead them but that goes nowhere. It’s Ian who does all the work of convincing them.

Susan gets a good moment of making it clear why they shouldn’t just be using the Thalls and Barbara pushes everything along like she’s finally found her feet only for them to act like she’s got no right to fight for her own life. I have a feeling she’s going to be more of a hindrance than a help. They sent her along to damsel her.

Previous Doctor Who: The Ambush                                                                                Next Doctor Who: The Ordeal

Doctor Who: The Ambush

Spoilers for the episode

The Story:

They put their plan to escape the city into action but it’s not much of a plan. It’s more lets hope we don’t get noticed and that the Daleks believe Ian is one of them. Then you got the Thalls who turn out to be pacifists and walk straight into the Dalek’s trap.

Thoughts:

Susan’s leading the way with the escape when Ian figures out how to use the controls. There wasn’t much point in having him not be able to use them then if in the next scene he can. I like the way he says ‘off we go’ as if they’re just taking a stroll somewhere.

There’s a Dalek guarding the doorway to the lift and he wants to confirm that the prisoners are to be taken for questioning. Susan pretends to get frightened and tries to run away but they catch her with the plungers. I don’t know how that Dalek missed her winking at the others or her smiling. I also don’t know why the Dalek didn’t shoot her.

They get into the corridor before the lift and the doctor locks the door.

The Daleks finds out there were no orders to question the prisoners so they start cutting through the door.

Ian’s stuck inside the Dalek because they’ve magnetised the floor so he tells them to go on without him. The doctor gets Susan in the lift before she becomes hysterical.

The Daleks get through the door and find the Dalek casing empty. Ian’s managed to get it open and has gone up in the lift. He gets to the top just as the Daleks press the emergency button to bring it back down.

Instead of leaving as quickly as possible they decide to have a look out the window so they can see the Thalls and realise they’re heading into a trap.

The Daleks send one of them up in the lift but now they’re not trying to recapture they’re going to exterminate them.

The door’s been magnetised as well but the doctor gets it open as the others push a statue down the lift shaft destroying the lift.

The Thalls in the city have a conversation about if they should trust the Daleks or not. The Thall with the hat who turns out to be the leader tells Alladon (the Thall that Susan met) to stop being so suspicious because that causes fear which leads to hate and war. Well he’s going to die for being an idiot. He thinks the best weapon against war is going unarmed and that being cautious is an unreasonable response to an enemy you know has wanted to kill you in the past.

The Daleks decide to hide badly around a big table full or food.

The Doctor wants to leave the Thalls and Daleks to it but the others want to warn them because it’s the right thing to do after the Thalls helped them. Ian volunteers to go warn them and sends everyone else back to the ship

The Thall leader approaches the food and says he wants to live in peace with them. Ian watches from a doorway and does nothing until the Daleks come out and the Thalls have got no chance then he tells them it’s a trap. He could have easily warmed them before the Daleks came out to attack. He’s stood right there watching the speech the leader gives. He could have signaled to them. The leader gets killed and a few others injured.

Back in the jungle the Doctor is looking at records of the Thall’s history and maps of the solar systems to try to find out where they are.

Injured Thalls show up and Barbara helps with medicine from the TARDIS. Alladon is taking over as leader.

Ian says the Daleks don’t act as humans do or feel the same way. They have a dislike for the unlike and that’s why they want to kill them. Nazis were the big inspiration for the Daleks.

He says the Thalls must show strength and get the Daleks to respect them. The Thalls won’t fight if the Daleks get out of the city they’ll just move on. They say he doesn’t understand them.

Barbara wants to know if pacifism can become human instinct. She says they’re not cowards so why don’t they fight. I don’t think the writers like pacifism very much. They set the Thalls up so that they lack common sense.

They do realise that the Thalls aren’t human don’t they. Because when they say Human they include the Thalls in that. They might look human but they’ve got to be closer to the Daleks biology wise than humans.

The doctor doesn’t care what happens and says it’s time to go. He asks Ian for the fluid link but the Daleks took it from him. I love that moment and the look on Ian’s face. That might have been something useful to mention back in the city when you were still escaping.

So now they’ve got to go back to get it. At least it was Ian messing up this time and not the doctor screwing around with them. This also makes me like Ian more because he’s not perfect.

This episode felt like it flew by after the last one where nothing happened. Everything still takes ages to do but it feels like progress is happening.

I’m not that keen on the pacifism argument being so one sided. They make the Thalls very easy to argue against.

I’m not much a pacifist. Like Ian says I think pacifism is only effective when everyone is a pacifist or if your enemy is reasonable. Otherwise you’re enemy is getting their own way or killing you and your family off rather easily.

Pacifism vs. Unreasoning hatred. Pacifism loses. It’s like in Xena you’ve got the nice warriors so the pacifists can be pacifists (I’ll have to look that episode up to remember the title).

That being said I think you need to represent both sides fairly or you’re just setting up a strawman to defeat. There’s no challenge to winning an argument when the other side doesn’t have it’s full argument. I don’t think pacifism means you’re stupid or lack self preservation.

This feels more like propaganda to me. They’re equating being a pacifist with being a coward. But I guess they’d have different attitudes back then considering the war wasn’t that far away.

Previous Doctor Who: The Escape                                                                   Next Doctor Who: The Expedition

Doctor Who: The Escape

The story

The Daleks are defeated with mud, the Thalls do lots of talking but not much else and everyone else takes ages to do anything.

Thoughts

I was wrong last episode isn’t slow this one is. It’s starts with Susan exiting the TARDIS and coming face to face with one of the Thalls. At first she’s scared but once she realises he’s not going to hurt her they have a conversation.

This episode of Doctor who makes me understand the whole racism criticism better. Mostly because what Susan says to one of the Thalls. “You’re perfect.” I know the Daleks described them as mutations so she’s probably expecting something horrible but perfect is going a bit far. It’s worse considering he’s a blond haired white man and the actress who plays Susan (Carol Ann Ford) is Jewish.

Turns out that the Thalls didn’t know the Daleks had survived the war that caused the radiation on the planet. He gives her his coat and more medicine to hide in case the Daleks take away the first lot.

Then we’re back with the Daleks who have returned Susan to the cell and have decided to keep the prisoners alive so they can trap the Thalls. Which is why they let her keep the radiation medicine.

We then get expository Susan who gives us Thall back story. They’re basically running out of food.

Then it’s back to the Daleks who are discussing how to defeat the Thalls. So they decide to get Susan to write a letter which means it’s back to the cell again. Where the Dalek accidentally reveals the cell is bugged. I’m sure they could have figured that out without this scene. You can see the camera on the wall.

The Thalls in the jungle have decided to hang out where the TARDIS is parked and discuss how the Daleks used to be teachers and philosophers while the Thalls were warriors. They’re also waiting for a letter signed from Susan so they know it’s from her. That’s genius no one else could possible sign her name.

At least the next scene’s more entertaining with the Daleks dictating a letter for Susan to write. She tells them to wait while she’s writing and says she can only ask not demand. Then laughs at the way they say her name. Somehow she doesn’t get killed.

Then it’s back to the cell where they’ve decided to do something about the bugs and stage a fake fight that the Daleks know is fake to destroy the cameras and the Daleks are too lazy to go in and fix them.

The Doctor figures out the Daleks are powered by static electricity and Ian comes up with a plan. I think it’s funny how they’re trying to make the science be real and they compare the Daleks to bumper cars.

Then it’s back to the Thalls who want to be friends with the Daleks and that’s all the scene is about. The Thalls are just like humans and that makes them boring. They’re society is also sexist. The men wear exactly the same clothes and I’m guessing the women wear the same thing as well but I don’t remember seeing more than one woman.

Then it’s more planning to get out of the cell before they do anything. I think they could have condensed these scenes.

The plan to escape goes well. They jam the door, smear mud on the eye stalk and roll the Dalek over a coat to depower it. It reminds me of Wilf using a paint ball gun so the Dalek can’t see.

They open the casing and Ian orders Susan and Barbara into the corridor so they don’t see the creature inside the Dalek. Probably a good call considering how Barbara reacted to a dead alien and this one’s still alive.

Ian gets inside the Dalek casing but can’t see because they’ve forgot to wipe the mud off. He then speaks in monotone so he sounds like them but can’t move it so they push him.

Brilliant plan the Daleks will only judge you based on your voice. They’ll never notice another Dalek being pushed around by their prisoners. You never know maybe they’d just be too lazy to do anything about it.

This episode went very slowly because on one side of the plot you’ve got the Thalls, who don’t actually do anything, and on the other side you’ve got the doctor and his companions trying to find a way to escape and taking their time about it.

The only thing that saves this episode is the little funny moments. The Daleks having Susan write a letter, the suspicious way they act when planning the escape and a fake fight to destroy a camera. Which as it turns out is the only method of surveillance the Daleks have of the room and once it’s gone they can’t be bothered to move them to a new cell or install a new camera.

The defeat of the Dalek is a little silly but the Daleks have come a long way since then. I’m looking at the Daleks as the Doctor’s greatest enemy not this random alien species the Doctor runs in to.

Also ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ makes more sense to me now. I don’t have to like the decision to make the Daleks forget the doctor but I do see where they’re coming from. The Daleks got stronger in response to the doctor defeating them and this is where they started.

I just hope in the next episode things happen a little quicker and it’s not endless talking.

Previous Doctor Who: The Survivors                                                       Next Doctor Who: The Ambush

 

Doctor Who: The Survivors

Spoilers for the episode

The Story:

They look for Barbara, find out about the high radiation levels, the Doctor confesses about sabotaging the TARDIS and they get captured by the Daleks.

Thoughts:

They’re still looking for Barbara in the city when they get distracted by a ticking noise that leads them to measuring equipment.

Ian hopes they can find Mercury for the TARDIS and thinks whoever made this equipment must be intelligent. He worries what form their intelligence will take but he Doctor dismisses his worries and just says the aliens are advanced.

The ticking leads Susan to a Geiger counter. Where someone has stuck a white label on one end of the scale that says danger. I wonder how the Daleks managed to stick the label on it with no hands. That must be tricky with just a plunger.

The Doctor diagnoses them as having radiation poisoning. Ian gets agitated but Susan says they can travel to another time to get medicine. Ian points out they can’t because of the fluid link and they need the Mercury.

The Doctor confesses what he did and his reasons for it, he wanted to explore the city, and it’s so funny. He says it in such a matter of fact way as he hands the fluid link to Ian. The look of Ian’s face is brilliant.

They have a bit of an argument where Susan and Ian aren’t happy. The Doctor decides it’s time to leave but Ian says they can’t because they’ve got to find Barbara. And here’s the reason he handed the fluid link to Ian in the first place because now Ian won’t give it back. He’s got something over the Doctor and they’re going to do what he wants to do.

The Doctor agrees but I think it’s mostly because he’s not feeling well and can’t be bothered to argue. I love this entire exchange between them.

They exit the room and the Daleks are waiting for them outside. Susan doesn’t get around to screaming but you can tell she wants to.

Ian decides to make a run for it so the Daleks can demonstrate why that’s a bad idea. He gets shot but it only paralyzes his legs. And even after the Daleks explain what they’ve done he keeps repeating ‘my legs’ as if he can’t believe he could be defeated so easily.

They get put in a cell with Barbara and the writers continue to make her ask stupid questions. This time she decides to ask Ian what those things are as if he’s going to know.

They tell her about the radiation poisoning and she asks what’s going to happen to them. The Doctor, probably fed up with endless stupid questions, tells the truth. If they get no treatment they’re going to die.

The Daleks decide to interrogate the Doctor because they think he’s a Thall who are their enemies.

The Doctor gets a bit of information out of them but he doesn’t manage to talk his way out of it.

The radiation medicine is in the TARDIS so the Daleks send one of them to get it and it turns out it has to be Susan. The Doctor can barely move, Barbara doesn’t feel well and Ian can’t walk.

So there were two reasons he was the one to get shot. So he couldn’t travel back to the TARDIS and to show that you can’t just out run the Daleks.

Ian is determined to go though and gets very annoying about the whole thing. He can barely stand and Susan says you have to put the key in the TARDIS just right or the lock melts as a defense mechanism. So Ian declares she’ll have to come with him.

Susan ends up going alone and I like that. It’s a good growing up moment for her.

Susan’s journey back to the TARDIS is a bit slow and there’s a storm going with thunder and lightning to make it more dramatic. Then she sees something scary and we get a close up shot of her head flailing around and being hit by branches as she runs away. It’s a bit silly but very in character for Susan.

She gets to the TARDIS and finds the vials hugging them to her in relief. Then she realises she’s only done half the journey and has to go back out into the jungle. Facing whatever she’s just run away from.

A lot happens in this episode but it still feels slow to me. My dislike of Ian is growing because he’s stuck in the ‘man’ role and has to be in charge. While Barbara comes across as stupid even though no one else knows what’s going on either.

Previous Doctor Who: The Dead Planet                                                             Next Doctor Who: The Escape

Doctor Who: The Dead Planet

Spoilers for the episode

The story

Lots of things go wrong this episode. They hang out in the jungle for a while and get freaked out by a strange alien creature. Susan runs away from a hand on her shoulder. Then the Doctor sabotages the TARDIS in the most obvious way possible, nobody believes it’s an accident, so he can go explore the city. They separate to explore the city and loose Barbara in the process. And everyone seems to be getting ill.

Thoughts

Barbara gets to ask all the stupid questions so the audience can be informed of what’s going on. That’s standard for female characters but it’s still strange that she asks Ian where they are. The Doctor hasn’t said where they are but somehow she thinks Ian will know. I know he’s a man but he’s not all knowing.

She comes across as even more useless especially as she spends most of this episode screaming. Or complaining that they’re not on earth and she doesn’t want to be an adventurer.

The other female of the group isn’t much better but at least Susan likes to explore. She tries to take a stone flower back to the TARDIS but it gets broken when Barbara is frightened of a petrified alien creature and Ian rushes to the rescue.

The dead alien that scared Barbara is made of metal and a bit silly looking but that’s probably the budget. Barbara and Ian think it’s ugly and don’t believe the Doctor when he says it used to be alive and might have attracted it’s prey with electromagnetic waves.

The Doctor makes a point about what’s normal for living beings. Not everything is going to look human or be flesh and blood. This is a good point to make considering Doctor who tends to end up with the human looking aliens being the good guys and the ugly aliens being the bad guys.

He also says this is nothing like you have on your planet. So this implies he’s an alien but I’m not sure how much the writers have thought about it. He was originally going to just be a human from the future but I can’t remember where I heard that.

They find a futuristic looking city and the binocular effect they put on the camera to see the city is funny. It doesn’t make it look like anything other than a model city.

While trying to find another flower to take back Susan gets touched on the shoulder and instead of looking to see who it is runs off in the opposite direction in hysterics. She’s not even looking where she’s going and when she runs into Ian she starts screaming. And she’s surprised when no one believes her.

The doctor says no one could live on the planet because everything is dead but he never says he’s scanned the whole planet.

Barbara goes to talk to Susan and says it’s the Doctor’s scientific facts that won’t allow him to believe her but I think it’s just poor writing. He hasn’t scanned the whole planet so he doesn’t know if the entire planet is dead or not. So it’s possible people could have survived.

Then noises outside the TARDIS door happen and Susan’s all like I told you so. Before getting really freaked out.

Everyone gets scared and the Doctor agrees to take them somewhere else but then he sabotages the ship by draining it of mercury. When the TARDIS stops working he tells them it’s an easy fix and no one suspects anything until he says they have no Mercury on board and so they’ll have to search the city. He doesn’t even care that they know he’s lying. He’s all smug because they all know it’s a con but they don’t know enough to contradict him.

I should probably be more on Ian’s side because the Doctor’s being unreasonable and putting them in danger but every time he opens his mouth it makes me dislike him. He tells the doctor they are going to the city for Mercury and that’s it. It’s the way he says ‘is that clear’ that makes me want the doctor to abandon him.

Even before that when the doctor wanted to go explore but Ian says he ‘can’t let him do that’. Ian makes me less than sympathetic to them being frightened. He’s so annoying.

But the Doctor’s sabotaging works and they all leave the TARDIS only to find a box left outside for them. Ian immediately tells them all to step back so he can have a look.

Why Ian thinks he’s the best one to investigate a strange metal box that’s just appeared I’ll never know. It’s one thing ordering people around but the Doctor has a better chance of working out what it is than he does. But we do get to see him poking it with a stick and covering his face like it’s going to explode. If only he would get blown up.

The box has metal vials and Susan’s still all ‘I told you so’ about their being someone out there. Ian at least apologises to her so he’s not completely terrible.

When they get to the city they start to feel ill. I’m guessing no one thought to look at the radiation meter after that first time. They must be going out of their way to avoid it because it’s out in the open on the TARDIS console. Surely someone would just glance at it. Maybe the TARDIS is trying to kill them. Every time someone looks at it the TARDIS lowers the radiation level or something.

Ian takes charge again but then he’s the one that suggests they separate. So I think he’s to blame for Barbara being the first one to get captured. Because sending a person out who was terrified of a stone creature that didn’t move at all is a great idea. That sounds really productive.

So when she comes across a Dalek she just stands there and screams. I know there’s no where to go but the screaming isn’t helping.

The first shot of a Dalek we ever see is the plunger. I can’t wait to see more of how they began.

This was quite a good episode despite my hating Ian and wishing Barbara would just stay in the TARDIS if she’s going to be scared of everything. I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for them but I think you’re meant to relate to them. With the tension comes from the Doctor, who’s manipulative and sabotages things to get his way regardless of consequences or safety. He also doesn’t work well with others and I’m enjoying watching him frustrate Ian.

Previous Doctor Who: The Firemaker                                                    Next Doctor Who: The Survivors

Doctor Who: The Firemaker

Major spoilers for the episode.

The Story:

They get recaptured and sent back to the cave of skulls but not before the Doctor manages to manipulate the tribe into driving Cal out so Za is in charge. Which turns out not to be much of a better option.

Thoughts:

The first doctor is still using violence to get what he wants. At least this time it’s only getting the tribe to drive Cal from the tribe and not actually killing someone like he tried to do in the forest of fear.

I like the Doctor talking like the cavemen to get them to understand who killed the old woman. That it’s something as basic as who’s got blood on their knife and why that makes them the murderer is funny to me. It’s a long way from complex sci-fi technical talk that the new doctor spouts to save the day.

It’s all a bit useless though because Za decides to imprison them in the cave of skulls anyway until they produce fire for him. Then when they do make fire with him watching he refuses to let them go anyway. He wants their tribes to join together.

Ian says that the whole tribe should learn to make fire but Za thinks that knowledge is only for the leader. They point out that it’s the least important person in their tribe that makes the fire but Za won’t listen.

I suppose that’s the message of this episode that it takes more than knowledge to be the leader because this scene is where Ian denies being the leader of their tribe and says the Doctor is.

If they were going on a who knows the most basis then it would be the Doctor without question but knowledge on its own doesn’t make a good leader. The Doctor had to prove himself to Ian before he’d acknowledge him as the leader.

It’s also only Ian’s opinion that seems to matter because no one asks Barbara or Susan during this exchange. It’s funny when you’re trying to show how advanced you are compared to the cavemen and yet you’re sexist views are still the same. You’d think they’d be more aware of that.

And Susan gets to have an idea that gets them out of the cave. The fact that skulls and fire outsmart the cavemen doesn’t really make it much of a victory but at least she’s not there to solely be melodramatic.

The writers haven’t figured out the TARDIS yet. It’s obviously not as secure as it is in the later series because they are worried until the TARDIS dematerializes as if the spears will damage it. Like it really is made of wood.

This episode moves slowly but I suppose that’s what TV was like back then. There’s a very slow fight scene and while it was no where near up to modern standards there was a more interesting aspect to it.

The violence is depicted as awful instead of glorifying it. There’s no fancy moves and it’s pretty much just frantic wrestling.

You see the doctor and his companions react to the violence. It horrifies them. You don’t realise how desensitised to violence you are until you realise this is the appropriate response to violence and not an old fashioned response.

The problem is the way the camera cuts from the fight to a close up of each individual face. It’s jarring and kind of funny.

The only other problem with the fight scene is that I couldn’t tell which caveman I was meant to be rooting for. They’re both wearing furs and there aren’t any other ways to tell them apart that I could see.

The end chase scene through the forest to the TARDIS is funny. They probably didn’t have a big enough forest set to have the actors run around it so the camera takes close up shots of their faces as they pretend to run inter cut with the cavemen getting angry and using fire to “make night day” so they can pursue them.

Every time they show a close up of their faces with branches getting in the way all I can think about is that there’s someone off camera that’s getting to hit them in the face with branches.

By the end of the episode the doctor and his companions are still at odds and the only progress made is that they know they can work together. And Ian and Barbara now believe the TARDIS can move in time.

There’s still a lot of conflict between the characters. This combined with an unknown planet outside and the radiation meter flashing danger is a great way to end the episode. It makes you want to watch more.

Although you do wonder when they sleep because the doctor only suggests they get cleaned up before exploring the planet.

 

Previous Doctor Who: The Forest of Fear                                          Next Doctor Who: The Dead Planet

Doctor Who: The Forest of Fear

Major spoilers for the episode

The Story:

The Doctor and his companions escape the cave only to be pursued by a caveman who they then have to help when he gets injured but the Doctor thinks the better solution is to murder him so they can leave.

Thoughts:

I like that the titles of the episodes are so straight forward and descriptive of the episodes. The forest is scary because it’s dark and there’s lots of animals. The cavemen fear the dark which is why the guy who can create fire gets to be in charge.

There’s not a complex plot here with lots of twists that are meant to be clever but really you’ve figured them out half way through the episode. Nobody’s trying to trick you and feel clever in process. You’re just meant to enjoy the episode.

One of the cavemen chase the doctor and his companions into the forest and he gets mauled by an animal. Then Barbara has a little break down. I’ll accept that it’s the woman having the panic attack because they are from the 1960’s. Ian probably wouldn’t show his fear but women are seen as weak so that’s the way the writers are going to write her.

And really if you’ve just been captured and put in a cave full of the evidence of past victims and are now fleeing through a forest in the dark then you’re going to be scared.

I like that they aren’t enjoying themselves. Unlike modern companions who travel with the doctor for the fun and the wonder of seeing the universe (at least until Steven Moffatt took over and the companions became plot devices.). These companions are terrified.

They don’t want to be there and being in danger is not fun to them. Later companions acknowledge the danger but also ignore it. Rose ends up stranded in a parallel universe, Martha and her family are tortured and Donna forgets everything.

The doctor at this point is completely opposite to what the later doctor is. Here he doesn’t care about someone suffering and even wants to bash the guy’s head in with a rock. All he wants to do is run. Which is I suppose is a very doctorish thing to do. After all his instinct for flight is what gets them into this situation.

It’s strange to watch the doctor be made a better person by his companions. In the newer series they do stop him from doing some horrible stuff. For example Donna and the Racknoss, that’s the only one I can think of at the moment. But those sort of acts are all against creatures that are a threat, have murdered a lot of people or have the potential to do a lot of damage.

Here the doctor just wants this man dead so he can escape more quickly. If he kills this man then there will be no argument with the others about staying to help because there will be no one for them to help.

The doctor wants to kill out of convenience. Nothing more than that. I love it. It’s such a different doctor than I’m used to and it gives the character somewhere to go.

And really leaving is the logical decision. He’s got his granddaughter to think about and as he later describes them, these people are very unpredictable.

They’re not quite human yet, still only animals with only base level reasoning skills. This danger is proved later when the man they save refuses to let them go even after they save his life.

I like that the doctor is this selfish and only cares about results. He doesn’t care what his companions will think of him if kills the cave man.

It gives him room to change. I don’t know how soon this change happens. If it happens with William Hartnell’s doctor or if we have to wait for the second doctor to see more compassion or even less of a willingness to kill. Either way I’ll enjoy watching a doctor that is so different from the one I know.

 

Previous Doctor Who: The Cave of Skulls                                                 Next Doctor Who: The Firemaker

Doctor Who: The Cave of Skulls

Spoilers for the episode

Story:

The Doctor gets captured by cavemen and then so does everyone else but it turns out his biggest problem is he’s lost his matches.

Thoughts:

The cavemen are trying to decide who should be the new leader and it looks like the one who can make fire has an edge on the other candidates. In this case there’s just two Za and Kal.

Za’s father was the leader and he could make fire but he never showed his son. Kal is a stranger to the tribe but he’s actually being useful and getting them food instead of sitting around and trying to make fire.

Apparently cavemen think making fire involves screaming at ashes and asking twigs where the fire has gone. Maybe that’s what he saw his father do but I understand why they’d prefer a stranger to lead them.

Back in the TARDIS we get a bit of a pointless conversation about if the Doctor can travel in time or not when they could just open the door and show them. It only serves to set up that Ian and the Doctor don’t like each other very much and are going to have lots arguments from this point forward.

Even though I don’t think anyone would act like Barbara in the face of time travel her reaction is less annoying than Ian’s assertions that it’s impossible. If he’s so sure he’s right all he has to do is be a bit patient and he’ll be proved right. And what do you know seconds later the door opens and there’s the proof.

The Doctor goes out to collect soil samples so he can say what year they’re in because his year-o-meter isn’t calculating properly. It’s currently at 0 and I just love that it’s called a year-o-meter.

So then the Doctor gets kidnapped and wakes up to cavemen arguing over his ability to make fire. He tells them he’ll do what they want as long as he’s aloud to go back to his ship but it turns out he’s lost his matches and he has a little panic. I like that it’s such a simple premise of the cavemen want fire and the doctor’s problem is he’s lost his matches.

Then as his companions try to save him they get captured as well. Susan rushes in like she’s some sort of warrior screaming all the way and jumping on the back of a caveman. She’s willing to fight to get her grandfather back and it doesn’t end well but she puts lots of effort in.

I like Susan. The hysterical fit when she realises her grandfather is missing is a bit much but I get she’s excitable and in the 1960’s women aren’t seen as very capable. Especially teenage girls (they aren’t given much credit now either).

Although it makes me wonder what happened when it was just the two of them and something happened. How did she cope then? Or was it all smooth sailing up to this point.

I also like that the Doctor gets kidnapped. The first kidnapping of the show (well it’s the second if you count Ian and Barbara) and it’s the Doctor who it happens to. Not one of the humans or one of the female leads who in auditions had to show that they could scream. But a man who knows more than any of them and has the most experience with travelling in time.

Really this is the best choice because they can’t leave without him. Where as he could leave without them and he’d probably try to.

I love how bad tempered and awful the doctor is to his companions. It’s such a change from the doctor I know and it’s brilliant.

Someone thought it through that if your spaceship traveled through time you’d want it to blend in so it should be able to change shape. This is the trip where the TARDIS’s chameleon circuit breaks and what a good idea that was. Can you imagine this show without the TARDIS looking like it does? I know we wouldn’t know any different but it’s such a big thing now.

This decision was more to do with money than anything else but deciding on a police box out of any other object. Without it we wouldn’t have eleven being a mad man in a box.

I just love that the writers didn’t know anything about the doctor or have an explanation for the TARDIS being bigger on the inside, just one line to try and make it make sense, but they knew they wanted the TARDIS to always look like a police box.

It does takes Susan quite a while to realise the TARDIS hasn’t changed forms to disguise itself and only after one of her teachers points out that it looks out of place.

The arguing between Za and Kal is funny. It’s like modern politics in that the truth doesn’t matter only making your opponent look bad matters and that people will forget what happened if you spin it in the right way. Za and Kal focus on the fear of the people and twisting the situation to suit themselves. But it’s done with caveman logic and fears.

Za makes promises to his tribe that he’ll go out and kill lots of bears tomorrow but even cavemen have learned that politicians lie and he gets called out on his laziness. He wins later though when he gives a speech about how he’s the best provider but Kal will leave you cold, hungry and alone against the predators. The tribe has already forgotten who’s been doing what.

So Za gets everyone thrown in a cave where lots of other people have been murdered before with human skeletons everywhere and the promise that it’s their turn when the sun rises.

The skulls are gross. I don’t like skulls or brains and seeing a close up image of a caved in skull created the right atmosphere. This is what could happen to them if they’re not really careful around these people.

 

Previous Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child                                            Next Doctor Who: The Forest of Fear

Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child

Spoilers for the episode.

I wasn’t expecting to like An Unearthly Child because I don’t tend to like old TV but  I was hoping to like it.

Doctor Who is one of my many obsessions and liking the classic series gives me loads more episodes to obsess over. Even though I watch enough TV already.

I really liked this episode and it might just be because it’s Doctor Who and I’m finally watching the first episode where it all started. But this first episode has so many qualities that the later series retained even though so many things about the doctor haven’t been figured out yet by the writers. Including his species and his planet. I think at this point the writers had him as a human from the future with advanced technology.

You’ve got a lot of what I think doctor who does well. Finding the strange in the ordinary world everyone’s familiar with. The image of a policeman and a junkyard with the sound of the otherworldly music.

This is why Russel T Davies chose the Autons when he revived the series. He wanted a monster that children see a lot (shop window dummies) and would be frightened of.

In this case police boxes would have been more common back then. So people would be familiar with them and when little kids walked past them they could pretend the Doctor was in there.

So then you’ve got Susan Foreman who looks like an ordinary 15 year old girl. She was originally going to be dressed in sparkly alien clothes but I think her looking like a normal teenage girl is better. (I love listening to the commentaries.)

Having her dress like a human is more interesting. She looks ordinary but she’s not. It shows appearances can be deceiving and all that.

She looks normal but she says strange things and has knowledge her teachers don’t which makes them curious and gets them into trouble. This is another aspect of Doctor Who. Curiosity getting people into trouble.

The Doctor is a big mystery and that’s what draws people in. I like that the first episode is all about the mystery of this old time traveler but nothing gets answered. It feels very doctor who.

 

Next Doctor Who: The Cave of Skulls

Doctor Who: Deep Breath

Story:

The doctor regenerates into Peter Capaldi and pretty much forgets how to interact with other people of any species. Clara gets freaked out even though she’s seen all his regenerations and Madame Vastra overreacts a little to Clara’s reaction.

Thoughts:

Major spoilers ahead for the episode.

This episode goes on for way too long. I was waiting for it to end. I was checking the time even though I had no where else to be. Doctor who shouldn’t be a chore to watch.

I wish that with the new Doctor we’d also get a whole new team behind the scenes as well. I think it’s time. I’m not a fan of Steven Moffat. Not anymore.

We get told in this episode that the Doctor is not Clara’s boyfriend. Okay I get it now lets move on. Nope can’t do that we’ve got to hammer the point home.

It’s probably because I’ve read the Moffat comments preceding this season but I’m done with the whole the Doctor isn’t Clara’s boyfriend thing. I don’t care.

I never wanted a Doctor who flirts with every woman he meets. That’s boring. We’ve got hundreds of male heroes who do that. Nobody asked you to make the Doctor straight and give him a wife you did that on your own.

This just feels like misogyny. Create the situation then blame women for liking it. Or just criticise things women like.

The other irony of the episode is that apparently this is the form the Doctor takes because he doesn’t care about being accepted anymore.

Right so white old men aren’t accepted. I know there’s an ageism thing that happens at the BBC but it rarely happens to men. It’s usually women that are targeted with ageist thinking.

I don’t really understand why Clara’s having so much trouble with the Doctor regenerating. She’s seen all his regenerations. (We had to suffer through her telling the first Doctor which TARDIS to pick) But when has the writing for Clara ever been consistent.

Calling her prejudiced though is going a bit far.

If you wanted to show that the Doctor really didn’t care or discuss prejudices you should have made him black or Asian or a woman. Then you could have shown him having to fight a bit more to gain respect or authority.

That would have been interesting. That’s part of why it gets brought up so much.

Maybe then there would have been a bit more of a point to Clara’s story line this episode.

I’m sure Peter Capaldi will be great. I always hate the new Doctor so I’m not going to comment on his specific version yet. It takes me ages to like a new doctor. I remember being determined to hate David Tenant and Matt Smith before I got used to them.

New companions don’t fare any better with me. I hated Martha for ages and it took until the fourth season for me to like her.

But we’ve had a year of Clara and I just want her gone. I think at first she represented everything I hated about how female characters are portrayed and it’s hard to forget now that she sort of has a personality.

We had Amy who was pretty and skinny and liked to flirt with the Doctor. That’s fine but then we got exactly the same thing with Clara. Except she had no other personality. And she was meant to be special in some way. The impossible girl.

I’m getting really off track.

It feels like too much is going on. Dinosaur then robots then a spaceship and regeneration.

The spaceship is the SS Marie Antoinette which is the sister ship to the SS Madame de Pompadour. The one in ‘the girl in the fireplace’. One of my favourite episodes and one that Moffat wrote before he took over as show runner.

There were a few other things that were references to other episodes. I like that. I’m a creature of habit change doesn’t come easily to me.

We get more of ‘don’t’ do stuff that as a human you have to do. First it was don’t blink, which is scarier than don’t breathe. I’m sure Clara was terrified but watching it I kept thinking well you can breathe a little bit then stop.

Then we get to the kiss that’s not a kiss. Thanks for being inclusive in a way that makes me feel excluded again.

The lesbians aren’t allowed to act like the married couple they are. Kissing just because they have affection towards one another is not allowed. No we’ve got to force it in somewhere by way of the plot.

Then we get the eleventh doctor phoning Clara to tell her to keep traveling with him. I don’t like this at all.

The christmas episode should have tied up all lose ends with Eleven. He’s gone. No more talking to him

How are the viewers meant to let go of the old doctor and embrace the new one when the writers can’t even let go. I know I haven’t let go yet.

Then we get a strange little scene where this episode’s villain who’s just died has a conversation with a woman called Missy in the promised land. She also says the Doctor is her boyfriend and I’m already not liking this.

Despite all the moaning I’ve done in this post it wasn’t a terrible episode. I enjoyed most of it but the parts I didn’t enjoy stand out more to me than the parts I did enjoy. It pushed my buttons the way Doctor Who usually does nowadays.