Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas from the TARDIS Project!

The above is the remarkable work of Garrett Gilchrist, main artist and animator for the WHOSPRITES Project. If you have any animation talent and free time, why not volunteer to help bring parts of the 108 lost episodes back?

As always, thanks for reading and a very Happy Christmas to all of you at home! At the moment, we're still on track for a new episode review on 1st January, so see you in the new year!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Project on hold for the holidays

Due to various Project member commitments, not to mention the fact that we didn't feel like taking a break right in the middle of a two part story, we've decided to take a small Christmas break and reconvene in the new year. Join us on (we hope) 1st January 2010 for "The Powerful Enemy!"

(Oh, and look for our vaguely traditional Christmas greeting later this week!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"The Dalek Invasion of Earth" wrapup

Hello everyone, the Historian here. A little under a year ago, I wrote about how the Daleks' first story "changed everything" for the then-brand new Doctor Who. Just under a year later, the Daleks returned to the show in a story that has just as much significance as their first.

In fact, "first" is a key word when discussing this story. The first cast change, as Carole Ann Ford left the show. The first major production change as David Whitaker departed as story editor. The first returning monster. The first time significant location filming was done using the principal cast. The end of the series' first production block, when a second season was at first in doubt, and then assured. Heck, this story was the first time Doctor Who filmed in a quarry!

But let's leave all of that aside for the moment and talk about the story itself. From the first moments of the first episode, the story grips us and keeps our attention through the following weeks...although I have to admit, it dips a bit during the fourth episode. Nation's script, with Whitaker's contributions, is about the triumph of the human spirit over incredible odds. A theme the show will come back to again and again, yes, but I'm not sure if Doctor Who ever again brought us such a stark illustration of those odds. Over the six episodes, we see the incredible devastation, both physical and (far more importantly) spiritual that the Dalek invasion has brought to humanity. We're introduced to rebels, struggling ineffectually against a foe they plainly don't fully understand (when the Daleks' plan is revealed, it takes everyone by surprise); they range from the adventuresome (David) to the crusader (Dortmun) to the cynic infected by despair (Jenny) to the pragmatic (Tyler). And yet, even the most optimistic of them are ultimately overcome by the scope of the destruction of humanity...until our friends, who are not of that time and have not been infected by despair, come to rally them, to investigate and to help the humans of the twenty-second century free themselves from the Daleks.

All right, I'll stop. I promise. Let's just say that this story wasn't merely groundbreaking, but possibly exceeded some of the similar stories that would follow it.

I'd be remiss in not talking about the departure of Susan. Despite the occasional bursts of character in stories like "Marco Polo" and "The Sensorites," I don't think anyone wouldn't be able to understand Carole Ann Ford's frustration at Susan's lack of development. Especially given how much Barbara and Ian received. Apparently, she made plenty of suggestions to the production team which were ignored (though what little I've heard of them has me grateful about that). Taking all of that into account, Ford still managed to portray a character who we've cared about (Ketina's annoyance with her screaming aside) and who it is believable that the Doctor, Barbara and Ian would care about. Indeed, the bond between the Doctor and Susan especially feels real; it's no surprise that William Hartnell was reportedly very upset at Ford's decision to leave the show. And, of course, Susan manages to leave on a high note, with one of the most believable romances in Doctor Who history. I'm pretty sure I mentioned how realistic the young love between Susan and David feels, youthful exuberance in the face of armageddon. We couldn't help but compare it to other "companion gets married off" stories to come and the Susan/David romance is leaps and bounds above almost all of them. Some fine writing from Nation and Whitaker.

And that gives us a good transition to talking about David Whitaker's departure as story editor. He had worked on the show for the first year of production, but as the production block ended, Whitaker decided to move on. He'd be replaced by a familiar name, Dennis Spooner, who had written the earlier story, "The Reign of Terror." Whitaker deserves a lot of credit for the show's success, having commissioned and, in some cases, done doctoring on many of the scripts as well as writing the character development filled "Inside the Spaceship." Although he would return to write scripts for the series (indeed, he wrote the story we'll begin next week), this story ends Whitaker's formal relationship as a member of the Doctor Who office. For more production information, check out Shannon Sullivan's page for this story.

And, after all these preliminaries, here are the links to our episode posts:
"World's End"
"The Daleks"
"Day of Reckoning"
"The End of Tomorrow"
"The Waking Ally"

And, as always, here is the official BBC episode guide page for this story.

Coming up next, a new companion and a new adventure! Until then, I remain


Friday, December 11, 2009


Hello everyone, the Historian here, along with the regular crew of Ketina, Ronelyn and Schmallturm, bringing you the last episode in this epic of the Daleks' invasion of Earth. Without further ado, let's get to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 26 December 1964. The bomb is closed around Ian and begins to move to be dropped into the shaft.....Ian frantically pulls at wires as, above, the Daleks monitor the bomb's progress. He manages to short the thing out, stopping its descent, but a team of Robomen haul it back up the shaft using a long rope. Ian manages to open a trap door at the base of the bomb and uses the rope to lower himself into the shaft. Unfortunately, Dalek monitors have discovered him emerging and a Dalek, finding Ian dangling, fires at the rope. It snaps, sending Ian sliding down the shaft. He comes to a turn, hits his head on the wall and is knocked unconscious...Back in the Dalek centre, Barbara and Jenny are marched towards the control room. Barbara whispers to her friend that she will keep the Daleks occupied while Jenny tries and destroy whatever equipment they can, but are immediately silenced by the Dalek who is escorting them. As they enter the room, the two women overhear the Black Dalek being told that the explosive is almost repaired. The Black Dalek orders that the Robomen herd the humans into the area where they will be killed by the explosion; the humans, no longer useful, will be exterminated! Barbara and Jenny take note of which device a Dalek uses to issue orders to the Robomen. Barbara whispers that they could use the device to make the Robomen attack the Daleks! Just then, the Black Dalek notices them and demands the information about the rebellion that Barbara claimed to have. When she tries to show it Dortmun's plans, the Black Dalek insists on hard information. Using a hodgepodge of historical names and allusions, Barbara attempts to distract and bamboozle the Daleks as Jenny tries, unsuccessfully, to edge her way towards a control panel. Finally having panicked the Daleks, Barbara uses the moment to run to the Robomen control machine. Before she can get an order out, the Daleks recover and capture the two women. They will be held in the HQ to die in the explosion! Meanwhile, the Doctor and Tyler use binoculars to examine the Dalek installation from the clif face. As David and Susan join them, the Doctor has formed a plan; he sends the young people to destroy a wired attached to a metal aerial on the other side of the crater using the acid in Dortmun's remaining bombs. Meanwhile, he and Tyler will enter the mineworks and attempt to sneak into the Dalek HQ. Ian recovers consciousness and discovers he has landed near a hatch in the wall. He manages to get it open, but is nearly caught by a Roboman who is driving a group of humans hauling timber on the other side. He manages to get the hatch closed before he is seen. The Black Dalek is told that the bomb repairs are finished and it orders the evacuation of Daleks to the surface, where they will be picked up by saucers before the explosion. Outside, the Doctor manages to destroy the alarm attached to the outer door and he and Tyler cautiously enter the HQ. Back in the shaft, Ian cautiously opens the hatch again. He crawls through and then has an idea. He drags some of the timbers and positions them out the hatch into the shaft. At this point, the Daleks launch the bomb again, but, unbeknownst to the Daleks, Ian's plan works and it is halted by the timbers laid across the shaft! The Doctor and Tyler hide on either side of a doorway as the single-minded Daleks file past them and out of the building. They see Barbara and Jenny, trapped against a wall by magnets stuck around their necks. Releasing them, the Doctor and Barbara are overjoyed to see each other, although the Doctor continues to worry about Ian. Still there is no time for that; Barbara explains the Daleks' plan to the Doctor and he is immediately more determined than ever to stop them. He goes to a scanner and adjusts the frequency to monitor Susan and David's progress in destroying the wire. He is delighted to see they have almost been successful already. Unfortunately, altering the frequency has triggered an alarm, alerting the one Dalek left on the base. It bears down on the Doctor, who stands there calmly, as if daring the Dalek to exterminate him...just before it can do so, the Dalek suddenly becomes inactive! Susan and David have been successful in destroying what the Doctor knew had to have been the source of the Daleks' transmitted power in the area, and all of the Daleks not in the saucers are incapacitated. The Dalek facing the Doctor overheats and is destroyed! Barbara now tells the Doctor about the Robomen order control and he immediately grasps her plan. The two issue orders to the Robomen to destroy the Daleks! They are joined by the human workers, pouring out of the caverns and overwhelming the immobile Daleks. Ian, heading for the control room where he hopes to find Barbara, meets her, the Doctor, Tyler and Jenny. He tells them of his sabotage of the shaft, but the Doctor realizes the bomb will explode within minutes; they must escape quickly! They join Susan, David and Wells on the cliffs outside the mineworks and watch in horror as a huge explosion envelops the mine, causing magma to flow--a volcanic explosion in England! The Doctor delightedly notes that the Dalek saucers, hovering to pick up their comrades, had all been destroyed by the back draft from the explosion. Tyler and Jenny stand, stunned. What they had never allowed themselves to hope for has come to is over. But what next? Later, back in London, Wells and a team finish clearing the debris from the front of the TARDIS. Tyler is thrilled by how much of London survived the firebombing and the Doctor tells him the hard work of rebuilding the planet must now begin. He believes Tyler and his friends are up to the task. The two are surprised and delighted as Big Ben chimes for the first time in years. Susan, meanwhile, sits alone. The Doctor joins her, concerned about an apparent injury, but it is only her shoe that is damaged, not her foot. The Doctor takes it to repair, but he seems to be feeling a bit awkward with her. The two try to find things to say to each other, then the Doctor goes to check on the ship. As he approaches its doors, he sees David approach and Susan go to join him. The Doctor enters the TARDIS, looking sad, as the two young people begin to talk. David confesses his love for Susan and asks her to stay. She, painfully, says she cannot leave her grandfather. But she loves him too. She is torn, wanting to stay, but feeling she must leave, and she begs David not to make her choose. Just then, Ian and Barbara approach to say goodbye to David. Ian natters on, not realizing what has gone on, but Barbara is more perceptive and finally pulls him away into the ship. Inside, the Doctor, looking sadly at Ian and Barbara, touches a switch on the console. Susan and David begin a painful goodbye, but are surprise when they see the TARDIS door snap shut! From inside the ship, the Doctor informs Susan he has double locked the doors; she cannot get in. For he has realized that his beloved granddaughter is now a woman and her future lies with David, not an old man. "One day," he tells her, "I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine. Goodbye, Susan, goodbye, my dear." And the Doctor activates the controls. Susan and David watch as the TARDIS fades away, leaving Susan and David Campbell to begin their new lives together. As they walk away, Susan leaves her TARDIS key on the ground where she dropped it....

*Sniff* Excuse me, I think I have something in my eye...

Ahem. Yes, well, here we are at the end of a second Dalek story, seeing this outpost of the creatures foiled and destroyed by the very humans they thought they had conquered. A fine ending to a very strong story, I think. Not without its weak points, but certainly the good far outweighs the bad. I'll have more to say about the story and its themes in the wrapup post (I always seem to steal material from myself for these last episodes, so I'll try to refrain), so let's try to stick to this week itself.

This episode had two moments that just out and out some of the gutsiest (is that a word? I doubt it, but I hope you know what I mean) in the show's history thus far. Barbara's wonderful mishmosh of history (which predictably delighted me) while trying to distract the Daleks is incredibly brave and shows us how far she's come from the terrified woman who first met the creatures a year ago. She is well aware of what they can do, but she is willing to lose her life to stop them from destroying the Earth. Just fantastic. The other moment is, of course, the Doctor's supreme confidence in his own plans, facing down a Dalek as it comes straight at him, gun stick at the ready. He doesn't even flinch!

The other extraordinary thing in this episode is, of course, the ending with David, Susan and the Doctor. "He knew you could never leave him," David says, and it's a testament to the Doctor's growth that he is able to let Susan go. Remember how protective he was of her back on the Sense-Sphere? The scene is just written and played beautifully by Hartnell (the look of pain on his face as he realizes what he must do!) and Peter Fraser; Carole Ann Ford is also very good, though I felt she went a little over the top with her sobbing. Still, they all combined to produce a rather touching farewell.

Once again, though, we come back to the stupidity of the Daleks' plan. Ian foiled it with some wood. Admittedly, the Daleks weren't counting on any of the humans being brave or smart enough to ever think of a way to do anything--and they'd have been right if not for our friends. Still...Ian, actually, is the one who comes off as kind of, well, not given much to do this week. His scenes, although apparently important, were a little mediocre this week. He pulls some wires, he falls, he opens and closes a hatch, he sticks some logs out of the hatch. That's basically it. Sure, he basically foils the Daleks' plans, but his scenes feel ineffectual; they're the weak link of this episode. Well, them and the stock footage. As Ronelyn pointed out, none of the footage worked together at all, and almost none of it, with the exception of the running magma, matched the script. (Let me see if I can remember: we have water destroying an embankment, flowing magma and nuclear explosions. Kind of in that order. I may have missed something too.)

And then, there were the gaffes. Hartnell makes a few Billy-fluffs (though I suspect it's Terry Nation's script that is responsible for once again confusing a constellation with a solar system, not Hartnell), there are some problems with props (Jenny's "magnet," for example, doesn't seem to hold her to the wall very well)...but it's the Dalek who looks right at the Doctor as it runs off to the surface that killed us. It's obvious that the operator didn't realize which way the top with the eyestalk was pointing...and the director decided to keep rolling anyway.

Something I feel compelled to mention is our first real "EXTERMINATE!" Not "exterminated," not "KILL," but a full fledged "THE HUMANS MUST BE EXTERMINATED! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!" The first time we really hear what would become the Daleks' warcry/ catchphrase!

And I believe I should let that close my portion of this week's post. So, the Doctor, Ian and Barbara will move on and so shall we. Next week, a new adventure! Until then, I remain



Ketina here,

Let's see, how about this week's highlights - both good and bad, in general chronological order this time:

- First, Ian yanking on the wires from the inside of the bomb to sabotage it. Shouldn't it have been dark in that bomb? How come Ian could see to pull the right wires?
- Then Ian's inexplicable slide down the shaft, landing with no apparent injury beyond a yet more torn jacket.
- As Barbara and Jenny are escorted to the Dalek control room they make their plan immediately in front of the Dalek leading them! "I'M RIGHT HERE. I CAN HEAR YOU."
- Loved Barbara's distracting the Daleks with the spontaneous history lesson. Not so keen on the physical interactions with the Daleks in that scene however. Capture by plunger!
- Okay, I eventually got what Ian did with the logs to block the mine shaft, but at the time he was doing it, it didn't make much sense.
- The hatch Ian took from the mine shaft into the hallway looked like a huge bottle cork. I actually thought it looked cool, but very weird nevertheless.
- Wobbly magnet restraints. Jenny saying "I can't move it" while visibly moving and barely keeping it attached to the wall. It's one thing to have faulty props. It's another to point out how "good" they are when they are obviously acting faulty.
- Dancing Dalek conga line.
- As the Doctor and Tyler hide outside the control room the line of Daleks pass by them. As they do I'm thinking "good thing Daleks doing have good peripheral vision" just as a Dalek slides by look to his left exactly at the Doctor! Guess they don't have any vision!
- Over the top scenes of Robomen and humans attacking the Daleks. "Don't break the props! Don't break the props!"
- Followed shortly by relatively unrelated stock footage of exploding nuke, landslide, avalanche, and volcanic eruption. Please, choose one, or the other, or the other other, but not both, thanks.
- But it all ends with the fantastic scene with Susan, the Doctor, David, and her shoe, as she tries to decide between her grandfather and her new love, with the Doctor finally making the decision for her. I particularly loved the bit where Ian is trying to ask David random stuff and Barbara is tugging oblivious Ian away so that Susan and David can say goodbye (or not say goodbye, as the ended up).
- And the final shot of Susan's TARDIS key shown where she dropped in on the ground where the TARDIS was previously standing. Very cool

So, overall lots of good mixed with lots of not quite as good. :)



Saturday, December 5, 2009

"The Waking Ally"

Hello everyone, and apologies for the delay in posting. Ketina, Ronelyn and I did watch the episode last night, but we wound up running a bit late. Although we discussed it last night, I delayed the post to give me a bit more time to write up the summary today. So, without further ado...

Episode summary: First aired 19 December 1964. Ian and Larry run, but discover the pit's cliff face in front of them as the Slyther comes closer! Larry tries to dodge, but winds up falling, just barely catching the side of a scoop bucket hanging over the pit and saving himself. Ian manages to jump into the scoop and pulls Larry up. The Slyther attempts to follow, but the two men fend it off with rocks in the scoop and it falls to its death. Larry suggests getting out of there, but Ian is afraid that the fight might have been heard and says they should lie low for a bit. At Dalek HQ, the Black Dalek is informed that the shaft has been finished and crews have been dispatched to clean out the debris. The "waste bucket" will be lowered to take the rocks out. Said bucket happens to be the scoop Ian and Larry are hiding in, and so they descend into the earth...Meanwhile, the Doctor, Susan, David and Tyler return to the sewers, hoping to avoid more Robomen patrols. Two of the human robots have followed them, however, and look down through the entrance to see the group. The Doctor suggests letting them both descend so neither can escape to bring reinforcements, but Tyler attacks the first while the second Roboman is still on the ladder. In the fight, one Roboman is killed, but the Doctor merely clubs the other into unconsciousness with his cane, saving Tyler. He is about to shoot the unconscious one, but the Doctor stops him, saying he (the Doctor) never takes life unless he is directly threatened. The group goes on, towards Bedford. Outside, a storm has begun and Barbara and Jenny, almost to the mine, search for shelter. They find a house and enter, only to discover it is already inhabited by two ragged-looking women, one old and one around Susan's age. Jenny, frightened by the women's hostility, wants to leave, but the women tell them that there is a pack of wild dogs, feral since the plague, who roam the woods. The women tell Barbara and Jenny that the Daleks let them live here to make clothes for the mine workers. Barbara tells them that they are making for the mine to find some friends. The old woman is still a bit hostile until Barbara offers to share some food with them. After that, the old woman shows the two where they can sleep. She pulls the girl aside and whispers something to her. The girl takes up a bundle of clothing to deliver and makes to go out. When Jenny suspiciously asks how she will avoid the wild dogs, the old woman says that she has made this journey many times before. Larry and Ian are still descending. The heat and the pressure have increased--they are obviously far underground. The bucket stops about 12 feet from the bottom. Ian jumps down safely, but Larry stumbles and lands on his knee. When he tries to get up, he discovers he cannot walk without aid. The two men limp to cover. Back at the hut, the old woman has started to prepare dinner. As they eat, she talks about seeing London as a girl, before the devastation, but she seems nervous. Suddenly, the girl returns and the two women cower in a corner as two Daleks glide through the door! They order Barbara and Jenny to come with them or die! As the prisoners exit, the old woman and the girl gloat over the food the Daleks have given them in exchange for information. As the old woman watches Barbara and Jenny being taken away, the girl greedily licks sugar off her fingers...Ian looks at Larry's knee. It's not broken, but Larry still can't walk. The two are baffled by the mine set-up; although the Daleks has access to high-tech mining equipment, none of it seems to be present; all the Daleks seem to be having their slaves do is move rock. The question remains: what are they digging for? Larry reminds Ian of his brother Paul's theory that the Daleks wish to remove the magnetic core of the Earth. Could they be just sinking shafts to find it? Ian decides to scout, leaving Larry, but almost immediately runs into a work party, headed up by Wells and guarded by Robomen. The two men decide to "join" the work party in order to get away, but are immediately stopped by a Roboman who realizes that there are too many people. Larry is shocked to discover that the Roboman confronting them is his brother, Paul! He appeals to Paul's memories, but the creature who was once his brother appears completely robotized. He calls them runaways and says they will be punished. Ian tries to drag Larry away, but Larry, in despair, leaps at his brother and attacks him. Robo-Paul shoots his brother, but Larry manages to kill Paul, whose last word, mumbled as he dies, is "Larry..." An alarm sounds and the miners return, led by Wells. They drag the bodies away and Ian retreats. Back in the countryside, Susan is cooking dinner over a fire when she is surprised by David. The two playfully wrestle and giggle...and then kiss. But they quickly push away from each other as Tyler and the Doctor (who has no doubt as to what was happening between the young man and his granddaughter) return for dinner. Sitting down to eat, the Doctor says that, after seeing the installation, he believes the mineworks to be the Daleks' main base on Earth. He asks Tyler why the resistance was not concentrated here and the other replies that they fought the Daleks where they could. There was no indication that the mine was anything special; the assumption was that the Daleks simply wishes to conquer humanity. No, the Doctor says, humans are only work machines to the Daleks. They must be looking for something specific. They are digging down to tamper with the forces of Earth's creation, and the Doctor and his friends must stop them! Ian hides as a work force passes him. He is overjoyed to see Barbara among them! Thankfully, so is Wells, and Ian pulls the man aside, asking him to take a message to the tall, dark haired woman. Meanwhile, Barbara and Jenny drag baskets loaded with rocks to the scoop. Jenny, dispirited, is ready to give up, but Barbara reminds her of all they've done. They can't give up now, she says. If only they could get into the Dalek control room, maybe they could do something. Suddenly, she remember's Dortmun's notes. Barbara approaches a Dalek and says she has information about rebel plans. As proof, she shows them the notes, but demands to be taken to someone in authority before she says anything more. After silent consultation, the Dalek agrees to take Barbara and Jenny to the Black Dalek. Just as Wells tries to deliver Ian's message, the two women are led off. Wells suggests Ian hide himself further into the diggings. In the control room, the Black Dalek is told that the main shaft is four miles away from the Earth's core. The next move is to send their detonation device in to destroy it, eliminating the planet's gravitational and magnetic forces. Ian discovers he has wandered into a Dalek laboratory. Hearing two Daleks approach, he hides in what seems to be a little cubbyhole. The Black Dalek broadcasts an announcement, saying that their plans have almost come to culmination. They will destroy the Earth's core and replace it with a propulsion unit, enabling the Daleks to pilot it anywhere in the universe. Ian, in his hiding place, listens with growing horror. The Daleks are ordered to load the explosive device. Ian is horrified to realize that it is inside this device that he is hidden! The device is closed around him and begins to move to be dropped into the shaft.....


Ketina here,

Okay, so we're going to try the dictated discussion this week, like we did a few weeks ago. We started later that usual, and figured this way would be a little more expedient (and possibly more fun as well). So here we go!

H - The Historian
K - Ketina
R - Ronelyn

H: I thought it was a good episode, but a bit uneven.

R: Yeah.

H: Beginning at the beginning... the interesting thing about the fight with the Slyther is that it didn't work for a strange reason. We've made fun of the incidental music, but this scene lacked music at all. I think music would have made it more exciting. The sound effects were off.

R: We did hear it plop when it hit the ground.

H: But much faster than we should have. It made the pit seem a lot smaller.

K: I thought the sound effect were off for most of the entire episode.

H: It seemed like, for at least the majority of the scenes, that the sound effects were just absent. Like Tyler's gun didn't go off.

R: I heard a click noise.

K: Me too (and please pause your thought if you still hear me typing... I'm not caught up yet).

H: Heh. "Inside of the brain of the TARDIS project. We only have one and we share it around all the time."

R: "Yes, I don't like to use it, it wears out the batteries"

K: So, we were saying? Something about sound effect... god, I can't believe I actually just typed up that tangent...

H: So, I'd say that the clear highlights of the episode were obviously:
- The women in the forest
- The scene between Susan and David

K: Dude, my favorite line EVAR... "Yes, I see something is cooking." Saucy old man.

H: Yes, "Susan's an excellent cook. Hohoho!"

R: "Maybe I'll finally be able to get in the TARDIS bathroom in less and an hour and a half..."

H: What I liked about it was that it felt very natural. The whole relationship with Susan and David doesn't feel artificial or forced, which you usually don't get on this type of show. Everything leads up to the kiss, of course! The scene just worked for me in every way.

K: Definitely. The thing I remembered the most about this story was the Susan and David relationship.

H: One of the things I remembered the most was the women in the woods.

K: Really?

H: Yeah. I mentioned last week that there was cool stuff coming up, and this is what I was thinking of. It gets back to the theme that we were talking about for the first three weeks, the breakdown of society and absolute despair. They turned Barbara and Jenny in for a little bit of food, an orange, and a bag of sugar. That last shot of the girl licking the sugar off her hand was chilling.

R: And I imagine in 1960's England that rationing would have been within living memory.

H: Rationing ended in 1954. So only the young children watching the show wouldn't have remembered it. The idea would have resonated with the older members of the family viewing the show.
There were other good bits as well. I thought William Russell (Ian) did a fine job. The reaction shot when he heard the full plan, he looked suitably horrified. It didn't look like he was mugging for the scene.

R: Yeah, you could see him thinking "oh god, this isn't going to end well for me."

H: It's not going to end well for anyone. I also though the final model shot wasn't too bad. It was a little shaky but it's early days for them to be doing model work.

K: I thought the models were cute. The they looked like little tiny things.

H: Well, they were little tiny things.

K: But models in movies are supposed to look big even when they're little. And these just looked little. And cute. I like miniatures (Ketina gestures to the giant pile of D&D miniatures behind her... at least she will as soon as she takes a short break from typing... )

*return from short break*

H: Hahaha! You are very silly, Ketina.
Okay, what I was going to say...

R: Before you were so nonsensically interrupted.

H: ...was that the scenes in the mine in general I thought worked well. I was very happy that they brought back the character of Wells. It brings us continuity and brings in something who Ian knows.

K: Yeah, I recognized Wells, but couldn't remember from where...

H: From last week Ketina.

K: Uh, two weeks ago. Yeah, I knew he was in the previous episode, I just couldn't remember who he was at first. He was guy trading with evil black market dude who was then horribly eaten-

R: Sat upon to death...

K: by slimy thing.

H: And Larry being confronted by his brother who was robotized - Aces! The entire confrontation with Larry giving his life to save Ian and to kill himself and his brother was very effective. But it does bring up a bad point that I feel I really have to mention.

K: You mean the horrible fight blocking that they insist upon subjecting us to?

H: No not at all.

K: :P

H: What I'm talking about is the fact that the Robomen's helmets look really cool, but are the worst design when used in action. That fall off at the slightest provocation.

R: And takes brain parts with them when they fall.

H: But they look awesome.

R: I don't know. The shot of Bonnie and Beanie robo looking down into the sewer was particularly ridiculous. "DID YOU SEE WHERE WE DROPPED THE BALL? ONE OF US WILL HAVE TO GO DOWN AND GET IT? PA WILL BE REALLY MAD!"

*general laughter*

H: Yeah, you got a point there.

R: They're trying to get the Robomen to come off as emotionless. When they're moving around and acting they're perfecting fine. But when they're just holding still they're like "duh." There's a fine line between cold, unfeeling intellect and "daahgh..."

H: I would argue that they don't have intellect. They are literally Robotic pawns. Oh, we forgot about at the end of the confrontation between Paul and Larry-

K: Paul calls him Larry right before he dies!

H: It was a last emotional gut shot. And that's what this story is at it's best. Emotional shots to the gut.

K: But Paul calls him Larry. Which implies, Historian, that they are not just Robotic pawns.

H: But note that his helmet is knocked off, he's lost contact and the signal is cut off.

K: Or it fell off during the struggle because it's a crappy prop.


H: Anyway...
So, the Daleks' actual plot. It's crazy.

R: What is it, exactly? There are easier ways to make a space ship.

H: Okay, here's the Daleks' plan. They come to Earth, for no apparent reason, because there are billions of other planets probably closer to Skaro. They decimate the population-

R: Like you do.

H: Like you do. And then move in and take over. That's fine, thus far. It makes sense.

R: It's very classic.

K: It sort of makes sense?

H: Well, it makes sense for the Daleks.

K & R: Okay...

H: But they're not interested in just invading Earth. Oh no! They were sent to dig into the earth, send a missile down, explode the magnetic core of the Earth but not destroy the planet (now that's crazy, but not as crazy as it gets)-

R: But wait, there's more.

H: -So after they've destroyed the magnetic core they send down a propulsion unit of some kind, that will explode up the shaft, and allow them to steer the planet like a gigantic space ship. Leaving aside the question of why earth-

R: It's always earth.

H: It's Doctor Who, the whole idea is to bring the Daleks to earth because it's scarier. But leaving that aside, WHY? Why would you do this? It's a ludicrous waste of resources. But it's already been established that there aren't many Daleks on earth in the first place. Makes you wonder if there are other Daleks doing this on other planets. But that still doesn't answer the question, why?

R: The same reason that little blond women with little rat dogs buy Hummers. Because some creatures are so evil that "mine's bigger than yours" is reason enough.

H: The TARDIS project would like to publicly state that the opinions expressed by Ronelyn above are entirely her own. We have no problems with small blond women who own little rat dogs. We love all of our readers.

K: Some of use have problems with ones who buy Humvees though...

H: Well, that's beside the point.

K: I mean, you know, people who buy them and don't need them...

H: We understand Ketina. It's all right. Anyway, was there anything else? Um.. Hartnell was great.

R: Yeah.

H: And we got an "Exterminated" this week. One of the earliest. But they still haven't said it as a battle cry. And they still use "killed" rather than "exterminate" to describe things. I think that's interesting.

K: I want the screaming Daleks yelling "Exterminate! Exterminate!"

H: It's coming. Maybe not in this story, but it is coming soon. ;)

R: I thought the visual effect of the mining bucket going down was uneven. During its descent it was okay-

H: I thought during it's descent was excellent. Just simple effect with the lighting. Very nicely done.

R: But the effect of the start of the trip at the top was kind of lame.

H: There really wasn't one. The effect really was the characters saying "We're descending!"

R: What they tried to do was they had Ian and Larry leap to their feet, as if the thing dropped out from under them. But the result of doing that shook the steel cage in a very wobbly way. And then they said "oh no, we're descending." And then the camera rose up into the air. Which might have worked, except we could still see the cliff face. What we want is the camera to rise up while pivoting down a little bit. So as to create a sense of parallax between the bucket and the cliff face. And that's what they tried to do, but with insufficient distance-

H: You could still see the cliff face not moving.

R: You could still see the relationship between the bucket and the cliff face.

H: My understanding was that they worked in a tiny little studio, which was constantly resulting in problems. Interesting idea, but not so good execution. But at least they're try to experiment with new things, and that was nice.

K: Fight choreography - really bad!

H: They were not the worst we've scene.

R: That's not just damning with faint praise. That's fainting with damn praise.

K: Or feinting. With.. pun.. thing... what? What did you mean by that?

H: Let's just go on, shall we? Okay, I thought the acting was in general pretty high caliber. Including Carole Ann Ford, which is good to see.

K: Yes, for once, rarely Susan did NOT annoy me at all. I thought it was cute.

H: She acting like a young woman. I thought it was perfectly natural. Oh, and I recently reread our first post, and you, Ketina, said that you liked Susan.

K: All I can say is that when I watched these episodes previously I was quite young - close to Susan's age. So, I would have related to her back then. Now, watching it as a grown up... eh.

H: To be fair, she hasn't lived up to her potential. They introduced something potentially interesting in "An Unearthly Child" but never really followed up on that. I suspect Ford was probably pretty frustrated about that.

K: Screams?

R: Susan yelped when she saw the fish. And there was a bit of cry when they entered the hut.

H: But no serious screams this week.

K: Yup, Susan's yelp with the fish I thought was appropriate.

H: It was playful. And actually that whole scene was really important. It was a statement of optimism and positivism in the middle of destruction and despair that was constantly weaving into this story. The idea that young love is still possible even amid despair is very powerful. And I think that's where we should end it this week.

R: I just have one question. Who the heck was "The Waking Ally?"


Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Doctor!

Forty-six years ago today, the day after an international tragedy (so very few people were actually paying attention), the BBC ran a strange little twenty-four minutes of television. One year ago today, the TARDIS Project began with our review of those twenty-four minutes.

Happy forty-sixth birthday, Doctor Who!

Happy first birthday, TARDIS Project!

See you in December, everyone!


Friday, November 20, 2009

"The End of Tomorrow"

Hello everyone, the Historian here, along with Ketina, Ronelyn and Schmallturm, with another Daleky episode. Let's get to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 12 December 1964. The Doctor, Susan and David realize the Robomen have left something that is ticking--an incendiary bomb! The Doctor, still weak, faints as Susan and David try to disarm it. David, unable to prise open the casing, remembers he still has one of Dortmun's bombs. He opens it, spilling the acid out onto the device. The acid melts it and David is able to remove the timing device. David then decides that, as the Doctor is unfit to travel, they should leave him temporarily and try to scout a way out of London. Although Susan argues (loudly), David reasons that the Daleks, believing this area to be firebombed, will not search it. The Doctor should be perfectly safe until they return for him. Susan finally agrees. At the Transport Museum, Barbara and Jenny are trying to get an old lorry on the first floor into shape to take on the road. Thankfully, most of the old (200 years old) vehicles have been kept in working order. Jenny asks Barbara if she knows the way to Bedfordshire and she replies that she used to, adding quickly that she doesn't know what the Daleks have done to the country. At the mines, Ian and Larry watch in horror as Robomen drive humans who are pulling a cart on rails. The two turn to get under cover, but run into a man named Wells, who asks if they are escaped workers. When a Roboman arrives, he covers for them, saying that they're from a work detail sent to help him carry equipment. The Roboman demands that Ian and Larry accompany it to stand in the Roboman selection line. As Ian and Larry move off, the Roboman clubs Wells savagely. The other two run back to help him, defying their captor; Ian tells the Roboman to "get new orders" and the two men help Wells into a shed. Outside, the Roboman's helmet lights as he requests and apparently receives new orders. It enters the shed, but Ian, hiding behind the door, clubs it unconscious. Wells suggests that the other two get out, as the Daleks always seem to know when a Roboman is killed. He can't leave as he is waiting for Ashton, a black marketeer, who is bringing food for the camp. Ian wants to meet Ashton, reasoning that the man might help him get back to London. Didn't you hear? Wells replies. London's been destroyed...Barbara and Jenny are almost ready to go. Jenny is still angry about Dortmun's death, believing he threw his life away for nothing. She decries the idea of death for an ideal with no real effect, considering it senseless. Barbara reminds her that if he hadn't made the Daleks believe he was alone, they'd all be dead. She then cuts the argument off and goes to start the lorry, which catches after a few tries. Jenny opens the front doors and the two move out. David and Susan move into the sewers, still looking for a way out of London. Susan reasons that the Daleks can't come down here, but she finds a bullet shell casing, making her wonder about the Robomen. David tells her that there are other people, scavengers who only care about suriving. The casing probably came from one of them. He checks his gun and finds he has only four bullets left, and no spares. The two turn to move down the tunnel, only to be confronted by a figure holding a gun on them! On the road, Jenny and Barbara are nervous that a passing Dalek has reported them. Seeing a cordon of Daleks in front of them, Barbara decides to simply drive right through them, destroying at least one Dalek! However, a report has been issued to Dalek saucer Alpha Major, who locates the lorry and moves to attack it. Barbara and Jenny leap out of the lorry just in time as the saucer opens fire and destroys it! Back in the sewers, Susan and David are delighted to discover the man holding the gun on them is Tyler! He almost shot them, thinking them scavengers, remarking that there are other dangers down here. During the plague, animals escaped from the zoos and alligators bred in the sewers. They decide to return for the Doctor, Tyler leading, then Susan, with David bringing up the rear. Susan and David talk about what might happen if the Daleks are beaten. Susan is taken with the idea of rebuilding a whole world from the ground up. David says that she would be welcome if she wanted to help...Before they can talk any further, Tyler beckons to them to follow him. Barbara and Jenny, walking, decide they are on the road to St. Albans. Jenny asks Barbara, with some hostility, what she'll do if they get to Bedfordshire and Barbara's friends aren't there. Barbara replies she'll deal with that if it happens. She says Jenny is free to go her own way if she wants, but Jenny decides to stay with her. That night, Ian and Larry sneak around the camp. They hear a roaring and dodge into the shed...only to find a man pointing a gun at them. He confirms that he is Ashton, the black marketeer, and tells them to get out. Ian stands his ground, asking to be guided back to London, but Ashton sneers and asks for payment. Ian says he has no gold, silver or anything else precious and Ashton sneers again. Wells arrives with some jewelery to exchange for cans of food. Hearing another roar, Larry asks what is making that noise. Wells calls it a "pet" of the Black Dalek, something called a Slyther. At night, it roams the camp, searching for food--people! In the sewer, Susan and David have lost sight of Tyler. Making a guess, they climb up a ladder, entering another junction. Susan then comes to another ladder and decides to try climbing down. But the ladder breaks off, hanging there. Susan isn't falling, but can't make it back up to the sewer junction. In the water below her, an alligator has been attracted by the noise and waits for the girl to fall! She calls to David, but Tyler, who had gone up the ladder and through a manhole, gets to her first, firing at the alligator, grabbing the ladder and pulling the it back to the wall. He leads them onward, saying he has found the Doctor and they should move quickly. Back in the shed, Ian and Larry eat some food from Wells' store, which Larry pays for with a couple of rings. Ashton teases Wells, not understanding why the other man won't leave with him. Ashton simply doesn't understand that Wells is trying to help everyone in the camp, not just himself. Suddenly, the men hear the roar of the Slyther outside. They relax, but are shocked when its claw appears behind Ashton, grabbing him! The other three run from the shed, Wells going one way and Ian and Larry another. The thing follows the latter two, who run until they discover they are on the edge of a cliff! And the Slyther, roaring, comes closer....

Well. That was...certainly an episode of Doctor Who, wasn't it? In our discussion afterwards, I called it "an average episode in an above average story." Schmallturm countered that it was "a below average episode in an above average story," and I don't know that I can really disagree. It's not that the episode was bad (the scene with Susan and the stock footage crocodile alligator notwithstanding), it's just that it felt very light, especially compared to the previous three. Those episodes, as we've discussed previously, gave us both heroism and despair and really, really great characters. This episode introduced a monster and let our friends kind of advance, somewhat. (Though Ian and Larry don't do much and David and Susan don't really get anywhere.) The closest we get to our theme of the destruction of society is a vague mention of scavengers, Susan and David's rebuilding discussion (foreshadowing, perhaps?) and, probably most obviously, the character of Ashton. Yes, he is the unscrupulous black marketeer who is disdainful of the "milk of human kindness," but it's a bit too obvious, isn't it? And he's a dead end character, given his apparent death, which means he's a narrative device and not a character at all. Disappointing.

Barbara and Jenny are the obvious highlight of the whole thing, from their discussion of Dortmun's death, to their joy at running over a bunch of Daleks with a lorry, to their final scene with Jenny agreeing to stick with Barbara. It's really the relationship and contrast between these two women, Barbara believing it's possible to win through vs. Jenny's cynicism and despair, that makes this episode more than completely disposable. I'd go so far as to say that Jenny's character arc (she's obviously allowing herself to hope by the end of this week) is a highlight of this entire story.

As for the effects...Ketina has a serious problem, apparently, with the Dalek saucers, but I don't. She calls them pie tins, but I think the model is better than that. Sure, it's not all kinds of intricate model work, but it fits in perfectly with the ethos of "flying saucer" of the time. Also, for me, the design makes sense for Daleks--flat floors, one level, etc. I don't know, it works fine for me. The lorry model explosion was...well, it was certainly a model, but at least it seemed a good match for the full sized lorry and looked all right.

The only other real "effect" (actually a costume, I suppose) for this episode was the Slyther itself. Yes, it is clearly a man in a suit. But it's a very creepy, well-realized suit. The thing is monstrous, with its bulk blank of features and its dangerous looking claws. One has to wonder how the Black Dalek bred the thing...and from what...I think it's certainly effective as a danger and a decent cliffhanger-bringer. (Speaking of which, what was with all the false cliffhangers? Confronted by a man with a gun! The Daleks explode the lorry! Susan hangs over a...uh, deadly alligator! etc. It's as if Terry Nation wasn't sure exactly where the episode would end...)

And then there's the stock footage. I joked, "Hey, Doctor Who is shooting at a working quarry and they can actually show it as a working quarry!" And, as Ronelyn mentioned, yes, there was a bit too much of the "watching the dirty, overworked humans dragging the cart" footage. Yes, they're oppressed, it's horrible, we get it! I know the episode underran a bit (even with all that footage, it didn't make it to 24 minutes), but still.

All of the above being said, though, we're still having a good time with this story. One so-so episode does not overpower the three really wonderful episodes before it, and we have hopes for the next two. I can't wait!

Until then, I remain



Ketina here,

Okay, this was a mediocre episode in what has, so far, been a really good story. They didn't seem to do well in the "getting from point A to point B" episodes in these early Doctor Who stories, did they?

I've got to dig for the good bits here... let's see,
- I liked the parts with Barbara and Jenny. Loved the part when then run over the Dalek with the truck! Awesome!
Okay, I'm having a really hard time thinking of anything else I actually liked. Tolerated, sure. So, I guess then..
- It was better than "the Ordeal", which still ranks as worst individual Doctor Who episode so far.

- Barbara and Jenny getting chased by a pie plate from space. Evil Dalek pie plate! Woo!!!
- Dangling Susan on the ladder and the attack of the baby alligator! No, crocodile. Whatever.
- Disarming the Styrofoam bomb.
- Okay, the Slyther thing wasn't too silly, but the way it broke into the tool shed was random. I thought the black market smuggler guy was going to be a plot point, not food.

- Stock footage.
- Susan's hair. Nice butt shot as she climbed down the shaky ladder though. ;)

Okay, so the episode really wasn't as bad as I make it sound here. I mean, I didn't fall asleep or anything (although I suspect that I might have when I watched this as a kid because I don't remember any of it). Stuff happened. It just wasn't stuff that pushed the plot forward.

I'm out of ideas here, so here's some comments from Ronelyn:
- Daleks making clockwork bombs. WTF? Integrated circuits not good enough for you, eh?
- I know how we can get open this unstable incendiary device! By burning it open with the acid accelerant from a different bomb!
- From the length of time they lingered on the location shot of the slave wagon heading into the train tunnel, they must have blown their entire budget on the scene.
- And finally, the end of this season of "Life on Mars" as certainly taken an unexpected turn. (okay, that only makes sense if you actually watched the series finale of the British version of "Life on Mars", but trust me that comment was funny.)

Until next time, in two weeks! (Happy Thanksgiving folks! And, for those of you not in the US, happy end of November. Or something.)


Friday, November 13, 2009

"Day of Reckoning"

Hello everyone, the Historian here, along with Ketina, Ronelyn and the returning Schmallturm! We hope you enjoyed last week's little experiment, but we're back to the normal format this time. (Like the other one better? Let us know!) And now, let's get to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 5 December 1964. As the rebels board the Dalek saucer, the Doctor is prepared to be robotized! Back in the hideout, Dortmun sits, listening to the sounds of the attack, worrying. Tyler, leading the rebels, finds the Doctor. Defeating the Roboman guarding him, Tyler attempts to revive the unconscious Doctor as his men release the remaining prisoners. Outside, Susan, Barbara and Jenny are hiding in the shadows. David joins them and Susan lets slip that Ian and the Doctor were in the saucer. As David moves to help survivors, Barbara follows. Before Susan can join them, Jenny pulls her away, telling her to flee. Dortmun's bombs do nothing against the Daleks but throw up a smoke screen. The fleeing rebels and prisoners try to use the smoke as a cover, attacking the Daleks as they can, but trying, for the most part, to get away. Tyler carries the Doctor off the ship. Ian also moves down the ramp, spotting Barbara through the smoke. Their reunion is short as a Dalek appears; Barbara retreats into the shadows while Ian dodges back up the ramp and into the saucer. The Black Dalek orders no prisoners taken; rebels are to be pursued and killed. Ian hears this order, hiding beneath a metal plate in the floor. Back at the hideout, Barbara aqnd Jenny are recovering and Dortmun sits, silently waiting for more survivors. Tyler arrives, wounded, and tells Dortmun his bombs were useless and many of the rebels died because of Dortmun's frontal assault. The scientist still contends he can build a bomb to destroy their enemies, but Tyler (understandably) asks him who will be left to throw it? He announces he is going north to join up with other resistance groups. Barbara asks after Ian and the Doctor; Tyler knows nothing of Ian and tells her he and the Doctor had become separated in the confusion. He doesn't know where either of them are. After Tyler leaves, Jenny suggests also going, but Dortmun refuses to leave London. He must work on his bombs until they are effective. Barbara, too, does not want to leave without word of her friends. Dortmun suggests they go to the rebels' other hideout in the London Transport Museum. There are facilities for his work there and it's possible other survivors will gather. But the museum is also across the city, a city crawling with Daleks! Having no real choice, the three agree to journey there. Meanwhile, on the saucer, the Daleks have determined to firebomb London. Robomen will place the bombs while the saucer flies to the mineworks in Bedfordshire. Hearing no sound above him, Ian cautiously emerges from the floorplate. He isn't up a minute when two men come around the corner and confront him. One of them is Craddock, but he is now a Roboman! Craddock, no longer knowing his former cellmate, declares that both Ian and his prisoner will be robotized! Ian and the new man wrestle Craddock to the ground, tearing off his helmet. The short circuited Roboman falls against some equipment and dies. The prisoner introduces himself as Larry Madison. He is searching for his brother, who had been taken to the mineworks. They throw Craddock down a disposal chute and hide below the floor, just as an alarm sounds. David and Susan, having found each other in the confusion, hide. They hear sounds of fleeing rebels pleading for life and being killed by the relentless Daleks. Susan wishes she could simply return to the TARDIS and leave this horrible place, but David says he wouldn't leave even if he could. Susan, on impulse, offers to convince her grandfather to take David with them, but the young man refuses. This is his planet, his time. He must stay. Susan replies that she's never felt she belonged in any time or place, she just keeps travelling. David tells her she will belong somewhere, someday. They look meaningfully at each other when suddenly a rebel appears, carrying an unconscious Doctor with him! The man, Baker, tells David he is making his way to the Cornish coast and they part...only for Baker to run right into a Dalek patrol and be gunned down. Barbara and Jenny push Dortmun's wheelchair through London, running and hiding from Dalek patrols. They barely make it to the museum. Once there, they find it deserted and covered with rebel code banners (saying "VETOED") implying any survivors that had gathered here had left for the South Coast. Barbara wishes the Doctor were there to help Dortmun with the bomb; to her surprise, he says he wishes the Doctor were there too. Another man of science to look over his notes would be invaluable. He explains to Barbara that the purpose of the bombs are to pierce the Daleks' outer hull, which is made of a superhard metal that he has nicknamed "Dalekanium." Barbara thinks the Doctor would be heading towards the mine in Bedford to investigate, but Jenny snaps that her friend is probably dead. "What's so special about this Doctor?" she asks and leaves to guard one of the entrances. Dortmun apologizes for Jenny, saying she isn't really as hard as she seems, and then announces his bomb is finished. He tries to give Barbara his notes, so the Doctor will see them, but she refuses, saying Dortmun and the Doctor can go over them together. He reluctantly agrees, telling Barbara to go and get Jenny and they will leave for Bedfordshire at once. Once Barbara leaves, however, Dortmun places his notes on an empty teacup, picks up one of his bombs and wheels out. When Barbara and Jenny return and find the notes, they realize what he has gone to do and run to stop him. But they are too late. Outside, Dortmun calls to and confronts a group of Daleks. Painfully getting up from his chair, he heaves his bomb at them, just as they gun him down. Though there is an explosion, the Daleks appear to be completely unharmed; Dortmun is not so lucky. Jenny and Barbara, helpless, hide as a Dalek searches the museum. Meanwhile, the Doctor is recovering from his ordeal. The feeling in his legs has returned. While David is off scouting the area, Susan tells the Doctor of his plans to go north to join up with the resistance near Bedfordshire. The Doctor says that the two of them should return to the TARDIS instead. When Susan disagrees, saying that even if they could get back to where the ship is, they'd need help to move the debris, he angrily asks her if she is questioning his authority, which she denies. But she does insist that they should pay attention to David; it is, after all, his time and place! The Doctor, no fool, sees that his granddaughter is very interested in what her new friend thinks. When David returns from scouting, instead of announcing a plan, he asks for the Doctor's advice, as the most senior member of the party. The Doctor replies that he believes, after careful consideration, that they should journey north to Bedfordshire and look for more survivors, but insists that the decision shold be David's. After all, this is his time! Susan is delighted. Ian and Larry, still hiding, talk about their options. Larry believes that if they can find out what the Daleks are digging for, it might help the humans figure out a way to defeat the monsters. His brother thought the Daleks' objective was to mine out the metallic core of Earth. Ian is skeptical. The saucer lands, and Ian and Larry cautiously emerge from hiding. They decide to escape from the saucer through the disposal chute they had previously used to get rid of Craddock's body. Back in London, the Doctor, Susan and David continue to recover, but hear movement. Hiding, they see a Roboman place a device a few feet away from them. The device appears to be ticking....

Whew! Some of these summaries seem to take more effort than others, and this was definitely one of those. Anyway, once again, we all had a great time watching this episode. There were a few quibbly points, especially for Ketina (see below), but on the whole this continues the very strong story established in the first two weeks.

And what a bleak story it is! I know I talked last week about how just plan dark and disturbing some aspects of this story have been, and that was only confirmed this week. The world that our friends have found themselves in, so familiar (perhaps a little too familiar, given 200 years have passed for Ian and Barbara) and yet so horrible. Things look more and more hopeless in this episode; everything the rebels do, from the initial attack all the way to Dortmun's suicide run, are almost completely useless (except for the freeing of the Doctor and Ian, but even that is more to our benefit at this point than the rebels'.) Dortmun's bombs are an excellent symbol of this impotence in the face of the conquerors--no matter how destructive he makes them, no matter how much effort he puts into them, they do no damage to the Daleks at all.

And the Daleks themselves have gone from being the rather nasty surviving baddies attacking another surviving group of the first story to something honestly terrifying. They are murderous, they are relentless. They will kill thousands without a thought if it advances their agenda. They will take their enemies, rip out their minds and souls, and use them as footsoldiers. Most importantly for the impact of this story, the Daleks are not doing this to Thals on some distant planet. They are in Trafalger Square, they are in Westminster--the horror has come to us. And that's why Barbara, Jenny and Dortmun's flight through London went on so long; true, it gave the team a chance to have a lot of great location shooting, but it also emphasized the Daleks' control. (And seeing all those normally busy streets completely deserted was disturbing in and of itself!) There's no question, as good as the first one was, that it is this story that cemented the Daleks as the true, heartless, frighteningly horrible villains that they are.

And then there's the almost incidental robotization of Craddock--horrifying in and of itself. This was someone Ian knew, someone he had talked to, and suddenly Craddock had become not a man, but a thing, attacking his former friends, because there is no longer any "him" left. Tell me that's not disturbing!

But, though this episode seems a bit relentlessly grim, there are some lovely moments. Susan and David have obvious chemistry; Carole Ann Ford is wonderful here, as is Peter Fraser. And the scene between Susan and the Doctor, where he realizes that she might have real feelings for this young man, is nice and subtle. Do you think they're laying the seeds for some development later in the story there? Barbara is as solid and caring as ever, worrying about her friends and refusing to desert them, throwing herself into the effort to help Dortmun and free Earth. Jenny is a really interesting character, the "appears to be hard as nails to mask her pain," and yet it works, thanks to Nation's writing and Ann Davies performance. Dortmun is great; he is absolutely obsessed with his bombs, but is also wracked with guilt at his inability to directly fight the metal monsters. His suicide, done both to test his bomb and to make sure the women could escape without being slowed down by his wheelchair, is the payoff to last episode's confrontation with Tyler, and it works fabulously well. Ian, meanwhile, doesn't have a lot to do this week, other than hide and meet a new friend, Larry. Still he comes off well.

Basically, I remain impressed and a bit shocked that this was children's teatime entertainment in December 1964. I think something this grim would certainly be post-watershed today!

I'll leave you with Schmallturm's observation that of course the first thing Barbara does in the museum is make a cup of tea for everyone! The Daleks can conquer the land, but a good, bracing cup of tea is always a help, isn't it?

See you next week! Until then, I remain



Ketina here,

So, after our discussion (which I'm not transcribing this week), I've concluded that overall I really liked the story, plot, and acting of this episode, but it was full of many technical problems.
- I counted 5 line mistakes
- Explosions didn't match the audio on several occasions
- One Dalek walked right into a wall
- Running around London went a bit long, with speeding Daleks and a bit too many drums (very "Planet of the Apes" like sound track).
- And finally, during the scene where Ian and Larry (seriously, Historian, his name was Larry?) are climbing out of their hiding place on the Dalek ship, the camera pulls back showing the cutout side of the set. My fellow TARDIS project companions insisted this was intentional, rather like one would see a set in stage play. I say, however, that this is a television show, not a stage play. Don't break the fourth wall like this for me!

Okay, enough bitching. So, what was good about this story?
- Well, starting at the beginning, we get a great fight scene with the Daleks. Now I we get to see a Dalek shoot someone in the back when they try to run away! I loved the bit where two guys actually push over a Dalek, only to have one of them crushed by it then shot. See kids, don't mess with these monsters!
- While the scene with Barbara, Dortmun, and Jenny ran very long (at least 5 minutes of the 25 minute episode), there was some fantastic shots of famous London landmarks being overrun by Daleks. Trafalger square, Daleks, and pigeons. What more could you ask for, really? I'm sure the Historian will have more to say about this.
- The death, horror, and hopelessness of the situation was brutal and very effective. This story makes Daleks really scary. There was nowhere to run or hide and nowhere is safe.
- I liked the bits with Susan, David, and later the Doctor. David's concern for her was sweet. And (for once) Susan did not, in any way, annoy me. I loved the scene when the Doctor is all "don't question my authority" to Susan when she suggests he should listen to David, and then later changes his mind about David and is all "well, you're from here, so you should know best." Flashing back to the last Dalek story, David reminds me somewhat of the Thal character Alydon, just replace Barbara with Susan.

So, overall, lots of action (minus a five minute tour of London), explosions, a bit of romance, and a cool plot. This story is lots of fun.

But, what was up with all the VETOED signs on everything? Jenny said they were an indication that the rebels had been there (or was it that the Daleks had been there so it was no longer safe for the rebels? I wasn't entirely clear on that point), but why VETOED? Vote overruled, Daleks have been here... huh?

Anyway, that's all from me this week.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

"The Daleks"

Hello everyone, the Historian here. My apologies about this week's episode being a little late, but Ketina, Ronelyn and I are back with this second episode of the return of the Daleks!

Episode summary: First aired 28 November 1964. The Doctor and Ian turn away from the Robomen only to find a Dalek emerging from the water and gliding towards them! The Dalek angrily asks the Robomen how the humans had gotten so close to the river. The men reply in a Dalek-like monotone that the patrol for the sector has disappeared. The Doctor, partially recovering from his astonishment, determines to pit his mind against the Dalek. He defiantly assures the creature that they will be defeated, but the Dalek angrily dismisses this, saying that the Daleks are the masters of Earth! It orders the Robomen to take the prisoners to the Dalek saucer. Meanwhile, Susan and Barbara are at the secret headquarters of the resistance group led by Dortmun and Tyler. They listen to a radio broadcast by the Daleks, ordering all rebels to surrender. One of the rebels, Jenny, tends Susan's foot and assigns Barbara to get food. Susan, too, will have to work, hurt ankle or no. In another room, Dortmun and Tyler debate the former's attack plan. Dortmun produces his new bomb and says the attack should happen at once, but Tyler thinks it would be a suicide mission. They just don't have the manpower. David returns from looking for the Doctor and Ian, having seen them captured by the Robomen. He reports this to his superiors and Dortmun bemoans the loss of two extra men. David reports that he believes the prisoners were taken to the Dalek saucer at the Chelsea heliport. Outside the saucer, Ian asks the Doctor how this could be--surely they'd seen the Daleks destroyed back on Skaro? The Doctor answers that those events happened far in the future at the end of the creatures' history; this "present" must be closer to the middle. Ian accepts this and notices that the Daleks are different; they have a small dish-like device on their backs that must allow them to travel on non-metal terrain. An invasion force, muses the Doctor, must adapt to the place they are invading. Just then two more prisoners, one of whom has killed a Roboman, arrive. The Daleks order all four to be taken on board the saucer, but the younger of the new arrivals, declaring he'll never return to the mines, attempts to escape. Ian holds the older man back, saying there's nothing that can be done and, sure enough, the Daleks kill the young man. The rest of the prisoners are escorted onto the saucer. David tells Susan about the capture of her friends, but asks her not to tell Barbara. They'll attack the saucer soon and, with all luck, Ian and the Doctor will be freed, so it's best not to let Barbara worry. Jenny brings over two Robomen helmets and she and David explain to Susan and Barbara that the Daleks, needing a larger security force (there aren't that many of them on the planet), take some of their prisoners and operate on them. The prisoners are turned into robotic men, under the control of the Daleks for a time. Eventually, the control breaks down and the Robomen go insane, killing themselves. Jenny adds that her brother was one of the early ones to be converted, which explains her hard attitude. Barbara remembers the body in the water. Susan, on hearing that the conversions take place in the saucer, silently worries about her friends. Inside the saucer, the Doctor admires the ship's construction. The older prisoner replies that it's escape-proof, but the Doctor they are taken to a cell, the Doctor tries to nonchalantly wander off, but is stopped immediately and put into the cell with the others. The Daleks watch all of this via a camera. The Doctor talked of resistance and is obviously more intelligent than average. The Daleks decide to give him "the test." In the cell, Ian and the Doctor discuss escape, but the third prisoner, Jack Craddock, is fatalistic, angering the Doctor. Ian asks Craddock how this happened, how did the Daleks conquer? He tells them that ten years ago, large numbers of meteorites began to fall from the sky and a strange plague broke out, sweeping over most of the world. This explains the signs against body dumping that the TARDIS crew had seen by the river! Craddock says the entire populations of South America, Asia and Africa were wiped out by the plague, but a cure was finally found. Meanwhile, David is telling the same story to Susan and Barbara. The Daleks, having weakened the Earth with plague, swooped in to conquer. Asked why the Daleks had come, neither man can tell either group for sure. Many men were rounded up to be Robomen, but the Dalek's ultimate objective (as far as someone living in Britain knows, anyway) is to take most human labor and use them as mine workers in a giant works in Bedfordshire. What the Daleks want under the Earth, Craddock tells Ian and the Doctor, no one knows. Well, says the Doctor, no time to worry about that. Their first goal must be to escape! In the hideout, the rebels listen to another broadcast. The Daleks claim that this is their final call for surrender, otherwise all of London will be destroyed. Dortmun chooses this moment to announce that the rebels will attack the saucer and brings out his new bomb which he says can destroy Dalek casings. The rebels cheer, but there are questions as to how anyone could get close enough to use the bombs. Barbara suggests using the captured Robomen helmets as disguises; a few rebels will wear them and bring their "prisoners" to the ship, getting them close enough to attack. Others will also attack from surrounding buildings. The attack is set to begin in one hour. Back in the saucer, the Doctor and Ian have discovered a small metal bar on the wall. They then find a glass box with what appears to be an identical metal bar trapped inside. The Doctor, after a small experiment, realizes the bars are both magnetic and he and Ian reason it out that they could be used to open the door. But the second bar is trapped in the box. Craddock had found a magnifying glass on the floor earlier and the Doctor, noticing a powerful light at just the right angle, uses the magnifying glass to focus the beam. Ian stands at one end of the box with the free magnet and the Doctor angles the beam so it melts that end. The trapped magnet breaks free of the box and clunks onto Ian's magnet. Realizing everything is powered by static electricity (the Daleks' main power source in their last encounter), the Doctor and Ian use the magnets to set up a magnetic field that forces the door to slide open. Triumphant, the three prisoners exit the cell--only to run straight into a force of Daleks and Robomen. The Doctor has passed "the test," and the Daleks take him away, forcing the other two back into the cell. A Dalek commands that the Doctor be taken to be robotized. Meanwhile, outside the attack begins! Susan, Barbara and David get ready to throw their bombs from cover, while Tyler (as a "Roboman") leads his "prisoners" towards the saucer's entrance. Things go wrong immediately when they are accosted by a Dalek and Tyler says he is from "sector 4," but there is no patrol in sector 4! David and the women throw their bombs and the attack begins! Meanwhile, the Doctor is forced down onto a table and anesthetized. As the attack outside begins, the Robomen are called away to defend, but a Dalek directs the one operating the equipment above the Doctor to continue. As the saucer rocks, the Doctor lies still as the operation is about to begin....

This week is a bit strange for the Project crew, both because of the necessity of moving things to Sunday and because we had to break our normal watching/blogging format. Instead of watching the episode, spending about twenty minutes or so discussing and then heading off to blog, we had an interruption (not an unhappy one, I hasten to add) immediately after watching this week's episode. This has meant we were unable to discuss and write while things were fresh in our minds. Because of this, we're going with a slightly different format. This week's review will be a bit of a realtime transcription of our discussion, thanks to Ketina's fancy typing fingers! [Please note: this is not verbatim! She's not that fast! But we all agreed that the paraphrasing basically got our points across.]


H: First of all, this was a great episode. We all agree on that.

R: Not quite as great as the first one, but it was still very good.

K: Yeah, it was fun.

H: I think it continued the building of the menace. Craddock's fatalism helped build the tension. The idea that humanity is in little pockets, and can't communicate with each other built if further. When Africa went silent on the radio added a heavy feel to things.

H: The two groups being told the same story back and forth was very good story telling especially for the time in television.

R: I liked it too. That was impressive.

K: *nods*

H: The ship was consistent with the Dalek designs on Skaro. That was nice.

K: However, Daleks looked like the needed to pee. They constantly moved back and forth.

R: Well, that partially indicated who was talking.

H: Yeah, but even the ones not talking did it. I think it might have been a directorial decision relating to the dishes on their backs. But that's just a guess.

K: I still think they looked like they needed to pee.

H: And that's perfectly valid.

*laughter all around*

H: Pretty much all the bits on the space ship were really great. I love the part where The Doctor tries to sneak off. It was very subtle.

R: I liked the Daleks response. "WHAT DO YOU THINK WE ARE? SOME KIND OF PUTZES?"

K: Hard to type... too funny.


*further giggling*

H: The Doctor and Ian's reactions to Kradoc, and the Doctor is saying "We've dealt with them before. We're going to escape." William Hartnell is just the best.

R: But then there was "We'll match our wits with them. We'll come out on top!" and the Dalek was like "I'M RIGHT HERE!"

K: Okay, we have to interject with super silly moment here. The younger guy who tries to run off while the Doctor, Ian, and other prisoners are being marched into the ship.

R: Guy tries to make a break. Other guys tries to help him. Ian says "You can't help him." And the escaping guy says "Help me!!"

H: The scene itself was nice and effective.

R: Yeah, the scene was fine, just the dialog was bad.

K: I disagree, I did not like the scene. So this guy is trying to run away, there is still room to run between the Daleks. And he just stands there for a good 15 seconds waiting for them to get shoot him.

H: He panicked. He was too scared to run. The Daleks could just swivel and shoot him.

R: We're arguing small unit tactics here. He was going to die in either case.

K: Yeah, but I wanted to see him gunned down in the back, man.

H: Riiight. Well, back inside the saucer. There were some good things in the cell, and some less good things in the cell. The dialog was fantastic, even the technobabble was awesome.

R: Except for the "something or other the light beams, to static electriciy something the something yadda yadda."

K: I agree with Ronelyn here.

H: First of all, I'm must say that I'm not a scientist, I'm a historian. But they did (sort of) explain this in the scene. I'm sure they took some liberties with the science. Here's how it worked. They had one metal bar that was a magnet. They find a glass or plastic case with another metal bar in it. They run the first bar over the case, determining the second was magnet. The Doctor notices above the case is a high intensity light. Kradoc has picked up a magnifying glass. Okay. So, here's what we know -- they can move the magnet in the case, but the case is too strong to get the magnet out. The Doctor stations Ian with the magnet they have at one end of the box. Then he takes the magnifying glass and directs the beam of high intensity light to melt part of the box, to weaken it enough to enable the magnet to break through.
Then they took the two magnets to setup a magnet field around the static electricity holding the door sealed to open the door.
None of this was the silly part.

R & K: Okay...

H: The silly part, was Craddock saying "hey, I found a magnifying glass on the floor." and the Doctor didn't think that anything was amiss. Even if this is some kind of device for the Daleks to leave the room, they couldn't hold the magnifying glass! This had to be some kind of a trick.
Nevertheless, the Doctor is still wonderful, with responses to lines like "You're a genius." with "Yes I know, there's very few of us left."

R: Don't forget that when the Doctor thinks he's smarter than someone he becomes overconfident and doesn't think they can trick him.

H: And that explains why he fell for the trap. A surprising intelligent bit of scripting by Terry Nation. And I use the word surprisingly intentionally.

K: Okay, that was a lot of typing. So, no screaming this week.

H: There was a yelp!

K: Oh yeah, there was, wasn't there. God I dislike Susan.
Okay, answer me this. Why was Susan, with injury, part of the plan to attack the ship?

H: Because from inside the neighboring building she was capable of throwing a bomb. Anyone can throw a bomb. I get the feeling we'll see more of the attack next week. We didn't really see the impact of the attack. But what we did see was very confusing.

K: Was that a Roboman or a rebel disguised as a Roboman who got hit?

H: It's still not entirely clear.
I thought it was funny that Tyler was made immediately (made as in they caught him).

R: "What's your operating number?"

H: But it does speak to how desperate the Rebels were, with such a rough plan. And it led to what was honestly, I thought, a really scary and disturbing cliffhanger. Over the last year the Doctor has gone from mysterious and dangerous old man to grandfather -- super granpa. A caring and wonderful, very intelligent and funny guy. And have it all taken away for him to become an agent of the villains.

K: I'm pretty sure they're going to rescue him before he turns into a robot dude.

H: But the cliffhanger is creepy. Surprisingly dark for children's television.

R: Nine year olds would be really freaked out.

K: Six year olds maybe.

H: The whole concept of the robomen, from beginning to end, is really creepy for children's television. They have their intellects taken away, become servents of the Daleks, until they inevitably break down, go crazy, and kill themselves in incredibly destructive ways.

R: Banging their head against the walls.

H: Brilliant and dramatic, but disturbing.

R: Impressive drama, creepy kids TV.

K: Anything else?

H: I thought the acting was generally great. Jenny's story was good. The conversation between Dortmun and Tyler was strong. And we haven't even talked yet about the invasion itself. Classic early 50's / 60's science fiction. "Invaders from outer space." They send the rocks with the plague to decimate the population, absolutely classic.

R: First they send the rocks, then they send the bugs, then they send the BEMs.

H: All told a classic episode. I can't wait until next week.

K & R: *nod nod*

The Historian back again. We hope you've enjoyed this little glimpse behind the scenes of the TARDIS Project. I know the format was a bit...different. (If nothing else, it got Ronelyn to directly participate a bit more!) Next week we'll probably revert to the old version, but what do you think? Should we lift the veil and uncover the mind of the Project more often? Or would you rather we, you know, didn't?

Until next week, I remain



Friday, November 6, 2009

Next episode posponed to Sunday

Look for our post for the episode "The Daleks" on Sunday evening. Sorry for the delay!


Friday, October 30, 2009

"World's End"

Hello everyone, the Historian here, with Ketina, Ronelyn and Schmallturm. This is the first episode of a story we've really been looking forward to, so let's skip the preliminaries and get to the summary!

Episode Summary: First aired 21 November 1964. A man wearing a strange helmet walks jerkily towards a river. He tears something connected to the helmet off his neck, screams and walks into the river to drown...Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor is still frustrated with the scanner. He can't tell where they've landed, beyond the fact that there seems to be running water outside. When the others enter the control room, he has Susan check the vital readings. All seems normal, so the crew decide to go out and take a look. The TARDIS has landed on what appears to be an embankment, with a bridge overhead and a river down the slope. (In fact, they have landed on the very spot where the strange man was at the start of the episode!) The Doctor, Ian and Barbara immediately recognize the buildings on the far bank--the river is the Thames and they have returned to London! Ian and Barbara are overjoyed, but the Doctor is not so sure. It seems too deserted and decayed to be 1960s London...they are in the right place, but are they in the right time? Susan, deciding to have a better look around, climbs up one of the bridge supports, but falls. Ian barely manages to get her away in time, as the bridge collapses, blocking the entrance to the TARDIS! Ian and the Doctor examine the wreckage, realizing they would need help to shift it. And how, if this is the 1960s, would they explain having to break into a police box? Ian theorizes that an acetylene torch could cut through, but how would they get one? He notices a warehouse nearby and suggests checking it for tools. The Doctor is not very easy with this, but agrees. Both he and Ian now agree that this is not the teachers' time period. They've heard no sounds, no people, not even the chimes of Big Ben! Meanwhile, Barbara has examined Susan's ankle; it's definitely sprained and beginning to swell. The travellers decide that the Doctor and Ian will go off to the warehouse while Barbara watches Susan. Barbara takes her handkerchief down to the river to get some water to put on the ankle. The warehouse looks dilapidated and deserted. Ian calls out, but gets no answer as the two enter. Returning to Susan, Barbara sees a sign posted below the bridge: "It is forbidden to dump bodies in the river." She, too, is now certain they are not in their own time and she hurries back to Susan, who tells Barbara she is guiltily happy that they'd gone wrong. It means they won't have to separate, with the teachers remaining in their own time. Barbara decides to return to the river for more water. Ian and the Doctor continue to explore the warehouse, unaware that they are being watched by a young man hidden amongst the rubbish. Ian looks out and sees Battersea Power Station across the way. Two of its chimneys seem to have been broken! The Doctor, meanwhile, finds a calendar in a dusty desk which confirms to them that they have landed sometime around 2164. Barbara stoops to wet her handkerchief...only to see a body floating in the water! She draws back and then hurries back to find Susan. The girl is gone, however, and a disheveled man angrily asks her what she's doing out here as a target? He tells her Susan has already been taken to safety by a man called Tyler just as gunfire erupts a distance away. The man runs and Barbara follows. While looking for tools, the Doctor dislodges a large box. It falls to the floor and a man, wearing a helmet and uniform similar to the one the suicide was wearing. Ian and the Doctor, after recovering from their surprise, try to figure out what the helmet could be. Ian suggests some kind of medical aid, but the Doctor theorizes that it has something to do with receiving high frequency signals. Some kind of personal communication device? Ian asks, just as they discover the knife in the man's back. Ian also finds a whip that the man apparently carried. They hear a noise from another room. Ian makes a deal of noise with doors, trying to flush whoever it may be out, but almost falls when he kicks in a door with no landing behind it! The two men decide to abandon the search and return to Barbara and Susan. Their observer, still hidden, watches them go. Barbara follows the men, Tyler carrying Susan, in a wild run, stopping and hiding every few feet. She has no idea what they are running from, but immediately understands that there is a threat to evade. As the Doctor and Ian leave the warehouse, a strange sound from the sky makes them look see a flying saucer gliding down over London! Resting for a moment, Susan and Barbara tell Tyler they must return to find their friends. He tells them they must get to safety and then worry about the other two. Ian and the Doctor, meanwhile, have returned to the TARDIS to find the others gone. Ian expresses his frustration at the way Susan and Barbara always wander off, but they speculate that the women hid from the gunfire they'd heard earlier. The two resolve to wait there for their friends. The Doctor wants to investigate what may have happened, but Ian simply wishes to leave; he does not want to know what disaster would befall his city in (to him) the future. Susan, Barbara and Tyler have reached the man's hideout. He touches a switch and the wall opens. A young man, David (the man who spied on the Doctor and Ian in the warehouse) emerges and berates Tyler for being late. He then sees the women. He asks Barbara if she can cook; she says yes and he replies that they need cooks. He asks Susan what she does. "I eat," she replies, defiantly. David tells Tyler he'd had a fight with something called a "Roboman" at their supply depot and they would have to move it. Tyler mentions going back for the women's two friends and David realizes that he'd seen them at the warehouse. Just then, a man in a wheelchair, who the others address as Dortmun, joins them. Tyler tells him that "they" have landed a saucer at the "heliport," as well as introducing them to Susan and Barbara. When he tells Dortmun about their friends, he is pleased. More men, he says, and sends David out to collect them. Return quickly, he tells the young man, as they are to go over the "attack plan" soon. The women are taken below as Dortmun stays above on guard. Ian, meanwhile, is getting restless and wanders a bit. He comes across the sign about dumping bodies and calls for the Doctor. Could the disaster have been a plague? David, above them, sees the two men, but before he can call to them, he sees a group of "Robomen," men wearing those strange helmets, walking in a jerky, syncopated, robotic fashion, approaching them. He is too late. Ian and the Doctor decide to search for the women, but turn and are confronted by a group of Robomen bearing whips. When they turn to run, they see another group cutting off their route. Ian tries to talk to them, but, as one, they raise their whips. Thinking quickly, Ian and the Doctor decide to try to jump into the river to escape, but when they turn they are confronted with the last thing they expect: A DALEK HAS EMERGED OUT OF THE WATER, CUTTING OFF THEIR LAST ESCAPE....!

To begin with, I have to say this is a story both Ketina and I have been looking forward to since starting the Project. It's one of her absolute favorites, and I like it a lot too. I've only seen it in the edited "three hour movie" format, however, and I remember it dragging a bit, so seeing it an episode at a time will hopefully be really fun. (I also haven't seen it in something over a decade, so my memories are not quite as sharp as Ketina's.)

This first episode far, far exceeded my memories. It is, in a word, excellent. A suitably creepily building first episode in a story where, insofar as the original viewing public was concerned, anything could happen. We start with a completely inexplicable (at the time) suicide, then see Ian and Barbara's joy at returning to London (at the right size, too!)...which, as the episode goes on, gives way to a deep uneasiness and, finally, to actual terror. Barbara's panicked running, when she has absolutely no idea what she is running from was particularly effective. The complete silence of the Thames embankment is, to say the least, eerie, and the sign about dumping bodies doesn't help matters! (Or, I suppose I should say that it does.) To say the least, the regulars come off very well here, giving us a real feeling of rising tension that never really lets up for the entire episode. Even Susan, who has come off as a bit weak lately, has her moments. Her immediate initiative, even though it causes everyone to be cut off from the TARDIS, shows her resourcefulness and her guilty confession to Barbara reveals her fears. She does not like change; she is comfortable with her friends and doesn't want to be without them. And her response to David, "I eat," is just beautiful. Go, Susan, go! As for Ian and Barbara, what can I say that I haven't said before. The Project continues to love Barbara. Note that when she sees the body, she draws back, but doesn't scream. She thinks for a moment, fearful but not panicking, and decides to return to Susan to protect her. Just wonderful. Ian, too, shines here. (My particular favorite moment is his frustration at finding Susan and Barbara missing. When he said, "Why do they always do this?" I almost laughed out loud.) He is especially revealing in his response to the Doctor's wish to know what happened there. This is Ian's future, not on another planet, but in his home. And he does not want to know. To the Doctor's credit, although he doesn't seem to fully understand, he does not press the point. In fact, Hartnell's Doctor seems really comfortable with all of his companions, treating the teachers as friends and being appreciative of their talents.

The guest cast,'s a bit hard to tell thus far. They seem fine, and certainly the (as far as I know) unnamed man did an excellent job at conveying the danger Barbara and Susan were in without going into detail. I had no problem seeing why Barbara simply followed him, running headlong into the unknown from the unknown. The Robomen were just amazing. Incredibly creepy in their movement and speech, they look like robotized humans. I love the design of the helmet; it just looks like this horrible, invasive thing. Very effective. (Not all of us agreed about that last part; see below.) And the, I'm under no illusions that the Great British Viewing Public didn't know that there was another Dalek story in the offing; it had been part of the advanced advertising for the second season. Still, the sight of it rising out of the Thames, a real place rather than make-believe Skaro...just a really fine cliffhanger. And the Doctor and Ian's reaction was perfect. Quite simply, I can't wait to see how they get out of it!

Not everything was perfect, of course. Given the limitations of the time, though, the flying saucer, while a little wobbly, could have been much worse. I was impressed that it actually looked like it was flying across London. Ronelyn was a bit confused by the protective device in Dortmun's hideout. It looked like the hidden pressure plate (?) controlled a mechanism that opened a secret window. All well and good, and David climbs out through the window. But then Dortmun wheels in from offstage, not from the window, and Susan and Barbara are also not led down through it. My theory is that the mechanism also exposes some kind of door offscreen, but I really have no firm idea. I also had no problems with it, but Ronelyn asked that I put this in.

This episode also has a lot of really good location shooting. I was pleased at how well the location film and the studio shots matched up; it was almost seamless, especially the scene with Ian kicking through the door and nearly falling out into space until the Doctor pulled him back in. A tremendous job by director Richard Martin, especially considering this was Doctor Who's first extensive location shoot. (Prior to this, we've only had a stand-in for William Hartnell walking down a country lane in "The Reign of Terror.)

All in all, a great episode. Well constructed, well acted, well directed with a fantastic cliffhanger. I think I can say, without fear of contradiction (from the team, at least) that this is an example of Hartnell Doctor Who at its finest.

A note before I turn this over to Ketina: There is a possibility that we will not have an episode post next week due to a pressing engagement. Right now, the chances are looking about even, but we're hopeful...although if we are able to watch/post, you probably won't see anything until Sunday night rather than our usual Friday. I will try to write a post sometime this week when I know for sure. But until then, I remain



Ketina here,

This story is going to be tougher for me to review, as "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" is likely the story that I have seen the most often of any of the William Hartnell stories. It's harder to be critical and review the individual episodes in isolation when I recall the entirety of the story fairly well, although it has been a couple of years since the last time I watched it (it's so nice to be watching DVDs again, by the way.) But here goes.

The Silly (shorter list this week, so let's start here):
- Flying saucer on a string, when the space ship is shown. That was a bit of an "Ed Wood" moment - having recently seen "Plan 9 from Outerspace" (Rifftrack style) with the Historian, I definitely had some flashbacks there.
- Big silver hat things on the Robomen. When the Doctor describes them as personal communication devices I couldn't help but think "those are the biggest blue tooth devices ever made!"
- Hurt ankle? Again? Really? Didn't we just do this in the last story with Barbara? Casting directions for Doctor Who female companions: must have weak ankles.
- Barbara's hair.

The Good:
Nearly everything else, really. Especially:
- I loved the sign "Do not dump bodies in the river". While it took forever for the TARDIS crew to notice it, it was very visible for the viewers, and especially creepy. I wanted to shout at the group "Turn around! See the sign! Get back in the TARDIS and leave, you fools!" It was just especially subtle enough to give the entire first half of the story a nice forboding feeling.
- The robomen were also especially creapy, big goofy hats aside. I love the way they just appear standing out of nowhere when they surround the Doctor and Ian. And they sound rather Dalek-esk when they finally speak.
- Add to that the dead roboman in the cardboard box. Yeah, okay the actor twitched a bit. But a body in a big cardboard box! That was especially eww worthy. Awesome story to watch the day before Halloween. :)
- I also enjoyed the grittiness of the Doctor and Ian wandering around the warehouse. While the scene went a bit too long (don't they always in these early stories?), it was a beautifully grungy and dangerous looking place. Reminded me of an old (and almost certainly dangerous) basement I played in as a kid, that if my mom had found out about I would have been in tons of trouble for going into. Tetanus anyone? Anyway, it felt much more real to me than "big old empty warehouse with some junk off in the corner" that's more typical of scenes like this one.
- And yet another awesome, awesome Dalek intro. Having a Dalek come out of the river was just completely scary and maleviolent If you can put aside out of your mind all the goofy stuff they eventually do with Daleks in future stories, this scene is really cool. A Dalek, in water, coming to kill! Whoa!

Cliff hangers mean a lot more when there's a solid week between episodes (even when you know they're going to somehow be okay).

Until next time,