Friday, January 23, 2009

"The Expedition"

Hello all, the Historian here. Tonight, Ketina, Ronelyn and I were joined by Schmallturm to watch the fifth episode of this serial. Let's get to it!

Episode summary: First aired 18 January, 1963. The TARDIS crew debate whether to try and get the Thals to help them retrieve their fluid link from the Daleks. Reluctant at first, Ian provokes Alydon into a small act of violence (determining that the Thals' pacifism was philosophical, not biological), and then convinces him that the Daleks pose a clear threat to the Thals if they are not stopped. Meanwhile, in the city, the Daleks have experimented by giving the Thals' anti-radiation drug to select groups, with disasterous results. Determining that radiation is necessary for the Daleks' survival (their mutated forms having adapted to it), they determine to set off another Neutron Bomb, putting more radiation into the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the crew and the Thals have split into two groups: one will make a frontal assault on the city and the other (including Ian and Barbara) will traverse the mountains and the swamps, and attack the city from its unguarded back. But dangerous, mutated things lurk in the swamps, and one of the Thals screams as the others go running....

After the heights of the last episode, this one was a bit disappointing. The early interactions between the crew and the Thals (especially between Ian and Alydon, especially) seemed a bit "mannered" to me. I'm glad Alydon admitted to knowing what Ian was doing, because otherwise he would have come off as a bit dim. Which makes one wonder how serious the Thals' pacifism really is, when it can be broken so easily. On the other hand, the Daleks continue to be fantastic, full of character--the head Dalek keeps his head when those around him are panicking. The movement is fluid--far more so than the Daleks ever would be again. On the other hand, the tickertape scene shows the design of the Daleks in a rather silly light, and the blow-up pictures of extra Daleks (saving the budget while giving the appearance of a Dalek army) was fairly obvious. Still, this episode gives us an absolute classic bit of Dalek dialogue, paraphrasing, "We will not adapt to the environment of this planet, we will adapt the environment to us." Just wonderful. And the idea of nuclear war--both the Thals' reaction of "We destroyed the planet once, we can never allow it to happen again" and the establishment of the Daleks as surpreme villains by their cavallier decision to use a neutron bomb and destroy more of the planet to suit their own needs--speaks greatly to Cold War attitudes and nuclear fears. Of course, this is a product of its time, but it is a testament to everyone involved that it all still resonates strongly with us today.

I want to say something about the swamp effects, but I'll mostly leave that to Ketina. I will say, though, that the set design continues to be wonderful. This first alien world of the series is very well realized and very alien.

Enough from me! I'll leave you to Ketina. Until next week, I remain



Ketina here,

The good - the story is getting pretty fun. I liked Ian's manipulation of the Thals, convincing them to fight. And some of those Thals are really cute too. ;)
I also liked some of the effects. The monster in the swamp was cool and subtle. Just eyes and this thing slowly rising up from the muck.
The Dalek's were pretty cool too - I don't recall them ever moving this smoothly before until the new Doctor Who series. I was initially bothered by the Dalek's reaction when they realized what happens when they take the anti-radation drugs, but then later when you see the Dalek leader calmly trying to solve the problem, I realized that it was a great representation of their monomaniacal behavior. Intially they start giving all the Daleks the drug. In order to keep up efficiency they give it to them in groups. Then when the realize that the drug is killing them, they freak out, Immediately thinking they're all gonna die, while the dying Daleks spin in circles. And then later they've calmed down, with the apparent Dalek leader working out the problem, analyzing the situation and coming up with a solution. Not a good solution for our heros, however. :(

The goofy - There were several small fluffs. When they Daleks are looking at the pictures of the TARDIS crew one of the pictures changes just before the Dalek leader asks them to change it. And then at the end you hear the scream as one of the Thals gets found by something in the swamp while the focus is on the other characters, and a visibly long moment goes by before any of them react. I could imagine the director someone shouting "action."

Genuine moment - When the Doctor mispronounces Chesterton and Ian calls him on it. Was this an intentional scripted reference to Bill Hartnell's classic line fluffs? :)

Well, that's all from this week for me folks.


1 comment:

Alzarian said...

Knowing that the TARDIS crew is committed to re-enter the Dalek city to retrieve the precious fluid link, it was nonetheless wonderful the way Ian reasons that they can't ask the Thals to sacrifice themselves for their own purpose, but rather, for the good of their own people. The exposition to get them to this point goes on a bit, but it is well done. And now a treacherous journey... and a genuine monster. It seems the "dead" planet isn't as dead as once believed.