Friday, January 30, 2009

"The Ordeal"

The Historian here. Although I've been almost laid low by a cold, here I am. (Perhaps I caught the illness from that Dodo girl. No, wait, that hasn't happened yet. Never mind, in time...) At any rate, this week, Ketina and I were joined again by Ronelyn and Schmallturm as we watched the sixth episode of this serial.

Episode summary: First aired 25 January, 1964. Ian, Barbara and the group of Thals discover their comerade has disappeared in the pool as he was standing guard. Their expedition continues and Barbara and Ganatus discover a passage into the mountains, which will hopefully lead them to the unguarded end of the Dalek city. Meanwhile, the Daleks have decided that a neutron bomb would take too long to assemble and they begin to consider a different method for irradiating the atmosphere of Skaro. The Ian-Barbara Thal party continue their journey through the mountain. Ganatus' brother Antodys refuses at one point to go on, triggering a landslide that cuts off any retreat. Meanwhile, the Doctor, Susan and Alydon discover a way to confound the Dalek's spy cameras using reflected light. The Daleks, however, are tracking them through vibrations. The Doctor and Susan disable some kind of electrical box with Susan's TARDIS key, but are ambushed and taken prisoner by the Daleks, who reveal that they plan on opening their nuclear reactors to irradiate the planet, exterminating the Thals in the process. The Thal Underground Expedition, meanwhile, has discovered they have to jump across a gap to a small ledge. Everyone makes it over except Antodys, who falls while tied to Ian, who clutches onto the wall for dear life....

After watching this episode, I made the remark that the true "ordeal" was making it through this week's installment. This episode is a sure sign that the serial was originally comissioned as a six-parter, but expanded to a seven episode story. Although not completely without incident (unlike a few corridor-running padded episodes to come, I should think), the story contained here probably could have been told in half the time. Still, the writing itself was amusing, especially Barbara and Ganatus' banter that bordered on flirting. William Hartnell, though hardly in this episode, shone whenever he was in a scene. His joyful destruction of the electrical circuits was definitely the high point for me.

If anyone is interested in keeping track, this week there were two more variations on the "E word," we had two "exterminations," bringing the total Dalek E count to five, if I'm remembering right.

Astoundingly, that's all I really have to say this week, so I shall turn things over to Ketina. Until next week, I remain



Ketina here. I must agree whole heartedly with the Historian that getting through "The Ordeal" was an ordeal. There was a point towards the end when I was literally gnawing on my arm just waiting for SOMETHING to happen. But it never did...

The good... okay, I found something. I did like the bit where they used the mirrors to mess up the Dalek's spy cameras. And there were several good moments from The Doctor, what little he was actually on the screen.

But the bad... oh the bad. The vast majority of the episode was watching Ian, Barbara, and three Thal's spelunking through caves. It was so painful. Just jump already! Just jump! Why are you walking over the little rocks when you could go around them? Scared guy is so gonna die... and there he goes.

The silly - Schmallturm's comment that one of the Dalek operators was named Peter Murphy, the same as the singer of Bauhaus. He then proceeded sing "Bela Lugosi's Dead" in the voice of a Dalek. I guess you just had to be there.


1 comment:

Alzarian said...

Ah, yes... the ordeal. Was there ever a more fitting name for an episode? I could be generous and say that the long sequence of watching each person attempt to make the jump added tension, but it really just dragged on and on. Oh well, at least one can always spend time watching the developing relationship between Ganatus and Barbara. That's something.