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.


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