Friday, April 24, 2009

"The Velvet Web"

Hello everyone, the Historian here and, after a few small technical difficulties, Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm, Kroroboros and I settled in to watch this second episode of "The Keys of Marinus" serial. I might add that this episode is also a bit of an event; as of last week, we have made it halfway through the first season of Doctor Who! So, let's begin the second half, shall we?

Episode synopsis: First aired 18 April, 1964. Ian, Susan and the Doctor have discovered Barbara's travel dial--and there is blood on it! Although the Doctor urges caution, Ian and Susan burst through the doors immediately in front of them. The three are then stunned with flashing lights and sound, but come to to see a beautiful room...with Barbara (in a lovely dress) reclining on a couch. She tells them the people here give them anything they want and orders food for the four. Ian is skeptical, wondering how much "the bill" for all that comes to, but Barbara tells him he's being silly. A young man, Altos, enters and welcomes them to the city of Morphoton and offers them anything they desire. Susan asks for a dress made of fine silk and the Doctor asks for access to a laboratory with "any instrument." Ian, however, refuses to name anything. Although the others try to convince him, he is firm. The crew goes to sleep on the couches. As they sleep, a girl, Sabetha, enters and places tiny disks on each of their foreheads. Barbara, however, turns in her sleep and the disk clatters to the floor, waking her just in time to see everyone assailed by lights and sound, which knocks her out. The next day, Ian, Susan and the Doctor are eating a wonderful breakfast. Susan wakes Barbara to show her the new dress, but Barbara does not see beauty. She sees the room for what it really is, a dirty, old shell, and Susan's dress is simply tailored rags. Altos enters and Barbara confronts him--this time, it is Ian who tries to convince Barbara to believe in what he sees. She flees. Altos follows, but Barbara hides behind a pillar. Altos reports to his masters, a group of brains in jars called the Morphon. They are the evil influence who have hypnotised the people and are the true rulers of the city. The Morphon tell Altos that Barbara must be destroyed, the others placated until they can be fully converted, and Sabetha punished for failure. Sabetha happens to be thrown into the very room Barbara is hiding in. Meanwhile, Ian and the Doctor are taken to the "magnificent" laboratory: an empty room with a cracked cup that the Doctor sees as a highly advanced scientific instrument. Altos reports to the Morphon who tell him that the crew's wills are already weakening and repeat that Barbara must be killed. Meanwhile, Barbara has realized that Sabetha has the first Key on a chain around her neck and that she must be Arbitan's hypnotised daughter! Altos enters and tries to take Barbara, but Sabetha knocks him unconscious. Barbara leaves and runs into Ian, who is fully hypnotised and takes her to the Morphon. The brains explain to Barbara that they use humans as their hands and she must be killed, but Barbara begins destroying equipment, which destroys the Morphon! Ian and the others are freed from their power and the four, along with Sabetha and Altos (who was another of Arbitan's followers), escape. The decision is taken: the Doctor will skip ahead to try for the fourth, while the others jump to find the second Key. Susan impetuously leaves a moment before the others. She is now in a jungle and hears screams coming from all around her, unrelenting screams. She falls to her knees, her hands clutching at her ears....

Well, this was just fun. At its heart, this episode is a very simple SF story, but the production makes the whole thing work wonderfully well. (It doesn't hurt that this week was designed by Ray Cusick, who also designed the Daleks.) The highlight was probably the contrasting views between Barbara and everyone else. Seeing everything through the supposedly omnicient camera as beauty and then seeing from Barbara's point of view was a very simple (obviously!) effect, but it was tremendously effective! There was a bit of disagreement in the grouop about the Morphon. True, they were pretty simple props, but Ronelyn and I found them pretty darn creepy (eyes and all). Not everyone felt they worked as well. One thing, though, that undeniable did work was the eerie lack of blinking done by all the "hypnotised" actors. When Ian mentioned that it was odd that Altos didn't blink, we all started watching. Sure enough, he didn't! It did look like it caused a bit of a strain on the actors, but it worked very well...especially when a hypnotised Ian didn't blink either.

As I said, at its heart, a simple episode, and probably a fairly inexpensive one with only four (or so) sets and about a five member guest cast. A very fun little SF mini-story which is part of a larger piece. I can't close, though, without a mention of Ian's Chinese jacket, mainly because Schmallturm specifically mentioned that he wanted me to write that the phoenix on the back looks like a flaming chicken. Trust me, it was funny at the time. We're all having a great time--can't wait until next week! Until then, I remain



Ketina here,

First the good: Overall I was quite pleased with the episode. I wouldn't describe it as the greatest Doctor Who episode ever or anything, but it was quite fun. I thought they did an especially good job at comparing the beautiful world with the real world, after Barbara wakes up. Initially it's all from Barbara's perspective, which they show by having the camera angle come from where she's sitting. And they use really simple props, like a broken mug, to indicate one of the laboratory equipment parts. It required some fairly smart acting on the cast. And the lack of blinking from everyone hypnotised was very cool.

The silly: Yes, this episode did have it's share of silly. There's a large face inlaid into the wall of the beautiful room, which initially appears to be part of the Grecian-like architecture, however when the lights and sound kick in while nearly everyone is asleep, the eyes in the face glow in a very goofy way. I also disgree a bit with The Historian regarding the brains in the jars. From behind they looked okay - they're just giant brains in jars, afterall, but from the front when they showed the eyes I thought they looked especially fake, especially when they deflated after Barbara attacked them. But the biggest silly moment for me was when Barbara was hiding from Altos. She was barely hiding behind a pillar. All he needed to do was look to his right and he would have been looking right at her. Does hypnosis impare peripheral vision? Or possibly his vision was messed up due to not blinking in who knows how long?
Oh, and the best line "I think you've been deeply hypnotised under deep hypnosis."

One more thing... I think I've failed to point this out in a few of my posts, but I have been keeping track. So far, in this first season of Doctor Who, not an episode has gone by where we don't get a scream from either Susan or Barbara, typically both. This episode was, of course, no exception. :)


Friday, April 17, 2009

"The Sea of Death"

Hello all, the Historian here, along with Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm and Kroroboros. We've left Mongol China and are back to science fiction--and getting close to being half done with the first season as well! More about that another time, now on to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 11 April, 1964. Having left Cathay, the TARDIS lands on what appears to be a beach and the crew go out to have a look. It turns out they are on an island, surrounded by a perfectly calm sea. Unbeknownst to the travellers, several small torpedo-like craft have approached and landed on the island out of sight. Susan discovers a small pool and takes off her shoes, about to wade in, when Ian stops her with a yell. One of her shoes has fallen into the "water" and immediately dissolves! The pool is not full of water, but acid! Ian and Barbara, sending Susan back to the TARDIS in Ian's boots, realize it must be a tidal pool..which means the whole sea is acid! The Doctor has also discovered that the beach nearest to the sea is made not of sand, but of glass. In fact, the whole set-up seems artificial, as if it was all a defense. Ian notices a large building at the center of the island, but the group decides to go back and find Susan before exploring further. Unknown to all of them, they have been observed and stalked by the beings that came in the "torpedos," humanoids wearing protective wetsuits. One of them attempted, but failed to get into the TARDIS just before Susan comes out. She notices strange footprints leading to the building....Meanwhile, the other three have discovered the torpedo submarines, noticing that one of them has a crack in it...and an empty wetsuit with a tear in it. The owner must have simply...dissolved. Susan approaches the city and is nearly ambushed by one of the creatures...who is pulled behind a rotating wall before he can attack her. Then Susan falls prey to a similar trap. The others come to the city and begin to search. One by one, they too are taken within a wall, some of them being captured by a monk-like figure, first the Doctor, then Ian, and finally Barbara. Barbara, Susan and the Doctor are held in a room, while Ian is still roaming free when he finds a wetsuited creature attacking the monk. He fights the creature off and the monk introduces himself as Arbitan. Later, the four travellers and Arbitan stand in the central area of the building. Arbitan tells them they are on the planet Marinus and the large machine they see is the "Conscience of Marinus," a judgement machine that eliminated evil from human minds on the planet. But, ages before, a man named Yartek and his followers, the Voords (who are the wet-suit wearers) learned to resist the machine and threatened the whole planet. The "Keys," circuits that power the machine, were hidden in locations around the planet until the Voords could be overcome. Arbitan has fixed the machine to do just that, but every one of his followers who he sent to gather the keys (including his daughter) have never returned and now he is alone. He begs the crew to help him, but they refuse. So Arbitan extorts them by putting a forcefield around the ship! They have no choice and so Arbitan gives them travel dials, wristbands that will enable them to travel around Marinus. Barbara is transported, then the others follow, as a Voord sneaks up on Arbitan. Ian, Susan and the Doctor arrive at the first location, but do not see Barbara. Ian sees and picks up her travel dial on the floor and discovers there is blood on it....

To call this a change of pace from the last serial is an understatement, both in content (historical back to sf) and, at least a bit, in quality. The opening model shots of the TARDIS landing and the Voord ships arriving are...less than impressive, and the Terry Nation script is a bit of a step down in quality from "Marco Polo." Ronelyn mentioned having to refrain from making silly comments at various points. Things weren't helped by William Hartnell's apparent problems with his lines. Billy-fluffs abounded, especially early on. There were also a few things that made us say, "huh?" Like the sea is acid so it makes sense that the beach is glass? We decided that it fit into the whole "artificial defensive" thing, but I also have the suspicion that Nation had some idea that acid+sand=glass, which is, of course, nonsense. The design of the building, after the wonderful sets in both "Marco Polo" and "The Daleks," was a bit of a letdown as well; Schmallturm kept making Bauhaus jokes. I did like Ian and Barbara's science/history lesson connected with the construction of the building: no mortar between the bricks! Must be perfectly balanced! The Egyptians and some Central American Indians made stuff like this! (Gee, wonder if that'll come up again later this season?) And I have to take a moment to talk about the scenery chewing of George Coulouris as Arbitan. His...dramatic postures were certainly different than the restrained performances from the guest cast of the previous story.

Now, all of that being said, we still enjoyed the heck out of this episode. There was quite a bit to like; the regular cast, Billy-fluffs and all, were a lot of fun. (And it was nice to finally watch this episode knowing where Ian got the Chinese outfit!) The dissolving shoe was very effective, as was Barbara's realization that the pool was tidal. Very nice acting there. And the Voord, while a bit silly, are still a pretty effective design. Sure, it's a wet-suit with a...thing on its head, but the total facelessness and silence of the baddies were a bit creepy. Would have been nice to see them do something rather than kind of keystone cop their way around. (And hey, how about that visible stagehand moving the wall when the first Voord is captured in the city?)

I think the important thing here is to realize we have to reset our expectations a bit for this story. The last one was costume historical epic in the best BBC tradition. But now we have a scifi romp. With all its faults, it's essentially shaping up to be a quest story...with, apparently, a very nasty surprise for the crew at the end, if the Voord attacking Arbitan is anything to go by! It's not brilliant, by any means, but this first episode was silly fun and if that's what we get from this story, we're prepared to enjoy it a lot!

Well, that's enough from me. Until next week, I remain




Ketina here,

So, the silly: Well, most of it. :P It was pretty tough to hold off the giggling from the get go, given the "special effects", followed pretty quickly by weird scenery, monsters in wet suits, and many verbal gaffs by the good Doctor. I think the favorite was "It can't be frozen in this temperature, besides it's too warm." Although the later "Too bad you don't have your shoes on Chesterton, then Susan could borrow hers." was quite funny as well. Also The Doctor apparently doesn't know the difference between extortion and blackmail.
Also the companions miming around the TARDIS to indicate an invisible force field was very goofy. I'm pretty sure Ian stepped into said force field several times.
And at one point, when they were pulled into the building, you could see a stage hand manipulating the doorway.
This episode was pretty loaded with the silly. :)

The good: Yes, I started with the silly this week, but the episode seemed to merit it. However, all the goofy aside, it was very fun as well. As much as I complain about the many gaffes, it does look to be an entertaining story. There are a lot of strong Scifi elements. The planet is very alien, in culture, scenery, and architecture. And I'm generally a big fan of "gather the parts of the widgit" types of adventures, which this appears to be turning into. So, I'm looking forward to the next part.


Monday, April 13, 2009

"Marco Polo" wrapup

Well, we've come to the end of our first reconstructed story, which, thanks to an apparent error on the part of the dubber, led to a bit of the bending of the rules here at the TARDIS project. Yes, we have officially missed an episode, but I assure you that, if I get my hands on a copy of the recon for "Mighty Kublai Khan," we will watch it, write up a special post and I'll link back to here. I'm hopeful that this will happen before the end of the Project!

"Marco Polo" (aka--incorrectly--"A Journey to Cathay") was the first full-fledged Historical in the series. As such, it served as a testing ground for a good deal of the "educational" portion of the show's remit. But it was much more than that; the story is huge and sweeping, covering a longer (continuous) period of time than just about any other story in the show's history, a period of weeks, if not a month or two. Every episode is jam-packed with events, conversations, intrigue and (quite often) real excitement as well as educational mini-lessons in history and basic science. A careful reader might have gotten the idea by now that I pretty much loved this story. True, we were watching a reconstruction so, no matter how good the recon was (and it was pretty darn good, more about that below), we probably only felt about half to two thirds of the effect the original story might have had, but I think the entire crew enjoyed themselves thoroughly. John Lucarotti's writing is fantastic, every one of the actors, from the regulars to the main guest cast all the way down to the bandits Tegana hires, give it their all, the sets and costumes are lavish and just beautiful.

Which is as good a place as any to segue to mentioning the Loose Canon reconstruction, which was great. As I think I might have mentioned, LC made this recon before the telesnaps for six of the episodes resurfaced (thanks, actually, to a member of the LC team), and they made the decision to take the existing colour photos as well as hand-colouring b&w photos, composites, etc. to make a full colour reconstruction, taking advantage of the beautiful sets and costumes (which have been the stuff of Doctor Who legend). The "Making of Marco Polo" feature on the LC site is interesting in and of itself and I'd recommend taking a look, especially for my fellow Project members! And for everyone else, I'd highly recommend ordering the recon for yourself. It's a lot of fun, Doctor Who you've never seen and will only costs two videotapes and postage there and back. We had a lot of fun watching and I think you will too.

If you're interested in the production of the story itself (as opposed to the recon) and want to continue to follow the story of the production of the series, here's the "Brief History of Time (Travel)" page. And the official BBC guide to the episode is here. Enjoy!

Finally, to make things easier if you want to read all our episode posts one after another, here are the links!
"The Roof of the World"
"The Singing Sands"
"Five Hundred Eyes"
"The Wall of Lies"
"Rider From Shang-Tu"
"Mighty Kublai Khan" Not So Mighty (Included for the episode summary)
"Assassin at Peking"

And there we have it! Next, we return to a more science fictiony vein, to black and white and to moving images! Yes, it's "The Keys of Marinus" time, starting this weekend! Until then, I remain


Friday, April 10, 2009

"Assassin at Peking"

And here we are at the end of "Marco Polo!" The Historian here, along with Ketina, Ronelyn and Schmallturm. Let's get to it!

Episode summary: First aired on 4 April, 1964. Ian has located the runaway Ping Cho, and together they have found the bandit Kuiju and the TARDIS! Before they can do anything, Tegana steps out of the woods, grabs the girl and a standoff begins! Tegana admits he cares nothing for Kublai and wishes to see his lord Noghi conquer all--with the TARDIS! Thankfully for Ian, guards of the Khan, led by Ling-Tau (the messenger from a few episodes ago) arrives and takes them all into custody, but not before one of the guards kills Kuiju. Meanwhile in Peking, the Doctor and Kublai Khan play backgammon--the Doctor is winning game after game. He makes a final wager: if Kublai wins, the debt from previous games is cleared, but if the Doctor wins, Marco's gift of the flying caravan will go to him! Marco is a bit upset by this, but bows to the Khan's will. Unfortunately, the Doctor loses. Tegana, Ian and Ping Cho arrive in Peking, the latter two under guard, as Tegana has claimed that he caught them trying to steal the TARDIS. Ping Cho is excused, thanks to the entreaties of her ancient husband-to-be, but Ian must stand trial. His prospects do not look good; even Marco no longer believes that Tegana was the real thief! Tegana, meanwhile, sows the seeds of doubt in the Khan's mind by telling him that the travellers had attempted to steal the Khan's gift before, yet Marco had not punished them by the Khan's law. Kublai confronts Marco with this and he does not deny it, saying that he now feels that what he had done, to take the ship from the crew, was wrong. Kublai Khan is displeased. That night, Marco and Ping Cho arrive at the pre-nuptial banquet, only to discover that Ping Cho's fiance has died after taking a potency potion. The Khan offers her a choice, return to Samarkand, or stay in Peking for a while? She chooses Peking, as she is free of the hated marriage. Meanwhile, the TARDIS crew, held in a room under guard, discusses Tegana's motivations. Noghai has moved his army closer to Peking and the Doctor realizes what the master stroke would be--Tegana is going to assassinate the Khan! They overpower the guard and run into the hall, running into Marco, who attempts to convince them to return to their rooms until they tell him of their fears. And Tegana is in audience with the Khan at that very moment! Sure enough, Tegana draws his sword and attacks Kublai, but the Vizier jumps into the way and is killed. Marco bursts into the room and the two men fight a vicious battle (we assume), at the end of which Marco disarms Tegana, who is taken by the guards, but grabs a sword and kills himself. In the confusion, Marco, in gratitude and guilt, gives the Doctor the key and hurries them all into the TARDIS. Susan and Ping Cho exchange a quick goodbye and the TARDIS takes off. Kublai Khan is mystified, but not upset--he says the Doctor would have eventually won it back anyway! Marco wonders, will the travellers journey to tomorrow or yesterday? He will never know.... Episode transcription

This evening, after discovering our technical problem, began with a reading of a summary of episode six. Surprisingly, that didn't hurt our enjoyment of this episode one bit. We really enjoyed old Kublai Khan, especially his early interactions with the Doctor. They are two old men, being old men together and it was kind of delightful. All in all, it was a great ending; everything got wrapped up and nothing felt rushed or wrong, which is nothing short of miraculous considering how huge the buildup was. I'm going to try to hold off assessing the story as a whole until the wrapup post (coming this week!).

Polo and Tegana were both wonderful; their stories came to a completely understandable, if not inevitable end. My absolute favorite moment was when they met after Tegana poisons the Khan's mind against Marco. Polo finally sees the warlord for what he is. "I underestimated you, Tegana." "No," the warlord replies. "You overestimated yourself." Just beautiful and encapsulates their relationship perfectly. Though I still think Marco's fatal flaw is his belief in honor and that men (and women, obviously) should be honorable. Again, perhaps more on that in the next post. And Marco finally just saying, "Go, just go, you should take it back" works wonderfully. Even Ping Cho's resolution, with the sudden death of her old husband-to-be, felt less convenient and more...well, it made sense.

Basically, I think we all enjoyed the heck out of this episode, and this story. Although, I think we will all agree we'll enjoy getting back to moving pictures for a while next week. Until next time, I remain



Ketina here, with my view of the episode.

The good: I loved the part with The Doctor and the Khan playing backgammon. I fully expected The Doctor to win the TARDIS back, so I was quite surprised to discover he lost. We had a little discussion after the show wondering if the Khan had somehow sharked him with the game, although there was no evidence of this in the reconstruction.

The silly: The Khan's empress had quite an amusing, if short, part to play. During her grand entrance the horns played an fanfare rather reminiscent of the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey (forgive me, I can't spell the actual name of the music). [HISTORIAN: "Also Sprach Zarathustra," Ketina.] She was also in hysterics when Ping Cho's would be husband was discovered dead. And I did not get his random death. Suicide? Murder? Completely unresolved. A good way to wrap up the Ping Cho plot, but otherwise fairly random.

The less than best: I'm sure the fight scene was good, and there were more pictures this time, but I just don't appreciate fight scenes with pictures and vague audio. And once more, either Susan or Barbara (not clear which) screamed upon Tegana's suicide. Personally, I think it sounded like a Barbara scream this time. Slightly less shrill.

Well, that's all for me this week. Next week motion is back, but we lose the colour. You can have colour or you can have movement, but apparently not both.


"Mighty Kublai Khan" not so Mighty

Hello, the Historian here, bringing you bad news. It seems the person who dubbed our Loose Cannon reconstruction of "Marco Polo" (an official dubber, I hasten to add) accidently left episode six off! The first tape ends with five, the second begins with seven. There is a summary of the episode's events on this page (scroll down), and the transcription (which I will certainly be reading!) is here. For completeness sake, I should add that the episode was aired on 28 March, 1964.

Obviously, this is a serious disappointment to the TARDIS Project team. We did continue on with the next episode, which I'll get to in a moment, but I just thought I should apologize to our readers...whoever you are.

In a moment, "Assassin at Peking." And I remain


Saturday, April 4, 2009

"Rider From Shang-Tu"

Hello there, the Historian here and, yes, we are a day earlier than expected. Apparently, things alligned rightly to bring myself, Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm and Kroroboros together to watch this week's episode today! Let's get to it!

Episode summary: First aired 21 March, 1964. Ian goes to knock out the guard only to discover he is already dead! Elsewhere in the forest, Tegana's henchman, Acomat, readies his men to fall on Marco's caravan at the warlord's signal. After going back to tell his friends about the dead guard, Ian and company go to warn Marco that bandits must be about. They see Tegana apparently tending the fire, but Ian sneaks past him into Marco's tent. Marco rouses everyone and gets them ready to fight, although Tegana keeps telling him the TARDIS crew must be lying, there are no bandits! Acomat, waiting for Tegana's signal, decides to attack anyway, while Ian gets the very sciency idea to throw bamboo on the fire where it will expand, make a big boom and scare the bandits away! Acoyat and men attack, there's a confused fight, Tegana kills Acomat (so he cannot identify his leader), the bamboo explodes, the bandits run! Later, Marco asks the crew if they will give their words of honor not to attempt escape again; the crew is silent. Marco sighs and restores their privileges (Susan and Ping Cho can be together again, for example), but they and the TARDIS remain his prisoners. Later, the crew discusses their increasing certainty about Tegana's perfidy; Barbara even remembers Acoyat from her captivity in the cave. A rider arrives from Kublai Khan's summer palace in Shang-Tu, carrying a message "requesting" Marco come to him as soon as possible. The caravan presses on to an inn in the city of Cheng-Ting, where they will take horses. The baggage (including the TARDIS, which is being stored in the inn's stables) will follow in the next commercial caravan. Ping Cho walks in on Marco as he writes in his journal, seeing him hide the ship's keys in it. He makes Ping Cho give her word of honor she will not tell anyone where the keys are. Meanwhile, Tegana makes a deal with a corrupt stablehand to buy the TARDIS; the first installment of the payment will be made that night in the courtyard. Susan and Ping Cho have an amusing discussion about fish and their respective homes (Susan is vague), and Ping Cho is distraught that she cannot tell her friend where the keys are. Susan says, "No one will ask you." Later, Ping Cho takes the keys and gives them to Susan, saying she kept her word--she hasn't told where she got them from! That night, the crew make another attempt to reenter the TARDIS. Ian, Barbara and the Doctor make it, but Susan stays to say goodbye to Ping Cho. Before she can leave, though, she sees Tegana about to leave (presumably to make his first payment). She tries to sneak by her, but he grabs her and Susan screams.... Episode transcription

This was a bit of a difficult episode in some ways. The audio, especially in the beginning, was of a lesser quality than the other episodes thus far, though there's nothing that can be done about that. The episode also had a number of sequences containing action and/or important movement. I, personally, thought that the stills and captions in the recon contained all the information a viewer needed, though I know some of us didn't feel that way. There's no question, though, that we've lost some of the excitement the episode had, especially during the fight at the beginning. Until a miracle happens and the episodes turn up, though, this is a heck of a lot better than nothing!

We did get to see more evidence of the "education remit" in this one. This time, though, Ian's science lesson, in contrast to the condensation a couple of episodes ago, felt a bit forced. Yeah, all right, bamboo will expand and (I guess) explode in heat, thanks to the water content, but...well, it felt more tacked on. On the other hand, the history lesson, from the eponymous Rider, felt much more integrated than Ping Cho's tale of the Hashishans. I felt it was integrated nicely, taking just enough time to be interesting, but not enough to feel like an imposition.

As for the characters, we all agree that Marco is starting to feel more and more gullible in his reactions to accusations against Tegana. I chalk that up to his nobility, though some of the others of us are a bit less charitable. Quite simply, Marco's a man of honor and cannot conceive that others might not be. Note how he appeals to the honor of both the crew (not to escape, which they reject) and to Ping Cho (who finds a loophole). Tegana, having far fewer scruples than our friends, exploits this more than anyone, though he really might be overdoing it--note that Marco believes Ian about the bandits, no matter how many times Tegana (who is assuming his men won't attack without his signal) tries to tell him Ian is lying. Tegana himself, though still a decent villain, is now becoming a bit more....not laughable, but a bit less menacing. Although he always seems to just happen to be in the right place to catch the heroes, all of his plans go very badly wrong, don't they? After a while, it becomes less coincidence and more not taking things into account doesn't it? As for Ping Cho, she was simply marvelous here. Her scenes with Susan are simply wonderful and her loophole, which makes perfect sense, is simple and effective. The regulars are all quite good, especially Susan. (To be fair, Barbara and the Doctor aren't given very much to do here and some of Ian's effectiveness in the fight is lost without moving images.) In all, it was a good episode. Perhaps not as good as some of the earlier ones in this serial, but still a lot of fun. We're still looking forward to next week, certainly!

And that's all from me for this week. Until next time, I remain



Ketina here!

Wow, a lot happened in this episode. So to dive right in:

The good: I liked the scene when Susan and Ping Cho were looking at Koi fish and picking out fish that reminded them of each person in their group. It was a nice way to restablish their friendship after their forced separation by Marco Polo.

The disappointing: I wasn't thrilled with the representation of the fight scene at the beginning of the story. The audio was quite bad, and I didn't think the stills did a good job at representing the events. There was a lot of running around before the bandits attacked, and then during the attack itself things were quite confusing. Apparently The Doctor had a sword, but it was never clear if he used it. I know the gist of the scene was that Tegana killed the leader of the bandits before he could give Tegana away, but any other details of the fight were entirely lost to me.

The silly: I found the rather fey inn keeper pretty amusing. At least, that was the impression I got. At the end of the scene they showed a still of Ian and Barbara with amused expressions on their faces. I couldn't tell if it was due to their reaction to the overeager inn keeper, or The Doctor's reaction that the TARDIS was being stored in the stables. A little of both perhaps.
I also was very amused by the corrupt stable hand - based on the stills he looked almost exactly like the assassin with the monkey from the film Raiders and the Lost Arc; eyepatch, monkey, and all.

Anyway, those were my highlights.