Friday, August 6, 2010

"The Planet of Decision"

Hello everyone, the Historian here, with a full house once again: Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm, Spoo, MiniSpoo (and yes, we caught him up on the episode he missed), MisterMother and Photobug. This week, the last episode in our Dalek chase through time and space! Let's get to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 26 June 1965. Hearing the Daleks coming, Ian suggests they go. The Doctor grabs his device and the four of them enter through the Mechanoid's door...

Inside the chamber, the four realize they are in a lift, going up to the futuristic city. The Doctor tries to communicate with the Mechanoid, but gets no response.

Below, the Daleks enter the cave. They are perplexed to find that their prey has disappeared. They realize that one of the walls of the cave must contain a chamber and begin trying to penetrate the rock.

The lift arrives at the top and the Mechanoid herds Ian, Barbara, Vicki and the Doctor out. It then halts them and goes forward to meet another Mechanoid. The four are amazed at the size of the city. After an apparent silent consultation, the second Mechanoid herds them to a door and tells them to enter.

Inside, the door slides shut behind them. In front of them, they see what looks like a giant rag-tag series of platforms and staircases that stretch to the ceiling. The Doctor puts his device down and observes that, although they have seen robots, they have seen no other living thing in the city! Just then...a man in some kind of uniform climbs down the structure. He's tremendously excited to see them and to learn that they are from Earth (well, Ian tells the man that's where they're from). He asks them who won the war and tells them his name is Steven Taylor. He picks up a small toy panda bear, introducing it as his mascot, "Hi-fi." He has been on Mechanus for, as far as he can tell, about two years, having crash landed in his rocket. Amazed that his new friends wouldn't know, he explains that the Earth had planned to colonize the planet Mechanus fifty years before and had sent a number of robots (the "Mechanoids") to prepare the way. But then the interplanetary war came and Mechanus was forgotten. The main problem Steven has had is that, although he's from Earth, he does not know the robots' code, so he cannot control them. In fact, he is a prisoner--as are they, now! Ian replies that perhaps, now that there are five of them, they might be able to fight their way to freedom, but Steven replies that the Mechanoids destroy something at the first sign of violence. A wall opens into slits, revealing a Mechanoid watching them and the TARDIS crew realizes what they have become: specimens in a zoo.

Below, the Daleks have managed to open the wall and call the lift down. Regardless of the danger posed by the "Mechons," the Dalek Supreme's orders must be obeyed--the humans must be destroyed! The Daleks enter the lift and begin their invasion of the Mechanoid city.

Barbara cries for the Mechanoid to go away and it does. Steven explains that he built the structure to keep sane. It leads to the roof where he is allowed to go up to take exercise. There are no guards up there, he tells them, but it is fifteen hundred feet above ground level! Besides, what would they do when they got out, wander around the fungal forest? The Doctor tells him that they have a ship waiting, which gives Steven some new hope. Ian and the Doctor climb the structure to investigate.

On the roof, Steven shows the two men what he meant--the drop is severe and very, very long. But, as he said, there are no guards. Ian and the Doctor look around while Steven goes down to get the women. Ian comes across a giant spool of cord leading to a junction box. He and the Doctor wonder if they could take the cable and use it to climb down to the ground! They go to tell the others.

When they get downstairs, Steven already has an idea of what they were planning. He couldn't use the cable while he was alone and had nowhere to run to, but now...Barbara is dubious about that long of a climb while Vicki shakily says she isn't good with heights. But Ian insists it's the only chance they have, especially as...

A Dalek appears outside the room, seen through the slotted window, confronting a Mechanoid! It demands the release of "the space travellers," but the Mechanoid refuses to answer.

Realizing they have no choice, the five humans begin to climb. But the Doctor leaves a surprise for the Daleks--he turns his device on and sets it in the middle of the floor before he begins to climb.

In the city, the Dalek leader enters the room and attempts to dispatch a group of Daleks to the roof. But before they can move, they are confronted by the Mechanoids and a battle between the two groups begins! Just then, the Doctor's device goes off, filling the area with smoke and flame!

On the roof, Ian and the Doctor have managed to get the cord free. Steven assures them that there should be enough to get them down to the ground. Vicki, meanwhile, is clearly terrified by the height. The others realize they'll have to figure out a way to lower her. The Doctor blindfolds her, they tie her securely to the cord and, despite her loud protests, manage to get her over the side and begin to lower her. Suddenly, they realize the city is on fire, thanks to both the battle and the Doctor's device. Steven, panicking, runs back down into the building to retrieve "Hi-fi," before anyone can stop him. They turn back to lowering Vicki, making sure she'll get down all right.

Below, Steven makes his way through the smoke, avoiding a Dalek. Meanwhile, the battle rages on! Mechanoids destroy Daleks, Daleks exterminate Mechanoids, as the city burns around them!

On the ground below the city, all four travellers have arrived safely. Vicki, fully recovered, is amazed to see the city on fire. Ian reminds her about the Doctor's device and then she asks where Steven is. The Doctor tells her he went back into the city, though they don't know why. The chance he has survived are very slim. Downcast, the four make their way back towards the TARDIS. Behind them, the city falls into firey destruction!

Barbara, Vicki and the Doctor stand outside the Dalek time machine. Ian appears from inside and tells them it's clear--all the Daleks apparently invaded the city. "You've done it again," he tells the Doctor. "You've beaten them!" The Doctor muses about how sophisticated the Dalek machine is; it managed to follow the TARDIS accurately! Vicki, who is obviously familiar with it, offers to give a tour and she and the Doctor enter. Barbara stops Ian and asks him if he realizes that...if the machine is that accurate, this could be a way home for the two of them. They both realize that they miss Earth and their time and they agree to ask the Doctor to help them use the machine.

In the jungle, a disheveled Steven, clutching Hi-fi, stumbles around, calling for the Doctor. He manages to avoid a fungus and stumbles on.

Outside the Dalek machine, the Doctor is point blank refusing Ian and Barbara's request. It is far too dangerous, he says angrily. The whole thing dissolves into an argument until Ian and Barbara walk away. Vicki approaches the Doctor and helps him to realize that they want to, need to return to their own time. She further makes sure the Doctor knows that she's not going to leave him. Grudgingly, the Doctor asks the two if they understand the risks. They do, so he agrees to help them as long as they follow his instructions and understand that they have only a fifty-fifty chance. The four enter the machine.

A short while later, the Doctor and Vicki emerge. The ship fades away and the two sadly make their way back to the TARDIS.

Ian and Barbara walk out into a London street. It is 1965, two years out, but, as Ian says, "What's two years among friends?" They make sure the Dalek time machine self-destructs and then run. The two frolic around central London, discover a real Police Box and then grab a bus. Ian, attempting to pay their fare, is surprised to discover the price has gone up! The two laugh...

...And the Doctor and Vicki watch them on the Time and Space Visualiser. Vicki is overjoyed that the two arrived safely, but the Doctor is obviously still overcome. "I shall miss them," he says, and adds with a smile, "The silly old fusspots."

The TARDIS leaves Mechanus, going through time and space towards another adventure....


Ketina's Transcripts, with editing by yours truly

H: Historian
K: Ketina
R: Ronelyn
Sc: Schmallturm
S: Spoo
MS: MiniSpoo
M: MisterMother
P: Photobug

H: I just want it to be noted, that as promised last week, Schmallturm is wearing his Terry Nation ascot. It's the whole getup. I believe we're going to have differing opinions on this episode. There were some shortcomings, and it was laughable in parts for some of us.
M: I thought it transcended that and it was sublime.
H: I thought miniatures moving in the city looked a little silly, but it city itself was a really nice model.
K: I loved "it's huge!" and then they showed this itty bitty model.
R: Model FAIL.
K: It was a nice model!
R: The idea was great.
H: It's the same model we all thought was awesome last week.
R: They minimized the weaknesses last week. This week they reveled in it.
M: Based on the actual size of the Mechanoids compared to the model, it would have only been as big as a 2-story house.
Sc: It's holding a thermal detanator! [NOTE: Star Wars reference, for those who don't know; this was relating to a discussion about the Mechanoid voices that didn't make it into the transcript. --H]
H: There was a flame thrower...
S: But a flame thrower throws flame.
R: This was sort of a slow burn.
H: A flame thrower also burns studios down.
R: That was more of a flame offerer. "Would you like some flame? Here is some flame..."
M: During the great Dalek/Mechanoid battle it felt like a YouTube mashup.
R: Extermontage! Extermontage!
H: I thought it looked pretty good.
S: Of course YOU did. :P
M: It was like a Dalek/Mechanoid ballet.
H: But it was a stylish attempt at a large battle.
R: It went a bit long.
H: Well, the production team thought they'd have another Dalek-like hit on their hands with the Mechanoids. So they wanted to do a battle royale sort of thing.
S: The D20 [i.e., a die with 20 sides] with pincers... well, that happened.
R: They did actually do pretty well against the Daleks though. But I get the feeling that this time machine crew was the B-arc Daleks.
H: That would explain... AH...AH...THREE....
S: The Dalek who can't do math.
K: The best moment, was the Mechanoid parking issue. "You back up! No, you back up!"
H: That's not how I saw the scene. I assumed it was some kind of communication ritual.
S: There was one scene where you could see the wires coordinate the Dalek stalks.
R: That scene [the two Mechanoids] was Roomba World.
H: That's kind of what they were. Steven said that 50 years ago earth sent the robots to prepare the planet for colonists.
Sc: I have a criticism then. We didn't learn anything else about the Mechanoids at all. They made no sense.
R: They spent too much time on the extermontage, but not on what they were. What was a verbal code all about.
H: I think the idea was they were going to come back. They did show up in the Dalek comic strip, but that was about their only appearance.
Sc: And what was up with Steven. They just left him!
H: I remain mum about that.
P: When I saw the monkey bars I knew they were in prison.
S: But the falling down funny bit was lowering the terrified girl to the ground by tying her up and blind folding her, pealing her off of her friend, and then lowering her to the ground. I was kinda turned on. :P
P: Whenever the Mechanoids hats popped out you thought of mariachi hats with the fringe.
R: When we saw Steven appear, I was thinking "stay where you are! This is my jungle gym!"
H: So, how about that Steven Taylor. Alone in that rocket ship for so long, and then trapped on Mechanus for 2 years.
S: And then he helps his new friends escape. And then they abandon him... to DIE!
R: To be fair, any time you escape from an alien zoo and someone says "wait, I have to go back into the towering inferno for my panda doll!" you're justified in leaving him.
H: I think the point that Hi-fi was like Wilson in Castaway. It was all he'd had to talk to for two years on Mechanus and who knows how long before that in his rocket. It was fair that he would go back for it. It had taken on a kind of life for him.
R: But, Towering Dalek Inferno!
H: Trapped for two years, not entirely in his right mind.
S: Go back for mascot, no. Go back for ascot, YES!
M: That was the point. He was a loon.
P: A loon or alone?
H & R: YES!
S: And then, after 18 minutes of intentional an unintentional hilarity, we get wrenched into "goodbye"
H: I thought the was very well done.
S: Yes. Good acting from the Doctor.
H: William Hartnell was very unhappy that that William Russell and Jacqueline Hill were leaving.
S: So, not actually acting then.
H: It was the breakup of the original little family. The beginning of the end of things for William Hartnell, I think.
R: It was nice that Barbara gave us a little last minute "fan service" at the end there, when Ian gives us a chance to see her "Granny panties" as he grabs her and halls her back away from the edge of the drop.
P: This is nothing like 16 candles.
R: However, the knot that he tied was a genuine bolin knot.
P: So, school teachers are good tying knots. They know the ropes?
*lots of groans*
H: So, an open question, were Ian and Barbara a couple? There's always been debate in Doctor Who fandom about that. Survey folks?
Sc: Definitely
R: I think so. You could go with that.
S: Yes. That's what the whole montage at the end implied.
H: I think they were near a couple from the very beginning. But there's arguments from fans that there's no evidence, blah blah.
Sc: But he has his hands on her panties!
S: Barbara, I've loved you ever since I had my hands on your granny panties in the fungal jungle.
R: Worst Jethro Tull album title ever, but the way.
Sc: The Mechanoids, the worst talking race of giant D20s ever.
K: They're more like D100s.
Sc: Giant talking bucky balls!
H: What I was going to say is, were're at the end of an era, with Ian and Barbara leaving. Do we have an assessment of that?
P: A toast?
H: Well, Susan was the first to leave. They were the first to leave voluntarily...
Sc: Susan left voluntarily.
H: No, the Doctor locked the door on her remember. And, by investigating their student and stumbling into the TARDIS, they were the impetus for the series in the first place.
R: It was like the first election in a new democracy. "We'll now turn over things to the new representatives..."
P: It's like Jr High or High School where the constant turn over creates a new dynamic.
H: Everything changes in a school every 4 years.
Sc: I thought they provided the adult element of the show. Now that they're gone, I'm curious to see if they introduce another sane element of the show.
S: The Doctor looses his peer in Ian. Now he doesn't have anybody close to his level.
H: It's not just Ian. He also had a close relationship with Barbara. He really respected her, closer even than Ian.
M: The Doctor. may actually be a bit scared to be out in the universe again without Ian and Barbara. When we first met him, he was a reclusive hermit hiding in a junkyard with Susan. Ian and Barbara kind of pushed him into using the TARDIS again and now they are gone. That may be a part of why he didn't want them to leave.
H: Did you like the episode, MS?
MS: Yes.
H: Was there anything in particular you liked?
MS: I liked everything. It was a little like in Halo. There were fire guns.
R: *hums Halo music*
MS: Exterminate! Exterminate!
S: There was also that moment of humor. The Daleks go into the zoo cage and then area and then were like "oh dear, we can't go up. We have to solve this problem some day."
H: THey don't have a Dalek antigrav disc yet.
Sc: Somehow they can do it. They went up on the Mary Celeste somehow.
H: We're just not allowed to see it.
MS: EXTERMINATE! NUMBER ONE HAS FALLEN OFF THE BOAT! NUMBER ONE DE... ST... ROY... ED.... [It's worth reminding everyone that MS is 6 years old and this was absolutely adorable. --H]
R: There was one effect that was very perplexing. When the building was supposed to be collapsing they had a gell shot of the building and then stock footage of the explosion.
H: Maybe they didn't want to destroy the model.
K: There was also the animation "kapow" effects.
H: Yeah, that even I thought was WAY over the top.
R: That was the point at which I thought "guys, the battle is officially over."
H: Any final thoughts?
P: I thought it was a good arc. But I also thought it didn't fit in with things later on. But that's not a "first time viewer aspect" but based on seeing future stuff. Why don't they use the time machine later if it's that good.
H: They do have time travel later. But it never works that well. It's likely they [the various producers] know that would cause more plot holes. And then there's the issue with laws of time not being bendable at this point--remember the Doctor claims history cannot be changed! And finally, Doctor Who continuity is rather an oxymoron, especially in the early years.
S: Pour out one for my homey Ian. And Barabara.


And we'll leave it there for this week. Keep an eye out for my wrap-up of "The Chase" in the next week. And join us next week for the beginning of a new story--the last story of the second season! Until then, I remain



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