Friday, February 11, 2011

"Coronas of the Sun"

Hello everyone, the Historian here, along with Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm, Spoo, Photobug and Cz. This week brings us the triumphant return of writer Dennis Spooner to Doctor Who, following an outline presented by Terry Nation, and giving us more Dalek shenanigans. (Oh, by the way, standard Loose Cannon Productions plug. Check out their recons!) So, without further ado, let's get to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 18 December 1965. "You're right Doctor, they've come," says Sara, as the Daleks glide into the clearing and surround our friends in front of the cave. "You are surrounded," says the Dalek. "You will come with us." The Doctor, bowing to the inevitable, tells his friends, "I'm afraid, my friends, the Daleks have won..."

One of the Daleks demands the Taranium core, but the Doctor refuses to hand it over. Before the Daleks can reform to fire, the Visians attack the metal monsters! The Daleks fire at movement in the branches as the Doctor, Steven and Sara avoid both groups and manage to sneak away. The Daleks, having either exterminated or driven off their foe, begin to search again for the fugitives.

On Kembel, the Dalek Supreme receives a report from the planet Mira saying the fugitives and core have not yet been captured. It denies the request for reinforcements, saying one Dalek task force should be enough...and that failure will not be tolerated!

The Doctor, Sara and Steven have arrived outside the Dalek ship, noting that there is only one Dalek on guard. The Doctor has a plan and sneaks off. Sara is doubtful that the plan will work; surely the Daleks will be back before they can pull it off? Steven tells her to have faith. "Don't worry," he says. "Look, you must learn to trust him. He's had dealings with the Daleks before." The two Earth people leave to get in position. On the other side of the ship, the Doctor emerges from hiding, making sure the Dalek sees him. It demands the Taranium and asks where the other fugitives are. The Doctor continues to distract the Dalek while Steven and Sara sneak up behind it. Steven grabs a handful of mud and slaps it on the Dalek's eyestalk, covering it! The three run up the gangway into the ship as the blind Dalek fires wildly, calling out, "Ahh! Help! Help! Loss of vision! Loss of vision! I'm under attack! I'm under attack! Patrol alert! Patrol alert!" After a few moments, the patrol returns in haste and the guard Dalek reports that the fugitives are on the ship.

Inside the ship, the Doctor and Sara are trying to power up while Steven anxiously watches the door, seeing the Daleks beginning to form up to board. The power build up is too slow, worries the Doctor, but Sara reports the levels rising. Outside the ship, the Daleks are about to move up the gangway...but the doors close just in time! The power builds, the engines start and the Dalek ship, carrying the Doctor, Sara and Steven, takes off from Mira!

On Kembel, the Supreme confronts a newly arrived Mavic Chen with his "failure." Chen is annoyed, telling the Supreme that, although he has not arrived with the Taranium, he did tell the Daleks that the fugitives were transported to Mira, where the core could be retrieved without suspicion. The Supreme responds, "You make your incompetence sound like an achievement." Chen is furious. He says, "Incompetence now, is it? You forget that the original blunder was not of my doing. I journeyed to and from Earth to correct a failing your security force should have dealt with. The Core was stolen from here. My actions have brought about a situation which will allow you to recover the missing Taranium easily and simply. If that is a failure, then I have failed." The Supreme, apparently overwhelmed by Chen's...logic, turns to one of its subordinates, demanding a report. It is now that it is told of the Doctor and company's theft of the Dalek ship, stranding the patrol on Mira. It orders that the ship be tracked and a rescue ship be dispatched to Mira to pick up the patrol. Chen is amused. "And you had the audacity to accuse me, Mavic Chen, of incompetence!" he says, and does not allow the Supreme to get a word in edgewise to defend itself. Finally, the Supreme barks, "They may believe that they have successfully escaped from us, but we, the Daleks, are still in command!"

In the Dalek ship, the Doctor and Sara are working in the laboratory. The Doctor is wearing an eyeshade to protect him from Taranium rays. Steven has come over to see how work is progressing on the Doctor's plan. He is working on making a copy of the Taranium close enough to fool the Daleks. Suddenly, the noise of the ship's engines change. Sara runs over to the controls. She calls out that they have changed course. The Doctor comes over to check the instruments and is horrified: they are heading back to Kembel! Steven notices what seems to be a unit plugged into the console, makes a deduction, and rips it out. The Doctor and Sara are shocked, but that seems to have done it! Sara asks if Steven didn't feel like that was kind of a drastic move, but Steven replies, "Look, Sara, the technology of my age may be hundreds of years behind yours and the Doctor's, but there are still some things I can handle." Delighted by this, the Doctor leads Sara back to the lab to get to work.

On Kembel, the Supreme is told that the pursuit ship has broken free of Dalek control. It orders the Magnetize Beam be turned on the ship. Chen overhears this and smugly asks if anything else has gone wrong. The Dalek Supreme replies that the Magnetizer will pull the ship to Kembel and the fugitives will be exterminated. After the Taranium core is retrieved, Chen reminds the Supreme and it, saving face, replies, "Of course!"

On the ship, the Doctor has finished his Taranium replica. Sara points out that the replica is inert; the Daleks will surely notice if their core has no power! Just then, Steven enters from the control room, telling his friends that they still seem to be in control of the ship. He notices the two cores and is impressed, although he, too, notes that the fake needs to be charged. He suggests using the Gravity force that the ship uses for power--there's even an outlet right in the lab. But the Doctor and Sara dismiss this as far too primitive and dangerous. Sara says, derisively, "Gravity-force as a source of energy was abandoned centuries ago." "We were still using it!" says Steven, defensively. Sara retorts, "Oh yes, and the Romans used treadmills." Sara and the Doctor return to the control room, leaving Steven looking down at the core. "I still think G-force would do the trick," he muses.

In the control room, Sara notices that their course has changed again. The Doctor checks the instruments and, sure enough, they are heading back to Kembel! They seem to be being affected by a magnetic force, the Doctor says. The two bend over the controls to try and break the force.

Back in the lab, Steven has hooked up the fake core to the Gravity force power outlet. "Now we'll see about those treadmills!" he muses and flips the switch. There is a loud buzz and a bright flash! Steven gives a short yell and falls to the floor! The Doctor and Sara burst in. The Doctor immediately runs to Steven and checks his vitals. Steven is breathing, but unconscious. Then Sara notices what caused the accident. "The fool!" she says. "He's tried his...his experiment, with G-force and reliance power!" But, although it was a great risk, the experiment has paid off--the fake core has been charged and is impossible to tell from the real thing! The Doctor is momentarily delighted by this, but then becomes concerned again for "the poor boy."

Back on Kembel, the Supreme is told that the pursuit ship has entered the planet's atmosphere. Chen, overhearing this, attempts to make an argument that the fugitives not be killed immediately, but be returned to Earth for trial and execution. He is afraid that, since some people knew of their "escape" to Mira, there might be some questions if they simply disappear. The Supreme, after suggesting that Chen keep people from asking questions, simply says that the Daleks will conquer the Solar System before anyone can discover the plan. Once they have the Taranium, the Daleks will be unstoppable. Chen grudgingly agrees to leave the fugitives' fates up to the Supreme, and then archly suggests that perhaps it is time for he and the Supreme to join the reception committee waiting for the ship.

In the ship, Sara and the Doctor monitor the instruments. The Doctor notes that they should be landing in about five minutes and the two go to check on Steven. Steven is sitting in a corner of the lab, staring straight ahead. The Doctor notes that Steven is encased in a force field, created by the Gravity force reaction. He can hear them and move, albeit slowly, but he cannot speak. Suddenly, the Doctor gets an idea. He gives Steven the Taranium and begins to explain...

Chen and the Supreme, along with a party of Daleks, stand in the jungle clearing where the ship is due to land. The Taranium will be recovered, says the Supreme. This time, there will be no error...

The ship lands. Inside, the Doctor has finished his preparations. Steven holds the core and will lead the way. Sara, still doubtful, opens the door and Steven walks down the gangway to meet the Daleks. The moment he sees the Taranium container in Steven's hands, Chen demands it. But the Doctor, right behind his friend, says no! Although Chen claims that the fugitives are in no position to bargain, the Doctor realizes that the Daleks cannot fire on them for fear of destroying the Taranium! He tells Chen and the Daleks that Steven will hand over the core outside the TARDIS (remember, it's been on Kembel all this time). Although the Daleks initially resist, Chen talks them into giving in and the group sets out through the jungle. Before they leave the clearing, Chen comes face to face with Sara Kingdom. He is surprised to see her, and even more surprised when she simply says, "Traitor!" to him and turns away. After a moment to collect himself, Chen also follows the Daleks through the jungle.

Outside the TARDIS, the Doctor sends Sara to unlock the door and get inside. He tells Chen and the Daleks that Steven will hand over the core only once the Doctor and Sara are safely inside. "Making sure of your escape, eh, Doctor?" says Chen, but the Doctor ignores him. Instead, he turns to Steven and reminds him to do exactly what he says. The Doctor then enters the TARDIS. From inside, the Doctor uses the external speakers to tell Steven to hand over the Taranium and come inside the ship. Walking stiffly, Steven goes over to Chen, handing the "Guardian" the core. Chen opens it and sees the glow of the apparent Taranium. "This is it!" he says, excitedly. "The Core of the Time Destructor!" Without a second thought, the Supreme orders its Daleks to fire on Steven! But the Dalek guns appear to have no effect as Steven, protected by the force field, enters the TARDIS...which dematerializes!

In the TARDIS control room, Steven is sitting in the chair, recovering. He doesn't remember a lot of what happened, but the Doctor tells him and Sara that the Dalek guns destroyed the force field, freeing Steven from his Gravitic prison. It's a good thing they only fired once! Sending Sara to check on the real Taranium, the Doctor examines Steven. Steven reflects that it's a shame he blacked out and can't remember the ratio readings of Gravity and reliance power--otherwise they might be able to make shields that work against Dalek weapons. Certainly not! says the Doctor. What Steven did was both stupid and dangerous--one more "experiment" and someone could wind up dead! Even though Steven points out that it did charge the fake Taranium, the Doctor will not hear of more G-force experimentation. "Why do you think science turned down your discovery, hmm?" he asks. :Because it isn't safe!" Reluctantly, Steven agrees; he will do no more experimenting. Meanwhile, the central control column has stopped moving. Sara, not knowing what this means, calls the Doctor and Steven's attention to it. Steven tells her it just means they've landed. The Doctor checks the scanner, but sees only static. Steven is about to touch the control that opens the doors, but the Doctor stops him. "Do you see those dials?" he asks. "Now, do you know what that means? If either of you went outside, it would be extremely dangerous. The whole atmosphere is entirely poisonous....!"


Ketina's Pretty Paraphrasy Transcripts

H: Historian
K: Ketina
R: Ronelyn
Sc: Schmallturm
S: Spoo
P: Photobug
C: Cz

H: So, the triumphant return of Dennis Spooner of Doctor Who. We don't have Terry Nation to kick around anymore. [Alas, I was wrong; next week's episode has a Nation script! --H]

Sc: It's amazing how much smoother the plot moves.

C: Oh my god, even I noticed.

Sc: Mavic Chen was really awesome.

P: I really enjoyed when Chen had the Daleks on the ropes.

H: I think the scene had a little padding in it, mainly because they went over the same point a few times. [I realized later that I was talking about a different scene than the rest of the Project crew. --H]

Sc: Well, haters gotta hate.

H: They reported the report, then they reported it again...

P: So, what you're saying is that they reported the same thing several times.

H: Yes, and I'll say it again.


H: This week we have a return of Chen appearing to be in control, rather than being Karlton's puppet.

R: It was nice to see someone other than the Doctor tell the Daleks they were being a bunch of tools.

C: He interrupted the Daleks. You do not interrupt them.


S: May I say that a Dalek making excuses for itself is a recipe for comedy.

H: This episode was written by Dennis Spooner, who wrote "The Romans", as well as being the script editor for most of the second season. He is known for his comedy.

C: Why did they replace the writer mid-way?


H: As I recall, this originally wasn't intended to be as long as it was, and Terry Nation was extraordinarily busy doing lots of shows at this point. And when they asked him to expand the story to have more episodes, he said he didn't have time to do more. So they got Dennis Spooner to write the episodes, supposedly from Nation's outline.

R: And Spooner said “right.”

H: No, he apparently used most of the outline, except for next week's diversion.

S: Is the Taranium something you detonate? Can a person push a button on a box of Taranium and have it go boom?

H: It's unclear. But they have said it's unstable. That's why you can't look at it without the funky visors.

S: So, ram him and then pick it up.

H: It's extraordinary how difficult it is for a Dalek to think outside the box.

S: It IS a box.


H: We've had her for two episodes, what do people think of our new companion, Sara Kingdom, so far?

R: Snappy dresser. Level woman in the uniform. [Absolutely no idea what Ronelyn was saying here; Ketina has to type very fast. --H]

S: She didn't do anything unique.

K: Companion?

H: She's traveling with them.

K: Okay, point. She has been in the TARDIS now.

H: Technically so was Bret.

R: So, she has the vital role that Vicki had of making Steven look like a tool.

H: So, what do you think about the Roman treadmill thing...

R: I thought it was a little too soon to be making Greek and Roman jokes so soon after what's her name's death.

H: That was an awesome moment. “Sara, unlock the TARDIS and go inside. By the way, this is a key."

K: (reference to Katarina not knowing what a key is... Sara, you know, has a brain).

H: Hey. I liked Katarina. The character was interesting, but was in a bad story for her.

Sc: She had the misfortune of being in a Terry Nation story.

H: Getting back to “Primitive Steven, astronaut from the FUTURE!”

P: Primitive is relative.

R: I was amused that the Daleks label their controls [on the Dalek pursuit ship] in English.

Sc: Apparently the Doctor can read them.

R: So can Sara?

Sc: She was just reading colors. Red and blue.

R: And it's amusing that Steven walks up in his version of the fur bathing suit, and knew what bit to pull off.

H: He knew about the Gravity stuff.

P: No, pulling the remote off that the Daleks were using to control the ship.

H: Maybe Dalek technology hasn't advanced since Steven's time.


H: CONTROL-P PRINT! [Note: These are Eddie Izzard references. I apologize, really. --H]

K: They are time travelers.

H: That's true. Not very accurate ones... but still time travelers.


H: Anything else?

S: Mavic Chen was not offensive. Of this entire arc, he was the least “Queen Amidala.”

[Don't know if I've explained it; because Chen is played by Kevin Stoney, a white actor in a serious amount of "Asian" make-up, Spoo has continuously made joking references to Star Wars character Nute Gunray and his Asian stereotypical "Engrish." I don't think Stoney's Chen is anywhere near that bad, but it is funny. --H]

P: It helped that we didn't see him moving around.

S: I also thought this week's reconstruction was very well done. Great choices of stills to show and more subtle animations.

H: The Doctor is, at first relatively protective of Steven. And then is all “oh, he has a force field... we could use that.”

S: He was extremely confident that it would work. At least as long as the Daleks didn't fire twice. “Oh, I will miss him... “

R: “I just wish the Daleks had.”

K: Yeah, they usually fire twice...

S: Only at invisible plant people.

H: It was a weird jump between Steven sitting on the floor and then suddenly there was a force field around him.

P: So, how does he breathe?

R: Apparently the force field just made him stupid.

P: er. Stupider.

H: Oh, come one. Steven is actually fairly intelligent.

S: He's headstrong.

H: He's got an idea. And dang it, it worked in his time and it'll work now.

R: We had gravity induced cancer, and dagnabit, we liked it that way!

H: Last week we got introduced to the invisible people... what did you think of the invisible guys, since you missed last week, Schmallturm?

Sc: It reminded me of Forbidden Planet. It was pretty cool, Daleks fighting invisible monsters.

K: There was one cool effect.

S: The teletubby?

P: The outline of the creature when it was shot.

C: Was that in the original?

H: There was something like that in the original episode, but that was definitely part of the reconstruction.

R: There were various funny lines. Mavic Chen makes an eloquent point. And the two Daleks look at each other as if to say “He uses such pretty pretty words!” And second, Sara Kingdom, “Yes, but remember in the Roman times they used tread mills. Your technology is just as primitive.”

Sc: I loved the Dalek's line “You make your incompetence sound like an achievement.” and then the awesome turn around by Chen later.

R: I think that's the only time in history someone looked at a Dalek and said “Nanny nanny poo poo” without getting killed. I certainly can't think of another story when that happened.

H: Well, the Doctor's come close.

R: It was just school yard “nyah nyah nyah” though. Awesome.

P: Good plot movement today! Retro rocket right through it! It's the usual stuff. Good use of plot, some character advancement... oddly the Doctor didn't have many lines. Everybody had something to say. But this recon had a few elements that were as good as other episodes.

H: I thought that you could definitely tell the difference in the script writers.

R: Things happened!

H: There is something that Spooner's script have...

S: Movement?

H: No.. wit and characterization. You could definitely tell who wrote this script, in particular the Dalek and Chen scene...

P: You could tell when they said that the beginning “written by.”

H: Don't make me hurt you. Anyway, next week we have the lostiest lost episode of them all...

S: The Doctor opens the hatch?

K: Sorry, you were saying?

H: There's at least a vague and hopefully possibility that other episodes may show up someday. But next week's was only aired once, and not in other countries. It's the first Doctor Who Christmas Special, and the only one until 2005!

R: When I saw the title for that episode, I thought, “Oh, three way!”

P: The Feast of Steven...

S: As opposed to the fist of Steven?

K: Am I allowed to type this?


You wouldn't think she would be, would you? But yes, as I said above, next week we have a story that the BBC didn't wipe in the early '70s, but one that was destroyed shortly after it was aired! I'm really looking forward to it! Until then, I remain



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