Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"The Hall of Dolls"

Hello everyone, the Historian here, getting closer and closer to catching up! On 1st July, 2011, I was joined by Ketina, Ronelyn, Photobug and special guests Altair and Ezio for the second episode of this surreal story. Without further ado, let's get to the (much shorter) summary!

Episode summary: First aired 9 April 1966. When Steven and Dodo run to the "TARDIS," they discover that it's just an empty cabinet. Dodo finds a slip of paper on the ground with what looks like a riddle on it. "Four legs, no feet, of arms no lack, it carries no burden on its back. Six deadly sisters, seven for choice, call the servants without voice." A door swings open in the back of the "TARDIS" cabinet, but before they walk through, Dodo looks back. In the places where Joey and Clara had fallen are two tiny, broken clown dolls...!

Steven and Dodo play a deadly game involving chairs and dolls. Their opponents are the Heart family: a King, Queen, Knave (named Cyril) and a Fool/Joker. Dodo treats them as real people (which, overhearing private conversations between the King and Queen, they probably were--before being possessed by the Toymaker), while Steven sees them as simply pawns and distractions of the Toymaker (also seemingly true). The game involves chairs that contain deadly traps, with one chair being safe. Steven and Dodo discover several cabinets of dolls, containing almost enough to test all the chairs. They also discover a cabinet containing ballerina dolls that later seems to be locked. Ultimately, the King and Queen are killed testing a chair--and Dodo almost is!--and the Knave and Fool leave.

Meanwhile, the Doctor (intangible and, after annoying the Toymaker, unable to speak) continues his Trilogic game. At various points, as a "penalty," the Toymaker advances the game several moves...putting the Doctor in further danger of finishing his game before Steven and Dodo find the TARDIS!

Steven and Dodo have found, at the end of their game, another fake TARDIS. Dodo is still wondering what the "dolls without voice" of last episode's riddle meant and she calls, "Dolls, dolls, wherever you are - come out!" Nothing happens, but the phone in the fake TARDIS rings. It is the Toymaker, who gives Steven and Dodo their next clue: "Hunt the key to fit the door that leads out on the dancing floor; then escape the rhythmic beat, or you'll forever tap your feet." He also warns them that the Doctor is going faster than they are! The back of the cabinet opens to reveal a dark passage. Dodo looks back and sees that the King and Queen have turned into playing cards. About to follow Steven into the passage, Dodo tries calling the dolls one more time. She runs after her friend, not seeing the locked cabinet open and the ballerina dolls slowly and jerkily follow Steven and Dodo down the corridor....!

Episode transcript


H: Historian
K: Ketina
R: Ronelyn
P: Photobug
A: Altair
E: Ezio

P: The sound was awesome.

K: The sound quality of the recon was horrible.

P: But the sound quality of the original show was awesome.

R: It sounds like they patched together the sound from a couple of high quality sources and one really bad one.

H: Well, they had to make due with what they had.

P: Better bad than not at all.

H: Getting onto the episode's content, we have another game from the Toymaker. Which demonstrates that Dodo is the Doctor's first dumb companion.

K: No, Katarina.

H: I wouldn't say Katarina is dumb...

A: She was just uneducated.

H: Not the way Dodo is dumb. She just gives the game away, Steven has to constantly say “look, take this seriously.” It's interesting because all of the other companions have their bad moments. Steven had in with the forcefield in the Dalek's Master Plan. But no other companions so far have been portrayed as this reckless and thoughtless.

P: The words “no common sense” apply here.

H: Exactly.

R: I thought that this one played out a lot more engagingly than the last one.

H: Not as much setup.

R: And the game is a lot less stupid. This worked better as a recon. I though the characters were more interesting and the game was more engaging.

E: And there were fewer scary clowns.

P: One of the dolls used by the King and Queen disappeared in the chair when they left the room. So there were two chairs left, not one.

H: That's an excellent point.

K: Why couldn't they just reuse the still available dolls.

A: The fact that the dolls died in horrible ways one by one made this episode creepier than the last one.

P: It made you wonder “how are they going to die next?” And if you ever played the game “Lunch Money” you get what I'm talking about.

R: I suspect that if it was against the rules to reuse the dolls, they would have gotten punished for it.

H: Although the Toymaker didn't indicate one way or the other. But I think that the dolls were unusable in each case after they were sat in the chairs. Even the one that shook, shook the dolls head off. And Dodo SAT IN A CHAIR!

E: Yeah, good job, Dodo.

A: The whole time that she's in the chair and I'm thinking “Steven, just pull her out!”

P: It said in the caption, that when he removed her it teared her from the chair. I was wondering if it was going to rip off her clothing...

H: No, no, children's show. Interesting point for folks, if they didn't realize. The king and queen are played by the two clown actors from the previous episode. If you continue to watch, you'll see actors being reused.

K: The queen's voice was less annoying than the clowns though.

H: The Hartnell voice stuff was obvious pre-recorded.

K: Was that even his voice?

H: Yeah, I think so.

P: Why did they do that?

H: Partly so he could have a holiday. And there were problems between him and the producer, so I think they wanted some time with him away as well. I do know that the hand with the ring is not Hartnell's hand as well.

R: I kind of liked the playing card characters. There was more “there, there” than just “we're psychotic clowns to scare children.” These are real people with a back story.

H: I like that they explain to Dodo “we were real people. The Toymaker owns us now. And this is what's going to happen to you if you don't win.” So Steven and Dodo are finally starting to understand what the stakes might be.

P: But I think Steven knew all along that there was danger here.

H: Oh yeah.

R: And Dodo's reaction is kind of “oh, all right then!”

H: And she still persists in seeing them as A)Not real people, and B)Not competition. She's just... urgh!

R: If I saw them as people, my natural inclination would be, “yeah, we all have to get the hell out of here. No one should have to wear those silly pants.”

H: But as Steven keeps trying to tell her, it's us against them. And Michael Gough is awesome. He's friendly and menacing at the same time. With the menace being much more real than the friendliness.

E: He's using the friendliness to taunt. Which makes it all the more effective.

P: Plus he's omnipotent. It's scary having an evil, omnipotent being.

H: He's certainly omnipotent in his own little realm, at least.

P: How is that possible?

H: He controls everything, in the Toyroom.

R: Yes, everywhere else he's just plemnipotent.

P: It's like being world famous for a several blocks radius?

H: Sure, why not.

(laughter from the group.)

H: How awesome was the shot where the Toymaker says that he prepared a special place for Steven and Dodo, and you see the two little beds in the dollhouse that are labeled “Steven” and “Dodo.” That was in the original script, so I don't know if that was a picture they had, or something the recon folks put together. It was beautifully creepy.

P: The rules that he layed out for the Doctor not talking is that he can't talk until he's placed the second to last piece. I think he's done that to prevent the Doctor from slowing down and giving Steven and Dodo.

K: Whenever the Toymaker want the Doctor to go faster, he skips a bunch of moves. He's done it twice already.

H: Like when he said “go to move 444.”

P: Oh, I just assumed that was a time passes sort of thing.

H: No, that was a penalty for the Doctor. He's already done it once in each episode.

H: Final thoughts?

P: Okay, the chairs were kind of wacky. Which was refreshing and nice. I though the card characters were perfect in character as well as dress. But I was kind of confused when they were supposed to call the servants without voice and they did use their voice.

H: The implication was that the servants had no voice, not the call. I think there was something that we missed because of the recon. All the women dolls come out of the locked closet in the next room. We'll see next week.

R: This guy has a weird taste in kidnapping. “I'm going to steal a family, a pair of clowns, and a bunch of ballet dancers.”

H: The victims aren't necessarily playing what they were in real life.

R: “Okay, I'm going to need a few more hot chicks to complete my 12 dancing princesses set.” Either way, that's just freaky-deaky.

E: I kind of liked this episode a bit better. There was more of a risk in playing the game then just winning or losing.

P: Yeah, if you sit in the chair, boom!

H: Yet, Dodo does!

E: Instead of just worrying about the end result, you have to worry about the process of playing too. It added an extra element of danger.

A: I don't have anything else to add. But I liked it better than last week.

E: It was better this week because there wasn't a lot of action we were missing. Things were explained there was a lot of dialog, so it was a lot easier to visualize.

A: Yeah, there wasn't an obstacle course this week.

E: There are these chairs and dolls. A lot easier to envision than an obstacle course.

R: Chairs, seating... doom!

E: I'll never look at a movie theater the same again. There's all these chairs!

R: One, I was kind of amused that they were like “We're out of dolls. We'll use the fool!” and my immediate thought was, “that's right, the Joker's wild.”

P: I think it was also an emphasis on royalty verses commoners. This would resonate well with British viewers.

K: The queen and the fool were the smart ones, the knave was just lazy, and the king was stupid.

H: Someone was rooting for the knave when they ran out of the room.

E: Me.

R: I wouldn't have felt bad seeing the knave set on fire. There was this woeful line that the fool had. The king is like “well, we won't know if it's a good chair until someone sits in it.” and the jester gets it, and he's like “poor Tom, poor Tom.”

H: All of the playing cards have actual names. The king was Henry, the knave was Cyril. I can't remember the other names, or if the queen had a name.

P: Had the knave sat down, then the king and queen would have been Cyril-killers.

(stunned silence, and the sound of disappointment)

K: I like the idea of “recurring characters” of the toys. It might mean they don't actually die when they lose.

E: Yeah. He wants a bunch of toys to play with, so he won't kill them off.

H: They likely go back in the dollhouse.

K: So, he might not be omnipotent. He just might have a magical doll house.

H: That sounds like a bad PBS 1980's afternoon children's show.

K: Anyway. But the riddle wasn't something they needed to answer, it was apparently a clue, or the rules, to the next puzzle. So the audience couldn't have figured it out beyond the chair part.

H: It really was less of a riddle and more of a clue, and I think that was the intention. No one ever said it was a riddle, it was just a piece of paper that the found that had the verse on it.

K: But they showed the riddle/ clue at the end of the episode on screen, right? And all these kids in 1966 are watching this thing, they go to school, talk about it with there friends...

R: “Have you figured it out? Maybe it's teeth...”

E: “I think it's a chair.”

K: So they might get the chair part. But the other part of the possible riddle is gibberish if you don't see the next episode. It's not something you can answer on the school grounds all week. I'd be very frustrated as a kid coming back to the next episode a week later to find out there wasn't really an answer.

H: But it did make you come back to watch next week to find out what the answer it. It is the cliffhanger to make you come back next week.

P: Yes, but it's a sucky one.

H: Better than some of the cliffhangers we've seen.

P: Okay, you win.

R: It's a fair cop.

H: One of the things I wanted to say is that I'm bummed that Schmallterm and Spoomeister aren't here to see the episode this week. I think it might have redeemed the story for them. I'm still thouroughly enjoying it, seeing it instead of just reading about it. I think it continues to be an interesting experiment for the show, as it's totally unlike anything they've ever done before.

P: Last week it was scary in a psychological sort of way. And this week it went from psychological to freaky due to a puzzle.

E: Plus it makes you afraid to sit in chairs.

P: But the feel of the episode was different. The first one was more psychological scare. This one was more enjoyable, but it was more working out the problem. Steven's got it. If Dodo wasn't there, he'd be doing better.

K: She's messing it up for him.

A: He should have let her stay in the chair.

R: That's just darn rude.

H: I think one of the reasons why it feels different as well, this episode had more of a visceral danger. Something actually bad happened to you. It was much more real this week.

E: And Dodo still doesn't get it.

K: Why are we being so mean to Dodo?

H: She doesn't have any common sense.

P: To quote the expression “She doesn't have enough common sense to survive every day.”

H: This is a girl who saw a road accident, ran to a police box to get help, went inside instead of picking up the phone, immediately forgot the accident, and said “hey, let's go!”

R: Yeah, screw those bleeding people.

H: She's not a terrible character. But compaired to most of the other companions, they're writing her as reckless.

R: She's a golden retriever. She means well...

P: “Thing about common sense is that it ain't.” that was Will Rogers, I believe.

H: I'm throughly enjoying this, and I hope everyone else is too.

P: I'm enjoying it because we have a new enemy, which is refreshing.

K: Because it's not a Dalek.

R: And no swamps!

H: The absence of the Doctor did not hurt this episode at all. That's relatively unusual.

K: I usually like the ones where the Doctor shows up better.


And there we have another post! [Insert Loose Cannon Productions plug here!] I hope everyone enjoyed it. I'm slowly catching up--another post soon! Until then, I remain



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