Hello everyone, the Historian here with another catch-up post. As I said last time, I'm having to forgo the detailed summaries I've been writing up for the past year or so in order to catch these posts up to where the Project has gotten to. I hope to go back and add full summaries at some point, but hopefully this will help me get back on track.
On 10 June, 2011, I was joined by Ketina, Ronelyn, Spoo, MiniSpoo, Photobug and Cz, as we returned to the giant Ark spaceship about to arrive at Refusis II. So, let's get to the (truncated) summary!
Episode summary: First aired 19 March 1966. Dodo runs ahead, calling for their friends, but is stopped short. The three look up and see that the giant statue has been finished...but instead of a giant human, it has the head of a Monoid...!
The Doctor, Dodo and Steven quickly discover that they are 700 years further on from when they were last on the Ark--a few minutes before! They then discover that the Monoids, having developed machines that allow them to speak, have revolted and taken over. Now the humans are the slaves, and they are the masters! There are records of the travellers' previous visit, so the head Monoid ("1") know exactly who they are. He sends them to the "security kitchen" where they see other humans (those who are not collaborators) prepare food. They manage to convince two of the slave leaders that they really are the Doctor and company from the stories passed down. As the Ark nears Refusis, 1 decides to send down a small party in a shuttle to find out about the planet and its inhabitants; the party will consist of "2" (the Monoid second-in-command), a collaborator...and the Doctor and Dodo. They land and see no signs of life, although we can see some bushes moving. At one point, 2 accidentally implies that only the Monoids will leave the Ark alive, angering the collaborator. Suddenly, Dodo notices a castle in the distance and the party makes its way there. They find no one in the building, but--after 2 starts to destroy things--a disembodied voice speaks up. It is a Refusian, an invisible, powerful being. On the ship, 1 and 3 talk about the plan to leave the Ark. A bomb has been planted--in the head of the statue--that will detonate once the Monoids have left, destroying all the humans. Their plot is overheard by Maharis, a collaborator, but he cannot see where 1 indicates the bomb is. He rushes off to warn Steven and the other humans in the kitchen. Meanwhile, the Doctor and the Refusian are getting along tremendously, but 2 and the collaborator leave. 2 kills the collaborator and goes to the shuttle to report. To forestall this, the Refusian destroys the shuttle just as 2 begins his report. The Doctor and Dodo look at the wreckage. Dodo wonders what they should do now, the Doctor replies that they will have to wait until the next party lands. "But what if they don't come? What if they decide to find another planet?" asks Dodo in a panic. "Well, in that case we shall just have to stay here," says the Doctor....!
SP: Did you like it?
Cz: no, yes, no... wait. 1, 2, 3, 34. Right?
H: Well, let me start out with this little factoid...
Sp: Or Monoid
H: This episode contains the first Doctor Who episode with someone who's well known for his voice acting, Roy Skelton. He's done Daleks, Cybermen, and a bunch of other creatures on Doctor Who. I believe he does the voices for all the Monoids in this one. Alas, he just passed away earlier this week.
H: So, on another note, it's been a long time since I've seen this story, and I don't remember it descending into this level of... I'm not going to say silliness. It doesn't look as cool as I remember with the cleaned up visuals. [Note: the Vidfire process makes the picture look a whole lot clearer than the print I remember seeing on TV years ago.]
Sp: I didn't have a problem with the costumes. But I don't know how guys with eyeballs in their mouths can chew scenery like that.
H: I think a lot of it was the mime that they were doing.
Sp: It was the exposition too. They started the episode with a 5 minute visit to King Exposition...
H: More like a 10 minute visit
Sp: There was an episode itself in the first 7 minutes of the dialog.
H: 700 years described in 7 minutes. I agree there was a lot of talk, but they had to explain what happened.
Sp: Not just that, but also things like the Collaborator character. Great concept “We don't like him, he's a collaborator.” There was no introduction of that character, which would have been more interesting.
H: It's kind of because it's really two stories smushed into one. Two 2-parts smushed into a four parter. There was more character development in the first two episodes. I think they thought they could get away with exposition more since the character development was in the earlier episodes.
Sp: I think they could have inserted another episode of character development before this one and made it a better story.
H: But then we would have said it was just padding.
K: I don't think it would have done better with another episode. Just do more “show don't tell” in this episode.
H: They did some “show don't tell” with the Collaborator. He's not trapped in the kitchen, he's serving the Monoid directly.
K: I'd rather be stuck in the kitchen.
Sp: It was showing that the roles were reversed, not that he was a collaborator.
K: Why do the Monoids need numbers on their collars? Can't they tell each other apart? It's the Sensorites all over again.
Cz: 34 was my favorite.
H: I liked the fact that 3 was hitting the dough-nuts a little hard there. He was a little pudgy.
Cz: I thought that was 2?
H: There was a shot of him standing around the corridor
Sp: When he stands around the corridor, he really stands around the corridor.
R: I thought that the episode dragged a little bit. And I agree with Ketina that I could have a gathered up enough seconds to add a decent bit of action. Listening to them go by on the slow mobile flashback, they could have taken that out, and shorten the bit when the landing ship.
Sp: The extended sequence in the nausea pod certainly could have used some trimming.
H: I thought the model work was very good.
Sp: I liked inviso-butt.
P: You could see the shadow of the guy, and it looked really good.
R: I liked his amusing reaction to the door switch. It was like “hum, interesting.”
K: We've been to this planet before in “The Dalek's Master Plan”.
H: But they were savages in the other story with invisible people.
K: But it's thousands of years in the future. They advanced.
R: I found the logic of the Monoids a little bit confusing. We came to help humanity because of the desperate crisis they were in. So we wanted to help them. And then we got mad because they were treating us like servants!
K: So sometimes they had to hold the collar to talk and sometimes they didn't. Number 1 almost never touched the collar.
R: Number 1 was smart enough to take a toothpick and jam it under the button.
Sp: So Number 1's collar was always open. Oh, and I liked seeing the seam in the matte painting.
R: Dodo comes out and is like “So, this is Refusis?” “No, it's not, it's Studio B.”
H: Speaking of Dodo, it's nice to see that she's settled down on an accent choice.
Cz: I haven't even been hearing her.
H: She did contribute absolutely zero to the plot this week.
Cz: All I can see is that her legs are different colors. One is green and one is white – I don't care if it's black and white. I see green.
R: I was amused by the further evidence of weak reasoning by the Monoid side. Number 1 says “I have come up with a cunning plan how to get ride of the humans. Once we leave, the ship will disappear in a shower of flaming debris.” And number 3 is like “You mean, like a bomb?” and Number 1 is all “You have no poetry in your soul.”
P: The first thing I thought of was how the people of Iraq pulled down the statues. You really think the humans won't find the bomb in there?
R: There was a phrase used in this episode, that I'm sure hadn't been used before and will never be used again. “Now, take the prisoners to the security kitchen!”
Sp: You will serve us. We have these guns to keep you in line. Now, make our food.
Cz: Drop the pill into the sludge.
R: “To serve Mon.” And they're sitting there going “we have no way of opposing them.” You're controlling their food supply and you have no way of opposing them? One batch of bad shrimp and they're done.
H: Although Barbara is long gone, it was nice to get a guest shot from her hair.
R: On sweaty pensive chic in the kitchen? Yeah.
H: She didn't do that great in the scene where's she's putting the restorative stuff on the guys arm, but overall she wasn't that bad. But it was nice to see the big hair again.
K: Says you.
P: Considering they had video technology to observe the slaves, you think they would have known they were walking into a trap.
R: They were dumb!
P: They did show earlier that they had cameras in the kitchen. I would think that if you managed slaves, you would have used that technology.
R: Maybe they're dumb!
P: Okay, if they were smart.
R: “A galactic accident... a solar flare.” We accidentally spilled our galaxy... what?
K: Well, things have been destroyed by solar flares in Doctor Who before. But not quite like that.
P: The space ship took 3 seconds to reach the planet.
H: To be fair, they might have flowed time a bit.
Sp: Maybe the planet is small?
R: There was a moment where I was halfway expecting the lander to just go thunk into the model. “I don't know if we're all going it fit. It is rather small, really.”
H: Hey Mini-Spoo? What did you think?
MS: Weird, awesome, and just plain awful.
K: It was awesome and awful?
H: What didn't you like?
MS: Everything was good except the part when they blasted the people. That was bad. It was a good thing that they didn't have bullets.
H: Final thoughts?
P: Well, my usual comment is about music, and there was none.
H: There was some when they entered the castle thing.
P: True. But it was not as good as the last episode. Most of it was predictable. I thought the guns were obscenely large. If you are doing crowd control you don't want a rifle. I thought that Steven didn't pay for starting a riot from either the rioters or the guards. Great, you got a guy killed and nothing happened to him. Also, I was discouraged by the lack of life within the Ark. They didn't bother to keep the animals and the plants alive, which doesn't seem to work for me.
H: I guess it shows that the Monoids are lousy care takers when they are in charge.
P: Also, we mentioned that this is a precursor to 1001: A Space Odyssey. The pod leaving the ship definitely felt like that. All in all, we had flat characters. I think that's what hurt this episode the most.
Sp: Too wordy and talky at the beginning, sketchy production values. A lot of nice concepts, but not very well executed. Meh.
Cz: So, I was expecting one of the humans to be like “Hey, I'm the great, great, something grandson of the last time you were here.” I was disappointed that didn't happen. The Monoids, whose one distinguishing feature is having an single eyeball in the middle of their heads, have enemies that are invisible. Irony.
R: “Long ago, we lost our physical forms. But we welcome life and it's activity here. We like to watch living beings. Oh yes, we like to watch.”
Cz: Yet when they sit they make indents and they move trees?
R: “We have only metaphysical butts now.”
Sp: “Conceptual Buttocks,” best “Yes” album ever!
K: It was lame. I did like the invisible guy, although I would have preferred a reference to the other planet with invisible guys. If you're going to reuse a concept, just make it be the same thing.
P: If there are no children on the Ark anymore...
Cz: They're all on the slides.
K: Anyway. Lots of Monoid stumbles kept things amusing.
P: They can't see. To be honest, those actors did well, considering.
H: This is definitely a little bit of a letdown after the first two parts. I have some hope that they can bring it all home next week. I definitely doesn't look as good as I remember it, but I have hope for next week.
Not much more for me to say, except keep an eye out for the next episode post over the next few days. I will try to get caught up over the next week or two--who knows, you might even read a post for an episode right after we watch it soon! I'll work on it. Until then, I remain
NEXT POST: "THE BOMB"