Sunday, August 7, 2011

"The Dancing Floor"

Hello everyone, the Historian here. We're slowly catching up to "real time!" On 8 July, 2011, I was joined by Ketina, Ronelyn, MisterMother, Spoo and MiniSpoo to continue watching the Toymaker's games. So, without further ado, let's get to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 16 April 1966. 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....!

The Toymaker selects two dolls, Sergeant Rugg and Mrs. Wiggs, to play with Dodo and Steven. They've come to a closed door when Dodo sees the ballerinas following them. At the last minute, the doors open and the two enter what looks like a crowded early Victorian kitchen. In it are Sgt. Rugg, a soldier, and Mrs. Wiggs, the cook. Dodo interacts with them, while Steven is adamant that the two are just distractions sent by the Toymaker. The nature of this "game" eventually becomes evident: The only door out is locked. The riddle said "Hunt the key to fit the door;" thus a game of Hunt the Thimble. While looking, Dodo finds a sleeping kitchen boy who looks exactly like Cyril, the knave of hearts. Dodo tries to charm Rugg into helping, but the whole thing devolves into Rugg and Wiggs throwing buns at each other. Finally, Dodo realizes there's one place neither she nor Steven has looked--a pie that Mrs. Wiggs has been very protective of. They find the key in it and open and run through the door, slamming it behind them. The Toymaker appears immediately to berate and threaten Rugg and Wiggs, telling them to get out to the dancing floor and prevent Steven and Dodo from reaching the TARDIS on the other side "at all costs". "If you fail me," he tells them, "I will break you in pieces... like this." He shatters a plate on the floor. On the other side of the door, Steven and Dodo have found a dance floor, with immobile ballerina dolls standing. What seems to be the TARDIS stands at the other end, but Dodo is sure it won't be so easy to get to it. She recalls the riddle: "Then escape the rhythmic beat, or you'll forever tap your feet." Sure enough, a waltz starts to play when Steven moves to step onto the floor. Just then, Rugg and Wiggs walk in. Steven realizes that they must cross the dance floor to get to the TARDIS, they can't go round. He decides to make a run for it, but starts dancing the moment he steps onto the floor--and can't stop! The ballerinas dance towards him. One grabs him and dances; he tries to dance closer to the TARDIS, but cannot. Dodo decides to try, but is also caught. On the edge, Rugg and Wiggs each try to convince each other to get on the floor, as the Toymaker wants them to reach the TARDIS first. Finally, they both step onto the floor and are grabbed by ballerinas. Steven and Dodo use this distraction to grab each other as dance partners and concentrate even harder on getting to the TARDIS. The two of them make it--only to discover that the TARDIS is another fake!

Meanwhile, the intangible (except for his hand) and inaudible Doctor continues to play the Trilogic game, and the Toymaker continues to cheat, assigning the Doctor penalties for supposed infractions by advancing the game. By the end, he has reached move 900--only 123 moves to go!

Steven discovers a piece of paper bearing the next "riddle." "Lady Luck will show the way, win the game or here you'll stay." A corridor opens up and the two walk down it into darkness. They finally emerge into the light, only to be met by Cyril, now dressed as a portly schoolboy. "Hello, remember me? I'm Cyril, known to my friends as Billy." He offers Steven his hand, only for the latter to yelp with pain from an electrode concealed in Cyril's glove. As a peace offering, he gives Dodo a bag of sweets as the two companions see on a screen that the Doctor is up to move 902! Steven wonders what the next game will be and Cyril laughs. "Yaroooh!" he says. "It's right over here. You won't find it so easy this time, you know... 'cause you see, you'll be playing against me!" He leers as Steven and Dodo draw back in fear....

Episode transcript

Ketina's Krazy Konversational...Stuff

H: Historian
K: Ketina
R: Ronelyn
S: Spoo
MS: MiniSpoo
M: MisterMother

H: Well, that would have been better with moving pictures.

M: Yes, especially the dance sequence.

H: Having read the script and the novelization, watching it with stills I know what's going on, but somehow it isn't as cool. It's really hard to get with just having the stills.

R: The pie fight doesn't work on radio.

H: It's interesting because last week felt much more straightforward. And this one felt more like the first than the second, which is disappointing.

M: Obviously it was supposed to be funny. But it was hard to get a lot of the humor without the visuals.

K: I don't think it would have been good, even with the visuals.

M: I was actually grinning during the Sgt. Rugg and Mrs. Wiggs part. I thought this was very French for the BBC. It was a very Ionesco or Anouilh (the guy who wrote Beckett) thing going on there.

H: Of historical note, the Sgt. kept mentioning the Iron Duke. That's the Duke of Wellington.

K: Like the beef?

H: Sort of. Like the “beat the French” guy.

M: Not all the French. Just one.

H: He beat a lot of French.

M: They cheated.

K: Off topic, guys.

H: Anyway.

R: That one invisible “Billy Fluff” was really funny.

M: Sgt. Rugg had a fluff.

K: I thought the Toymaker was the only good thing about the episode.

M: He seemed petty to me.

H: Yeah, he was.

Sp: I liked this one. I think that this got across the sense of menace from the Toymaker, and the nature of the toys better than the first episode did. I didn't get the sense of dread, or horror, you got from the first episode. But I got it from this one clearly. “Stop them, or I will shrink you and break you!”

H: And if Steven and Dodo don't succeed, that's what will happen to them as well.

Sp: I also liked the old married couple vibe between the Sgt. and the cook.

M: And boy, does she like her tea. There was like 50 tea kettles in that kitchen.

R: It was like they were having a fight in the BBC prop room.

H: Just as a casting note, once again the Sgt. and the Cook are the same actors who played the clowns from the first week and the king and queen from last week. And the kitchen boy and Cyril was also the knave from last week. In fact, the knave was named Cyril, which is why Dodo asked if she'd seen him before.

M: It was sublimely weird descriptions in the recon subtitles. “Steven easily lifts the kitchen boy, and pats his pockets and checks his chair before putting him back down.” It was strangely written. If I had just read that by itself, I would have had no idea how to mentally parse that.

H: “That must have looked really neat!”

Sp: The forced to dance floor thing was more menacing than the clowns. It was just more effective...

H: Than blind man's bluff?

Sp: Than playing a kids game with clowns.

H: I'm glad you liked it. I think once again the main problem with this story was the fact that it was extremely visual with a lot of movement. Last week that wasn't as much of a problem since the stills could explain the movement much more easily. Whereas this one there was movement all over the place. I was glad they had a clip of the Toymaker moving around slightly before the next still.

M: The credits included a choreographer for this episode. I'm sure it wasn't revolutionary...

H: When the had Roselyn DeWinter it was pretty revolutionary.

Sp: The Zarbi tamer!

M: We don't know.

Sp: Plot point – the Sgt. and the Cook actively helped them?

H: Steven was probably right – they are there to distract them.

Sp: They had to distract the dancers in a certain sequence for Steven to reach the TARDIS. It seemed that they were helping them get past the dancers.

M: They were actually thwarting the Toymaker on purpose?

H: The instructions the Toymaker gave them were apparently to either delay Steven and Dodo, so that the Doctor would finish his game, or get to the TARDIS cabinet first.

Sp: So they weren't actually helping.

H: So the Sgt. and the Cook didn't know what they were doing. They barely knew anything about the trap and they were trying to make a run for the TARDIS cabinet and they screwed it up completely. Probably because the Toymaker didn't give very good instructions.

M: I read it a little differently, although it could be that way too. Either they weren't very smart, which could be possible. But also, there was a moment between them before they got on the dance floor, where they tried to remember what the Toymaker wanted them to do. But they might have been saying to each other “hum... what did he want us to do? We're obeying what the Toymaker said, but not well.” Either they were incompetent, or they were feigning incompetence to foil the Toymaker.

H: But definitely the “I don't dance, you should dance” was because they just saw what happened to Steven and Dodo on the dance floor, and didn't want to get stuck as well.

M: It's art! It's open the interpretation. Each viewer brings their own meaning to it.

Sp: (throws stuff at Mr. Mother)

K: Okay. Don't mess up my couch.

Sp: And Cyril is creepy.

K: Meant to be.

Sp: Because fat grownups in schoolboy costumes are just creepy.

H: Final thoughts?

Sp: The Toymaker has almost given up on the Doctor.

H: Why do you say that?

Sp: It seems like the game with the Doctor is more of a nuisance or a chore now, and he's more interested in finishing off Steven and Dodo now.

M: I didn't think the Toymaker looked like someone who was trying to win.

H: Perhaps we'll find more about that next week.

MS: Throwing stuff on the ground was waaaaaay not cool. The Toymaker smashing things was not cool.

H: Did you think the Toymaker was scary?

MS: (nods)

H: So, what else did you like about the episode?

MS: When they had help from people solving the riddles. I liked it where they have to beat the clock. The Doctor has to keep playing until a certain amount and they have to beat it. If he wants them to win he just has to stop, but if he stops then the game is over and they'll have to stay there.

Sp: So that's neat because it's a hard challenge.

MS: (nods yes) The whole movie was cool. I'd really like to see the next episode.

R: The Toymaker has a really strange idea of what makes good villains. “I know what will get them. What everyone thinks is innocent. A tubby schoolboy!”

H: This is a cultural thing that Americans wouldn't likely get. There's a specific character called “Billy Bunter” and when Cyril introduces himself he says that he's also called Billy. They almost got sued for this. [Note: More about this next week.]

K: Meh. I'm disappointed. It hasn't been as good as I'd hoped, and it's plain too weird to comprehend most of it. The Toymaker just isn't evil enough to take him seriously. Or crazy enough.

Sp: It's because he's more interested in punishing his toys than the main characters. All his evil and breaking stuff is aimed at characters we don't know or care about. We're coming in on the middle of his game.

M: Maybe he's not what you expected him to be.

H: I think that the Toymaker is playing more games than we can currently see.

Sp: Wheels within wheels. Dishes within dishes. Dolls within dolls. It's one of those Russian dolls things! He likes his dolls.

H: I'm still enjoying it. But I'm very much looking forward to moving pictures next week.

Sp: Rush concert was awesome! [Most of us had been to a Rush concert the previous weekend. The band played the entire "Moving Pictures" album. It was a very silly joke. --H]

M: Wasn't it, though?

K: Off topic again, guys.

H: Okay, I think we're done.


And one more episode closer to catching up! Here's your obligatory Loose Cannon Productions link. See you next post! Until then, I remain



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