Saturday, August 20, 2011

"The FInal Test"

Hello there, the Historian here, falling behind again. But here is the last episode in the adventure with the Celestial Toymaker! While watching this, I was joined by Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm, Spoo, MisterMother and Photobug. So, let's get to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 23 April 1966. 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...

Cyril leads Steven and Dodo to another room where the next game is set up--"TARDIS Hopscotch." There are 14 triangles on an electrified floor, and the object is to reach the end…and the TARDIS, which stands across the room! Each player gets a die which they roll. The result shows up on a dice indicator, along with other messages. If one player lands on a triangle where another player is standing, that second player must return to the start. Meanwhile, the Toymaker gloats to a still invisible Doctor, pointing to two new chairs in his dollhouse labeled "Steven" and "Dodo." Steven, Dodo and Cyril play the game. The Toymaker allows the Doctor to speak, but the Doctor is silent as he continues to concentrate on his Trilogic game. Cyril plays pranks, almost causing Dodo to fall onto the electrified floor and Steven decides he's had enough. Before he can simply jump to the TARDIS, the Toymaker appears and asks them if they are giving up. Steven denies this and tries to jump to the TARDIS, but is stopped by an invisible barrier. The Toymaker tells him it will only be lowered for the winner and vanishes. Steven and Dodo reluctantly continue to play, although the turn order seems to shift. Meanwhile, the Doctor continues to play, but the Toymaker accuses him of playing too slowly and advances the board to move 1000. Only 23 more to go! Cyril continues to trick his opponents, cheating in various ways, and has almost made it to the final triangle. On the next to last one, he surruptitiously sprinkles some powder all over the triangle…but is forced to go back to #9. He continues to trick the others until he happens to roll the number that will take him to triangle 14! In his excitement, Cyril forgets his trap and slips on the powder he left on #13! He falls onto the electrified floor--and dies! Dodo and Steven finish the game and get to the TARDIS just in time--the Doctor has reached move 1014! When the Doctor reaches move 1022 (the next to last one), he has reappeared and regained full control. Before making his final move, he goes to check on Steven and Dodo, who have discovered that they have found the real TARDIS. The Doctor suggests they leave, but the Toymaker appears on a monitor screen and tells them that the game is not over. "Only I can win," he says. "If I lose, the Doctor and I go down together." The Doctor angrily denies this. he realizes that if he makes the final, winning move in his Trilogic game, this world will be destroyed and the Toymaker will simply form a new one--but the Doctor and his friends will not survive. The Doctor sends his friends into the TARDIS. The Toymaker offers the Doctor power. "Serve me and live," he says, but the Doctor laughs. The Toymaker reminds the Doctor that they cannot leave until he has finished the Trilogic game…but the Doctor realizes the trap before he makes the last move. He goes into the TARDIS and explains the situation to his companions: if he makes the final, winning move in his Trilogic game, this world will be destroyed and the Toymaker will simply form a new one--but the Doctor and his friends will not survive. Steven offers to go out and make the last move, but the Doctor won't allow it. Suddenly, he has an idea. He tells Steven to preset the controls for dematerialization, then tells the Toymaker (through the scanner microphone) to stand by the game. He then calls out, "Go to move 1023!" It doesn't work the first time, so the Doctor raises his voice to sound more like the Toymaker. "Go to move 1023!" he yells, and the pieces begin to move…the Toymaker tries to stop them, but cannot. At the Doctor's command, Steven hits the switch and the TARDIS dematerializes just as the Toymaker's world falls apart!

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor explains to his friends that he simply used the Toymaker's own trick--that of advancing the game through a vocal command--against him! But, he tells them, the Toymaker hasn't been destroyed and he will reform a new world. The Doctor is sure that they will meet again. Still, they have won and the Doctor is jubilant. To celebrate, Dodo gives him the bag of sweets Cyril had given her. The Doctor, in delight, pops one in his mouth…and suddenly cries out in pain! He drops the bag and the candy scatters across the floor….!

Episode transcript

Ketina's Transcript

H: Historian
K: Ketina
R: Ronelyn
Sc: Schmallturm
Sp: Spoo
M: MisterMother
P: Photobug

M: So, I was right, he wasn't trying to win. The Toymaker really didn't care if he won.

H: But even when he loses, he still wins.

R: The Toymaker is a dill hole.

H: So, I hope at least some of you read the background on Billy Bunter that I sent you... this afternoon... way too late.

P: Nope.

M: I didn't think it was necessary, since he is such a stereotype anyway.

H: It was enough of a context at the time that the BBC had to make a special announcement or get sued. Billy Bunter is a well known character of a round schoolboy who was always doing bad things, like stealing food. In the last episode he introduced himself as “my name is Cyril, but some people call me Billy” and they had to make a special announcement that he wasn't meant to actually be Billy Bunter.

M: Was he trademarked?

H: The trademark laws in the UK are different than in the US, so it isn't clear.

Sp: It's telling that this is most interesting discussion point about the episode.

P: Okay, the shadow. As in, we saw your shadow when you're talking Doctor, in the scene where you were supposed to be invisible.

Sp: Yeah, I saw it.

K: Saw it too.

R: I think that was just a visual Billy fluff.

H: More like a lighting fluff.

R: No, I can perfectly well imagine Hartnell staring down at the shadow floor and saying “Oh hello there, you handsome devil. Don't you cut a roguish figure.”

Sp: So, the way to describe some of my frustration with the episode is it's hard to create drama and suspense when the audience doesn't understand the rules. I get what they were trying to do, and eventually the last game, the reason the Doctor couldn't leave, was sort of clever and a neat puzzle. But it was really awkward getting to that point. It's hard to express confusion in a story without confusing the audience. Just like it's hard to portray boredom without being boring.

M: It played like bad improv where the improvisers were refusing to commit.

H: I think that it wasn't helped by the fact that several actors really stumbled over the lines during that part of the episode. I knew the plot, so I didn't find it confusing, but I can understand why someone would.

K: I had seen only this final episode before. And I found this version of it more confusing than just having seen the fourth one on it's own previously. I'd sort of made up in my head what I thought had probably happened in the first [three] parts, and I was totally wrong. And my version was way better and less confusing.

M: I was disappointed by the moving pictures, because the actual portrayal of the Toymaker was less menacing than the Toymaker that I made up in my head from the stills. [of the recons]

P: I missed last week, and I forgot the previous ones were recons because I had internalized the story. This is either a huge compliment to the recon, or a huge insult to me.

M: No, this is a complement to the recon. It may have actually made the episodes better. They made good choices on how to put the recon together.

K: I don't know, we had a lot of bad things to say about the first three.

H: We had a lot of good things to say as well, though. I think an interesting thing about this story is that, like the Web Planet, it was failing to reach what they were trying to grasp. I can see what they were going for with the idea. It was interesting. I can see what they were going for.

Sp: So, final thoughts? [The fact that Spoo said this and not me indicates just how much he wanted to put this story behind him. --H]

P: I think it was a good episode. It was nice to see an actual logic problem as part of a puzzle.

H: Even though there was a cheat?

P: What I enjoyed was not how the Doctor solved the puzzle. Just that they had an actual puzzle.

M: It ties into the myth of the Towers of Hanoi that the world ends if you actually solve it.

H: I liked the fact that it ended with a puzzle which was essentially another game.

K: It ended with candy!

H: Evil, evil candy.

Sp: So licorice.

Sc: I got nothin'.

M: I liked the ending. There's no conceivable way the Doctor would actually try the candy, but he did anyway. So I thought that was fun. It was in the spirit of the story.

H: And Cyril booby-trapped the candy.

R: I expected the “whah whah whah whaaaahhhh” music to play, but it didn't.

Sp: Once they actually figured out what the problem was with leaving the planet, how they left the planet and destroyed the Toymaker was cool.

H: We haven't talked at all about Cyril and the hopscotch game.

M: It was incoherent. They kept changing the turn order. It didn't make any sense.

Sp: Just push the fatty onto the floor and go to the TARDIS. They spent 10 minute hopping around him when it could have just been “push – whoops – bzzt – TARDIS.”

M: Of course, that would never be allowable in Doctor Who.

Sp: Steven could get away with it. He's a man's man.

R: Next week on Torchwood... Anyway. I had a final thought, but now it's been swallowed up by the image of the Toymaker being played not by Michael Gough but by Adam West.

K: I was so distracted by them messing up the turn order in the hopscotch game.

P: Yes, that bothered me too.

K: And I am super, super disappointed that they implied so heavily that we would see the Toymaker again...

H: Hey. If season 22 hadn't gotten canned, and then replaced by Trial of a Timelord, then we would have.

K: So we would have seen it 20 years later?? And yet we still haven't seen it.

M: Give Moffat a chance.

H: One, Michael Gough has passed away. And two, the Toymaker did appear in some “Big Finish” audio productions.

K: Still, they were making him out to be the next Dalek level recurring bad guy at the end, and yet he doesn't show up.

Sp: He wouldn't play now.

R: Oh, and Dodo. Remarkably well named.

M: She lived up to her name from the very beginning.

P: The Doctor was like “Steven, don't go out there and finish the game.” No, let's send Dodo.

M: She was certainly better than the Trojan chick.

Sp: Airlock girl.

M: “What's this?” Whoosh!

H: I think we're done now.


And thus ends the Celestial Toymaker. I'll have a wrapup very soon (you'll note that I didn't say what I thought of the story, since I tend to have the final word anyway!), please look out for it! And, coming soon, the next episode we watched! Really! Until then, I remain



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