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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Doctor Who Rewind - Colony In Space

Someone has stolen the plans to The Doomsday Weapon and the Time Lords realise there is only one man who can find out where they are.

At last the Doctor leaves the confines of Earth in his TARDIS controlled remotely by the Time Lords and arrives with Jo Grant on the desert planet Uxarieus in the year 2472. There he finds a group of colonists trying to survive as farmers, having left Earth due to over population. However conditions on the planet are not good, they are being attacked by ferocious prehistoric beasts and are being forced to vacate the planet by the the newly arrived International Mining Corporation (IMC).

The original inhabitants of Uxarieus, known as the primitives, live in a cave system nearby and have a truce with the colonists. When the IMC (who want to gain control of the planet for its precious minerals) get there operative Norton to try and blame the primitives for murdering two colonists under the guise of giant reptiles, the Doctor and Jo are caught in between.

Things get even more complicated when The Master arrives as the Adjudicator, sent to decide who has ultimate claim over the planet.

After examining the primitives cave art the Doctor deduces that they were once an advanced civilisation , having created the Doomsday weapon that the Master wants to utilise to control the galaxy.

My small viewing companion on Doctor Who Rewind found this six part story a little hard going and frequently lost concentration. I have to admit that in parts I would have to agree with him that the story did plod along somewhat.

The giant robots that the IMC use to attack the colonists with have ridiculous claws stuck on the arms just look extremely silly.

The primitive priest type characters have these strange weird wrinkled brain faces that also look quite comical and the little puppet type guardian primitive is like a curious mutant being. Definitely one of the more bizarre monsters of classic Doctor Who.

Towards the end of the story it's worth mentioning there is a great fist fight between colonist Winton and the IMC security man Rogers (played by stuntman Terry Walsh) which takes place in the knee deep sludge of a quarry where the whole story was shot. It looks great and you can really appreciate that both actors were putting everything into it and look physically knackered by the end.

For a first off Earth story for Pertwee's Doctor this ain't bad, it's got The Master showing up as a surprise half way through, it's got the battle for the planet, and it's got some strange aliens who live under ground. What more could you want?

Next time on Doctor Who Rewind it's that old black magic as things turn very dark indeed.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Doctor Who Rewind - The Claws Of Axos

So, if this had been made in 3D i do believe watching it would be akin to going out into the Amazon and dropping a few gallons of Ayahuasca.

As it hasn't been made in 3D the experience is slightly less powerful.

The Axons are short on fuel and have stopped on Earth to try and bargain some in-exchange for this stuff they call Axonite, which they claim is a miracle substance that can change into anything.

The reality is that Axos, the ship, is a living entity which drains all energy through Axonite. Confused? And me.

While the Naughty gold clad Axons deceive the Doctor, the government and everyone else, the distribution of Axonite threatens the world.

The master, wanting to take advantage of the Axons, has been captured by them and is entwined in the ships living organism. He escapes the Axons and gets into the Doctors TARDIS which he plans to repair and use to escape Earth.

Meanwhile the Axons become interested in the Doctors knowledge of time travel. The Doctor uses this to his advantage and tells them he can link their ship up to the TARDIS, therefore allowing them time travel and widening their feeding base.

The Doctor gets The Master to make the repairs and then use it to send the Axons and Axonite into a perpetual time loop.

Fortunately the TARDIS is not caught in the loop as the time lords have programmed it to always return to the Earth, thereby keeping the Doctor terrestrial bound.

The Master meanwhile escapes in his own TARDIS leaving the Doctor with his UNIT family.

Claws Of Axos is psychedelic in its look, all kinds of technical effects (primitive now by today's standards) were used to overlay layer on layer of coloured art work. The ship design itself is like the inside of some strange beast. Tentacles, arteries and vein like structures inhabit the multi-coloured ship. Blimey the DVD should come with a set of sun glasses to numb the colour clash.

Then the Adonis like Axon's turn up gold clad from head to toe. It's a pity that the story isn't as colourful as the set. Apparently the original story which was titled something like The Vampire In Space, went through many changes and cuts from its transition from script to the screen, and I think this shows in the somewhat crazy mixed up story. Some of which makes no sense.

At the end, Axon is a feast for the eyes itself, and what a feast. But I do warn you, this shouldn't be watched on a screen no bigger than 40" as anything bigger might cause brain haemorrhaging.

Next time on Doctor Who Rewind the Doctor gets to take a much needed trip to another planet!

Doctor Who Rewind - The Mind Of Evil

The Doctor and Jo are witnessing a new kind of treatment for Serious Organised Criminals at Stangmoor Prison when things turn a might nasty.

This ere new fangled device is powered by some kind of alien parasite and transforms it's subject into a quivering gibbering mass of innocence that wouldn't hurt a fly. To do this it reads the mind of the unfortunate in the chair and finds the one thing he or she fears the most, then relentlessly recreates that thing in their mind.

Of course some weeks before, this device had been installed by a man looking suspiciously like The Master, who had hatched a cunning plan to help the prisoners escape and form an army to help him capture a deadly missile called The Thunderbolt, which is being transported to a base nearby. He then plans to point this missile at the first world peace conference. What a nasty man.

There are some great set pieces in this six part story. For instance, the attack on the overtaken prison by UNIT as they seek to overthrow the unruly criminals led by Harry Mailer, who seems to have it in for the doctor. In the DVD extras we here about the time constraints placed on the crew as they shot the scenes at Dover Castle. With no time to shoot close ups the team had to go back weeks later and re-shoot specific sequences so that it could be completed.

Another highlight of the story are a number of occasions that the Keller Machine, containing the evil parasite, is turned on the Doctor. Who or what is the Doctors greatest fear? Firstly we see fire, obviously a reference to the recent Inferno story when the Doctor saw the whole world consumed by fire. Then the Doctor see's past monsters the Zarbi (First Doctor) and the Cybermen, and we hear the evil voices of the Daleks shouting exterminate over the top, gee, I wouldn't like to be inside the Doctors head at bed time.

But in an interesting examination of the relationship between the Master and The Doctor, who does the the former see when he has the machine inflicted on him? Well, a giant towering version of the Doctor that's who.

Another star of this story is the Thunderbolt missile which is in fact very real and was borrowed from the army complete with its operators. It really brings a sense of foreboding and realism to the final scenes.

The Mind Of Evil went massively over budget and for a six parter it's extremely ambitious in its scope. Despite all the difficulties in its production and shooting I found it extremely watchable. Again some nice ideas about how civilisation might one day deal with over population in prisons. But beware, most solutions that involve a heightened psychological response will probably end in tears.

Next time on Doctor Who Rewind we all take a psychoactive trip to an alien post sixties technicolor happening.

Doctor Who - Terror Of The Autons

Those menacing mannequins are back and pulling their strings behind the scenes...well it's only the bloody Master, in it!

The first episode of the eighth season and we have a few changes. Three new characters. The Doctor has a new companion in the young feisty and headstrong Jo Grant (played by Katy Manning). Jo is not afraid to get her hands dirty as is aptly demonstrated in this story but, as we'll see, her ideas usually ends up getting her in deep water.

We also meet the first incarnation of The Master, the rouge Time Lord (played by Roger Delgado) who will feature in all the episodes of this season. Plus we meet a new member of Unit, captain Mike Yates.

The master arrives on Earth and immediately steels the only Nestene energy unit left, and uses it to project a broadcast into space using a radio telescope to call the other aliens.

In a strange scene at the radio telescope the Doctor encounters a visitation from a fellow Time Lord who, while floating aimlessly in mid air, warns him that his old enemy The Master is on Earth.

The Master takes over a near by plastic factory to build an Auton army and as Jo investigates he hypnotises her and sends her back to Unit with a bomb that nearly puts an end to the story there and then.

The Doctor manages to get inside the masters TARDIS and steal the dematerialisation unit.

Autons disguised as carnival characters arrive and start handing out plastic daffodils to the public. Soon all manner of deaths of heart failure and asphyxiation are being reported all over the country.

The master infiltrates UNIT cunningly disguised as a telephone engineer, surely his trademark beard would give him away? No, he installs some kind of living plastic telephone chord which he uses to nearly strangle the Doctor with.

With the rest of the Nestene on there way to Earth, and the Brigadier planning to execute an air strike on the Autons, and, the Doctor and Jo being kidnapped by The Master, the story is in for an explosive end. But one thing is for sure The Master, won't be escaping the confines of earth just jet.

At four episodes this one is nicely paced and is a good follow up to the first Auton story which opened Pertwee's tenure. The addition of the Master brought a regular nemesis that the audience could relate too whose character could be built on as the series continued. It's exactly what the series needed to inject a new lease of life into what was becoming a bit of a tired formulae.

Next time on Doctor Who Rewind a whole new definition of criminal justice in The Mind Of Evil.