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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Doctor Who Rewind - The Mutants

You might be forgiven to thinking you've accidentally put a Monty Python DVD on instead of the first episode of this forth ninth season story of Doctor Who. As the first scene your greeted with is a grizzly tramp like guy (identical to the tramp played by Mr Palin in the opening credits to said 1970's comedy series) running and panting through woodland. I half expected him to stop and say, "It's..."

The Doctor has been given another mission by the time lords. This time to deliver a strange looking squashed football looking object to someone, but who? He and Joe step into the TARDIS and out into a space station in the 30th century.

Earth Empire is contracting and plans are being made to decolonize the colony world of Solos, which is ruled over by a tyrant marshall from Skybase One, an orbiting space station. He opposes the decolonisation and is obsessed with cleansing the planet of the mutts or mutants which have been springing up on the planet. The Marshall and Varen ensure the Administrator (who has outlined the decolonisation plan) is murdered before he can confirm to Ky (a gutsy rebel Solonian leader) that the empire is indeed withdrawing from Solos.

When the Doctor and Jo bump into Ky the strange ball device begins opening, revealing that it is indeed for him. Ky is on the run as he is suspected of killing the administrator. He and Jo flee to the surface of Solos. It's surface is poisonous to humans during daylight hours, and Joe is affected but escapes.

The Doctor learns from Marshall and his chief scientist Jaeger that they are involved in an experiment to terraform Solos, making it habitable to humans despite the cost to the indigenous life.

With the help of Stubbs and Cotton, two of the Marshall's senior soldiers, who want no part of his plans, the Doctor escapes to the surface and follows the trail of Ky and Joe into the mines where he encounters giant bug type creatures referred to as mutts. The Doctor realises these creatures are not hostile at all.

The message ball is given to Ky and inside they find ancient tablets with some kind of etchings written in a language of the old ones of the planet.

Ky takes the Doctor to A fugitive human scientist called Sondergaard who lives in the caves and knows about Solonian anthropoly. Sondergaard and the Doctor eventually work out that the mutant phase of the Solonians is in fact a natural part of the Solonian life cycle.

Sondergaard, The Doctor and Ky eventually put their case to another investigator who has been dispatched to Skybase One. The Doctor accuses the Marshall and Jaeger of the most brutal and callous series of crimes against a defenceless people it's ever been his misfortune to encounter.

When the investigator sees how the Marshall treats the mutts (some of whom have been brought to the Skybase One by Sondergaard) he realises what kind of man he is. But it is Ky's eventual transformation from Mutt to higher energy life form that kills the evil Marshall.

Obviously this story has parallels with some of Earths darker moments, for instance apartheid, or any number of racial and ethnic wars. And rather frighteningly, it still has relevance in today, with wars raging in the Middle East.

For such serious subject matter though, it's funny that the light relief should come from the embarrassingly laugh out loud dialogue that soldier Cotton is given, despite him being black. He's a veritable white version of Dick Van Dyke, and you can clearly see that he struggles with some of the almost cockney slang, in it. It's so wrong. But very funny.

There's a very interesting documentary extra on the DVD narrated by Noel Clark (Micky Smith - from the new Doctor Who series) that looks at the roles of ethnic actors down through the history if the programme.

Also if note here is the wonderful costume designs for the mutts or mutants. They really do look the part and would certainly have put the willies up me as a kid.

Next time on Doctor Who rewind, the Master gets tied up with the Atlantean's.

Doctor Who Rewind - The Sea Devils

Doctor Who Rewind - The Sea Devils

With the Master incarcerated in an inescapable prison, and ocean ships mysteriously going missing, the Doctor and Joe are called in to investigate. Could the two events be connected? Do birds fly?

The Master is being held in an island prison after being captured at the end of The Daemons. Joe and the Doctor visit him and are convinced all is well but the Master has matters well in hand and is plotting, gaining the confidence and help from governor Colonel Trenchard who tells the Doctor about some weird disappearances of ships out near and old fort.

The Doctor and Joe decide to go visit the base. While there they are attacked by an under water Silurian. This man-sized bipedal lizard is called a 'Sea Devil' by a crewmember who's been driven half mad.

They both escape to a nearby Navy base, HMS Seapite run by Captain John Hart, who agrees to help the Doctor.

Meanwhile the Doctor discovers The Master is accruing electrical equipment with Trenchard's help (who believes he is aiding his country against evil foe), in order to build a device to control the underwater devils and summon them to help him control the planet.

In a battle to overtake the prison, Trenchard is killed and the Doctor and Joe escape to the Navy base where they find out a submarine has gone missing.

The Doctor vintners to go down in a small submersible craft to investigate and is captured by the Silurians.

The Doctor tries to persuade the leader that a peaceful resolution must be found but during the talks the base is attacked by the Navy under the command of politician Robert Walker, a greedy power crazed man who sees now alternative than kill all the sea devils with nuclear missiles.

The Doctor escapes and tries to make Walker see sense, he is given one last attempt to make peace, during which the Master uses his equipment to control the sea devils to make an attack on the navy base and capture it. They have been inspired to such actions by the Master, who still wishes to instigate a war. The Master then forces the Doctor to help build a machine to revive Sea Devil colonies all over the world. Returning to the Sea Devil base the Master activates the device, whereupon the Sea Devils imprison both Time Lords, as they are now both equally useless to them. However, The Doctor has sabotaged the machine and he and the Master escape the base using escape equipment from the captured submarine.

As they are rescued, massive power feedback from the sabotaged machine destroys the Sea Devil colony before the military attack can begin. As he has done before, the Master is able to escape capture (this time by faking a heart attack and hijacking a rescue hovercraft) and flees the scene.

This six parter definitely benefits from some great locations around Portsmouth, HM Naval Base Portsmouth, No Man's Land Fort, the Isle of Wight and HMS Reclaim.

The Master is ingenious as ever and Delgado as the renegade time lord delivers some great lines of dialogue.

Despite six episodes this flowed much better than the Curse Of Peladon for me. Again, lots of action as well makes the whole thing dynamic and exciting.

Next up on the Rewind, with venture to the world of The Mutants.

Doctor Who Rewind - The Curse Of Peladon

Doctor Who Rewind - The Curse Of Peladon

Planet Peladon is ready to join the galactic federation, but high priest Hepesh is up to no good, warning the delegates that if the old ways are given up, the royal beast Aggedor will rain terror on all.

As the delegate from Alpha Centuri arrives, Chancellor Torbis is killed by a large beast, witnessed only by the kings mute champion Grun.

Into this the TARDIS arrives, seemingly the result of a test drive. The Doctor and Joe meet the various delegates, alpha Centuri, a hermaphroditic hexapod with one gigantic eye, Arcturus, a tentacled head in a glass dome mounted on a mechanised life-support box and Ice Lord Izlyr and the Ice Warrior Ssorg.

Through out the talks on whether Peladon should join the galactic federation attempts are made on various mysterious attempts delegates lives. And everyone is suspected of sabotage.

As the Doctor has a history with the Ice Warriors he suspects them, but King Peladon, influenced by Hepesh, is convinced it is the Doctor who is guilty and sentences him to death.

Escaping with the help of Hepish, who wishes no harm to him, the Doctor heads down into the secret tunnels, there he encounters Aggedor, the beast is calmed down by the Doctor, who uses a hypnotic device while singing an old Venusian lullaby. Interrupted by Joe, the Doctor can't manage to gain the beasts confidence and returns to the kings throne room where he tries to convince the king of the reality of Aggedor and who it is being used to sabotage the conference.

Hepish again dismisses the Doctors claims and the King orders the Doctor to fight Grun in combat. The Doctor wins the fight but spares Grun's life.

Arcturus powers up his energy weapon, preparing to fire. Ssorg opens fire with his own rifle, killing Arcturus, as Hepesh slips away with another guard.

All now realise Hepish is behind the sabotage, he has used the old legends of the beast to scare and influence the delegates and the king. He has trained the beast himself to be Aggedor.

As Arcturus and the Ice Warriors are ancient enemies, it would be simple now to accuse the latter of murdering the former's delegate. Hepesh must have made an agreement with Arcturus for Peladon's mineral deposits in exchange for his help, as Arcturus' planet lacks minerals. However, to replace Hepesh might result in civil war. The Federation allows for interference in crisis situations, but Alpha Centauri is still uncertain. While the delegates argue, Hepesh is gathering his own forces to take the throne room by force, but reminds them that the king must not be harmed. Grun tries to persuade Hepesh from this course of action, but is defeated by Hepesh's men.

The Doctor finds Grun and they both head down to the tunnels to tame the beast. They return to the throne room with the beast to find Hepesh's men have taken control. When Hepesh sees the beast he orders it to kill the Doctor but the beast turns on him instead.

I must admit that I found this four part story to be a bit overly long and lingering. The action and sets are pretty much the same through out and I got tired of the endless debates about who or what was behind the sabotage. There were some high points though, the fight with Grun was shot and executed really well. And as always the alien costumes were imaginative and iconic in all there glory.

I believe Peladon makes a return before the end of Perwee's tenure, I do hope for better things however.

Next up on the rewind, the sea washes up a few mutant fish.

Doctor Who Rewind - The Day Of The Daleks

Doctor Who Rewind - The Day Of The Daleks

At last the third Doctor meets his his oldest enemy with the help of a bit of time travel, in this ninth series opener.

When Sir Richard Styles, a British Diplomat who is tring to organise a peace conference to stop world war three, is almost killed by a strange man (a rebel guerrilla) armed with a futuristic pistol, who suddenly vanishes into thin air, the Doctor and UNIT are called in to investigate.

The Doctor discovers that a group of future earthlings from the 22nd Century are being controlled by the Daleks who have access to special time machine boxes that can be activated and send people back in time.

The Doctor is accidentally transported to the future to try and find Joe Grant who is already being held prisoner by the controller. He see's huge factories of human slaves being controlled by alien Orgons.

The Doctor is captured by the Orgons and he is hooked up to a Dalek mind analysis device, where images of his former selves are seen. The Daleks see their old enemy and gloat that they have discovers time travel and have changed the course of human history.

The controller tells the Doctor that that at the end of the twentieth century, a hundred years of war began, killing 7/8ths of the population and forcing the rest to live in holes in the ground. It was then that the Daleks invaded, using earths raw materials to expand their empire.

The rebel guerrillas attack the Controller's base and rescue the Doctor. The rebels take the Doctor back to their hideout and tell him the rest of the story. Styles organised the peace conference, the rebels believe that Styles engineered the whole thing, and caused the century of war that followed. That was why they used Dalek-derived time travel technology to travel to the past, to kill Styles before he could destroy the peace conference. They used the tunnels because that is the only common location shared by the two time zones.

The Doctor is sceptical, believing Styles to be stubborn but basically a good man. When the Doctor finds out that the rebels brought a bomb made of dalekanium with them, a powerful and unstable explosive that will affect even Dalek casings, he realises that the rebels are caught in a predestination paradox. They will cause the very explosion they went back in time to prevent, and create their own history. Indeed, back in the 20th Century, A rebel (Shura) has found his way into Auderly House (the house where Styles lived) and plants the bomb in the cellar.

The Doctor and Jo make their way back to the tunnels so they can travel back and stop Shura, only to run into an ambush the Controller has set up. The Doctor convinces the Controller that he has the means to stop the Daleks even before they have begun, and the Controller lets him go, only to be betrayed by the interrogator and exterminated by the Daleks. The Daleks send a strike force to the 20th Century to ensure their version of the future is preserved, and attack as the delegates arrive at the house. In the ensuing battle between the Daleks, Ogrons and UNIT, the Brigadier evacuates the delegates. The Doctor, back in the present, makes his way down to the cellar to try to convince Shura not to activate the bomb; Auderly House is empty, it will all have been for nothing. However, once Shura hears that the Daleks are entering the house, he tells the Doctor and Jo to leave — he will take care of the Daleks. The Brigadier tells his men to fall back to the main road as the Daleks search the house for delegates. Shura detonates the bomb, destroying the house and everything in it.

The Doctor tells Styles that it is now up to him to make the conference a success. Styles assures the Doctor it will be, because they know what will happen if they fail. The Doctor, nodding at Jo, says that they know too.

So, this story is essentially related to the The Terminator movie and you have to wonder if it influenced James Cameron.

The original tv story is blighted by a low budget feel. Only about three Daleks were available on set so lots of different tricks and shots had to be used to make them look like an army.

Luckily, for the 2011 production of the DVD new scenes and fx were shot and edited into the existing footage to make a cast improvement. This has been done so well that it is hard to make our the old from the new.

Next up on Doctor Who Rewind, we venture to planet Peladon.

Doctor Who Rewind - The Daemons

Doctor Who Rewind - The Daemons

In the appropriately named village of Devils End an archaeological dig at a Bronze Age burial mound uncovers an evil entity. Just what you want your kids to be watching at tea time on a Saturday.

This one is pretty dark and right from the outset, of a wind swept dark rainy thundery night and creepy grave yard we know there ain't gonna be many laughs.

To make matters worse the master has infiltrated the local church congregation and is summoning up the evil demon Azal in the cavern below.

The brigadier is prevented from entering the village due to a force field bring set up around it, so it's basically up to the Doctor, Joe and captain Yates and Benton to battle against the evil.

They are assisted by a local white witch Olive Hawthorne, who is protesting against the dig and believes there is great danger and evil at work.

The Demon actually turn out to be aliens from from another world who has been turned into a myth throughout earth history.

This is a classic story from Doctor Who's hay day. It's wonderfully dark and mysterious, while being essentially quintessentially British in nature. Great moments as the Master gets in to trouble way over his head and Joe touchingly risks her life to save the Doctor.

A wonderful light hearted end as well as Benton asks the Brigadier if he'd like a dance around the may pole, and the brig replies, I'd rather have a pint!

Next up on Doctor Who Rewind, some old foes are back after a long absence.