Saturday, 6 June 2009

Doctor Who: The Celestial Toymaker

The Celestial Toyroom

"It looks dead boring to me. Come on!"

Whenever I think of Steven and Dodo it's in the clothes they're wearing here. Dodo herself looks like the absolute personification of the 60s. It's a strange beginning, with the Doctor becoming both invisible and intangible. There's some nice continuity here, with references to the invisibility of the Refusians in the last story, and the Toymaker showing the TARDISeers some clips from recent stories.

The Toymaker himself, a god-like being straight from an episode of Star Trek, is unlike anything seen before in the series and, at first, quite intriguing. Certainly he's well-played throughout by Michael Gough. This is very surreal and weird.

Sadly, after the first five minutes the plot is suspended while we're forced to watch a kids' game show slightly less good than Pat Sharp's Fun House. Ironically, the concept of the Toymaker forcing our heroes to play the games is in theory quite good, but the execution is so dull. There's no creepiness, no atmosphere.

Incidentally, the Toymaker- a powerful creature with an arbitrary nature who seems to be omnipotent- is presumably an Eternal as has often been said. It seems he's bored with his life; watching this story I'm beginning to understand how he feels.

Strange to see Carmen Silvera in this!

The Hall of Dolls"You know, I feel very foolish talking to a playing card."

The cost of losing is eternity with the Toymaker. A truly terrible thought. as is the fact we're not going to be seeing much of Hartnell for most of this story- he's now invisible, intangible and silent.

For the first time, Dodo is beginning to irritate me really quite a lot- could this story be largely responsible for her bad reputation within fandom? She's very stupid here, seeming to enjoy herself with no impression of the danger she's in or the weirdness of her surroundings.

The Dancing Floor"Why don't you go back in your box?"

It occurs to me that this is a very cheap story, with a very limited cast and a small number of sets, with nothing required to look particularly impressive. And the story's still not engaging me- in fact these games and fake TARDISes are getting tiresomely repetitive. Not much else to say about the episode. As this is the last reconstructed episode though i really must heap praise on Loose Cannon for the excellent job they've done, especially with no telesnaps.

The Final Test"Now don't start red herrings, you charlatan!"

"I think I'm going to enjoy this game" says Dodo, lightly dismissing the mortal peril she's in. Aaargh! And as for the bit where she goes to help Cyril...

Fortunately, halfway through the episode the games end, Hartnell is back (yay!) and the plot resumes. In fact, the second half of the episode is actually watchable at times. I liked the bit where Steven tries to punch the Toymaker- unlike Dodo, he has a personality. And in offering to stay behind so the others can escape he shows himself to be truly heroic.

Interesting to see the Toymaker offering power to the Doctor if he acquiesces- as far as I can recall this is the first such scene ever.

Odd cliffhanger though- the Doctor's got a spot of toothache?

Well, that was awful. Only the first ten minutes and last ten minutes of the story were at all watchable, the middle bit consisting entirely of tiresome games. Even worse, the writing for Dodo's character is starting to suffer alarmingly from the character's total lack of background and definition, and that's bad scriptwriting. This is my least favourite story so far by a long, long way.

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