Saturday, 6 June 2009

Doctor Who: The Chase

The Executioners

"Is it good?"

"Yes, it's a bit far-fetched."

Nice to get another direct follow-on from the previous story, in fact an entire cliffhanger. Some nice character stuff at the start, with Vicki being very adolescent. Once the Time / Space Visualiser is switched on we get some scenes with Abraham Lincoln and Will Shakespeare but these are soon eclipsed by what is surely the highlight of the show so far: Ian strutting his funky stuff.

More episode one planet exploration ensues, with a great line from Ian which can only be appreciated by watching the stories in order: "At least it's not a pool of acid!" Meanwhile, Barbara, engaging in some fully clothed sunbathing with the Doctor, gets a great line of her own: "No, not that awful noise, the other one!".

Dialogue by the Daleks seems to place this story not long after their conquest of the Earth. I'll be holding Dalek continuity to this later. Arguably this story is the first time Dalek speech patterns have finally settled into their final and recognisable form.

Some silly talk about castles from Vicki is followed by a fantastic cliffhanger as a Dalek rises from the sands.

The Death of Time

"Don't stand there screaming, you fool- run!"

"Don't stand there gaping, you nit- come on!"

How very convenient the Daleks are there to locate the TARDIS- our heroes would have had trouble finding it otherwise. I love the thick Dalek! Although it must be said that their ruthless killing of their Aridian sense instantly restores any lost sense of menace; these are still Nazis, in spite of the more frequent injections of humour.

I shall be kind and not dwell on the awfulness of the Mire Beast, that fearful papier-mâché horror...

Nice line once again from Barbara as Ian pilfers her cardigan: "Oh no, not again!".

Flight Through Eternity

"You've come all over in blue spots."

The above quote from Morton Dill seems to confirm the colours of the Daleks we see in photographs to be, ahem, canon. Another interesting line from the Doctor: "It's my time ??? detector. It's been in the TARDIS ever since I constructed it." Is the Doctor claiming here that he made the Ship himself?

Cue stock footage of New York, and once again Ian and Barbara appear on twentieth century earth but are unable to stay. As for Morton Dill- words fail me!

The Mary Celeste scene is good fun, although of course I suspect it bears no relation whatsoever to the historical facts. Still, this episode may well consist entirely of filler, but it's all good fun. Oh look, Ian gets hit over the head again...

Journey Into Terror

"Where's your spirit of adventure?"

"It died a slow and painful death when those bats came out of the rafters".

At this point the story hits a lull, and starts to remind me of things I didn't like about The Keys of Marinus; the house of horrors stuff just lasts too long. Interesting comment by Ian though- "Daleks don't like stairs!" I think this is the first mention of this hoary old cliché in the show itself, although no doubt it would not have gone unmentioned by the contemporary media. The exhibits are seemingly more powerful than the Daleks, which is the wrong kind of silly.

Vicki gets left behind, just as she feared in The Crusade. This is quite a shocking moment. Almost as shocking is the amount of time her fellow TARDISeers take to realise! Still, Vicki shows her greatness by stowing away on the Daleks' time machine. Only a few stories in, and I'm getting to really like Vicki.

The Daleks' robot is a bit rubbish, isn't it? They're using Edmund Warwick in long-shot and Hartnell in close-up in an absurdly blatant way. Why use Warwick at all when Hartnell isn't on screen?

The Death of Doctor Who

"Advance and attack! Attack and destroy! Destroy and rejoice!"

So, another jungle, and our second planet named after its predominant feature? See below! Nice forest, although unfortunately you can clearly see the flat studio floor.

Oh, and incidentally, the title of this episode clearly proves that Hartnell is playing a character called Doctor Who. *ducks*

I'm not seriously trying to defend the imposter robot fiasco (the whole thing's blatant filler anyway). But at least the use of Warwick helps the viewer to tell which is which.

Oh look, an alien city in a Terry Nation script! I love the Dalek with a compass type thing instead of a sucker, mind.

Planet of Decision

"You'll end up as a couple of burnt cinders floating around in Spain."

I don't know about you, but I can't understand a word the Mechanoids are saying. Fortunately we have Ben Gunn lookalike Steven Taylor to do the exposition. He gets a great line: "Help yourself to a piece of eternity."

My, how convenient that there should be a convenient length of cable for our heroes to use in their escape!

Oh dear..."Am exterminated! Am exterminated!"

Steven clearly has his priorities right- Hi Fi the Panda is clearly more important than ensuring Vicki doesn't plunge to her doom. These scenes are extremely vertigo-inducing, especially when Ian nearly slips over.

Cue a massive fight between the Daleks and the "Mechons" in which all the Daleks die. Why does this mean the story is over? Why don't the Daleks keep sending time machines?

It's a real wrench after all this time to have to say goodbye to Ian and Barbara. They were truly magnificent, and arguably up to The Dalek Invasion of Earth they were the real stars of the show. The leaving scene is good, and the scenes of them back on Earth are fun, but I was left wanting more. This departure scene felt like far more of an afterthought than Susan's did, which was a crying shame. Jacqueline hill and William Russell- you were magnificent!

Overall, well... very uneven. The middle episodes were all filler and much of the story was overly silly and poorly realised. Still, it was often intentionally funny and had nice character moments. I enjoyed watching it, if not always for the right reasons, so I'll be kind and let it scrape a 3/5.

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