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Roderick Donald

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26 April 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 116: The Bomb (The Ark, Episode Four)

Dear diary,

After everything I said yesterday, the Monoids actually look really good here! The scenes where they emerge from the jungle on Refusis and attack the others is fantastic. Yes, they're a slightly silly idea, and yes they don't quite work as well as they might have hoped, but I'm completely won around. It'd be interesting to see a modern take on them. Has anyone drawn up any designs for a re-imagined Monoid?

I find that this is another one of those episodes where I'm left with very little to say. Over the last three days, I've praised the direction, the design, the story… and all of that's waiting to be talked up again here. Stories like this are tricky, because you really don't quite know what to talk about without repeating yourself. A lot.

It's fair to say that the story suffers one of its few less successful effects here, when the Monoids leave the Ark and head for the planet. The shot of the shuttles leaving the ship is plagued by some very obvious wires, but I think it's a case of falling back on my old argument - the original broadcast wouldn't have been on a screen as big as this, or with a picture as clear as this.

There's a wonderful special feature on The Ark DVD, during which Peter Purves talks about the way that the programme would have been seen back in 1966. They show the image on a tiny TV set, and with the contrast up high - just as it would have been when first shown. The shot they use is the opening scene, where the Monoid turns to the camera and it's our first introduction to this world. It looks great. I wonder if I can play with the settings on the Mac and watch an episode in a worse quality than the DVD affords, just to see how it might have looked? That would be an interesting experiment for maybe an episode that's not particularly well regarded.

On the whole, I've rather enjoyed The Ark. It's not a particularly stand-out story in the way some others the season might be, but there's a lot in there to be praised, and I'm surprised it's not considered more popular. I don wonder, though, if it may work a little better were it given the Mission to the Unknown treatment: splitting it apart. Would the story be given any more impact if they had their two episodes dealing with Dodo's cold, left as we see here, and then headed off to another story. They could even move on and do the Celestial Toymaker story - the final few minutes of today's episode would tag onto the end of Episode Two quite well.

Then, having spent four weeks away, they could return to the Ark, and Dodo could still do her whole 'Oh, look! They've completed the statue! Do you remember, last time we were here, they said it would take 700 years…' and play the story out just the same. It might be nice to see the story given a bit more space to breathe like that, and give the real impression that time has passed for the Ark, by making time pass for us. I guess that can jut be one of those 'what ifs'.

Next Episode: The Celestial Toyroom

Next Episode: The Celestial Toyroom 
25 April 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 115: The Return (The Ark, Episode Three)

Dear diary,

I've mentioned before that Season Three is something of a weak point in my early Doctor Who knowledge. I've not seen much of it before, and only really know the overall 'gimmicks' of the stories. The cliffhanger for yesterday, for example, is the main thing I know about this story. It's telling that today we've touched down on the planet Refusis 2, and I didn't know we were going to! I thought the whole story took place on the Ark, and reached the planet right at the very end, in time for the Guardians to take their place on the new world.

It was a bit exciting, then, when the Doctor, Dodo, a Monoid and his personal slave were bearded into a shuttle and sent down to scout out the planet first. What would they find? Arid desert? Beautiful countryside? A quarry? A studio set? Oh, of course. It's a jungle. Full of invisible creatures. Didn't we do this not all that long ago?

I think what frustrates me is that I know they can do a good jungle set on the show in this era. Heck, I quite liked the one we got in The Chase, but then it was bettered by The Daleks' Master Plan and the first two episodes of this story. Yes, it's a lovely design again, but… I want to see something new! Doctor Who has always been very good at re-using its good ideas over and over, but it doesn't really work when it comes so quickly in succession like this.

Still, there's a lot to like in this episode. Imison as director continues to impress - there's several 'effects' shots in this instalment and they're all pulled off very well. From the magically appearing food, through to the invisible creatures moving around, and the explosion of the capsule at the end, there's a lot to enjoy and it's really helping push this story along. It's the first time, I think, that we've had so many effects like this all in one episode, and just as par-for-the-course. It really makes The Ark stick out from the stories we've had leading up to it.

There's also still a number of design choices being made in this episode that I'm really liking. Quite aside from the jungle itself, and the sets for the Ark, which are still just as nice (though we see less of the scope, now), I really love the capsule that the Doctor and co use to descend to the planet. I love the way the door opens, with the wall folding away and the seat overturning to form steps - though you'd need to be careful if you were the one sitting there. I wonder how many accidents those things have caused over the centuries?

Oh, alright then. I'm going to have to discuss the Monoids properly at some point, aren't I? They've never been the most well-regarded creatures in Doctor Who history, and I think it's fair to say that they're not the greatest design on show in this story. That said, I do sort-of like them, and they look better in some shots here than they have before. I've often thought it strange to build an entire monster around the idea that you could make the eyes move by wiggling your tongue around a bit, but it does work on some occasions.

The voices are something of a let-down, though, Having had them evolve from speechless beings into this, I don't know what I was expecting. We seem to have ended up with 'generic evil alien' voices, not all that far removed from Mechanoids or Daleks. I am keen on the way that Monoid One keeps gesticulating, though. It's almost a throwback to the way they communicated before, and that works quite well.

Mind you, the less said about the 'Security Kitchen' the better…

Next Episode: The Bomb

Next Episode: The Bomb 
24 April 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 114: The Plague (The Ark, Episode Two)

Dear diary,

The Ark really is one of the best stories that we've had so far, design-wise. Everything about this spaceship has been really well thought-through, from the look of the place to the way that the characters interact with each other. It's only a small (and very silly) thing, but there's a moment where one of the Guardians addresses the rest of his people, and there's one off to the side - barely in shot - translating to sign language for the benefit of the Monoids. There's really no need to have someone specifically doing this, but it really does help to make the world seem far more real.

And then there's the design of the sets, too. Back during The Daleks' Master Plan, the existence of a surviving episode left me stunned at the sheer size of their council chamber. The same can be said of the main hall seen in this story - you really get a sense of the scale of this ship. It doesn't hurt that Imison is still proving to be one of the best directors we've had on the show, and his high-angled shots really make the most of the space.

It's frustrating, then, when things aren't done so well in this episode. There's a moment when a Guardian looks down that the Doctor on a video monitor, and the case around the screen looks like it's been thrown together in ten minutes out of MDF. I know that's more or less the way that most of Classic Doctor Who was made, but it sticks out like a sore thumb in an episode that's otherwise very well realised.

Perhaps even more of a problem for me is the Monoid's form of transport. The buggies appear to be scenery carts from the BBC (I'm willing to bet that they are), and they take me right out of the story every time they appear. There's a lovely moment early on, where a dead Monoid is taken on a funeral precision, carried through the gathered crowds to be jettisoned into space. It's far more moving than the death of a Monoid has any right to be, but then when they load him onto the back of the truck, it all falls apart.

At the end of the story, when the Doctor and his friends are taken back to the TARDIS rising on one, Hartnell looks as though he's off to the boarding gate at Gatwick. I'd not be at all surprised if he didn't turn up in tomorrow's episode… That said, how good does he look when Face Timing with the Guardian? He does it better than a few of the other actors in this story…

When people talk about The Ark, the thing that usually comes up pretty quick in the conversation is this mid-way cliffhanger. That's the unique selling point of this story - the Doctor and his friends turn up, cause a problem, save the day, leave… and then they come back again. That's the thing that everyone knows about this tale. It's almost a shame that I'm coming to it knowing that we're only half-way through, as I'd be keen to know what my reaction might be if I didn't know what was happening.

Especially since - and this isn't something that often seems to get said - the reveal of the cliffhanger is bloody brilliant. Seriously, I think it may be the best reveal that we've ever had in the series. The TARDIS rematerialises (having departed in a gorgeous shot that contains a Monoid! There's some gorgeous spilt-screen work in there), the Doctor and his friends look around, and then the cliffhanger is that the statue has been completed. That's it. They've arrived back on the Ark, and it's 700 years later. The 'Next Episode' caption comes up and everything.

It's only after that's all happened that we get the slow pan up the statue to reveal it's got the head of a Monoid. It's almost like you're let down by a naff cliffhanger, and then they hit you with that one! Bam! Oh, it's very clever, and it really works.

And it's set up very cleverly, too. What we get beforehand is the final scene of a Hartnell story. They all say goodbye. They sum up the resolution to us, wish those staying behind well and then depart for the next story. It might as well be the final scene of The Web Planet (but with less jumping around). It really takes what you expect from the series and turns it on its head.

Mind you, why do they instantly assume they're back on the Ark when they arrive? They've been in so many jungles lately that it shouldn't come as much of a shock! And, for that matter, why do they head back up to the main area instead of getting back in the ship and trying again? Dodo says it herself - 'it's only been a few seconds' - yet she still wanders around calling 'we're back!' as she looks for people. Strange.

Next Episode: The Return

Next Episode: The Return 
23 April 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 113: The Steel Sky (The Ark, Episode One)

Dear diary,

It still feels weird to do an episode that's not been narrated by Peter Purves. I'm almost wondering if I can hire him so sit next to me on the couch and narrate the existing episodes while I watch them. I might look into that.

That said, it's nice to be back to a visual episode for today (and, indeed, for the rest of this story). Even better, it's a very visual episode! It's gorgeous! Right from the very start, as we see a lizard, followed by a bird and then a shot of a Moniod… That's striking. It's almost as if they knew this episode would survive, and decided to make full use of the fact that you can see it by really putting the effort in.

The direction continues to be of a consistent standard throughout the episode - from the tracking shot which stops just as the TARDIS materialises, to a range of high-angled shots. Director Michael Imison even manages to make the Moniods look good when the Doctor and friends come out of the caves and find themselves surrounded.

Ah, yes. The Doctor's 'friends'. I know it's early days yet, but I don't really know what to make of Dodo. On the plus side, she brings out the best in Steven - I'm greatly enjoying his exasperation with her, for example - but on the other… I've spent a lot of time so far in this marathon praising the way that companions are treated on the whole. The introductions of the last two 'major' companions (Vicki and Steven) have both been chances to reestablish the programme, and bring new viewers up to speed before we launch off on another adventure.

Dodo, though, right from her slightly odd arrival in yesterday's episode just seems to be thrust into things a bit too fast. It's almost as though they don't want to waste time in setting up this new character, so they're just getting all the early character beats out of the way as quickly as they can, before they move on with the story. Yesterday, we had the very quick introduction to her ('Hello! I'm Dodo! My full name is Dorethea, I'm an orphan, I live with my aunt, but she hates me, so I won't be missed. I might be from Manchester, but I've yet to decide on that…'), and an attempt to try and set up the show again ('this is a time machine. We can go anywhere in space, too. Don't know how to steer it though, so you may never get home. Off we go!). Today, she's already rooting through the TARDIS wardrobe and keen to explore. It's all just a bit too quick for me.

I'm hoping that it'll eventually settle down (The War Machines is the only Dodo story I've seen in full, and it was so long ago that I can't remember much about it…), but for now… no. Not sitting right with me at all. Still, that said, I do love the idea of her emerging from the TARDIS with a cold. It's a different idea, and it's lovely to see how it impacts on the plot. I wonder if these days they'd describe the TARDIS as having some kind of 'cure-all' filter inside it, to stop you from bringing back all manner of diseases from your travels through history? I know enough about The Ark to know where it's going in this story, but it's by far the best thing about Dodo so far.

I'm hoping that the direction continues to be of this standard moving forward, because it's the best thing about the story so far. I'm just enjoying the novel feeling of moving onto another moving episode! It's not something I've been able to do for a while, now…

Next Episode: The Plague

Next Episode: The Plague 
22 April 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 112: Bell of Doom (The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, Part Four)

Dear diary,

I was really not looking forward to this one. Having found the thing I enjoyed most about The Massacre was the whole subplot about the Doctor and the Abbot looking alike, I really worried that there wouldn't be anything in part four to hold my attention. Thankfully, this episode really brings everything together nicely, and I was captivated by it.

Early on, Steven returns to meet with Anne, and solemnly tells her that his friend is dead. He admits that he doesn't know what to do, and that if he can't find the Doctor's TARDIS key, then he won't be able to make it out of Paris. It's another chance for Peter Purves to shine (there are several in this episode), and it's interesting to see a companion in this predicament.

Towards the end of The Daleks' Master Plan, when Hartnell took a week off, Steven and Sara found themselves stranded, not knowing where the Doctor was. There, they were filled with optimism, and knew that he had to be out there somewhere, probably in the middle of the Dalek's plans. Here, though, Steven is convinced that he's actually seen the Doctor's body, and that he's got no hope. It's a brave thing to do with the programme, and one which we don't often see.

But then the Doctor appears, and all is well! Hooray! Except… where has the Doctor been all this time? He chastises Steven for not being at the tavern when he got back there, and says that the curfew is responsible for a lot of the mess they're in, but… Does he ever actually tell us what he's been up to? Has he just been wandering the streets of Paris for a few episodes?

The actual plot of the massacre itself has been of more interest to me here, too. Throughout the story, I've somewhat struggled to keep abreast of who's on which side, and which one is meant to be trying to massacre the other. Here, it's spelled out nice and clearly. The Queen Mother has given the order, and everyone of the opposing religion is to be killed at daybreak. Simple. The Doctor ten gives us a brief run-down of the events once we're safely back to the TARDIS, and suddenly I'm back up to speed again.

Indeed, it's these final TARDIS scenes that really sell the episode. I've praised Steven as a character in the past because he's not afraid to speak his mind and stand up to the Doctor. Never is this more in evidence than here, when he riles against him for sending Anne Chaplet home, even though it meant sending her to death. It's a beautifully written scene and Purves plays it with perfection again. All the more effective is the way that having told the Doctor he intends to get off the ship at their next stop, he barely says one more word to him before leaving. It's powerful stuff.

I'm only hoping that it gets picked up on in the next story. I've been impressed on more than one occasion with the series so far, when they pick up on big character moments like this even as we move to a new story, and it feels like a moment that really does deserve to have lasting effects. It was an argument like this from Barbara back in The Edge of Destruction that set the Doctor off on a route to becoming a new man, and it would be nice to see this moment continue pushing the Doctor down the right path.

The scene is then lifted even higher by Hartnell's monologue, straddling Steven's departure. He tells the boy that he stands by his decision, and that there is a chance - however slim - that Anne may have survived. Having then watched Steven storm out, the Doctor muses that everyone leaves him in the end. He thinks of Susan, and Vicki, before commenting that Ian and Barbara were all too eager to get back to their own time and place.

It then marks the first occasion in a while where the Doctor has really spoken of his own world, when he considers that it may be time to return. It's a very moving moment for the Doctor, and Hartnell is perhaps the best he's ever been. Much gets said in this story about the way he plays the Abbot in such a different manner to the Doctor - without the little gestures and the flubbed lines. People don't often seem to talk about this moment, where he gets everything spot on, and really sells it to us.

And then… Dodo! It feels silly, but I'd never realised the Anne Chaplet / Dodo Chaplet link had been made so explicitly in the programme itself. I always thought that it was left as a bit of a subliminal hint that everything might have been ok in the end for Anne. Unfortunately, the scene itself isn't perhaps the best introduction to a character - it's serves more as a four-minute info-dump than anything else, checking off everything we need to know (and then some) before heading back out to the stars.

The series has been a very dark place of late, with plenty of death and destruction. I've enjoyed it as a direction for the programme, but I'm looking forward to having Dodo here, and seeing the series head for a slightly less morbid place once more…

(By the way: There's a story that says Ian and Barbara were supposed to appear in this episode, watching the TARDIS as it departs across Wimbledon Common. Sadly, it never happened. How brilliant would it have been, though? I know I was sick of them by the end, but a brief snippet of them here and now would simply be marvellous…)

Next Episode: The Steel Sky

Next Episode: The Steel Sky 
21 April 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 111: Priest of Death (The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, Episode Three)

Dear diary,

Well… I hope that the Abbot isn't the Doctor in disguise, because if he is then the history of Doctor Who must have flowed very differently to the way I've always understood it, with Hartnell's Doctor killed here and his corpse left out on the streets of Paris.

Yes, this subplot is still the thing that's interesting me the most about this story, and I'm a little sad to see the back of it here in Episode Three, meaning that I'll need to find something new to latch onto for the final part of the tale. Throughout this episode, the entire storyline is expertly woven into the tale - you only need to look at the moment the Abbot's death is announced to see that.

Steven has just assured us again that the Abbot really is the Doctor in disguise, and announces that he's 'certain' of that fact now that he's seen the man up close… at which point we're told that he's been murdered outside his home. Steven is horrified (and Peter Purves turns in a great performance - he really is very good when he's having to portray anger), and rushes out to see for himself.

It's another one of those times that I extol the virtue of experiencing these missing episodes in the form of the narrated soundtracks - because the sight of this man laying dead on the street with the face of the Doctor was far more striking in my mind that it would have been on screen. Just to compare, I did stick on the last few minutes of the Loose Cannon recon when I got home (I've been listening to today's episode on a walk around the supermarket. The death of the Abbot was announced just as I picked up some lamb for tea. Lovely.), and while it's perfectly good enough, it really did very little for me.

What's also interesting in this episode is Steven's faith in the Doctor. Early on, while trying to convince Anne to go back to the Abbot's home, he tells her that if the Abbot is the Doctor, then she has nothing to fear - the Doctor will make sure that no harm will come to her. It's interesting when you consider that his two most recent additions to the TARDIS (Katarina and Sara, and if you want to be really picky, then Brett, too) have both met their demise while under the Doctor's care. I've never been more convinced that Anne is destined for death.

Otherwise… I'm afraid I have to admit that I'm still just not into this story. I'm sorry. I'm trying, really I am, but I'm just not connecting with it. I've been so looking forward to Lucarotti's return to the TARDIS, but whereas his previous tales were painted on a broad canvas that was easy enough to follow, I just feel like I'm losing track of who's who and which side they're fighting on. And have France now gone to war with Spain or not? Yesterday I thought they had, but today they seem to not be…

Next Episode: Bell of Doom

Next Episode: Bell of Doom 
20 April 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 110: The Sea Beggar (The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, Episode Two)

Dear Diary,

I think I’ve said it before, but some days of The 50 Year Diary are easier than others. Sometimes, as I hit ‘pause’ on the music player (usually while the end credits are playing out), I’ve got a list of notes that fills a full side of my notepad, and the hard part is trying to decide which notes to pick up on, and discuss during my entry. More than once, I’ve started to talk about something before realising that it’s probably only of interest to me, deleted it, and taken a different direction for that day’s entry.

Other days… are just difficult. Today is one of those ‘difficult’ days. The problem is that there’s nothing really all that wrong with this episode – it’s perfectly fine as an episode of Doctor Who and all, it just hasn’t really grabbed me all that much. I’ve come away with only about four notes from this episode, and some of those are just bits of dialogue that I’ve liked.

Yesterday, I complained that I didn’t really know this period of history, and mused that it could be one of the problems I was having trying to connect with the story. The problem is… I’m loathe to look into it too much. A quick scan of the top paragraph on Wikipedia tells the that it took place in the late sixteenth century, and that’s where I stopped reading. It’s going to sound odd, but I don’t want any spoilers! Spoilers from a story (made and broadcast 48 years ago) about a historical even that happened several centuries ago!

I can already surmise that The Massacre isn’t going to have a happy ending. Just look at the title to know that! I don’t want to know the exact details, though, because I want to experience it as a part of the tale. This means, though, that I’m still wading through it not quite knowing the significance of events. There’s a few moments where characters say things that (judging by the performance) are obviously important contextually, but I don’t really get them. Ho hum.

Still, there’s plenty of interest coming in the form of the ‘is he or isn’t he the Doctor’ plot line. I thought it was quite clearly a case of the Abbot just happening to be a double of our lead character, but actually there seems to be more to it than that. When Steven first speculates that it could be the Doctor, passing himself off as an official for some reason (he wasn’t around to see the Doctor’s role in The Reign of Terror, but I’m imagining the Abbot as wearing the same feathery hat. Just because. I like that hat), the entire sub plot takes a very different turn.

Even more interesting is that other characters state definitively that it isn’t the Doctor. It can’t be him, because the Abbot has been an important figure in their lives for longer than the Doctor and Steven have been in France… but then they’ve only recently actually met the Abbot in person. Maybe this man is the Doctor in disguise?

The Doctor himself doesn’t actually appear in this episode (well, he might, if the Abbot really is the Doctor undertaking some clever ruse, but we’ve not been made privy to that yet), which only serves to make the whole thing even more of a mystery. It’s this that I’m enjoying the most at the moment, also I’m hoping it continues being built up as a key element of the plot. I’m half-wondering if the next episode might be this one told again, but from the point-of-view of the Doctor, before they reunite again at the end of the story…

And that’s the key thing. I’m interested to move on. I’m actively looking forward to tomorrow’s episode. It’s not like some of the stories we’ve gone through, where I’ve really not been all that bothered about the next episode. It’s just that – for now – The Massacre is just sort of there. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing particularly great about it either. Here’s hoping that things pick up from here on out!

(Are we placing bets on whether the Doctor is the Abbot, by the way? Don’t tell me if you know – avoiding spoilers there, too! – but for now I’m thinking… I’m thinking that it would be great if he were the Abbot, but I don’t think he is. I think.)

Next Episode: Priest of Death

Next Episode: Priest of Death 
19 April 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 109: War of God (The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, Episode One)

Dear diary,

“I wish I understood what's going on!” wails Steven about two-thirds of the way into this episode. Truth be told, I did wonder if he was just speaking aloud what was on my mind.

I've been looking forward to reaching The Massacre since… ooh, about three minutes after I finished The Aztecs. During the first season, John Lucarotti's scripts were fantastic, and really sold the idea of the pure historicals to me. While it's often said that this story was rewritten almost wholly by Donald Tosh, I was still hoping for the kind of richness in the setting that we got with visits to Cathay and South America.

In this area, the episode doesn't disappoint. The whole thing is steeped with atmosphere, even though my only frame of reference was a half-remembered image of the Doctor and Steven sat in a tavern. That said, the episode takes place in very few sets, and I can quite believe that they're the kinds of sets the Doctor Who team would have been very good at producing.

Where things fall a little flat for me, though, is in the denseness of the setting. As has been the case more and more with the historical stories since Season One, I'm finding myself in settings that I'm not familiar with. Most of the time, I'm able to bluff myself through the story to some extent, and in some cases I'm even sure that I actually learn something from Doctor Who. Sydney Newman would be so pleased!

Here, though, I genuinely didn't have any context for the setting until Steven be can to vocalise my confusion. I knew this story was set in France, and from the title I'd figured that it wasn't likely to be a light-hearted romp, but then I didn't have much else to go on. The story itself doesn't try to reassure either - the Doctor and Steven's first appearance comes as the enter a tavern, where we've already a scene in progress. I did briefly wonder if I'd managed to switch the soundtrack into 'shuffle' again.

What is nice about this story is the way that Steven and the Doctor get on during their initial scene together. This is the only story from the classic run to feature the Doctor alone with just a single male companion, and so it's a dynamic that feels very fresh. It doesn't last long before the Doctor is off to explore and Steven is caught up in trouble, but it's nice for a while. It's also clear that some time has passed since the end of the previous story, as the tone between the pair is far happier than it was when we left them yesterday.

The cliffhanger - the Abbot turning around and looking exactly like the Doctor - perhaps loses some if its imp ace by being heard on audio rather than witnessed on screen, but it's still quite a striking moment. It helps that Hartnell changes the tone of his voice for the part, too, so that he's almost, but not quite the man we know. The Massacre isn't a story that I know well, so I'm unsure if we'll get more Doctor-on-Doctor action as we had in The Chase (though if we do, because this is a soundtrack I'll be able to have Hartnell playing both roles all the time!), but it could be interesting to see…

Next Episode: The Sea Beggar

Next Episode: The Sea Beggar 
18 April 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 108: The Destruction of Time (The Daleks' Master Plan, Episode Twelve)

Dear diary,

Whether you choose to look at this as one big story, or several little ones connected by a common thread, there's no denying that the last twelve episodes have seen an awful lot of death and darkness.

Sara's demise under the influence of the time destructor is one of those moments from this story that everyone sort of knows about. It's fairly common knowledge that she cops it before this story is out, and for the most part people know how she goes. That doesn't do justice, though, to just how effective the death is. She dies because she's gone back for the Doctor. I'd always assumed that she was captured by the Daleks and tried to escape or something, not that she was behind by choice.

And the basic knowledge that I had of the death didn't hold a candle to just how nasty it actually is. I mean, sure, I knew that she was aged to death, but when you're actually in the thick of it and listening to it happen… then it becomes genuinely horrific. The worst bit comes afterwards, when the narration describes Steven approaching her lifeless body, before a gust of wind brushes the hair and skin away from it, scattering them around in the dirt. It's a truly ignoble end for Sara, and perhaps a moment that I'd love to see recovered and put back in the archive.

Elsewhere, though… This episode always had an awful lot to live up to. This Dalek plot has been building up - either as the main story or in the background somewhere - for a full seventeen episodes, ever since Mission to the Unknown. It's a far grander scheme than we've seen the Daleks attempt before (and, with the debatable exemption of some 21-sf century stories), bigger than we'll ever see again. The problem is that after all that time, nearly three weeks for me, and a full four-and-a-half months on screen back in the 1960s… I'm not quite sure I can work out the Daleks' plan.

I'm sure that it made sense at some point during the story. After all, most of the plot has revolved around the Daleks trying to get back the Terranium so that they can get their Time Destructor up and running. But then alongside this, they've brought together delegates from a number of galaxies so that they can wipe them out and seize control of said galaxies.

So… what's the point of building a machine that will power through time very quickly and ruin those places? Have I missed something? As I say, at some point during the story, I'm sure it all made sense - I've never had cause to question the story before now - but I've completely lost it at the very end here.

One of the things that I did enjoy in this final instalment was the final end of Mavic Chen. I said yesterday that I hope he didn't die here, because nothing could top the shock of his fake death in the last episode. He does die, though, and while it's true that it really isn't as effective as his last one, there is still merit to having him back again. For a start, he's clearly gone completely mad. Proper bonkers. It's great to see the way that the Daleks play him and lead him right through to the right moment, before they simply exterminate him like any other person. It's fun to listen to Kevin Stoney ramping it up in the mad stakes, too.

On the whole, while I've enjoyed the episode, I don't think it quite fulfils the role of being the final part to an epic such as this one.

Speaking of which… just what is The Daleks' Master Plan? I've been saying for a week now that it feels like several separate stories, and I stand by that. I think in my mind now, I'll be thinking of it as;

Mission to the Unknown
A 1 Episode prequel (as it standard thinking).

The Daleks' Master Plan
6 Episodes. In which the Daleks' plan to take over the universe, but the Doctor and his chums steal the core of their machine and leave them in a bit of a pickle.

Revenge of the Monk
4 Episodes. The Doctor, Steven, and Sara bumble around in time a bit, getting arrested in the 1960s, and visiting Hollywood. They then realise that they're being followed by another time machine, and get caught up with the Meddling Monk. The Daleks then turn up to demand their Terranium back.

The Mutation of Time
A 2 Episode Coda to the entire arc, which sees the Daleks defeated and an end to the threats posed by their galactic conquest plans.

Does anyone else have a way of thinking about this story which isn't as a 12-parter? The thought of breaking it up seems a little like heresy, but it just seems right!

Next Episode: War of God

Next Episode: War of God 
17 April 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 107: The Abandoned Planet (The Daleks' Master Plan, Episode Eleven)

Dear diary,

Within a minute of Mavic Chen arriving back on Kembel and reporting to the Dalek Supreme, proudly boasting about the return of the Terranium, the Dalek asks him a - very sensible - question, which I can't quite believe Chen hasn't yet thought to ask himself: 'Are you sure it is the real core?'.

It's a valid point, if you think about it. Right back in Coronas of the Sun, the Doctor managed a bait-and-switch, with he and his companions handing over a replica so perfect that it was only when the Time Destructor failed to operate that the Daleks realised something was amiss. On this occasion, the Doctor has dropped the core into Chen's hands and darted off back into the pyramid to make his escape… and Chen didn't even question it. I was almost willing it to be fake again, just because I quite like the idea of the Doctor managing to keep fooling Chen and the Daleks time and time again with the same trick.

And so, here we are. Via the police station and 1920s Hollywood, a cricket match, a volcano world, Christmas and New Year's eve, Ancient Egypt and all, we're back on Kembel for the big final showdown. Except, we're not quite. Not yet. The Doctor's gone AWOL (Hartnell on Holiday again?) and most of the episode is spent moving the pieces into place for the big finale tomorrow. I'm guessing (?) that the delegates from the Galactic Council will be returning with their armies to wipe out the Daleks, while the Doctor slips away quietly, unseen. I'm just hoping that it's spectacular. It certainly deserves to be.

So, here we are. Eleven episodes into (debatably) one of Doctor Who's longest ever stories. Eleven whole days I've been withering on about this tale. And in all that time, I've not once managed to muse on the identities of to delegates. I thought that was going to come up early on! 'Which Delegate is which' is one of those questions that crops up in several forms in Who fandom, and I thought I was going to be able to make my own opinion. I was all set to give my great idea to the world, my version of who's who.

But as it transpires, the Delegates aren't really all that important, are they? We witness their first meeting right back during Mission to the Unknown, where they gather together and agree to do some evil things. We then watch them thump the desk a bit during a council meeting, and run around trying to point the finger of blame at each other when things start to go wrong. In today's episode, they get a bit ratty with Chen again and then find themselves locked in a cell.

I wonder if it's because I'm listening to the story via audio. My entire notion of what the delegates look like comes from the Mission animation and the surviving Day of Armageddon. I know what they look like for the most part (my favourite is 'Christmas tree'. It's a shame he doesn't turn up in the Christmas episode, really), and that's enough. The one with the raspy voice in this episode is in my head as the chap with the cracked face. One of the others is 'pebble guy'.

Unfortunately, that means I've nothing witty or new to say about them, or the way in which we can identify them. Sorry. Thought I'd better bring that up, in case you read through all my thoughts and figured I was just ignoring it. Mind you, I sort of am.

That said, I must confess a real love for Mavic Chen. The moment when his spaceship explodes really did take me by surprise. I think I may have actually gasped out loud. I listened to today's entry while I was painting a wall (it's spring - not that you'd know it to look outside - and time to freshen the place up!), and that was the moment I physically stopped and took it in. I thought it was a terribly sudden way to get rid of the character, but a fantastic one, and very in-keeping with the dark tone the series has been developing.

And then, like all good panto villains, he turns up again! Wielding a gun and making threats. Of course! I hope he doesn't die in tomorrow's episode, because it's never going to have the impact that this moment did.

Next Episode: The Destruction of Time

Next Episode: The Destruction of Time 
16 April 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 106: Escape Switch (The Daleks' Master Plan, Episode Ten)

Dear diary,

“Everyone loves Magical Chen, agreed to work as the Daleks' lackey and then, got caught in a chase for the Teranium case, flying though time, it's all such a crime…”

What? I love a good Billy Fluff, me, and the moment when he refers to one of their enemies as 'Magic Chen' instantly set of a verse of the 'Magical Trevor' song in my head. Truth be told, it's still going round there, now, and I'll be a bit disappointed if I don't hear a Dalek singing it by the end of the next episode.

Oh, all right. I should have known that returning to an episode that really exists in the archives would turn things back around for me. I mused yesterday that Douglas Camfield's direction of the fight scenes between the Daleks and the Egyptians would probably be a highlight, and I think that this episode proves that completely.

It has to be said - and this must be an effect of moving into this period where there's more and more missing episodes - when the titles faded away and I saw an actual image of the Pharaoh's treasures, it took me back a bit! It's been a while since I saw a moving episode that wasn't animated (well, a 'while'. Four days. It feels like longer. I blame all that time we wasted mucking around on the volcano world), so something just struck me as odd about it here. Trust me, by the time I finish Season Four, I'll have forgotten that Doctor Who isn't a radio series.

This is probably a good point to mention the way that I tackle the missing episodes, as it's something I get asked about fairly often. I always listen to them now as the narrated soundtracks, or occasionally as an animation (as in the case of Mission to the Unknown or The Feast of Steven). People often ask why I'm not following along with a recon of some sort and the answer is, simply, that I just can't get into them. Oh, believe me, I've tried!

Some of them are fantastic, certainly, and it's the way that I watched Marco Polo, but I find that they just put me off a bit. Truth be told, when I was headed towards this season, the thought of having to sit and watch that many reckons was almost enough to nix the whole diary. I considered hiding in a wardrobe until the Jon Pertwee years landed and missing episodes were a thing of the past. But the narrated soundtracks, I've found myself getting really hooked on (A real U-turn - I couldn't bear the one I listened to for The Roof of the World back in January).

But enough about narrated soundtracks and reconstructed episodes - we can see this one properly! It moves and everything! And - oh - is it just me or does Douggie get better every time? There's a shot in this episode where the Sun morphs into a reflection on a Dalek dome, and I couldn't quite believe what I'd just watched. It. Was. Stunning.

It also means that we get to see the gorgeous shots of the Daleks gliding through the half-constructed Pyramids. It's hard to refrain from using the word 'stunning' here, too. I've said it before, and I've little doubt that I'll say it again before the 60s are out, but this version of the Dalek prop is perhaps my favourite. They just look so good.

And as the bad guys, they're still coming across better here than at any other point we've seen them so far. Remember back in The Daleks, when I complained that the final battle essentially boiled down to them being overthrown by a handful of Thals in leather trousers? That wouldn't happen to this bunch. This lot are set upon by a hoard of Egyptian slaves, and the Daleks just plough though them, exterminating en masse.

Yesterday, I complained that I'd rather have had an Egypt story told on its own terms, away from this story arc about the Daleks and Mavic Chen. As it is, having been though this episode now, too, I think I've had a perfectly good story. Two episodes feels about the right length for this tale - though I can still see how they might get four from it, with the Daleks and the Monk only turning up half-way - and I've really enjoyed it. The ending seems to imply that the Monk is out of the way now, and with the Doctor headed back to Kembel to finish up the story from way back when, so I'll be sad to see him leave. It's been great to have him back again, and he's been far better served in this Egypt portion of the tale than he was by the leftovers from The Chase.

I can't let this episode pass without mentioning the discovery of the film prints. This one, along with the print for Counter Plot were the ones that infamously turned up in the basement of a church (Mormon or others, depending on which version of the story you're being told). The rediscovery of missing episodes is a fascinating topic, and I love the tales of where things were found - this has to be my favourite of the bunch. It's just so, so, surreal. Perfect for this story, then!

Next Episode: The Abandoned Planet

Next Episode: The Abandoned Planet 
15 April 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 105: Golden Death (The Daleks' Master Plan, Episode Nine)

Dear diary,

It's tricky, this one. On the one hand, I love the idea of a Doctor Who story set in ancient Egypt, and especially in this era of the programme. On the other… it feels a shame to see it thrown in to this part of this story, where they just seem to be filling time before getting back to the main plot. I've been championing the idea of this being more than one story for a while now, and I wonder if I'd have preferred a 'straight' Egypt story for an episode or two before the Daleks et al turn up on the sand.

That said, there is a lot in this episode that I like, and that I think really works. The idea that the TARDIS is taken into the pyramid as one of the pharaoh's treasures for the afterlife is very much the kind of thing that would have happened back in Season One. Indeed, lots of elements away from the Dalek-based story are the kind of things I'd expect to see in what I'm starting to consider as a 'traditional' Doctor Who story.

There's a scene in which Steven and Barbara are interrogated by a sinister marshall of the soldiers, and they protest their innocence strongly, claiming that they have no interest whatsoever in the treasure being gathered for the tomb. 'Even the old man?' they're asked, being told that he was examining the 'blue box' very carefully. The entire exchange might as well have been Ian and Barbara being put in the spotlight.

I could even go as far as to say that I'd be interested to see this story spread across a few episodes in ancient Egypt, in which the Monk turns up at the end of the first part! The idea of a showdown between the Doctor and the Monk certainly appeals to me, and after I felt yesterday's confrontation was wasted, today's seems to be back on form. The Monk works as a really interesting adversary to the Doctor - the first time that we've seen an equal to him, and the Monk is painted as such.

It's great to watch how bumbling he can be, but then he's filled with a truly sinister streak, where I'm not quite sure what he's going to do next or why. He seems intent on bringing revenge on the Doctor - and he's determined to make sure it happens. There's a school of thought that says the Monk ends up becoming the Master, and, (though it's not an idea I subscribe to)I can see where it may come from. If you take this desire for revenge and keep twisting the dial up, up, up… yeah, I can see the link.

And yet for all that I protest that I'd love to see a pure, Egyptian, historical, or a rematch of The Time Meddler set on the plains and around the Great Pyramids, the Daleks turning up is just wonderful. It's terribly Doctor Who - an extremely surreal juxtaposition as the Daleks massacre the Egyptian slaves. It's so bizarre, I almost wondered if I might be dreaming it. Done right (and directed by Camfield, I'd imagine it is!), that could be a really spectacular moment for the Daleks.

Elsewhere, we've got the Monk being recruited to the Dalek's cause as he tries to save his own skin, and there's some great fun to be had watching him squirm and apologise before Mavic Chen, who has a semblance of his former dignified imposing self back the second the Monk arrives before him. We've seen him just as writing and apologetic toward the Daleks in recent episodes, so it's nice to see the tables turned back for him - albeit briefly.

I won't even go into much detail on the Doctor breaking into the Monk's TARDIS (again) and messing around with the settings. It's really become his signature move when dealing with the man, and you think after the last time he'd have thought to lock the door one he'd hidden his TARDIS away!

Next Episode: Escape Switch

Next Episode: Escape Switch 
14 April 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 104: Volcano (The Daleks' Master Plan, Episode Eight)

Dear diary,

Sometimes, there's so much useless Doctor Who knowledge buzzing around in my head that I simply ignore bits of it. I file it away in a cabinet marked 'you'll probably never need to know this' and go on thinking about something else. The nice effect this has is that elements of Doctor Who surprise me, when they probably really shouldn't.

Take today's episode, for example. It's the return of the Meddling Monk! Now, I knew - somewhere in the back of my mind - that the Monk returned in this story. I'm sure I knew that. Heck, the BBC's official 50th Anniversary website has an entry for the Monk in which he's surrounded by Volcanoes! Yet still, I didn't manage to piece it together until almost the last moment.

When this episode opens, the TARDIS is being pursued through the vortex by another time vessel. Steven speculates that it has to be the Daleks, and the Doctor thinks that he's probably right about that. Meanwhile, we keep cutting back to Kembel, where the Daleks are preparing to send a time machine out to hunt for them. It wasn't until the Daleks were ready to leave the planet that I suddenly realised that it couldn't be them chasing the TARDIS, and it all fell into place!

Aside from that nice surprise, this episode is a bit lackluster. It feels like a number of left over ideas from The Chase being added in to help pad out the story a little further. What if the TARDIS were to materialise in the middle of a cricket match? What if it turns up on New Year's Eve, during the countdown? It can't just be fleeting materialisations (and what happened to the ship needing twelve minutes to take off again?), so we get a showdown between the Doctor and the Monk, but rather than the great back-and-forth we saw between them last series, it just dissolves into a bit of laughing, and then we find that the Doctor has been trapped here.

Even then, it only takes the Doctor a matter of minutes to fix the problem and get them back on their way again. To be honest, the whole episode feels like padding before we can get onto the really interesting stuff.

Where things do still fall into place for me is when we spend time with the Daleks on Kembel. These are still the ruthless creatures I've grown used to this season, and they're by far the best thing about this episode. That they allow one of the delegates to die for them as proof that he is truly devoted to his cause is sinister enough. The fact that he survives the experiment - so they exterminate him anyway, just because they were expecting a death - is even worse. These Daleks are unlike any we've had before, and they're a fantastic breed of the creatures.

To tell the truth, though, I think things need to get back to Kembel full-time. While I still believe this tale could be seen as more than one story, it feels like its flagging a little in the middle here - they don't really know what to do with the characters before we head back in for the final showdown. I'm hoping that the final four episodes are where we bring things back into focus…

Next Episode: Golden Death

Next Episode: Golden Death 
13 April 2013
 Day 103: The Feast of Steven (The Daleks' Master Plan, Episode Seven)

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 103: The Feast of Steven (The Daleks' Master Plan, Episode Seven)

Dear diary,

*clears throat * IT'S CHRIIIISSSTTTTMMMAAAAASSSSSSSS! What? It's tradition, isn't it? No? Oh hush, it's my blog. And it's Christmas! Spread the cheer! And isn't it nice of the weather to keep the winter feeling going right the way through until now, just so it would feel more like Christmas. Yeah, let's enjoy the snow as I crank up the heating and mutter 'Bah Humbug' under my breath…

But look! Hooray! Santa has been! And what's that he's left for me under the tree? (By 'under the tree', I mean 'on the computer'. I did suggest getting the Christmas tree back out, but Ellie wasn't having any of it.) It's a copy of The Feast of Steven that's been animated! That's right, I've been enjoying today's special Christmas episode in the form of Adamsbullock's version.

It's another very different style of animation, quite far removed from what I've seen for either The Reign of Terror or Mission to the Unknown. Far more stylised, and with a much simpler tone to it. Outside the police station, for example, the background is painted in with only a few tones and a couple of windows. And yet, it works really well! I don't know if I'd be able to do the entire Daleks' Master Plan in this style, but for the slightly bizarre Christmas episode, it's absolutely perfect.

Truth be told, by the end I'd grown quite accustomed to the animated Hartnell. It's going to be a bit of a shock to go back to the real, human version. Maybe for the next few audio episodes I'll imagine everyone else as real, with this version of Hartnell alongside them. It'll keep me amused at least!

As for the episode itself… it's a bit of a game of two halves really. All the stuff at the police station was great fun, and I really rather enjoyed that. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the original intention was to have the cast of Z Cars take the roles of the police officers, which would have been great fun and really helped add to the Christmas feel - plus, it has to be said, the idea of Brian Blessed squaring up to Hartnell excites me far more than it should!

There's plenty of comedy in this section of the episode, and it's played nicely: lots of fun banter between the policemen as they wait outside the TARDIS, and especially after the Doctor has stepped outside for the very first time. Then there's the business with the man inside the station ('haven't I seen your face before? Of course! The marketplace at Jaffa!') and Steven coming to take the Doctor away by pretending that he's a bit mad.

Yeah, the first section of the episode is great fun, and I really enjoyed it. But then we arrive in Hollywood and… oh dear. It's a good job I didn't listen to this episode as part of the narrated soundtrack with my headphones in. Whoever was in charge of sound for this segment should be shot. It's so noisy! Every character is shouting, and they're all doing it at once! There were moments when I couldn't understand what was actually being said.

(Incidentally, I did scroll through the audio once I'd finished watching the animation, just in case it had been made better on the narrated soundtrack. One section of screeching was more than enough for me, so I didn't push it any further.)

Something I did wonder about, and it's happened a few times over the last few episodes, is Sara's name. Which way do people tend to pronounce it? I've always said it as 'Sa-ra', as does the Doctor here, and as it's clearly written. Peter Purves (both in the episodes and on the narration) seems to refer to her as 'Sarah' more commonly. Which do people tend to go for? Is 'Sara' the majority vote?

Now, I mused yesterday that things felt like they were building to the end of a six-part story and getting ready to move off onto a new adventure, but that I'd need to watch through more before coming to a decision on that one. Well, I think I've already reached one. The Feast of Steven is not the seventh episode of a twelve-part serial called The Daleks' Master Plan. Frankly, it's not! The only link we have to that story is the Doctor double checking that they still have the terrarium core, to which Sara replies 'Oh, I'd forgotten about the Daleks.'

That's less of a link than the Steven Moffat era has between stories that are a part of the story arc! The six episodes from The Nightmare Begins to Coronas of the Sun are definitely a story, and the episodes that follow this one may be a follow-up to that story, but from where I'm standing now, somewhere around the middle-point, this certainly feels like an individual one-episode story all on its own. I'll review this situation once I finish the next five episodes, but it's looking likely that I'll think of them as separate stories from now on. The campaign to change it starts here!

Next Episode: Volcano

12 April 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 102: Coronas of the Sun (The Daleks' Master Plan, Episode Six)

Dear diary,

Hooray! The Doctor and his friends have made it back to his ship, the TARDIS. And while the Daleks are massing outside, with some fake Terranium in tow, out heroes have escaped, in the TARDIS. And it turns out that the scanner isn't working inside the TARDIS. And if either Steven or Sara were to step outside the Doctor's ship - the TARDIS - they would be in big trouble, because the atmosphere is poisonous!

Genuinely, though, was there a reason that the Doctor kept referring to it as his ship, the TARDIS? Did I miss something there? Was it because Steven was under suggestive control? If so, why did he say it to the Daleks a lot, too? In the last five minutes of the episode, the Doctor refers to 'my ship, the TARDIS' on three occasions, and simply 'my TARDIS' on one other. The word TARDIS also crops up twice more in the dialogue, and three times in the narration. I know that's where the end of the episode takes place, but it really does feel incredibly clunky!

For all intents and purposes, this feels like the end of a story. The Doctor and his friends have evaded the Daleks, made it back to his ship, the TARDIS, and have landed somewhere brand new, but can't leave the ship because of the bad atmosphere. Under any other circumstances, this would just be the beginning of a new adventure. I know it's because they wanted the Christmas story to stand alone, but I also can't help but wonder if there was another reason?

Back during Season One, I often mused that I'd love to not know what was coming up. As a viewer in the 1960s, not knowing where one story begins and ends. Right at the very beginning, we go from a four episode story, into a seven-parter, before back to the Doctor's ship, the TARDIS for a two-part tale, followed by another seven parter starring Marco Polo. From there we spend six episodes on Marinus and four with the Aztecs, before heading off for two consecutive six-part stories.

By this point, shortly after the programme's second birthday, it's more-or-less settled down into either 4-parters or 6-parters. There's the odd anomaly, like The Rescue, or Mission to the Unknown, but a regular viewer will have picked up the drill. If they've not started wrapping up by mid-way through the fourth episode, then there's another two to come. Coronas of the Sun is the sixth episode of The Daleks' Master Plan, and so it feels perfectly natural to have reached this point, and be heading off to a new story. I can't help but wonder if this was part of the intent?

It also makes me wonder whether these twelve episodes should really be counted as one big story or not. I'm going to have to watch right to the end before making my decision, but there certainly seems to be some scope here for breaking it up a little. I'm looking forward to seeing how that develops as we go on. I know that there's three Sara Kingdom stories set between the Seventh and Eighth episodes as part of the Big Finish Companion Chronicles range (and they're supposed to be some of the best they've ever produced), so there certainly seems to be a gap of some kind. Incidentally, I'm wondering if I might do those stories in the gap between Seasons Three and Four? I'm already planning on listening to The Destroyers, the Terry Nation solo Dalek story, but that was written at the time, while these Sara audios are brand new… Any thoughts? Leave a comment below, or pop over to the Facebook Page and let me know!

There's a lot to like in this episode, and it's certainly a step up from the last one. One of the most interesting aspects has to be the Daleks themselves. This is their most ruthless story so far, and it's a far cry from the pepper pots we saw in The Chase. There, they were being used for humour, ranging from the coughing Dalek as is rises from the stand, or the one who has to think about its answer before it gives one ('Uh… in Earth Time… Uh… Four… Uh… Four MInutes…'). Here, they're played decidedly straight and they've actually become chilling in a way I don't think we've seen before.

This is closer to their original appearance than we've seen since then (and it's nice to have the Doctor forming a plan that involves caking a Dalek's eye in mud, just as they did in the cell on Skaro - I half expected to have a reference to that one), and it's also a sign of the Daleks to come later in the show's development - the all-conquering galactic force that swamp in and take over. What's nice, though, is the way that they can still be undermined if done properly.

A few episodes ago, a Dalek orders their pursuit ship to return to base, before severing communications with it and instructing that it be destroyed because they do not tolerate failure. This is a sentiment reiterated here, when the Dalek proclaims that the squad from Mira will also be punished. This moment comes at a time where the same Dalek has been berating Mavic Chen for failing in his own orders, and he gets the chance to turn the situation on its head, by pointing out that it's the Daleks who keep failing. I quite like the dynamic we've got going on between the two sides - not quite trusting each other, but needing each other all the same.

Anyway, I must be off to bed. I've left out a glass of warm milk and a plate of cookies in the hope that Santa will come (tomorrow is Christmas, after all). He'll have a job getting down my chimney, though, because I don't have a fireplace and live in a third-floor-flat in Cardiff Bay. He can ring the buzzer, I guess. I've been a really good boy this year (hey - I sat through all of The Space Museum and didn't complain all that much…) so I'm hoping for some extra special presents!

Next Episode: The Feast of Steven

Next Episode: The Feast of Steven 
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