Thursday, 29 September 2011

Ten Fathom Pirates

The first proper story in Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space is called Ten Fathom Pirates, and in it Dr Who meets the most fabulous pirates ever (except maybe for these pirates).

This is a story about Dr Who from Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. and I can tell because he is always called "Dr Who" in the story, not "the Doctor," even though in the pictures he looks like the Doctor as played by William Hartnell.

Tardis lands underwater and Dr Who is grumpy about it. He doesn't have anybody with him in Tardis so he talks to himself, or maybe he is talking to Tardis, or maybe to me when I'm reading the story? I don't know.

"Still, in all his strange journeys there was bound to come one moment in a thousand when his space-ship would emerge from intra-dimensional non-space into a planetary environment occupied by water."

Is "intra-dimensional non-space" the opposite of space? Terry Nation would know these things. Dr Who uses his scanner to see what is outside. He sees fish (nom nom nom) and then he sees a group of mannys swimming towards Tardis.

"For a fleeting moment he wondered if they were fishermen. But he rejected the thought as he recalled the true fishermen, such as those he had encountered on the planet Kandalinga."

I think mannys would need to be able to hold their breath for a long time on Kandalinga. To catch fish I mean. These mannys that Dr Who sees sound very fabulous to me, because "they were garishly attired in rubber suits of multi-colours, but their faces were un-covered and he could see the features of hard-bitten men of action."

Oooooh. I like these mannys already. Their leader is "a powerfully-built man with a black moustache," I think he sounds handsome. Multi-coloured with a moustache, who am I reminded of?

They are pirates and they have skull and cross bones to show that's what they are. They put Tardis in a net and Dr Who cannot dematerialise.

"Dr Who began to realise what must have happened. The men outside had indeed caught Tardis in a net, some form of force-barrier net or one that emitted charged particles."

Charged particles, eh? That sounds like science stuff to me and I don't understand it. All I know is Dr Who cannot escape in Tardis so he will have to have an adventure. The mannys take Tardis to their base.

"Now he could see that Tardis was inside what must surely be the underwater lair of the pirates."

If they have a "lair" then surely they are baddys? Dr Who sees three more pirates on his scanner.

"One was small and round, with podgy hands that continually fluttered to his face as if to hide the awful scar on one cheek. The second was a thin-faced serpent of a man, with restless eyes. But the most striking of the trio was a magnificent specimen, tall and graceful, dressed in a flamboyant one-piece costume of gold-leaf, and with one half of his left ear shot away.
"The pirate chief himself!" murmured Dr Who. "Well, I had better go out and make his acquaintance!""

None of these mannys have names in this story, not even the "magnificent specimen." Maybe he is called Avon? He sounds like an Avon to me.

This story is 10 pages long and it is page 4 before Dr Who leaves Tardis. Dr Who meets the leader (who I assert is called Avon really).

"Dr Who offered him a smile, but it fell on stony ground. "Well, since you seem to have - er - netted my ship, I am hardly in any position to offer resistance, am I, eh?"
The man in gold came round the table. He moved with a grace and poise that Dr Who could not help admiring, but on closer inspection there was a cruel set to his lips and his eyes were like ice-blue chips."

It seems there is sexual tension in the room already, purr. Avon asks Dr Who about Tardis.

"Dr Who sighed inwardly. It was his recurring problem how to explain that this simple-looking wooden box, with its flashing blue lamp on top, was in reality a craft which, resolved into a looser pattern of atoms and electrons, could be transferred instantaneously to any point in space and at any moment in time.
Lamely he said: "I am a traveller - in space and time.... My Tardis happened to materialise at the bottom of the sea, and your men apparently mistook it for some sort of treasure chest.""

Avon wants to see inside Tardis, but Dr Who quickly thinks up a plan - he claims the lock is broken and he needs a tool to fix it before anyone can go inside.

""Yes, I need one special tool. Have you a Renticular Celluprime, Number Two?"
It sounded splendid, tripping off his tongue like that. But he had no more idea what it mean than had the pirates. He had made the name up on the spur of the moment."

Avon is fooled, and decides to take Dr Who with them when he and his pirates go on their next beaucoup mish. They are going to rescue pirates who got captured by some other mannys, and they can look for the made up tool for Dr Who at the same time.

""Somewhere up top there they've got Vark and Gramz and half a dozen of our men.""

Vark and Gramz are the only pirates who have names in this story, and neither of them actually appear! Dr Who is taken to a "sea-scooter" to ride with two pirates on their mission.

They get to where they are going and then quickly go ashore.

"There were Landlubber guards everywhere - tall ramrod figures in blue toga-like uniforms and feathered helmets."

They sound quite silly-looking but, more importantly, do they call themselves "Landlubbers?" The pirates have "stun-guns" that make whoever they shoot stand still like statues. Dr Who sees a lot of frozen guards before they find a store-room with lots of tools in it. The pirates look for a Renticular Celluprime, Number Two but can't find one.

"Dr Who edged towards the door. Suddenly he spotted a Landlubber guard creeping towards the pirates. Fortunately both men were too intent on Dr Who to notice the enemy's approach."

The Landlubber stuns the pirates and Dr Who runs away. Things get very exciting as the building blows up behind him and falls down (for no readily explained reason), with Dr Who getting back to the sea-scooter and making it work just in the nick of time.

The sea-scooter takes Dr Who back to the pirates' lair once he figures out how to work a homing device.

"The whole base seemed deserted. Apparently most of the pirates had gone to the Shore. But somewhere, Dr Who knew, there must be a guard or two knocking about."

Dr Who gets back to Tardis, but then he is seen by a guard who points a ray gun at him. Clever old Dr Who still has tricks to play.

""It is all right, my friend," he said, forcing a smile. "We found the right tool.... Ask your Chief - he's right behind you."
It was an old trick; but on this planet, perhaps, it was a new one. At any rate it worked."

Dr Who gets inside Tardis and escapes.

"Then the screen showed only the grey of the intra-dimensional flux. Dr Who could not repress a cheer.
"Everything is all right again!" he smiled, locking the controls and mopping his brow. "But this must definitely be a lesson to me. I should never go anywhere without a Renticular Celluprime, Number Two!""

That is the punchline that signals the end of this story. I am left wondering if the "intra-dimensional flux" is grey because Dr Who only has a black-and-white TV? And will Avon the Pirate Chief be appearing in any more stories?

This is a fluffy, enjoyable story but full of silly bits as I hope I have shown. I like fabulous pirates and I will be a happy cat if the other stories in this book manage to be as good as this one.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Monkey Challenge: At The Top Of The Mountain

So Tripitaka has a dream that his mother is sick, Monkey flies on his cloud to visit her and sees her die, then pretends to be her so Tripitaka thinks his mother's alright really, then gets found out, then Buddha sends his mother's ghost to see her son one last time.

That's the plot in a nutshell, and while not nearly as... dark... as the last episode was, it's still not a typical Monkey episode, with Buddha's appearance once more heralding a serious lesson. That lesson is 'life goes on' although you could be forgiven for thinking it should be 'don't impersonate your friend's recently deceased mother.'

Well with that I have now reached the end of episode 39, which means I have reached the end of the original run of Monkey on British TV. The remaining 13 were not dubbed back in 1979-80; it took until 2004 before Channel 4 finished the job begun by the BBC.

This also means they weren't shown on British TV until 2004, which means Mothers and At The Top Of The Mountain would have been the final two episodes shown in the original run - a surprisingly sombre ending for such a joyful, energetic and - above all - fun series.

The episodes I have still to watch are available in a separate boxed set entitled 'The Thirteen Lost Episodes' while the same 13 episodes appear in the main boxed set in their original, un-dubbed form - this makes for an odd (I might even say jarring) contrast if you watch all the episodes on a DVD in order, getting three dubbed into English then one in Japanese with English subtitles.

While I could continue the Monkey Challenge by watching the subtitled versions, I very much prefer the dubbed episodes so will use them. There are a few differences (caused by the passing of 24 years between) which I intend to highlight in the upcoming episodes.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Who's the Doctor?

Foreword by Duncan

Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space

No, not the 2009 roleplaying game of the same name, this is a book from... well, I don't know for certain how old this book actually is. My copy is missing the first 4 pages inside the cover, which, I presume, would have provided this information to those of us who care to know such things.

There are, however, several clues. The appearance of Peter Davison's face on the front and back covers, but the lack of any stories with him inside combined with the emphasis on Tom Baker, these all suggest it dates from around the period where Davison had been cast as the Doctor, but not yet taken over from Baker in the show (save, perhaps, from the regeneration scene at the end of Logopolis).

If I am right then this dates the book to sometime around 1981, which makes it almost as old as I am!

This book, and its companion Doctor Who: Journey through Time, contain a mix of text and comic-strip stories which are even older than the books themselves. Stories featuring the first and second Doctors date back to the '60s - and it's not just the appearance of Hartnell and Troughton that give this away!

The quality and style of the stories, and the accompanying art, are immensely variable, as you might expect from an anthology such as this. Big Gay Longcat is going to be looking through these books and giving his own reviews of the stories and pictures within.

Who's the Doctor?

Review by Big Gay Longcat

This is the first story in the book, and if you didn't know anything about Doctor Who, this story would tell you all about it. Of course I know all about Doctor Who already because I have the internets, but this is an old book from before the dawn of internets so it could have been quite useful then.

It is 3 pages long, which makes it easy to read even for me. It explains about the Doctor and regeneration and Time Lords and Omega and Metebelis Three and Sarah Jane Smith and Daleks. And obviously that covers all the important parts of Doctor Who.

It says a few things that make me a confused cat, such as this bit:
"He was accompanied on his travels by a young girl called Susan, who called him grand-father."
That seems to me to be a very strange way of saying things.

Later on it also says:
"The present Doctor is aided in his adventures by Sarah Jane Smith, a young and intelligent girl journalist, who happened upon the first adventure quite by chance, and who has remained with the Doctor to share all the strange and mysterious adventures which have followed."
Now I'm not so silly that I can't tell that this book was made a long time ago and doesn't keep up with the Doctor's latest Companion, but even so it is obvious to me that it was made after Sarah Jane had left because there are stories in the book with Leela in them and the next Doctor appears on the cover and he came along much later.

It seems to me that the makers of this book were being lazy when they put this story in because it was already old and they did not write a new version that would have been more right.

Tom Baker looks like he's going "ugh" in the picture [above], as if even he is appalled at the laziness of the makers of this book.
"They're not halfwits you're talking to," he's saying.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Check out these pistols!

These are two old Doctor Who books that I have. There are some very silly stories and pictures in them that I will show you in future posts. So stay tuned...

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Monkey Challenge: Mothers

"You've gone too far this time Buddha!"

Wow: just when I thought that I had lost the capacity to be surprised by Monkey, along comes this episode, with its tale of child murder to illustrate the Buddhist principle that it is always wrong to kill another, to surprise me.

It starts as it means to go on; darkly. The pilgrims meet a young woman trying to hang herself. After saving her and taking her back to her village, they learn that she was suicidal after she accidentally killed her own daughter.

We see in flashback the tragic tale - an evil witch regularly visited the town to kidnap children, who would never be seen again. On this visit the townsfolk ran and hid, but the woman's daughter was frightened and cried. To keep her quiet the woman put her hand over her child's mouth.

All the other children of the town were saved by this action and the witch left empty-handed. But when the coast was clear it was revealed that the daughter had suffocated.

Monkey, of course, decides then and there to put a stop to this witch permanently, but when she next visits she is too strong for Monkey, Sandy and Pigsy together and she leaves with a child. Monkey does, however, follow her back to her mountain lair.

Monkey sees her own children, 100 of them, and discovers the awful truth - this witch is a wasp-spirit queen, and she lays her eggs in the children she kidnaps. We don't see this happen, but this is still the most gruesome aspect of this whole disturbing episode.

Even Tripitaka is horrified by this news when Monkey reports it, and he prays to Buddha for guidance, saying these wasp-monsters are evil and do not deserve to live. Buddha - in female manifestation as usual - soon answers the prayer.

Buddha transports the youngest of the wasp-queen's children to the town and shows her to Tripitaka, asking if the priest could kill a child. Tripitaka says he couldn't, not even to stop the gruesome cycle from continuing. But Buddha's painful lesson is not over yet...

The wasp-queen discovers her child is missing and, mistakenly believing Monkey responsible, travels back to the town to recover her. When she gets there she finds her child, but is confronted by Tripitaka, Monkey and Buddha.

Buddha asks Tripitaka to show the queen the pain of the townspeople by killing her child in front of her. Tripitaka refuses. Buddha orders Tripitaka to do it, but is again refused. So Buddha then takes control of Monkey's body and makes him stab the wasp-child to death with a knife.

Yes, this is pretty strong stuff, and even more shocking for a series that, in recent weeks, has seen its protagonists do battle with a giant, badly-CSO'd dog-monster and a comically stereotypical Dracula lookalike. Now we have the image of Monkey, with a bloody knife in his hand, standing over a little girl's corpse.

This has the necessary effect on the wasp-queen who is so distraught that she takes her own life with her sword-sting. Even Monkey is appalled, and the line "You've gone too far this time Buddha!" (delivered superbly by David Collings) coming from the character who spent 500 years under a mountain thanks to Buddha, says it all.

Buddha's magic lotus petals of mercy bring the wasp-queen, and her daughter, back to life - it wouldn't be a lesson learned if she could escape it by dying. The queen is reformed now, and will no longer kidnap the town's children, but the 100 that have already died remain dead and so it's not exactly a happy ending for everyone.

At episode 38 this would have been the penultimate episode of the original run of Monkey (more on this to come next time), and it's a shocking departure from the tone of the rest of the series, making this one stand out like a sore thumb.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Monkey Challenge: Pretty As A Picture

A pretty bonkers episode but one well in keeping with the Buddhist themes of Monkey. Pictures of the seven gods of good luck come to life and believe they are the real thing. One of them - thinking herself to be the beautiful goddess Sorosvati - gets away and the remaining six think it will be bad luck for the world if they do not number seven.

So Tripitaka has to stay and make up the numbers while Monkey goes to try and return the missing 'Sorosvati.' Matters are complicated when this fake goddess turns out to have a single magic power - the ability to make men fall in love with her - and works this on Pigsy, Sandy and Yu Lung (who fight each other for her) and then Monkey himself.

Monkey offers to stay behind with the other six gods to give Tripitaka and his new love both their freedom, but then the real Sorosvati intervenes. This is a Deus Ex Machina ending, but it makes a change that the Deus in question is not Monkey for once. It also helps give the story an air of authenticity, when I consider how many of the old Monkey stories finish with the intercession of gods, celestials or even Buddha.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

250th post

I have been watching more Shakespeare recently.

Julius Caesar is not one of my favourites; there are no cats in it. There are dogs though. Mark Antony has dogs of war and he sets them on his enemies Brutus and Cassius. In the version I saw Cassius is played by David Collings who does the voice of Monkey and he was also in Doctor Who a few times.

Cassius is a manny who doesn't like Julius Caesar, because he thinks Julius Caesar want to be king. He teams up with Brutus and other mannys and they kill Julius Caesar. But Mark Antony was Julius Caesar's friend and when he finds out he says "Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war;" then he turns the tables on Cassius and Brutus so they have to kill themselves.

The sequel to Julius Caesar is Antony and Cleopatra and I have seen it as well. I was a little bit confused because the version I saw had different mannys playing Antony and Octavius Caesar who are important characters in both stories, but not very confused because its really no different to Travis changing between seasons 1 and 2 of Blakes 7.

Mark Antony and Octavius Caesar were friends at the end of Julius Caesar, but in Antony and Cleopatra they fight each other because Antony wants to marry Queen Cleopatra so he can be a prince (I think - I'm not sure I followed all of the plot of this one), but Octavius wants Antony to marry his sister so they can be best friends.

Octavius wins the fights they have, and Antony and Cleopatra have to kill themselves, just like Cassius and Brutus did at the end of Julius Caesar.

They are both sad stories, but Antony and Cleopatra has one very funny scene. Antony comes back from Egypt and gets drunk with his friend Lepidus. Mannys always get very silly when drunk, and they are no exception. This is what they say to each other:

Lepidus: "What manner o' thing is your crocodile?"

Antony: "It is shaped, sir, like itself; and it is as broad
as it hath breadth: it is just so high as it is,
and moves with its own organs: it lives by that
which nourisheth it; and the elements once out of
it, it transmigrates."

Lepidus: "What colour is it of?"

Antony: "Of it own colour too."

Lepidus: "'Tis a strange serpent."

Antony: "'Tis so. And the tears of it are wet."

I have also been watching Colditz, which is a TV series about mannys trying to escape from a castle called Colditz. It is a bit like The Prisoner, except there are lots of prisoners trying to escape together.

Lots of famous mannys play characters in Colditz, including David McCallum, Edward Hardwicke, Robert Wagner, Paul Chapman (who was in Shakespeare) and Bernard Hepton. There are also lots of guest-stars that I recognise, including Patrick Troughton, Nigel Stock, Terence Hardiman, Kenneth Griffith (who was in The Prisoner) and Prentis Hancock.

Some of my favourite characters in Colditz are the baddys because they are played so well. In season 2 there is a new baddy, he is Major Mohn and is played by Anthony Valentine. But I don't just like the baddys, I like the goodys as well, especially Dick Player (Christopher Neame).

My best episode in season 1 of Colditz is Name, Rank and Number, when we first see Dick Player. I have not seen all of season 2 yet but I hope to soon.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Big Gay Longcat reviews Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.

Foreword by Duncan

Citizen Kane (1941), The Godfather (1972), Star Wars (1977), Transformers: The Movie (1986), Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966). Five classic films that have stood the test of time and shaped our culture and our lives to such an extent that, if Monkey accepted Buddha’s challenge today and flew on his cloud to the end of the universe, the five pillars there would take the forms of Orson Welles, Marlon Brando, Darth Vader, Optimus Prime, and a Dalek.

How much has been written about these films in the years since they have been made? Essays, books, screeds of internet forum posts, whole libraries of text. But all of them, with hardly any exceptions, written by human beings. Big Gay Longcat has, so far, confined himself to reviewing only obscure TV shows and films, such as Blakes 7, Doctor Who, and Star Trek, which receive very little in the way of literary criticism, save only in obscure corners of the world wide web.

It is brave of him, a three-year-old cat made from a pair of stripy long socks, to take on such a challenge. I wish him well, and would like to thank him for giving me this opportunity, in writing this foreword, to give my own perspective on how this great film has touched my life and, perhaps, place it in some sort of context.

1988 was Doctor Who’s 25th anniversary year. I was 9 years old then, and playing at ‘Doctor Who’ was a popular playground pastime at my primary school. Thanks to some of the older children - friends or brothers of friends of mine - videos of the older stories (and older Doctors) were for the first time becoming available to us. So the Tetraps and Cleaners of Season 24 were slowly replaced, in our games, by Zygons and Robots of Death.

But there was one constant foe that the 9-year-old Doctor (and Harry and Tom and Sarah-Jane) would come up against time and again: Daleks!

This was thanks to my copy of Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D, taped off the TV, by my parents, for me. I can’t tell you how many times I must have watched that film (this was over 20 years ago, after all), but it must have been almost as many times as we played those scenes over: the Robomen turning upon the Daleks; the bomb being deflected by heroic Tom Campbell (or sometimes by Harry Sullivan instead); the Daleks going out of control and loudly announcing that fact to all and sundry.

Of course later that same year we got a TV story that would prove to be even more popular in the playground than any other, even my beloved Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. But not to worry, because it too starred the Daleks, and what Daleks! The 25th anniversary year of Doctor Who was a golden age for the series at my primary school, and it is that time that I always think of when I think of Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.

Perhaps this is the best way to view classic films such as this - through a nostalgic haze (or the proverbial ‘rose-tinted spectacles’)? Well maybe looking at the film through the googly eyes of a big, gay, long cat will give us a fresh perspective…

Review by Big Gay Longcat

This film is the sequel to Dr. Who and the Daleks. It stars Peter Cushing as Dr Who, with Bernard Cribbins as Tom Campbell, Roberta Tovey as Susan and Jill Curzon as Louise.

It starts with a manny in a car. He is waiting for something but we don't know what - already there is a mystery. Bernard Cribbins appears, maybe the manny was waiting for him?

The manny attacks Bernard Cribbins and knocks him down. There is an explosion! Two more mannys run out and get in the car with the other manny and they drive away. Bernard Cribbins chases them but they are too fast for him because they are in a car.

Bernard Cribbins sees TARDIS and runs to it for help. He is surprised to find that it is bigger on the inside and he faints. Dr Who makes TARDIS disappear - they have taken Bernard Cribbins with them. Cue titles!

Bernard Cribbins is playing Tom Campbell. Tom wakes up and Dr Who tells him they are in 2150AD. He introduces Susan and his niece Louise. Ian and Barbara are not in this film, so we have Tom and Louise instead.

Tom doesn't really believe they are in 2150AD until he goes outside and sees they are in a different place. A lot of bricks and things fall down and Tom saves Susan from being squashed, but it means they can't get back in to TARDIS.

Dr Who and Tom have to go and look for something to help them move all the rubbish. They go into a building and find a dead Roboman. Susan and Louise meet Wyler and they see a flying saucer before he takes them to the London Underground.

Dr Who and Tom meet more Robomen (alive ones this time). David tries to help them but a Dalek comes out of the river and they are captured.

Wow, I didn't expect a Dalek to be there. It is less than 14 minutes into the film before a Dalek appears, this story has really got going fast.

In the secret Underground base Susan and Louise meet Dortmun and find out about the Daleks when they hear them on the radio. They are trying to order all the mannys to obey them but Dortmun is not impressed: "Obey motorised dustbins? We'll see about that!"

Dortmun explains about the Daleks' invasion of Earth, the Robomen, and the Daleks' big mine in Bedfordshire (this will be important later on). David comes in and tells them that Dr Who and Tom have been caught and taken to the flying saucer.

At the flying saucer Dr Who, Tom and other mannys are prisoners. One of the mannys runs away but he is caught by the Daleks and steamed to death while the Daleks shout "Exterminate!"

The other prisoners go inside the spaceship. Dr Who, Tom and Craddock are put in a cell together. Dr Who uses Tom's comb to open the door and they escape. Except they are captured again straight away.

"Back in the cell?" Dr Who is sad at being caught after having been so clever.

The Daleks are going to turn them into Robomen. They are made to dress like Robomen first and are then put in a machine that will "robotise" them.

The rebels have a plan to attack the Daleks with David disguised as a Roboman. They get to the spaceship before a Dalek sees through his disguise, so he pushes the Dalek down a ramp and it explodes.

Daleks raise the alarm while rebels run around and attack them with bombs. They rescue Dr Who and Tom, but not Craddock - he is now a Roboman.

Louise hides in a cupboard and is knocked out by an explosion. Tom looks for her but he can't find her. There are so many Daleks and Robomen that most of the rebels run away. Dr Who gets away with David and they escape from Daleks by going down a hole where the Daleks can't follow. Wyler gets away but the rest of his mannys are steamed by Daleks.

Tom and Louise are still on the spaceship. The dramatic music of the last scene turns into silly music, heralding a silly scene coming up.

Tom pretends to be a Roboman and hides among a group of other Robomen. They do everything at the same time, including having noms and sleeps, and Tom tries to copy them but ends up looking very silly because he is always a little behind the rest of them. This scene is very funny.

The film goes serious again when Wyler gets back to the secret Underground base and meets Dortmun and Susan, both of whom stayed behind - Dortmun because he is in a wheelchair and Susan because she's only little. They are going to have to run away from London now so Susan writes a message for Dr Who telling him what they're going to do.

Still on the spaceship, Tom gets away from the real Robomen and he meets up with Louise. Tom takes off his Roboman clothes; he is wearing his normal clothes underneath.

Dr Who and David do the same with their Roboman clothes. They are back at the secret Underground base (but the others are gone now). Dr Who finds out about the Daleks' mine in Bedfordshire and decides to go there. David agrees to go with him.
"Most unlike Susan not to leave me a message," says Dr Who, and then the door closes behind him and we see the message written on it - he doesn't because he is on the wrong side.

The humour in this film is much subtler than in Dr. Who and the Daleks - there it was all caused by Ian being clumsy, but here there is always a dramatic undertone to the funny bits. Tom looked silly to us while he was copying the Robomen, but he had to do it or he would have been caught and maybe steamed by a Dalek. And while it is funny to us that Dr Who missed Susan's message because it was on the door, it means that they don't know where to meet and that has serious implications.

The spaceship takes off with Tom and Louise still on it.

Wyler, Dortmun and Susan find a van to drive away in, just as Daleks are coming to get them. Dortmun tries to blow them up with his bombs before they can steam him, but the explosion is so big that it knocks down a building and he is killed as well.

More Daleks come so Wyler drives the van through them and manages to make some of them explode. The Daleks get their spaceship to chase the van and blow it up, but Wyler and Susan get out in time. These scenes where they are escaping from London are very exciting because they are in constant peril from lots of Daleks.

When it lands Tom and Louise escape from the spaceship by using a Disposal Chute (handily marked "Disposal Chute"). They are at the Daleks' mine and there they meet Conway. Tom knocks out a Roboman and they have to hide in a shed.

Wyler and Susan find a cottage where two old mannys stay. They get some noms and have a rest there.

Dr Who and David get to the mine where they meet Philip Madoc. He is not friendly and points his gun at them, but he offers to take them into the mine without them getting captured by Daleks or Robomen.

The two old mannys have told the Daleks about Wyler and Susan to get more food. Wyler finds out and they try to sneak away but a Dalek catches them and takes them to the mine.

The narrative of the film has cleverly separated the main characters into three groups for the middle of the story (Dr Who and David, Tom and Louise, Wyler and Susan) so they could all have different adventures, yet they have all ended up in the same place for the end of the story.

Philip Madoc takes Dr Who and David to the shed where Tom and Louise are hiding with the help of Conway. Conway tells Dr Who the full extent of the Daleks' plan with the mine:
"The Daleks are going to extract the metallic core of the Earth. Some insane idea of piloting the planet and using it like a giant spaceship."
Wow! That's an amazing idea. Dr Who thinks so too, and he thinks the Daleks can make it work.

The Dalek control room is very large and impressive (and colourful), even compared with their control room in Dr. Who and the Daleks.

In the Dalek control room the Black Dalek and the Gold Dalek are in charge and they are making their bomb ready. It is big and red so we know it is dangerous.

Dr Who has a plan to deflect the bomb so it blows up the Daleks instead of the Earth's core. Philip Madoc doesn't want to help so he leaves. Tom, Conway, David and Louise go to start the plan while Dr Who stays in the shed.

Tom and Conway meet Craddock (who was made into a Roboman earlier but they don't know that). He fights with Conway while Tom gets away, but both of them fall down the mine.

Philip Madoc comes back into the shed with lots of Daleks and they capture Dr Who.
"I'm so sorry," he says.
"Oh, don't apologise. I expected it," replies Dr Who.

Dr Who leaves with one Dalek. The rest of them stay behind.

Philip Madoc tries to hide in the shed but the Daleks all steam the shed and it blows up with Philip Madoc inside.

Dr Who meets Susan and Wyler. They are taken to the Dalek control room. Dr Who sees the Black Dalek giving orders to Robomen using a microphone. He looks down the hole where the bomb will be dropped and sees Tom hiding there.

Dr Who pretends to talk to the Daleks but really he is talking to Tom, telling him how to beat the Daleks.
"One mistake; one deviation in the aiming of your bomb and enough magnetic energy will be released to destroy you."
Tom understands what he has to do.

The Daleks think Dr Who is the rebel leader (maybe Philip Madoc told them he was?) and they are about to exterminate him when he fools them with another brilliant trick - he offers to help them overcome their weakness, but he is only pretending because he shouts "Look!" and when they all look up at the bomb he runs to the microphone.

"Attention all Robomen! Attack the Daleks! This order cannot be countermanded: attack the Daleks!"
Straightaway all the Robomen start attacking Daleks and the Daleks have to start steaming their own mannys. There is a big fight and the Robomen all get steamed, but the prisoners at the mine have all managed to escape.

The Daleks begin their countdown for the bomb. Yay, a countdown! It will explode after 50 rels.

The bomb drops down and Tom deflects it with planks of wood. He then runs away.

The bomb explodes too soon, before the time that the Daleks had set for it.
"Danger! Danger!" shouts the Black Dalek. The Daleks try to abandon the base but they all go out of control.
"Cannot control!" shouts the Black Dalek, "Cannot control! Cannot control!"

Then he falls down the hole. Silly Dalek.

The spaceship tries to take off but it crashes into the mine and blows up in the biggest explosion of all.

All of the mannys have escaped into the hills. Dr Who, Tom, Susan and Louise get back to TARDIS.

They take Tom back to before the start of the film, when the manny is still in his car, waiting for something (only this time we know what, and so does Tom). Tom knocks the manny out and gets in the car. After the explosion happens the other two mannys run out and get in the car so Tom knocks them out too. He waves to TARDIS as he drives the car past.

Dr Who, Susan and Louise wave back, and that is the end of the film.

This film is even better than the first one. It is exciting from the very first explosion all the way through to the last (which is the same as the first explosion due to time-travel - now that's clever).

This is not a long film, but it wastes no time in establishing its characters, setting and plot while going from one thrilling scene to the next, so it still has time to do clever things like separating the main characters and bringing them back together again, or having the Daleks being defeated by their own weapons - the Robomen and the big red bomb.

Speaking of the big red bomb, this film is very colourful and fabulous to watch, which is important because it is a spectacle and helps it feel epic in scale. The first film was very colourful, of course, but they had to top it for this one and for me they succeeded.

This film also had some great guest-stars, such as Bernard Cribbins and Philip Madoc. Philip Madoc's character did have a name, but I can't remember it and it doesn't really matter - he was Philip Madoc!

Bernard Cribbins played the important character of Tom Campbell. He was important because Ian's story was told in Dr. Who and the Daleks, so they needed a new character to fill the role of Ian Chesterton in the TV version of this story.

Tom is different from Ian because he is not clumsy - we can tell this early on when he saves Susan from the falling things. Later on he saves the whole of planet Earth, and he is rewarded by being able to undo his mistake of letting the baddys get the jump on him at the start of the film.

Starcat tells me that this was made in 1966, which is the same year that Star Trek began. I asked him which he liked better and he said Star Trek. Well he would; he's Starcat. I don't know myself, I think I will have to watch more Star Trek before I make a decision...

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Monkey Challenge: Such A Nice Monster

So there's this monster, right, and he doesn't want to be evil anymore, but he still looks like a (typically ridiculous) monster so the people still hate and fear him. All he wants to do is be a dog, but his habit of turning into a giant, badly-CSO'd dog-monster every time he loses his temper isn't helping.

The first to befriend him is Yu Lung, who then persuades Monkey to go along with his plan to persuade the local villagers that he's not evil. Monkey makes himself equally giant (his rarely-seen "Cosmic Manifestation" - probably it's rarely seen because it's not the best effect in the world, even by Monkey's standards) and pretends to be evil himself.

When Monkey threatens to eat the villagers, who should come to the rescue but the dog-spirit. There then follows a titanic battle, and while the growing and shrinking effects are poor, I will give some credit to the tiny-villagers-cowering-away-from-the-two-huge-monsters-fighting effects.

When the dog-spirit drives off the evil Monkey-demon, he is accepted as a friend by the locals.

To summarise: this episode is barking mad.

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. But I'm 36 episodes in, please allow me some easy ones.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Big Gay Longcat reviews Dr. Who and the Daleks

This is a film that was made in 1965. It has Daleks in it but not the Doctor. Instead it has a manny called Dr Who and he is similar but different to the Doctor. It starred Peter Cushing as Dr Who, with Roy Castle as Ian, Jennie Linden as Barbara and Roberta Tovey as Susan.

It starts with a ticking clock, which is deeply symbolic of time-travel. This promises that the film will be full of clever symbolism. Obviously I must have missed a lot of this, because I'm only a cat, but I'm sure it would be there if I was clever enough to spot it.

Then we meet the main characters. Susan and Barbara are Dr Who's granddaughters and they are both reading science books. Dr Who is reading the Eagle comic.

"Most exciting," he says. This shows Dr Who already knows so much about science that he doesn't need to read any more books about it. You see what I mean about symbolism?

Ian arrives and bashes his head when he comes in. This shows us that he is very clumsy, which will later be an important plot point as well as being a reversal of how Ian Chesterton is in the TV series, when he is a science teacher and not clumsy at all.

Ian meets Dr Who for the first time and is introduced, but very soon after Dr Who calls Ian "Harold" by mistake. This shows that Dr Who is absent-minded. He wants to show Ian something.
"My latest invention," he says proudly.
"What, a Police Box?" asks Ian. He obviously knows Police Boxes have already been invented.
"Of course not!" Susan is indignant.
"This is TARDIS," explains Dr Who.
Ian opens the door and looks in. It's bigger on the inside! Ian looks confused. Dr Who, Ian and Susan go in and Dr Who explains how TARDIS works. Ian looks more confused.

Barbara comes in and Ian falls on a big lever that makes TARDIS disappear.
"We could be anywhere in the universe, and at any time," says Dr Who. "Rather exciting, isn't it?"
Ian doesn't believe that they have moved until he opens the door.

They are in a forest where all the trees are dead. It has taken just 7 minutes of the film to get to Skaro.

Ian wants to go home but Dr Who and Susan want to explore. Barbara sees a monster and clumsy Ian falls on it, which reveals that it is dead like the trees.

Susan sees a city and Dr Who wants to investigate it but Ian and Barbara persuade them to go back to TARDIS because they're scared. On the way back a hand touches Susan on the shoulder and she gets scared too.

Back at TARDIS something knocks on the door. Ian wants them to go home but Dr Who says TARDIS is broken and they need some mercury to make it work again, so they will have to go to the city to look for some.

They go out into the forest again and find a box. It has medicine in it. Dr Who is more interested in the city and they leave the box behind in TARDIS for him to look at later.

At the city the music changes subtly, becoming more sinister. I know what's going to happen but if I didn't the music would be a big clue that something dramatic is going to happen soon.

Dr Who is tired and Ian doesn't feel well either. They split up to look for mercury. The doors open to let Barbara in one way, Dr Who and Susan in another way, but they don't open for Ian. The door trolls Ian by only opening when he isn't near it, and he is still there when Dr Who and Susan come back.

This is a very funny scene as Ian becomes more and more desperate to get past the door, but it is in contrast with the scary scene that follows as the film goes from silly to serious at this point.

Barbara meets something and screams. The others want to help her but can't get in until they trick the doors open. They find a control room but no sign of Barbara. Dr Who finds an instrument that tells him about the radiation.

He confesses to Ian that there is not really anything wrong with TARDIS, he was just too curious about the city and it turns out his curiosity has put them all in danger. If only there was some kind of saying or proverb about the peril of too much curiosity...

They are going to leave to continue looking for Barbara, when suddenly they are surrounded by DALEKS!

It is 20 minutes into the film before the Daleks appear, but when they do they really make an entrance.

These are bigger and scarier Daleks than usual, but they are also fabulous and multi-coloured. I like things that are fabulous and multi-coloured, they remind me of me.

Ian tries to run away and Daleks shoot him with steam so he can't walk, and if he can't walk then he can't run away either. These Daleks don't make people go negative like TV Daleks, they just steam them instead. I think this difference fits the larger-than-life look of the film Daleks.

They are all captured, Barbara as well. The Daleks also steal a bit of TARDIS from Dr Who. The Daleks explain about the Daleks and the Thals, but they think that the Thals are horrible mutations who have invented medicine to cure radiation - one of them has to go and get the box from TARDIS. Ian wants to go but he still can't walk, so Susan is brave and volunteers.

Obviously the Daleks are baddys and they plot to keep the medicine for themselves. They are pretending to be friendly and it is lucky for them that Susan cannot hear the menacing Dalek music that accompanies the scenes of her leaving the city.

Susan runs through the forest as a scary storm rages. She is being followed by someone. She gets back to TARDIS but the manny following her come in after her and it is a Thal.

His name is Alydon and he is friendly. He gives Susan more medicine to hid in case the Daleks steal the other medicine.
"But they called you monsters," says Susan.
"If they call us monsters, what must they be like?"

Susan gets back to the city and gives medicine to the others after the Daleks take some for their own use. The Daleks hear them talking about Alydon, and want to set a trap for the Thals.

To get them to come to the city the Daleks make Susan write a letter to the Thals, but when doing this they give away that they have been spying on them in the cell. The Dalek boasts that they will destroy the Thals when they come to the city for food. The Thals get the letter and believe it, so they are all set to fall into the trap.

Back in the cell Susan breaks the camera so they can plan an escape. Dr Who works out the Daleks' weakness and they set a trap of their own. Confusing the Dalek by wedging the cell door open, Barbara then blinds it with food in the eye, and then they put it on a cloak which makes the Dalek go to sleep (like the opposite of a budgie - at least I think that's what happens, I don't understand science things).

Dr Who and Ian open the Dalek up and take the insides out so Ian can get inside instead. Then they escape with Ian pretending to be a Dalek.

The creature that was inside the Dalek is green and horrible. Ian covers it with the cloak so we only see its hand.

They get past one Dalek with the Ian-in-a-Dalek ruse before they are found out. There is a very tense scene as they try to escape in a lift, but Ian is stuck inside the Dalek and gets left behind. More Daleks come in and they steam the Dalek Ian was in. It blows up, but he managed to escape just in time.

Speaking of "just in time," the Thals are coming to get food killed by the Daleks. They are slowly, cautiously walking into the Dalek city, oblivious to the ominous Dalek music, when Dr Who runs in and shouts
so the Thals run away, except for one of them who is steamed by the Daleks and killed.

Everybody runs all the way to TARDIS, the Thals too. They can't leave in TARDIS because the Daleks still have the bit they took earlier. Dr Who tries to persuade the Thals to fight the Daleks, but they are peaceful and don't want to.

Meanwhile, the Daleks have discovered they can't use the Thals' medicine, which means they can't leave the city to attack the Thals. The only way they can kill all the Thals is by exploding a big bomb.

The Thals keep saying they don't want to fight the Daleks until Dr Who plays a trick on them. He gets Ian to kidnap one of the Thals, which makes Alydon angry and he punches Ian. Poor Ian, it is his lot to be the one who gets hurt. But it does show the Thals that some things are worth fighting for.

Unknown to them, but known to the Daleks and us watching, the Daleks have made their bomb and it is going to explode in 1 hour. This means it is a race against time to save everyone, which makes the rest of the film even more exciting.

To attack the Daleks they have a clever plan to send Ian, Barbara and 3 Thals (Ganatus, Antodus and Elyon) around the city (I don't understand why this is clever, but I think it will surprise the Daleks somehow). They have to go through a "deadly swamp" and Ian is not too happy about that.

Ian sees a monster in the water and gets scared, but it is Elyon that gets eated by it. They climb up a mountain and go into a tunnel. In the tunnel is a deep hole that they have to jump across. Ganatus gets across, then Ian, then Barbara. But Antodus doesn't jump far enough and is only saved by a rope which dangles him down the hole.

Leaving this very dramatic cliffhanger, the action goes back to Dr Who - he leads the other Thals to the city. They are all armed with mirrors to confuse the Daleks.

This is a plan that would definitely work on cats, but all that happens here is the Daleks come out and the Thals all run away. The only ones that don't run away are Dr Who and Susan, and so they get captured.

The rope is in danger of pulling Ian down the hole as well, so Antodus cuts the rope with his knife to make sure only he falls down. Everyone thinks he has fallen all the way down to his death, but he hasn't. He is stuck part of the way down the hole.

There are 100 seconds left until the bomb will explode; it is getting very tense and exciting.

The Thals that ran away decide to attack the city again. Dr Who and Susan have been taken to the Daleks' control room where they can see the countdown to the bomb exploding; it is now at 60 seconds.

Ian, Barbara, Ganatus and Antodus get to the city and sneak in. They are spotted by a Dalek who tries to steam them but they get away. Another Dalek chases them and traps them and is about to steam them when more Thals come to the rescue. The Dalek is lassoed and pulled down a lift shaft, which is a very dramatically satisfying way of disposing of a Dalek.

Ian and Alydon meet up and get to the control room, chased by two Daleks. They cleverly turn the Daleks to face each other so they steam themselves. Lots of Thals run into the control room and because they are agile they fool some Daleks into steaming other Daleks.

With only 10 seconds left Dr Who shouts "Stop the countdown! The bomb will destroy the planet!"

Ian hears him and he quickly shouts "Daleks!" to get their attention. They all go full steam at him, except they hit all the controls that Ian was standing in front of and they explode!

The Daleks are all killed by the explosion and the planet is saved.

Dr Who fixes TARDIS. They all say goodbye to the Thals and get given cloaks as presents. Ian pushes the lever to make TARDIS work, but when he opens the door there is an army of mannys coming towards them! And that is how the film ends.

I like this film a lot. It has all the things I like in films: funny bits, dramatic bits, scary bits, exciting bits, mannys being silly, mannys being brave and clever, a countdown, and fabulous and colourful designs. If only it had Captain Kirk in it then I think it would be my best film ever.

I like the way Dr Who, Ian, Barbara and Susan are different from their TV versions, even if they have very similar names (Ian has exactly the same name!) because otherwise it would be too easy to compare this film unfavourably with Terry Nation's TV story.

The film's story works well in its own right, because it is much faster paced. It wastes little time in getting to Skaro, but it does need to introduce the main characters and let them show their personalities, which it does very well, very quickly.

The film's main character is clumsy Ian, who is a bit of a scaredy cat, but he saves the day by being daring and brave right at the end. This is a 'hero's journey' that the TV version doesn't have (and doesn't need) because there Ian is a continuing character and his 'journey' lasts for more than just the one story.

The film also doesn't have the episodic nature of the TV version, which makes its pacing very different - the film is non-stop build-up from the halfway point - as soon as the Daleks reveal their bomb - on to the explosive climax.

These differences allow both the film and the TV versions to be enjoyed differently, each in its own way.

Scary Cat also likes this film, though he denies being scared by any part of it, not even the scary storm when Susan was being followed by Alydon, which I thought was the scariest bit.