Sunday, 30 October 2011

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Mastermind of Space

This story starts with the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria already having been captured. It is like I have been having sleeps and missed part 1 and woken up in time for part 2. But there is no part 1!

"They were prisoners of the Masters of Space and Time, and their only use to their jailors was to record the history of the times and the worlds they had come from, and the ways of life of all the inhabitants; the animals, insects and plant-life, the buildings, artifacts and technology."

They have been hypno-eyesed by invisible aliens (presumably they have invisible hypno-eyes) so they can't move and then put in front of screens to think of everything they know. The Doctor comes up with a plan to escape.

"There was just one way in which he could retaliate; he would fill his screen with the most bestial and inhuman images he could conceive."

Judging by the first picture that goes with this story the "most bestial and inhuman images" the Doctor can think of is a silly-looking bird-face. It is both "bestial" and "inhuman" I suppose. The plan doesn't work and the Doctor gets tired, and when he gets tired he doesn't think of anything so the screen goes blank.

"Seeing the screen blank he held it for as long as was possible. The one idea in his mind was of the screen itself and inside the circle of it, a slightly smaller circle appeared. Inside that another and inside that yet another. So on and on down to the smallest circle his eyes could detect and then the screen exploded into a maelstrom of lighted colours. Impulsively, he attempted to move and - he stood up!"

The Doctor escapes but he can't rescue Jamie and Victoria yet because the invisible aliens come to speak to him. They hypno-eyes him again and get him to walk past lots of other hypno-eyesed aliens, and the Doctor sees why his first plan to escape didn't work.

"If he had fondly imagined that his own fantastic memories would interest or startle his jailors he had been sadly mistaken. For here were to be seen creatures which even his imagination had never even begun to envisage."

The aliens were impressed because the Doctor was the first manny they had ever captured who could think of "nothing" (they had obviously never captured a cat then!) and now they are interested in him.

The Doctor makes a funny face.

The aliens say they do not mean any harm to their prisoners, and as they keep calling the Doctor "Man" they are beginning to sound like space-hippies. They may not be baddies after all. They let Jamie and Victoria go and the Doctor tells them to blank their minds like he did.

"Jamie laughed. "That's a thing I could never do, Doctor. Nobody can make their mind blank. Even when I'm asleep I'm dreaming all the while.""

They see the aliens. There are seven of them and they look like tiny points of light.

""You see us because we have affected your retinas so that you can see us. We have no forms and no physical bodies; we are composed of raw energy. In your universe you name it electricity. We have another symbol for it but in reality it is the raw, basic mind-stuff out of which all material things - the stars, the worlds, the beings that dwell upon them - are born.""

I am beginning to get confused. I think they just mean the aliens are made of electricity. They then say they were like mannys millions of years ago until they eveolved into "bodiless intelligences."

"You see seven of us in this place here and now. We seven are composed of the joined together essences of many millions of us."

Now I am even more confused. Professor Cat says this video explains everything:

But I think he just said that to sound clever because I am still a confused cat.

The aliens make a building out of nothing and then they give more confusing exposition.

"We have contemplated our own excellence and power until now we grow weary of it all. We realise that all existence runs in gigantic circles and that we must retrace our circle of being, back to the beginning. We will again have forms and bodies, once more we will dwell on planets of suns. We will go back to the very childhood of the order of being, and we will start again."
"All this is, of course, nonsense," said the Doctor stoutly, speaking into the empty void."

I agree with the Doctor, though their talk of going "back to the beginning" does sound like Professor Cat's video so maybe there is something in that after all. Victoria feels sorry for the aliens and they sense emotion for the first time. They start speaking to her instead of the Doctor.

""I'm sorry for you," stammered Victoria. "Poor things out there, all alone. No world to live in. No sun and moon and stars. No animals to care for and no flowers to worship. How have you lived all these many years?""

I didn't know Victoria worships flowers. That seems strange to me, but then I am a cat so I don't worship anything, not even the three cat gods.

The aliens decide to let all their prisoners go, except Victoria who they want to keep. The Doctor objects to this but they don't listen to him, so it is up to Victoria to persuade them to let her go. Victoria is frightened and she holds Jamie's hand while she speaks to them.

"The first rule you must learn is that no being ever should force another being to do or say or think anything it does not want to do or say or think. Start on that one rule and everything will be all right.""

The aliens agree to this, but they want to know why Victoria is holding Jamie's hand.

"Why do you hold its limb with your limb? It is of much baser flesh."
"Eh, eh," shouted Jamie irritably. "Who's calling names?""

I like Jamie. He is only there to be silly, and that is really needed here in this story which would otherwise take itself much too seriously.

"But Victoria was speaking outwards again. "Have you so entirely forgotten your own origins?" she asked gently. "I am Woman and Jamie is Man. We two are the proto-types of the bricks out of which you will build your new cosmos.""

Victoria is suddenly displaying a surprisingly sophisticated vocabulary. Though I say it as shouldn't, you may think. This is bound to confuse the aliens, given they were calling the Doctor "Man" earlier on. This is almost the end of the story; they go back to the Tardis and the Doctor sums up their very confusing adventure.

""To think of a new galaxy named Victoria!" said Dr Who mischievously. "Peopled with millions and millions of Victorias and Jamies. But you both look blank. I'm a foolish old man. What nonsense am I babbling? You know, I've been having the most astounding dreams lately. It's high time I woke up.""

Friday, 28 October 2011

Monkey Challenge: The House of the Evil Spirit

A properly spooky episode that looks like it was heavily influenced by The Exorcist. A man's desire to get revenge on his wife's killers allows him to be possessed by the evil-spirit-of-the-week (who wears a costume that I'm pretty sure is recycled from an earlier evil-spirit-of-the week).

One of the killers is stabbed to death with dozens of weapons in a scene that is both gratuitously over-the-top and gratuitously gory. The other man is hanged by his own grappling hook while trying to escape from the haunted house.

These two scenes, along with the bit where the possessed man vomits on Tripitaka (the most direct visual lift from The Exorcist), would be my evidence this week for why this episode was not considered suitable for the original TV run.

The exorcism angle is oddly suited to the format of Monkey, with Tripitaka taking the role of exorcist and Monkey guarding him from the demon's attempts to kill him. It is a change from the usual dynamic and helps make the episode dramatically interesting by varying the usual formula.

Pigsy and Sandy's main role in the story is to get captured by the killers early on, once again demonstrating how comically useless they are. In fact Pigsy is so useless he gets captured off-screen, and the first we see of him is when Sandy is thrown in a cell with him.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Vampire Plants

This is another story like Mission for Duh where I don't need to tell you what happens because you can see for yourself. If they look too small for you to read then you should be able to click on them to see them bigger.

This story has Jamie and Zoe in it and by the end of the first page they have been in it more than Companions have been in any of the stories so far. Jamie has already made himself useful by stating the obvious to the Doctor.

Zoe expressed an interest in Dr Vane so the Doctor tells her to stay behind. This must be because the Doctor likes Jamie more. He's not the only one.

Going by the pictures on this page it looks like Jamie is being played by Professor Brian Cox, instead of Frazer Hines or Hamish Wilson.

And going by what Dr Vane says it may be that Patrick Troughton is playing Dr Who instead of Peter Cushing. I mean that Peter Cushing would normally play Dr Who, not that Patrick Troughton would normally play Peter Cushing. Oh, now I am a confused cat.

This story has gone from pink to blue and now back to pink again, just like Mission for Duh did. I don't know why it has done this, maybe it is just to keep things interesting and be unpredictable? Or maybe it is a story's equivalent of being stripey, like I am?

The tree hasn't done much vampiring yet, and the story's nearly finished!

... and blue again for the last page.

It is indeed "incredible that the solution was so simple." This is not one of the best stories I have read. Cthulhu told me he likes some of it, but even he agrees with me that the ending is not up to much.

Monkey Challenge: The Land With Two Suns

While recent episodes have been continually stretching the format, showing what a broad range Monkey is capable of when it tries, this feels very much like a return to the typical story that is the bread-and-butter of Monkey - a demon king wants to eat Tripitaka, etc.

I won't summaries the plot since we've seen most of it before - several times, in fact. There is only a little variation to keep things interesting, which comes in the form of the demon king's ally, a Buddhist Immortal who is working with him unwillingly and is an old rival of Monkey's.

This character is portrayed well, and helps give this episode an authentic feel of the original Monkey tales which, let's face it, many of the stories with the sillier monsters-of-the-week lack.

As for the theory about why these episodes weren't selected for the original run on British TV? Well, I don't have any definite evidence from this episode - there are some scenes showing piles of bones from the women murdered by the demon king, but they aren't on screen long and I don't think they could be considered more graphic than what has been shown before in the series.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Death To Mufl

From the pictures I can see that this story is about the Doctor as played by Patrick Troughton (the story still calls him Dr Who though). This is also shown by having Jamie and Victoria as Companions. They aren't in the story much, though they are at least there unlike the last few stories when the Doctor was on his own.

"He tiptoed across the gleaming floor of the Tardis, so as not to disturb his two young friends, Jamie and Victoria. They were sleeping soundly after a rather disturbing adventure on a strange planet in the dark dimensions of Galaxy "G"."

I think this story of "the dark dimensions of Galaxy "G"" must be missing, like so many of the stories from Patrick Troughton's time as the Doctor. That is sad because it sounds intriguing. The Doctor is off for an adventure by himself. He puts on his hat (I would like a hat like that) and goes exploring.

"Despite his countless journeys through Time and Space, Dr Who found everything of absorbing interest. First, he was struck by the spiny blades of the plants that covered the ground."

Ouch, that sounds painful.

"Then his attention was caught by the three moons that hung like lamps in the velvet blackness of the sky.
"Amazing!" murmured Dr Who. Then with a yell he plunged down into a yawning hole that he had failed to notice."

The Doctor falls slowly instead of quickly, and he thinks this is just like a book Victoria told him about.

"Now what was the name? Ah, yes - Alice in Wonderland! And a little girl had just such a fall as this..."

The Doctor is immediately captured by aliens with "ray-guns."

"The officer was almost human in appearance, except for his amber eyes and forehead antennae. But his platoon was scarcely human. They wore helmets, emblazoned with a golden sun and superimposed black cogwheel, and red kilts and black ankle-boots, but for the rest their bodies were covered with a stiff mat of black hair and their faces were slightly like terriers."

They sound fabulous with red kilts and black ankle-boots. It is a shame Jamie is not on this adventure, I think he would have liked meeting these dog-mannys. The Doctor says he comes in peace but the leader thinks he is a baddy who has come to kill Mufl.

They search him for weapons and find his recorder (or "musical pipe") and think it is a weapon. The Doctor explains.

"It is a pipe. You know? Music!"
"Music?" echoed the other blankly. "What is that?"
Dr Who could not restrain a smile. He held out his hand: "Well, the only way I can answer that is to play some.... Give me the pipe, please."
The officer's reply was to snatch the pipe from the soldier and push it into his belt. "No!""

I think it is quite likely that he would have said "No!" even if he did know what music was, lol. They take the Doctor to the sinister-sounding "answer room." They go down a tunnel and the Doctor sees "the un-winking gaze of television monitor cameras" which either means there is lots of security here or else the story is breaking the fourth wall in a rather odd way.

In the "answer room" they put the Doctor into a machine to "examine his brain" and find out if he really has come to kill Mufl. But then Captain J'nk (the "officer") uses the machine to try and hypno-eyes the Doctor!

""I am Captain J'nk... you will listen to me... you will remember what I say... you will obey....""

The Doctor doesn't remember that he has been hypno-eyesed, or maybe he just confuses it with when he watched The Ipcress File. Captain J'nk pretends to be his friend.

""Our tests prove you speak the truth, Dr. Who.... Forgive this reception - but we must be careful of assassins sent by Kanulf to try and kill Mufl...."
The doctor bowed in return. "I gather that Mufl is your ruler?"
"Exactly!" said J'nk. "And Kanulf rules the rebel race of Hiinds destined to live on the arid surface of our planet Vegan.""

If their planet is called Vegan, does that make them all vegans? J'nk takes the Doctor to meet Mufl, but first the Doctor picks up his recorder to take with him. This has been left lying around for him to find, in case the Doctor needs to make use of it later in the story. Which he will.

The Doctor meets Mufl. He is the only manny allowed in, just in case anybody else turned out to be an assassin. Mufl talks to the Doctor and shows him a picture of his Empire.

""That is the Empire," said Mufl. "Every one of eight hundred and forty-three inhabited worlds... a billion and a half intelligent beings... fourteen races... and all faithful to me except Kanulf and the Hiinds."

I thought "a billion and a half" mannys was not very many for 843 planets, until I remembered (alright, Gamma Longcat reminded me) that Mufl probably means "a billion" to be a million million, instead of a thousand million. That would be a lot of mannys. Mufl then tells the Doctor about the past attempts to kill him.

""Once my robots discovered loose strontium-90 in the upholstery of the Audience Throne. Another time a ray-gun was hidden in the view screen in my bed-chamber. And again a fission bomb was flung at a space-car in which I was thought to be travelling..."

The Doctor begins to remember being hypno-eyesed, and he plays his recorder to help his concentration.

""I've got it!... Now I remember what happened!... Your Captain J'nk sent the attendants and the soldiers out of the answer room.... Then he must have put me under deep hypnosis and instructed me to - to kill you when we were alone in here!"

Mufl doesn't react to this revelation from the Doctor, which itself comes as a surprise to the Doctor until he realises why.

""Great galaxies! He's in a sort of trance.... But how - what - ?"
He broke off, staring at his music-pipe. "Mm... yes! That must be it! From what J'nk said, music is un-known to these people. And it proves to have a hypnotic effect on them!""

The Doctor takes out the ray-gun that J'nk gave him to kill Mufl and then J'nk comes in. He thinks the Doctor has killed Mufl and he has time to gloat - and so give himself away as the baddy - before the Doctor hypno-musics him with his recorder too.

Mufl comes round first and, now he knows J'nk is the baddy instead of Kanulf (who doesn't appear in the story), he is grateful to the Doctor. But the Doctor, as usual, doesn't want to be "guest of honour" at a "great celebration," he just wants to go back to the Tardis.

This is a short story - it is only six pages long, and almost two of those are taken up with the first picture. It still manages to be entertaining and proves that long stories are not always the best stories (though long cats are always the best cats).

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Monkey Challenge: Pigsy Learns A Lesson

To give some idea of what this episode is like, I'm going to cheat a little - I'm going to summarise the plot but leaving out one crucial detail that changes everything...

The pilgrims come to a village where a demon has been kidnapping children. The villagers are afraid the pilgrims are in league with the demon and set fire to the house where they stay to try and kill them. Monkey saves the rest of them but is badly burned himself, and his injuries are what prevents him from solving the plot in 5 minutes flat.

Upon learning that the demon has the form of a beautiful woman, Pigsy immediately rushes off to look for her. He meets her and they fight, but only when Sandy arrives to help can they overcome her together. They take her captive back to the village, where the villagers intend to execute her for all the children she has stolen and killed.

Tripitaka learns that she has been feeding the kidnapped children to her own son, and has pity for her, so releases her from her cell so she can see her son one more time to say goodbye to him. Tripitaka trusts that the demon will do the decent thing and return to face execution, but nobody else thinks this and the villagers intend to execute Tripitaka in her place.

Pigsy and Sandy are with the villagers at first, but when they learn she has a child they too pity her, and - independently - disguise themselves as the demon so they can save both the demon and Tripitaka. But when two demons arrive at the place of execution they end up revealing each other.

We now see evidence that backs up the theory of why this episode might have been deemed unsuitable for broadcast in 1980 - Tripitaka, Pigsy and Sandy are all lined up at a gallows, with ropes around their necks ready to be hanged.

Of course they are saved at the last minute when the demon returns. Monkey arrives on the scene with the dead childrens' skulls, and while at first it looks as though he is trying to shock away pity for the demon, in actual fact his plan is for her to use her magic to bring the children back to life. She does, and is redeemed by doing this.

Sounds like a perfectly reasonable episode of Monkey, doesn't it? Themes of faith and redemption, par for the course? That "crucial detail" I mentioned before though...

The demon is a "Fraction Demon." Her son was being bullied by other demons for being no good at fractions, so she kidnapped the children who were good at fractions for him to eat their entrails and thus become (somehow) better at fractions.

The villagers fought against this by teaching all their children fractions wrong on purpose, and their houses were all covered with incorrect calculations, baffling Tripitaka and enraging Sandy as to why this should be so.

It just seems such a totally random thing to hang a story on. Monkey continues to astonish me with its craziness.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Peril in Mechanistria

The Doctor is surprised to see the title of this story written in large letters on the side of a mountain.

The Tardis materialises on a planet and the scanner shows the Doctor only "feature-less blackness" until he has a sleep and then tries again.

"When he woke up and switched on the screens again the solution came to him at once and he laughed to himself. As simple as that. He had landed during the night of this world and now it was daytime."

The Doctor then goes outside where everything is metal. He sees the "gigantic metal mountain" but it is not clear if it actually has the story's title written on it. Then the Doctor is ambushed by a giant metal monster.

"It was round and it was black. It had wheels and it had legs. There were portholes in the thing and from within lights flashed on and off. It was coming towards him but he could never be certain afterwards whether it came on the wheels or the legs. He stood rooted to the spot and watched it approach, like a hypnotised rabbit watches the approach of the cobra."

The Doctor is too hypno-eyesed to run back to the Tardis. He sees robot tentacles coming to get him.

"This thing must be a monstrous robot, a gigantic grappling machine, alongside of which the dreaded Daleks would seem like children's toys."

Oh noes! The Doctor has been grabbed by something even scarier than Daleks! How will he escape?

It turns out the tentacles did not come from the robot, but from a flying machine sent by friendly mannys to rescue the Doctor.

These mannys don't wear any clothes except for their tool-belts, and they all have moustaches or beards, and they have deep voices for shouting over the machines. They are clearly all very manly, but they don't know a lot of things because they don't know about other worlds, or soil, or seas, or grass, or trees. The Doctor confuses them when he talks about these things, and they think he is mad.

Wait, those mannys don't have beards or moustaches, so it looks like they don't all have them. I think they do all have deep voices though. Or maybe they're just loud voices.

Anyway, the one with the beard ("the bearded one" - none of them have names yet) is in charge of these mannys, but they have sent for Wise Ones to come and speak to the Doctor.

The bearded manny gives the Doctor some food and tells him his name is Drako. I know someone called "Drayko," but he spells his name with a "y" because he is a hamster and a ninja.

Drako has seen the Tardis and he asks the Doctor about it. The Doctor says:
""That is my Tardis," he said primly. "Many, many years ago - I suppose you could say many millions of years ago, she was built by a race of men so advanced and so great-minded that she was designed to travel anywhere in the space of the universe and backwards and forwards across the great span of time, time past and future time. In my Tardis, I came to your planet-""

The Doctor stops and says he is tired, but really he is scared they will steal the Tardis.

The Doctor contemplates the possibility of having several manly mannys as his companions in the Tardis, because he can't possibly choose between them.

Drako and his mannys won't let the Doctor go. The Doctor has a sleep, but Drako wakes him up so they can talk. He tells the Doctor that the machines are in charge of their planet but the Doctor doesn't believe him.

"Drako looked at him strangely. "You do not know our world, that proves what you told us, that you came from... from... elsewhere. The machines of Korad are the true masters of this world, stranger. All of us people, we the mechanics and the Wise Ones also, serve them and live only because they have use for us.""

Drako says this has been the case for as long as any manny can remember. He wants the Doctor to help some of his mannys escape in the Tardis. The Doctor thinks about it.

"Well, all his life and all his wanderings had been the taking of chances. And suddenly, he felt a fellow-feeling to these poor semi-humans, slaves of these monstrosities, even spending their lives building more of them right now. He must do something to help them. Something? What should he do?"

He and Drako are about to go to the Tardis when one of the Wise Ones shows up and is not friendly.

He is called Beran of the Wise Ones of Haven One. And he has a gun. He thinks the Doctor has three eyes because he has a monocle. So he isn't actually very wise.

Beran wants to destroy the Tardis. He tells the Doctor that Drako is wrong about the machines being in charge of the Wise Ones.

"We call our world Mechanistria. The machines you speak so airily of are our-selves, fools. Into each of them was built a human brain."

He then rants a bit more about how they want to take over the universe.

"He ended arrogantly and Dr Who drew in his breath. This was truly a staggerer and all this could not be properly taken in at once."

There's definitely nothing rude at all about that last sentence, I don't know why it provoked sniggering from Gamma Longcat and the monkeys.
(Oh yes, the story calls the Doctor "Dr Who" again. But it is obviously the Doctor as played by William Hartnell as you can see from the pictures so I am just calling the Doctor "the Doctor" now.)

Drako steals the gun from Beran and takes him hostage. The three of them get into a flying machine called a "soarer" and Drako takes them back to the metal mountain where the Tardis is. The next bit is very strange:

"Drako looked coldly at Beran. "I cannot kill a fellow man," he said. "You will leap from the soarer now. Leap or I kill you, if I must.""

That doesn't make any sense to me. So can Drako kill Beran or not? I am confused. The next bit is even stranger:

""Poor fool," laughed Beran and he stood up. "You really must try and harden yourselves. You should really kill me, you know." With a loud laugh he leaped from the soarer and plummeted down. Dr Who shuddered as he watched but then as he saw the Tardis down there, he forgot everything else."

The word "plummeted" is not a good word. Beran had been established as a baddy, but now Drako is definitely a murderer. Drako then turns on the Doctor, pointing the gun at him and forcing the Doctor to take him to the Tardis. The Doctor is scared of Drako, and I'm not surprised given what he has just done.

Drako is himself scared when he sees that the Tardis is bigger on the inside. But he gets inside when a "horde of mechanical monsters" charges towards the Tardis. The Doctor makes the Tardis travel in time but not in space. Drako asks how long their journey will take.

"Well, really, no time at all, you know. When one is moving in time, no time at all is consumed in the journey. Can you understand that?"
"No," laughed Drako. "By no stretch of my imagination can I understand that.""

The Doctor thinks he has gone back in time ten million years. Drako announces:
""I am going out into my world when it was very young. I am going to save it from a future that only now, at such a staggering distance in time, I can at last recognise as horrible and inhuman. You have my thanks, strange man from out of the universe. I will not betray your trust. If Korad can be saved from growing up as Mechanistria, I will do it.""

Drako sees green grass and blue skies for the first time. He leaves the gun behind in the Tardis, saying he will not need it. Then the Doctor closes the doors and "the Tardis slid ghost-like through the dimensions." The Doctor ponders what has happened:

"Was it possible that mere men could outwit the Fate that ruled all things? If Drako was to succeed, where then would be the Mechanistria he had seen and experienced himself? Could Drako succeed against the mighty forces of Destiny that shaped the universe?"

But because Drako left the gun behind, the Doctor gets an answer - the gun vanishes.

"That might mean only one thing. That Drako had, or would, succeed, and that Mechanistria, with all its inhuman horrors, would never arise.
As he settled himself for sleep a last drowsy smile crept over his lips. Sometimes, the frightening paradoxes were not as frightening as one had first thought."

And with the Doctor having his third sleep of the story (almost as many as a cat!) that is the end.

At 14 pages (some of which don't have any pictures!) this is a long story, but because it asks deep philosophical questions and is not afraid to give unambiguously straightforward answers to those questions it raises, it needs to take the time to develop its setting and characters so we know that Mechanistria must be stopped, no matter the cost.

And, apart from one completely gratuitous murder committed by an otherwise sympathetic character, it is successful at that. But then not every story can be as morally complex as Blakes 7 - mentioning Daleks does not make the writer Terry Nation.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Monkey Challenge: You Win Some, You Lose Some

First of "The Thirteen Lost Episodes," You Win Some, You Lose Some gives us the most obvious difference with the episodes that came before as soon as the title sequence finishes and the episode itself begins. While the titles are identical to the previous (season 2) titles, including the opening narration, once the episode gets underway the story's narration is taken over by Burt Kwouk.

Apart from this, all the other changes are subtler. The rest of the regular dubbing cast are back and - with the exception of Sandy, who sounds a little different - you wouldn't have thought a day had passed since they made At The Top Of The Mountain, never mind 24 years.

There is a theory (which I don't have positive evidence for either way, but which seems plausible to me) that at least part of the reason why the final 13 episodes were not dubbed and broadcast back in 1980 was because they contained scenes or subject matter that was thought unsuitable by the BBC for the family-friendly timeslot that Monkey was shown in.
For evidence against this we just need to look back to Mothers, which contained pretty strong stuff and yet was considered acceptable.
Evidence for... well, we'll see as we cover the episodes themselves. This episode does contain several scenes of suicide and attempted suicide by hanging, including Pigsy trying to hang himself and Monkey giving him a helping hand!

There is also a shift in the language used - Sandy says "turd" and the villain-of-the-week says "shit" - which reflects the change in timeslot from the BBC's family-friendly (though that didn't stop Monkey calling people "poofters" - times change) to Channel 4's late-night 'Cult TV' slot.

The plot is sledgehammer-unsubtle about the evils of gambling. The pilgrims come to a village where all the men have lost everything they own to the villain-of-the-week, a con-artist. Some of the men have killed themselves because they have lost everything.

Pigsy and Sandy are the next victims, coming back to Monkey and Tripitaka wearing rags, having gambled away everything they owned.

The middle of the story is a comedic section involving a plan to win their money back by having Monkey turn into a die and then rolling the numbers they want. This goes well at first - despite their blatant shouting the number repeatedly at the die cup - but then Monkey gets disorientated from having been shaken about so much that he rolls the wrong number.

This wacky interlude over, its back to the serious plot again. Though the way they chose to work what happens next leaves me scratching my head and wondering WTF?

The con-artist wants to gain the power of sorcery from a demon, and thinks he can trade Tripitaka for this knowledge. So far so typical for a Monkey plot. But he doesn't just go and capture Tripitaka, he first goes to Pigsy and plays a game against him where Tripitaka is Pigsy's stake. Then, having 'won' Tripitaka, he goes straight off and captures him.

What was the point of that? How does that even work? Who in their right mind is going to think it is 'OK' for this guy to kidnap Tripitaka just because his thick-headed disciple wagered him away? Maybe I'm taking this plot-point too seriously, but Pigsy does then go and try to hang himself. Monkey is only too happy to assist him when he hears what has happened.

So the guy gets his sorcerous powers and becomes a demon, and this leads on to an inevitable final confrontation with Monkey involving cloud-flying. Do you want to bet on who wins?

Remember kids - gambling is bad.

Star Trek: Space Adventure

The film opens with some credits that make the audience's eyes hurt.

After the credits, we see Avon smiling. This confuses the audience to no end.

Next, we cut to the Enterprise. Throughout the movie, the ship interiors are filmed too dark to see things clearly. On the Enterprise, we see the TNG crew. They are being watched by Ceiling Cat. During this scene, Picard complains about not being as good as Captain Kirk.

There is an incoming hail, where Picard is instructed that Picard and the TNG crew must rescue Avon from Gauda Prime. Thus, beginning their mission.

When they arrive at this mission, Data is still dead.

This scene abruptly switches to a scene involving Avon sword-fighting 9,000 BRIAN BLESSEDS! This scene could have been very action-packed, but is very short, unfortunately.

Later on, Picard finally finds out that he isn't French, and thus the plot of the film finally begins.

As the crew work toward resolving this plot, a member of the TNG crew talks to Dathon, though this person doesn't really help anything.

Then, Tacnayn, the film's obvious bad guy, is revealed. But Tacnayn is not REALLY that bad, because this villian is just grumpy that Captain Kirk isn't in this film.

The crew then learns that Marinus is in grave danger! They must come to the rescue!

A little later, Worf is completely useless at fighting. This ticks off many Worf fans in the audience.

Later on, Troi, who had nothing else to do in the film, kisses Avon, then dies.

A little later, Avon slips on the floor but covers for his mistake manfully. The audience doesn't laugh, however.

Trying to resolve things, Picard and his Away Team beam down to the Sea of Death. Which looks almost cinematic, but not quite.

Crusher and Geordi do absolutely nothing for the duration of the film.

Soon, nobody knows why God needs a starship. This seems verrrry familiar to the audience, for some reason...

Finally, the crew discovers that Tacnayn has a Space Bomb! This makes the situation very dangerous!

In reaction to this, one of the crewmembers says 'All your base are belong to us!' ...even though this makes no sense.

In their attempts to stop Tacnayn, Lt Sulu appears topless. This looks really cool... but doesn't stop Tacnayn.

Soon, Riker shoots at Data, just to make sure. But this doesn't help anything.

There is a final showdown in a nebula called The Longcat Nebula. Almost defeated, Tacnayn, in a fit of rage, attempts to activate his Space Bomb! Time is running out, so Picard beams over and attempts to stop him.

Eventually, Picard violently and mercilessly kills Tacnayn by letting Avon shoot him. Picard is almost killed in the process, but luckily Avon saves Picard at the last moment.

Later, Picard contemplates on what has happened. As a result of this mission, Picard has resolved his problems with not being as good as Captain Kirk. Picard then gives a speech about how much he loves Avon.

The TNG crew then beams back to the Enterprise, which warps off into space.

The TNG theme plays on the soundtrack.


Sunday, 2 October 2011

Mission for Duh

This story is called Mission for Duh. I think "Duh" is a derpy-sounding word, but it's not clear straightaway what "Duh" means.

What is clear straightaway is that, just like in Ten Fathom Pirates, the story has "Dr Who" in it, even though he looks like the Doctor as played by William Hartnell. Professor Cat thinks that it is meant to be the Doctor, who was always credited as "Dr Who" in the early days of the TV series, so that's what he gets called in these stories.

There is a character called Lahk among the aliens who want to trap the Doctor. That means already there is one more named character in this story than there was in Ten Fathom Pirates.

It turns out Lahk is the leader of the Rostrows. He takes the Doctor's stick and thinks it is a weapon. While it isn't a pewpewpew gun or a sword, the Doctor can be quite vicious with it when he wants to, as we saw in Counter Plot:

When the Doctor says "I can certainly try" is he answering Lahk's question before it has been asked? That's how it looks to me.

We find out what a "Duh" is by the end of page 2 - he is one of the Rostrows, and Lahk assigns him to be the Doctor's companion for the rest of this story.

Why has everything turned blue?

Despite his having a derpy name, Duh is not at all a derpy character. He makes himself useful by delivering vital exposition to the Doctor.

Now the Doctor and Duh are on a mission. But they quickly get captured by scary tendril monsters. No wonder Duh shouts "A-AGH!"

Everything has gone pink again.

The Doctor shouts like this: "Yaa-aa-aah!"
Duh shouts like this: "Wow-wow-wow"
It would have been more dramatic if he had shouted his own name, though maybe that would have backfired and sounded a bit too derpy.

The leader of the Verdants is called Phlege. I wonder if he is a king or an elected leader? If he is their Prime Minister then maybe he was elected on a green platform? Maybe he promised to clean up the system?

Duh is shot by a barb and goes "U-u-ugh!" Though in the next panel he seems alright again.

Everything is all sorted out in the end. Although Phlege mistakes the Doctor for Dr Who just like WOTAN did in The War Machines. Maybe Phlege knows both of them but they look the same to him because they're mannys and he's a Verdant?

I notice that the Doctor doesn't have any Companions in this story or in Ten Fathom Pirates. I wonder why that is? I think they would have been much better if Ian or Steven had been in them too, especially if there had been pictures of them being manly - fighting a pirate or shouting "mew-mew-mew!" (or however Steven shouts) to escape from Verdants.