Saturday, 5 November 2011

Hunt to the Death

"The moorland sheep that grazed the Yorkshire hill slopes were the only witnesses to the Thing's arrival."

The Thing is a robot alien "like a gigantic, nightmarish praying mantis." It goes to hide underground because it is being chased by four other aliens, who are mannys instead of robots but still aliens.

"They fanned out, holding bulbous ray-guns, and searched."

Obviously aliens would have ray-guns, but why do they have to be "bulbous"? That is an odd way to describe them (you can see them in the first picture above) and it makes them sound a bit rude.

"Suddenly one bent low to the ling-grass, clucking excitedly, and running his three-clawed hand over the spot. "Fhibo! Come! The Kelad was here!""

So the robot isn't called Thing, it is called Kelad. Why does that word seem oddly familiar to me? The mannys have a teleporter and they use it to follow the Kelad underground.

Now it's time for the Doctor to appear in the story. He is now the Doctor as played by Jon Pertwee and he has Jo Grant with him as his Companion.

Jo Grant

"The wind whistled over the windscreen of the big yellow car, and plucked at the silk headscarf which Jo Grant had tied over her dark hair."

What "dark hair" is that? Anyway, they have been at an "experimental radar station" that the Doctor calls "rather primitive" (so he is definitely acting like the Doctor in this story) before they meet a manny who needs their help.

"Dr Who stepped out of the car. The wind caught his cloak and sent it billowing out behind him. It occurred to Jo that he looked quite a satanical figure in the dim light on that lonely hillside."

I have no idea what the point of that sentence is. The Doctor does not look "satanical," he should look brave and handsome because he is the goody. The manny is called Bill Harkin and he is a "potholer" from Manchester. One of his friends has broken his leg and Bill has gone for help.

"A few minutes later, they had been in touch with the police. As they emerged from the phone box, Dr Who said: "We'd better go back to this pothole, and see if there is any other help we can give.""

I don't think the "phone box" is the TARDIS, but I'm not sure. It's lucky the Doctor wants to go back to help, or this would have been a much shorter story. The Doctor puts on a helmet so he can go with Bill Harkin, and Jo wants to come too.

"Jo said: "Just a minute! You don't expect me to stay here on my own, do you?"
Harkin stared. "Oh, you don't want to go down, Miss," he assured her. "It ain't no place for a lady."
Her reply was to pick up one of the helmets and try it on. "Maybe I can help, too," she said determinedly."

Harkin's attempt to patronise Jo was undermined by his use of a double-negative. Also Jo's stubbornness in the face of any form of patronising, but he probably wasn't to know that.

The three of them go into the hole until they meet Fhibo. The Doctor recognises him and Fhibo recognises the Doctor as well because the Doctor had visited their planet Llios before (so presumably the TARDIS must be working again or the Doctor would have looked different when he visited. But as Fhibo and Jo don't recognise each other does that mean the Doctor went without her?) and we get a bit of back-story about this visit.

"Fhibo lowered his ray-gun and shook his head. "The memory of the Doctor is kept alive among us. Was it not your leadership that freed us from the Kelads?"
The scientist shrugged. "Those spindly monsters! How warped their robot minds had become, eh?""

Fhibo explains that there is a Dalek Kelad in the tunnels and they are looking for it. Then they hear a scream.

"Fhibo stiffened. "One of my men," he clucked. "The Kelad has been found."
"Unless it's one of our lads," put in Harkin."

At this exciting moment the story takes a break to tell us about how animals went into space - you can see this in the blue box in the picture above.

"The first space travellers were dogs, chimpanzees, mice, rats, rabbits, and a variety of insects. Laika, the little Russian dog, and the first of the animal astronauts, went through a long training period before she was ready for her flight."

While this is very interesting to know - I see there were no cats that went into space, that is because most cats prefer to go on the internets - it is a strange time to tell us all about it. The story starts again on the next page.

Fhibo uses his teleporter to go on ahead. The Doctor and Jo follow Harkin because he knows the tunnels better, but he stops to patronise Jo some more.

"He paused and glanced pityingly at Jo's bedraggled figure. Her clothes were torn and wet. "Maybe you'd better stay here, Miss, with the Doctor," he suggested.
But Jo shook her head doggedly. "No. I'm all right. Let's go on.""

"The Kelad seemed to fill the cave, both with its long, jointed body, and with the manacing clicking of its spidery steel legs. Its two front legs were many-jointed, and ended in powerful pincers. It was these pincers, held together, that gave the monster its appearance as a praying mantis. But now the legs were held in readiness to attack, as the Kelad clicked across the cave in pursuit of three figures scrambling in mad haste to escape."

Oh noes! How will they escape from this exciting and perilous situation? Fortunately, the Doctor already knows the Kelad's weakness: stairs whistling.

""Whistle loud! It mixes up the robot's radar!""

They all whistle and the Kelad is confused by this. The Doctor, Jo and Harkin team up with the other mannys but they end up on the wrong side of the Kelad and are trapped.

""There's no other way out of the cave?"
"No," said Harkin. "And something tells me we're not going to get past that outsize cricket by whistling again!""

How does he know this won't work again? I think it is just an attempt to get some excitement back into the story, which was sadly lost completely when the Doctor turned out to know the solution all along.

The Kelad comes closer and they are backed into a dead end. The Doctor suggests they try whistling again and it makes the Kelad hesitate for long enough to allow Fhibo and his mannys to turn up and zap the Kelad with their ray-guns.

That is almost the end of the story. Fhibo and his mannys can now return to their own planet, and Harkin tries to charm Jo - with exactly as much success as you would expect.

"The potholer grinned. "You'll make a great potholer yet, Miss," he said. "Care to come back with us next week, when we go back to dismantle that - that Thing in the cave?"
Jo shuddered. "No, thank you," she said feelingly."

1 comment:

  1. So potholers are responsible for general cave maintenance? I hope they're careful when they dismantle the Kelad, even taking a car apart can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing.