Saturday, 17 December 2011

Saucer of Fate

There is a lot happening in this picture that starts the story off. The biggest bit of the picture is the big purple face of the Doctor, and he is surrounded by other purple faces. One of them is the Brigadier, the others are Farmer John Breen and his nephew Ernest Breen.

On the left is the Brigadier looking at something through his binoculars, and down below him is Farmer John Breen on his tractor being surprised by a flying saucer. The last thing that makes up this picture is in the bottom-right and it is a speeding car, from when Ernest Breen is in a hurry to tell UNIT all about the flying saucer.

None of these things have happened yet because the story is only just beginning. This is a montage of things that will happen, just like at the start of some Columbo episodes, and is a clever technique to get us interested in what will happen in the story without giving too much away.

The story starts when Farmer John Breen sees a flying saucer.

""Now what in thunder...?" he muttered. "Never thought I'd see a flying saucer!""

He obviously hasn't seen the picture montage then. The flying saucer lands and Farmer John Breen goes to investigate it because he is a curious manny.

"He approached it cautiously. It was a flat disc with a diameter of about two feet. In the centre was an opening, from which there seemed to be a faint glow that pulsed."

He picks up the flying saucer because it is only little (as spaceships go) and takes it to his home.

"His wife was away shopping, so he left the object on the table while he made two phone calls. One was to the police, the other to his nephew Ernest, who was a reporter on the local newspaper."

If this story was being written now then he wouldn't need to phone a reporter because the reporter and his newspaper would already know all about it!

When the police arrive Farmer John Breen has disappeared.

"And when they finally reached the farmhouse, a puzzled Mrs Breen told them she had arrived home to find the front door open, and a note on the table from Ernest to say that he was taking the 'flying saucer' to the UNIT headquarters."

Obviously all reporters know all about UNIT headquarters and that it is the right place to take flying saucers, especially local reporters for the Coltsfield Chronicle.

"The Doctor sat up in his chair, his eyes suddenly alert. "Coltsfield? But that's only a few miles away, isn't it?" he queried. "Shouldn't this man be here by now.""

Ernest Breen has disappeared as well, after driving his car to UNIT headquarters. Jo sees it parked outside.

""It stopped there about two minutes ago," she explained. "I could see there was just one man in it, and he seemed to be pulling off his tie. Then I glanced away for a second at a heron flying past, and when I glanced back at the car - the man was gone. I couldn't believe he could slip out of the car and vanish that quickly - so I've been waiting for him to re-appear.""

The Brigadier looks at the car through his binoculars (just like in the picture montage) and then the Doctor suggests they go to the car to look at it. Even though it is only just outside they take the Doctor's car Bessie anyway. They see the flying saucer in the back seat of the car.

"The UNIT chief poked it with his cane. "Dashed odd, isn't it?" he exclaimed."

Jo, meanwhile, does something slightly more useful - she notices a clue.

""Look, Doctor," she said. "There's some lettering scrawled in the dust. It says 'Don't T-' and then breaks off!"
Dr Who reacted like lightning. He whirled, to find Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart gingerly picking up the object lying on the seat. "Don't touch it!" he barked."

I didn't know lightning "whirled." Scary Cat says the only time lightning whirls is when he has scared it and it wants to run away from him. The Brigadier has done a silly thing. Next he'll be mistaking an alien landscape for the beach at Cromer.

"The Brigadier hesitated. Then he frowned and said, a trifle huffily: "No panic, Doctor. I took a special course on mines and booby-traps.""

But did he take one on picking up flying saucers? That might have been more useful for a member of UNIT. The Brigadier is in a huff now. This would be funny except there is clearly something dangerous going on.

"The soldier stood erect, holding the saucer at arm's length before him."

The Doctor offers to carry the flying saucer instead, but the Brigadier is determined to be a source of comic relief in this scene.

""Nonsense!" The Brigadier smiled tolerantly. "Besides, you don't expect me to drive that odd car of yours, do you? I can never figure out all the dials and knobs, anyway!""

This is funny because they are right outside UNIT headquarters just now. They take the flying saucer to the Doctor's laboratory so he can examine it, then the Brigadier goes off to disappear do Brigadier things disappear.

"When the soldier had gone, Dr Who took off his cloak and hung it up. He was grumbling, half to himself: "Hm! Sometimes the military mind can be so annoying... Well, he can blame no one if he suffers any effects.""

The Doctor puts on a "protective white jacket" to go to work in. He ignores Jo until she discovers that the Brigadier has vanished. He did have time to leave them a mysterious clue in the form of a doodle.

"He laid the blotter on the bench, and they both pored over it. "Crudely done... but this could be the saucer," mused the Doctor.
"Yes, and that looks like a spaceship," put in Jo.
"Possible," he agreed. "They're linked by an arrow, see? And this black cross beside the saucer might mean - 'hands off', eh?""

Regardless of how the Brigadier had the time to doodle all this but not shout for help, the Doctor is now ready to announce what is going on in this story.

""You see, this only confirms what I've just discovered about the saucer... It's a remote-controlled trans-porter unit. Whoever touches it will suffer a molecular change that will allow them to be whisked away as captives.""

Jo asks "captives of who... and where?" while the Doctor changes from his white jacket to his "splendid" cloak, for continuity reasons.

""I am not exactly sure who," he admitted. "But I've a shrewd idea it may be the Triolites from Ur."

The Doctor decides that he is going to touch the saucer so he will be teleported away next.

"You see, Jo, I suspect they're using this saucer to catch as many people as they can... I want to get aboard to find out how many hostages there are. And when I'm ready, I want you to operate this device that I have arranged."
He pointed to what looked like a small radio transmitter. As he explained its operation, Jo listened intently, anxious not to miss any detail."

The Doctor has a plan. He picks up the saucer and gets teleported to the spaceship.

"He turned his eyes towards a control panel that pulsed with lights, and saw the shapeless grey mass of a Triolite."

""Ah, yes! You're a Triolite, all right!" said Dr Who. "Afraid of your own shadows, eh? If you were able to cast shadows, of course!""

The Doctor insults the aliens, but he is their prisoner. They take him to where they keep all their prisoners and he sees the Brigadier, Farmer John Breen and Ernest Breen.

"Without demur, Dr Who allowed himself to be strapped down beside them. But he wrapped his cloak tightly around him first, so that he could reach the controls hidden in an inside pocket."

The Doctor presses the button to begin his escape plan.

"There was a few moments' pause - and then confusion struck the ship. Alarms began to shrill as circuits exploded in clouds of acrid smoke. Flames belched from instruments all around the chamber..."

The Triolites are defeated by this and the hostages can all teleport away. I don't know exactly what the Doctor did for his plan, but my guess is he showed the aliens a confusing book.

"Jo sobbed with utter relief as she suddenly found the three men around her in the laboratory."

I suppose the Doctor doesn't count as one of the "three men" because he is a Time Lord and not a manny. Anyway, that is the end of the story. The aliens were defeated very quickly but it was only a short story and it was not all that bad really.

I have now finished all the Jon Pertwee Doctor Who stories in the book. Next time it will be the Doctor as played by Tom Baker, and the stories' pictures start to get very strange from then on...

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