Sunday, 29 January 2012

Menace on Metalupiter

The Doctor Who books' stories have certainly taken a turn for the stranger since I have reached the ones with Tom Baker as the Doctor, but Menace on Metalupiter is possibly the strangest yet. It is another story with the Doctor, Sarah and Harry, but even though this is a picture story the artist seems to want to draw Sarah as little as possible. Given how unlike Ian Marter all the pictures of Harry look, this may be a lucky break for Sarah.

Metalupiter is "a small planet rich in minerals." From the name I would have assumed it was like Jupiter only made of metal.

The Doctor shows Sarah a picture of a Metalupiter robot. He says "their appearance is most appealing" but the picture is very unclear as to why. Maybe we will find out later.

It is so hard to follow what happens on this page that they have included arrows to try and help us. Even with the arrows I still don't know why they need to run away "back to the TARDIS!"

It turns out the robots look like cats! No wonder the Doctor said "their appearance is most appealing" - this is a plot twist I like a lot. Purr.

They capture a robot and the Doctor is surprised that "his whole brain is made of rubber!" That is a surprise. I didn't know that robot cats could have brains made of rubber.

That isn't the most confusing thing that happens on this page, though. That is when things seem to happen in the wrong order - the box text tells us how the Doctor finds things out from the robot, and then in the next panel he says "Right! Now to switch him on..." and then the robot wakes up and begins to tell the Doctor the things we already know from the box text.

The baddy aliens want to turn Metalupiter into a "giant crystal" that "can be used to build spaceships" - this sounds a bit like the plan the Daleks used when they invaded Earth, because the Daleks wanted to turn the Earth into a giant spaceship that they could then fly around in.

When Harry says "Today!?" he looks a bit like Michael Jayston, so maybe he was substituting for Ian Marter when they made this story.

This story needs some action, so the Doctor, Harry and Sarah get shot at and go "Aagh!" and "Umf! Doctor! My Brain! I can't move!" and "I can't move! That creature is scrambling our brains!"

This is getting quite exciting. Our heroes are in peril and the stakes are high, as is emphasised by the next panel, when the Doctor says "Got to reach... gasp!... can't move! The planet will explode!"

How can they possible escape? All seems lost.

It turns out that Puskeet is able to ignore "the awesome firepower of the four-armed creature" (it's a good thing that box text tells us the creature is "four-armed" because the pictures certainly don't make that clear), which is handy.

"Yaarg!" lol.

Puskeet saves the day with the help of what looks like a big stick. I am torn between thinking this is yet another cop-out ending, which would make me a sad cat, and thinking how great cat robots are that they can be immune to weapons and save the day, which would make me a happy cat.

Naturally cat robots are great and I am a happy cat, but this is still a cop-out ending. The last two lines confirm it by drawing attention to the fact:
"What I'd like to know is how Puskeet managed to do it." (says Harry, looking as much like himself as he gets to in this story.)
"So would I. But it's like I said - Metalupitrons have many fine qualities." (the Doctor - who, to be fair, has managed to look quite a bit like Tom Baker throughout - replies.)

I'm only going to let them off because I like the word "Metalupitrons." And because cat robots are great!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Time Snatch

This story's title sounds rude, lol.

It starts with a manny called Ben Hunter who sees a flying saucer land in front of him.

"He straightened his stooped back. "Holy smoke! It must be one of them U.F.O.s," he muttered."

Ben tries to run away and hide from the aliens, but "some-thing red and jelly-like, pulsing with an inner fire, emerged from the spacecraft and came after him." Ben has a gun and he shoots the alien, but of course it does nothing (or else this would have been the shortest story yet).

"The red blob was undulating over his head. As he fired into the pulsing mass, he smelt the over-powering odour of musk. His voice managed a hoarse yell as he felt himself being drawn upwards. Then a merciful darkness descended upon him as he lost consciousness."

It seems to me that this is an odd time for sleeps, but maybe Ben was tired out by the excitement of shooting at an alien. While Ben has his sleeps the story changes scenes and the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith come into the story.

I think that is meant to be Sarah at the top of the picture in purple, though if so then she is being played by somebody other than Elisabeth Sladen, possibly Emma Watson?

The Doctor and Sarah are in a "top-security lab" with Dr Gustav Bhoul. The Doctor is looking at "a strange crystal, provisionally named Crystal Z." I don't know what Sarah is doing there - I think all the UNIT mannys now just accept that she can come and go at all their "top-security" places because she is the Doctor's friend.

Dr Bhoul demonstrates that he is being played by Richard Wilson when he says "I don't believe it!" as his first line of dialogue. He then asks the Doctor "Did you ever see a substance behave like this before?"

"The time-and-space traveller fingered his chin. "Very unusual, isn't it?" he agreed. Then he frowned thoughtfully."

If the Doctor is rubbing his chin then he is acting like Jon Pertwee's Doctor, but we will see pictures later showing that it is Tom Baker's Doctor in this story. Sarah sees Ben Hunter running towards the lab.

""Why don't they stop him? That fence is electrified!" rapped Dr Bhoul, who was staring out over the Doctor's shoulder."

This hardly seems like the time for rapping. Dr Bhoul is already coming across as an eccentric scientist. Ben Hunter runs through the fence without being electriced, and that is the first sign to the Doctor that something is up.

"The Doctor stiffened. He stepped quickly to the bench again, and picked up the small, lead-lined box in which Crystal Z had been brought from Cape Canaveral. "With your permission, Dr Bhoul, I shall put the Crystal in my pocket until we find out what our strange visitor is after," he said."

Ben Hunter walks through the wall into the laboratory.

""Where is the Crystal?" he asked. His gruff voice was flat and tone-less."

He has obviously been possessed, just like what happened to Sarah in the last story. This seems to be happening a lot in Doctor Who stories recently.

"The Doctor took a step towards him. "What crystal are you talking about?" he asked."

Silly Doctor, there has only been one Crystal mentioned in this story so far. The Law of Conservation of Detail insists that he must be talking about Crystal Z. Oh wait, I have just realised that the Doctor is attempting a clever bluff here.

""It belongs to us. We have come to take it back." The prospector raised a gnarled hand."

"The Doctor reeled back, and knew that the other was exerting a force-field."

The possessed Ben looks for the crystal but he does not find it, the Doctor has fooled him completely by putting it in his pocket. The alien then tries a very confusing plan to try and get the crystal - Ben takes "a small transparent cube from his pocket."

"He placed it on the bench next to the scientific instruments, then turned to leave. As he did so he spoke over his shoulder: "It is a device to hurl you into the Time Zone - and the Crystal with you.""

The Doctor tries to turn off this "Time Device" before he and Sarah and Dr Bhoul get hurled into the "Time Zone."

"But for all his efforts he moved like a man in a nightmare, with movements that were maddeningly slow. His hand was creeping slowly towards the plastic cube  when it seemed to melt away. In the same moment he was aware of an awful whirling sensation as he was drawn into the Vortex."

"That mind-searing journey through Time ended for the Doctor with a jolt that bruised every bone in his body."

I didn't know mannys could bruise every bone in their bodies. I am glad I am a cat made from socks because I don't have any bones. The description of this journey reminds me of when the Doctor, Steven and Sara were sent through space in Counter Plot. The Doctor wakes up first and he quickly finds Sarah.

""Travelling through Time was easy with the Tardis, but without it - well, we're lucky to have survived.""

They go to look for Dr Bhoul because he is nowhere to be seen.

"Suddenly his foot kicked against something that tinkled. He bent down with an exclamation. "What luck! It's the Time Cube," he said, and held it up for Sarah to see.
"Will it be any good to us?" she wondered."

Sarah is not the first manny to wonder if the Time Cube is of any use, lol. But the Doctor examines the Time Cube:
""Amazing!" he murmured. "A miniature Tardis!" He straightened and nodded encouragingly. "Yes. I believe I might be able to reverse the journey, and get us back to the lab," he said."

They still need to find Dr Bhoul first though. And before they find him, a "Cave Man" finds them.

"He was a squat, powerful figure, ape-like in many ways, and naked save for an animal skin."

So not naked then, because all mannys are naked except for their clothes. The Doctor has a fight with the Cave Man. Sarah is about to join in armed with a stone (which is more the Doctor's fighting style when up against Cave Mannys) when she hears a loud noise.

"She turned to see the towering, long-haired figure of a Mammoth appearing from behind the rocks."

The Cave Man runs away from the Mammoth. The Doctor and Sarah are about to run away too when Dr Bhoul arrives. He sees the Doctor and Sarah but does not see the Mammoth.

"The Doctor sprang to meet him, waving a warning: "Look out! Behind you!""

"The Doctor's fingers were working frantically at the Time Cube. In the second before Dr Bhoul would have been crushed beneath the thundering feet, the trio were snatched upwards into the Vortex...."

They are returned to their own time and find Ben Hunter unconscious. Sarah thinks he's an alien, forgetting how common possession by aliens is these days.

"But the Doctor shook his head slowly. "I think not, my friends. The aliens - whoever they were - merely drugged him and used his body. But he seems to be all right, poor old fellow." He broke off, and checked his pocket for the lead box. With a smile he held it up: "And the Crystal is all right, too," he added."

That is the very end of the story. Which means either the aliens have just given up trying to get their crystal back after one attempt, and using the most pointless plan ever at that, or else I have not understood this story at all. While the story is quite exciting, and full of moments that made me lol (from the title on), that ending makes about as much sense to me as the Time Cube.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Double Trouble!

Double Trouble! is the next story after Drum Beat In Space, and it is not much better. It is longer though, because it is four pages long. The Doctor, Harry, the Brigadier and Sarah are all in this story, but they don't do much except for Sarah who gets possessed by an alien.

The Doctor and Sarah arrive in the TARDIS back from the planet Dumok and Sarah is acting oddly because she has been possessed by Theon, though we don't find this out until page 3. The trouble with this story is that everybody acts oddly, even if they're not possessed.

"Turning to see who or what she was looking at, Harry saw a young soldier, sitting alone at a table. He seemed a perfectly normal chap, and nothing that Harry could see accounted for Sarah's behaviour.
"Not your type," he said."

This is an example of Harry acting out-of-character when he says "Not your type," to Sarah. He then talks to the Doctor about Sarah, and it is the Doctor's turn to say uncharacteristic things:

"Harry had a word with the Doctor about Sarah's strange behaviour, but that worthy man was so wrapped up with his formulae that he only lent half an ear to what Harry was saying. "Women are notoriously moody," he said, "and Sarah Jane Smith is no exception!" With that, he returned to his calculations, leaving Harry to hope that he was right."

Harry decides to follow Sarah around until he sees her go to the communications block and "sitting at the controls of the main transmitter, obviously preparing to send a message into space."
Harry confronts Sarah and she knocks him out with her electric hands.

The Doctor wakes Harry up and then the Brigadier comes in.

""Thank goodness, I've found you!" he gasped. "Come quickly Doctor, Sarah is fighting one of my men!"
"My money is definitely on Sarah," said the Doctor"

Hang on, that picture of the Doctor looks familiar.

It is the same pose as in the picture from A New Life. And that picture was already familiar to me:

Anyway, Sarah fights with the soldier until the aliens possessing them come out of their bodies and the Doctor recognises them as being from Dumok. The goody alien is Theon and he beats the baddy alien and then gives the Doctor all the exposition about why they were both on Earth possessing mannys and fighting.

Theon apologies to Harry for electricing him and then a spaceship comes and takes the aliens away. That is just about the end of the story, except for Sarah asking for help:
""Don't just stand there, you lot! Come and help me up!"
"Did you hear something, Harry?" asked the Doctor with a grin.
"I do believe I heard a slight squeak," replied Harry.
But the Brigadier was acting the prefect gentleman, and had beaten them both to it."

At least this little bit at the end gives the Doctor and Harry a chance to be properly in-character, because they tease Sarah when the real danger is passed. I don't think this is a very good story overall though, because the Doctor and Harry don't really do anything to solve the mystery except for see the aliens.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Drum Beat In Space

This is a very short story about a space drum "known to American scientists as Pioneer-6" although the story doesn't say what everybody else calls it.

It is only one page long, and the Doctor isn't even in it! The closest he comes is when the story says "Dr Who and his companions have encountered many strange people and objects in space, but one of the objects he could actually encounter today is a drum which beats continuously as it orbits around the sun."

I thought this was a Doctor Who story because of the picture of Tom Baker as the Doctor (or at least wearing a scarf) that takes up more than a quarter of the page, but it turns out I was wrong.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: The Android Invasion Part Four

Stock footage!

That's not nearly as impressive a recap as "Scary face!" or "Robot face!" is it? Also, the NASA rocket is obviously not the same as the XK5 rocket that the Doctor and Sarah went in a few seconds earlier.

The Doctor talks to Sarah while in the background we see a fake-Doctor hiding in a black thing. I will have to watch out for him because I know he's there but the real-Doctor and Sarah don't. This is clever foreshadowing of the peril for later in this episode.

The real-Doctor plans for them to hide in the black things to get to Earth instead of the androids. Sarah worries about all the things that could go wrong:
"So, providing we don't burn up on re-entry, and aren't suffocated on the way down, we'll probably be smashed to a pulp when we land."
"Exactly. Sarah, you've put your finger on the one tiny flaw in our plan." The Doctor is more reassuring than that sounds because of his winning smile that he gives Sarah when he says "Exactly."

On Earth the mannys in the scanner room have seen Crayford's rocket, but they don't know he is a baddy now so they don't know of the peril.

At the Space Defence Station, Benton comes in and talks to Harry. A big fat jolly manny comes in.

He is called Colonel Faraday and he takes them with him to the scanner room. He tells them about Crayford, saying "He's been further into space than any other human being." Harry and Benton give each other a look that says they both know he is this: wrong. This is a subtle moment but it is one of the little things that helps make this such an enjoyable episode.

The black things all land on Earth and the Doctor gets out of one and looks for Sarah. Sarah is also on Earth and she finds the TARDIS. The Doctor meets her there but - oh noes - it is the fake-Doctor! There is another black thing nearby. It opens and there is a fake-Sarah inside.

Real-Sarah runs away.

The XK5 rocket lands. The Doctor comes into the Space Defence Station and shows his pass to the UNIT manny on guard. He goes into the scanner room and stops Harry and Colonel Faraday going into the rocket.

Android-mannys start knocking out real-mannys to replace them, including Benton. The Doctor speaks to Harry and Colonel Faraday and he takes out a robot-detector and it shows there are robots right there! This is a dramatic moment, and is followed by fake-Doctor entering with a gun. Real-Doctor slams the door in his face and then jumps out the window.

The Doctor meets Sarah in the car park while fake-Colonel sends soldiers to look for him. The Doctor sends Sarah to the rocket while he goes back into the Space Defence Station. Fake-Benton stops him but the Doctor fools him into thinking he is the fake-Doctor:
"Don't be a fool Benton - I'm one of you."
"Didn't you hear the Colonel just now? The Doctor's not here, he's at large somewhere in the complex."
"Oh yes of course sir. I'm sorry sir."
"That's alright Benton but keep your wits about you. Nobody knows who's who around here."

LOL. Time for this picture again:

Then fake-Doctor comes in and says "Don't be a fool Benton - I'm one of you." So fake-Benton shoots him. But because it is an android it is not hurt and says "Satisfied?" Poor confused fake-Benton.

In the scanner room the real Doctor's plan to turn off all the androids is foiled at the last moment by fake-Doctor shooting the Doctor's friend so the last button isn't pressed. Crayford comes in and is horrified that a manny has been shot.

Fake-Doctor tells him the truth that the Kraals are baddys who are going to kill all the mannys with a virus but Crayford doesn't believe him. He still thinks Styggron is friendly because he saved him, so real-Doctor tells him the truth that Styggron didn't really make him better at all, just put an eyepatch on him for no reason other than to make him think he had been made better.

Crayford takes off the eyepatch and discovers he had two eyes all along!

This is a powerful and dramatic moment, and is heavily symbolic - the eyepatch representing Crayford's willful blindness to the Kraal's real nature, and by removing the eyepatch he is seeing the truth at last.

Crayford runs away and the real Doctor uses this as a distraction to disarm fake-Doctor of his gun and then they have a fight. Real-Doctor manages to finish his plan to turn off the androids and they all stand still. There is another nice touch when the Doctor picks up his hat and then trows it away because it was fake-Doctor's hat. Then he picks up his real hat and puts it on.

The androids have been turned off but the story is not over yet. Sarah tries to rescue real-Harry and real-Colonel from the rocket where they are prisoners, but Styggron comes in armed with a gun and his virus.

Crayford comes in and, because he is no longer a baddy, he fights with Styggron - he makes Styggron drop the virus on the floor but then he gets shot. The Doctor comes in and he fights Styggron too. Styggron lands on the virus and it makes his face go horrible, but he shoots the Doctor before he dies.

For a moment Sarah thinks the Doctor is dead, but then the real Doctor comes in and it is revealed that it was the fake Doctor that got shot. Styggron's friend's prediction in part two that the Doctor could reprogramme the androids has come true in the end.

Styggron and his android invasion have been defeated, so that is the end of the story. All that is left is for the Doctor and Sarah to go back to the TARDIS and it disappears. With them in it this time.

The Android Invasion is a great story and is one of my favourite Doctor Who stories of all the ones I have seen. Like The Keys of Marinus it shows that Terry Nation was good at writing stories without Daleks in them as well as stories that do have Daleks in them.
There are lots of exciting moments and scary bits, as well as clever plot twists and turns and witty dialogue. What is there not to like in this story (aside from the dodgy stock-footage cliffhanger to part three)? It is classic!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: The Android Invasion Part Three

Where were we? Scary face! No, wait... Robot face!

The story continues with the Doctor running away as fake-Sarah shoots at him.

Styggron has decided to destroy the village in nine minutes, because it has served its purpose of occupying the first two episodes of this story, and he is confident that this will kill the Doctor as well. The real Sarah hears this and then gets away from him because he is useless at guarding prisoners.

White robots come and take all the android-mannys away from the village. The Doctor sees this and then... surprise!

Styggron grabs the Doctor from behind. He must have been hiding behind the camera. The Doctor recovers from his surprise quickly and says "Oh, hello."
"Resistance is inadvisable," quips Styggron.
But you can't out-quip the Doctor, because he replies "Oh dear. We haven't been introduced, have we?"

White robots help Styggron win the fight and they tie the Doctor to a stone. Styggron places a bomb there and tells the Doctor that it will destroy him and the village in "exactly three minutes." The bomb makes more and more scary noises as it gets closer to exploding.

Sarah arrives and tries to cut the Doctor free but she can't cut the plastic ivy holding him there. The tension mounts as Sarah uses the sonic screwdriver to cut the plastic. They run off as the bomb counts down the last few seconds. I love countdowns, they always make a story very exciting. Terry Nation obviously loves countdowns too, because he uses them in his stories all the time.

They get inside the alien base in the nick of time, and then the whole village disappears in a pretty good special effect. The Doctor and Sarah are then captured by Crayford and his fake-UNIT mannys. Crayford doesn't want to kill the Doctor so he persuades Styggron to keep them as prisoners. But Styggron secretly tells his friend that he will kill the Doctor really, so they are still in danger.

Now that the Doctor and Sarah have both been captured together the story slows down so we can get a lot of exposition about what is going on. In a prison cell the Doctor tells Sarah about the fake-mannys and the fake-village. Then Crayford comes in and tells them about how he will soon return to Earth in his XK5 spaceship.

Crayford is working with the Kraals because they rescued him and made him all better except for his eyepatch. He thinks the Kraals are friendly but the Doctor thinks he has been hypno-eyesed.

Styggron sends noms for Sarah but they have been poisoned. But Sarah does not eat the poison because she is going to use it to escape (somehow). The Doctor is taken away to have his BRAIN analysed by Styggron.

The Doctor finds out from Styggron that the Kraals do intend to kill all the mannys on Earth, and not be friends with them as Crayford thinks. The Kraals are going to use a virus to kill all the mannys, which may mean that Terry Nation's Survivors is an alt-history of The Android Invasion.

The Doctor gets his BRAIN analysed by flashing lights and colours, just like Sarah did last episode.

Sarah escapes by electricing an android and then she rescues the Doctor from the flashing lights and colours after Styggron leaves him alone. See what I mean when I say he is useless at guarding prisoners?

They get to Crayford's XK5 rocket and hide inside. The rocket blasts-off and we see a NASA rocket take off.

Sarah is horrified at this appalling use of stock footage and she makes a face. This confusing moment is the end of the episode.

This episode is not as good as the first two parts of this story. It starts very well, but after they escape from Styggron's bomb it slows down and is not as interesting, and then the confusing cliffhanger ending is not as good as the first two because there is no shock dramatic moment.
But I am confident it will get better next time, because the next episode is the final part of the story, and I am sure it will have an exciting conclusion.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: The Android Invasion Part Two

Part two starts with the scene leading up to the scary face!

The alien with the scary face is Styggron. He talks to Crayford again while the Doctor and Sarah Jane escape. UNIT soldiers run about while they hide and talk about what they have found out. Sarah Jane knows who Crayford is - he was an astronaut flying the XK5 Space Freighter, but he was supposed to be dead. (Fireball XK5?)

The Doctor and Sarah Jane meet Benton and he pulls a gun on them.

Benton does not shoot because Styggron and Crayford argue about whether they should be captured alive until Styggron uses a Monkey-style Headache Sutra on Crayford to make him give in. Benton is confused and the Doctor and Sarah Jane escape but he is soon chasing them again with other UNIT soldiers and Harry Sullivan helping him.

The Doctor thinks Crayford and all the UNIT mannys have been hypno-eyesed. They run into the woods while the soldiers get doggies to help them search. The doggies can smell them so when they hear the doggies barking they split up, with the Doctor taking Sarah Jane's scarf for the doggies to smell while she hides up a tree.

The soldiers and doggies go right past the tree, and the Doctor escapes them too by hiding under water.

I'm not surprised they didn't look in the water; doggies, like cats, don't like getting wet and I suppose soldiers don't like it either. When Sarah Jane comes down from the tree they chase her instead.

Crayford reports to Styggron that Sarah Jane has been captured, and then two soldiers bring in a stretcher with her on it. Sarah Jane is experimented on by Styggron, which involved lots of flashing lights that I found very distracting.

"Commence the analysis of the BRAIN!" he says.

The Doctor gets back to the village and tries to 'phone somebody but it doesn't work. He tries the 'phone in the pub and it also doesn't work. The landlord comes in and the Doctor asks for a pint.
"A pint of what?"
"Ginger beer."
The Doctor wouldn't be seen drinking real beer, as that would be a bad example for the viewers.

The Doctor plays darts, and he then notices it is a brand new dartboard, "never been used before." This is another clue. Styggron spies on the Doctor and then he has an argument with another alien just like him. They are both Kraals.

The Doctor is still in the pub. He finds a calendar but all the days on it say "July 6."

"Strange. A village without a future."

This is another clue. The 'phone in the pub rings and it is for the Doctor. It is Sarah Jane. She is in the "village store" and she tells the Doctor that she has escaped and found out the aliens' whole plan. The Doctor goes to meet her but first he tries the 'phone to see if it is broken again. It is, and this is yet another clue for the Doctor to solve the mystery.

Styggron's friend, Chedaki, is worried that the Doctor could reprogramme their androids and turn them against the Kraals. Styggron makes an android that looks like a UNIT soldier and then kills it to reassure his friend they can beat the androids if they need to.

The Doctor and Sarah Jane meet up. Sarah Jane is frightened so the Doctor gives her some ginger pop to drink. They go back into the woods, avoiding the white robots, but the TARDIS is gone when they get to where it was. Sarah Jane should have known this because she was there when it disappeared.

The Doctor has solved the mystery and he explains it:
"This isn't Earth. This isn't real wood, it's some kind of artificial material like plastic. These aren't real trees, and you're not the real Sarah."

Sarah pulls a gun on the Doctor, just like Benton did earlier. The Doctor knew she was fake straight away because she is wearing her scarf again while he still has her scarf in his pocket. He uses the scarf to disarm her of the gun and demands to know where the real Sarah is.

Fake-Sarah falls down and her face falls off.

This dramatic moment is the end of the episode!

Part two continues the fast-paced style of part one, with lots happening and an exciting chase scene with doggies. As always the Doctor uses his brains to outwit the baddys and work out what is going on, but the story is not over yet - where is the real Sarah?

Monday, 16 January 2012

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: The Android Invasion Part One

The Android Invasion is a four-part story from season 13 of Doctor Who. It stars Tom Baker as the Doctor and Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. It was written by Terry Nation!

A lot happens in this first episode of the story. If you want to then you can count the number of times the Doctor and Sarah Jane investigate or get shot at or get captured or run away. I don't think I know enough numbers to count all the times these things happen.

It starts with a UNIT manny in some woods. He is walking funny so we know at once that something is up because UNIT mannys are normally sensible like the Brigadier. We don't find out what is up just now, because the Doctor hasn't even arrived yet.

The TARDIS appears and the Doctor and Sarah Jane come out. They are in the same woods as the UNIT manny and we see him hiding from them but they don't see him. Once they go past him he carries on with his funny walk.

The Doctor and Sarah Jane meet four mannys in white. The Doctor speaks to them but the shoot at him with finger guns (a bit like Travis in Blakes 7).

The Doctor and Sarah Jane run away until Sarah Jane falls down a hill and the Doctor saves her from falling off a cliff at the bottom of the hill. Then the UNIT manny appears again and he jumps off the cliff.

He goes

They go down and investigate his body. The Doctor finds a lot of new coins in his pockets . This is obviously a clue but I don't know what it means because I'm a cat and cats don't have money.

They see a big black thing and the Doctor thinks it is another clue, but before he can investigate it the mannys in white shoot at them again and so they have to run away.

They run into a village. There don't seem to be any other mannys about. The Doctor says "Let's try the pub," because he knows lots of mannys like pubs.

The pub is also empty. They investigate it and the Doctor finds more new coins. He has a theory about why there are no mannys about but it is wrong. They see out the window that the four mannys in white have arrived along with the UNIT manny who is alive again. The Doctor and Sarah Jane are surprised because mannys are only supposed to have one life.

Another manny in white turns up with a truck with lots more mannys on it. These mannys go into the pub while the Doctor and Sarah Jane hide and watch them. The mannys all stand very still until the clock chimes, then they all start moving about at the same time. It is a mystery why they do this.

The Doctor and Sarah Jane split up, because the Doctor wants to go to the Space Defence Station so he can contact UNIT. After he has gone the UNIT manny opens the door to reveal Sarah Jane and all the mannys look at her. Because she has now been captured the UNIT manny starts asking her strange questions, but the landlord thinks she should go away.

Sarah Jane goes outside and sees a manny in white. It is not a manny; it is a robot with no face. Sarah Jane runs away.

The Doctor gets to the Space Defence Station and goes inside. He sees a UNIT manny on guard but he is standing still and does not react to the Doctor so the Doctor just goes past.

Sarah Jane gets to the TARDIS and puts the key in the door. Then she notices a big black thing like the one they found earlier so she goes to investigate it. The TARDIS disappears behind her and then the thing opens and the manny hiding inside tries to grab her. Sarah Jane runs away again.

There is a manny called Guy Crayford. He has an eyepatch (I wonder if he has a finger gun as well?) and is in an office talking to another manny called Styggron who we don't see because he is not there.

The Doctor comes in and Crayford captures him with a gun (but not a finger gun). The Doctor knocks over a table to distract him and then runs away. Crayford shoots at him a couple of times but misses, maybe because he's only got one eye?

Crayford sends a UNIT manny (who is the same UNIT manny who jumped off the cliff and was then in the village) to chase the Doctor. The Doctor goes on the roof but he is shot at by more UNIT soldiers in an exciting chase scene. Sarah Jane is there too and she sees the Doctor jump off the roof. Two mannys in white point their fingers at the Doctor.

"Is that finger loaded?"

The Doctor has been captured again. Sarah Jane follows them without being seen as the mannys in white lock the Doctor up, so she goes to rescue him straight away. But behind her a panel opens and someone is watching them. We see it is a scary face (but not Balok or Scary Cat).

Scary face!

Of course this means it is the end of the episode.

This is a very fast-paced episode with all the things that happen in it, but it also builds up atmosphere with all they mysterious goings-on. It reminds me of the Avengers episode The Hour That Never Was, but with a deserted village instead of a deserted air base.

But aliens hardly ever invaded in The Avengers (except in Man-Eater of Surrey Green) so maybe this will take a different turn when we find out who the scary face belongs to - next time.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

300th post

I have been watching a series called Fall of Eagles. Purple Cat was disappointed to find out that it's not actually about eagles or birdies at all; it's about mannys.

As a TV series it is quite a lot like I Claudius, in that it was made by the BBC in 1974 (two years before I Claudius was made) and mainly features mannys from history talking at each other. The story also has similarities to I Claudius in that it is set over a lot of years with main characters (who are Emperors) that get older and lots of minor characters that are only in one or two episodes.

Unlike in I Claudius, where Claudius starts off not being an Emperor and then becomes one even though he doesn't want to, this story has three mannys who start as Emperors but are not by the end even though they want to keep being Emperors. Two of them are the main characters - the first is Kaiser Wilhelm, who comes into the series in part 3.

Kaiser Wilhelm, played by Barry Foster, who I recognise from Smiley's People.

The other main character does not appear until part 5. He is Tsar Nicholas.

Tsar Nicholas, played by Charles Kay, who was in I Claudius and was also Pendleton in Edge of Darkness.

A character who is not in it so much but is obviously important (you can tell because he gets a superimposed caption giving his name and dates, which no other characters get) is Vladimir Ulyanov Lenin.

Lenin is played by Patrick Stewart, who was Sejanus in I Claudius and has been in loads of other things as well.

I think that giving Lenin such a prominent role would have been a bold move for the BBC in 1974, because Patrick Stewart wouldn't have been that famous then.

Other notable minor characters include a very shouty manny called Bismarck who was in two episodes.

Bismarck, played by Curt Jurgens. Like Barry Foster he was in Smiley's People, and also he was the baddy in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.

Kevin Stoney was in one scene. He is recognisable as always because of his scene-stealing eyebrow.

And in the last episode Colin Baker turns up, playing the Kaiser's son.

He is called "Little Willie" lol.

Cats don't have Emperors or kings. We had a prince once, according to The Book of Lost Tales, but he got chased up a tree by a dog.

Friday, 13 January 2012

A New Life

Another adventure with the Doctor and Sarah. They go off in the TARDIS leaving the Brigadier and Harry behind. The Doctor leaves the Brigadier a note.

"The Brigadier picked it up gingerly, as though half expecting it to detonate in his hand. "Gone on holiday," he read. "Gone on holiday Lieutenant Sullivan! Do you know anything about this?" He turned to Harry, his face red with anger.
Harry gulped. "Er no, no. Nothing at all, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. I've only just returned from a spot of leave myself.""

There is a picture of the Brigadier to go with this scene, but he isn't in the rest of this story.

The Doctor and Sarah go to a planet that the Doctor had visited before. Sarah asks him how long ago that was.

""Oh, only one hundred and two years ago, my dear," Doctor Who brushed the question aside. Time for him held no mystery; one hundred and two years on earth could feel like one hundred and two minutes to other beings on another planet."

They go looking for an old friend of the Doctor's. His house is "beautiful, ultra-modern by earth standards and, according to Doctor Who, it wasn't any different than it had been on his last visit."
Sarah is impressed by a house that hasn't changed in over 100 years. The Doctor tells her:
""The Lexopterans are an intelligent people and more important, for people with such a high standard of technological knowledge, they are peace-loving too, totally against any sort of violence.""

I thought that the Doctor was saying that Lexopterans are "more important" but when I read it again I realised it is just the way the sentence is broken up with commas. He's really saying it is "more important" that they are "peace-loving" than that they are "intelligent." I definitely didn't ask Professor Cat for help understanding that grammar by the way. Well, maybe a bit.

Anyway, they have found the Doctor's friend's house but they can't find the Doctor's friend, or any other mannys, even after they search for an hour.

"The Doctor rubbed his chin thoughtfully."

This sentence, along with calling Sarah "my dear" earlier, is making the Doctor sound more like Jon Pertwee's Doctor than Tom Baker's Doctor. But at this point there is a picture to let us know which Doctor is in this story.

Hang on, this looks familiar to me.

The Brigadier in the picture at the start of the story and the Doctor in the picture just before both look like they do in this picture.

Sarah thinks they are being watched. The Doctor takes her to a large building to search for traps and secret doors.

"He flicked a switch under the seat and almost immediately a large panel at the opposite end of the room slid open to reveal... nothing!"

The Doctor is sad at finding nothing.

"Miranon, that's my friend, said it has been built in case of attack. As you could see before I opened it, it is completely invisible and, according to Miranon, proof against explosions, that sort of thing..."

But the secret panel revealing "nothing" is a fake-out, because they have also revealed some stairs, which Sarah goes down and finds a dead body. The Doctor sees it is Miranon's body, "slumped over the computer panel." But then they are stuck about what to do next and decide to go back to the TARDIS to think about it.

Sarah starts talking about the plants, and the Doctor suddenly realises that they were not on the planet during his last visit, so they may be important. Maybe they are the Verdants, doing the opposite of what they did in Mission for Duh?

They search for clues for another hour, before the Doctor goes back to investigate the "computer panel" where Miranon died. While he does this, Sarah looks at some books.

"Suddenly, her eye fell on a book which by its title promised to show the many species of planet life to be found on Lexoptera. Eagerly, she reached up to the shelf and took the book down. As she did so, something fluttered out from between its pages."

It must be a clue; we're nearly at the end of the story.

""What do you make of this, Doctor?" she asked. "It's complete Double Dutch to me. Looks like some sort of equation, but a sort of Biological equation. I've never seen anything like it before....""

The "equation" is the solution to the mystery. The Doctor programmes it into the computer and it makes all the mannys appear again.

"Suddenly, where there'd been only emptiness and silence, there was people... people laughing and talking, and walking and looking straight at them. One or two ran forward to shake the Doctor's hand, obviously remembering him from his previous visit."

To illustrate this there is a picture of two mannys shaking hands in front of a ladder.

"Sarah still looked more than a little puzzled.

Finally the Doctor took pity on her. "Let me explain, my dear."

The Doctor is a terrible troll sometimes. I couldn't find a picture of the Doctor making a troll face, so here is a picture of Doctor Who making a troll face:

The Doctor explains to Sarah that the Lexopterans were all turned into plants by the computer to hide from an attack, except for Miranon who had to programme it to change them back when the attack was over. He was hidden but the attackers obviously found him and killed him, so nobody was able to change the rest of the mannys back until the Doctor came.

This is quite a clever solution to the mystery. I like this story on the whole, though the last picture was very random.