Sunday, 22 September 2013

More not nearly enough pictures of Avon

These pictures come from Time Squad, which is the third episode of Blakes 7 to have Avon in it.

Here Avon is framed in the middle of the picture, with Vila in the foreground and Blake in the background. Notice how Blake looks at Avon - while that could be because it is Avon that is speaking just now, it could also be that Blake is admiring how handsome Avon is.

Their doomed, tragic, star-crossed romance continues apace.

Avon being handsome. What more needs to be said? Purr.

Here Avon makes a funny face because the teleport is broken.

This is a picture of me enjoying that scene back in 2010. I still enjoy it now because it has Avon in it.

Here Avon has just saved Blake and Jenna. He is looking at his hands, perhaps he is thinking of using them to give Blake a hug?

And this is the shot from the end of the episode. While Avon and Blake are not gazing into each other's eyes this time (good as that always is, it may be that some variety is better), Blake is looking at Avon. Meanwhile, Avon is busy trying to take up as much of the screen as possible, which is another thing that is always a good thing.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Cthulhu doesn't review Doctor Who: Love & Monsters

No one would have believed, in the final days of last week, that cat reviews were being read in the sunken city of black R'lyeh.
No one could have dreamed we were being scrutinised, as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few cats even considered the possibility of Great Old Ones reviewing Doctor Who.
And yet, across the gulf between sofas, faces immeasurably more betentacled than ours regarded this blog with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us.

Hello everyone it is me, Mighty Cthulhu here again. Love & Monsters is a single-part story from series 2 of Doctor Who. It was written by Russell T Davies and starred Peter Kay as the Abzorbaloff, and is the best episode of Doctor Who evar.

By the way, don't listen to Dagon when he says that Warriors of the Deep is the best Doctor Who story, he knows nothing! He doesn't even consider the New Series to be canon for a start! But he will pay, oh yes, he will pay. One day, he will be forced to acknowledge that Rose is the Doctor's one true love! All shall bow before me or suffer the fate of the people of Sarnath, forced forever to watch Dimensions in Time without 3-D glasses! One day my black R'lyeh will rise, I will become master of the Earth, and all of my fanfiction will be made into proper episodes with David Tennant and Billie Piper in them and everything...

Where was I? Ah yes, please now lose D100 points of Sanity while I put the DVD on to remind myself of how great Love & Monsters is...

Editor's note: By mutual consent it has been agreed that Cthulhu may finish his review when the stars are right.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks Part Six

Harry and Sarah help save the Doctor from the little Dalek, and then the Doctor hesitates before setting off his bomb and destroying the Daleks. This is what we have been waiting for the whole story - the Doctor has been given this mission by the Time Lord in part one, but he has to consciously decide whether to change history by genociding the Daleks or to let history run its course.

A counterpoint to the discussion with Davros last episode, the Doctor and Sarah debate the opposing positions.

"Just touch these two strands together and the Daleks are finished. Have I that right?"
"To destroy the Daleks? You can't doubt it."
"But I do. You see, some things could be better with the Daleks. Many future worlds will become allies just because of their fear of the Daleks."
"But it isn't like that."
"But the final responsibility is mine and mine alone. Listen, if somebody who knew the future pointed out a child to you and told you that the child would grow up totally evil to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives. Could you then kill that child?"
"We're talking about the Daleks - the most evil creatures ever invented. You must destroy them. You must complete your mission for the Time Lords."
"Do I have the right?"

And, though he hesitates, the Doctor doesn't decide not to kill the Daleks; he is interrupted by Gharman, who runs in to tell them that they have won without the Doctor having to commit genocide. The Doctor says
"I'm grateful to you, Gharman, more grateful than I can tell you..."

While Davros makes his speech to try to win the vote, the Doctor and Sarah collect the Doctor's confiscated things, including the time ring MacGuffin.

Davros reveals a "TOTAL DESTRUCT" red button that can be used to destroy all the Daleks, but he also says that they shouldn't press it. Gharman argues against Davros, but he does not know that there are Daleks on the way.

Bettan and the surviving Thals are going to blow up the bunker (so that is three separate bombs being set up in this episode). Sevrin goes inside to rescue the Doctor, Harry and Sarah, but he has only limited time or Bettan will blow them up too. She doesn't specify exactly how much time so this isn't a typical Terry Nation countdown, though there were plenty of those earlier in the story with the Thal rocket launch.

The vote is taken but the Doctor sees Nyder sneak out so they follow him. The Doctor and Harry overpower Nyder but the time ring falls off while they're fighting and they don't notice. They get Nyder to take them to where he put the tape of the Doctor's stories, and destroy it with a Dalek pewpewpew gun in a nice instance of poetic justice. I hope this scene didn't put some very nasty ideas into the heads of any employees of BBC Enterprises. Anyway, Nyder manages to run away.

Davros reveals that he has tricked Gharman and his friends.
"Do you believe I would let a lifetime's work be ended by the will of spineless fools like you? You have won nothing. I allowed this charade to be played out for only one reason. To find those men who were truly loyal to me, and to discover those who would betray me.
We... I... will go on!"
And he lets in the Daleks to exterminate them. This moment has been built up to since part five when the viewers were let in on the fact that the Daleks were coming, so it is more powerful when it arrives.

Sevrin finds the Doctor and they recover the time ring from the floor. Sending Harry and Sarah out of the bunker with Sevrin, the Doctor goes back to the green room alone to finish what he started earlier. Perhaps having seen Gharman and the others being negatived has made up his mind, or perhaps he would have made this decision before?

He is interrupted again, this time by a Dalek chasing him. Despite his trying to hide behind a corner, the Dalek stalks the Doctor, but it it touches the two wires and sets off the Doctor's bomb. The Doctor runs out in the nick of time just before the Thals set off their bomb, which only destroys the way out of the bunker.

Inside, Davros finds out that the Daleks are no longer obeying his commands when they don't want to. And when he sends Nyder to do something the Daleks don't want him to do, they negative Nyder.

Davros is confused by this turn of events.
"You must obey me! I created you! I am the master... not you... I... I... I!"

The Daleks negative the rest of Davros's mannys and then, just before he can press the red button...
"For the last time... I am your creator! You must... you will obey me!"


Fade to black.

The Doctor thinks his bomb has "delayed them for a short time, perhaps a thousand years,"  but this is only speculation. It seems to me (and this is my theory, not Professor Cat's, don't believe him) that it is more likely that the future is unchanged. After all, the DVD on the shelf is not now called Daleks' Invasion Earth 3150 A.D. Also, before the Doctor came to Skaro, Davros and the Kaleds did not believe in aliens and knew nothing about time travel. If they had not come, the Daleks would not have needed to invent spaceships (never mind time machines) to conquer the universe, because they would not have known that the universe beyond Skaro needed conquering. Though it did not come until later, this makes the Daleks seem like the mannys of Krikkit from Life, the universe and everything.

The Doctor says goodbye to Bettan and Sevrin and then he, Harry and Sarah use the time ring to leave. There is just time for one final speech between Sarah and the Doctor as they disappear into space:
"You don't seem too disappointed. We've failed, haven't we?"
"Failed? No, not really. You see, I know that although the Daleks will create havoc and destruction for millions of years, I know also that out of their evil must come something good."

Like Genesis of the Daleks for starters.

Genesis of the Daleks is a triumph of writing, acting and production, making it one of my favourite Doctor Who stories I have seen. If only it had managed to have Paul Darrow in it then it might have been my best of all.

The early episodes are great enough by themselves, being full of exciting twists and turns and dramatic scenes, but they are really just setting up for the last two parts to make their key scenes as powerful as possible.

Davros is a fantastic baddy, and it is not surprising when so much time was spent focusing on his actions that Genesis of the Daleks becomes as much his story as the Doctor's. It is also not surprising that Davros was too good a baddy to not return in later stories, although not only has he never been as good again since, I don't think he ever could be as good again.

Aside from Davros, there are also a number of great secondary characters. Nyder is a good Companion for Davros, especially in the scenes where they are conspiring together and making plans. Michael Wisher and Peter Miles played their parts totally straight (as really everybody did in this) and are superb.

Considering the story as a whole, it has padding - mainly early on - but it also has points where events are skipped over without being shown. This looks like they were pacing the story to ensure each part made sense by itself and finished on an exciting cliffhanger, and ensures that none of the six parts are boring or bad.

In fact I enjoyed every part of Genesis of the Daleks, though the weakest bit was the cliffhanger resolution at the start of part three. And the lack of any cats or Paul Darrow. Apart from that it was great!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks Part Five

The Doctor tells Davros stories about Dalek defeats from their future and his past, but some of them sound made up - I don't remember Daleks invading Earth in the year 2000 because I'm too young, but shouldn't there be something about that on the internets?

Nyder takes Harry, Sarah and the tape with the Doctor's stories recorded on it (if only the Doctor had Pamela Nash as a Companion) away, leaving the Doctor to have a chat with Davros and leading to more great dialogue.

"It isn't the machines, it's the minds of the creatures inside them - minds that you created - they are totally evil."
"Evil? No, no, I will not accept that. They are conditioned simply to survive. They can survive only by becoming the dominant species. When all other life forms are suppressed, when the Daleks are the supreme rulers of the Universe, then you will have peace. Wars will end. They are the power not of evil, but of good!"
"Davros, if you had created a virus in your laboratory, something contagious and infectious that killed on contact... a virus that would destroy all other forms of life, would you allow its use?"
"It is an interesting conjecture."
"Would you do it?"
"The only living thing, a microscopic organism ruling supreme... a fascinating idea..."
"Would you do it?"
"Yes, yes! To hold in my hand a capsule containing such power... To know that life and death on such a scale was my choice... To know that the tiny pressure of my thumb, enough to break the glass, would end everything....

"Yes, I would do it! That power would set me up amongst the gods! And through the Daleks I shall have that power!"

The Doctor tries to make Davros destroy the Daleks by threatening to press his off button, but Nyder comes back in and knocks him out. By the time Nyder takes the Doctor to the prison, Kavell has rescued Harry, Sarah and Gharman so they turn the tables on Nyder and he has to run away.

Gharman raids the armoury and Kavell gets lots of mannys (off-screen) to join them against Davros. This sudden reversal of fortunes makes it look as if the goodys are winning now, and Nyder panics. But it is clear that Davros has something planned. He orders Nyder and all his mannys to surrender. Nyder doesn't want to but he obeys - even he doesn't know what Davros has planned now.

Gharman gives Davros an ultimatum but Davros insists on a vote, and Gharman is so confident that Davros will lose any vote that he agrees. When Gharman and his friends leave, Davros conspires with Nyder again.
"Ours is the victory Nyder. We have won! They talk of democracy... freedom... fairness. Those are the creeds of cowards, the ones who will listen to a thousand viewpoints and try to satisfy them all. Achievement comes through absolute power, and power through strength. They have lost!!!"

The Daleks are coming.

The Doctor finds a bomb and says he will use it to blow up the Daleks. When he, Harry and Sarah get to the green room that Ronson showed them earlier they hear the Daleks that are in there and they sound like the noises that little mannys make. This is because this bit is a metaphor for killing Hitler when he is a little manny, before he has done anything bad but knowing that he will become a baddy if you don't kill him.
There will be more on this subject next episode.

The Doctor puts the bomb in the green room, but one of the little Daleks attacks him, leading to a cliffhanger!

This episode is totally riveting, and it is dominated by Davros. In his speeches (which always become rants, Dalek-style), and his dialogue with the Doctor, his philosophy is made clear and it shows why he is one of the best baddys in Doctor Who.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks Part Four

The Doctor gets electriced again in the recap, but then there is a fade to black and the Doctor wakes up. This is a rare example of a cliffhanger that the Doctor doesn't escape from, and it also means that he is too late to stop the Thals from launching their rocket (in spite of making a desperate attempt to press the big red "DESTRUCT" button) and blowing up all the Kaleds except for Davros, his elite scientists, and the real baddys in the bunker: the Daleks. Silly Thals.

The Daleks kill Ronson with their pewpewpew guns that turn the things they shoot negative - the first time this has ever happened, except for in all the Dalek stories before this one.

The Daleks then set out to go and kill all the Thals. Some Thals are celebrating having killed all the Kaleds (except for Davros, his elite scientists, and the real baddys in the bunker: the Daleks) when they meet the Daleks, who say "Exterminate" to them and then negative them to death.

The Doctor and Bettan (a Thal, and a new character introduced this episode) hide so they escape. They split up and the Doctor meets Harry and Sarah who save him from an attack by random Mutos (as if the Daleks weren't enough).

Some Kaleds are still plotting against Davros, including Gharman and Kavell (Gharman was in previous episodes, but Kavell is another new character for part four), but Nyder is listening to them plot. Nyder tells Gharman that he wants to join their group if Gharman will meet him in the basement. They meet, and Gharman tells Nyder who is in on the plotting with him.
"Kavell, Frenton, Parran. But there'll be more sure, I'm sure of it.
"Thank you. That's what I wanted to know."

Davros was hiding down there too. Of course Nyder is loyal to Davros really and he knocks Gharman out. They hear a noise from the ventilator shaft - it is the Doctor, Harry and Sarah trying to sneak back into the bunker - so Davros and Nyder are able to capture them as soon as they come out into the room.

It cuts to showing the Doctor strapped in a chair, saving time by skipping - for the second time the episode - over the unnecessary details of how he gets from one situation to another. This allows us to come straight to what is important: the conversation between the Doctor and Davros. I will quote large portions of it because the dialogue is so good and gets right to the hearts of the two characters.

"Why did you come here?"
"To stop the development of the Daleks."
"Because, having lived in what you would call  the future, I have seen the carnage and destruction they have caused."
"Then my Daleks do go on. They do survive."
"Yes. As weapons of hate. Machines of war."
"But there is still time to change all that. Why not make them a force for good throughout the Universe?"
"I could do it."
"Then do it. Be remembered for that."
"You have seen my Daleks in battle?"
"Many times. I have fought against them."
"And do they win? Do they always win?"
"Not always. They have been defeated, but never utterly defeated. The Dalek menace always remains..."
"If, as you say, they become the supreme creatures of war, how can they lose? How can they fail?"
"Misfortune. Lack of information. Sometimes overwhelming opposition."
"Yes, but tell me - how do the Daleks fail?"
"No Davros, that is a question that the future must keep secret."
"What mistakes do they make? You will tell me!"

Nyder straps Harry and Sarah in chairs too, and Davros says the chairs will hurt Harry and Sarah unless the Doctor tells Davros "the reason for every Dalek defeat." Even the chairs are baddys in this story!

"Davros - if I tell you what you want to know then I betray millions of people in the future... I can't do that."
"But you can. You will tell me. You will tell me! YOU WILL TELL ME!"

This is the episode's cliffhanger ending, and in many ways it is the moment that the entire story has been building towards. The Doctor is now faced with the ultimate dilemma and, having come here to change history by destroying the Daleks early, there is now the ironic possibility that he will instead make them be even more powerful than they will be were before after before.

Time travel is confusing.

This episode sees a bit of a change of direction for the story, mainly in how it is no longer about the Doctor preventing the Daleks from being made - the Daleks have been made, and they have now seen action for the first time and exterminated their first mannys - but also in how it is no longer about the Kaleds vs the Thals.

It is now Davros and the Daleks vs anybody left against them, and - with the Doctor captured - it feels as though the odds are now stacked in Davros's favour. The stakes are set high for the last third of the story, perhaps higher than they have ever been before in Doctor Who: it is the future that Davros and the Doctor are playing for.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks Part Three

How will Sarah possibly survive such a big fall? If she was a cat it would be no trouble, but she's not a cat. It turns out that Sarah only falls about the length of cat (and not even a particularly long cat at that) before landing on... something. Part of the scaffolding, I think, but I don't know how she could have managed to fall sideways to do that.

This is a bit of a cheaty cliffhanger resolution. Anyway, Sarah and Stephen get recaptured by the Thals.

The Doctor and Harry are still in the cave and Harry puts his foot in the mouth of a monster so the Doctor has to rescue him. This scene is another example of padding but it does nicely mirror the bit in part one when Harry saved the Doctor from the mine he had stepped on.

They get to the Kaled leaders and have a secret meeting with them where the Doctor makes a speech to convince them of the baddyness of the Daleks.
"Some of what I will tell you relates to events in the future. Events not only on this planet but on others whose existence you don't even know of.
But my knowledge is scientific fact. Davros has created a machine creature, a monster, which will terrorise and destroy millions and millions of lives and lands through all eternity. He has given this machine a name: a Dalek. It is a word new to you, but for a thousand generations it is a name that will bring fear and terror.
Davros has one of the finest scientific minds in existence. But he has a fanatical desire to perpetuate himself in his creation. He works without conscience, without soul, without pity, and his machines are equally devoid of these qualities."

Nyder and Davros attempt a counter-conspiracy, but the Kaled leaders give them only 12 hours and then they're off the case... The Case of the Daleks.

Davros decides he will kill all of the Kaleds rather than let them stop him making Daleks. Nyder is horrified, but only for a moment - it seems he is loyal to Davros more than anyone or anything else.

It looks like the IM Force have succeeded in stealing Nyder's medal.

Lt Gruber tells the Doctor that Sarah is a prisoner of the Thals. He also tells them about how the Thal rocket will be useless because of the Kaled shields invented by Davros. This could have been played as dull but necessary exposition, but Gruber makes it entertaining by getting ranty over the Kaled superiority to the Thals.

The Doctor tries to be like Avon, but even he can't do 'peering out of a trapdoor' like Avon can.

The Doctor and Harry sneak into the Thal base and are surprised to see Davros and Nyder there. They hear Davros give the Thals a secret formula to make their rocket powerful enough to kill all the Kaleds.
"Why are you giving us this information? You know that your own people, the Kaleds, will be utterly exterminated..."
"No price is too great to pay for peace."
The Thals are a bit suspicious of him but they are convinced enough to use his formula. We know his true motives but the Thals don't.

The Doctor and Harry want to warn the Kaleds but they have to rescue Sarah first. They disguise themselves and set Sarah and the other prisoners free, including Stephen who we finally hear is really called "Sevrin" (which sounds a bit like Stephen anyway).

They all run away except for the Doctor who stays to sabotage the rocket, but one of the Thals turns the wall electric  and the Doctor gets electriced! Cliffhanger!

This is a great episode that really helps to build up the characters of Davros and Nyder, who get whole scenes to themselves where they make their conspiracy and plans clear to us. And even though the Daleks are hardly in it, their menace is felt throughout as the Doctor battles against the seeming inevitability of their creation.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks Part Two

There is no recap at all of part one; part two just gets straight down to business. Throughout the whole episode Sarah is separated from the Doctor and Harry, with the action going back and forth between their plots. To make things easier for me, or at least less confusing, I will do a Two Towers and deal with everything that happens to the Doctor and Harry first, and then cover Sarah's scenes.

Nyder hands the Doctor and Harry over to some other Kaled baddys and they confiscate the time ring - I'm surprised that it took so long for this to happen.

The Doctor and Harry meet Ronson and he looks at the time ring and the objects from the Doctor's pockets.
"If I didn't know better I'd have to conclude these articles had been made by an intelligence on another planet."
"If you didn't know better?"
"It's an established scientific fact that in the seven galaxies only Skaro is capable of supporting intelligent life."
"It is also an established scientific fact that there are more than seven galaxies..."
So Ronson is convinced that they are
 but before he can find out anything more about why they are here, Davros comes in and he lets in...
"A Dalek... Very primitive but undeniably a Dalek..."
"You're mistaken... it is a mark three travel machine..."
"If you say so..."

Nyder fits a pewpewpew gun to the Dalek, and Davros says
"Our machine is now equipped with a weapon for self-defence."
This is an ironic statement to the Doctor and the viewers, who know of the Daleks already, but not to any Kaleds present who may believe it. It is not yet clear how Davros intended it to be taken.

The Dalek weapon coming to life is very Freudian, but it is menacing for that. Ronson stops the Dalek from shooting the Doctor and Harry, and this causes Davros to rant like a Dalek.

In the next scene, Ronson reveals that he is not a baddy really. He too doesn't want the Daleks to be made, because he doesn't want to be turned into a scary green tentacle monster. I wouldn't want that either, and I don't believe Cthulhu when he says it's not so bad really.

Ronson helps the Doctor and Harry to escape into the ventilation system (where Barney Collier is busy setting up the IM Force's plan to steal Nyder's medal) so they can get help from other non-baddy Kaleds. They get out of the bunker but are now in a cave full of monsters created by Davros.

Having gone from one perilous situation to another, but not in any direct danger for the moment, is how we leave the Doctor and Harry at the end of part two. Meanwhile, Sarah has left the hole in the wall only to be pounced on by four Mutos.

One of the Mutos is played by Stephen Yardley from Sand. His character isn't named on-screen in this episode so I will just call him "Stephen" for now, though he is not as handsome as Steven Taylor. He and Sarah get captured by Thals while the other Mutos get shot or run away.

They are imprisoned with a Kaled and they are made to do work - this would be terrible punishment for a cat so I think these Thals are baddys too. The work is to help make a rocket, which sounds like fun except that the rocket is being made from poison!

Sarah leads an escape attempt where they, and as many extras as they could get hold of, try to climb up to the top of the rocket to escape through the roof.

Shots of Sarah climbing up the rocket make this an exciting scene, including one that shows how high up she is. Thals chase after them and shoot at them until only Sarah and Stephen are left. Sarah falls off the rocket and screams as there is a freeze-frame cliffhanger!

What makes this episode so good is that the two plots come to parallel each other towards the end, with both parties attempting to escape at the same time. Unlike part one, there is next to no padding, with every scene serving some function within the overall story. New characters are still being introduced, such as Ronson and Stephen, so it is clear that things are still being set up for later. With the first third of the story now over, we should be getting to the dramatic middle next time.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks Part One

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of Skaro? Or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide on man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth;
For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Big Gay Longcat to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

Genesis of the Daleks is the next story after The Sontaran Experiment in season 12 of Doctor Who. Like the preceding stories, it stars Tom Baker as the Doctor, Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith and Ian Marter as Harry Sullivan. And this time the writer is... 

Terry Nation! Woo-hoo! Purr, purr, etc.

It starts when the Doctor appears on a smoky planet where mannys have been fighting and meets a Time Lord who gives some explanation for why the Doctor is here instead of transmatted back to Nerva.
"What's going on? Don't you realise how dangerous it is to intercept a transmat beam?"
"Oh, come, Doctor! Not with our techniques... We Time Lords transcended such simple mechanical devices when the Universe was less than half its present size."

The Time Lords, who "seldom interfere", want the Doctor to interfere in the genesis of the Daleks, and it turns out that the planet they are on is Skaro. If the Daleks haven't been invented yet then it may be that we will not see Daleks at the end of part one, even though this is a story with "Daleks" in the title.

The Time Lord gives the Doctor a teleport bracelet time ring to get him back to the TARDIS when his mission is over. I hope he doesn't lose it!

Sarah and Harry turn up and they see a dead manny with lots of things from different technology levels, which creates a minor mystery as to why he has them. The manny can't tell them because he is dead.

The Doctor stands on a landmine and there is a tense moment as Harry helps him escape it before it explodes. This gives Harry a chance to prove he is brave, but it is more than just padding since we, the viewers, get to see they are being watched by a mysterious figure and they are too busy escaping to notice.

They do see a domed city and head towards it. They end up in a trench, in the First World War style, and get gassed by unseen baddys who run in and wrestle with another group of baddys before getting shot. The Doctor and Harry are captured but Sarah is left outside - the baddys don't notice her even in her bright yellow coat.

The Doctor and Harry are taken to see Lt Gruber who is an obvious baddy and Nazi from 'Allo 'Allo! So that means that they have moved from the First World War to the Second. Gruber says
"Our battle cry will be... Total extermination of the Thals!"

Even though they are in danger and this is a dramatic scene, there is still a moment of humour as the Doctor turns out lots and lots of things from his pockets. But this is more than just a gag as it is also the setup for a plot point later on.

The Doctor disarms Gruber of his Luger and so they turn the tables by capturing their captors.

Enter Nyder. The Doctor and Harry try to bluff their way past him but he is clever and tries to shoot them so they run away. This scene sets up Nyder as an antagonist very well.

The Doctor and Harry make it out of the base in an exciting - but obviously padding - chase scene before they are recaptured. They are taken to Nyder for questioning and he asks about the objects from the Doctor's pockets.
"This is yours?"
"What is its function?"
"It's an etheric beam locator. It's also handy for detecting ion-charged emissions."
 "It is not of Thal manufacture."
"Naturally not. My friend and I are not from your planet."
"Humans... Well, I am, anyway."
"I have heard Davros say there is no intelligent life on other planets. So either he is wrong or you are lying."
"We're not lying."
"And Davros is never wrong. About anything."
"Then he must be exceptional. Even I am occasionally wrong about some things... Who is this Davros?"
"Our greatest scientist. He is in charge of all research at the Bunker."

This dialogue between Nyder and the Doctor (with one interjection from Harry to remind us he is still here) cleverly introduces Davros even before we see him for the first time. It is snappy and it delivers the required exposition both to the Doctor and to us. It also provides the subtle statement that Nyder thinks Davros is never wrong, but we know he is.

There is further dialogue in this scene that emphasises how much like Nazis these Kaleds are, including Nyder saying
"We must keep the Kaled race pure."
And the scene ends with Nyder and Gruber both giving Nazi-like salutes.

Sarah has been having sleeps. She wakes up and looks for the Doctor and Harry, wandering around for a bit and being followed by some mannys, one of whom is probably the mysterious figure from earlier. Sarah finds a wall with a hole in it and, looking through the hole, she sees Davros.

Davros has the bottom half of a Dalek and he sounds like a Dalek when he speaks. If he is the Maker-of-Daleks then it is clear that he has made them in his own image. He has a Dalek with him and he orders it to "exterminate" some cardboard Thals, which it does.

"Perfect. The weaponry is perfect. Now we can begin."

Crash zoom to Dalek: cliffhanger!

A lot happens in this first episode, it feels like it is always moving from one scene to another. With the Time Lord getting exposition out of the way so the Doctor can get quickly into the story, it is then constantly rising action all the way to the appearance of the Dalek at the end.

Amazingly, with everything this episode tries to fit in its 25 minutes, it still has time for two-or-three scenes of padding that could have been skipped or shortened without the story losing anything. These scenes are still good fun though, and not at all boring.

I trust that, with Terry Nation as the writer, the rest of this six-part story will be just as good as part one, if not even better. After all, as the song goes...

Terry Nation, Terry Nation,
Terry Nation, that's what you need
If you want to be the best
And if you want to beat the rest
Oo-oo Terry Nation's what you need;
If you want to be a record breaker, oooooh.


Cygnus Alpha is the episode of Blakes 7 that has BRIAN BLESSED in it. Sadly that means that Avon isn't in it nearly as much as he could have been, and he doesn't have any scenes with Vargas - not even the scene where Vargas is on the Liberator - since clearly they decided that having Paul Darrow and BRIAN BLESSED on screen together would be too hammyawesome for us to take.
We would end up exploding... like Vargas does.

More not nearly enough pictures of Avon

This time from the scenes of Cygnus Alpha that he is in.

Nothing Freudian about this shot at all, moving on.

"Small world."
"Large project."

With jewellery and costumes like Jenna's to be found on the Liberator, Avon is tempted to become the most fabulous manny in the galaxy.

It is scenes like these in the early episodes that you can look back on and see why Blake says in Star One that he always trusted Avon "from the very beginning." Avon talks a lot about leaving Blake, but he never does.

And another episode ends with Blake and Avon gazing into each other's eyes...

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Big Gay Longcat reviews Doctor Who: The Sontaran Experiment Part Two

The Sontaran is Field Major Styre, which I think is short for "Styrofoam" because Sontarans like things to be short, just as they are and as this story is. Roth tries to run away so Styre shoots him in the back because, as he tells Sarah, he is "a warrior."

Styre imprisons Sarah behind an invisible wall so when Harry tries to rescue her he bounces off it. Poor silly Harry. This kitten knows how he feels:

Styre makes his report to fellow Sontaran Marshal who appears on TV.

The Doctor comes to rescue Sarah, but after he sonics away the forcefield Styre comes and knocks him down. The Doctor tries to run away but he gets shot like Roth. Oh noes, maybe the Doctor is dead too?

The robot has captured the other spacemannys and it takes them to Styre. Vural gives away that he has been helping Styre, but Styre betrays the betrayer because he will not let Vural go even though he said he would.

The Doctor is not dead of course, and he teams up with Harry.
"Doctor, I thought you were both dead!"
"Not me. A piece of the sonastic locking mechanism from Nerva's rocket."
"Foresight. You never know when these bits and pieces will come in handy. Never throw anything away, Harry.
Now, where's my 500-year diary. I remember jotting down a few notes about the Sontarans... It's a mistake to clutter one's pockets, Harry."
"Yes, Doctor."

Sending Harry to look after Sarah, the Doctor goes to find out what the Sontarans are up to. He meets the robot and disables it with his sonic screwdriver.

I don't understand exactly what Styre does with the spacemannys in the next scene. I think he is bribing them to squash Vural by offering them £30, then £200, then up to £500, and they try to resist being tempted. I'm a cat so I don't understand money. Styre is called away to report to Marshal so we don't find out how that turns out.

The Doctor has a plan to fight Styre while Harry interferes with his ballsabotages his spaceship. The Doctor uses psychology to trick Styre into fighting his stunt double.
"Is that the Sontaran way? The mighty warrior sheltering behind his gun? I challenge you, Styre! Single combat! Or are you afraid?"
"Afraid..? A Sontaran, afraid? All right. Come to your death!"

Vural helps the Doctor and is killed, and Styre goes back to his ship for noms and a rest, while still trying to keep up his bravado and convince them (and himself) he is winning:
"I shall kill you all now... But first I have more important tasks to perform."

Field Major Styrofoam melts (a simple but effective - and quite horrible really - special effect) and his spaceship disappears in a puff of smoke. The Doctor speaks to Marshal on the TV.
"Styre! Your report, the intelligence... What is this?"
"Your Waterloo, Marshal."

Aha! Another excuse to post this video:

The Doctor, Harry and Sarah transmat away, leaving the surviving spacemannys behind on Earth. The transmat doesn't quite work first time though, providing the "lol" moment to end the episode on.

The Sontaran Experiment is a good story that uses the regular characters well and has a really horrible baddy in the shape of a Potato Head. Because it is only two episodes long it is fast-paced and doesn't feel at all padded or as if it outstays its welcome. It has some funny moments but some scary bits as well.

However, I feel as though there is something missing from it that stops it being a very classic story. Maybe it lacks the depth that longer stories have the time to develop, and certainly the spacemannys are underdeveloped as supporting characters.

Or perhaps I am just disappointed that, after the cliffhanger to part one relied on the reveal of the monster that was in the story's title, the rest of the story didn't feel nearly as Terry Nationish as that bit and suffered by comparison. It makes me want to watch a proper Terry Nation story soon. Anyway, I wonder what the next story after this one is...