Retro-View #15: A Gentle Passing


The Caves of Androzani (Story #136, 1984)
Viewed 29 Jan 2014

Doctor/Companion: Five, Perpugilliam "Peri" Brown
Stars: Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant
Preceding Story: Planet of Fire (Five, Peri, Turlough)
Succeeding Story: The Twin Dilemma (Six, Peri)

    Given that Caves is generally viewed as one of the (if not "the") best stories in Doctor Who's entire fifty year history, I had really been looking forward to sharing it with G. That pesky "Real Life" (RL) thing keeps getting in the way of our viewing, though. Not only has it been three months since we last got together, but this may well be our last session for a good long time, due to other RL obligations. Good thing we had something meaty to tide us over.

    As usual, I spent a few minutes updating G on the various changes in the TARDIS crew since she last tuned in. Tegan and Nyssa have moved on, as has a completely different Companion whose entire tenure was between these episodes (that'd be Turlough; I didn't even bother with Kamelion). And when it came along, I mentioned how Davison himself had wanted an explanation for the dratted celery he'd been wearing these past few years, and that's why we got the whole bit about if it turns purple.

    Mostly, though, the first episode of the serial was spent getting back into the groove and noticing all the stereotypical details. There was an "Eew!" at the cave bat/magma creature/whatever-we're-calling-it and a laugh out loud at the ensuing panicky gunfire from the humans. There was an "Ooh, that was weird" at our first sight of Sharaz Jek and a "Boy, those are some hairy fingers. ... Got the wolfman going here" at a subsequent one. And there was the observation of the obligatory set up: "Every show starts out with a misunderstanding of who he is..." By the time we'd made it to the first cliffhanger, we were back in the swing of things.


    Nu-View #15: Reliving "Everybody Lives!"


    The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances (Series One, Eps. 9-10; 2005)
    Viewed 19 Nov 2013

    Doctor/Companion: Nine, Rose Tyler
    Stars: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper
    Preceding Story: Father's Day (Nine, Rose)
    Succeeding Story: Boom Town (Nine, Rose)

      After seven months' hiatus (yes, I know—dirty word), the Ladies are finally back together to watch the Ninth Doctor again. They began the evening in high spirits. "I love coming back to this season; it's what I fell in love with," jA declared, and jO and I gave knowing nods.

      Speaking of things we love, jA needed her memory jogged. "Is this where Jack comes in?"

      "Oh, yeah," came jO's appreciative affirmation.

      After that, there are surprisingly few comments; mostly we're all more interested in watching the action unfold. Now and again, though, something will trigger a comment.

      For instance, when the Doctor explains his consternation to Nancy ("It's not a real phone; it's not connected."), jE quickly adds, "Neither am I." Or when Nancy and her little band of kids settles down to someone else's dinner, jA observes, "That's a lot of place settings for a family of, like, four..."

      Mostly, I keep my thoughts to myself, not wanting to interrupt the others' enjoyment of the show. I can't help thinking, though, what a minx Rose is, or how Moffat won a writers' bet by working "Chula" into one of his scripts, or how full of British patriotism this episode it ("a mouse in front of a lion"). And even though the CG is already pretty dated, eight years down the road, Dr. Constantine's transformation is still utterly horrifying. That's body horror at its best.


      Retro-View #14: Taken in Stride


      Earthshock (Story #122, 1982)
      Viewed 22 Oct 2013

      Doctor/Companion: Five, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan Jovanka
      Stars: Peter Davison, Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding
      Preceding Story: Black Orchid (Four, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan)
      Succeeding Story: Time-Flight (Five, Nyssa, Tegan)

        It's been four months since G and I last sat down together to watch Doctor Who. A lot has happened both in our daily lives and in the life of the show. In our flurry of catching up, the latter got lost; I never did tell her about the amazing episode recovery announced earlier this month. I did, however, manage to explain a little bit about the Cybermen.

        One of the many reasons I chose this particular serial to screen for G next is that our methodology—viewing introductory and final stories for every Doctor, with one or two "representative" stories in between—has meant that she's missed out on the Doctor's epic struggles with some of his most iconic foes. She only met the Daleks a few sessions ago in Genesis, and until now, she'd never come across the Cybermen. So it was predictable that the "big reveal" at the end of Part One—when it turns out the Cybermen are behind it all—didn't get much of a reaction: "Okay, now we're to the silver guys."

        You see, since the Cybermen are all over the DVD menu, she'd seen them ahead of time. I'd had to explain who they were, and that the Doctor had come across them often before (though it was quick). So her reaction was completely unlike any fan who watched it at the time ("Cybermen! They haven't been seen for years!") or even a post-Hiatus fan otherwise unfamiliar with pre-Hiatus stories watching this one without spoilers ("Hey, Cybermen! I guess the Doctor did say that one was an 'old friend'..."). In fact, I had to remind her that these were, in fact, the Big Bad; she'd been hoping for some sort of pyramid scheme in which we'd keep finding another kind of mechanical creature behind the last, as the Cybermen had been behind the androids in Part One.


        Retro-View #13: The Celery's Fresh, But G's Wilting


        Castrovalva (Story #116, 1981)
        Viewed 24 Jun 2013

        Doctor/Companion: Five, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan Jovanka
        Stars: Peter Davison, Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding
        Preceding Story: Logopolis (Four, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan)
        Succeeding Story: Four to Doomsday (Five, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan)

          I had high hopes for this story going in. G seems ready to try a new Doctor, and despite the fact that my kids are home on summer break from school, they have plans for how to occupy themselves while the grown-ups are involved with their silly videos.

          And it starts out well. The regeneration scene is recapped, and the action continues on right from that point. The guards catch up to our heroes and drag them off. Tegan huffs, "Take your hands off me. This is an official uniform!", causing G to chuckle and declare "I like her the best." Finally—someone who shares my fondness for the Mouth On Legs!

          G asks some good basic questions, too. "Why did the Master do that?" she wonders when he materializes in middle of the fray, then seems to go running, allowing the Doctor to escape into his own TARDIS, and leaving Adric behind to be rescued. "So he'd still have a good adversary?" Now if she'd take her speculation to the next level, we might make a Fan of her yet...

          I'll admit that I still enjoy the whole regeneration regression part (as the Doctor does impressions of himself) far more than G does; I don't even bother to pause and explain when he spouts "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" and she doesn't laugh with me. Then again, maybe she didn't even hear it. After several moments that I'd expected to get a reaction from her get none, I realize she's left me.

          Oh, she claims she's just "resting [her] eyes," but I'm not entirely convinced. At any rate, we barrel on through Part Two until we catch sight of Castrovalva itself. "That's a bit of a climb! With a box!" Indeed.


          Retro-View #12: Melancholy Moment


          Logopolis (Story #115, 1981)
          Viewed 03 Jun 2013

          Doctor/Companion: Four, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan Jovanka
          Stars: Tom Baker, Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding
          Preceding Story: The Keeper of Traken (Four, Adric, Nyssa)
          Succeeding Story: Castrovalva (Five, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan)

            It seems to me that by the time Logopolis rolled around, Tom Baker was more than ready to leave his role as the Doctor. He just seemed tired, pensive, and like he simply wasn't having very much fun any more. Luckily, it fits well with the story, and doesn't translate into any sort of loss of quality.

            G is immediately intrigued by the way the police box and (Master's) TARDIS merge, and in on alert when Tegan and Auntie Vanessa pull up next to it with their flat. "Ooh dear. And they're by the box." Then when the Doctor's TARDIS turns them all into dimensionally transcendental matryoshka dolls, she catches onto the danger right away. "This is serious. It's like he's ingested poison by materializing that guy in there." She proceeds to make an analogy with holding mirrors up to each other to make an infinite regression, well before the possibility is mentioned on screen. G's all over it.

            The Watcher has her fooled, though. She reads it as all first-time viewers are meant to: a slightly creepy threat. I can't help but think of it as the precursor to Ten's departure, though in this case it's only the Doctor, rather than the whole audience as well, who anticipates what's to come. We both enjoy this particular conceit, though. When the Doctor tells Adric that "nothing like this has ever happened before," G declares that "that's the fun part."

            She's enjoying the character interactions, too. She's still loving Adric (that will make things interesting in another couple of sessions), and can't help giggle (nor can I) at the looks the Doctor and Adric give each other when Tegan finally stumbles back into the control room.



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