Nu-Views

Retro-View #11: Winding Down, or Just Wound Up?

May
08

The Keeper of Traken (Story #114, 1981)
Viewed 29 Apr 2013

Doctor/Companion: Four, Adric, Nyssa of Traken
Stars: Tom Baker, Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton
Preceding Story: Warriors' Gate (Four, Romana II, Adric)
Succeeding Story: Logopolis (Four, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan)

    It's been a while since G has seen the Fourth Doctor. Not only has it been a month and a half since we were last able to sit down and watch together, but he's cycled through a Companion or two since our last story, which was broadcast nearly two-and-a-half years before this one. So I guess I can't blame her when her first reaction at the start of the story was, "Oh my gosh! Look at the question marks on this collar!" And later, "He's got a new scarf!"

    I have to pause and explain about Adric, too. The whole E-Space thing kind of goes over her head, but truth be told, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me either, and I've seen all the relevant trilogy. She doesn't comment on his pajama-esque costume, though, and declares that she rather likes "the little guy." More than once. And why, do you suppose, she thinks so highly of him? "Because when the women used to tell [the Doctor] he was full of ****, he'd get upset, but when this guy does it, he doesn't care."

    The story is right up her alley, too. Halfway through Part One, she's already sussed out (well before we see it happen) that "ol' Melkur's marching around in the nighttime." When his presence leads to the Keeper (apparently) declaring that the Doctor and Adric are "Eviiiiiil!" she can hardly stand it. "I really hate misunderstandings." (Somehow, I'm thinking she doesn't watch many sitcoms...)

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    Nu-View #14: Strength Through Adversity

    Apr
    10

    Father's Day (Series One, Ep. 8; 2005)
    Viewed 04 Apr 2013

    Doctor/Companion: Nine, Rose Tyler
    Stars: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper
    Preceding Story: The Long Game (Nine, Rose)
    Succeeding Story: The Empty Child (Nine, Rose)

      I know the Ninth Doctor isn't everyone's cup of tea (especially with last week's frankly unsurprising news that Eccleston definitely will not be participating in the 50th), but great heavens, is he ever mine.

      While Father's Day doesn't grab me the same way that Dalek does, it serves a vital purpose in terms of character development. Of course, the "character" in this case is actually the relationship between the Doctor and Rose. (Just a heads-up, in case you haven't seen the episode: the rest of the post is pretty spoilery.)

      Rose decides she wants to see her long-dead father and the Doctor questions her motivation. When she passive-aggressively suggests he can't do it, he responds that "I can do anything. I'm just more worried about you." And that, effectively, is the theme of the whole piece.

      But first we have to see Rose be an utter idiot (some would argue there should be an "again" in that sentence). The Doctor loves her enough (however you define that love in your own headcanon) to do something dangerous to please her. "What ever happened to the 'you can't cross your own timeline' thing?" wondered jE. Of course, it all backfires. The second Rose rushes to save Pete. "Ruh roh,"says jO. The camera pans back to Nine's furious face. "RUH roh..." (I suspect jO hasn't seen this since I first hooked her on the show, some four years ago.)

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      Retro-View #10: The Lure of an Arc

      Apr
      03

      The Ribos Operation (Story #98, 1978)
      Viewed 12 Mar 2013

      Doctor/Companion: Four, Romana I
      Stars: Tom Baker, Mary Tamm
      Preceding Story: The Invasion of Time (Four, Romana I)
      Succeeding Story: The Pirate Planet (Four, Romana I)

        Now I've done it. I should've known better than to start G on a story arc. She has a hard enough time with episodic cliffhangers that I suppose I should've expected her to tell me to pop in the next story of The Key to Time once we'd finished the first, but somehow I didn't.

        In the opening moments, I realize G hasn't met K-9 yet. We pause while I explain the general concept. Then the White Guardian (who G understandably thinks looks like Colonel Sanders; "he's even drinking a mint julep!") begins his little chat with the Doctor. No sooner has this dialog begun, though, when I have to pause again to explain about the dog bite (see the Story Notes). It's so much better than the herpes G had been assuming was the issue...

        Once we get to Ribos, G thinks Garron and Unstoffe look like Tibetans or Mongolians (and that Romana looks like the Good Witch of the North). We get tied up enough in the story that there are barely any more comments until Romana blindly walks into the shrivenzale's chamber. "Well look down, sweetie. Good god." Sometimes even the most willingly suspended disbelief gets stretched too far.

        But all is well when the story gets into full swing. I'm loving Dudley Simpson's score and June Hudson's costumes. G is loving Unstoffe's tall tale. She's in fits of giggles when the Graffe Vynda-K and the Doctor face off and trade slaps of the glove. And then Romana tells Garron that she and the Doctor are "searching for the first segment to the Key to Time." "Oh, god!" G spouts in surprise. "She just blabs that out! ... To the opposition, no less." Much as I love Romana I (aka "Fred"), she really does show how utterly green she is in this adventure.

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        Nu-View #13: Setting the Standard

        Mar
        27

        Dalek and The Long Game
        (Series One, Eps. 6-7; 2005)

        Viewed 12 Mar 2013

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

          I distinctly remember my Original Who Mentor watching my face avidly for my reaction when the trailer for Dalek ran at the end of the previous episode. Not having grown up in the UK, and not having been one of "those people" growing up, I'd never even heard of a Dalek before. He was, needless to say, somewhat disappointed.

          It was an entirely different sort of expression I was anticipating on the Ladies' faces when we watched this the other night. This episode has become one of my all-time favorites, and certainly my favorite of Series One. So I was hoping for some "oh, yeah - I remember this!" looks of pleasant surprise as the details slowly dug their way out of foggy memories.

          However, things were even foggier than I'd feared. "I don't even remember this one," jO said confusedly as the opening credits rolled. Not that it got in the way of our enjoyment. It's a bloody brilliant episode, and I'm not sure Eccleston's ever better in the role. First, when he encounters the Dalek in its "cage," the consternation and terror are plain to read on his face. Once he realizes the Dalek isn't, shall we say, fully functional any more, he does a beautiful job going off the deep end. The Doctor really is insane in those moments, and you see it in his eyes. Later, his "I killed her. ... She was nineteen years old" speech is one of the best deliveries he gives throughout his tenure. Writer Rob Shearman gave Eccleston plenty to sink his teeth into, and did he ever run with it!

          One of the things I love most about the episode, in retrospect, is what a perfect introduction it was to the Daleks and what they're all about. As I mentioned above, I'd never even heard of one before, yet by the end I knew plenty about them. They're engineered beings bred for war and not for compassion. They seem limited by their casings but aren't really - as evidenced by the way this Dalek worked the 10-key pad to open the cage ("It's got sucky pressers. It's an oxymoron, but look - it works!" observed jE) and how it navigated stairs without more than a brief pause for effect. A single individual can slaughter millions, given the chance. And its only real weakness, aside from self-hate born of racial purity issues, is its eye stalk. It's a tall order to summarize Daleks in forty-five minutes, but it certainly worked for me.

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          Retro-View #9: Return of the Fan

          Mar
          13

          The Robots of Death (Story #90, 1977)
          Viewed 07 Mar 2013

          Doctor/Companion: Four, Leela
          Stars: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson
          Preceding Story: The Face of Evil (Four, Leela)
          Succeeding Story: The Talons of Weng-Chiang (Four, Leela)

            Regular readers may recall that when I first saw Robots, I was not particularly enamored of it. Only after repeated viewings did I come to appreciate it, and now count it among my favorites. Thus, I was particularly interested to see how G would react.

            Perhaps everything just clicked properly this day - no family members or pets in ill health, no project deadlines pending - but G was back on her usual upbeat form, appreciative of everything the show had to offer. It doesn't hurt that she's taken quite a shine to Four.

            Her first impression of Robots is one of delighted nostalgia: "Look at that computer!" The visuals continued to impress her throughout, from costuming ("Ooh, I love the hats." and "They've got great costumes, don't you think?") to some of the directorial decisions ("We get to see from the robot's point of view. This is kinda cool.")

            As for the new Companion and general characterizations, she loves both Leela's and the Doctor's evasive answers when SV7 questions them. (I love that Leela's already figured out that discretion is the better part of valor.) She also thinks Commander Uvanov is "a bit of a boor." When he uses someone else's argument against a third party, huffily demanding, "Ever heard of the double bluff?" she adds (as Uvanov), "I just learned about it thirty seconds ago!"

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