Episode 828 – “Smile”

The Doctor and Bill arrive on a would-be utopia planet; one that’s being readied for human occupation. Surely nothing sinister or strange could happen here, right?

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Ha! Millennials, ‘mirite?

Naturally something nasty is happening. In this case, the robots who are running the place, and communicate in emojis because creativity is dead, are killing anyone who appears to be unhappy. It’s that usual, rather stupid, thing that happens in sci-fi where the AI just doesn’t quite get it and murders a few people.

This may make it sound like I didn’t like this episode, but I actually rather did. Bill and the Doctor continue to make a great couple. So far I’m enjoying them almost as much as I did the Doctor and Donna. And if the emoji thing was stupid-and make no mistake; it was very stupid-it was also handled in an entertaining enough fashion. Plus the location was just amazing! What a lovely building!

But I will say that the emoji thing really was fucking stupid as fuck. It never really works when sci-fi shows try to take modern day fads and project them into the future. Remember the Anne-Droid and Big Brother in the last two episodes of the Ninth Doctor’s season? Yeah. That aged rather terribly.

So in summary, a fun story, with shades of “Happiness Patrol”, that wound up being way better than it should have been.

Cast
Others
  • Kiran L. Dadlani – Kezzia
  • Mina Anwar – Goodthing
  • Kaizer Akhtar – Praiseworthy
  • Ralf Little – Steadfast
  • Kalungi Ssebandeke – Nate
  • Kiran Shah – Emojibot 1
  • Craig Garner – Emojibot 2
Production
Directed by Lawrence Gough
Written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce
Produced by Peter Bennett
Executive producer(s) Steven Moffat
Brian Minchin
Incidental music composer Murray Gold
Series Series 10
Length 45 minutes
Originally broadcast 22 April 2017
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Episode 827 – “The Pilot”

At long last, it’s back! No, not the blog. I’ve actually had quite a few posts lately, thank you! Not one a day, but still! Sort of. Anyhow, no, the show itself is back, and spoilers ahoy!

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I look way too much like Nardole.

This story introduces Bill, the Doctor’s new companion. She’s got a crush on another woman who works at the school the other woman attends. All things look good for the two as a couple, but soon there’s some weird alien stuff going on involving sentient oil slicks, Daleks, Movellans (!), and, of course, the Doctor and Nardole.

The story acts as something of a reboot to the series, giving us actual classroom lectures on the concept of a Time and Relative Dimension in Space machine, as well as a few other items. I rather like that. It doesn’t leave too much time for the story, but the story is rather simple anyhow, and that’s perfectly fine; we don’t always need some huge epic saga overscored by Murray Gold.

I must say the Movellans were an interesting inclusion. We don’t see more than a few seconds of them, but I rather liked seeing what we saw. I especially liked that they didn’t feel the need to update them to a more “modern” feel. Yes, the space-age disco bodysuits and dreads remain intact.

Overall I quite liked this story. It wasn’t perfect, but there was a minimum of annoying things, and it had a nice flow to it. Bill is a charming new addition to the cast, and though he was used a bit more sparingly than in the Christmas special, Nardole still worked out well. Plus there were some nice nods to the past, with the aforementioned Movellans and a brief pair of references to Susan.

If this is any indicator of how series 10 as a whole will go, I’m quite looking forward to it!

Cast
Others
Production
Directed by Lawrence Gough
Written by Steven Moffat
Produced by Peter Bennett
Executive producer(s) Steven Moffat
Brian Minchin
Incidental music composer Murray Gold
Series Series 10
Length 50 minutes
Originally broadcast 15 April 2017

My Thoughts on Story 047 – “The Krotons”

So. Boring. Just…so very, very boring. Even thinking about this story makes me sleepy and upset.

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Zzzzzgrrrrr…

It didn’t have to be this way. The concept of this story isn’t horrible, but it’s also not very original, and really was rather poorly executed.

Let’s start with the Krotons themselves. Basically someone took the Robot from Forbidden Planet and downgraded it by several levels. These things just look terrible. They really aren’t interesting at all. They come off as (yet another) attempt by the BBC to not have to keep forking over money to Terry Nation.

There really isn’t a single interesting supporting character, and though there are a couple of cute little moments with the Doctor and Zoe, really, everything about this is just dull, dull, dull.

In point of fact, the only good thing about this story is that it brings us one step closer to the color era.

Cast
Others
  • James Copeland — Selris
  • James Cairncross — Beta
  • Gilbert Wynne — Thara
  • Philip Madoc — Eelek
  • Terence Brown — Abu
  • Madeleine Mills — Vana
  • Richard Ireson — Axus
  • Maurice Selwyn — Custodian
  • Bronson Shaw — Student
  • Roy Skelton, Patrick Tull — Kroton Voices
  • Robert La’Bassiere, Miles Northover — Krotons
Production
Directed by David Maloney
Written by Robert Holmes
Script editor Terrance Dicks
Produced by Peter Bryant
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Special sounds by Brian Hodgson
Production code WW
Series Season 6
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Date started 28 December 1968
Date ended 18 January 1969

Next time: The Seeds of Death

My Thoughts on Story 046 – “The Invasion”

Well, that’s eight episodes down, and zero to go! We’ve finished “The Invasion”, and that’s the last of the Cybermen we’ll see for a while.

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This is one of my favorite stories, though rather like “The Mind Robber”, it’s kind of hard to say why. The individual episodes are kind of dull, but the story itself really is better than the sum of its parts.

Some of this is the acting. Kevin Stoney, who plays Vaughn, is a very good hissworthy villain. It’s great to see the Brigadier again, and it’s nice to see UNIT in their first proper outing. Plus the Cybermen invading London is just cool.

I also really like Troughton’s performance in this story. He’s really at the top of his game, and playing the most “Second Doctor” version of the Second Doctor. It’s pretty fantastic all around.

On a historical level, it’s also quite great to even have these episodes. Of the eight, six are missing, and have been replaced with animated versions. This is kind of routine now, but this was the first time it was done.

All in all, this is quite a fun little story, if a bit long at parts, and as mentioned, way better than the sum of its parts.

Cast
Others
Production
Directed by Douglas Camfield
Written by Derrick Sherwin, from a story by Kit Pedler
Script editor Terrance Dicks
Produced by Peter Bryant
Incidental music composer Don Harper
Production code VV
Series Season 6
Length 8 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missing 2 episodes (1 and 4)
Date started 2 November 1968
Date ended 21 December 1968

Story 045 – “The Mind Robber”

What to say about this story? It’s quite mad, really. The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe all wind up in the mysterious Land of Fiction. They encounter Gulliver, the Karkus and The Master. Well, after a fashion. It’s full of late 1960’s bonkersness.

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Including this.

By all rights this should have been an abject failure, and yet…I quite like it.

I don’t know what I like it. Maybe it’s the previously-mentioned bonkers nature of the whole thing. Maybe it’s the charm all the leads manage to exude. It certainly isn’t the overall concept.

I understand the flaws, of course. The Land of Fiction makes no sense on any level, and the story really is an episode or so too long. But I still like it, and I don’t know why.

The story does have a bit of a legacy, by the way. Years later, Big Finish did a series with the Sixth Doctor and Jamie, who wind up venturing to the Land of Fiction where they encounter Zoe and the Cybermen. In may ways it’s better than this story, but I still like this one more than I should.

Cast
Others
Production
Directed by David Maloney
Written by Derrick Sherwin (episode 1, uncredited)
Peter Ling
Script editor Derrick Sherwin
Produced by Peter Bryant
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Stock music by Anton Bruckner
Production code UU
Series Season 6
Length 5 episodes, approximately 20 minutes each
Date started 14 September 1968
Date ended 12 October 1968

Next time: “The Invasion”

My Thoughts on “The Dominators” – Story 044

Notice how it’s been about a week since I actually finished watching this story? Yes. I am going to claim that I took quite a while to let my thoughts on it sink in and digest properly before writing them down, as the only other option is that I’m mind-blowingly lazy.

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Shall we vote on the most likely answer?

“The Dominators” commits one of the greatest sins of entertainment: it’s boring. It’s dull as dishwater, despite a few fine moments here and there. Well, provided one ignores the godawful costumes.

The cast tries mightily, and the two men playing the Dominators themselves really put forth a good effort. All the scenes with them are fairly interesting. But the Dulceans are really, well, dull, and while the fundamental plot (pacific planet being attacked by aliens), is decent, and likely resonated well with an audience only 20 years from the end of World War II, the execution is just soooooo boring.

Then there are the Quarks. Look, I get that the BBC really wanted something that was as cool and interesting and popular as the Daleks, but not owned by Terry Nation. I am baffled as to why they thought the Quarks were the best choice for this. They aren’t menacing in any way. Their voices are too “cute” and the recharge dance is laughable.

It’s a shame. With a tighter script this might have been something. But…it wasn’t.

Next time: “The Mind Robber”

My Thoughts on Story 041 – “Web of Fear”

A worthy story to follow one of the best. “Web of Fear” has plenty of humor, intelligence (quite Great, in fact), and action galore, doing a great job of foreshadowing the Third Doctor’s era.

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Those Yeti costumes, though…

I never saw “The Abominable Snowmen”, so I can’t compare this to that. But I can say that on its own, it’s quite a good story. The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria work very well together, the sets are generally fantastic, and the supporting characters, from Travers, to Evans, to a certain colonel, are all wonderfully cast and extremely well written.

Speaking of that colonel, who will be a brigadier the next time we see him, how great was it to see Lethbridge-Stewart in his first appearance? From the very moment he arrives in the story, he’s a take-charge kind of man, showcasing the excellent acting talents of Courtney and laying the groundwork for one of the best characters of the entire series.

It’s only quite sad that the episode he appears in, three, remains missing. Apparently it was found with the rest, in a warehouse in Nigeria, but some asshole stole it and hasn’t resurfaced with it yet. I really hope whomever it is comes forward at some point and returns it.

That’s really it for my thoughts here. Excellent story, well done all around.

The next story, “Fury from the Deep”, is one I’m skipping for now, as is the one after that, “Wheel in Space”. The first sees off Victoria and the second introduces Zoe, so by the time we rejoin our crew, it’ll be quite different! As a result of all this, look for my character profile on Victoria tomorrow.

Next time: “The Dominators”

Cast
Others