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

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

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

My Thoughts on Story 040 – “Enemy of the World”

This is, without a doubt, the best of the early Doctor Who stories. It has great acting, great writing, and Patrick Troughton in two roles! What’s not to like?

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Well, as a minor complaint, what’s not to like is the DVD. The disc has the episodes and…that’s it. Nothing else. No interviews, no commentaries, no behind-the-scenes stuff, nothing. Very irritating, especially given the quality of previous releases.

This story had been missing for nearly fifty years before it was recovered in Nigeria, along with almost all the missing episodes of the next story, “Web of Fear”. I’m very happy that it was recovered, because it really is amazing.

First off, Troughton is just incredible as both Salamander and the Doctor. He oozes just the right level of menace and charm for Salamander. It’s a shame that we didn’t get more than a few seconds of the two characters on screen together.

I really also liked the various supporting characters, especially Astrid and Bruce. He especially could have been written as a very one-dimensional bad guy, but instead proved to have several layers.

I also find it quite interesting that the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria really just…don’t do much in this story. It’s not that they aren’t there or active, but it’s very clear that the revolution that’s shown likely would have happened in a few months anyhow. They kind of push things forward, but that’s it.

So that’s that. If you haven’t seen this story, seek it out. It’s very good.

Cast
Others
  • Patrick Troughton — Ramón Salamander
  • Bill Kerr — Giles Kent
  • Mary Peach — Astrid Ferrier
  • Colin Douglas — Donald Bruce
  • George Pravda — Denes
  • David Nettheim — Fedorin
  • Milton Johns — Benik
  • Henry Stamper — Anton
  • Rhys McConnochie — Rod
  • Simon Cain — Curly
  • Carmen Munroe — Fariah
  • Reg Lye — Griffin the Chef
  • Christopher Burgess — Swann
  • Adam Verney — Colin
  • Margaret Hickey — Mary
  • Gordon Faith, Elliott Cairnes — Guard Captains
  • Bill Lyons — Guard on Denes
  • Andrew Staines — Sergeant to Benik
  • Bob Anderson — Fighting Guard
  • William McGuirk — Guard in Corridor
  • Dibbs Mather — Guard in Caravan
Production
Directed by Barry Letts
Written by David Whitaker
Script editor Peter Bryant
Produced by Innes Lloyd
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Stock music by Béla Bartók
Production code PP
Series Season 5
Length 6 episodes, 25 minutes each
Date started 23 December 1967
Date ended 27 January 1968

Next time: “Web of Fear”

My Thoughts on Story 039 – “The Ice Warriors”

It’s late and I’m tired, so we’re going to make this fairly short.

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Cry all you want; it changes nothing.

Basically, I like this story. It’s good, but not great. Runs a little long in parts and could’ve benefited from being four or five parts rather than six. There’s some filler, but not too much. Those Ice Warrior outfits are great from a distance, and it’s good that we’ve gotten to see more of them as time went on.

There.

Cast
Others
Production
Directed by Derek Martinus
Written by Brian Hayles
Script editor Peter Bryant
Produced by Innes Lloyd
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Dudley Simpson
Production code OO
Series Season 5
Length 6 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missing 2 episodes (2 and 3)
Date started 11 November 1967
Date ended 16 December 1967

Next time: “Enemy of the World”