Who On Trial: "The Chase"

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Re: Who On Trial: "The Chase"

Post by The Co=Ordinator on Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:49 am

This trial has become a travesty of justice and I must insist on an immediate and complete acquittal.

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Re: Who On Trial: "The Chase"

Post by Tessellated Facsimile on Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:45 am

The Co=Ordinator wrote:This trial has become a travesty of justice and I must insist on an immediate and complete acquittal.
yeah! and free cake and wine to compensate our wasted time! Twisted Evil
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Re: Who On Trial: "The Chase"

Post by stanmore on Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:55 am

Now, this is going to be conclusive proof that I’ll never make a good QC (and indeed, why I make a pretty awful Elections Services Officer) but I have managed to leave my copy of The Chase on my bedside table. The plan was to watch the story on the train up to my stag weekend, compiling the incriminating evidence as I travel north.

Sorry, Judge, the dog ate my homework.

So, what follows is a barely remembered and possibly plain fictional prosecution of The Chase. I wish nobody to bear this in mind when making their judgement.

The Chase begins with the single most ludicrous concept in the show’s history. The Time/Space Visualiser. Essentially a television set from the far future from a society that had discovered the capacity to see scenes throughout the entire history of the universe, but had lost the secrets of widescreen. The scenes that the TARDIS crew decide to throw up onto the small screen are a couple of scenes from the BBC’s dullest ever costume drama and a clip from Top of the Pops of the Beatles. Whilst I love the fact that the Beatles are now part of Doctor Who universe – and that The Doctor himself seems to be bopping merrily away to them to prove that the snobbish curs are wrong to say that the new series invented The Doctor’s following/love of popular culture – it is a dreadful shame that the story of what could have been never happened. Had The Chase included the Beatles dressed as old men performing at their fiftieth anniversary show, there is no way that I would be writing a diatribe against them today. The Time Space Visualiser also served the function of explaining to The Doctor and Barbara that the Daleks were after them (and thus revealing the entire plot of The Chase in thirty seconds).

The Daleks are at their highest level of ludicrousness in their silver screen history (with, perhaps, the exception of wobbling towards suicide in Destiny of the Daleks). This is a crack squad, travelling through space in a DARDIS (which, logically, would stand for Daleks and Relative Dimensions in Space) a plain square box. I suppose that’s fair enough in terms of storyline – Daleks are not known for their aesthetic taste – but as no heed is paid to logic in any other department of plotting, no harm in providing something visually stimulating. Sadly, I haven’t been able to listen to the commentary, so I don’t know if designer Raymond Cusick is as damning on his work here as he is on his work on The Keys of Marinus (he should be), but I do know that he expressed his scepticism to the extreme that this type of portmanteau adventure was achievable on a 60s Doctor Who’s budget and turnaround time. [Albeit his work on the Mechanoid city is quietly impressive. Please ignore that I have said this.]

But the biggest issue with the presentation of The Daleks in this serial is the fact that they prove to be so incompetent. The truth is that the Daleks are already a bit absurd and it requires a concerted effort from all the actors and the production crew in order to make them a believable threat. But here we have a conundrum. If you make The Daleks a credible threat – or even to the point of credibility of the barking mad Daleks who thought they could turn The Earth into a spaceship by mining to its magnetic core – then they would be deal relatively easily with two suburban schoolteachers, a sixteen year old who can’t sit on an armchair without falling off and a doddery old man who frets that his friends will end up as cinders floating around in Spain. And what is stopping the Daleks sending out another crack squad after these six haven’t come back in their DARDIS? An excuse may be that these may be the Daleks who have just cracked the capacity to travel in time and space and whilst they are able scientists, they are bumbling incompetents in all other departments. We are essentially watching Rick Moranis Daleks. This just about fits into the Daleks that we have seen so far in the show’s history, paranoid, insane and occasionally cack-handed, but it doesn’t make them a credible threat. An excuse that I have often heard that this is the era of Daleks appearing on The Royal Variety Performance (or similar), but that just means that the production has to try even harder in creating an atmosphere in which the Daleks can be part of a drama. Contrast with The Daleks’ Master Plan six months later which recast The Daleks as shrewd political operators (for the very first time) and removed them for the outright comedy Christmas episode.

Okay, “drama” might being unnecessarily kind to The Chase, but the scenes on Aridius, at the very least, make such little attempt at comic overtures, that it’s impossible to see what else it was trying to be. Set amongst Terry Nation’s favourite desolated post-Armageddon landscape, with an isolated community on the brink of disaster surviving entirely on a diet of sand, there’s precious little comedy gold to be mined. Still, there’s precious little comedy gold to be mined from an entire community drowning, but the Mary Celeste sequence attempts it. I’ve never truly understood what the reaction would be from those who like this story for these scenes. Are they chortling so hard when a Dalek is going kamikaze over the edge of the boat that they don’t notice the drowning baby or are they just laughing at the drowning baby? Is everybody 13? I have heard it said that the comedy was largely injected by script editor Dennis Spooner, but, if true, it is hard to see what Nation’s scripts for episode three actually contained. Take out the “comedy” from the Morton Dill sequence, then you’re left with “Doctor Who lands on the Empire State Building, decides that it isn’t a place to fight Daleks, departs, Daleks land, note that Doctor Who and his friends have gone and also depart.” If it is true, then it is probable that Nation’s scripts from episode 3 onwards were painfully thin (later testimonies from future script editors suggest that this is a running theme in Nation’s work). You can tell that we’re now getting into comedy territory as the already quite broad performances getting ever broader still. The various spooks and monsters found in the haunted house in Journey in Terror are so CBBC that they would be told to tone down their performances in a Halloween special of Chucklevision. And even they manage to be better than Peter Purves’s Morton Dill. Once again, I haven’t heard the DVD commentary, but I hope Purves watched his performance in apologetic embarrassment [Here would be a quote from a member of the production crew agreeing with me, but as I don’t have the internet access, I’ll just mention Douglas Adam’s oft-repeated insistence that if you are going to make a comedy then the best advice is to tone down your performance rather than to crank it up.]

Nation’s original intention with Journey Into Terror was to set the haunted house in the human imagination. I’m in two minds about this. On one hand, this at least provides a reason why Frankenstein and Dracula are immune to Dalek blasters. My knowledge of robotics in the 1990s is, at best, loose, but whilst these robots are realistic to a point. They can only do a few simple (if murderous) tasks and a few stock phrases, but their hardiness – being immune to blasts from lasers from time-travelling machine creatures from outer space – requires too much disbelief suspension. On the other hand, I’m glad they didn’t go with Nation’s idea because explorations of the mind deserve to be done properly, as in 1980 classics Kinda and Snakedance, and I doubt that would have been true of The Chase.

The Death of Doctor Who is such a bad episode that to go over it in any detail would be an insult to anybody reading, but it’s fair to say that Edmund Warwick as the robot Doctor Who (and occasionally Doctor Who himself) gives the most inept performance in the series to date. He’s out-acted by a killer-mushroom-tent-thing. Apparently (according to About Time... not the most reliable fountain of knowledge, I grant you) Martin cast him on his successful performance as an unconscious Doctor in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. I think we can learn from this that movement is quite an important aspect for any actor.

I quite like Episode 6, so I can’t really add that to my prosecution. I hope you ignore this sentence also.

I would call the TARDIS crew as witnesses to the stand, unfortunately Vicki tripped on her way up, Ian just stood there gaping, Barbara went off to get new knitwear and we couldn’t hear the Doctor’s testimony over that awful noise. I doubt that their testimony would be worth listening to anyway, considering that they all seem to have full lobotomies since their last adventure. Yes, since The Space Museum. One of that stories few redeeming features was its depiction of the TARDIS crew. Vicki leads a revolution in that story (albeit she does so entirely motivated out of selfish reasons) and gets to play the little girl terrified of heights. The Doctor, Ian and Barbara, who for the last two years have been part of one ongoing story in which their most important goal is getting everybody back to the ship intact, suddenly forget this simple idea for the very first time. Even so, O’Brien probably gives the best performance out of the four, or, at least, gives a performance that least dips below her normal standard. Hill and Hartnell are on autopilot. For all of her many talents, Hill was never really a natural comedienne and her shrill performance on board the Mary Celeste is by far the worst few minutes of her Doctor Who run,. Hartnell slips back into giggles and hmmms when unengaged (though, he is still quite entertaining in this mode, it is a shame as he can do so much more). Russell starts proceedings with a disinterested grunt whilst Ian is reading his space comic and rarely performs above comatose until his desire for a pint in episode 6. I wonder if that was scripted?

Had I the capacity, I would have submitted various screenshots of Richard Martin’s slapdash direction. All I can do is urge you to go and watch the story. If you can’t spot the occasional stage hand or little Dalek feet pattering across the Aridian desert, then I put it to you that you are being deliberately obtuse.

All love,

Tom
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Re: Who On Trial: "The Chase"

Post by Tessellated Facsimile on Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:17 am

I OBJECT!

The learned council for the prosecution openly admits that he hasn't properly prepared his case and instead submits a dubious mish-mash of memory based accusations, the accuracy of which he himself can not reliably swear to.

I move that this...belated travesty of a case be chucked out - thereby allowing us to get down to the truly serious business of cake eating and wine swigging.

I thank you.

-bows to court-
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Re: Who On Trial: "The Chase"

Post by stanmore on Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:44 am

Tessellated Facsimile wrote:I OBJECT!

The learned council for the prosecution openly admits that he hasn't properly prepared his case and instead submits a dubious mish-mash of memory based accusations, the accuracy of which he himself can not reliably swear to.

I move that this...belated travesty of a case be chucked out - thereby allowing us to get down to the truly serious business of cake eating and wine swigging.

I thank you.

-bows to court-

I concur!
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Re: Who On Trial: "The Chase"

Post by Tessellated Facsimile on Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:08 am

stanmore wrote:I concur!
YAY AND HOORAY!! drunken
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Re: Who On Trial: "The Chase"

Post by Patrick on Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:04 pm

stanmore wrote:
Tessellated Facsimile wrote:I OBJECT!

The learned council for the prosecution openly admits that he hasn't properly prepared his case and instead submits a dubious mish-mash of memory based accusations, the accuracy of which he himself can not reliably swear to.

I move that this...belated travesty of a case be chucked out - thereby allowing us to get down to the truly serious business of cake eating and wine swigging.

I thank you.

-bows to court-

I concur!

Well, it seems the prosecution has decided to drop all charges. Case dismissed. The Chase is victorious.

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Re: Who On Trial: "The Chase"

Post by Tessellated Facsimile on Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:35 pm

Patrick wrote:Well, it seems the prosecution has decided to drop all charges. Case dismissed. The Chase is victorious.
YAY!

Justice is done - and I am just TOO KOOL FOR SKOOL!

Damned straight. Cool
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Re: Who On Trial: "The Chase"

Post by The Co=Ordinator on Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:25 am

Patrick wrote:Well, it seems the prosecution has decided to drop all charges. Case dismissed. The Chase is victorious.

SUCCESS. PARAMOUNT SUCCESS!!!

And I didn't even need to use my secret weapon. Wink

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Re: Who On Trial: "The Chase"

Post by stanmore on Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:53 am

The Co=Ordinator wrote:
Patrick wrote:Well, it seems the prosecution has decided to drop all charges. Case dismissed. The Chase is victorious.

SUCCESS. PARAMOUNT SUCCESS!!!

And I didn't even need to use my secret weapon. Wink

Can you at least get your secret weapon out for us all to see?
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Re: Who On Trial: "The Chase"

Post by The Co=Ordinator on Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:03 am

No. Really no. You wouldn't want to see it! Laughing

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Re: Who On Trial: "The Chase"

Post by Tessellated Facsimile on Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:16 am

The Co=Ordinator wrote:SUCCESS. PARAMOUNT SUCCESS!!!

And I didn't even need to use my secret weapon. Wink
Just as well. Would the forum have survived the use of a WSMD? Wink

stanmore wrote:Can you at least get your secret weapon out for us all to see?
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! affraid affraid

The Co=Ordinator wrote:No. Really no. You wouldn't want to see it! Laughing
He is right you know. Twisted Evil
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Re: Who On Trial: "The Chase"

Post by The Co=Ordinator on Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:02 am

Tessellated Facsimile wrote:Just as well. Would the forum have survived the use of a WSMD? Wink

Highly unlikely. Razz

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Re: Who On Trial: "The Chase"

Post by Tessellated Facsimile on Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:30 am

The Co=Ordinator wrote:Highly unlikely. Razz
Then we be lucky to have escaped the ticking timebomb of utter and complete doom. Razz
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