Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Nick Barlow on Sun Jan 11, 2009 8:04 am

While I don't disagree with your general points about Assassin, Frank, I think the rot had set in for Gallifrey beforehand, during the Pertwee era.

If you watch The War Games and try and shed your conception of Gallifrey and the Time Lords as they later appear in the series, you're presented with an image of it the Time Lords as a near-Gods who don't seem to inhabit the same reality we've seen in the series before. In the minds of viewers at the time, what they're seeing is something that takes the strangeness of the War Lords' base, adds in the otherworldliness and extra-dimensionality they'd seen not long before in The Mind Robber, and then puts the Time Lords on top of that pile as the masters (pun mostly not intended) of all that strangeness.

Further to that, the way they relate to the Doctor isn't the same as they will in later stories. From Terror of the Autons on, Time Lords tend to treat the Doctor as an equal, or at least in the way a human authority figure will treat another adult. In The War Games, however, I get the sense that the Doctor's treated as a rebellious youth, a teenager kicking against authority with his trial at the end not so much a criminal enquiry as a parent chiding their offspring and giving them extra chores to do. Of course, this works for Troughton's Doctor as he is perhaps the most childlike of all of them as well as being one of the least likely to claim a position of authority.

However, when the Time Lords next come in, Pertwee's playing him as a distinguished man of authority (with 'several thousand years' of experience, so maybe an extraordinarily long Season 6B can explain all this Smile) so the Time Lords have to be written to deal with him that way. It's here where the Time Lords become a race of intergalactic bureaucrats - and their home goes from being a place of strangeness to just another alien planet with a silly name - and the Doctor's someone they call in as an equal when they need his help, not someone who needs to learn.

It's Assassin that finally confirms this change in Gallifrey to just another Planet of (slightly strange) Hats, but the vision of them had already changed utterly since 1969.

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Dave Webb on Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:02 am

On the other hand, The Wargames gave everything else a really tough act to follow. The Time Lords there are godlike, a force of nature. In The Three Doctors they have been reduced in stature a little, but not much. The mystique is kept right up to Assassin and then thrown away.

That's the problem with creating gods; the moment you show them to be like us you reduce them in stature, and that's exactly what Assassin does - it drags the Time Lords down to our level.

Worse is to come, of course.

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Sun Jan 11, 2009 6:02 pm

Nick Barlow wrote:While I don't disagree with your general points about Assassin, Frank, I think the rot had set in for Gallifrey beforehand, during the Pertwee era.

Oh, sure. Their authority is whittled away during the Pertwee era until Bob Holmes basically does, as you say, Planet Of The Hats with them in 'Assassin'. Little did he know that we would get more and more 'Hats'...
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Season 14 - Part 2: The Face Of Evil, The Robots Of Death & The Talons Of Weng Chiang

Post by Frank on Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:47 am



THE FACE OF EVIL - January 1977

‘It’s true then. They say the Evil One eats babies’

After the Time Lord navel gazing of ‘Assassin’ it’s such a pleasure to see Hinchcliffe and Holmes just hit the reset button here. It’s also the first of Chris Boucher’s scripts and it’s noticeable how he brings a very literary sensibility to the series. It makes for much richer storytelling and oddly pre-empts the so called Christopher Bidmead ‘hard science’ approach of Season 18.

It’s also a fantastic example of how to introduce a new companion. Leela emerges from the page as a fully formed character, of a specific time and place, with moral values of her own. This is as much down to Louise Jameson’s performance too. Let’s face it, she brings a feral dignity to what could just be seen as a bit of titillation for the teenage boys and their fathers in the audience and makes an instant impression here. Leela is strong, powerful and lives by codes and ethics that the character will then be seen to question when confronted by the moral barometer of the Doctor and the bizarre situations he leads her into.

Plot wise, the Doctor arrives on a planet where the savage Sevateem worship an all powerful god called Xoanon. The Doctor discovers that Xoanon is a schizophrenic computer he though he’d repaired in the past. Instead, he has inadvertently driven it mad…

It’s a funny thing, whilst watching this again, I was struck by how much of the story is focused on belief systems and the chaos that opposing systems can generate when they can’t comfortably exist in parallel to one another. There is much here about personal beliefs, how you back them up and what happens when your faith in ideas is shockingly knocked out from under you. Poor old Neeva, praising Xoanon and fulfilling all the rituals of religious belief in order to give the Sevateem a frame of reference, discovers his faith in Xoanon has been wasted. Is proof of your faith in your God just down to a set of rituals and sermons, dressed up in anachronistic bits of technology that you’ve forgotten the purposes of? Or is it, as Tomas and Calib discover, what you can see in front of your eyes, with clear evidence, with determined cause and effects? The nature of religion in the story is seen as, at best, a bit suspect as those entrusted with transmitting it, namely Neeva, don’t really understand what they’re talking about.

You also see these themes played out in the visual dichotomy between the savagery of the Sevateem and the cold intelligence of the Tesh. They are two aspects of Xoanon’s mind that it forces into conflict because it thinks this is necessary in order for those opposing aspects to truly become united. The story also touches on the god-like nature of the Doctor and it could be seen as an attempt to bring the Doctor more into contact with the darker aspects of his personality as presented by Xoanon and also to show him where his good intentions go wrong. Xoanon is a representation of the Doctor where the processes of his inner growth and transformation have been stunted, with a crippled psyche cramped into the little steel cage of a computer. As Xoanon’s personality disintegrates, dark projections of the Id evidence themselves as the invisible creatures (images of the Doctor’s head no less) that attack the Sevateem and protect what seems like an impenetrable barrier. The Doctor not only understands that he must breakdown the accepted truths (the barrier) but also the Tesh’s obsolete prejudices and by extension neutralise Xoanon’s/his own irrational unconscious nature.

In terms of world building too, the story pays dividends. There is a real sense of who the Sevateem are, with lead characters constantly arguing about their situation and fighting for power. It may sound strange, but the way we see the Sevateem is also a very 70’s view of the dystopian return to nature theme. This is played out in many contemporary dramas and comedies – ‘Survivors’ and ‘The Good Life’ being two examples where old/new technologies are reduced to their basics or reaffirmed in order to install a new feudalistic way of life.

As a production, again this comes across very well. The jungle and Sevateem sets are very well realised, the computer room on the Tesh ship is a bizarre high-tec altar and Xoanon’s lair provides a very disturbing cliffhanger with multiple images of the Doctor’s face screaming out ‘Who am I?’ repeatedly. Visual effects are again variable. The CSO of Leela and the Doctor standing before the cliff face where his face is carved out is actually very good. The Horda, whilst a neat idea, do come across as a little bit rubbery and unconvincing in some scenes. The filmed sections are well done and this is probably Pennant Roberts' best work on the series.

Performances are excellent, especially Baker and Jameson but also Brendan Price (and if you could indulge me, very fetching in his loincloth too) and Leslie Schofield who both get as much conviction out of the script as they can. My only gripe is that the Tesh are a bit too emotionless even though they are supposed to be and the actors aren’t helped by the very odd costumes that seem to undermine any realism they are trying to put over. Planet Of The Hats, again. They’re a bit too obvious a visual representation of the sterility of Xoanon’s domain and their ‘Pan’s People’ bowing and scraping doesn’t help either.

There are various nods to ‘Forbidden Planet’, ‘Planet Of The Apes’ and the work of Harry Harrison in the script and overall, it’s a refreshing story that builds a credible world with characters that constantly drive the plot forward and it touches on a vein of science fiction literature of the time that up until then had very rarely been exploited in the programme.

THE FACE OF EVIL BBC Video VHS (BBCV 6672 Cert PG - deleted)


Last edited by Frank on Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:53 am; edited 1 time in total
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Season 14 - Part 2: The Face Of Evil, The Robots Of Death & The Talons Of Weng Chiang

Post by Frank on Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:52 am



THE ROBOTS OF DEATH - January – February 1977

‘I will release more of our brothers from bondage. We will be irresistible’

Sounds like robot porn to me.

And indeed ‘Robots’ is irresistible. From its literate and witty script, finely drawn characters to its ‘art deco’ (there I’ve said it – art deco and ‘Robots Of Death’ instinctively go hand in hand) sets and costumes it’s a classic right down to its bicycle reflector ‘corpse markers’.

Plot in a nutshell – The Doctor and Leela arrive aboard a mining ship, the Sandminer, where the bitchy crew suddenly find their gorgeous robots have turned to murder. And can you guess who's turning them bad...? Well, yes...it's bloomin' obvious. The frilly trousers give it away.

The important thing to note is that again Chris Boucher is very aware that for SF to work it has to be able to build worlds in the minds of the audience. By way of Asimov, Agatha Christie and Frank Herbert, not only does he succeed in doing this with the Sandminer and its crew but there are suggestions in the script of the outside world beyond the miners’ workplace with its references to the Founding Family, Kaldor City and the fate of Zilda’s brother. Right from the start, information is coming at you to enable you to construct the universe these people exist in - both visually and narratively.

Visually, everything is working together coherently. The appearance of the Sandminer crew, the interiors and models of the Sandminer itself (sterling effects work from Richard Conway) and the elegant designs of the robots all communicate to you the nature of this world. It has a ‘glam rock with the edges knocked’ off feel to it in both the make-up and costumes. They all look like some weird hybrid of Wizard and Roxy Music. But it works in the context of the environment, particularly with set designer Ken Sharp’s homages to Gustav Klimt all over the place. Performances are mainly first rate, especially Russell Hunter as Commander Uvanov, Pamela Salem as Toos and David Collings as Poul. The only let down on the acting front is the rather shrill and often unconvincing performance from Tania Rogers as Zilda, The wonderful robots are represented by some good work from Miles Fothergill and Gregory De Polnay as SV7 and D84. D84 is so charming that I wish I had him around to do the housework.

Symbolically the story has some interesting things to say about the unconscious, dual personalities and phobias. Dask and Poul are both aspects of a similar union. Dask is a schizophrenic amalgam of man and machine – Taren Kapel and his robots. He identifies with the robots so much that he thinks he is one to the point of dressing similarly and wearing a rather fetching Ziggy Stardust make-up equivalent of a robot’s face. Poul is on the other hand phobic about robots. His instincts, like all of us, are to look for signs of life in beings around us – ‘body language’. We all get the creeps if we’re interacting with something that looks human but doesn’t give off the same signals as us or gives none at all. However, the phobia is buried subconsciously in Poul and he works alongside a ‘humanised’ machine, D84, who is perhaps the antithesis of Taren Kapel. Both characters are repulsed and attracted to the robots in equal measure. Whereas Dask embraces the notion of becoming like them, Poul rejects their presence when his mind breaks. More fascinating still is that D84 actually rescues and saves Poul’s life whereas it is the very whimsical idea of altering the resonance of the human larynx with helium that strips Dask of his robot persona and his life.

The altered robots, woken from their sleep of slavery, are random unconscious Egos let free by Kapel/Dask’s interference. Their unbridled nature, in contravention of law and reason, leads to murder, death and disintegration of the conscious lives of the Sandminer crew. The crew are also projecting their anxieties onto the robots. Indeed, their anxiety is a major thread in the narrative. Their projections onto the robots are their way of confronting their own complexes and coming to terms with them. A huge motivation for most of the crew is to be successful at what they do but at the same time they dread failure and the robots become their anxiety realised in murder and death. It is certainly true of Uvanov who goes from a rather pompous, self important Commander to a man confronted by the truth of Zilda’s investigation into her brother’s death which ultimately he feels sorrow for. And it is a literal mind shock for Poul, whose anxieties are all about the robots themselves. Poul wants to face the unconscious realm of the robots but cannot from fear of the consequences in doing so. This animation of anxiety is driven home by the pulsing, heart beat like sounds and music as robots advance upon the humans. The neat touch of seeing the attacks from their point of view ensure that we see the environs of the Sandminer and the pain of the crew in a lurid, unearthly frame of reference (thanks to ‘Top Of The Pops’ video effects again). Outwardly they have impassive, blank eyed but elegant faces. Artifice embodied with a killer instinct.

On a final note, there are some wonderfully quotable lines: ‘Please don’t throw hands at me’, being one of the best. Tom and Louise are on top form, Tom particularly when he’s being questioned by Borg and Uvanov, and the theme of Leela becoming educated in an Eliza Doolittle relationship with the Doctor continues to develop and will find its apotheosis in the next story. Good also to see that her savage nature allows her to be a step ahead of the rest of the humans in recognising Poul’s true function and the zombie like nature of the rampaging robots.

It’s a story that glitters on the surface, all silver and green and sparkly costumes but is merely a camouflage for the relentless, murderous power of anxiety and the unconscious (it's written literally on Dask's painted face). We are trapped in Taren Kapel’s waking nightmare for 90 glorious minutes until his voice goes all camp and squeaky and I, for one, will never tire of it (his camp squeaky voice and the glorious 90 minutes!).

THE ROBOTS OF DEATH Region 2 DVD (BBCDVD1012 Cert U)
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Season 14 - Part 2: The Face Of Evil, The Robots Of Death & The Talons Of Weng Chiang

Post by Frank on Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:01 am



THE TALONS OF WENG CHIANG - February – April 1977

‘Oooohhh, you wouldn’t serve ‘at wiv onions. Make an ‘orse sick ‘at would’

Patsy Smart, credited as The Ghoul, sans false teeth, with wide eyes and hair wild is one stereotype amongst a huge swathe of the buggers that populate ‘Talons’. It is Hinchcliffe and Holmes ‘Victoriana on Acid’ and the kitchen sink all thrown in at once and stirred very adroitly.

Let’s just get one thing out of the way before I start. You know what I’m going to say, don’t you. It’s a fan cliché. But it needs to be said.

That rat.

It’s seriously crap, isn’t it? To our jaded 21st century eyes it’s supposedly the one element that slightly lets the story down. A collective groan echoed round the room when I last watched this with the other half because we both knew ‘it’ was about to appear. Back in 1977, I wasn’t convinced either so I’m not going to use the excuse that audiences watched things differently in 1977 and therefore overcame problems like this with ease. They didn’t. I was there. I remember. It was crap then.

So, rat not withstanding, what have we got here? A kaleidoscopic magical mystery tour through the Victorian London of our dreams. And our survey said…eee-uuurr…fog…music halls…'Phantom Of The Opera'…'Fu Manchu'…'Jack The Ripper'…'Sherlock'…It’s not meant to be an accurate period drama rather it’s our mind’s eye version of fog-enshrouded London and criticisms ranging from problems about various ethnic stereotypes or that Holmes (Sherlock not Bob...Bob may have worn one!) never wore a deerstalker and such like can be dampened by pointing out that the whole package is one huge stereotype of Gothic Victoriana with knobs on. Yes, I agree that the Chinese stereotyping would just never happen now and is often wincingly thrown into the mix but then you’ve got a 51st century war criminal kidnapping young girls and er…draining them…of their essences. The Butcher Of Bribane has come to town. Serial killers at 6.30 on a Saturday night.

It’s a bit long and awfully padded in the last two episodes but there are so many little moments that shine, almost a greatest hits package that could be used as an accusation the series was being lazy, and this bowls along in such a fun way that you can compensate with that. It looks ravishing, with gorgeous studio interiors and atmospheric location filming, and the OB work at an actual theatre lends a wonderful verisimilitude to the proceedings. All with lovely Expressionist shadow and light. Really, it’s too much and shouldn’t work but David Maloney manages to marshal it all and holds it together with verve. A template for how to make a perfect Doctor Who serial? No, I wouldn't go as far as that as it isn't a terribly original plot and only gets by on sheer chutzpah.

Thematically, let's have a dig around. Greel is the ultimate victim of both physical and psychosomatic illness. His emotional needs are rigourously expressed through his crumbling body and disfigurement. His body image is a symbol of the self-awareness of a damaged Ego. He is the epitome of a failed being trying desperately to un-make himself. He is obsessed by the Zigma experiments and thinks they succeeded and the frustration of knowing that they didn’t really work is what he is all about. His corrupted body also renders him impotent and his kidnapping of sexually available women is subconsciously compensating for this frustration as well his attempt to get to the source, or womb, of creation to cure his condition. He is also a trickster figure, a supposed former God, representing older and darker layers of the mind and his acolyte Chang is literally a trickster/magician who deals with illusions. Chang is a figure in flux, worshipful and honourable to his master Greel because he has been given power, but also full of his own illusions at the end and again with this delusion comes actual physical disintegration from the rat attack

One can also see the plot as a series of thresholds that open onto both the conscious and unconscious realms and the inner and outer worlds. There is the threshold of time – Victorian England and the 51st Century – symbolised by the time cabinet where the unconscious future has poured into the conscious present. There is the front door of Litefoot's house and the outside world - cosy, civilised Victoriana contrasting with the 'savage' Tong Of The Black Scorpion. There is the threshold between the front of house of the theatre and Greel’s lair – one is about make-belief and play and the other is the repressed, dark underworld of Greel’s mind. Greel could also be akin to Janus, the double headed God, a gatekeeper looking forward and back into time and into the conscious and unconscious realms. Mr. Sin, with the cerebral cortex of a pig, aka the Peking Homonculus, represents the nadir/threshold of future science. This is a science which is more like alchemy where again we see the repeated pattern of Greel’s desire for transformation, to force the essence of life to appear. Science flying too high and too far ahead and then collapsing to form the damaged creatures we see in Sin and Greel. You could also link these thresholds to each of the double acts in the story.

The whole thing is populated by sweet character portraits, ranging from Patsy’s Ghoul and Sgt. Kyle at the station through to the major double acts: the Doctor and Leela, Litefoot and Jago, Greel and Chang. All Victorian archetypes have been employed it seems. And the double acts drive the whole thing as they interchange throughout the story. John Bennett is very good as Chang and his downfall and subsequent death in the opium den has a strange dignity to it that actually makes you reconsider the character and his morals. Greel really is a product of the 51st Century and you get a vivid sense of what happened at Rekyavik and with the Zigma experiments. Again more of that crucial world building that characterises this season. Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter seem to be utterly in their element and it is a shame that the once rumoured spin-off never materialised as they both nail the Holmesian (in both senses) quintessence of the script. Actually Benjamin is more Dickensian really – ‘I can see it now…come and see the phantom’s lair. Bob a nob.’

Finally, Tom and Louise really hit the heights here. Louise is particularly good, probably the best ever, as Leela. The Eliza Doolittle connection comes to its fruition here and she is actively part of the plot, trading insults with Greel (‘bent face’) as she goes. We have seen her grow as a character and the series is made so much more gratifying for that attention to this development. The season ends here as does Hinchcliffe’s tenure on the show. It’s a remarkable tenure too with many landmark stories to his credit with a push to make the programme more adult and to put as much of the money up on screen that caused more trouble than it was worth. The repercussions of his budget busting final story were felt for many years. One wonders just how much further he would have gone with the series had he stayed on.

So let’s at least toast the end of this era and season with a hot buttered muffin from the muffin man.

A quick word about the DVD edition: An essential purchase as it contains loads of extras including a commentary by Louise Jameson, Philip Hinchcliffe, David Maloney, John Bennett And Christopher Benjamin (sadly, Maloney and Bennett have since passed away), an archive 1977 documentary "Whose Doctor Who", Blue Peter clips, Behind The Scenes/Studio Footage, Philip Hinchcliffe interview from a 1977 edition of Pebble Mill, trailers and continuity plus all the episodes restored by the Restoration Team.

THE TALONS OF WENG CHIANG Region 2 DVD (BBCDVD1152 Cert PG)
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by stanmore on Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:36 am

Dave Webb wrote:On the other hand, The Wargames gave everything else a really tough act to follow. The Time Lords there are godlike, a force of nature. In The Three Doctors they have been reduced in stature a little, but not much. The mystique is kept right up to Assassin and then thrown away.

That's the problem with creating gods; the moment you show them to be like us you reduce them in stature, and that's exactly what Assassin does - it drags the Time Lords down to our level.

Worse is to come, of course.

And by pushing the Timelords down to our level, you push The Doctor above them. McCoy didn't need to tell us that he was more than just a Timelord, because thanks to The Deadly Assassin, we already know.
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The Dalek Invasion Of Earth

Post by Frank on Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:59 am

The latest from DWF's Valley Of The Wrinklies......

The Dalek Invasion Of Earth

November to December 1964

"What you need is a jolly good smacked bottom"

“One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.”

What strikes you immediately about these six episodes is the sheer, bare-faced cheek and ambition of the production team. A couple of weeks into its second year on air and the series is attempting an epic invasion story with six Daleks. You have to admire the way they so triumphantly get away with it.

The plot finds the Doctor and his companions back on Earth but in the year 2164. The planet has been bombarded by plague carrying meteorites and beaten into submission by an invasion force of Daleks. The Daleks have plans for Bedfordshire...I wonder if they've got council approval?

The opening episode is a brilliant exercise in creating mood and atmosphere. With my design hat on I feel I must praise designer Spencer Chapman here for his evocative sets depicting the derelict riverside of London. The attention to detail still stands up today and helps to define the increasing tension that the first 25 minutes instill in the viewer. Another great plus is the use of location filming. There are umpteen chase sequences and scenes of a deserted London patrolled by Daleks that are gritty and uncompromising. The film sequence of Barbara stumbling and running through derelict landscapes in episode one, complete with a frenetic side tracking shot, feel as if the Nouvelle Vague film-making of Truffaut et al has influenced the way the material is composed and edited. Jules Et Jim with Daleks. Either that or a Ken Loach directed French resistance drama. Any child or adult watching this in 1964 would be reminded of the Blitz and the shadow of the Second World War is all over this as it emulates the Blitz spirit of a battered London, the bravery of the French resistance fighters and taps into a peculiarly British appetite for destruction that here sees Battersea Power Station with its chimneys knocked off and is still being sated in 2005 by having spaceships crash into Big Ben.

This documentary vibe adds immeasurably to the story and reminds me of a little known ‘what if’ documentary film called It Happened Here released in 1966, proposing that Hitler did invade England in 1940. The film also has an association with the Free Cinema movement which again the documentary style location footage in DIOE is highly reminiscent of. The story also cements the Daleks reputation as galactic Nazis with a less than subtle subtext – plunger salutes, labour camps and the soundtrack accompanied by Daleks screeching ‘exterminate’ and discussing ‘the final solution’.

The first episode climaxes with that truly iconic moment of the Dalek emerging from the Thames but, unfortunately, beyond the first and second episodes, Richard Martin’s direction gets a bit tired and we end up in a, what is typical now, Terry Nation story cycle of capture/escape/recapture. The superb performances of Bernard Kay as the stoic Carl Tyler, and in episodes two and three Alan Judd as the crippled Dortmun (a kind of positive of the Davros negative) carry the narrative along. The assault on the saucer isn’t particularly well choreographed – the Daleks tend to just wobble on the spot rather statically and everyone else tries to jolly things up by running around randomly. Martin almost succeeds by cutting very abstract shots together to give a sense of urgency to the scene and uses smoke and lighting to add a bit of drama. It’s still a bit lacklustre, though.

By the third episode we also see the layering in of the developing relationship between David Campbell and Susan as the story splits up the companions and the Doctor, using this device very well. Barbara joins with Dortmun and Jenny, the Doctor and Susan escape with Tyler and Ian remains on the Dalek saucer with Larry. Their various adventures make up the remainder of the episodes, converging at the mine works in Bedfordshire. There are some terrific scenes where Barbara and Jenny run down a Dalek blockade with their van, David and Susan negotiating alligators in the sewer system. The only things that let the story down are the quite terrible costume of the Dalek’s pet monster, the Slyther and some of the visual effects of the flying saucers which seem to emulate Plan 9 From Outer Space.

These are small distractions and the only other comment I would make is that there probably is only enough story here for four parts rather than six and because of this there are great chunks of padding, particularly the scenes in the sewer perhaps going on for too long. Hartnell also disappears completely from episode four and most of his lines are given to Peter Fraser as David Campbell whilst the Doctor is drugged/semi-conscious and played by stand in Edmund Warwick. Fraser is very under-rated as Campbell. His defusing of the firebomb does stretch credulity with him seemingly picking up the knowledge to do so at the drop of a hat. Other than this, he’s a likeable character and there’s even a tender moment around a campfire with Susan, complete with a snog! Of course, firebombs, known as incendiaries, are yet another symbol of the Second World War that adult viewers, in particular, would pick up on. When you read the grim statistics about firebombing it certainly adds to the intention to make the Daleks utterly merciless.

I also love those two women in the woods, played effectively by Jean Conroy and Meriel Horson, and it’s a very atmospheric sub-plot as they betray Barbara and Jenny to the Daleks. Jacqueline Hill again shows what an incredible asset she was to the programme and later, she’s great trying to stall the Black Dalek’s interrogation by telling them of an elaborate mutiny involving Red Indians, the Boston Tea Party, Robert E. Lee and Hannibal. Plan 9 From Outer Space is probably the best way to describe the Daleks attempt to extract the magnetic core of the Earth. It’s utter nonsense and a barmy plan which just illustrates the series somewhat uneven use of science which is carried forward in the new series as if it’s a specific tradition. But in the end, the intensity of the performances and the scale of the production, including the first use of a quarry for the Bedford mine, create a magic despite the padding and Martin’s lack of pacing in the second half of the story.

The conclusion, with the Doctor locking Susan out of the TARDIS and bidding her farewell is still heart-wrenchingly good. Hartnell is terrific and Carole Ann Ford, not always best served by the scripts and often descending into childish hysteria with her performances, is actually rather good in this story. The courtship between Susan and David is rushed and lacks a bit of credibility but the two actors overcome this and do communicate a developing love between the two characters. The symbolic discarding of the TARDIS key in place of her lover’s hand is all that the final episode needed to show us about how the character has matured since her introduction in November 1963. And of course this is the very first companion to leave the series and it's heightened by the fact that it is the Doctor's 'grand-daughter'.

A piece of pure televisual drama.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by The Co=Ordinator on Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:11 am

I agree with virtually all you say Frank, but have a somewhat lower opinion of the end product as a whole.

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:43 am

The Co=Ordinator wrote:I agree with virtually all you say Frank, but have a somewhat lower opinion of the end product as a whole.

It's by no means perfect, I'll agree. Far too long and padded, some appalling effects for which there isn't much of an excuse. But it just about gets by on sheer ambition, particularly through designer Spencer Chapman's efforts.


Last edited by Frank on Wed Jan 14, 2009 4:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by barnaby morbius on Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:46 am

Frank wrote:
The Co=Ordinator wrote:I agree with virtually all you say Frank, but have a somewhat lower opinion of the end product as a whole.

It's by no means perfect, I'll agree. Far too long and padded, some appalling effects for which there isn't much of an excuse. But it just about gets by on sheer ambition, particulary through designer Spencer Chapman's efforts.

i actually prefer the peter cushing film(is that heresy?)
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:47 am

Frank wrote:
The Co=Ordinator wrote:I agree with virtually all you say Frank, but have a somewhat lower opinion of the end product as a whole.

It's by no means perfect, I'll agree. Far too long and padded, some appalling effects for which there isn't much of an excuse. But it just about gets by on sheer ambition, particulary through designer Spencer Chapman's efforts.
I'd certainly agree with this. Chapman's superb work does the near impossible by actually carrying the viewer through many of the worst script deficiencies/dodgy effects.

Oh, and the review more than lived up my expectations. Excellent work Frank, me ducks.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:48 am

barnaby salton wrote:i actually prefer the peter cushing film(is that heresy?)
Nope. I love the Cushing film too. They both work wonderfully in their respective mediums.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by andrea on Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:53 am

I love The Dalek Invasion of Earth and if I was in the habit of listing my favourite stories it would certainly be in there. Barbara and Ian were a tremendous asset to Doctor Who and Barbara is indeed great in this story. The London stuff is brilliant.

I was eight when I saw it and remember two things in particular. I was devastated when Susan was locked out of the Tardis - I was sure she would be picked up the following week or the story after that or... It was very upsetting to find that someone could leave for good. Second, being a resident of Bedford I was convinced that coming to 'mines in Bedfordshire' meant that we would see some Daleks or the Doctor or companions in scenes in Bedford, maybe coming over the town bridge, in the Museum Gardens, the market square - somewhere, anywhere that I knew and went to. After all, Bedord is the county town of Bedfordshire, surely they must pass through it... Sadly, it was not to be and I was so disappointed. I think I still am really...
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:58 am

Sid Seadevil wrote:
barnaby salton wrote:i actually prefer the peter cushing film(is that heresy?)
Nope. I love the Cushing film too. They both work wonderfully in their respective mediums.

The Cushing film of DIoE is great. It compresses the story to an ideal length and then chucks money at the effects which for the time were pretty good. Yeah, I know you can see the strings on the saucer but the marvellous saucer design screams 1960s to me whereas the TV versions just look like flying pie tins. And don't forget, the Cushing films seduce us through the use of lush Technicolour and widescreen. However, the TV version is grittier and showcases the Doctor/companions relationships really well.

In the end they both have their positives and negatives.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:01 am

Frank wrote:The Cushing film of DIoE is great. It compresses the story to an ideal length and then chucks money at the effects which for the time were pretty good. Yeah, I know you can see the strings on the saucer but the marvellous saucer design screams 1960s to me whereas the TV versions just look like flying pie tins. And don't forget, the Cushing films seduce us through the use of lush Technicolour and widescreen. However, the TV version is grittier and showcases the Doctor/companions relationships really well.

In the end they both have their positives and negatives.
Absolutely. In fact they're a near perfect example of how an adaptation can compliment the original without either diminishing it - or dismembering it and stamping all over it's blood soaked corpse.

Quite a neat trick actually.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:06 am

Sid Seadevil wrote:Absolutely. In fact they're a near perfect example of how an adaptation can compliment the original without either diminishing it - or dismembering it and stamping all over it's blood soaked corpse.

Quite a neat trick actually.

Complimentary....that's the word I was scrabbling for.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by The Co=Ordinator on Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:12 am

barnaby salton wrote:i actually prefer the peter cushing film(is that heresy?)

Well if it is, then I'm a heretic as well. Very Happy

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:15 am

Frank wrote:Complimentary....that's the word I was scrabbling for.
Gracious! I said something that made sense!! affraid

Nurse! The tablets!
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:16 am

The Co=Ordinator wrote:
barnaby salton wrote:i actually prefer the peter cushing film(is that heresy?)

Well if it is, then I'm a heretic as well. Very Happy

Bloody heretics, burn them, burn them! Razz
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:16 am

The Co=Ordinator wrote:Well if it is, then I'm a heretic as well. Very Happy
Well one of us better to remember to bring the matches when we climb up on the bonfire.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by The Co=Ordinator on Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:26 am

Blimey, that's the hanging and drawing. Just quartering left........ affraid

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:30 am

The Co=Ordinator wrote:Blimey, that's the hanging and drawing. Just quartering left........ affraid

I like both versions for different reasons, as we've said. I utterly love Peter Cushing but he was sidelined a bit in Daleks:Invasion Earth. I think he was poorly at the time and they hastily had to reduce his involvement. He's not as good as he was in the first film.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Graymalkin on Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:37 am

And the film has a much better soundtrack...
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by The Co=Ordinator on Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:57 am

Talking of which the Silva Screen Who Movie Music CD, that first came to light nigh on a year ago, is still "work-in-progress". But hopefully it will eventually see the light of day. Smile

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