Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Tue Feb 10, 2009 1:07 am

Lee Carey wrote:As repeated probably far too many times over at t'other Valley, I love the Web Planet. Along with the Crusades, it is the high point of season two for me. Yes, it's over-ambitious, yes it has a slightly week first episode, but on some levels it's a surrealist masterpiece reminiscent of those old East European children's serials that dominated the 60's and 70's (and, in particular, the Singing Ringing Tree)- watching episode six on the DVD with the foreign language option and subtitles only reinforces this!

Really glad you picked up on the Animus and importance of Barbara being responsible for its defeat as well. Great review Frank. But then, they always are!-)
Absolutely agreed on all counts. A flawed but incredibly brave and adventurous undertaking that even today's production team would blanch at the prospect of having a crack at.

Love it - and always loved it - shall continue to love it.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by andrea on Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:43 am

Another vote in favour of The Web Planet from me. Yes, it is overlong and padded but its ambition is admirable. I particularly like the attempts to portray a really alien planet with no humanlike creatures. When I saw this at the age of nine I truly loved the whole thing. I particularly loved the Zarbi and still consider them to be - and I know I am in a minority here - a really good design*. I so wanted the Zarbi and Menoptera to appear again and was disappointed as time passed and they did not. The reason I am posting this is to make the point that the story appealed to at least one youngish child who certainly didn't have the ability to analyse meanings and references etc but simply enjoyed the story and, particularly, the aliens.

As for The Romans, I have not seen this since it was first broadcast and am so looking forward to doing so that I have, unusually for me, pre-ordered it (that horrid word again).


* And it's not just nostagia that makes me like
the design - I saw The Chase again a year or so
ago and found myself at a complete loss as to what
it was about the Mechanoids which so took the
fancy of my young self and left me hoping for
a reappearance by them as well!
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Season 16 - Part 3: The Power Of Kroll & The Armageddon Factor

Post by Frank on Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:37 am

Season 16 - The Key To Time



THE POWER OF KROLL - December 1978 - January 1979

'Kroll!....Kroll!....Kroll!....Kroll!'

Altogether now....'Kroll!....Kroll!'

The Doctor and Romana get mixed up in gun-running on Delta Magna and a dispute between the Swampies, the local population, and the coniving methane refinery personnel. Oh and a big quid has swallowed the fifth segment of the Key. Ho hum.

Was Robert Holmes having an off day? Or was it just the way his ideas were executed by the production team at the time? Whatever happened, it makes Kroll the first serial of the Key To Time sequence to let the side down. The season's been going great guns up until now and then everyone drops the ball and the whole season screeches to a halt and ends with the damp squib, or should that be squid, of Kroll and the interminable dullness of The Armageddon Factor. 'Tis a pity too as there's a rather terrific cast here - Philip Madoc, John Abineri, Neil McCarthy - and a healthy quota of location filming that has a fresh appeal - love the TARDIS almost buried by the reed beds. But then we get endless scenes in the rig control room of people pointing at screens muttering 'look at the size of that' or nameless extras in awful green body paint and Bo Derek hairdos all running about trying to escape the rubbery clutches of said titular beast.

In the middle of all the rather lame production values (the rig sets are spartan to say the least and the rocket silo is embarassingly wobbly) and the green painted actors, there is an interesting story with some typical Holmes observations about criminality and the nature of revolutions as well an attempt by the series to deal with a native society's blind faith in their God. It's now all a bit tokenistic but at the time it was an attempt to talk a little more seriously about 'home rule' and colonialism. The last time anything like this was on the menu was with The Mutants back in 1973 and we all know how that one turned out.

Madoc and Co do their best with quite dreadfully dull parts, especially as they are mostly confined to a bare looking set trying to make green blobs on a screen all the more threatening. It's a terrible waste of talent. John Abineri makes the most of his role as Ranquin and gives it all he's got and is convincing as the old leader set in his ways. And John Leeson gets a brief moment in the sun as Dugeen, haplessly twiddling knobs and listening intently to his earphones to convince us that Kroll is a very big squid indeed! Glyn Owen as Rohm Dutt provides us with his standard gravel voiced, hard bitten mercenary type and looks quite at home traipsing through the reed beds of East Anglia. There's also a lot of getting captured, running around, and getting captured again. And that includes the Doctor and Rohm Dutt as well as Romana. Baker and Tamm have some good lines and offer a lightness of touch that is a little misplaced. This isn't Androids Of Tara where such lightness helps keep all the elements moving.

When Kroll finally does make its appearance, the miniature work is severely hampered by a decision to use a simple split-screen technique to incorporate it into the location footage. The puppet version of Kroll is fine but it's the way the finished footage collides with the vistas of East Anglia that detracts. But that is down to budgets and time for you. It isn't the worst visual effect in the series but it isn't the best either. A shame, because the location footage of the Doctor and Romana furiously rowing away across the marsh land is pretty evocative. A 'King Kong' moment that's badly scuppered.

Inevitably, there's a potentially interesting story trying to get to the surface but the characters that populate it are earnest and dull, much of the time is spent describing events that are going on (the rig control room being the major culprit here) rather than actually showing them. A constraint of the budget that's painfully obvious. In its favour, it has some great location work and the Kroll puppet is OK but also the fact that Kroll is the fifth segment is signposted rather early on in the narrative. Probably best watched whilst excessively drunk. You can join in the sacrifical dance, knock over a few ornaments and annoy the neighbours.

THE ARMAGEDDON FACTOR - January 1979 to February 1979

And so we reach the close of the Key To Time sequence and the finale of Season 16.

I shall try to be charitable. Indeed, I was quite disposed to being charitable about the first three episodes of this story until it all went so wrong from episode four onwards. And it kept going on and on and on. Just like the time loop the Doctor traps the Marshall in. Like any Bob Baker and Dave Martin script, there are so many lovely ideas here but they did have a tendency to use all of them, all at once and briefly and then discard them without really knowing how far to continue them. And we get six episodes of this approach when quite clearly four would have been quite suffice.

The Doctor and Romana find themselves caught up in a war between Atrios and Zeos and going in search of the final segment of the Key, discover that key players are being manipulated by the Black Guardian's agent, the Shadow. Baker and Martin's bumper book of sci-fi favourites really does get off to a reasonable start. The faux soap opera that opens the first episode is a clever meta-textual device that brings us into the drama proper of badly run medical wards full of the victims of war. Their take on propaganda is apt for a story that concerns itself with subterfuge, bluff and counter-bluff between the twitchy Marshall, played with great authority by John Woodvine; the Shadow, with William Squire striving to be villainous despite wearing what looks like a pair of ladies tights on his head, and Princess Astra, a shop dummy that's wheeled onto the set occassionally and here introducing Lalla Ward to the show.

The first three episodes are interesting in the way that they generate the narrative and keep us interested with neat twists even though the production looks like ten pence was spent on it. The production design isn't this serial's strong card and neither are the costumes and when everything turns into running around caves and corridors from episode four onwards then there's little else to keep you amused. This is supposed to be a war story told on a huge scale and it simply doesn't play well confined to these drab sets.

The plot spirals off into a sub-narrative involving Drax, another renegade Time Lord, played by Barry Jackson as some sort of Cockney geezer, taking us further down the route of demystifying the Time Lords but in a truly awful way and a computer, Mentalis, that's running the war...blah...blah...blah. The choices that the actors make here seem to suggest a director who just couldn't be bothered to give notes and took the money and ran. Likewise, David Harries' little turn as the Marshall's aide, Shapp, who decides he's in a panto and has to turn the character into a total buffoon and adds in a lot of unnecessary pratfalls and slapstick. It also betrays some of the lack of confidence behind the scenes with a revolving door for the script editor post after Anthony Read jacked it all in. Graham Williams was absent too, due to illness, and David Maloney stepped in to handle the producing duties temporarily. It feels like a rudderless production and one assumes that without Maloney we may yet have had another Shada on our hands. Despite the paucity of production values, some of the model work is very good and the shrinking effects for the Doctor and Drax are handled quite effectively. It's just too bad they're driving a lame script.

Woodvine and Squire make the best of a bad bunch of dull, uninteresting characters and Baker and Tamm seem to spend endless scenes re-explaining the plot to various characters, notably Astra and her very wet boyfriend, Merak. It's not a particularly fitting end for Tamm and that's a shame as up until this point I felt she had acquited herself well. Baker's on autopilot and then helps himself to a huge slice of ham for the eye-ball rolling conclusion. Cue randomiser and Romana's regeneration. Six parters were notoriously difficult to produce and this effort and the disaster that befell Shada brought the tradition of concluding each season with a six part story to a close. There are very few totally successful stories that run for that length so it was perhaps time for a re-think. To end the Key To Time arc on such an anti-climactic note is also sad as the majority of the season can be seen as a very successful demonstration of Williams' ambitions for the show and the arc certainly worked as the glue to hold together the stories. Unfortunately, the glue wasn't strong enough here.

DVD Features: There is a ton of material on the box set. Two commentaries each on Pirate Planet, Tara and Armageddon Factor. Single commentaries on the rest of the stories. Generally they're all entertaining, especially the ones featuring Tom and Mary. The Stones Of Blood commentary is particularly good with writer David Fisher, Tom, Mary and Susan Engel. And director Michael Hayes is very good value on the Tara and Armageddon commentaries.

Loads of features. The major reason for getting hold of this box set is the documentary on Graham Williams. It's affectionate, amusing and in-depth. Quite superb. Other highlights are the Hammer Horror comparison on the Stones of Blood disc and Mary's look at neolithic stones and their mythology. The Now And Then locations feature on the Tara disc is also delightful. Plenty of excerpts from Blue Peter, Model World and other BBC programmes. The Armageddon disc also has a real treat included - Tom Baker narrating a series of chilling stories from a 1978 series Late Night Story. Smashing.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are other featurettes on Dick Mills, Mary Tamm, Michael Hayes, Philip Madoc, continuity announcements, galleries, annual PDFs, Xmas sketches.

This was a limited edition so you might find this hard to find and at very inflated prices.

THE KEY TO TIME Boxset: The Power Of Kroll & The Armageddon Factor (BBCDVD2335 Region 2 DVD Cert PG)
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Zoltar on Tue Feb 17, 2009 4:07 pm

Frank wrote:'Kroll!....Kroll!....Kroll!....Kroll!'

Altogether now....'Kroll!....Kroll!'
Kroll!....Kroll!....Kroll!

Great reviews, Frank, as per usual. Smile

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:58 am

I'm looking forward to catching up on the latest reviews, Frank, me old chuck.

More anon. Smile
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Zoltar on Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:58 pm

Sid Seadevil wrote:I'm looking forward to catching up on the latest reviews, Frank, me old chuck.

More anon. Smile
You forgot to "Kroll"... Wink

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Patrick on Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:26 pm

Zoltar wrote:
Sid Seadevil wrote:I'm looking forward to catching up on the latest reviews, Frank, me old chuck.

More anon. Smile
You forgot to "Kroll"... Wink

Do Seadevils "Kroll"?
scratch

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by whoisthedoctor on Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:24 pm

Just out of curiosity, if anyone on the other side of the pond has watched it, does the newer release of The Stones of Blood restore the "missing scene" that was cut from the earlier DVD release?
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Sid Seadevil on Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:06 am

Zoltar wrote:You forgot to "Kroll"... Wink
No me, guv. Seadevils "Kroll" to no one.

Patrick wrote:Do Seadevils "Kroll"?
scratch
See the answer supplied to the honourable gentleman above for our stance on this question.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Patrick on Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:32 am

Sid Seadevil wrote:
Zoltar wrote:You forgot to "Kroll"... Wink
No me, guv. Seadevils "Kroll" to no one.

Patrick wrote:Do Seadevils "Kroll"?
scratch
See the answer supplied to the honourable gentleman above for our stance on this question.

Glad you cleared that up for, Sid, my friend. Somehow, I couldn't picture a Seadevil "Krolling" on a regular basis.

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:45 am

whoisthedoctor wrote:Just out of curiosity, if anyone on the other side of the pond has watched it, does the newer release of The Stones of Blood restore the "missing scene" that was cut from the earlier DVD release?

Oh, you'll need to remind me what the missing scene was? Was this the contentious birthday cake scene? If it was, no it was not put back into the story as it was originally cut by Graham Williams before the original transmission I believe. If it's something else then you'll need to jog my memory!
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Zoltar on Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:16 pm

Sid Seadevil wrote:
Zoltar wrote:You forgot to "Kroll"... Wink
No me, guv. Seadevils "Kroll" to no one.

Patrick wrote:Do Seadevils "Kroll"?
scratch
See the answer supplied to the honourable gentleman above for our stance on this question.
I see. Cultural misunderstanding then, carry on. Razz

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Zoltar on Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:17 pm

Frank wrote:
whoisthedoctor wrote:Just out of curiosity, if anyone on the other side of the pond has watched it, does the newer release of The Stones of Blood restore the "missing scene" that was cut from the earlier DVD release?

Oh, you'll need to remind me what the missing scene was? Was this the contentious birthday cake scene? If it was, no it was not put back into the story as it was originally cut by Graham Williams before the original transmission I believe. If it's something else then you'll need to jog my memory!
Same here, I don't recall what the scene in question is.

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by whoisthedoctor on Sat Feb 21, 2009 4:48 pm

Frank wrote:
whoisthedoctor wrote:Just out of curiosity, if anyone on the other side of the pond has watched it, does the newer release of The Stones of Blood restore the "missing scene" that was cut from the earlier DVD release?

Oh, you'll need to remind me what the missing scene was? Was this the contentious birthday cake scene? If it was, no it was not put back into the story as it was originally cut by Graham Williams before the original transmission I believe. If it's something else then you'll need to jog my memory!

No, it's a scene with De Vries and Martha arguing extensively before they're attacked by the Ogri. The tail-end of it wad on the previous DVD release, but not the whole thing.

I've since been told by someone on the other forum that it's on the DVD, but only as a deleted scene, not as part of the main body of the story. Considering the confusion here, I'm not sure if I explained the correct scene there either. Maybe I'll dig out the two versions I own so as to describe the scene better.
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The Crusade

Post by Frank on Sun Feb 22, 2009 7:46 am

The Crusade

March - April 1965

"There is something new in you, yet something older than the sky itself. I sense that I can trust you."

The great triumvirate of Douglas Camfield, David Whitaker and Dennis Spooner finally meet in perhaps one of the finest 'historical' serials produced for the series. It is no wonder that Camfield is still regarded as one of the best directors to have worked on Doctor Who judging by his debut here. He expertly treats the material with due seriousness and gets exceptional performances from Julian Glover and Jean Marsh. The Crusade also flirts very successfully with iambic pentameter, giving the dialogue an effective Shakespearean quality. The acting by most of the lead actors is of a high quality, with good characterisation, particularly with Marsh providing a spirited Joanna, King Richard's sister, and Glover giving us a tortured King wrestling with moral dilemmas, often taking actions that we would disapprove of. Add in a truly despicable villain, perhaps the nastiest human villain we've had, in the form of Walter Randall's El Akir, some great supporting work from Bernard Kay as Saladin and you have quality actors delivering an involving script.

Glover practically steals the show though as the exhausted and weary Richard, trying to marry off his sister in a compelling game of politics that reeks of religious persecution. Joanna gives as good as she gets, arguing the toss with Richard over the arranged marriage to Saphadin and with the story suggesting potential physical abuse from Richard. There is real commitment behind these performances. Whitaker also avoids the criticism of racism in his depiction of the Saracens and their culture. Of course we've got blacked up actors, which in 1965 didn't cause any eyelids to batter, and now rightly cause discomfort but as characters, Saladin, Saphadin et al are as richly portrayed as the English and Saladin is seen as wise, thoughtful and respectful, capable of mercy. He's ruthless too, implying that if Barbara doesn't pull her weight at court that he's more than happy to dispose of her. He respects Richard's last ditch attempt at peace with the offer of Joanna's hand in marriage. The villain El Akir is thoroughly unpleasant. The story intimates that he is a murderer and rapist, a sadist and obsessed with revenge, especially after Barbara humiliates him. He pursues her and threatens her, with the story implying a sexual violence that seems very adult at the time for what is essentially a children's series. He gets his just desserts with a knife in the back. Walter Randall is like the rest of the cast, exceptional, and never allows this to be over-played.

Babs faces most of the horrors of the story, kidnapped and made to work at Saladin's court and then suffering at the hands of El Akir. Once again, Jacqueline Hill maintains her reputation as a damned good actor, delivering to us a brave woman, stoic in the face of certain death. Ian gets a fair bit to do too, outwitting Ibrahim and the Earl of Leicester and getting a knighthood. Vicki is rather underused here but Maureen O'Brien's performance is still attractive and warm. Hartnell gets a fabulous speech in episode three during the arguments between the various characters at the King's court in Jaffa. An intense performance as the Doctor which does rather counter the lighthearted attitude the actor has had with the dialogue in previous episodes. He's suddenly realised this is actually proper drama and he's not in The Romans this week.

The other dimension to note is the stunning design from Barry Newbery. The rough around the edges work of The Aztecs has been replaced with beautifully constructed sets that instantly capture the atmosphere of the court and the Palestinian locale, a mix of palaces, narrow streets, souks. Add in the great costumes, props and lighting to enhance many of the scenes and Camfield's assured direction and you've got a visually impressive serial. What obviously doesn't hold water now is the misogyny and racism and it is painfully clear that they couldn't handle anything like big battles, which to all intents and purposes, is what most of us picture the Crusades as being. This isn't a Ridley Scott epic so it might come across as clunky, slow and unexciting to audiences today. It is, by dint of 1965, full of cliches about the Middle East and seems terribly innocent from our perspective of the Gulf and Iraq Wars. But, it doesn't let the European conquerors off the hook and it does give the Earl of Leicester and the Doctor a chance to air the arguments which is very forward thinking of Whitaker. Despite all of this, it doesn't let itself down as a drama.

DVD and CD: Episodes 1 and 3, The Lion and The Wheel Of Fortune can be found on the Lost In Time DVD with an Episode 3 commentary from Julian Glover and Gary Russell. The missing two episodes are also present in audio form. An Easter Egg has the continuity links with William Russell from the original video release. The video release also came with a CD of the two missing episodes. All four episodes are available as an audio book with linking narration by William Russell.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Lee Carey on Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:47 pm

And the best thing about the William Russell continuity links is the implication, as they are told 'in character 'of Ian, that he and Barbara become a couple after their adventures with the Doctor. It would be only fitting that the first two human companions have a happy ending.

The Crusades is a brilliant, brilliant story, and coming after The Web Planet and the Romans demonstrates the sheer versatility of early Doctor Who. Another blinder of a review as well, Frank.
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The Space Museum

Post by Frank on Thu Mar 12, 2009 4:49 am

The Space Museum

April to May 1965

"Have any arms fallen into Xeron hands?"

The crew arrive at a space museum on the barren planet Xeros - the four travellers discover that the TARDIS has in fact 'jumped a time track', giving them a glimpse into their own future: a future in which they end up as static exhibits in the museum itself. As time catches up with them, the Doctor and his companions have to try to avert this possible future by altering events in the present. Fortunately they win through in the end, helping a group of youthful Xeron rebels to overthrow the warlike Morok invaders.

It's apparently a myth that this is the story in Season 2 allocated the smallest budget. Well, even if that's the case then the producers certainly went out of their way to make it look cheap. It's not one of my favourite Hartnell's unfortunately and the design does let it down along with a script that runs out of steam before it can provide a decent conclusion to the story. The events take place in a series of rather bland looking corridors so there isn't very much to distract you visually from the tale. There is definitely the feeling that this one was thrown together even if they had a decent budget. Perhaps constraints of time was the problem here, leading to a lacklustre and uninspired sense of creativity that permeates the way the story is directed, the application of dodgy make up and wigs from the usually reliable team and use of some rather uninspiring stock music. I must give praise where it is due and I take my hat off to Howard King for the lighting design. He did some excellent work on The Rescue and again provides some striking use of light and shadow in this story.

It's a shame as there is an interesting time paradox story struggling to emerge here but then it's cobbled together with a rather dull story of the Xeron rebellion against the Moroks. The 'time track' narrative is the most interesting idea here and the sub-plot of the TARDIS crew trying to avoid a future they've already seen provides some much needed conflict and tension. The first episode is the best as it focuses more or less on the lead characters. It also has an eerie, surreal quality that make it one of the best black and white episodes of Doctor Who. The notion of a time paradox, quite a sophisticated idea for early Doctor Who and one of the first to play with the nature of time and cause and effect, provides an interesting contrast to the rather hackneyed and cheap, cliched SF tropes of 'ray guns' and bushy eyebrowed aliens. The discussion of destiny and free will adds a neat philosophical edge to an otherwise tedious runaround.

I quite like the idea of the Moroks as a race in slow decline and as a bunch of bored militants but their dialogue and the delivery of it by some of the guest actors really is poor. It is a great opportunity for Vicki to shine in this story as she gets to do very constructive things as a character in the narrative and it is a pleasure to see Maureen O'Brien given a decent bit of script to work with. She ends up empathising with the Xerons and helps to alter future events by assisting the Xerons with their revolution by gaining them access to the armoury. Richard Shaw as Lobos, the chief villain, if you can call him that, can't seem to make his mind up as to whether to try and put a performance in or not. His confrontation with the Doctor during the interrogation scene is quite memorable and sees the Doctor, unusually, having a bit of fun with his interrogator. And despite the best attempts by a young Jeremy Bulloch, even the rebellious Xerons are a terribly dull bunch.

So William Russell and Maureen O'Brien are probably best served by this story. Ian shows some qualities of leadership and Vicki has some nice moments with the Xerons. Jacqueline Hill struggles with an underwritten part for Barbara and doesn't really have a chance to make an impact here. Hartnell is only briefly compelling but I love that ironic little scene of the Doctor hiding inside a Dalek casing in the Museum foreshadowing the cliffhanger where Skaro's finest are revealed to be be pursuing the Doctor with the aid of a time machine. So a very mixed story here with ideas that don't really get a quality production to match and it is certainly unremarkable save for that spooky first episode.
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Season 17 - Destiny Of The Daleks

Post by Frank on Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:52 am



Season 17

Destiny Of The Daleks

September 1979

I have mixed feelings about the advent of Douglas Adams arrival as script editor for the 17th season. I can understand that he's lumbered from the outset with previously commissioned scripts and his frustration is evident at not being able to shape the series to his own satisfaction. I think what we end up with is a set of stories that have their own deficiences and pit-falls either due to poor scripts or the by now very apparent squeeze on the budget and a leading man who was intent on having his say and getting away with it. There is is one shining example of Adams stamp on the show with City Of Death. It's the one script he really managed to get his hands on and rewrite from the ground up over a desperate weekend just before taping began. It carries all his predeliction for humour in the face of crisis, complex but barmy plotting and a brave attempt to give the bad guys a very good reason for their attempts at world domination. That he didn't manage to get a chance to carry this through the rest of the series in a more radical way is perhaps a shame in some ways. However, it's evident that his relationship with Williams would perhaps steer the show into an area where a deprecating humour ended up making the show a self-parody.

If there's a good example of Graham Williams inconsistency as a producer then Destiny is as good as any. It really isn't worth bringing back the Daleks unless you can re-affirm their core values not just in terms of a competent script but also in getting money on the screen. What's evident from this four-parter is that the budget didn't stretch to doing that. But more of that later... The Doctor and Romana (the Lalla Ward version) arrive on Skaro where they discover the Daleks have returned to their home planet to seek out their creator Davros. They're at an impasse in a war with the Movellans. First off...Romana's regeneration. I remember at the time that I felt this was all wrong. Granted, they hadn't been able to write Mary Tamm out of the programme and were left with having to introduce Lalla. However, the way they achieve this is symptomatic of their approach to the series as a whole. Thus far we know regeneration is either a desperate and traumatic act of self-preservation or is something used as a punishment/condition whilst undertaking an exile on Earth. You don't just go and randomly shuffle through a number of different bodies to suit you. That opening scene is just so wrong.

It continues the mid to late 70s obsession with crapping on the authority and mystery of the Doctor and his people and their effective solution to seeking longevity. It makes a nonsense of it all when it shouldn't. This casual flippancy not only harms the show but makes the audience do a double take and disinvest their appreciation of the series. Not a good sign for those of us who do like our established continuity - I didn't like it when I was 16 and it still irritates the hell out of me now. Beyond this awkward introduction, Lalla Ward is actually a breath of fresh air. Mary Tamm never really made Romana appealing enough for me whereas Lalla creates something new with the character, making her the female equivalent of the Doctor in a much less antagonistic manner. However, I would say that she still fails as a vehicle for audience identification with the relationship between the Doctor and Romana evolving from the master/pupil one to more of a pair of very self-obsessed friends who can finish each others sentences! The audience has for some time been placed outside of the central characters' relationship and we are remote viewers watching two very clever people solve problems. It could even be said that Romana even eclipses the Doctor as a character later in the season and beyond. What's lacking is an emotional involvement. They're clever and they get into scrapes but it's not the Sarah-Jane/Doctor axis of Time Lord protecting human from the terrors of the universe and it's not even the frustration of Barbara and Ian in the Doctor's failure to get them home. It's Time Lord narcissism. Gallifreyan porn.

Anyway. There's a lot more that's wrong with Destiny than the Doctor/Romana relationship. As a production it actually looks pretty good and truly awful in equal measure. The money's been spent on the interiors of the Movellan ship and the ruins of the Kaled city. They've even got a Steadicam in and that ups the pace and creates a moody ambience for the goings on. But the Daleks look really awful. They're battered, warped, chipped and badly painted mongrels. There are the sequences when they're advancing on the Movellan ship where it is plainly obvious the operators are walking whilst carrying the casings along. After the utter triumph of Genesis where good lighting and design convinces you that these creatures are thoroughly nasty, we're down to this rather uninspiring approach that effectively diminishes them for a very long time. And bringing back Davros for a cough and a spit wasn't really worth it unless you have an actor at least as good as Michael Wisher. David Gooderson just can't capture the immense subtlety of Wisher's work and he struggles to make an impact. Even the original Davros mask is looking a little lacklustre here. This is also the beginning of some tedious Dalek continuity that gets ever more complex when the show gets into the mid-80s but we only have hindsight to make that relevant today. And of course, Nation's stipulation that the BBC couldn't have the Daleks without Davros didn't help either.

The Movellans. Looking like a Bo Derek influenced dance troupe really doesn't come across. And the fact that you can disable them by removing their batteries is very lame indeed and why the Daleks hadn't spotted that one makes very little sense. They don't pose a threat at all despite having a nice, modern looking, white spaceship interior. For logical creatures they're presented in a very illogical manner. Just as illogical as the logic trap they're apparently caught in. Tom and Lalla sparkle away with very appealing performances despite that dreadful regeneration scene. The supporting cast are fairly dull all round - most of the Movellans are forgettable - but Tim Barlow's OK as Tyssan and David Gooderson tries hard. Ken Grieve's direction is spirited, especially when he's got the Steadicam going, and there are lots of lovely low level tracking shots but it's obvious that he was up against the clock to get the studio stuff done. The location work is adequate but ruined by those 'walking' Daleks. Not an inspiring start to the new season. As a 16 year old this left me feeling unimpressed and my allegiance to the show was going and as a 46 year old all I can see is a script editor chucking bits in from his own work to desperately make Nation's script workable, a producer spending money unwisely on sets and costumes when the 'big bad' are in need of an upgrade and the self-obsessiveness of Tom and Lalla growing by the second.

The DVD edition features:

* Commentary - With actors Lalla Ward and David Gooderson, director Ken Grieve.
* Terror Nation - documentary about writer Terry Nation, creator of the Daleks, and his work on Doctor Who. With contributions from producers Barry Letts and Philip Hinchcliffe, script editor Terrance Dicks, director Richard Martin and Dalek voice artiste Nicholas Briggs.
* Directing Who - director Ken Grieve recalls his time on this story.
* CGI Effects – providing the option to watch the story with seventeen of the original video effects sequences replaced by CGI versions.
* Trails and Continuity - BBC One trails and continuity announcements from the story's transmission, including the specially shot trailer heralding the return of the Daleks.
* Photo Gallery - production, design and publicity photos.
* Prime Computer Adverts - Australian TV adverts for Prime Computers, starring the Doctor and Romana.

DESTINY OF THE DALEKS (BBCDVD2434 Region 2 DVD Cert PG)
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by barnaby morbius on Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:00 am

as a 7 year old i thought it was the most amazing thing i'd ever seen!

these days i'm not blind to it's faults but still have affection for the old thing.

thought provoking review as always sir...
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by The Co=Ordinator on Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:00 am

I think the "award" for worst ever Dalek story is a battle between Destiny & Death, with Destiny marginally ahead on points.

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by Frank on Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:03 am

The Co=Ordinator wrote:I think the "award" for worst ever Dalek story is a battle between Destiny & Death, with Destiny marginally ahead on points.

Oh, Destiny is way ahead on points simply because it looks so shabby. The script isn't too bad even though the logic impasse is a load of nonsense.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by barnaby morbius on Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:08 am

The Co=Ordinator wrote:I think the "award" for worst ever Dalek story is a battle between Destiny & Death, with Destiny marginally ahead on points.

i'd say the chase, planet, remembrance and evolution are all worse than destiny!
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by The Co=Ordinator on Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:15 am

The Chase is a masterpiece of mid 60's post modern-irony. Once the DVD is released, you will see the error of your ways my son. Very Happy

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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by barnaby morbius on Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:16 am

The Co=Ordinator wrote:The Chase is a masterpiece of mid 60's post modern-irony. Once the DVD is released, you will see the error of your ways my son. Very Happy

i like the evil robot doctor. he should have come back.
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Re: Return To The Valley Of The Wrinklies

Post by The Co=Ordinator on Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:21 am

His likeness for Billy was totally awesome. Identical twins have more differences than Hartnell and Warwick.

You see, I reckon you could come round to my way of thinking........ lol!

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