Sunday, October 28, 2012

Who Watch Pt 7: Tonsillectomies Suck

Story 055 Terror of the Autons
Ah sweet, sweet, Delgado. I enjoyed The Sound of Drums and End of Time version of The Master well enough. However, this one just has so much more class. He comes across as a Moriarty instead of a spoiled sadistic club kid. Autons also worked well in the classic episodes because they were supposed to be made of plastic. So a few unclean edges or blatantly fake facial appliances make perfect sense. Such well executed villains + Pertwee + Brigadier = awesomesauce.

Story 057 The Claws of Axos
Creepy statuesque angelic beings offer man a quick way to attain ultimate power which turns out to be a deadly world-eating poison. This one made me consider getting Amazon Prime to reliably stream classic episodes. The library's copy was covered in oil and scratched to hell. By the time I got it working, I was too tired to watch the special features that make the DVDs so worthwhile. Probably need to rewatch this sans technical glitches to fully appreciate.

Story 072 Death to the Daleks
Interesting to see the Daleks unarmed and outmatched. Didn't lead to character development persay. Just revealed they were the same old arrogant killing machines. Cool serial all told.

Story 129 The Five Doctors
Sometimes, I want to punch Tom Baker. Richard Hurndall did a decent Hartnell impression. However, stepping up his role when Tom bailed served to drive home everything he got wrong. Ainley wasn't bad as The Master but did make me miss Delgado. All in all, the whole thing felt insanely clumsy and made me miss The Three Doctors.

Story 045 The Mind Robber
Not really sure how I feel about this serial. Whenever Jamie and Zoe went missing, Troughton became a whiny little emo bitch. The first couple episodes were kinda crap then the plot took a nice little twist. By the end, it was a joyous romp. Right up until the robots got a "destructa-beam." Then it got cringeworthy.

Story 046 The Invasion
Well done. Troughton is quirky and awesome. Despite having eight parts, there's minimal drag to the story. The animation is remarkably effective for recreation of lost episodes. Hell, even the features were informative and watchable. Plus this may be the first Cyberman story to make me understand why they recur so much. Only had one "heeey it's silver Doc Martens" moment. Otherwise, I was on the edge of my seat hoping Jamie would make it. Nice up-the-kilt-shot obscuring on the ladder too.

Story 044 The Dominators
There are times where the depth of storytelling, characterization, performances, etc. obscure the fact Doctor Who began geared towards children. Then there are things like the Quarks. Holy attempt at a second Dalek Mania, Batman! Thing is Quarks manage to be even less frightening than when Daleks couldn't leave specially charged panels in one location. They're so grade-school arts and crafts in design and their voices are "aww lookit the little mechanized bear" Sci-Fi pap. Plus, Quarks only kill if guys wearing mudflap shirts and sea shell shoulder pads look at the camera and scream "DESTROY" while doing a gleeful little jig. I guess The Doctor helping people who wouldn't help themselves aspect of the story was nice for the character but everything else hurt. Maybe four parts worth of material here, but barely.

The Swell LOST (as in no one actually reads this blog and I've got the pageview stats to prove it) DOCTOR WHO SERIAL WALKTHROUGH PT. 4: And Coincidentally, the first one to cover any Tom Baker

Publishing a few days early in case Sandy punches me in the nuts.

Story 075 - Robot
I initially tried starting this initiative here. After all, Tom Baker was the one whom my few friends seemingly aware the show existed to 2005 fawned over. That attempt failed because Robot struck me as insanely clunky at the time. After a complete watching with some more perspective, I think that was another argument for the hypocrisy of this blog. I really need to experience entertainments with a bare minimum of pre-conception to enjoy them. Being told a daft yet intelligent man with this epic scarf would sweep me off to the stars and make me never wish to return home for so many years didn't mesh so well with meeting number 4 while he was regenerating and establishing himself as different from 3 yet still The Doctor. It did a nice job establishing what Baker was going to do with the character and effectively told a decent story. Not an instant favorite but far from Adric-bad.

Story 105 - City of Death
Okay. Now I get it. Baker was positively sublime in this one. He struck this amazing balance between insane and insanely gifted. It was just a delight to watch from start to finish. Of course, I adored lead writer Douglas Adams' novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and saying he borrowed from this storyline for it would be an understatement. Only real blight on my enjoyment of this one was the wish the third Dirk book got completed because the lead of that and the lead of this had so very many parallels. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Story 092 - Horror of Fang Rock
Horror . . . simply didn't work for me. After City of Death I wasn't prepared for Baker scowling into the mist a lot. Plus, Leela: Warrior Princess made my head hurt. It was neat meeting the sworn enemy of the baked space potat.. er Sontarans though. Also nice of it to eviscerate some really cloying rich d-bag stereotypes.

Story 051 Spearhead from Space
After the rewatch of Robot, I wanted to try out the debut of another actor in the role. Pertwee was fun in The Three Doctors so I opted for this episode. The Nestene Conciousness scared the crap out of me. They introduced the possibility of my Masters of the Universe Collection strangling me and setting fire to the house while I slept. Jon Pertwee handled them with proper gravitas and made me want to be #13 if only to have access to his wardrobe in the TARDIS.

Story 069 - The Green Death
I'm glad Dad couldn't stand Doctor Who when I was growing up. There was this bucket outside which he dropped garbage into to feed a large colony of maggots. I thought of them quite fondly right up until seeing this serial. I guess so long as we didn't upgrade the Apple //e to B. O. S. S. levels with a Transwarp card. OH WAIT! WE DID! I AM DEAD!

Story 052 - Doctor Who and the Silurians
 I had some interest in Silurians because of Moffat's ninja avocado warrior episodes. Got to say I prefer the original version with the funky multipurpose headlights. Sure the costumes are a bit cheesier but there's no random Kill Bill posing. Instead, there's a rather stylish yellow car named Bessie. Loved it!

Story 062 The Sea Devils
The Silurians have some cousins who wear stylish blue netting and live under the ocean. Fortunately, they were manipulated by The Master. I love me some Robert Delgado and Jon Pertwee pairing. The two complemented each other perfectly. Even with historical perspective telling me The Doctor can't los, The Master is a credible enough threat to cause some serious nailbiting.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I Watch So Much Doctor Who It's Amazing My Cats Still Purr At Me Pt 3: The Third Week???????? YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!! GO TV TAN!

Serial 015 - The Space Museum
Some intriguing sci-fi and political metaphors here. Still, Hartnell steals the show with a brilliant bit of comedy. The titular museum contains an empty Dalek shell so The Doctor hops in and mocks his deadliest enemy. The character was in danger, had to go into hiding from an enemy after catching a glimpse of future mortal peril, and still had fun with the situation. Gah. I love me daft Doctor.

Serial 016 - The Chase
People assured me this episode was pointless. However, I found it pretty solid all around. Daleks get pissed at The Doctor for thwarting their plans. They build their own time ship (!) and hunt his ass across time and space. Sure the haunted house and that "AW SHUCKS" Texan are awful. However, the idea that Daleks can and will do that is haunting and makes for a fun episode.

Serial 017 - The Time Meddler
Maybe the idea of an anti-Doctor who was hellbent on using his TARDIS  to tamper with history was a bit cliche. I absolutely do not deny the need to invent The Master as an arch-nemesis and am glad the Meddler gets stuck, never to be seen again. However, I had a great time watching this one unfold.

Serial 018 - Galaxy 4
Cute warrior babes with cuter robots. What could go wrong? I mean other than pretty much everything. There aren't many episodes which make me wonder if they even tried but this is one of them. To be fair, I haven't seen the serial with "Airlock" restored.

Serial 019 - "Mission to the Unknown"
This one was all about setting up a later episode, of which nearly all episodes were lost. I'm fairly convinced said serial would rock my world so my inclination towards this was angry boredom. Not honestly sure if it was good or not. Time to jump ahead to something fully intact.

Serial 065 - The Three Doctors
Opted to try and stick within my comfort zone by keeping to a story featuring Hartnell while also introducing myself to a couple other Doctors. It turned out to be a rather smashing idea. Watching Pertwee and Troughton as side by side with the aforementioned Doctor as his health allow made me downright giddy. Omega could hold all of Gallifrey hostage but didn't stand a chance against the combined wit, charm, intelligence, and general awesomesauce of the Doctors. Plus, it was nice seeing how three quality actors could play a part so differently yet still clearly be the same person. I honestly think that of all I've seen so far, this would be where I refer people in a position similar to my own where they are curious about previous Doctors due to nuances in the performances of current ones. A right ripping good time, old chap!

Serial 119 - The Visitation
I really don't know how to feel about Davison after this. Guess he's okay but those companions . . . ouch. Nyssa would probably be okay on her own but I found myself disliking her simply for not smacking Adric around. That kid reminded me of every kid thrown into every show for no reason other than making it readable to a younger audience all at once. So he was responsible for that weird dog thing on the original Battlestar Galactica and Daniel's horrible lines in Transformers: The Movie as well as the on screen sucking in the serial. My instant hatred for him was such that I couldn't enjoy the story due to feeling bad for cheering on evil anytime it posed a threat to Adric. I feel a need to see if Teagan exists without him around. Her loud-mouthed 80's girl vibe would normally turn me off. However, the idea of his no longer being around due to being dead holds a lot of appeal. Oh and I guess the story was decent? I was too busy thinking of ways to make Adric die slowly to really take notes.

Watchin' the Who Part 5: Almost up to Real Time, Bitches

Story 130 - Warriors of the Deep
On paper, this episode wasn't a bad idea. The Sea Devils introduced the idea of a team-up with Silurians which could pose a nearly unparalleled threat to Earth. Add to that a writer with love for Alien and this should have been one of the most terrifying Who stories ever told. Sadly, almost nothing went right. It was too well lit to have anything approximating atmosphere or character. The equivalent of the Xenomorph became a bearded pantomime horse shedding green paint on cast and sets. Sea Devils put on goofy samurai outfits concealing 3/4 of their distinctive features. Words like "pacing" or "storytelling" didn't apply at all. Davison did an admirable job trying to lend the story an iota of merit but I am not sure Olivier could carry something this bad. Only way it could've been worse was if  they added a flock of Adric clones who hugged Ewoks non-stop for a full episode.

 Story 082 - Pyramids of Mars
An Egyptian god was part an alien race hellbent on universal conquest and can only be stopped by some rather clever people with a pervasive love for Earth. With a bit of adaptation the premise of this episode sounds quite a bit like Stargate. It's a bit awesomer with a scarf and some downright witty writing.

Story 066 - Carnival of Monsters
As a kid, I would sometimes wonder what would happen if my Viewmaster was a microscope and little people were embedded in the reels. According to this episode, Pertwee would cause a marsh to explode with a sonic screwdriver and kick the asses of monsters whose asses everyone knows cannot be kicked. I adore that man. He is just pure class. Absolutely brilliant Doctor.

Story 067 - Frontier in Space
Apparently, what man will most fear in the future are dudes with rubbery facial polyps, uniform beards, and outfits borrowed from Oz. Little shall they know that The Master pulls their strings! Bwahahahaha. About the only thing about this story that sucks is Delgado died afterwards. Otherwise, it has great pacing and twists only foreseeable if one reads some spoilers. I guess the Oz-ian Draconians are a bit cheesy/grating but Delgado and Pertwee together is pure magic.

Story 068 - Planet of the Daleks
Gargh. Thalls. Ick. At least some of them die horribly. Plus, there is some great model work going on. Not so sure why an invisible race would decide to use the fur of Grimace. Sure the planet gets cold but Snuffleupagus would blend in better with trees. All kidding aside, Pertwee is fairly brilliant even managing to play off the dull, monotonous of the Thall race.

Story 070 - The Time Warrior
I was pretty much destined to love this story. It introduced Sarah Jane Smith. I loved that character so much I named a puppy after her. As a bonus, it was a fun tale. A Sontaran lands in medieval times and sets about arming a robber baron anachronistically. By the third or fourth straight-up history story during the Hartnell era they started to become an exercise in endurance. This one had a story beyond "a man from the future and his companions get captured by ignorant savages then escape last second." Plus, Pertwee brought the kungfu poses which look absolutely smashing with his stylish jackets.

Story 071 - 025 The Gunfighters
Oh man. This one was an exceptionally awkward historical piece with multiple musical numbers. About the only thing approximating a highlight was when the Doctor introduced himself as Dr. Caligari instead of using the Smith alias. Otherwise, a real snoozer.

Who Watch 2012 pt. 6: Lots and Lots of CHEESE

Story 037 The Tomb of the Cybermen
It's really a shame that so few full Troughton stories survived. I could see him becoming a favorite. Yes, the audio is around. However, his mannerisms and facial expressions are pretty awesome. A man needs everything at his disposal to sell a story this heavy on the really dated effects. It's difficult to be scared of dudes in silver jumpsuits with holey plastic balls glued on at key joints. Instead of mechanized walking sounds, the Cybermen tend to produce their own vocal effects and sound a bit like an oncoming toy train.  Then there are the cybermats who look like silverfish with spray painted ping pong balls and a scrubby brush. My first encounter with them was at the local Doctor Who emporium when I saw a package of six silver plastic lumps. I only looked as I thought Cyberman poo might get a few yucks at a Shindig. That said, I think Troughton manages to sell everything as credible threats to human life. 

Story 074 - Planet of the Spiders
AIYEEEEEEEEEE MUTANT NOVELTY-STORE RUBBER SPIDERS!!!! RUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNN! Well, unless you're a man like Pertwee's Doctor. That guy could teach Gary Busey a thing or two about wrestling wildlife. He lived like a man, died like a man, and dressed like a queen. The end made me curious about how previous regenerations were handled. They introduced this super-soothing blatantly English imitation of a Tibetan wiseman and had him hold the audiences' hands. Felt like they really could've used the writers who handled the death of Mr. Hooper.

Story 086 - The Masque of Mandragora
When faced with powerful evil, The Doctor should always sit upon its altar and play with a yo-yo. Really digging Tom Baker's performance in this one. Great balance between man of action and crazy bastard. Eccentricities nicely cover for the fact I'm watching a guy who looks like Filthy Luca run around in tights as though he owns the world for half the serial despite the fact it's very clear he's going to be slaughtered by Mandragora energy in under 10 seconds.

Story 023 - The Ark
I really want the Monoids to return.Their awkward shuffling, their awful wigs, their blatant ping-pong-ball-in-mouth costumes, the throwing of vases against the ground to teach your enemies a lesson... such amazingly awesome villainy is rare!

 Story 027 - The War Machines
I think my favorite part of this one was the disposal of Dodo as a companion. She gets hypnotized, walks off, then is casually mentioned at the end of the serial. Also really dig the titular robots. They're this awesome unstoppable force which kills using limited range smoke and knocks over lots of boxes. They're so clunky it's hard to see them as a threat unless you're planning to move house. That said, it's interesting to see an OMG THE COMPUTERS WILL TAKE OVER tale from the early days of computing.

Story 048 - The Seeds of Death
All man kind must fear BUBBLE BATH ... at least until they find some water. Really try to not be a bitch about effects but the deadly fungus was so blatantly soap it was severely distracting. Troughton was pretty awesome though.

Story 054 - Inferno
I've always enjoyed evil alternate dimension storylines. Add/remove facial hair, scars, and eyepatches then hold a session of opposite day! This one was beautifully paced. Unlike most of the seven parters I've encountered Inferno didn't drag so bad I needed to take a break.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Overwhelmingly Mediocre Doctor Who Watching Festival Pt. 2: HARTHARTNELL (see what I did there? Timelords have two... YOU ARE NOT WORTHY OF MY VISION!)

Serial  008 - The Reign of Terror
The French Revolution gave us some great Mel Brooks material, a very common misquote, and a rather enjoyable card game. The Reign of Terror is one of those periods that's so fascinating it'd be hard to make a dull serial out of it. This and The Aztecs are my favorite historical ones so far. Great pacing on them both.

Serial 009 -  Planet of Giants
The TARDIS lands on a strange world with insects larger than people! Everything is dead! Then some dude gets murdered and we discover that a more accurate title would be Honey! The TARDIS Shrunk the Hardy Boys. Nice combo of murder mystery and sci-fi. Quite enjoyable and non-draggy.

Serial 010 - The Dalek Invasion of Earth
This one made me grateful to Steven Moffat for introducing me to the idea of a couch as cover from Daleks. Daleks seized control of Earth and ,despite the notoriously limited effects of the series, it's more believable than pretty much any post-apocalyptic scenario I've ever seen. Terrifying. Harrowing. Just really great television.

Serial 011 - The Rescue
The main purpose of this serial is introducing Susan's replacement, Vicki. While I liked the idea of annoying-shriek-face going away, this particular girl didn't strike me as much of an improvement. She was just another wide-eyed teenager with an apparent tendency to stand back so men could assist her. Some dude wears a goofy costume, convinces her it's some evil cult whom said dude actually tried to kill, and pretty effectively keeps her stranded until The Doctor fixes everything and takes Vicki off to the stars. The End. Not something I see myself going back to.

Serial 012 - The Romans
Cute. And it's neat how The Doctor talked Nero into burning Rome. Nothing much to say about this one, honestly.

Serial 013 - The Web Planet
When I was wee and small, it occurred to me that Buzz-off was by far the lamest Masters of the Universe design. The only way he could be less convincing of a bad ass was if he was really fuzzy and walked like a Geisha. So in other words, if he was one of the main aliens from this Doctor Who Serial, that's the only way he could have been lamer. I barely remember the plot of this one due to laughing every time the fuzzy bees did something new. This and The Dalek Invasion of Earth are on the re-watch list for very different reasons.

Serial 014 - The Crusade
Yes, Oberon. You rock kitty. I'll let you comment on this episode if you let me rub your belly. Good boy. 

The Not-so-Great-or-Organized Doctor Who Watch Through Vol. 1: It's all about the Hartnell YEAH! The Hartnell! YEAH! Give me a piece of that... bacon?

One day, the ex decided we needed to follow up our first watch-through of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with James Marsters kissing another dude. A kindly friend of hers informed us the relevant episode of Torchwood was awesome but we needed to contextualize it with at least the first series of the revived Doctor Who. Russel T. Davies' sci-fi/soap opera/Whedon-worship formula worked well for me. Then I went through a couple regenerations and curiosity about the character really set in. So now through the wonder of Blogspot, you get to read my inane ramblings as I try to watch every surviving episode and in some cases reconstructions of the lost ones!
So here are a few things you should probably know:
 1) I'm using the numbering numbering scheme found on Wikipedia's List of Doctor Who Serials.
 2) My sources are a combination of the C/W Mars library network, Netflix, and the kindness of fellow Whovians. As such, I've got minimal control over what's available to me when and will jump around.
3) This initiative started a good two years ago but got derailed by multiple deaths in my family. There were some notes made most of which I will endeavor to parse and make readable. Other times, I will find myself bemused by their oddity and just leave them be.

Serial 001 - An Unearthly Child
I was very pleasantly surprised by this serial. People kept talking about how dated everything was. However, the establishing shots of the TARDIS were timeless. I went in knowing why a police box warranted so much screen time and still wanted them to tell me why. Susan spouting science beyond her years/era and her teachers subsequent curiosity felt quite natural. The whole "The Doctor=Grandfather" thing threw me for a bit of a loop at first but I wished Hartnell's Doctor was my own grandfather soon enough and got over my initial shock.
While I wanted to hop in the TARDIS with Grampa Doctor and suffer his awesome brand of contemptuous verbal abuse fairly quickly, that desire faded a smidge once the story kicked into overdrive. I prefer my quests for fire full of dueling guitars and soaring  vocals. Still, Hartnell was fun to watch. Started hoping fairly early on that the man-of-science/man-of-action combination I knew from later Doctors would kick in quickly so they could ditch Ian Chesterton. Dig the actor and all but if there's a spare adult around, part of me wants them put solely on "stop Susan from letting off that bloody piercing shriek" duty. All in all, not bad and I'll happily watch some more.

Serial 002 - The Daleks
Part of my sporadic desire to be a British kid in the 1960's stems from the first Dalek experience being 2005's "Dalek." I get that it had a nice long shot establishing stairs were no longer terrifying but when the first unstoppable, remorseless, brutal, supreme killing machine you ever see goes emo seemingly to give The Doctor another reason to want to smooch Rose, it's sort of natural to feel a bit robbed. At least in this episode, the only thing approximating a "human moment" for the Daleks is the fact they want to kill the Thalls. Personally, if I had to deal with a bunch of melodramatic pretty boys prancing around in the forest with their perfect pecs and blond-haired blue-eyed beauty giving soliloquise about peace, I'd want to kill the bastards pretty hard too. There's some serious silly going on in the form of the ultimate enemy being limited to moving on specially treated metal plates but they're still bad ass enough that I had to hide an eye while a toilet plunger was thrust at Barbara. All in all, a very worthwhile viewing experience.

Serial 003 - The Edge of Destruction
The first serial established the "history book" approach and the second did the same for sci-fi stories. This one was all about character development. Ian is shown to be more than just brawn and The Doctor displays a bit of heart. Feel much of what this one accomplished could've been done through subplots woven into "proper" episodes but honestly it's the first season so I can understand some clunking in  the gears.

Serial 004 - Marco Polo
When I heard 108 episodes were lost but I needn't fear as geeks who made my charity fundraising in honor of a dead TV show crew look a but south of diehard had done some reconstructions, I was a bit unsure about attempting a watch through. The Loose Cannons crew honestly did a very nice job on this one. They had an amazing variety of stills at their disposal and the audio quality only became an issue on a commuter train once or twice. As for the episodes themselves, I felt the pacing was somewhat shit. If I tried to summarize seven episodes here, it would take one paragraph. So much of what was going on involved showing off set dressing and teaching a bit of history. Perhaps if the video still existed, things wouldn't drag so much. All in all, a bit dry but not too shabby.

Serial 005 - The Keys of Marinus
Interesting approach to storytelling on this one. The TARDIS  crew need to gather multiple keys and episodes become little quests to do so. Weird BDSM bikers who I somehow got the impression were reptilian try to stop them. Much "look at science and technology gone awry and BEWARE" and narrow escapery ensue. The plant episode in particular shows a lot of thought went into this serial so I don't want to be flip but it really didn't grab me.

Serial 006 - The Aztecs
This one was a lot more fun than I expected. There was an obvious desire to educate the kids about Aztec culture. However, they approached it in some enjoyable ways. Barbara is mistaken for a god, decides the prime directive is for wimps, and nearly gets her friends killed. Ian winds up in period costumes wrestling another burly man. The Doctor arrogantly professes he understands the meaning of cocoa and winds up accidentally marrying someone. It felt like there was less lecturing about how history worked and more history teaching those who tried to tell it how things were a lesson in this serial. For me, that made things a bit less dry and a lot easier to watch.

Serial 007 - The Sensorites
Conspiracy! Intrigue! Diplomacy! Funky looking aliens! Fairly effective suspense! Important life lessons for our political leaders! (You know those raw, unedited notes I said I might share at some point? Enjoy!)!
p, s, !!!!!!!!

next up: It's still all about Hartnell, Alfie.