Sunday, 24 September 2017

C is for... Chen, Mavic

The Guardian of the Solar System in the year 4000 AD. He was a popular figure, who had ensured peace in the region for many years. However, he sought far greater power and influence, and had embarked on an alliance with the Daleks. They had created a weapon called the Time Destructor, which they were going to use on an attack against the rest of the cosmos. To power it, a mineral called Taranium was needed, and this could only be found in small quantities on Uranus. Chen was able to supply this, and its importance to the Dalek scheme led Chen to regard himself as superior to the other aliens who had allied themselves to the Daleks. Fellow delegate Trantis was particularly antagonistic towards Chen, irritated by his self-importance.
The Taranium Core was stolen by the Doctor, assisted by Bret Vyon - one of Chen's own security agents. He was tasked with retrieving it. Chen's popularity was such that he was able to turn many people against the Doctor and his friends - including Bret's own sister Sara Kingdom. She gunned her brother down. When the Doctor escaped once more, Chen was in despair but his chief of security Karlton - who saw his own ambitions realised through Chen - had the Guardian claim that the mistake was really part of a plan to get the Doctor closer to the Daleks so they could get the Core back themselves.
Once the Doctor had retrieved the TARDIS, Chen was sent with a Dalek squad in their own time-ship to get the Core. This was eventually achieved in ancient Egypt.
Back on the planet Kembel, where the Daleks had their base, Chen suddenly found himself a prisoner of the Daleks along with the other delegates. Their usefulness was at an end. Not only did Chen think himself indispensable, he actually had plans to usurp the Daleks and take over the universe for himself. His sanity collapsing, he began to give the Daleks orders, insisting they obey only him.
His delusions of grandeur came to a swift end when the Daleks exterminated him.

Played by: Kevin Stoney. Appearances: The Daleks' Master Plan (1965/6).

  • One of the two greatest villains of the 1960's. The other is Tobias Vaughn, also played by Stoney. He's cast and directed by Douglas Camfield on both occasions. 
  • People who were present when this story was being recorded have stated that Stoney was wearing blue make-up. This doesn't necessarily mean that Chen is blue-skinned - there's no mention of this in the surviving episodes or on the audios of the others. It just means that blue was used for grey-scale, to give him his complexion on B&W screens.

C is for... Chellak

General Chellak was the commander of the Androzani Major military forces operating on the planet's twin world - Androzani Minor. He was waging a war with Sharaz Jek and his android army for control over the planet's Spectrox supply. This plant could be processed to create a drug that prolonged life. Jek and a businessman named Morgus had once worked together to supply Spectrox, but the two had split. Greedy to control the whole supply for himself, Morgus had tried to kill Jek, but only succeeded in scarring him, and Jek was now preventing supplies reaching Major. Morgus was powerful enough to be able to order Chellak around. Chellak was not a strong leader, but his efforts were being further hampered by his second-in-command, Salateen. Chellak did not know that he had been abducted months ago, and replaced by one of Jek's androids.
Pressure began to mount to bring the conflict to a speedy resolution, even if it meant agreeing terms with Jek. Morgus could not allow this, as he had been secretly arming Jek in order to justify the war. Chellak was ordered to make a final push to destroy Jek. Salateen escaped and informed the general of the android duplicate. Chellak sent it on a diversion whilst he led his troops against Jek's base.
This coincided with the start of a mud-burst. Jek trapped Chellak in the tunnel outside his base, where the general perished in the scalding mud.

Played by: Martin Cochrane. Appearances: The Caves of Androzani (1984).

C is for... Chela

A young man from the planet Manussa. He worked for Ambril, the Director of Antiquities. Chela had an interest in the planet's legends - especially that of the Mara. Whilst Ambril was dismissive of such superstition, Chela thought that the old myths should be respected. When the Doctor arrived and warned that the Mara were going to return, Chela chose to believe him. He decided to help him, and informed him of the Snakedancers, who included Ambril's predecessor - Dojjen - among their number. When the Doctor and Nyssa were locked up, Chela gave them Dojjen's journal to read. He later stole the key to release them, and accompanied them when they went into the hills to find the old man. From Dojjen, the Doctor discovered the means to prevent the Mara re-establishing themselves on the planet.

Played by: Johnathon Morris. Appearances: Snakedance (1983).

C is for... Cheetah People

Feline beings who were all that was left of a once great civilisation, which thrived on an unnamed planet. The inhabitants were psychically in tune with their world. They were great hunters, and bred a species of small black cat which could transport themselves through space to seek out new prey - bringing it back to the planet with them. Anyone who remained on the planet for any length of time began to turn into a Cheetah person. As their society declined, so the Cheetahs became more feral, and the planet began to die. It would be shaken by earth tremors when they fought amongst themselves. An injured Cheetah could be cured by drinking the planet's waters.
A number of Ace's friends were transported to the planet to be hunted. One Cheetah - Karra - arrived on Earth and abducted Ace. The two soon found that they shared a bond. Karra wanted Ace to join her as one of her kind. The Doctor followed, and found that the Master was trapped here. He was battling to stop himself from transforming.
To get away, it was necessary to use a Cheetah or one of the black cats - a Kitling - or someone who was becoming a Cheetah person. The Master used a young man named Midge to transport himself to Earth, whilst the Doctor used Ace.
The Doctor and Ace were attacked by Midge and the Master. Midge was killed, and Karra appeared in time to save Ace. The Master killed her, and she reverted to being a humanoid woman. The Doctor and the Master were transported back to the planet as it began to break up. The Doctor managed to return to Earth. He told Ace that the Cheetah people would have transported themselves away to a new home, so the planet would live on in them.

Played by: Lisa Bowerman (Karra). Appearances: Survival (1989).

  • Bowerman has played Bernice Summerfield - a companion created for the Virgin New Adventures novels - on audio for Big Finish for many years. She has played other parts, and directed a number of stories.
  • At least one of the extras playing the Cheetahs couldn't cope with the high temperatures when filming this story. They stripped off and quit. The costume was not popular with the production team either, as they were hoping for something less cuddly. Script Editor Andrew Cartmel had hoped for just prosthetic claws and fangs. Writer Rona Munro also expressed her dissatisfaction.
A Cheetah costume at the Doctor Who Experience in 2017.

C is for... Cheen

A young woman who was travelling on the Motorway beneath New New York with her boyfriend Milo, in the year 5 Billion and 53. She had just learned that she was going to have a baby, and they were keen to get out of the city to start a new life. Out of desperation, they abducted Martha Jones, as vehicles with three people aboard could access the Fast Lane at the bottom of the Motorway. Cheen was using Mood Patches, which Martha removed due to her being pregnant.
Unfortunately, cars in the Fast Lane were being attacked by Macra, which thrived on the toxic gases concentrated at the lowermost levels.
The Doctor and the Face of Boe were able to open up the Motorway to the sky, and Milo and Cheen were able to travel up to the city, where they would have started their new life.

Played by: Lenora Crichlow. Appearances: Gridlock (2007).

C is for... Chaudhry, Nasreen

Dr Nasreen Chaudhry worked at a drilling project near the Welsh village of Cwmtaff, in 2020. The project had drilled deeper than ever before, after the discovery of ancient mineral samples in the area. She worked alongside a local man named Tony Mack, whose son-in-law Mo was also employed on the project. The Doctor and Amy turned up at the drilling site soon after Mo had disappeared, and mysterious holes had begun to open in the ground. Amy was pulled down into one of these. The Doctor deduced that the drilling had disturbed something deep beneath the planet's surface, and this was fighting back. This proved to be the Silurians. They had a shelter beneath the village, and believed that they were under attack. When the Doctor decided to use the TARDIS to travel down to the shelter to negotiate, Nasreen insisted on going with him. Instead of a small shelter, they found a vast Silurian city.
Nasreen and Amy found themselves at the bargaining table, representing the whole of the human race. The talks broke down after Tony's daughter killed one of the Silurians. Tony had earlier been infected by her venom. It was agreed that the time was not yet right for the Silurians and the humans to live together on the surface, and so they went back into hibernation. Tony would join them, to be cured at a later date. Nasreen elected to stay with him.

Played by: Meera Syal. Appearances: The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood (2010).

Friday, 22 September 2017

Story 182 - Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks

In which the Doctor takes Martha to visit the original New York, the TARDIS materialising at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. It is November 1930, and the Empire State Building is nearing completion. Their attention is drawn to newspaper headlines which claim that homeless people are going missing from Hooverville - a makeshift camp set up by the destitute in the middle of Central Park. The Doctor and Martha go there and meet Solomon, who has found himself the community's leader. He explains how the people here are victims of the Great Depression. The authorities are not investigating the disappearances properly. A man named Diagoras arrives with an offer of work - clearing a blocked sewer tunnel. The Doctor, Martha, Solomon and a young man named Frank volunteer to go. In the tunnels, the Doctor finds a luminous green creature which he believes to be alien. They are attacked by savage human / pig hybrids. Frank is abducted by them. The others make it up through a manhole and find themselves backstage of a Broadway theatre. They meet a showgirl named Tallulah. She explains that her boyfriend Laszlo went missing some weeks ago. Since then someone has been leaving a flower in her dressing room, and she thinks this is Laszlo.

As the Doctor tries to ascertain where the creature from the sewers came from, Martha sees a pig-man observing Tallulah from the wings during a performance. She gives chase and is also abducted. The Doctor identifies the creature as originating on Skaro. He and Tallulah descend into the sewers. Martha has been reunited with Frank, and they are confronted by a Dalek. It selects some captives to be turned into pig hybrids, whilst others are to be used in another experiment.
At the top of the Empire State Building, Diagoras employs some men to fit metal panels to the lightning mast. When the foreman objects, he is taken away by some pig-men, who arrive with another Dalek. Diagoras is in league with the Daleks, who are responsible for the building of the tower. He is taken down to a chamber below the building where the Cult of Skaro have set up a laboratory. The leader, Sec, has formulated a new plan to ensure that the Daleks survive. It will genetically bond with Diagoras to create a new race of Human / Dalek hybrids. The Doctor and Tallulah find Laszlo, who has only been partially transformed into a pig hybrid. The Doctor allows himself to be captured, and arrives in time to see the new hybrid emerge from Sec's casing.

The Daleks reveal that a massive gamma radiation spike is due to strike the Earth in the next few hours, and panels from their casings have been fitted to the top of the Empire State Building to transmit this radiation to the laboratory. Dozens of humans are in a state of hibernation, their minds wiped. The radiation will be used to activate a genetic material which has been introduced into their bodies. They will awaken as mental-Daleks. The Doctor arranges an escape, helped by Laszlo, and he, Martha and Frank head for Hooverville. The three Dalek members of the Cult of Skaro are uncertain about the direction Sec wants to take them. As he is no longer pure Dalek, they start to conspire against him. Sec orders an attack on Hooverville in order to capture the Doctor. Solomon tries to reason with them, but is killed, which shocks Sec. The Doctor is taken prisoner, but first arranges for Martha, Tallulah, Laszlo and Frank to go to the tower to sabotage the lightning mast. Laszlo is ill, and explains that he is dying, as the hybrids only have a shortened life-span.
In the lab, Sec explains that Daleks must evolve through adopting human characteristics. They are the inferior race, and yet they thrive whilst only four Daleks survived. Daleks and humans must join in order for the Dalek race to continue. The three Daleks turn on Sec, opposed to his plans. They take him captive, and the Doctor flees. He joins Martha and the others at the top of the tower and starts to remove the panels, but is too late. The gamma strike occurs, the radiation passing through his body.

The Doctor takes everyone to the empty theatre, then lets the Daleks know where he is. Two of the Cult arrive, with Sec in chains. Dalek Caan remains in the laboratory, connected to their battle computer. The mental-Daleks also arrive, armed with machine-gun weapons adapted with Dalek weaponry. Sec attempts to reason with the Daleks but to no avail. He dies saving the Doctor. When the mental Daleks are ordered to kill the Doctor, they refuse and begin to question their orders. The Doctor explains that as the gamma strike went through him they have some of his DNA, over-riding that of the Daleks. They turn on the Daleks, destroying them both. Caan activates a signal which destroys all the mental-Daleks. The Doctor goes to the lab and confronts Caan - now the last surviving Dalek. He offers to help it, but it vanishes using an emergency temporal shift.
The Doctor is able to stabilise Laszlo and save his life, but he cannot undo the hybridisation. Frank arranges for him to be sheltered in Hooverville.

Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks was the first two part story of Series 3. It was written by Helen Raynor, and was first broadcast on 21st and 28th April, 2007.
It sees the return of the Cult of Skaro, last seen in the Series 2 finale. The episodes contain the first overseas filming for the programme since it returned in 2005. Some establishing and plate shots were recorded by a small team under director James Strong, to be later manipulated by The Mill. None of the cast went to New York.
Raynor had been a script editor on Doctor Who before writing Ghost Machine for Torchwood's first season. She was the first female writer for "new" Doctor Who, and to have written a Dalek story.
These episodes were originally to have been written by Steven Moffat, but he asked instead for a single episode story - this season's Doctor-lite one - as recompense for pulling out.
The Daleks had previously been associated with the Empire State Building - having temporarily stopped off there during 1965's The Chase.
Once the iconic building had been selected as a focal point for the story, Raynor's researches into the period brought the Hooverville settlement to her attention, and she decided to include it. Some horror movies of the 1930's provided some visual and plot inspirations. These include the Frankenstein films, and Island of Lost Souls - an adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau. The theatre setting also suggest The Phantom of the Opera.

Eric Loren plays both Mr Diagoras and the Human-Dalek Sec. Solomon is Hugh Quarshie. Now a regular on Holby City, he featured in the first of the Star Wars prequels. Tallulah is Miranda Raison, who has since gone on to become an audio companion to the Sixth Doctor. She was best known for the spy series Spooks. Playing Frank is Andrew Garfield, who has since gone on to become a major Hollywood actor. He was Spiderman in two recent misjudged attempts to revitalise the franchise. It has just been rebooted again without him. Laszlo is Ryan Carnes - best known for Desperate Housewives. We only see his handsome good looks briefly at the start of the first episode, as he spends most of the story under prostheses.

Cliffhanger: The Doctor, Martha and Frank are being held in the Dalek laboratory. Dalek Sec's casing shudders and smokes, then begins to open up. The Dalek-Human hybrid Sec emerges, announcing himself the first of a new Dalek race...
Story Arc: Nothing about Saxon again as we are in the past, but this is a direct sequel to Doomsday as this is where the Cult of Skaro transported themselves to. The Doctor had just told Martha about the Daleks at the end of the previous episode - so she recognises the name when she hears it.

Overall, there's a lot to like in these two episodes, but it is not generally liked. Checking the DWM 50th Anniversary poll I see it is at number 208, the least popular Dalek story. One of the problems is the rather stereotyped characters - especially Tallulah. The first part drags - not helped by a musical interlude - and the Dalek plan is somewhat baffling. The Cult gets wiped out too easily.
Things you might like to know:

  • The concept of mental-Daleks is hardly a new one. The Emperor's plan in Evil of the Daleks is to use the Dalek Factor to transform the population of Earth into mental-Daleks throughout its history. Other Dalek-Human slaves have appeared in the programme - being refined during the Matt Smith era as the drones with eye-stalk in their forehead and gun in their hand. Daleks falling out over their racial purity isn't new either - see again Evil or Remembrance of the Daleks.
  • Solomon is first seen arbitrating over a stolen loaf. This references the Judgment of Solomon from the Bible.
  • Tallulah got her name from the Jodie Foster character in Bugsy Malone - set around this time.
  • Frank got his name as a reference to film director Frank Borzage. His 1933 film, Man's Castle was set in a New York Hooverville. It stars Spencer Tracy and Loretta Young as a destitute couple who set up home in the shanty town. 
  • The Great Depression lasted for a decade from 1929, ending with the start of World War II. It was the economic recession triggered by the Wall Street Crash. Hooverville was named after President Herbert Hoover, who was in office at the time of the Crash. He attempted to alleviate the effects of the recession by establishing a number of massive public works schemes - most famous of which was the dam named after him. Unemployment had reached 25%. There were a number of Hoovervilles across the United States. New York had two - Central Park and Riverside Park. The biggest was in St Louis. It had its own mayor, and unlike the rest of the city was racially integrated. 
  • Viewers may have been interested in Paul Kasey's character credit - Hero Pig. In this context, "Hero" refers to a prop or costume that has to stand up to a lot of scrutiny on screen, such as a mask fitted with animatronics - as opposed to more basic versions used by extras. Note how only the one Judoon took off its helmet in Smith and Jones
  • Those movie references now. Dr Moreau was creating human-animal hybrids on his island - in his case turning animals into men, rather than the other way round. The Phantom lurks in the backstage areas of the Paris Opera, fixated on starlet Christine. The humans in the Dalek laboratory are suspended on beds from the roof, not unlike the Frankenstein Monster before it is reanimated. The Michael Crichton movie Coma (1978) is a clear visual influence for these scenes. The dance number obviously derives from the Broadway musical films - especially those choreographed by Busby Berkeley.
  • In the lift (elevator to US readers), the Doctor mentions "First floor perfumery...". This is a reference to the title music for department store-based BBC sitcom Are You Being Served? in which a lift announcer begins "Ground floor perfumery...".
  • Daleks in Manhattan got a Radio Times cover, which annoyed a lot of viewers in that it spoiled the appearance of the Dalek-Human Hybrid Sec. Russell T Davies was always keen to get RT covers and did worry about this one. As it was, the ratings were down by more than a million on the previous episode. Davies claimed that the image didn't spoil the actual cliffhanger to the first episode. I draw your attention to the Cliffhanger section above...