Wednesday, 4 March 2015

TARDIS Travels No.16

Season 16: the  Key to Time story arc and the first incarnation of Romana. We don't know how much time has elapsed since the Doctor left Gallifrey, but he has now got K9 Mark II up and running. They are on their way to Harlegan 3 when they are rudely interrupted...

Journey 142: Gallifrey (date unknown), to location and date unknown.
The TARDIS is stopped in flight and lands on an unknown planet, possibly some artificial realm created by the White Guardian. The Doctor meets the Guardian who tasks him with seeking out the six segments of the Key to Time. There is a new companion waiting for him back in the ship, whether he wants one or not. This is Romana. She has a wand-like locator device that will trace the segments, and she has created a slot for it in the TARDIS console. (The Doctor apologises to the ship for this). The Guardian has the power to stop the TARDIS and to open the doors. The bright light which welcomes the Doctor permeates the interior of the ship through the roundels.

Journey 143: Location and date unknown, to Ribos, date unknown.
The locator is taking the ship to another location when their target moves, so the TARDIS must be travelling in "local time" at this point. They have arrived in Shurr, the main city of Ribos - a planet in the Cyrrenhic Alliance. It is in the midst of its 30 year long winter.

Journey 144: Ribos, date unknown, to Zanak, date unknown.
They are actually making for Calufrax, but something goes wrong with the materialisation. Romana blames the Doctor's failure to do things by the book - i.e. the TARDIS operating manual. When she tries - by the book - they land normally. Only it is not Calufrax. Zanak is where Calufrax is supposed to be. It transpires that Zanak is a hollow, time jumping world, and it has materialised itself around Calufrax. This is why the Doctor wasn't able to make his landing - it coinciding with the time-jump.

Journey 145: Zanak - city to the Bridge overlooking the city.
The Doctor pilots the ship to the Bridge, control centre for the planet. It materialises in the chamber where the Time Dams maintain old Queen Xanxia in her last moments of life. The TARDIS is used to both block Zanak's next time-jump (to Earth) and to fill the hollow centre with the remains of the previously destroyed victim planets.

Journey 146: Zanak - the Bridge to location nearby.
The TARDIS moves from the Bridge, which is then blown up by the Mentiads.

Journey 147: Zanak, date unknown, to Boscombe Moor, England, 1978.
The ship materialises in a field near the Nine Travellers - a prehistoric stone circle. We see another room just off the console room - a dark space in which there is what appears to be a small fridge, in which the Doctor has been storing the Key segments. There must be a stock of umbrellas aboard the ship, as the Doctor quite nonchalantly throws one away. (He had a favourite one back in The Krotons, so obviously there is more than one). The TARDIS' molecular stabiliser is used to repair K9 after he is smashed up by an Ogri.

Journey 148: Boscombe Moor, England, 1978, to Tara, date unknown.
A verdant world with a temperate climate - at least in the region where the ship has materialised. The TARDIS clothes store has costumes arranged by planet in alphabetical order. In a cupboard is the Doctor's fishing tackle. Tara might possibly be an Earth colony world, in which case we are in the far future.

Journey 149: Tara, date unknown, to Third Moon of Delta Magna, date unknown.
Delta Magna is definitely an Earth colony, so sometime well into the future. The TARDIS materialises in the middle of the marshes, so K9 is stuck on board.

Journey 150: Third Moon of Delta Magna, date unknown, to orbit near Atrios, date unknown.
The TARDIS materialises in space, some distance away from the planet where it should have arrived. The implication is that this system has been moved about a bit by the influence of the unseen Shadow world. The Atrians register the ship on their scanners and assume it is a Zeon weapon, and so launch a missile at it.

Journey 151: Atrios: orbit to planet, date unknown.
Escaping the missile, the TARDIS materialises in the underground city on Atrios, close to a sealed up section where there just happens to be a transmat to Zeos. The Shadow has the ship transported to Zeos. The light on top of the Police Box shell has changed to a blue colour. When the TARDIS doors are opened, a particularly harsh light beams out - not usually seen.

Journey 152: Zeos to Shadow's planet.
The planet is referred to as such throughout, but on screen it appears to be a manufactured space station. Possibly the designers not being told something about the script?

Journey 153: Shadow planet, to Zeos.
The Doctor takes the TARDIS back to Zeos so that the computer Mentalis can be stopped from triggering Armageddon in this sector of space. Drax's ship is also somewhere on this planet. The White Guardian appears on the scanner - but it is actually the Black one in disguise. The Doctor is able to deploy all of the ship's defences to stop him seizing the Key. This seems to contradict the power of the Guardians back in the opening episode of the Season. To prevent him from tracking them down, the Doctor fits the Randomiser to the navigation controls - whose uselessness just happens to have been the initial prompt for this series of posts, if you recall...
Next up, Season 17 and a return to Skaro...

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Barry & Leonard

I'd just like to mention the passing of two people in the last week who have left a lasting legacy in TV Science Fiction. The first is the designer Barry Newbery. He took over from Peter Brachacki for the very first ever Doctor Who story - An Unearthly Child - and who then alternated stories with Ray Cusick for the first two years of the programme, more or less. Generally Barry got to do the "Historicals" of the Hartnell era. There are some marvellous sets he created under trying circumstances, just going by The Aztecs and The Silurians on DVD, or the photographs which exist from Marco Polo. He worked on the programme right through to The Awakening in 1984. The wood panelled TARDIS control room from Season 14 is his. There are so few left from the very earliest days of the programme. I am glad he was still around to witness the celebrations for the 50th Anniversary. There is a book available of his work on the programme, and check out the DVDs for his presence in a couple of interviews and commentaries - especially that Aztecs one.

And then there is Leonard Nimoy - Mr Spock, Science Officer of the Starship Enterprise. I generally never venture off of Doctor Who on this blog, but could not let his passing go unmentioned. Most Who fans are also Star Trek fans - especially when it comes to that original crew. We first watched Spock and Kirk's exploits in the gap between seasons of Doctor Who. Nimoy had a bit of a love-hate relationship with his alter-ego over the years, but the public just generally loved him and the character.
Barry - RIP. Leonard - LLAP.

Story 119 - The Visitation

In which a shooting star spells doom for a Restoration household. A light is seen to descend near a country manor house and, soon after, the family and their servants are attacked. In the TARDIS, Tegan is starting to get over her ordeal with the Mara on Deva Loka and is looking forward to finally getting to Heathrow Airport to start her job. The ship materialises in a forest, and they discover that they are in the right place - but 316 years too nearly. It is 1666. The travellers come across some villagers who are building plague-fires, and come under attack. The are saved by the intervention of Richard Mace, an out of work actor who has taken to crime to make ends meet. In a nearby barn he explains that there is plague in the land, and the theatres have been shut down. The villagers fear all strangers. He tells them of the recent shooting star. The Doctor discovers power packs of alien design in the barn, and realises that what people saw was actually a crashing spacecraft. He determines to find the survivors and offer them help. They all go to the manor house and find it deserted. In the cellar, a holographic wall has been set up, and beyond lies an advanced laboratory. There is a quantity of gas stored - soliton. Suddenly, an ornately designed android attacks them. Adric and Tegan are captured whilst the others escape. The captives meet the android's controller, a reptilian bipedal creature called a Terileptil.

The Doctor, Nyssa  and Mace locate the crashed spacecraft, partly buried in a nearby field. They are attacked by a trio of villagers, who appear to be under some form of mental control. Nyssa returns to the TARDIS to try to construct some device against the android. The Doctor and Mace are captured by villagers. They are about to be executed when the android appears - disguised as the Grim Reaper. The superstitious villagers flee. Adric escapes and makes his way to the TARDIS. The Doctor and Mace are taken to the manor where the Doctor meets the Terileptil. It shuns his offer of taking it back home, as it and its companions are escaped convicts - fugitives from the tinclavic mines on Raaga. Mace is put under its mental control and, along with Tegan, made to load a cart with cages full of rats. These have been genetically modified to carry a virulent strain of plague. The Terileptils have a base in a nearby city, and plan to release the rats there to spread the disease - wiping out the human race eventually. To prevent his escape, the Terileptil destroys the sonic screwdriver. Tegan is ordered to release a number of rats in their cell if the Doctor tries to flee. The android is despatched to seize the TARDIS.

The Doctor is able to break the mental conditioning of Tegan and Mace, but they find they cannot get out of the house. Nyssa's improvised sonic device destroys the android when it enters the TARDIS - shaking it to pieces. Adric then pilots the ship to the manor house to retrieve the others. The Terileptil base is located to London. The Doctor pilots the ship there, materialising in the lane outside a bakers shop. The Doctor gives the aliens one final chance to leave Earth with him, but they refuse. A brazier is knocked over in a struggle and a fire breaks out. One of the alien weapons starts to overheat. The Doctor knows that soliton gas, on which the Terileptils thrive, is highly flammable - and the bakery is full of it. The time travellers leave the building as it bursts into flame - destroying the aliens and their rats. Mace decides to stay on and help fight the growing conflagration, whilst the others return to the TARDIS and depart. The ship's dematerialisation reveals the name of the street - Pudding Lane...

This four part adventure was written by Eric Saward, and was broadcast between 15th and 23rd February, 1982. The script was commissioned before Saward became Script Editor. Indeed, it was this story which got him the job. The roguish thespian Richard Mace had been created by Saward for a number of earlier BBC radio plays.
The story is significant for seeing the destruction of the sonic screwdriver. Producer JNT and previous Script Editor Chris Bidmead had felt that it was often used as an all too easy get-out-of-jail card, and wanted the Doctor to solve things with his ingenuity and wits.
The Visitation sees the return of the popular pseudo-historical story, of which there had been scarce few in recent years. We have a real event in history portrayed - the Great Fire of London of 1666 - and given a "science fiction" explanation.
It has a very traditional feel to it, considering recent scripts had included Warriors' Gate, Logopolis, Castrovala and Kinda. Nothing wrong with a bit of more conventional story-telling.
Mace is played by Michael Robbins - most famous for his role as Arthur, Stan Butler's long-suffering brother-in-law, in On The Buses. Amazingly, this snapshot of 1970's un-PC values is still repeated to this day on one of the ITV channels. Saward was reportedly unhappy with the casting, as this was not how he had envisaged the character that he had created for those earlier radio plays.
The lead Terilptil is Michael Melia - yet another of the doomed landlords of Walford's Queen Vic public house. The alien design is very good, and sees the first appearance of animatronics in the programme - used to give the face movement.
The only other performance of note is that of the squire. He's John Savident. I say, he's John Savident. Best known for his long-running role of butcher Fred Elliot in Coronation Street, he is rather underused, as the whole of his family get wiped out before the TARDIS arrives. I say, he's rather underused...
Episode endings are:
  1. His companions descend to the cellar and discover that the Doctor has disappeared...
  2. The Doctor and Mace are forced onto their knees as the villagers prepare to decapitate them. "Not again.." groans the Doctor.
  3. The Doctor looks on helplessly as the mentally conditioned Tegan starts to open one of the cages of rats...
  4. The TARDIS dematerialises, revealing the street sign - Pudding Lane...

Overall, a nice traditional Doctor Who story, with a good creature design. The Terileptils have a bit of back story - with their penal system and their love of beauty at odds with their ruthlessness. The Doctor and Mace make for a lovely partnership. Robbins may not have been who Saward might have wanted, but he is great in the role. Notice how Davison works best when shorn of the brats and left alone with the more mature guest artists?
Things you might like to know:
  • The original radio version of Richard Mace was actually a Victorian, rather than a Restoration era highwayman.
  • The Doctor was supposed to have picked himself up a new sonic screwdriver from the TARDIS, according to the original script. There would have been a cupboard full of them. As mentioned above, JNT wanted rid of it so the scene was scrubbed at an early stage. It would never return during his watch. Watching the new series, many would agree with JNT.
  • Director Peter Moffatt hated the incidental music.
  • Squire John and his family only appear in a lengthy scene at the start of the story - in what these days would be the pre-credits sequence.
  • This is one of those rare occasions where viewing figures rose steadily for each episode broadcast, with just over 10 million for Part Four. Generally during this period, the Tuesday evening figures (Parts Two & Four) were higher than the Monday ones.
  • Dialogue in Part One shows that this story follows immediately after Kinda, with the Doctor talking to Adric about the TSS and Tegan referring to her possession by the Mara. The Doctor's "Not again..." at the end of part two refers to the similar cliffhanger in Four to Doomsday.
  • The Terileptils have never returned to the programme, though the tinclavic mines of Raaga get a mention in The Awakening in two seasons' time.
  • When the Fourth Doctor talked about being blamed for starting the Great Fire (in Pyramids of Mars) he was, of course, joking.
  • The Target novelisation of this story was the first one not to have an artist illustrated cover. Peter Davison disliked the portrait of himself. You can see the original cover in David J Howe's The Target Book (Telos Publishing). It ain't that bad, and is much better than the rather bland photographic cover that did hit the bookshops.
  • The fact that the Great Fire broke out in a bakery often makes people think that the street name derives from this profession. The truth is not quite so palatable. The "puddings" in this instance actually refer to piles of reeking offal from slaughtered animals, being transported along the lane between the river and the butchery district.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

February's Figurines

The latest pair of Eaglemoss figurines have been released, and both just happen to come from the most recent season.
Alongside the 12th Doctor himself, we have the Half-Face Man from the opening story, Deep Breath. Considering the scale of these figures, the Capaldi resemblance is quite good, though I do think his hair is a bit too white. The story used to illustrate this figure in the accompanying magazine is Flatline. (You can make your own "Boneless" figurine by getting a photo out of DWM, cutting it out, and sticking it on a base. I have made my own Visian and Refusian as well by the way, though both do look a bit dull, being empty bases. I have to pick them up and look at the label underneath to remember which is which...).
The Doctor is wearing his white shirt version of the costume. The magazine reveals that the spangly jumper which Capaldi often wears is actually the actor's own. It may be designer (Paul Smith) but I wouldn't be seen dead in a pullover like that.
Of the 13 Doctor figures available, 7 have now been released - including all of the post 2005 ones. Wouldn't it be lovely if they also did a Peter Cushing one? (We know there is a movie Dalek due, though they are putting this down to its appearance in the background of The Chase).
The Half-Face Man has a great deal of detail in the costume. The accompanying magazine has a feature on how the effects for the character were achieved - the combination of prosthetics and CGI.
We should have also received the special base unit for the 6 special release Daleks with these figurines, but a note in the box explains that this has been delayed until next month - when we will also be getting a rather snazzy looking Terrileptil.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

TARDIS Travels No.15

Season 15, and we have entered the Graham Williams era. One of the first things he did was to get rid of the wood panelled control room of the previous season.

Journey 129: London, 1890's, to Fang Rock, south coast of England, early 20th Century.
The TARDIS goes off course, geographically and temporally - missing the opening of the Brighton Pavilion. The Doctor claims that it got lost in the fog, and implies the ship "sees" where it is going for at least part of the journey. Might be why it didn't squish the Brigadier at the end of Colony In Space. It is the Edwardian era, the first decade of the 20th Century.

Journey 130: Fang Rock, early 20th Century, to Titan, c.5000 AD.
The TARDIS often seems to spend part of its journeys travelling through normal space. This is the case here, as it picks up both a distress call from the base on Saturn's moon Titan, and an unwelcome passenger in the form of the Nucleus of the Swarm. The ship passes through a cloud in space and the virus enters the Doctor through the control console.
A new version of the "futuristic" white control room is seen. The ship did the redecoration itself. The Doctor explains that it is the time of the "Great Breakout" - when there was a rapid surge in human colonisation of other worlds - probably as a consequence of the conflicts on Earth mentioned in The Talons of Weng-Chiang and / or the glacial period in The Ice Warriors.

Journey 131: Titan, 5000, to Bi-Al Foundation, 5000.
In order to be treated for his infection by the Nucleus, the Doctor has Leela pilot the ship to the medical facility built into the asteroid K4067. The Foundation's proper name is the Centre for Alien Biomorphology. The Doctor gives the course heading WHI 1212 9990 Ex 41. Any fan of old British thrillers will know that the first part of this is the telephone number for Scotland Yard (Whitehall 1212), followed by the current 999 number plus an extraneous nought. I wonder who was at Extension 41?  Gideon or Fabian perhaps? Tom Baker used to claim he used the Doctor Who production office number and extension at TV Centre for this sort of thing.
The ship's relative dimensional stabiliser can be removed and proves compatible with the human technology of this era. It is employed to shrink the clones of the Doctor and Leela.

Journey 132: Bi-Al Foundation, 5000, to Titan, 5000.
The TARDIS returns to Titan Base so that the Nucleus can be prevented from spawning. It materialises in a different part of the base. The ship seems to know the bad guys are congregating in the corridor where it materialised before.

Journey 133: Titan, 5000, to Bi-Al Foundation, 5000.
And back again, mission accomplished. The Doctor almost dematerialised without Leela and K9, and with the end of his scarf stuck in the door. He must have had to spin like a top to get to the console without throttling himself.

Journey 134: Bi-Al Foundation, 5000, to Fetchborough, England, 1977.
The TARDIS is drawn off course by the influence of the Time Scanner being operated by Professor Fendleman. It materialises in the middle of a herd of cows. There is a time fissure in the area. These are obviously much smaller and of less concern than time rifts, like the one in Cardiff.

Journey 135: Fetchborough, 1977, to location of Fifth Planet, 1977.
The Doctor and Leela travel to where the fifth planet of the Solar System used to be. This is where the Fendahl evolved. They find that it has been destroyed and the remains placed in a time loop by the Time Lords. Like E-Space, time loops are green...

Journey 136: Location of Fifth Planet, 1977, to Fetchborough, 1977.
The TARDIS returns to the Fetchborough area where the Doctor can try to destroy the Fendahl.

Journey 137: Fetchborough, 1977, to Pluto, far future.
The TARDIS materialises on the roof of Megropolis One. This is one of a number of huge cities on a terraformed Pluto, now home to the human race. The planet is ringed with artificial suns. Everyone runs from the tax man - until the Doctor incites a revolution. Before the Gatherer fell - quite literally - none of the workers were allowed up on this roof, though parking spaces were available...

Journey 138: Pluto, far future, to unknown region of space, date unknown.
The TARDIS has materialised in space, in a region where new planets are forming. It is described as the "edge of space". (Probably the outer rim of a galaxy rather than the boundary of the universe). K9 identifies that there is a vessel nearby.

Journey 139: Unknown region of space, to Minyan spaceship R1C, date unknown.
The TARDIS materialises on the vessel which K9 had spotted. The Minyans recognise the materialisation sound - identified as caused by the relative dimensional stabiliser. (See above. A later story will assert that this is due to the Doctor leaving the hand brake on. If so, all the rogue Time Lords have the same bad habit...). This is because they were visited by the Time Lords in the distant past. The TARDIS provides extra power, via K9, to the spaceship in order to escape from the planetoid which has formed around the other Minyan ship - the P7E - after the R1C crash lands on it and sinks beneath its soft surface.

Journey 140: Minyan spaceship R1C, date unknown, to Vardan spaceship, date unknown.
The Doctor arranges a rendezvous with a Vardan spaceship in deep space. Leela is left in the dark (quite literally - the lights in the control room are dimmed) as to what the Doctor is up to.
Some time must have elapsed since leaving the Minyan craft, for the Doctor to have been contacted and recruited by the Vardans. No doubt Big Finish will place dozens of audios here, including one in which Leela reveals that her people go through some kind of Pon Far where they are biologically compelled to mate with the first person they meet whose name begins with 'A'. Lucky the Vardans didn't want to invade Peladon. Or Clom...

Journey 141: Vardan spaceship, date unknown, to Gallifrey, date unknown.
See TARDIS Travels No.14 for a note about GMT (that's Gallifreyan Mean Time). The ship materialises in the middle of what looks to be the Panopticon. There may be more than one assembly chamber like this in the Capitol, as the ship isn't seen when the Doctor is invested as President of the High Council, or when the Sontarans later turn up.
We see a whole lot of the TARDIS interior - a number of corridors as well as store rooms (all identical), an infirmary, a workshop, a greenhouse, a bathroom, and the subsidiary power room which has been set out as an art gallery. The art works aren't the real thing - just holographic copies. Very few distinctive roundels on show around the place. Looks more like a disused Victorian mental hospital...
Leela suddenly decides to stay and get married, and K9 elects to join her, but don't worry - the Doctor's got a spare. (K9 that is. Leelas are unique).
Season 15 draws to a close...

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Story 118 - Kinda

In which the Doctor and his companions spend some time on the verdant world of Deva Loka whilst Nyssa recuperates from the effects of the robotising machine on the Urbankan spaceship. She rests in the TARDIS whilst the others explore. In a glade they come across a set of wind chimes, so realise that there is - or has been - some advanced form of life here. Tegan lies down and falls asleep, whilst the Doctor and Adric encounter an armoured vehicle which forces them to go with it. They are taken to a dome which has been set up by an expeditionary force, come to check the planet for colonisation potential. Commander Sanders has designated this world "S14". After three of the crew have gone missing, the security officer - Hindle - has insisted on taking hostages from the local population. Science Officer Todd is against this, as the Kinda are a gentle, peace-loving people. The Doctor can see that Hindle, constantly bullied and mocked by his commander, is close to breaking point. Sanders decides to go on a reconnaissance mission alone, using the armoured unit that had brought the Doctor and Adric here - the TSS (Total Survival Suit). As security officer, Hindle is left in charge. Todd explains that the Kinda are mute and seem to have telepathic abilities. They were once a highly technical civilisation, and she shows the Doctor an emblem they wear which is exactly like the DNA double helix. Hindle discovers that the two hostages respond to him when he catches their reflection in his hand mirror. He finds that they obey his orders. As his mental health deteriorates, he takes over the dome and begins to plan a campaign against an imagined enemy. The Doctor and Todd are locked up, but Adric humours Hindle and is permitted to remain at large.

Tegan, meanwhile, is still asleep and has found herself in a nightmare black void. There are three figures present, an old couple and a young man who starts to torment her. Sanders comes upon a wooden box lying on the path, left by a Kinda girl named Karuna. Opening it, it has a strange influence on him. He returns to the dome where it is found that he seems quite childlike now. Hindle wants to know what is in the box, and forces the Doctor and Todd to open it. A jack-in-the-box figurine leaps out, but then some force begins to affect the dome's power. The Doctor deduces that it must emit some high frequency sound. He and Todd are able to escape and meet Karuna who takes them to a cave to meet an old wise woman, Panna. Both of them can speak. From her they learn of an ancient evil force called the Mara that once brought destruction to the Kinda - and will do so again. She reveals this in a vision which the Doctor and Hindle can share. Panna dies, but her consciousness merges with Karuna's. In her nightmare world, to save her sanity, Tegan relents and allows the young man to hold her hand. A snake tattoo on his arm comes to life momentarily and glides onto her arm. Tegan wakes in the glade, now possessed by the Mara.

She encounters a young Kinda male named Aris. His brother is one the hostages in the dome. The Mara transfers itself to him, as it needs him to influence the tribe. He also gains a voice. He starts to incite the Kinda against the colonists. He builds a mock up of the TSS out of branches, to mimic them and show that he has as much power as they. Adric escapes from the dome in the real TSS but finds he cannot control it. It ploughs into the assembled Kinda, causing them to run in panic. The Doctor and Todd return to the dome with Adric and Tegan and find Hindle has set up explosive charges. In his madness, he plans to destroy the whole area. Todd tricks him into opening the wooden box. It is really a Kinda healing device. His mind is cleared. Realising that evil can never face itself, the Doctor arranges for Aris to be surrounded by huge reflective panels. The snake tattoo on his arm slides off and begins to grow into a gigantic physical serpent. Trapped in the circle of mirrors, it is destroyed - sent back to the black void. Tegan's sleeping in the glade alone had given it a chance to return to the real world. Sanders and Hindle are both cured, and Sanders even contemplates settling down on Deva Loka. The planet will not be recommended for colonisation. Back at the TARDIS, Nyssa has recovered, and the time-travellers depart.

This four part story was written by Christopher Bailey, and was broadcast between 1st and 9th February, 1982.
Kinda is quite unlike any story which Doctor Who had previously attempted. The closest parallel might be Planet of the Spiders, but only in terms of the influences on both stories. Whilst a big monster does turn up in the closing section, all of the threats up to this point are psychological. We have Hindle's mental breakdown, and Tegan being driven insane in a nightmare world in her own head. The Mara is simply evil, which gets personified in the giant snake. Visually, a strong influence is the biblical Garden of Eden - the lush green planet, a serpent, and Tegan tempting Aris from a tree (dropping an apple on him just to ram this imagery home). Underlying all of this, in the detail, are Buddhist concepts. There is the wheel of life, and reincarnation. Not immediately evident to most viewers at the time are many of the names deriving from Buddhism. The healing device is called the Box of Jhana (meditation). Panna is wisdom, Karuna compassion. The three nightmare figures are named after states of being - Anicca (otherness), Anatta (impermanence) and Dukkha (suffering). The latter is the young tormentor. Mara derives from a demon.
We also have some psychoanalysis in the mix with the shared dreaming of the Kinda (after Jung).
Another influence is obviously the impact of colonialism on indigenous populations and their cultures. The uniform includes pith helmets - practically a visual shorthand for British Imperialism. Richard Todd was famous for stiff upper lip colonial type roles in the fifties. His name even hints at Sanders of the River.
And does the name Deva Loka derive from Vida Loca (mad or crazy life)? Makes more sense in a way than the actual 'realm of the gods'.
Bailey was a lecturer based in Brighton. Due to his keeping a low profile regarding interviews and so forth, a rumour sprang up that he didn't actually exist - very in keeping with some of the themes in his scripts. It was believed that the name was a nom de plume for someone else - possibly someone quite famous. Playwright Tom Stoppard had intimated in an interview that he had written something for a popular TV show under another name at just this time, but did not say what - so some thought him to be the mysterious Mr Bailey. Bizarrely, another suspect was pop star Kate Bush.

There is a very impressive cast on view. Todd is Nerys Hughes - best known for The Liver Birds and then District Nurse. She has since been seen as Rhys' mum in a Torchwood Series 2 episode (Something Borrowed). Sanders is the well known movie star Richard Todd - Guy Gibson in The Dambusters is probably his most famous role. Simon Rouse plays Hindle. His best known work will start soon after this - a long running role in The Bill. His co-star in that, Jeffrey Stewart, is Dukkha. Someone else who would soon find popular fame is Anna Wing (one of the original Eastenders cast). She is Anatta. Panna is Mary Morris, in one of her last screen roles. Aris is Adrian Mills - best known for being one of the co-presenters on That's Life (a series almost as bizarre as Kinda. Imagine consumer affairs show Watchdog, but with talking dogs, boy scouts trying to eat their lunch on roller-coasters, and vegetables shaped like genitalia...).
Episode endings are:
  1. Hindle appears with the two hostages - now armed and dressed in uniforms. He announces to the Doctor and Todd that he is in command now, and has the power of life and death over them...
  2. Todd screams as the Doctor opens the Box of Jhana...
  3. The Doctor needs Panna's help if he is to defeat the Mara and stop the Kinda attacking the dome. She is dead, however...
  4. With Nyssa well again, the TARDIS crew depart...

Overall, an interesting story that benefits from repeated viewings. A lot of the depth was lost to viewers on its initial screening. The planet is obviously all studio-bound, but somehow this unreal look almost becomes part of the story. The big pink snake at the end is the only obvious misjudgement. 
Things you might like to know:
  • Yes, that snake. The one big let down of the whole production. I do not know your views on the use of CGI enhancements on some of the DVD releases. Some purists won't touch them, but I am really not going to inflict the hub-cap Dalek saucer dangling in front of a photo of the Houses of Parliament on myself when I can see instead a natty TV Century 21 style version. If you have the Kinda DVD, for goodness sake switch on the CGI option for a far more satisfying Mara manifestation.
  • Back in 1982 fans were not enamoured of this story. The DWM season poll had it in last place, though they rated Simon Rouse and Nerys Hughes. In the most recent poll (for the 50th Anniversary) Kinda is the second most popular story of this season - in 63rd position overall, out of 241.
  • Amongst the Kinda extras is a very young Johnny Lee Miller - best known these days for that other Sherlock Holmes inspired programme.
  • Nyssa sits this story out, but Sarah Sutton was still under contract so appears at the start and finish on the story. There were back stage wrangles with her creator, Johnny Byrne, regarding her becoming a full time companion. Most companions were created jointly by the producer and script editor of the day, with a writer being asked to then introduce them. Nyssa was different - being a character for a one off story who it was then decided should stay on. Byrne got a few £s for every subsequent episode she appeared in.
  • Notoriously, Matthew Waterhouse gave veteran screen star Richard Todd some acting tips during the recording of this story. This has often appeared as one of the chief pieces of evidence for the prosecution case against him. As he tells it, Todd said that he hadn't a lot of specifically TV studio experience, and so this is why he shoved his groat's worth in.
  • One thing that is never resolved is: just what did happen to the three missing crew members? No explanation is given. Did they just wander off into the jungle after opening the Box of Jhana, or did the Mara get them? Were they the three tormentors in Tegan's nightmare. A popular school of thought has it that these three are actually representative of her travelling companions. The old couple are playing draughts - as Nyssa and Adric had been as the story opens. That would make chief tormentor Dukkha the Doctor. It has been proposed that the metal structure - the only other thing in this void - represents the TARDIS.
  • Talking of the TARDIS, this is the only Davison story not to feature the control room set.
  • As well as returning for a rematch in the next season (and the inevitable BF audio) the Mara have been name checked in Torchwood - as being possible relatives to the faerie creatures in the PJ Hammond story Small Worlds.
  • I've just realised that I have managed to go this whole post without making any jokes about toy-filled chocolate eggs. Now that is a surprise.
  • D'oh!

Monday, 16 February 2015

TARDIS Travels No.14

Season Fourteen opens with a couple of significant changes as far as the TARDIS is concerned. First, we have a new Police Box shell, after the old one collapsed during the end sequence for Seeds of Doom. We then have the Doctor and Sarah exploring the ship's corridors - coming across the spacious boot cupboard and then the new (or is it old?) wood panelled control room.
The implication is that it was an earlier room used by the Doctor, though he revisited it, unseen, in his second and third incarnations. The Doctor can pilot the ship just as easily from here, and so reconfigures the internal layout of the TARDIS (or its exterior shell) so that the main doors now lead in and out of it.

Journey 120: Antarctica, date unknown (?), to the Mandragora Helix, late 15th Century.
The ship materialises at the heart of the sentient energy helix, where there is air and a surface to walk upon. It has been drawn there deliberately. A fragment of helix energy sneaks aboard. We aren't able to tell if any journeys took place between this and the trip to Antarctica (and if there were some, how many), and so can't say if Sarah ever did get to see Cassiopeia.

Journey 121: Mandragora Helix to San Martino, late 15th Century.
The Mandragora Helix causes the TARDIS to land in this small Italian dukedom. It is the 1470's approximately, when Leonardo Da Vinci was in Milan. The helix energy ball is able to open the TARDIS doors after secreting itself inside during the journey. (Of course, Italy won't actually exist until the second half of the 19th Century, thanks to Garibaldi. Other biscuits are available).

Journey 122: San Martino, 15th Century, to England, 1976.
The TARDIS mistakes an English quarry for an alien planet... The Doctor might also be confused, and so misses the fact that the workmen are about to blast. The quarry is near somewhere called Nunton where there is a nuclear power station. Not a renamed Nuton, as some have suggested (as with Sellafield / Windscale). This is clearly not anywhere near the beautifully bleak Dungeness.

Journey 123: England, 1976, to Kastria, 1976.
The Doctor agrees to take the Kastrian Eldrad back home, and in the present day only - so it is the same date as it was on Earth. After the regenerated Eldrad has taken a tumble (quite liked her, hated him), the Doctor finds that the extreme cold has affected some of the TARDIS systems. First mention of the ship being in a state of temporal grace when in flight. Subsequently revealed to be a bit of a fib. Sarah declares that she's fed up and wants to go home - which just happens to coincide with the Doctor getting a call from Gallifrey...

Journey 124: Kastria, 1976, to Aberdeen, Scotland, 1976.
Yes, we had to wait quite a few years to find out where he had actually dropped her off. Not Hillview Crescent, Croydon, at all. I hope there was some residual telepathic translation field business still going on. Even I struggle with the Aberdonian accent. See if there is any 1970's Beechgrove Garden on You Tube if you want to see what I mean.

Journey 125: Aberdeen, 1976, to Gallifrey, date... difficult.
It is one of the great debates. Just when is Gallifrey? It often seems to mirror events on present day Earth, but some folk believe it is in the ancient past, or the far future. There was even a school of thought that said it was a future Earth, and the Time Lords are our super-evolved future descendants. That was before the new series came along.
The TARDIS is identified as a Type 40 TT (time travel) capsule and now quite obsolete. It has a trimonic lock, and the Chancellery Guards have a key that fits it. It doesn't appear to be registered in the data-banks, but then again the Master and Goth have done a lot of tampering with records (to the extent that the Time Lords don't even seem to know who the Master is).
The Doctor has visited a "cash & carry" in Constantinople at some point.

"Look behind you!!!"
Chancellor Goth - maybe the person we saw at the Second Doctor's hearing - has the ship transposed to the museum in the Capitol. One wonders what the Gallifreyan public would have made of it. Their very own Doctor Who Experience. Interestingly, the current set up for the Experience just happens to be based around the Time Lords' museum.
The Master's TARDIS is disguised as a grandfather clock, also tucked away in the museum.

Journey 126: Gallifrey, date unknown, to unnamed planet, far future.
As mentioned two seasons ago, a common theory for when the Fourth Doctor messed about with the computer Xoanon is a brief interlude during his convalescence after the last regeneration. He sneaked off from UNIT HQ's sickbay and did it. There are two other possibilities. (Three, if you count the insane one that posits that every time he regenerates, all his previous incarnations change to look like the current version).
First is that he went to this planet with Sarah during Season Thirteen, or between that season and the start of this. Just because he doesn't mention her presence, doesn't mean she wasn't there.
Second theory is that there are lots of adventures with a solo Doctor after that trip back to Gallifrey.
My own pet theory is that he visited this planet immediately before this story starts, and the process of fixing Xoanon wiped his memory of it. The TARDIS has brought him straight to the future to sort things out. Remember how the ship arrived back on The Ark 700 years later? This is why he has that knot in his hankie. He did the sidelian memory transfer on Xoanon. It scrambled his own brains a bit in the process. He staggers back to the TARDIS and does the hankie knot then collapses. The ship goes forward in time so that he can fix the consequences of his actions. That he was aiming for Hyde Park is just a scrambled memory from before he arrived on this planet the first time.
The planet is not named but we do know that Leela's people originated on Earth. Another pet theory of mine is that Mordee is the name of this planet. If you mount an expedition to Everest, you call it the Everest Expedition, don't you? So the Mordee Expedition is going to...
Anyway, despite the ship supposedly having isomorphic controls, Leela is able to work them - and get them right first time. No getting sucked out into the Vortex for her...

Journey 127: Unknown planet, far future, to similar.
The TARDIS materialises in an ore collection scoop that has been set up on a desert world. The crew of the Sandminer which is scouring the planet for minerals have it transported aboard. These craft are also known as Storm Mines. They are basically like gigantic vacuum cleaners set on blow, and push the stuff they want to harvest into these scoops at high speed.
There's no transmat technology on view, and we do see a big mechanical grab (like the ones that always just fail to nab the thing you're after in amusement arcades), so the Sandminer must park up alongside the scoop for the TARDIS and its occupants to be transferred. Must be a tricky procedure, as when they stop they normally sink...
Assuming that Uvanov and his crew are descended from Earth colonists, we are back in the future. Kaldor City gets mentioned, but it is not clear if this is elsewhere on this planet, or somewhere else entirely.

Journey 128: Unnamed planet, far future, to London, 1890's.
The TARDIS materialises in a fog-shrouded alleyway on the banks of the Thames. Victoria is on the throne, and it is after Jack The Ripper's reign of terror - so the final decade of the 19th Century. Limehouse seems to be not far distant, yet the Palace Theatre is supposed to be built over the course of the River Fleet, which went no further east than Blackfriars. Jago might just be talking superfluorescent salubrious spheroids, but the Doctor seems to agree with him. Let's just say that Robert Holmes concentrated on atmosphere and multitudinous popular period references, and did not bother to check the geography too closely.
Here endeth Season Fourteen.