Tuesday, 25 April 2017

B is for... Borad

The Doctor first visited the planet Karfel in his third incarnation with Jo Grant and another travelling companion - possibly UNIT's Captain Mike Yates. He befriended a scientist named Megelen, but was forced to denounce him to the authorities because of his unethical experiments with the indigenous Morlox creatures. These were large and savage reptilian quadrupeds which lived in tunnels beneath the Karfelon citadel.
Megelen continued his work undaunted, and one experiment using the gas Mustakozene-80 caused a cellular hybridisation. The gas mimicked Morlox pheromones, causing one of the creatures to attack him just as the substance merged their DNA. Megelen was left mutated - part-humanoid and part-Morlox, but with increased strength and longevity.
He was somehow able to overthrow the leadership of the planet and install himself as the new ruler, taking the title of Borad. Because of his mutated appearance, he kept himself hidden away in a fortified vault and created a public face for himself - using an android of an old man to act as his official appearance on video screens.

Megelen then set about experimenting with temporal physics. He created a device called the Timelash, using Kontron crystals, which acted as a time tunnel. His enemies would be thrown into it, and no-one knew where it lead. Other time technology enabled him to create a weapon that could age people rapidly to death.
The Sixth Doctor was drawn back to Karfel when the TARDIS clashed with the Timelash tunnel. A councillor named Vena had stolen one of the keys which the Borad needed to transfer power to his vault, and had fallen with it into the Timelash. Tracing the tunnel to the planet, the Doctor found that the Borad was detested as a tyrant, prepared to see his people die rather than have his experiments upset. He also seemed hell bent on provoking a war with the neighbouring Bandril race.
The Doctor was coerced into going after Vena - learning in the process that the Timelash actually lead to medieval Scotland - though the TARDIS had deflected her to the late Victorian period.

On his return to Karfel, the Doctor went to the vault and discovered that the Borad was really Megelen. The scientist planned to wipe out his own people, but would leave himself a mate. The Doctor's companion Peri would be used in an experiment to replicate what had happened to him. The Bandrils would be provoked into destroying Karfel using weapons that would not affect the Morlox (or partial Morlox). The Doctor used a Kontron crystal to turn Megelen's aging weapon against him.
However, this turned out to be a clone, and Megelen attempted to abduct Peri. Having noted the lack of reflective surfaces in the citadel, the Doctor smashed a portrait of his earlier self to reveal a mirror hidden behind. Horrified by his own reflection, Megelen was overcome and was pushed into the Timelash. The Doctor speculated that he may have ended up in Loch Ness, and given rise to the legends of the Monster.

Played by: Robert Ashby. Android avatar by Denis Carey. Appearances: Timelash (1985).

  • Ashby was born Rashid Suhrawardy, son of a Prime Minister of Pakistan, and a Russian actor mother.
  • He was married to Leela actor Louise Jameson.
  • Of course we all know that the Loch Ness Monster is really the Skarasen, so the Doctor's speculation is out, somewhat. Presumably the Zygons' pet ate him not long after his arrival.
  • It is Tekker who implies that the Doctor had more than one companion when he last visited Karfel. If this is the case, then fandom has generally assumed that this was an unseen date between Jo and Mike Yates, as we know they were due to meet at a restaurant when Jo got sidetracked to Peladon.

B is for... Boneless

The name given by the Doctor to an obscure alien species which originated in a 2-dimensional universe. They attempted to cross over into our 3-D universe on a housing estate in Bristol. They began by killing some of the local inhabitants, reducing their bodies to two dimensions in order to study their anatomy. This process would leave flattened images of skin samples and maps of the central nervous system at the scene. Other victims were left looking like painted images on walls.
Their presence drew the TARDIS off course, and caused dimensional anomalies - reducing the exterior shell of the ship to a few inches in height, with the Doctor trapped on board.
Clara was left to join forces with a young graffiti artist named Rigsy, and his community service colleagues, to investigate further.

The Doctor attempted to communicate with the creatures using mathematics. Instead, they carried on killing - attempting to turn themselves into 3-dimensional simulacra of their victims. They had the power to convert 3-D objects into 2-D, and vice versa.
Clara used this against them - tricking them into returning the TARDIS to normal by hiding the miniaturised ship behind a painting of a door. The creatures attempted to make this 3-D in order to open it, but their energies passed through it to the TARDIS.
As the Boneless had failed to communicate or negotiate, and had carried on killing, the Doctor had no qualms in sending them back to their own dimension, even if they perished in the process.

Appearances: Flatline (2014).

B is for... Bonaparte, Napoleon

The Doctor didn't get to meet Napoleon Bonaparte when he and his companions arrived in France during the Reign of Terror. The English spy James Stirling knew of a meeting that was to take place at an inn on the Calais Road, to be attended by Paul Barras, who was plotting the overthrow of Maximilien Robespierre. He wanted to know the identity of the man Barras was going to recruit to help him, and so Ian and Barbara went to the inn disguised as its temporary staff. They recognised Barras' guest as Napoleon. When Ian and Barbara reported back, no-one could believe that the young Corsican general could possibly come to anything.
The Doctor did come to meet the French Emperor at some point later, or so he claimed. Raiding Sir Reginald Styles' well-stocked larder, he took the credit for initiating Napoleon's famous phrase about an army marching on its stomach.

Played by: Tony Wall. Appearances: The Reign of Terror (1964).

B is for... Bok

A statue of a demon or imp, that was to be found in the cavern beneath the church in the English village of Devil's End. The diminutive figure had stubby wings, horns and was carved seated and cross-legged. The Master infiltrated the village in the guise of its new vicar, Mr Magister. He took over the local black magic coven which met in the cavern. He was planning to resurrect the dormant alien Daemon Azal, and began tapping his psionic powers. With these he brought Bok to life, employing it to destroy anyone who stood in his way. Bok was able to shoot powerful energy bolts from its claws.
When the Doctor and Jo went to investigate the recently opened barrow in which Azal had slept, the Master sent Bok to kill them. The Doctor confused the creature when he held up an iron trowel, and began quoting what appeared to be an incantation. This was really a Venusian lullaby, but Bok's simple mind overpowered the Master's control and it withdrew. Later, the Master used Bok to destroy the village squire when it appeared that the villagers were turning against him.

Bok was then employed to guard the church against UNIT when the Master summoned Azal for the final time. It would kill anyone who approached - even an ally such as Bert, the pub landlord. When blown up by a bazooka, Bok instantly reassembled, and five rounds rapid were merely shrugged off.
Bok was weakened when Azal came under attack, and reverted to stone once the Daemon had destroyed itself.

Played by: Stanley Mason. Appearances: The Daemons (1972).

  • Please note the distinct lack of the word "gargoyle" in the description above. Bok is not a gargoyle. These are architectural features, originating in medieval times. Usually, they are ornamental water spouts designed to drain away rain. Bok's features were based on a famous gargoyle, to be found on the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. This isn't a genuine medieval feature of the edifice, however, but an addition created centuries later.
  • Bok in Dutch / Afrikaans means "goat" or to be "goat-like" in temperament. In Croatia you can use it like we would "Cheers", as in an informal greeting or farewell. I'll spare you what it means in Turkish...
  • Jon Pertwee kept the Bok prop as a garden feature at his home in Barnes.

B is for... Boaz

One of a trio of guerrilla fighters who travelled back in time from the 22nd Century to assassinate diplomat Sir Reginald Styles. A previous attempt by a lone killer had failed. Boaz arrived near Styles' home, with companions Anat and Shura, to complete the task. Styles was not in residence. Instead, the Doctor and Jo were in the house, expecting another attempt to be made. The guerrillas claimed that Styles was about to blow up a forthcoming peace conference. This would plunge the world into a series of wars which would leave the planet helpless when a Dalek invasion force arrived. These Daleks had time-travelled in order to re-invade the planet and alter history, after the original attempt had been foiled by the First Doctor. Boaz was very much a "shoot first, ask questions later" sort of man, and had to be kept in check by team leader Anat.
When a party of Ogrons attacked the house, Boaz and Anat returned to the 22nd Century, taking the Doctor with them. He wanted to retrieve Jo, who had accidentally been catapulted forward in time after handling one of the guerrillas' time machines.
Guerrilla leader Monia discovered that the Doctor had been captured by the Daleks, and that he was someone who had defeated them in the past. He organised a rescue mission. Boaz was killed in the raid, sacrificing himself to blow up a Dalek.
As this particular timeline was erased when the Doctor and Jo returned to the 20th Century, Boaz would have led a much different life, had he existed at all.

Played by: Scott Fredericks. Appearances: Day of the Daleks (1972).

  • Fredericks would return to the programme in 1977, playing Max Stael in Image of the Fendahl. An appearance in the Blake's 7 episode "Weapon" has led to him featuring in a number of Kaldor City audios, which mix Doctor Who and Blake's 7 elements.

B is for... Blue, Journey

A young woman who was rescued by the Doctor seconds before her spacecraft was destroyed by the Daleks. She was a soldier, based on the Aristotle, a vessel belonging to the Anti-Dalek Alliance. Her brother was killed when her ship was attacked, and the Doctor materialised the TARDIS around her at the last moment. She tried to commandeer the ship, but the Doctor was able to quickly gain her trust. He took her back to the Aristotle, which was commanded by her uncle, Colonel Morgan Blue. He was all set to execute the Doctor, but relented when he thought he could help with a captive Dalek which appeared to have turned against its own kind. Journey lead the team that was miniaturised and injected into the Dalek in order to examine it. Apart from the Doctor and Clara, she was the only survivor of the mission - the others falling prey to the Dalek's automated defences.
Journey was ready to give up her life on the spaceship in order to go travelling with the Doctor, but this particular incarnation of the Time Lord harboured a strong dislike of soldiers, and he refused to take her.

Played by: Zawe Ashton. Appearances: Into The Dalek (2014).

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Smile - The Review

First of all, let's get the look of last night's episode out of the way. Traveling to Valencia to film really paid off. The cityscape, and the sweeping vistas of wheat fields were beautiful to look at. It was such a pity that the plot then moved into the spaceship interior, which was plainly yet another factory location.
Apart from a brief appearance by Nardole at the beginning, plus the two colonist women, the first half hour was pretty much just the Doctor and Bill. Knowing that Ralf Little was appearing, I kept looking at the clock and wondering if it would be worth his while ever turning up. (It wasn't - a real waste of a good guest actor. Same with Mina Anwar, who was so good as Rani's mum Gita in The Sarah Jane Adventures).
So, for much of the running time it is just the Doctor and Bill. He deduces what is going on, whilst she is still in educating-new-viewers mode by asking all of those questions which have already been asked and answered for longer term fans. Had there been any aliens this week, she would no doubt have asked the one about how she could understand them.
Watching the Doctor work out what was going on in this seemingly deserted colony was interesting, as we already knew what was afoot.

The robots - both the tiny flying Vardies and the cute little Emojibots - were killing people who weren't happy. Helen A could have done with some of these on her colony world in The Happiness Patrol. Once again, we have technology designed to help humans acting against them due to over-literal programming. Just like last week. The Doctor works out that this was all caused by them encountering grief, which spread through the human community following the death of a much loved elder. The robots have been programmed to make sure everyone is happy, so they eliminate sadness by killing people and turning them into fertiliser for the gardens. As a threat, they didn't quite work. The Doctor and Bill simply ran out of the city. While they were back at the TARDIS, why didn't they remove their emoji badges, by the way?

The Doctor decides he's going to blow up the city - only to later discover that the colonists have already arrived. They're in cryosleep in the spaceship at the heart of the complex, which is where Ralf Little comes in. The Doctor makes reference to having encountered a number of craft which have fled a dying Earth - something which has caused a few continuity headaches for fans. Little announcing he is a Medtech obviously reminds us of The Ark In Space, where Medtech Vira was the first of the crew to be reawakened. The Doctor states that Gliese is one of the first Earth colonies, but that can't be the case if these people have come from the dying Earth. The history of Doctor Who is littered with much earlier colonies. Then again, the Doctor does get things wrong. He says so here, when he admits to not having recognised a nascent AI lifeform.
The name of the spaceship is significant - The Erewhon. This derives from the book by Samuel Butler, published in 1872. This features a Utopian place (the name taken from "Nowhere" backwards, with the W and H transposed). This place does not allow machines, as they are thought to present a threat to humanity, which is exactly what the robots here pose.
This season's story arc gets a mention, but not in any way that moves the mystery forward. We already know that he has promised to guard the Vault. Who he promised this to, and why, are still for a later episode.
Overall, it was a good episode, but certainly not a great one. If it was intended to further introduce us to Bill and some of the series' core tenets, then it succeeded. It just needed a bit more oomph.