Sunday 14 April 2024

Episode 113: The Dancing Floor

NB: This episode no longer exists in the archives, nor is there a full set of telesnaps. Representative images are therefore used to illustrate it.

Synopsis:
Steven and Dodo have been given another riddle to solve:
"Hunt the key that fits the door,
That leads out on the dancing floor,
Then escape the rhythmic beat,
Or you'll forever tap your feet"
The Toymaker is unfazed by the fact that his teams have been beaten twice by the Doctor's companions. From his dolls house he removes another two figures, whom he identifies as Mrs Wiggs and Sergeant Rugg. 
Steven and Dodo pass through the fake TARDIS and down a corridor to emerge in another large chamber, followed by the trio of ballerina dolls.
The room they find themselves in is a huge antique kitchen, cluttered with culinary bric-a-brac. Presiding over this is Mrs Wiggs - a Victorian cook. Her friend, Sergeant Rugg, is a member of the British Army of the Napoleonic era, and claims to have served under Wellington - "the Iron Duke". 
Also present is a kitchen boy named Cyril, who spends all of his time sleeping by the oven.
Dodo asks them about the riddle, and Mrs Wiggs claims that the only dancing floor she knows of lies beyond the next door. They find that it is locked.
It soon becomes clear that their new challenge is to hunt for the key - a version of "Hunt the Thimble".
Wiggs and Rugg claim not to know its location either, so whoever finds the key first is the winner.
Everyone scrambles around searching, but eventually one of the cook's pies is dropped on the floor and Dodo finds the key within. She and Steven unlock the door.
The Toymaker enters the kitchen and berates the cook and soldier, warning them not to fail him any further. He orders them to follow the Doctor's companions.
Beyond the door is a chamber with a raised floor, on which stand the three ballerina dolls. Behind them is the TARDIS. Steven is about to step onto the floor when Dodo urges caution - reminding him of the riddle.
When he moves forward, he finds himself dancing with one of the dolls - unable to resist.
He realises that he must force the dance towards the TARDIS in order to reach it. Dodo joins him, and Mrs Wiggs and the Sergeant follow suit to attempt to get to the TARDIS first.
Rugg is about to touch it when he is swept away by his partner, and the Doctor's companions achieve their goal. They dive inside, only to discover that it is another fake cabinet.
Again, Dodo and Steven argue about the nature of their opponents, having recognised the figures from their previous games. She still sees them as intelligent beings, whilst he thinks of them only as soulless creations of the Toymaker.
Behind them, the cook and the soldier dance off into the distance, like emotionless automatons.
The Toymaker disposes of the lifeless dolls and selects what will be the final opponent. He notes that the Doctor has only another 123 moves to go, before the Trilogic Game is completed.
Steven and Dodo have found their next riddle:
"Lady luck will show the way,
Win the game or here you'll stay"
They then meet their new opponent - Cyril, now in the form of a jovial schoolboy.  It becomes clear that he loves to play mischievous tricks on people, as he uses a concealed electric buzzer when shaking hands with Steven. To Dodo, however, he appears charming - even giving her a bag of his sweets.
He warns them that he is going to be their toughest foe yet...
Next episode: The Final Test

Data:
Written by: Brian Hayles
Recorded: Friday 1st April 1966 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:50pm, Saturday 16th April 1966
Ratings: 9.4 million / AI 44
Designer: John Wood
Director: Bill Sellars
Additional cast: Beryl Braham, Ann Harrison, Delia Lindon (Ballerina Dolls). 


Critique:
The game this week is "Hunt the Thimble", played against characters who are designed to mimic those in the "Happy Families" card game. However, there's no soldier character, so Rugg may be based on a child's lead soldier, whilst the game does feature Mrs Bun, the Baker's wife - the probable inspiration for Mrs Wiggs.
One short scene was pre-filmed at Ealing on Wednesday 2nd March. This featured Campbell Singer as Sergeant Rugg, and Carmen Silvera as Mrs Wiggs, dancing against black drapes. This would be used to show them vanishing off into a distant black void. Both wore padded costumes.
For both actors, this would be their final episode of the story.

April 1st is known as "April Fool's Day" - appropriate enough for the recording of an instalment of a story which has featured a literal Fool as well as other tricksters.
William Hartnell remained on holiday, the Doctor continuing to be mute and invisible as he played his game.
The episode made use of a choreographer. This was Norwegian dancer and actor Tutte Lemkow, who had appeared in the series three times prior to this story. The first of these had been playing the eye-patched Kuiju in Marco Polo, followed by Ibrahim in The Crusade and then Cyclops in The Myth Makers. This would be his final association with the programme.
Two pieces of music were provided by Dudley Simpson for the dancing - a waltz for the main action and a jauntier piece for when the dolls are first seen, dancing by themselves.

As mentioned last time, Gerry Davis had intended the final iteration of Cyril to be akin to the Artful Dodger, from Oliver Twist. However, a description of the character as looking like Billy Bunter was taken literally by costume designer Daphne Dare.
Bunter was created by Frank Richards - the pen name of writer Charles Hamilton. He is a rotund schoolboy (from Greyfriars School) who wears thick round glasses. He's obsessed with eating and playing jokes - especially where one gains him the other.
He first appeared in boys' paper The Magnet in 1908, drawn by C.H. Chapman. Gerald Champion, who would later appear as the porter in Shada) played the character on BBC TV between 1952 - 1961.
On screen, Peter Stephens actually claims that, despite being named Cyril in more than one form, his friends call him "Billy". 
This line does not feature in the script, so may well have been an ad-lib by the actor - one that would contribute to problems later on... 

Two main sets were required for the episode - the cluttered kitchen, full of antique kitchenalia and nursery room furniture, and the spartan ballroom, which comprised a relatively small triangular raised floor. The TARDIS prop had its lamp missing.
Stephens first appeared in studio as the kitchen boy. The script included Steven commenting on how all the Toyroom characters looked like each other.
With Hartnell absent, Michael Gough's Toymaker got to interact with his playthings for the first time. The script stressed how he should be cruel and menacing towards his creatures, whilst always being charming to his "guests".
As the latter part of the episode involved music and actors moving around, it was decided that they should pre-record some of their lines.
The back of the fake TARDIS fell away to reveal a short passage, at the end of which was Cyril. The actor had slipped away for his costume change during the dancing, but was still seen wearing the white cook's cap. He removed this and replaced it with a school cap - completing the Billy Bunter image.
As was the norm now for this story, the end credits began playing over an image of the Trilogic Game.

Shortly after broadcast, the BBC received a complaint from the Frank Richards estate regarding Cyril's closing appearance. Peter Stephens was dressed like Billy Bunter, acted like Billy Bunter, and even said that he gets called "Billy". This was clearly unauthorised use of the character.
The BBC argued that Cyril was merely impersonating a Bunter-like figure. 
It was agreed that the BBC would broadcast an apology the following week, as Cyril featured prominently throughout The Final Test.

It comes as a shock to listen to this episode for the very first time, as remarkably little happens. Half the running time is taken up with Rugg and Wiggs squabbling with each other, as everyone rifles the contents of the kitchen. There's no threat whatsoever - just people throwing things about. It sounds - and presumably looked - chaotic.
The latter part of the episode at least has the sinister living dolls, but it really does appear that Davis was struggling to fill the four episodes with sufficient incident.

Trivia:
  • The ratings see a huge rise of nearly 1.5 million this week. The appreciation figure, on the other hand, drops to its lowest since the ill-advised Christmas Day episode, The Feast of Steven. It's little wonder when you listen to the episode now.
  • The trio of actors playing the ballerinas had featured in the previous episode, but were only credited on this one.
  • "Happy Families" was created by the games-maker John Jaques Jr, and made its debut at the Great Exhibition in 1851. It features 11 families, representing different trades and occupations, along with their wives, sons and daughters. Players have to collect sets of all four family members.
  • "Hunt the Thimble" is also known as "Hide the Thimble".  It is recorded in 1830 in the US, when it was known as "Hot Buttered Beans". The seeker for the hidden item can be told if they are getting closer to their goal, or further away, by the other players saying "hot" or "cold".
  • On the day of broadcast, a concerned viewer from London - B Williams - wrote to the Daily Mirror: "The atmosphere of terror, sadism and wickedness of Dr. Who makes it the most psychologically mixed-up show on TV. I shudder to think what its effect is on sensitive children. It should be screened at 10:50pm, not 5:50pm". Definitely written before they had seen this episode, then.
  • A few days later, on Thursday 21st April, a young reader sent a letter to Radio Times telling of how they had made their own copy of the Trilogic Game.

Saturday 13 April 2024

The Art of... The Celestial Toymaker


The Celestial Toymaker was novelised by Gerry Davis, who had been Story Editor as well as writer of the final script as televised. Joining him is Alison Bingeman, who was his partner and protégé at the time.
The book was first published in November 1986, with cover art by Graham Potts - his only contribution to the range, though he also produced the cover for Peter Haining's 20th Anniversary book - Doctor Who: A Celebration
The books were avoiding the likenesses of the Doctors on their covers at this time (including that of the present TARDIS incumbent, thanks to issues with Colin Baker's agent).
The likeness to Michael Gough might never be described as "strong", but it's there, whilst the clowns are very well realised. This cover was actually voted best of the year by Doctor Who Monthly readers.
Response to the novel by fans was negative, and it is widely believed that Davis secured the commission purely so that Bingeman could write the book. She subsequently went on to become a writer on a number of big US TV shows.


A  reprint with new cover art by Alister Pearson followed in 1992, by which time it was acceptable to feature the relevant Doctor on the covers - now that the series was off the air. The Doctor ponders the Trilogic Game from a publicity shot from the opening episode, whilst the Toymaker derives from a profile portrait photograph of Gough.


The soundtrack - narrated by Peter Purves - was released in April 2001 with the usual photomontage cover. There's an eclectic mix of characters on display between the Doctor and the Toymaker. Whilst Joey and Clara might be expected, having featured prominently in publicity, the choice of the Joker, Knave and one of the ballerinas is a trifle odd.


In advance of the character's return in The Giggle as part of the 60th Anniversary celebrations, The Celestial Toymaker saw its soundtrack reissued on vinyl, courtesy of Demon Records, on 30th September 2022. It's a striking cover. The Toymaker presides over primary colourful building block / playing card imagery, with a number of Toyroom characters making an appearance.
The Giggle was also responsible for the story being selected as the latest missing adventure to get the animated treatment. The DVD / Blu-ray (above) and Steelbook (below) are due to be released in mid-June 2024. 
The animation style selected is that used for the third instalment of The Web of Fear, which met with almost universal derision. Reaction by those who saw the story previewed at the BFI in February 2024 is mixed. Some would prefer animation which honours the original story as broadcast, whilst others claim that this animation is appropriate to the surreal nature of the story, and the release is meant to attract a new audience anyway. Expect a review when it finally comes out.
If the vinyl cover is striking in a good way, the same could never be said of the DVD / Blu-ray cover. It's possibly the worst ever, with little or no effort gone into the design, when you consider the range of visual material which the story affords.

Friday 12 April 2024

What's Wrong With... Meglos


Just four weeks after the great stylistic overhaul of the series, and we're offered a cheap-looking story that wouldn't have felt out of place in Season 17.
Mostly questions this time - questions which Christopher H Bidmead really should have been asking the writers...

Zolfa-Thurans are supposed to be able to manipulate certain wavelengths of light, suggesting that they can actually take on any form.
So why does Meglos look like a potted plant for much of the time? Of all the forms available, why go for something which is stationery and lacking limbs? If it's simply the natural form, how did they ever develop their awesome technology?
Talking of which, he's based in a high-tech control room, which is full of fiddly buttons and switches...
Why does he need an Earthling in order to impersonate the Doctor, if he can manipulate light to alter form? Can't he just cut out the middle man, literally?
We later see Meglos revert to something like his natural form when he escapes the Gaztak ship. Why did he not do this sooner to flee? Why is he even retaining the Doctor's form, now that it's served its purpose?

How did the Dodecahedron get to Tigella? 
It's obviously been there for a very long time, for it to have gained mythical status with the Deons, yet Tigella is only a few hours away from Zolfa-Thura - so why hasn't Meglos sought it out sooner?
Wouldn't blowing Tigella up, when it's right on your doorstep, have a nasty effect on your own planet?
How does Meglos know all about the Doctor - to the extent that he can trap the TARDIS mid-journey - when the Doctor doesn't seem to know anything about him. The story is written as though they were old enemies, when they aren't.
It's a bit of a coincidence that Meglos just happens to use the costume which the Doctor has only just started wearing.

The Chronic Hysteresis time-loop makes no sense. Anyone caught in a time-loop should be unaware of the fact. Every time it goes back to the start, it's as if everything that occurs for the duration of the loop never happened. There shouldn't be pauses between the loops.
Even if we allow for the fact that the Doctor and Romana, as Time Lords, have a special relationship with Time (viz Invasion of the Dinosaurs, City of Death), they should only be aware of the loop. They should not have been able to influence it, let alone extricate themselves from it. 
The method they use seems to be to trick it in some way, as though it were some sentient event.
As time-loops go, it's pretty pathetic.
And how does Meglos deploy the thing anyway? How does he know that the Doctor is about to visit Tigella when Zastor has only just been in touch? Is it deployed like a weapon, or is it hanging around in space like a trap? 
This is the programme which Bidmead claimed had been taken over by "magic" in recent years, and he was determined to replace this fantasy rubbish with good solid science. Clearly hasn't started yet, then...
Perhaps if it had been better explained, we might have accepted its bizarre nature.

One of the Gaztaks almost falls flat on his face as they leave their spaceship - one of the hazards of all-blue CSO studios.
Are the mercenaries really so thick that they'd believe the stuff about anti-clockwise planetary rotation, when they are a seasoned space-going group?
Bill Fraser marks the first instance of JNT's wholly inappropriate stunt-castings. He simply doesn't convince as a murderous space pirate. The whole outfit is a bit Dad's Army.
Tigella appears to hang majestically in the skies over Zolfa-Thura - by wires.
Episodes are running so short that we get what feels like half the previous episode as a reprise. Really, is no-one script editing this thing? 
And to think JNT was actually keen to have these writers pen the crucial introductory story for his new Doctor. Thanks be to Ti it never happened.

Wednesday 10 April 2024

M is for... Mutants


Every 500 years, the humanoid inhabitants of the planet Solos underwent a strange metamorphosis. This was a natural mutation, triggered by seasonal changes. Hard, black, scaly skin developed, and the Solonians became more violent and aggressive in the initial stages. They then transformed into bipedal insectoid creatures.
At this point, they were compelled by instinct to seek out radiation-rich caverns. Their ancestors had placed a special crystal here, which aided the mutation process through to its final form - when the Solonians became ethereal super-beings.
Around the 25th Century, Solos fell under the domination of the Earth Empire, and exploited for it radioactive minerals. Efforts by its governor - the Marshal - and an incompetent scientist to change Solos' atmosphere to make it breathable to humans inadvertently triggered the process prematurely. Thinking of them as nothing more than animals, and believing the mutation to be a communicable disease, the Mutants were hunted and killed. The rest took shelter in the cavern near the cave of the crystal.
Another human scientist named Sondergaard attempted to show that the creatures were intelligent and harmless, but his efforts failed. The young rebel leader Ky underwent the transformation, rapidly passing through the Mutant phase to emerge as a super-being. He killed the Marshal, freeing his people. Sondergaard would then help other Mutants transform fully.


When a Mutant landed on the storm-lashed planet of Karn in an escape pod, it was quickly attacked and killed by Condo - servant of the surgeon Mehendri Solon. He sought out survivors of the frequent spaceship crashes for body parts which could use in his master's medical experiments. The Doctor described the corpse as a Mutt - member of a mutant insect species from the Cyclops Nebula.

Played by: John Scott Martin, Laurie Goode, Mike Mungarvan, Eddie Sommer, Nick Thompson Hill, Ricky Newby, Bill Gosling, Mike Torres. 
Appearances: The Mutants (1972), The Brain of Morbius (1976).
  • John Scott Martin played the lone Mutant in the Tom Baker story, as well as lead creature in the Pertwee one.
  • It is simply the case of a reused costume for The Brain of Morbius (helmed by the same director, Chris Barry), as the Doctor's description does not really match with the Solonians.
  • The costume designer is future Oscar-winner James Acheson.

M is for... Muss, Nicholas


A young French Protestant who worked as secretary to Admiral de Coligny, the senior-most Huguenot leader in Paris in 1572.
Nicholas befriended the Doctor's companion Steven when he found himself stranded in the city, the Doctor having gone off to meet a noted scientist of the day. 
He was devoted to the Admiral, and to his faith, but was far more tolerant than some of his hot-headed friends.
The group encountered a young servant girl named Anne, who had fled from the household of the Catholic Abbot of Amboise. She had overheard talk of a notorious mass slaughter of a decade ago, suggesting that a similar atrocity was being planned. The city was full of Huguenots, come to celebrate the wedding of their royal figurehead, Henry of Navarre, to the Catholic King's sister.
Nicholas' friendship with Steven became strained when he identified the Abbot as his friend - as he was identical in appearance to the Doctor.
He later tried to warn his employer of a possible plot against him. de Coligny had the ear of the King, and failed to take the threat seriously.
Not long after an assassination attempt on him, the Admiral was killed in the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre, in which Nicholas and most of his friends also perished.

Played by: David Weston. Appearances: The Massacre (1966).
  • Weston returned to the series in 1981, playing the Tharil Biroc in Warriors' Gate.
  • Noted for Shakespearean roles, he has also featured in horror movies with both Lon Chaney Jnr (Witchcraft), and Vincent Price (The Masque of the Red Death) - both 1964. 

M is for... Murray


Murray was the name used by a member of the fun-loving Navarino race when taking on human form. They disguised themselves in order to visit other planets incognito. Murray was the pilot of their spaceship, which was disguised as a vehicle from the planet / era they were to visit.
The Doctor and Mel Bush won a trip on their Nostalgia Tours trip to 1950's Disneyland. Aware of the company's dubious reputation, the Doctor opted to travel by TARDIS whilst Mel accompanied the Navarino. The ship collided with a satellite in orbit above Earth, causing it to go off course. With the Doctor's help, Murray landed it in South Wales. Luckily there was a holiday camp on their doorstep where the party could stay whilst the ship was being fixed. Unfortunately the hapless Murray broke the only spare energy crystal needed to power the engines, but the Doctor was able to grow a replacement overnight.
One of the tour group was the last surviving adult member of the Chimeron race, fleeing genocide at the hands of the Bannermen, led by the ruthless Gavrok.
They arrived outside the camp just as the repaired Navarino ship was about to lift off, destroying it and killing all on board.

Played by: Johnny Dennis. Appearances: Delta and the Bannermen (1987).
  • Dennis, who passed away in 2016, was a champion of Victorian / Edwardian Music Hall traditions (a passion he shared with Michael Kilgarriff). He is interviewed about the subject on one of the extras which accompanied the DVD and Blu-ray releases of The Talons of Weng-Chiang.
  • Another passion was for cricket. The "Voice of the MCC", he was the senior announcer at Lords for nearly 20 years.

M is for... Munro, Captain


Captain James Munro was a member of the Regular Army who was seconded to UNIT - coinciding with its investigation into the mysterious meteorite falls in the Oxley Woods district of Essex.
Suspicions were raised when two showers fell in the same area only six months apart, and Munro was placed in charge of the troops tasked with searching for their remains. 
The second incident saw the arrival of a battered blue Police Call Box in the woods, along with a comatose man, who was taken to the local cottage hospital. When Munro reported this to the Brigadier he immediately realised that this must be the Doctor. 
The Captain had to deal with the attempted abduction of the Doctor - and his subsequent shooting by one of his own men - and the finding then loss of one of the objects which had fallen to earth.
When an intact Nestene sphere was located, the alien entity exploited Munro's temporary secondment - the Auton replica of General Scobie threatening court martial if he did not hand the sphere over to him.

Played by: John Breslin. Appearances: Spearhead from Space (1970).
  • Munro was the second of the one-off Captains who served under the Brigadier, before the arrival of Mike Yates. He and his predecessor, Capt. Turner, had the same forename - leading some to refer to these officers as the Brigadier's "Jimmies".
  • Glaswegian Breslin, who died in 2009 aged 80, studied piano under Frederic Lamond, who had personally been taught by Liszt and Wagner.
  • One of his acting roles was as voice artist, dubbing Steve Reeves' sword & sandal epics.
  • He appeared in nearly 100 episodes of 1960's footballing soap United!, which was devised by Brian Hayles and script edited by Gerry Davis.

Monday 8 April 2024

Story 288: Spyfall


In which the Doctor and her companions are separately enjoying a short stay in Sheffield when they are brought together again by a mysterious individual, who insists that they accompany him by car to London.
On route, their vehicle comes under attack and the driver is killed, whilst the vehicle is taken over by remote control. The Doctor manages to stop it before they crash.
Determined to find out what's going on, they continue the journey to the capital and meet 'C', head of MI6. He had brought them here to get the Doctor's help. In recent weeks a number of his agents have been incapacitated, all over the globe. Other national security services have experienced the same issue.
All were investigating IT mogul Daniel Barton, inventor of the VOR system.
When the Doctor examines one of the agents, she discovers that her genetic code has been totally rewritten.
Realising that only alien technology could achieve this, the Doctor admonishes 'C' for allowing an operative known as 'O' to leave the service, as he was an expert on extra-terrestrial matters. She has never met him but knows of his reputation and has communicated with him for several years.


'C' gives them some useful gadgets to help with their investigation. Second later, he is killed by an assassin's bullet. The TARDIS had been brought to London and they rush inside - only to discover that an unknown bipedal creature has the ability to breach the ship's defences, pushing its way inside.
The Doctor dematerialises the ship and heads for a remote part of the Australian Outback, where 'O' lives in self-imposed exile.
Ryan and Yaz are sent to San Francisco to inveigle their way into Barton's organisation. They pose as a journalist and photographer who have come to interview him. They have a device which can rapidly download his personal files.
Breaking into his office that evening, they witness Barton communicating with one of the alien creatures, which appears to be generating a brilliant white light.
At 'O's home, armed guards have been posted to protect him. The house comes under attack by a group of the creatures. The guards are killed but 'O' is able to capture one of the aliens. Paranoid, his home is covered in elaborate technological traps.


Yaz is attacked by one of the creatures in San Francisco, and finds herself transported to a strange nocturnal forest-like environment.
The captured alien proves to come not from another planet but from another dimension. Examining Barton's  files, the Doctor and 'O' have discovered a whole data set hidden beneath, which shows that these creatures have infiltrated the entire planet. They also learn that the mogul has an augmented gene sequence in his DNA.
Their captive vanishes - leaving Yaz in its place. A frantic Ryan is brought back from the USA.
It is decided that Barton needs to be investigated further. He had earlier invited Yaz and Ryan to a party at his home. 'O' accompanies them to California to attend. After challenging him about his contact with hostile aliens he departs and they are forced to give chase. He goes to an airfield and they find that he is about to fly to the UK in his private aircraft. They manage to get onboard - only to discover that it is fully automated. 
'O' mentions how unfit he has always been - which intrigues the Doctor as she knows he was an accomplished runner. Realising that his story has been seen through, 'O' reveals his true identity - that of the regenerated Master.


He killed the real 'O' years ago and assumed his identity, and has befriended the Doctor remotely all this time - biding his time.
His TARDIS was disguised as his Outback home, and it is now travelling alongside the 'plane. The alien creatures - the Kasaavin - appear and transport the Doctor away to the strange realm where Yaz had been sent, leaving Graham, Ryan and Yaz on a crashing aircraft after the controls are sabotaged...
The Doctor finds she is not alone, as a woman in Victorian garb is also here. Her name is Ada and she says she comes here often. The Doctor will wait until she is returned home and travel with her.
Her companions, meanwhile, find instructions from the Doctor on how to land the crashing 'plane safely - left for them by the Doctor at some point in the near future.
In Victorian London, the Doctor learns that her new friend is Ada Lovelace, the noted mathematician who was the daughter of notorious poet Lord Byron. She meets her friend Charles Babbage - the computer pioneer.


The Master arrives but the Doctor and Ada are able to escape by harnessing powers of a Kasaavin. Instead of returning her to the 21st Century, the Doctor and Ada find themselves in Nazi occupied Paris.
The Master follows once again, using a perception filter to make himself look suitably Aryan as he has taken on the persona of an SS officer.
The Doctor and Ada are helped by an Englishwoman, whom the Doctor recognises as Noor Inayat Khan. She was a member of the Special Operations Executive, who supported the French Resistance. She shelters them.
In the 21st Century, Barton uses the internet to turn Graham, Ryan and Yaz into fugitives and they are forced to go into hiding - hunted also by the Kasaavin.
The Doctor arranges a meeting with the Master atop the Eiffel Tower, but lures him into a trap - disabling his perception filter as his men come to capture her. It is he who is arrested. 
Earlier, he had told her that he recently visited Gallifrey, and burned it to the ground...
The Doctor, Ada and Noor steal the Master's TARDIS and travel to the 21st Century.


The scheme hatched by the Master and Barton soon becomes clear. The Kasaavin intend to use the human population of Earth as organic computer memory - a process enabled through VOR technology.
Barton uses a global broadcast to initiate this. 
The Master turns up, having had to live through the second half of the 20th Century. The Doctor has sabotaged Barton's scheme, however, and has also recorded the Master plotting to double-cross the aliens at the first opportunity. Barton flees, whilst the Kasaavin transport the Master to their realm.
The Doctor wipes the memories of Noor and Ada before returning them to their proper times.
Intrigued by what the Master had said in Paris. She travels to her home and is horrified to see the Capitol a lifeless ruin.
On returning to the TARDIS, the Doctor finds an automated holographic message from the Master. He claims he destroyed Gallifrey and the Time Lords because their entire existence had been built on a lie - that of the "Timeless Child"...


Spyfall was written by Chris Chibnall, and first broadcast on 1st and 5th January 2020. 2019 had been a gap year for the series. Unusually, it has different directors for each half.
In other ways, it is only the second "proper" two-parter after The End of Time, in that both instalments have the same title, simply numbered Parts One and Two.
Coincidentally, both stories had episodes airing on the first day of a new decade, and featured Gallifrey and the Master.
Part One, as well as launching Chibnall's second season, acted as the latest New Year Special, with Part Two falling on the Sunday as the series had settled on this day for its regular first broadcasts.
(This was the first time since The Twin Dilemma that two episodes of a story had been shown in the same week).
After deliberately eschewing established elements of the series in his first year to concentrate on introducing his own original characters - something which led to a considerable amount of criticism from some quarters of fandom - Chibnall elects to bring back the Master and return the Doctor to Gallifrey.
Whilst two and a half years had past since we had last seen Missy and the Harold Saxon Master, this had been only 12 episodes ago - the length of a season these days.
Not only were be given an interesting new Master, played by Sacha Dhawan, but there had been a significant development on the Doctor's homeworld. 
Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat had bent over backwards to preserve the Time Lords - and Chibnall, only just arrived, has seemingly destroyed them.


Dhawan delivers another manic iteration of the Master, though he successfully conceals the true identity throughout the first instalment. 'O' is a personable character, with no hint of who he is. 
Once unleashed, he tends to be childishly malicious but he's by no means a one-note Master. His relationship to the Doctor veers between downright hatred to almost seeking friendship.
The Tissue Compression Eliminator is back - not seen since the Ainley incarnation - and he is once again resorting to disguises. 
Something which leaves a bad taste in the mouth is the Doctor using his new outward ethnicity against him. She undoes his perception filter to break his Aryan image to reveal the Indian subcontinental one, leading to him being arrested by Nazi soldiers, and all that that obviously entails.
To use someone's race against them, and to condemn anyone - irrespective of who they are - to the Nazis does not sit well with any incarnation of the Doctor, but especially this one.
The sequence is especially noxious when you consider that the Doctor is currently being assisted by Noor Inayat Khan - an Asian who perished in a concentration camp.


The principal inspiration for the story is the James Bond franchise. We get the globe-trotting adventure, certain brassy John Barry-like musical cues courtesy of Segun Akinola, and the Doctor and company donning tuxedos to visit a Bond-like villain his lair. We have 'C' and 'O', like 'M' and 'Q' in Bond, and there's a casino scene at Barton's home, prior to a vehicle chase. The title also plays on Skyfall.
We actually get two principal villains, but once the Master makes his presence known Daniel Barton (Lenny Henry) is rather side-lined in the story.
He simply runs off at the end. Was the plan to revisit him in the next series? Series 13 was pretty much scrapped and replaced with Flux due to the pandemic after all. had an episodic format been followed perhaps we might have seen him again.
One of the problems with the "crowded TARDIS" this time round - even worse than Davison's - is Chibnall's insistence on having additional companion figures in most episodes. The full-time "Fam" members have very little to do at the best of times, without the Doctor running off with Ada Lovelace (Sylvie Briggs).
And then he adds Noor (Aurora Marion). The companions really are woefully underused.
Another big guest star, though only really gaining a cameo appearance in the first episode, is Stephen Fry, playing 'C'.
Computer pioneer Charles Babbage is played by Mark Dexter.


Overall, the new series gets off to a very promising start, with an impressive pair of episodes, a great new Master and a massive revelation about Gallifrey. The story was dedicated to the memory of Terrance Dicks - apt, as he helped create the Master.
Things you might like to know:
  • The story began life as a single episode story, sans the Master. 'O' would have been a double agent, in league with Barton.
  • Once expanded to two episodes, the second half was going to see Barton abduct Yaz's family.
  • The Kasaavin are voiced by Struan Rodger - previously the voice of the Face of Boe. He had also appeared in the series in person, as Lady Me's servant Clayton in The Woman Who Lived.
  • Stephen Fry had been due to write a story for RTD, possibly with an Arthurian theme. This was due to feature in Series 2 but got held back, until eventually scrapped as Fry was too busy.
  • Interestingly, Fry used to play a spymaster known only as "Control" in his sketch show with Hugh Laurie.
  • Meanwhile, Lenny Henry had played the Doctor in his sketch show, back in 1985. His costume was not unlike some of the costume choices we've seen for Ncuti Gatwa. The principal villain was a Cyberman named Thatchos, based on Mrs Thatcher.
  • Barton's biography has him coming from Bromsgrove. This lies just south of Birmingham, whilst Henry was brought up in Dudley, to the NE of the city.
  • Ryan  adopts the spy name "Logan" after the X-Men character.
  • The flying house - the Master's disguised TARDIS - is described as a bit "Wicked Witch of the West", a reference to The Wizard of  Oz, one of the inspirations for The Three Doctors and for the character of Ace.
  • The Doctor is seen at an MOT garage, where she claims to be draining certain water features in the TARDIS - water slides, a boating lake, and rainforest floor.
  • She also claims to have once lived in the Australian Outback for 123 years.
  • She may well be talking nonsense...
  • 'O' has a complete set of Fortean Times. This magazine of the odd and often unexplained recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. I buy it myself, and it has sometimes featured the series - as well as covering many of the inspirations for Doctor Who stories - Yeti, Loch Ness Monster, UFO's etc. You'll find some "Fortean Who" posts on this blog back in 2020.
  • The Master keeps the shrunken corpse of the real 'O' in a matchbox - branded "Newman, Lambert & Hussein". Of course, this is a nod to three of the founding figures of Doctor Who.
  • There's a reference to the events of Logopolis, when the Doctor and Master talk about Jodrell Bank whilst atop the Tour Eiffel. However, whilst it had been hoped to film at the Cheshire radio telescope, the end of Tom Baker's reign took place at the Pharos Project which was in Cambridgeshire (though oddly served by an ambulance service from East Sussex...).

Sunday 7 April 2024

Episode 112: The Hall of Dolls

NB: This episode no longer exists in the archives, nor is there a full set of telesnaps. Representative images are therefore used to illustrate it.

Synopsis:
Steven and Dodo have been presented with a clue to their next game, which lies beyond a fake TARDIS:
"Four legs, no feet, of arms no lack; 
It carries no burden on its back; 
Six deadly sisters, seven for choice; 
Call the servants without voice."
After negotiating a door covered in complex locks, they pass into another chamber of the Toyroom.
Within are three tall-backed wooden chairs.
When the Doctor tries to warn his companions about the chairs, he is silenced by the Toymaker - rendered mute for the remainder of his game.
Steven and Dodo are wondering what the new room holds when they are confronted by the King and Queen of Hearts, who look just like playing cards brought to life.
Whilst the King comes across as an amiable figure, his wife is arrogant and haughty.
Contemplating the riddle, they realise it refers to the chairs, though there are only three of them.
The King and Queen are soon joined by the Knave of Hearts - a lazy, greedy boy - and the Joker. The Knave is named Cyril.
As the Hearts confer, Steven and Dodo look down a side passage and find a second room of chairs - four this time - as well as a number of large TARDIS-shaped cabinets. Within are life-size wooden dolls, four decorated in playing card style and three like ballerinas.
They remove the first four before the cabinet automatically locks away the ballerina ones.
They observe on a monitor that the Doctor is now half way through his game.
It transpires that the game they must play against the Hearts Family is that of Musical Chairs. Six are deadly, with only a single safe one.
Dodo and Steven argue about the nature of their opponents. Steven sees them simply as beings created by the Toymaker, conjured up from his imagination. Dodo, on the other hand, sees them as real people.
They decide to split up and play in the second room, whilst the Hearts remain in the first. 
Steven and Dodo know of the hidden extra dolls, which the Hearts do not.
They will use the dolls to test each chair. One slices the doll in two, whilst another dematerialises with its occupant. One is electrified, and another shakes its doll to pieces.
The Queen attempts to trick Cyril into sitting on a chair when they run out of dolls.
Dodo accidentally reveals to the Queen the existence of the other three dolls still in their cabinet.
The Queen is going to order the Joker to sit on one of the two remaining in the first room, but Dodo decides to gamble and sits down on the final chair in the second room. 
She begins to freeze, but Steven is able to pull her free.
The Joker refuses to sit down, so the King and Queen agree to test a chair together. They sit down and at first nothing happens - then it suddenly collapses and traps them.
Steven sits on the last chair - winning the game. 
The TARDIS appears - but it is another fake.
Its telephone rings and they hear the Toymaker. He tells them that the Doctor is close to completing his game, so they are running out of time. He then gives them their next clue:
"Hunt the key that fits the door,
That leads out on the dancing floor,
Then escape the rhythmic beat,
Or you'll forever tap your feet"
They notice that the King and Queen have been reduced to playing cards. As they move down the corridor to their next test, Dodo calls out for the dolls to appear, recalling a line from the very first clue - little realising that anything will actually happen.
Behind them, the three ballerina dolls jerk to life and leave their cabinet, following them down the corridor...
Next episode: The Dancing Floor

Data:
Written by: Brian Hayles
Recorded: Friday 25th March, 1966 - Riverside Studio 1
First broadcast: 5:50pm, Saturday 9th April 1966
Ratings: 8 million / AI 49
Designer: John Wood
Director: Bill Sellars
Additional cast: Peter Stephens (Knave of Hearts), Reg Lever (Joker)


Critique:
Once the twelve part Dalek story was out of the way, it had originally been John Wiles' intention to dispense with William Hartnell at the earliest opportunity.
The actor was becoming increasingly irritable, making no attempt to hide his dislike of the producer. This was coupled with his failing memory and struggle to master his lines, and the negative impact he was having on the production as a whole. Donald Tosh was able to placate the star some of the time, but on another occasion Hartnell's behaviour would trigger a walk-out by the dressers, which put the whole studio session at risk.
Due to its surreal nature, it was decided that the Doctor could be changed in some way during The Celestial Toymaker, allowing for the part to be recast. He would be rendered invisible for a couple of episodes, and when physically brought back he would be made to look different - a twisted quirk of the Toymaker.
Accounts vary as to why this did not happen at the time. Obviously Wiles moved on from the series, though he was heavily involved in setting this story up.
One story is that the HR department of the BBC simply never got the message and automatically issued Hartnell with a contract extension. This doesn't quite wash, as each contract had to be negotiated with the actor's agent. We've already seen how some actors - like Purves and Maureen O'Brien before him - were issued much shorter contracts than they were expecting.
It is much more likely that the BBC top brass, which included Sydney Newman, agreed that Hartnell had to go, but wanted to take their time to work out how exactly this would be carried out.

The game selected for the second episode was a deadly version of Musical Chairs, and the protagonists would be the Hearts Family, who derive from a standard pack of playing cards. Famously, they had already been turned into living characters by Lewis Carroll in his Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865). The Queen of Hearts was the main antagonist.
In this episode, she comes across as a haughty, bossy figure, who is exasperated by her husband's weakness and her son's laziness. She wants to play to win, whilst the King comes across as far too nice, and his heart - no pun intended - isn't really in the game.
Dodo finds it difficult to see them as a threat - building on her feelings towards the two clowns last week. She sees their opponents as living beings, with emotions of their own, and so finds it difficult to take them seriously as a force for evil. Steven, on the other hand, sees them simply as opponents conjured up by the Toymaker - toys brought to life but still just playthings in the end.
Dodo's attitude has helped colour our opinion of the character. Whilst the writers might have been trying to paint her as an empathic figure who tries to see the good in everyone, many fans simply think her gullible and her actions annoying.
Had the script made more of the fact that these toys were once innocent victims of the Toymaker, tragically doomed to play his games for eternity, they - and Dodo's stance - might have elicited more sympathy.


Joining the cast were Peter Stephens and Reg Lever. Stephens, like Campbell Singer and Carmen Silvera, would play more than one role throughout the serial. Lever would feature in this episode only.
The script described Cyril as a "Billy Bunter type character" - something which the production team would make more obvious later on, almost to their cost.
Story Editor (and scripter for the broadcast story) Gerry Davis had actually envisaged an Artful Dodger character instead.
Having played Joey and Clara last week, Singer now portrayed the King of Hearts, with Silvera taking on the role of Queen.
The week prior to recording, William Hartnell had recorded a couple of voice tracks to be played into studio in the early part of the episode, as the Toymaker very quickly renders him mute as well as invisible.
The reprise from the previous week omitted Steven and Dodo seeing that Joey and Clara had been turned back into dolls.

The elaborate door they had to get past was simply a painted flat (above).
Each of the chairs was of a different geometric design, whilst the cabinets containing the dolls were white-painted copies of the TARDIS frontage. One of these had a built-in monitor to display the Trilogic Game score.
The fake TARDIS was pushed out from the back, and inside was a normal police box interior, including a telephone (not in the door panel).
The four prop dolls were designed to look like wooden peg-dolls, decorated like playing card figures. The trio of ballerina dolls left behind, which emerge at the conclusion of the episode, were played by actresses wearing exaggerated doll-like make-up. The prop dolls were taller than Jackie Lane - causing problems for her and Purves when moving them around the set.
To achieve the deadly chair effects, one was shaken off camera, and the head of the doll removed. When the camera cut back to it, it looked like the head had been shaken off.
Flash charges and a firework were used to simulate the electrified one.
The third had a curved blade swing out from the back, whilst the disappearing one was achieved using the roll-back-and-mix process often used for the TARDIS arrivals and departures. 
The freezing chair was simply a case of Lane's acting abilities, whilst the final one was designed to collapse when Singer and Silvera sat on it.
A couple of playing cards were then left on the prop as the actors vacated the set.
As with the previous week, the new riddle was superimposed over an image of the Trilogic Game, just before the end credits rolled.

Trivia:
  • The viewing figure remains the same as the previous week, and the appreciation figure even manages to rise - albeit by only one point.
  • The move to the later time slot had played a part in improved viewing figures, but in the London region Doctor Who's competition was now a rural soap opera named Weaver's Green.
  • Peter Stephens will return in The Underwater Menace, playing Atlantean High Priest Lolem.
  • Musical Chairs goes by the alternative name of "The Trip / Journey to Jerusalem" - which might hint to it having medieval origins, from the time of the Crusades. A Welsh variation of the game has boys remaining seated, with the girls dancing round and having to sit on a boy's lap when the music stops.
  • The standard 52 card deck is known as the English pattern of the French-suited cards. Continental packs found their way to England in the late 15th Century. 
  • The original model for the King of Hearts was Charlemagne (748 - 814), King of the Franks and Lombards, who rose to be Holy Roman Emperor.
  • The Queen of Hearts was modelled on Judith, the Biblical heroine who slew the enemy general Holofernes after allowing him to seduce her.
  • The Knave of Hearts was modelled on "La Hire", nickname for Etienne de Vignolles, Chatelain de Longueville (1390 - 1443). He led the French army to many victories during the Hundred Years War.
  • Around this time an alternative Doctor, with grandchildren John and Gillian, first encountered the Dalek-like Trods (from issue 748 of TV Comic).

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Inspirations: Let's Kill Hitler


Let's Kill Hitler was the deliberately provocative title of the opening story of the second half of Series 6.
River Song's identity now having been revealed, this episode would go back and show the audience some of her history.
Having the Nazi leader's name in the title is obviously intended to provoke a reaction. Back in 2006, when the titles for Series 2 were being released, a number of religious groups expressed concern with The Satan Pit, thinking that the episode was going to feature the Christian Devil. Some people do find certain words or phrases triggering.
The series has encountered some troublesome story titles in the past. Victor  Pemberton's "Colony of Devils" - a fantastic title - was vetoed, lest it offend whatever passed for a 'snowflake' in 1968.
Perhaps Sea Devils were too obviously nothing to do with the Biblical Big Bad to warrant a title change, though Barry Letts had been advised to make sure that the Rev. Magister was hanging out in a cavern, and not a church crypt, just a few months previously.
Later, Chris Boucher's "The Day God Went Mad" - another fantastic title - also fell by the wayside.

The Fuhrer does feature in the episode, though only briefly and is quickly punched in the face by Rory then locked in a cupboard. His inclusion really isn't necessary for the story at all, nor does the 1930's Berlin setting.
It's the story of how the Ponds' baby grew up to be River Song, and the setting simply provides an interesting and potentially dangerous backdrop.
When asked where / when they would go if they had a time machine, going back and killing Hitler is one of the more common suggestions.
We discover that the schoolfriend of Amy and Rory - Mels - is actually their daughter. We're denied any information about who has brought her up, or how.
She ends up a juvenile delinquent and goes on a bit of a rampage, which includes trying to hijack the TARDIS - and this is where the title comes in.

Throwing the toy TARDIS into the air, and cutting to the real one, was inspired by the famous bone / spaceship segue in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The opening subtitle - "A Long Time Ago in Leadworth..." was a nod to the famous opening to the Star Wars movies.
Crop circles had been in the news since the 1980's, but there was a massive explosion of interest from the mid-1990's onwards as they became far more complex and widespread. They were believed by some to be the work of aliens, though fakers have shown how they achieved most.
At one point we see the Doctor, Amy and Rory framed through River's legs - imagery borrowed from The Graduate (1967). River is referred to as "Mrs Robinson" at one point, in case you didn't get the visual reference.

Mels fires a pistol inside the TARDIS - despite it having previously been stated that weapons couldn't be used due to the ship being in a form of "temporal grace". 
This first got mentioned in The Hand of Fear. Later, Nyssa questioned the Doctor about the use of Cyber-guns in the ship, but he doesn't answer, and we had seen how the console had been damaged by the Cybermen in the last story but one.
We've seen guns fired in the TARDIS in the interim - such as when Jack destroyed a Dalek in Parting of the Ways.
In this episode, the Doctor finally admits that he had been lying about this.

A significant role in the story is played by the Teselecta. This is a humanoid robotic construct, operated by a miniaturised crew.
The inspiration for this would be comic strip characters like The Numskulls, who made their debut in The Beezer in 1962.
They lived inside a man's head, operating his body. Later versions had them living and working inside a schoolboy.
There have been many variations of this, including another comic strip in which tiny people lived inside a TV set. A Far Side cartoon has a man opening up his radio to see a tiny string quartet within.
Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask) (1972) had a segment featuring characters inside someone. There was also an early 1990's US sitcom named Herman's Head.
The Teselecta gets its name from the fact that it derives its outward appearance from tessellated blocks (from tesserae - the small coloured cubes which made up Roman mosaics).

The Anti-bodies are inspired by the 1966 sci-fi thriller Fantastic Voyage (one of the inspirations for our very own The Invisible Enemy).
In both, miniaturised people inside a body trigger the natural defence mechanism and are attacked by anti-bodies.
The bridge of the Teselecta is clearly supposed to mirror that of the Enterprise and other Federation starships of the Star Trek Universe.
Next time: it's back to the nursery for writer Mark Gatiss, as the TARDIS crew suffer a nasty case of pavor nocturnas...

Monday 1 April 2024

What's Wrong With... The Leisure Hive


The Leisure Hive marks the biggest shake-up of Doctor Who since Spearhead From Space, which saw a new Doctor, new companion and new Earthbound format all introduced, alongside the move into colour.
Graham Williams has resigned, and his nominated successor, John Nathan Turner, has been given the producer role. He's learned from his experience as Production Unit Manager on the programme and is confident he knows what works and what doesn't. He's seen the hell which Tom Baker has put his old boss through, and the next time the star makes his regular threat to quit, he'll take him up on the offer.
He could never "get" the style of humour exhibited by Douglas Adams, and thinks it has gotten out of hand anyway, so wants to suppress this. He's backed up in this by the new Script Editor, Christopher Hamilton Bidmead, and a new Executive Producer, employed to keep an eye on him as he has never produced before, and this is one of the BBC's key programmes. The man employed to hand-hold is none other than former producer Barry Letts.
JNT has decided to make some sweeping changes, some narrative, some structural, and some cosmetic.
These changes have been welcomed by many - but there are just as many fans who see them as mistakes.

The changes begin with the opening credits. JNT's argument was that Baker was seven years older, and the old image of him in the titles was out of date.
The "time tunnel" effect is replaced by a rather dull starfield, whilst the iconic diamond logo becomes a shaped fluorescent tube. One is timeless, the other dates it badly.
The music is updated to make it sound more contemporary and modern - but we all know that nothing dates quicker than the future when it comes to sci-fi.
The music of the JNT era is as badly dated as the imagery, thanks to the move away from conventional instrumentation, or the odd really avant garde electronic composition.
Dudley Simpson's services were dispensed with, to be replaced by in-house Radiophonic Workshop composers, with variable effect. The reason was partly economic, moving it in-house, but one suspects that JNT was wilfully breaking with the past to stamp his own mark.
He would deliberately avoid using writers and directors from before his time, purely on the grounds that they had worked on the show under other producers. He never once thought of the great contribution they might make, so was in effect throwing out the baby with the bath water.
For many, the changes wrought by JNT were simply a triumph of style over content.

The Leisure Hive is directed by one of the newcomers - Lovett Bickford. He sets out his stall with a sequence the like of which has never been seen in the programme before - a lengthy tracking shot along Brighton beach, passing various colourful beach tents until we alight upon the similarly shaped TARDIS. There's no dialogue - just the wind, the flapping of canvas, and then the snores of the sleeping Doctor.
It's either a novel and original way of launching a story / season - or a pretentious waste of a minute and half of the episode. Bickford fancied himself as a bit of an auteur, but his inexperience would cause problems in studio. He wanted single-camera, hand-held shots, with ceilings on the sets. The latter were harder to light, whilst the former led to lots of delays - causing him to overrun dreadfully. As such, he couldn't be invited back under BBC rules.
On the beach - the location chosen as it was near JNT's house - K-9 failed to work on the shingle, despite a lot of money being spent to upgrade it. It now had caterpillar tracks instead of wheels, but these simply slid on the shiny pebbles. You can clearly see the means by which they got round this problem - fishing twine attached to the prop to pull it along.

On Argolis, the Doctor and Romana discuss a video they have seen in which they have spotted some fakery. However, the video stopped playing before they entered the room.
The story revolves around the Tachyon Generator. A problem even today is the programme's handling of time manipulation.
The Doctor is aged by the machine, physically, but his mind is only a few minutes older on his emergence from the machine.
By this reckoning, Pangol should have ended up as a baby with a 30 year old's mind at the conclusion.
Why did the Doctor age within his current incarnation, and not emerge looking like Sylvester McCoy?
The Generator duplicates Pangol's clothing and the war helmet - yet somehow manages to duplicate the Doctor in the same outfits, instead of his own clothes.
Where does he get his clothes at the end? The Argolin outfit is too close-fitting to have had the heavy overcoat and scarf hidden underneath.

The rotund Foamasi fitting into their human disguises is the one everyone talks about - so much so that RTD came up with the whole gas exchanger business when he came to create the Slitheen.
Why do the West Lodge pair just stand there when the good Foamasi rips off their disguises?
Why does the TARDIS translation not work, when the Argolin can understand them perfectly well?
Why did the Government Foamasi not bring a translator of his own? He has to use the villain's.
Why do the Foamasi try to frame the Doctor when they won't have any idea who he is? When they kill Hardin's business partner, they could simply have hidden the body outside the Hive.
Why do they feel the need to dispense with their disguises every time they want to get up to some villainy?
At the conclusion we hear that the baddies got blown up and the nice Foamasi is alive and well. Pity we don't get to see one of the most exciting things that could have happened in what is a rather dull story - but there's another problem with this. How do we know that this isn't simply one of the villainous aliens, pretending to be the nice one?

Why does no-one seem to react when Brock turns up at the Hive about half an hour after being seen on a live video message from Earth?
He appears to have a lot of authority, for someone who is only thinking of investing in the Hive.
Mind you, Argolin law makes little sense, with people making things up as they go along. Sentencing someone who is only suspected of a crime to being used as a human test subject in a scientific experiment can't possibly be on the Argolin Statute Book, surely?

The Pangol duplicates, which are supposed to be identical, are of different heights.
The Argolins complain that other resorts have zero-gravity swimming - yet have zero-gravity tennis. They would both feel exactly the same to the tourist.
Finally - what precisely does the Doctor do at the end? He throws something at a screen and it somehow brings everything to a conclusion.
And is the Doctor still the Doctor now - or just a stable Tachyonic copy?

Sunday 31 March 2024

Series 14 Titles & New Trailer


The BBC Twitter account has been releasing the titles of the stories for Series 14 today, one at a time over the space of a few hours. We were previously promised a new trailer today as well.


So RTD has written six of the eight episodes, with Rogue being the only story to come from an entirely new source.
The new trailer is about a minute longer than the previous one. Covers a lot of the same ground but we get some extras such as the Space Babies actually being a lot of humanoid babies, and we see more of the musical content for the second story.