Reviewing Classic Who: Tegan Nearly Ruins Everything, Reprise
Snakedance. Remember when Tegan got possessed by an evil Joffrey-like snake monster from the world of dreams way back in Kinda? Well, it’s called the Mara, and it turns out it was still living dormant in her brain! She’s hijacked the TARDIS to land on the planet of its origin, where a ceremony is being performed that celebrates the defeat of the Mara hundreds of years ago. Naturally such ceremonies are prime time for evil dream snakes to regain physical form and begin a reign of terror over the civilization that, in its hubris, thought it could destroy such a mighty beast.
Helping Possessed-Tegan do her dirty work is the bored, decadent son of the Federator, whose possessed form is basically identical to his non-possessed form, and some random funhouse operator who they mind-control into helping, though he doesn’t actually do pretty much anything. Anyway, the Doctor and Nyssa run around trying to find Tegan (who spends most of her time sitting in a cave being possessed, after a brief start of acting like a crazy person and running away in the crowded market) and trying to convince the Director of Historical Research that the legends of the Mara returning are about to happen in the big ceremony he has planned for tomorrow. The DHR is like “you are a crazy person just like all the others, so I’m going to lock you in a dungeon.”
With the aid of a mild-mannered research assistant, the Doctor and Nyssa escape from dungeon and the guards, and find an old psychic hermit, who makes the Doctor get bitten by a snake before he’ll use his psychic powers to talk to him. The hermit tells him that the way to defeat the Mara is to “find the still point.” Armed with this incredibly helpful knowledge, the Doctor, Nyssa, and Assistant Dude crash the ceremony, where the Mara is about to achieve ascendance by feeding on the fear and belief of everyone present, but unfortunately the Doctor and his magic psychic crystal have found the still point, so the ceremony fails, Tegan recovers, and the Doctor says “yep, it’s been totally destroyed this time, no fear!” and then the story ends without much in the way of a wind-down. I’m not reassured, Doctor. B
1:13 pm • 18 August 2014
Reviewing Classic Who: The Castellan Didn’t Do It
The Arc of Infinity. Did I mention they left Tegan behind last time? They totally did. It ended on a big ol’ cliffhanger where Tegan is left behind at Heathrow airport and she’s like “guys I want to come” but it’s too late, the Doctor’s already gone. More on this later.
Anyway, some random backpackers in Amsterdam decide to sleep in a crypt and it turns out there’s a sinister TARDIS with a weird reptilian creature inside. The occupant abducts one of them and the other runs away, only to return later to pick up his stuff, where he learns that his buddy is being mind-controlled to do some rather technical-looking slave labor. So he reports the “disappearance” to the police (even though he knows exactly where he is) and the police are like “meh, foreigners go missing all the time.”
Meanwhile, a sinister being of antimatter is talking to a shadowy traitor on the High Council of the Time Lords, who provides said sinister antimatter being with the Doctor’s biometric data so he can steal the Doctor’s body, or something. The initial attempt fails, but the High Councillors are freaking out about it, because that means the antimatter entity is somewhere in the universe, and the easiest way to destroy it is apparently to just kill the Doctor. So they summon him, say “look, dude, we’re sorry, but killing you will definitely work, and letting you help us find it will only probably work,” because apparently they don’t watch this show. Despite some help from a friendly Time Lord and Nyssa, the Doctor is summarily executed, and the Time Lords make a great show of looking sad about it.
Meanwhile, Tegan shows up in Amsterdam! It turns out the mind-controlled backpacker is her cousin. She teams up with the other dude to go look for him. They both get captured.
Anyway, it turns out the Doctor wasn’t dead after all! (I know! I was as surprised as you!) The traitor arranged for him to instead be trapped in the Matrix, where the evil antimatter dude (whom we later learn is Omega! (remember him? (he’s the insane antimatter Time Lord the Second Doctor blew up with a recorder in The Three Doctors))) does some gloating. Everyone loves a bit of gloating. Then the Castellan, whom we are meant to believe is evil because he’s a secretive power-mad jerk, suspects that something was amiss (turns out not all jerks are evil), does some research, etc.
For some reason the traitor convinces Omega that the only way to continue is to set the Doctor free, because something went wrong, maybe? So Omega is like “promise you won’t interfere” and the Doctor is like “nah” so Omega is like “if you don’t promise I’ll kill your friend Tegan!” (spoiler alert: these two subplots are connected!) so the Doctor is like “okay I promise” and Omega is like “pinky swear?” and the Doctor is like “pinky swear.”
Meanwhile, the traitor has decided that the time has come to go into full crazy person mode, and goes to hold the Lord President hostage. He is subsequently killed by the rest of the High Council, further delaying Omega’s plans, and the High Council is like “okay, Doctor, just go deal with him.” The Doctor manages to find out where Tegan and Omega are at, heads there in the TARDIS, then spends a while asking around at youth hostels for any information. Eventually they find the crypt, sabotage Omega’s power device, kill his lizardman minion, and fail to stop the ritual, but because of the sabotage it Goes Wrong and now they have to track him down and destroy him before he reverts to antimatter and blow up the planet.
They eventually track him down. Omega seems convinced that the Time Lords have a personal vendetta against him instead of the reality, which is “they just don’t want an insane being of antimatter to wander around this universe unchecked.” He tries to destroy the universe with his brain, but the Doctor destroys him, though he observes, helpfully, “Maybe he’ll be back later!” because you can’t just kill off a villain in Doctor Who.
At the end Nyssa is like “it’s a shame you have to go back to your job, Tegan,” which is a little nonsensical, but Tegan is like “I got fired! You’re stuck with me!” and I couldn’t quite tell if the Doctor was pleased or terrified. B+
2:23 am • 18 August 2014 • 1 note
Reviewing Classic Who: This One Is Airline-Themed
Time-Flight. A Concorde jet is sucked into a time hole, and the Doctor, after arriving at Heathrow Airport and getting himself involved in the investigation, has another Concorde follow it back to the Jurassic period, where a sinister Arabic wizard in a rubber mask is conjuring illusions and cackling and generally acting like a Doctor Who villain. He’s apparently using hypnosis to get the crew and flight from the first Concorde to try to break through a wall and get at the heart of the citadel, or something. Anyway, he tries to get the Doctor to give him his TARDIS key and the Doctor is like “not gonna happen.” So the evil wizard prepares to kill the Doctor’s new friends (the flight crew of the second Concorde and some old professor dude), but Nyssa (who is receiving magical psychic plot intuition from the plot) and Tegan stop him by being mysteriously allowed into the heart of the sanctum and throwing things around in there.
This successfully temporarily delays the evil wizard’s scheme, so he reveals himself to be the Master, cackles and gloats a bit, and demands the TARDIS key, so the Doctor is like “okay, have it, please don’t kill my new friends,” because reasons, I guess. The Doctor and his new friends manage to break into the sanctum and learn that it’s basically a giant brain that contains the consciousnesses of an entire race. The Master is planning to use it to fix his TARDIS, which is apparently stranded in this period. Apparently the consciousnesses of an entire race are a functionally limitless power source, so that’s pretty cool, I guess. The professor dude sacrifices himself to gain the knowledge of the consciousness conglomerate, which I guess is necessary in order for the conglomerate to assume holographic form and explain the plot.
Anyway, while the Doctor is talking to the omniscient hologram people, the Master successfully completes his plans, and the Doctor is like “the Master has finally won, time to give up.” Then the TARDIS materializes in front of him, because the Master doesn’t need it anymore, so the Doctor takes it and heads off in attempt to find a way to stop the Master.
Except it turns out the Doctor’s flight crew friends sabotaged the Doctor’s TARDIS while the Master was using it, and the Master is using the sabotaged components, so he can’t escape, thus giving the Doctor time to arrange for a prisoner and parts exchange and come up with a scheme to stop the Master. The Master flies off, confident of his victory despite having lost the large number of free slaves he was so excited about, but the Doctor, because sabotage and cleverness, gets there first, thus blocking the Master’s TARDIS from materializing and sending it back to the home planet of the omniscient hologram people, where the Doctor figures they will probably be able to kick the Master out and stop being beings of pure light (which is a shame, but what can you do?) B
1:13 pm • 14 August 2014
Reviewing Classic Who: Adric vs. An Entire Planet
Earthshock. Adric is annoyed that the Doctor doesn’t want to take him back to E-Space, so the TARDIS lands on 26th century earth in an archaeological digsite. The Doctor tells Nyssa and Tegan about the dinosaurs and says he doesn’t know for sure what actually killed them all off. Meanwhile Adric sulks aboard the ship and does the calculations to get him back to E-Space.
The Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan are captured by the troopers who are looking into the mysterious deaths at the digsite, but when a pair of androids ambush the Doctor, his companions, and the troopers, the mustachioed action hero that leads them decides the Doctor can be trusted. With the Doctor’s help they beat up the androids, disarm the bomb the androids’ masters were planning to use to destroy the ship, and then fly off to try to find the androids’ masters. (Spoiler alert: it’s the Cybermen, and the Cyber Leader is my favorite ever.)
Anyway, the TARDIS, along with its newfound band of troopers, land on a giant freighter en route to earth. One of the first things we hear the security detail say is “you could hide an army in here and nobody would know,” which is definitely not foreshadowing at all. The Doctor and Adric make up and then wander around the ship for a while, where they are eventually arrested by a security detail which is trying to figure out why crewmen have been disappearing. (This sounds oddly familiar.) They are taken to the bridge and interrogated by their badass old lady captain for a while, until the Cybermen attack and the Doctor helps defend the bridge for a while and the captain decides to trust the Doctor.
The Cybermen are planning to blow up planet Earth, because there’s currently a security conference where the nations of the world are planning to team up against the Cybermen, which would apparently defeat them utterly. So they’ve stored an army on this freighter, which has security clearance straight to Earth, and they’re going to use it as a giant flying bomb, because there’s no kill like overkill. (I’m not sure why Stopping The Conference is their goal instead of just Eradicating Human Life, but whatever works.)
They lock down the controls and frog-march the Doctor and his companions (sans Adric, who they insist stay on the bridge, for some reason) back to the TARDIS, because the Cybermen hate the doctor and really want to gloat about their imminent victory by defeating the Doctor as thoroughly as possible.
Meanwhile, Adric, the captain, and the first mate are left on the bridge to watch as their ship blows up the planet, guarded by one or two Cybermen. Unfortunately, the Cybermen aren’t aware of the TARDIS’s new band of troopers, who storm the bridge, kill the Cybermen, and give Adric time to use his math wizardry to unlock the controls and prevent the collision. Somehow he manages to get the ship to move back in time, but he can’t unlock the final, uh, lock, in time, because one surviving cyberman blew up the controls. Meanwhile, on the TARDIS, the crew overwhelm the Cybermen, but the controls there are also damaged, so they can’t go back to the freighter in time to rescue Adric.
Fortunately for Planet Earth (though it’s no consolation to Adric) the time machine traveled back in time about 65 million years, or about the same time as the giant explosion that killed the dinosaurs. The freighter collides with the planet, exploding brilliantly, killing Adric and the dinosaurs in one fell swoop. At least he went out with a bang, eh? B+
1:15 pm • 13 August 2014 • 1 note
Reviewing Classic Who: The Doctor Plays Cricket
Black Orchid. The TARDIS lands at a train station somewhere in 1920s England. A chauffeur awaits, asks for the Doctor, and ferries them off to a cricket match, where the Doctor basically single-handedly wins the game and is subsequently invited to a fancy dress party where he is accidentally framed for murder by a famous botanist and explorer who disappeared in Brazil and was presumed dead but is actually just hiding out in the manor house, but he has no tongue and he’s hideously disfigured. Eventually they discover him and the Doctor is free to go.
For some reason there’s a girl who is identical to Nyssa, and the Doctor is basically able to absolve himself of murder by showing the investigating policemen the interior of the TARDIS. And the murderer falls to his death from the roof at the end, for some reason. The plot basically resolves itself and there isn’t really enough time for a proper mystery. C
8:06 pm • 11 August 2014
Reviewing Classic Who: The Lizardmen Burn London
The Visitation. As part of his ongoing quest to deliver Tegan to Heathrow Airport in time for her flight, the Doctor lands in the wilderness outside of 17th century London, where a band of masked villagers are attempting to murder every stranger they encounter. The Doctor and friends are rescued by a roguish thespian highwayman, who is hiding because of the aforementioned murdery villagers. The Doctor shortly discovers that an evil lizard-man and his android minion are attempting to do something sinister in the region, so naturally there is some kidnapping that happens. Nyssa goes back to the TARDIS to build a plot device that will kill the android when it gets into the TARDIS, Adric kind of wanders back and forth between the TARDIS and the lizard man’s Den Of Kidnapping being mostly useless, Tegan gets mind-controlled into doing menial labor for the lizard man, along with the lazy highwayman.
It turns out the lizard man is planning to introduce a super evil bonus plague to London as part of his scheme to wipe out all human life on the planet so he and his buddies can live on Earth. (They escaped from prison on their home planet so they’re fugitives, and what better place to take over than 17th century Earth?) Anyway, the Doctor flies the TARDIS to London and finds the lizard man secret hideout, accidentally burns it down (along with the lizard men), and escapes, thereby starting the Great Fire of London. Everybody wins! B+
1:14 pm • 11 August 2014
Reviewing Classic Who: Tegan Nearly Ruins Everything
Kinda. The title here rhymes with tinder, if your accent is non-rhotic. The Doctor and his merry band of misfits land on some paradise world, for some reason? Nyssa is fainting because she got hypnotized and sedated too many times in the last story, so the Doctor is rigging up a device that will put her to sleep for the duration of this story. While they’re waiting, the Doctor, Adric, and Tegan wander off and get into trouble. Tegan falls asleep in a place with a bunch of eerie crystal chimes and gets trapped in a creepy dream sequence where she’s being tormented by an evil dude who looks like King Joffrey in mime makeup, until she finally agrees to let him temporarily possess her so he can wreak evil on the world.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Adric are not-exactly-captured by a very 18th-century-Britain-in-space colonial expedition, featuring a grumpy old narrow-minded expedition commander, his lunatic underling, and a totally reasonable scientist lady. Apparently people have been vanishing from the expedition recently, though we never actually find out why.
Anyway, this paradise planet is populated by a native tribe of mute telepathic Noble Savages called the Kinda, who are ruled by a blind old wise woman and her pre-teen assistant, both of whom have the gift of speech. The grumpy old expedition commander wanders off into the woods, for some reason, and is driven mad by a magical box the wise woman gives him. Meanwhile his lunatic underling goes completely unhinged and starts wiring their outpost with explosives, because he’s convinced the trees are coming to get him and the only way to be safe is to blow up fifty square miles of forest.
Meanwhile, Tegan passes her possession on to one of the Kinda, who gains the gift of speech, so the rest of the tribe follows him without question when he decides he wants to attack the outpost and kill everyone inside. The wise woman’s magic box contains a message for people who aren’t driven mad by opening it, because of some sort of prophecy about stopping the possessed dude from killing everyone, I guess. The Doctor ends up saving the day by surrounding the possessed dude with mirrors. When the dream spirit leaves his body it turns into a giant snake and then, after a while of the Doctor shouting about making sure the mirror circle is unbroken, the giant snake disappears. A-
11:34 pm • 10 August 2014
Reviewing Classic Who: Adric Nearly Ruins Everything
Four to Doomsday. The TARDIS crew lands on a spaceship en route to earth, instead of actually earth, as he had initially intended. It turns out it’s ruled by a giant frog-man called Monarch, and his frog-man minions Persuasion and Enlightenment, and the immortal android people he’s been stealing from planet Earth for several centuries. Monarch wants to invade Earth and turn them all into immortal android people, which of course means killing all the fleshlings by stealing their consciousnesses and forcibly uploading them into android people. He’s doing this because he needs plentiful slave labor and all of Earth’s valuable minerals in order to perfect faster than light travel and thus go back in time where he can meet himself when he creates the universe, because he’s an insane megalomaniac.
Adric is totally on board with this obviously insane scheme and requires a fair bit of persuasion from the Doctor that forcing all of human life into slave labor is a bad thing, but Nyssa and Tegan seem clever enough to spot an evil frog when they see one. Anyway, with the help of one of the android people, a former Athenian philosopher, the Doctor and friends manage to subdue the frog-people and prevent their evil scheme from reaching fruition.
Nyssa alternates between being a badass and being kidnapped and either hypnotized and sedated; Tegan spends most of the time hitting random buttons on the TARDIS hoping that this will somehow take her home; Adric, as previously mentioned, seemed worryingly keen on enslaving the human race to an insane dictator, but managed to be vaguely helpful in the end, I guess. Anyway, once all the frog people are dealt with, the robot people decide they’ll pick a new planet and try to start a new life. More power to them, I guess?
And no, I have no idea why the title is “Four to Doomsday.” B+
3:00 am • 10 August 2014 • 3 notes
Reviewing Classic Who: Masterpiece Theatre (Get It? The Master’s In This One, Too)
Castrovalva. The Doctor’s regeneration is going wrong because of all the confusing plot points from the previous episode, so he has to find his way to the Zero Room on the TARDIS to make sure he doesn’t go insane or whatever. (The Zero Room is a special place that blocks out all the confusing plot elements.) This means he basically can’t fly the TARDIS, which means the Master sees the perfect opportunity to kidnap Adric and strap him to a giant brain-powered computer which can use the Block Transfer Computation from the last episode to project evil versions of Adric to program the TARDIS to take the Doctor to a series of exciting traps. First he tries to send the TARDIS back to the Big Bang. When that fails, he sends it to a place called Castrovalva.
Castrovalva is a place that, according to the totally fake TARDIS databanks, is even better than a Zero Room when regenerations go bad. In reality it’s a fictional utopian recursive kingdom the Master invented and is using Adric’s enormous mind-brain to create, using Block Transfer Computation. So the place that is meant to be enormously restful is, in fact, a noneuclidean nightmare that is complicated and confusing and, as such, will probably destroy the Doctor’s brain. Unfortunately for the Master, the people he creates have free will, and one of them (who we are initially led to believe is the sinister dude behind this all) has sort of figured out that something is wrong. Anyway, the Doctor manages to outwit the Master and turn his creations on him; the guy we were meant to think is sinister (he even wears black when everyone else is in lovely pastels!) sacrifices himself to destroy the web creating Castrovalva and free Adric, and the Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa, and Adric escape. We last see the Master being beaten to death by his own creations. I’m sure that’s the last we’ll see of him. A
12:46 am • 9 August 2014 • 3 notes
Reviewing Classic Who: Try Not To Think About It
Logopolis. This time they decide to actually keep the Master around properly instead of revealing “it turns out it was the Master the whole time!” in the last episode then having him vanish without a trace for several more seasons! The Doctor and Adric are looking for a police box to measure so they can fix the chameleon circuit or make the TARDIS less jankity or something. The Master apparently materialized around the same police box (I think) so the TARDIS freaks out, cloister bell a-ringing, and the Doctor and Adric are trapped in a recursive TARDIS-inside-the-TARDIS loop. Also there’s a gravity bubble? And for some reason an Australian flight attendant called Tegan is wandering around in the bowels of the TARDIS now.
So, after this confusing dimensional-travel related stuff happens, the Doctor heads to Logopolis, a planet populated by a bunch of people who are just constantly doing maths on abacuses, because they are so good at math they can alter reality with them. Unfortunately, the Master has … stowed his TARDIS away on the Doctor’s TARDIS, for some reason? He sabotages their efforts to fix the Doctor’s TARDIS by murdering a few dudes, then makes a device which silences all the maths temporarily in attempt at holding the planet hostage, because, though he doesn’t actually know what they’re doing, it’s bound to be useful in his evil scheme to take over the universe, right?
Anyway, it turns out that what they’re doing is preventing the universe from falling into entropy by opening up holes into other universes, thus ensuring that the universe is not a closed system. (It was one of these holes that sucked the Doctor and Romana into E-Space! So that’s another mystery solved.) Unfortunately, the machine that stops them doing maths also accidentally wipes out the entire species (except for their boss, I guess), and only living brains can do their math magic, so the universe begins decaying rapidly (it was long past due to fall into eternal darkness, apparently).
The Doctor and the Master agree to work together to save the universe. They take the code the Logopolan chief was writing to try to make their preserving-the-universe work unnecessary and fly to some random SETI outpost to transmit that code into a CVE (that’s what the holes in the universe are called) so it will stay open, I guess? Then the Master decides to broadcast a message to all the universe threatening to blow up the universe if they don’t submit to him, because that’s just how he rolls, and the Doctor is like “NOT IF I CAN HELP IT” and unplugs the thing that would let him blow up the universe. Unfortunately, thanks to the Master’s meddling, the act of unplugging caused the Doctor to plummet to the ground, where he is critically injured. He informs his companions (which now apparently includes Tegan and Nyssa), “It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for.” Then the creepy dude in white that’s been following the characters around for the entire story merges with the Doctor and he regenerates into Peter Davison. So, a fond farewell to Tom Baker! (I’m not sure what can be said about him except I’m pretty sure he is an actual wizard and he definitely earned his iconic status.)
I’d deduct points for the phenomenally incoherent opening but it was entertaining despite not making any sense. A-
2:19 am • 8 August 2014 • 3 notes