Reviewing Classic Who: The Candyman Can ‘Cause He Mixes It With DEATH
The Happiness Patrol. The Doctor and Ace land on an earth colony called Terra Alpha, the streets of which are patrolled by the titular Happiness Patrol, who arrest and execute anyone who is being publicly unhappy. This includes wearing dark colors, listening to music that isn’t generic tinny Muzak, and grieving over the fact that your family has been arrested and executed. Everyone wears pale face makeup and a great deal of pastel pink, and a sinister Candy Man who is literally made out of candy executes people by drowning them in boiling candy. Naturally as soon as the TARDIS lands, the Happiness Patrol paints it pink.
With the aid of an intergalactic bureaucrat, an American blues musician, some weird sugar-eating natives that have been forced to live in the candy pipes below the city, and an unhappy member of the Happiness Patrol named Susan Q, the Doctor finds out what’s going on and quickly organizes a revolution of the sugar plant workers, freeing Ace from the deadly Happiness Patrol Auditions in the process. The candy empire of the sinister lady at the heart of this forced happiness, Helen A, begins to crumble. The Candy Man is destroyed, her husband abandons her and helps the chief candy engineer escape the city, and her beloved pet murderpoodle is crushed in a candy avalanche, and she breaks down weeping. Presumably she gets arrested or something.
Anyway, as Ace is just finishing up painting the TARDIS blue again, Susan Q and the blues musician thank the Doctor for bringing the blues back to Terra Alpha, and the Doctor says “yes, there’s no other color without the blues.” Then he does a secret handshake with the blues musician and departs, having successfully engineered the collapse of yet another petty tyranny. B
1:42 am • 21 October 2014
Reviewing Classic Who: Attack of the Sinister Schoolgirls
Remembrance of the Daleks. The Doctor and Ace land in 1963 England, so they can hang out at 76 Totter’s Lane and Coal Hill School, for some reason. There they find that a group of Daleks, led by a sinister schoolgirl, are trying to find the Hand of Omega, a device the First Doctor apparently left behind when he first embarked on his adventures with Susan, Ian, and Barbara. It’s a stellar engineering device, which means it can be used to blow up stars and things like that (which is originally how the Time Lords gained their time traveling power, a fact you will remember if you’ve been watching since … The Three Doctors in 1972). As has apparently become traditional, there are two warring Dalek factions who are both after the Hand: one led by the creepy little girl and one led by the Emperor Dalek. (As a plot twist, it turns out the Emperor Dalek is Davros; we were originally meant to believe the sinister schoolgirl was Davros, but we later find out she is just a sinister schoolgirl.)
Anyway, the Doctor spends most of the time tricking the local military into securing Coal Hill School, despite the fact that it’s no longer important to the Dalek schemes. See, he’s already programmed the Hand of Omega to blow up both Skaro’s sun and the Dalek mothership, and then head back to Gallifrey, where presumably the Time Lords will keep a slightly closer eye on it. All he has to do now is make sure the Little Girl faction of Daleks don’t get it, for some reason. He commits some sabotage to this end, and in the end Davros gets it. The Doctor calls him up and is like “please please don’t use the Hand of Omega, it would be disastrous, you’d destroy so many people and be so powerful, I really just hate to think of what would happen if you used it.” Naturally Davros is like “yes that is the idea” and uses the Hand, only to have his mothership and home planet destroyed (naturally, he alone survives the explosion). Then the Doctor finds a stray Little Girl faction Dalek and tells it it is alone in an uncaring universe, which causes it to self-destruct. The little girl is thus free of their influence and very confused.
This story apparently marks the beginning of the Seventh Doctor going from a jolly, eccentric old dude to a sinister, manipulative old dude. I’m totally on board with this. A-
2:00 am • 14 October 2014 • 1 note
Reviewing Classic Who: Ice Vampires!
Dragonfire. The Doctor and Mel land on an ice world called Ice World, where a sinister ice vampire is putting people into cryogenic freeze to turn them into mindless supersoldiers so he can exact his revenge on his home planet for exiling him here in the first place. The Doctor is very curious about the dragon that’s supposed to live under Ice World, so he goes to explore it, assisted by the Erudite Criminal from Trial of a Time Lord and a pyromaniac waitress from 20th century Earth called Ace.
It turns out the map that the Erudite Criminal has is bugged, so the ice vampire can spy on the party as they look for the dragon and its treasure. Eventually we discover that the dragon has laser beams for eyes and is part robot, and inside of its head is an energy source called the Dragonfire. The ice vampire wants it for his revenge, and as soon as he finds out the Doctor has it he decides to put his revenge plan in motion by killing everyone on Ice World and kidnapping Ace and ransoming her out in exchange for the Dragonfire (which he needs in order to activate his spaceship, which is actually the entire station this story has been taking place on).
There’s just one small problem: the ice vampire’s home planet (which is presumably populated by other ice vampires) was destroyed two thousand years ago—one thousand years after Ice Vamp was exiled. So there’s nowhere for him to get revenge on! Tough break. Ice Vamp is so bummed out by this revelation that he exposes himself to unfiltered sunlight and melts away into nothingness. The Erudite Criminal decides he’s going to take over the now empty space station, and Mel is like “I think I’m going to hang out with this sketchy dude now instead of you, Doctor,” and the Doctor keeps interrupting her when she tries to say a proper farewell, because obviously. (Incidentally, way to make good life choices, Mel!) So he invites Ace aboard, because she’s into this whole “life of adventure” thing. He tells her there’s three rules, but he hasn’t come up with the third one yet. B+
12:35 am • 12 October 2014
Reviewing Classic Who: Now With Fake Welsh Accents!
Delta and the Bannermen. The Doctor and Mel land on some sketchy tourist planet for reasons we will likely never learn, and learn that they have just won a time traveling tour to Disneyland in 1959. The tour bus ends up hitting a satellite and crash-landing in Wales. They conveniently land next to a holiday camp, so the tourists just sort of settle in and get to bask in the 1950s.
Unfortunately, Delta, the last surviving Queen of the Chimeron has stowed away on the tour bus, and she is being pursued by a team of intergalactic space jerks, the Bannermen. The Doctor, while hanging out with Ray, a badass Welsh girl who hangs out at the camp, learns that the Bannermen are on their way and convinces the camp director and the space tour bus driver to evacuate. The space tour bus still needs some more repairs before it can depart, and the Doctor orders them to leave as soon as the repairs are complete.
The Bannermen land and kill everyone on the tour bus (fortunately none of them were plot essential), and Delta and her freshly hatched baby (she’s just hatched a baby, did I mention?) follow the summoning sound of bees to hang out with a charmingly eccentric all-knowing beekeeper; from his hut, they rig up some honey traps (literally!), grab some beeswax, and the beekeeper explains to Billy, Delta’s new boyfriend, how bees become queens when you feed them royal jelly. From this Billy deduces that if he eats the food Delta has been feeding to her freshly hatched baby (who at this point looks like a girl of about 13) he’ll turn into a Chimeron, so he can help save her species. (There’s a whole love triangle subplot where Badass Welsh Girl Ray is sad that her childhood sweetheart Billy has fallen for an alien queen. But mostly Ray is badass and Billy is useless.)
It turns out newly hatched Chimerons are able to emit a defensive scream that is harmful to Bannermen (and possibly humans, but apparently not Chimerons or the Doctor), so the Doctor sets a series of clever ruses to lure the Chimerons away from the camp, then he has the freshly hatched Chimeron scream into the camp’s loudspeakers, thus incapacitating the Bannermen attack force. Some random Americans that have been hanging out this whole time tie them up, and Delta takes them off to stand trial for killing off her entire species. Then for some reason the Doctor doesn’t have Ray join the TARDIS crew and instead he just says farewell to everyone, adds another race to his list of “races I’ve saved”, and scurries off once again. B
11:36 pm • 28 September 2014
Reviewing Classic Who: A Very Eighties Dystopia
Paradise Towers. Mel has been watching a tourist brochure for a place called the Paradise Towers, and she is super excited about its swimming pool. (It looks like a pretty normal rooftop swimming pool. Maybe they don’t have those in the UK in the 80s?) The Doctor agrees to go, and it turns out it’s actually a dilapidated hellscape with a bunch of comically absurd factions running around. You’ve got the Kangs, which are a bunch of color-coded (Red and Blue; the Yellow ones have all been eaten) gangster ladies with 80s hair, funny dialects, and a strong violent streak; the Caretakers, the bureaucrats tasked with trying to keep the 300-floor building from being a dilapidated hellscape; the Rezzies, the old people who are the official residents, who apparently kidnap and eat people; and Pex, the cowardly muscle-man who stowed away on the ship that brought everyone here because he didn’t want to fight in the war. The Caretakers are run by the Chief Caretaker, who has been secretly organizing the Cleaner robots to kill people in order that he might feed them to the monster in the basement, who is secretly Kroagnon, the Great Architect who designed the place and was imprisoned in the basement because he’s a megalomaniac who has a history of murdering all of the residents.
Mel spends most of her time trying to find the pool, because she agreed to meet the Doctor there and also she wants to have a swim. She hangs out with Pex, who agrees to guide her there despite not really knowing his way around very well, but eventually they get there in the end (he kicks the lift until it works properly). Meanwhile, the Doctor has been kidnapped by the Chief Caretaker, who believes he’s the Great Architect, and because he’s worried the Great Architect will interfere with his plans to feed people to the guy who is actually the Great Architect, he orders him put to death immediately. The Doctor outwits the bureaucrats by lying to them about the rules and escapes and finds the Red Kangs’ hideout again, only to have the Caretakers find it, as well; the Doctor lets himself get captured in order to buy the Red Kangs time to escape. Meanwhile, the Cleaner robots have started kidnapping people to feed to Kroagnon without the Chief Caretaker’s orders, so he runs off to investigate, allowing the Red Kangs to free the Doctor. He steals an informational CD before he goes.
The Doctor manages to convince the Red and Blue Kangs to work together to help him figure out what’s going on; he heads down into the basement in time to see the Chief Caretaker get possessed by Kroagnon (who has apparently been looking for a body to possess all this time). Kroagnon, now that he has a body, orders the Cleaners to eradicate the “human rubbish” floor-by-floor, so the Rezzies, the Kangs, the Pex, and the remaining Caretakers all band together to destroy the Cleaners and lure Kroagnon into a trap, using the Doctor as bait. (Megalomaniacs can never resist meeting the Doctor in person.) Unfortunately his new form is gifted with super-strength, so he overpowers the Doctor, but Pex nobly uses his muscles and a few sticks of dynamite to fling the Doctor to safety and blow up himself and Kroagnon, thus securing the freedom of Paradise Towers. The Red and Blue Kangs knit the Doctor a scarf that is red on one side and blue on the other, making him an honorary Kang and also probably symbolizing that they will no longer fight each other in their weird 80s postapocalyptic games. Then the Doctor and Mel scurry off to their next adventure. A
10:56 pm • 27 September 2014
the world was incomplete without this video clip
9:52 pm • 22 September 2014 • 1 note
Reviewing Classic Who: Time Keeps On Slippin’
Time and the Rani. The Rani is back! She’s hijacked the TARDIS and forced the Doctor to regenerate into Sylvester McCoy. Then she kidnaps him, dresses up as Mel, and convinces him that the evil project she’s working on was actually his evil project (she is apparently not clever enough to do it herself; props for knowing her own limits, I guess). Eventually the real Mel finds the Doctor and after a moment where they are both convinced that the other is an impostor, the Doctor remembers everything (or at least most things) and proceeds to not immediately sabotage the machine, for some reason. (Maybe he likes a challenge?)
Anyway: the Rani is enslaving these feathery lizard-people for reasons unknown (she has a much more reliable servant race of bat people, and she doesn’t seem to like the feathery lizard people much), capturing geniuses from throughout time and space, and hooking them up to a giant brain, in order to perform some calculations and/or research for her. There’s an asteroid made of strange matter on its way and she has a rocket launch facility. Every now and then she kills a few feathery lizard people to continue to ensure the compliance she doesn’t seem to have any use for.
Eventually she captures the Doctor and hooks him up to the giant brain, but he’s the Doctor so he starts provoking arguments with all the geniuses, so she unplugs him, turns her back, and gets tied up for long enough for the Doctor and Mel to find the giant brain and figure out what the Rani’s plan is: she’s going to use the brain to come up with a material that can blow up strange matter, and when the explosion happens it will bond with something in the atmosphere and convert the planet into a giant time manipulator, making her arbitrarily powerful over all of time and space. “Creation is chaotic!” she says. “I plan to introduce order.”
Anyway, the Doctor and Mel escape, help the feathery lizard people throw off their exploding chains and rise up against the Rani. Their quisling leader sacrifices himself to ensure that the Doctor’s sabotage plan works, and the Rani’s bat people minions overhear her talking about her plan to kill everything on the planet, including her minions, so they capture her and plan on enslaving her and using her to fuel their scientific advances. B
2:26 am • 19 September 2014
can we talk about the 7th doctor’s title sequence? i think it may be the most 80s thing ever made.
10:53 pm • 15 September 2014 • 63 notes
Reviewing Classic Who: Charges Dimissed On Grounds Of Heroism
The Ultimate Foe (The Trial of a Time Lord, pt. 4). The last part! This one only has two episodes. We reopen on the trial, where the Doctor is still insisting that the Matrix has been rigged. The Inquisitor asks if the Doctor can provide any witnesses and he’s like “well, you abducted me out of time and the only witnesses I could provide are scattered across time and space, and some of them are dead, so no.” Then Mel and the Erudite Criminal from The Mysterious Planet arrive on the station, sent there by the Master to help with the Doctor’s trial. You see, the Master would much prefer if he were the one to kill the Doctor. The Master explains, from within the Matrix, that the Valeyard is actually an evil incarnation of the Doctor from the future, and also that the Valeyard is responsible for tampering with the evidence in the Matrix. The trial is apparently a giant farce, ordered by the High Council to hide the fact that they basically destroyed Earth in order to prevent secrets from the Matrix being leaked. (The Master is hoping that when the High Council’s corruption is revealed he will become the dictator of Gallifrey. Make no small plans!) Erudite Criminal testifies to this fact (“oh, sure, people have been entering, altering, and stealing from the Matrix for years, that stuff’s worth a fortune”). Confronted with all of this information, the Valeyard flees into the Matrix, with the Doctor and Erudite Criminal in hot pursuit.
The Valeyard’s base in the Matrix is a nightmare carnival run by exceptionally bureaucratic bureaucrats. The Doctor manages to thwart all the various illusions, with the occasional assistance of the Master and Erudite Criminal (who is now working for the Master, because obviously), and discovers that the Valeyard’s plan is not just to steal all of the Doctor’s remaining regenerations, but also to blow up everyone in the courtroom by planting a bomb in the Matrix. Apparently the Matrix screen allows explosions to pass through it, so they’d all be doomed. Fortunately, the Doctor is able to sabotage the bomb, thwart the Valeyard’s plan, and return to the courtroom, where the Inquisitor says “all charges are dismissed, because you saved the day.” The Doctor suggests that she run for President, since the High Council was deposed, and scurries off in his TARDIS with Mel.
At some point we learn that rather than becoming the vessel for an evil slimy alien, Peri survived and married Brian Blessed (which is a little anticlimactic, really). The Doctor also gets to make a charmingly indignant speech about how the High Council are worse than the Daleks, Sontarans, etc. B+
3:19 am • 15 September 2014
Reviewing Classic Who: Rise of the Plant Monsters
Terror of the Vervoids (The Trial of a Time Lord, pt. 3). Apparently the Valeyard is done presenting evidence, so the Doctor is providing a video from his future to prove that he’s not a meddler. He is traveling with a companion called Mel, who is pretty cool, and they have received a mayday signal from a cruise liner. Said cruise liner is transporting a sinister biologist, her sinister biology assistants, their sinister biology experiments, an innocent old man, some sinister aliens, and a mysterious investigator who isn’t as sinister as he appears. Apparently the Commodore who commands the ship knows the Doctor (as does the mysterious investigator, but he dies); apparently there’s also a murderer on the loose. It could be anyone! Everyone is sinister!
(Meanwhile, in the past (present?), the Doctor complains at a few points that the Matrix has been altered, because the evidence is different now than it was when he viewed it. By and large it seems to be pretty inconsequential, though there is a random bit where it shows the Doctor gleefully hacking apart the Communications Room with an axe.)
At some point it becomes apparent that the murderer is being helped by some murderous giant plant monsters whose costume designers were probably sacked. They want to kill all of animalkind, because all animals eventually eat plantlife, even though they generally steer clear of murderous giant plant monsters in my experience. They rack up way more of a body count than the murderer does, but the story still mostly focuses on tracking the murderer down, with a few “what are these Vervoids (that’s what they are called) up to?” moments thrown in.
Anyway, one of the sinister science assistants realizes that the Vervoids are going to kill all of human life when they get to earth, so he tries to drive the ship into a black hole. After he’s hijacked the bridge, the plant monsters flood the bridge with poison gas to kill him (then don’t bother changing course, because plant monsters), so the sinister aliens, who have elaborate breathing apparati, take over the bridge and announce that they’re hijacking the ship, because they feel like the cargo (minerals harvested from their planet) is stolen goods. The murderer subsequently murders them, so the ship is restored to the Commodore. Then the Commodore asks the Doctor to help him deal with the murderer and also the evil plant infestation, and the Doctor, in the past, says, “SEE? I was asked to help! I didn’t meddle at all!” and for some reason the Inquisitor is like “good point.”
The Doctor then lures the murderer into confessing, gets him captured, and comes up with a scheme to kill the plants by bombarding them with so much life they go through spring, summer, autumn, and winter all at once and wither away into nothingness. He does this by first turning off the lights everywhere else, then throwing the aforementioned minerals (apparently they happen to be just the tool for the job) at them.
Meanwhile, in the past, the Valeyard says “okay scratch the meddling trial, the Doctor just genocided these plant monsters. Can we change it to a charge of genocide?” Cliffhanger! B+
1:12 pm • 11 September 2014