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  1. #51
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    Well, I always enjoyed The Highlanders novelisation. It's not the best of them, but it's certainly worth a read.

  2. #52
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    I think it's something of a hangover from the late Hartnell era historical comedy approach, with Ben and Polly carrying a lot of the action and the Doctor alternately providing comic relief and reacting to events rather than directing them. The most obvious example being the slapstick (which I'd love to see) of the Doctor locking Grey in the cupboard and getting Perkins to bang his head on the desk. I'd agree that Grey doesn't come across as at all compelling, but I think part of the problem with the story as a whole is that it's led by events and circumstances rather than individual characters and all the regulars do is react to them.

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Clement View Post
    a serious wane.
    Yes, we have our own version here on PS....

  4. #54
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    I'm not very fond of The Highlanders either. There are some very good moments like Ben's excape from The Annabelle and Jamie makes an instant impression, but it's a bit of a muddle to listen to. In fact me and Steve lost concentration in episode 2 and had to listen to it twice.

    I don't like the way the Doctor is written for in this story very much. They still don't quite seem settled on how Pat is going to play the role and it doesn't feel right. Still Ben and Polly get to carry the story again, which is good! I love Ben and Polly! Polly is great calling Kirsty a stupid peseant at every oppotunity and blackmailing Ffinch. She's often lazily labelled a weak screamer, but she's a really capable and fun companion. Good ol' Pol!

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  5. #55

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    The Power Of the Daleks

    Apart from the novelty of a new Doctor, indeed the first new Doctor in one sense, the most refreshing angle of the story is probably the way in which the series central character is the only one present who really knows exactly what the Daleks are capable of, and is forced to contend with scepticism on all fronts. To that extent, the parallels with "Dalek" are justifed, as the Doctor is in a similar position in that story, raging against over-confident types who seriously over-estimate their own capacity to control the Daleks.

    It also throws the petty politicking of the colony into sharp relief. Endless plotting and secret meetings and double crossings, all in the name of personal power struggles, is shown up as pointless and irrelevant in the face of the unrecognised (until the end) threat to all of them. There never even seems to be any purpose behind the rebellion (indeed, it's difficult to understand why seems to have any objection to Hensell's governership anyway, unless it's just that he's thought ineffective), and it quickly degenerates into one man aiming for absolute power.

    There's a certain parallel between Bragen's and the Daleks' methods too. Fool people into believing you're the solution to your problems, then get rid of them as soon as you've got what you want. It's an almost identical tactic.

    This might also by why Bragen is almost the only character in the story who is all that interesting. He's played with a stiff-necked pompous authority by Bernard Archard which gradually develops into unremittingly ruthless power-hunger, although even so, it's interesting to note that he still resists using the surviving guards as battle fodder for the Daleks, suggesting he still has certain loyalties.

    The other notable character is Lesterson, who changes from the fussy self-important figure of the early episodes, someone with delusions of being the colony's saviour, to a demented paranoid obsessive by the end. Unfortunately I think Robert James overacts somewhat in the latter phase, although admittedly it's not an easy sort of persona to bring off convincingly.

    The story twist of having the Daleks pose as servile benevolent creatures to get what they want has been rightly praised, but I can sort of see why Terry Nation might have been uneasy about it. If you've established that the things are intent on killing the unlike wherever they encounter them and have an utter inability to accept they would ever need help from other species, then it might be more probable that even a lone Dalek would just kill everyone in sight before starting the work of reviving or duplicating the rest. Of course, the story wouldn't have worked half so well in that case, but I can understand the argument, which is not to deny that the concept is used to very good effect here, with the Doctor's frustration frequently palpable.

    Patrick Troughton himself gets the chance to be infuriating (whether communicating via the recorder or just being cryptic in various other ways), and seemingly relishing if not even encouraging Ben's suspicion about his identity, but also brings to life the more devious side of the character (assuming another identity, secretly devising an escape form the cells). The obsessive fear and hatred of the Daleks is also highlighted very strongly.

    Quite good ideas, if not especially memorable.

  6. #56
    Wayne Guest

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    Nice one, Logo. Some excellent points/observations.
    I'd not given much thought as to why the rebellion is taking place, & as you say, it's never really explained why they want to overthrow Hensell.

  7. #57

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    Thanks Wayne.

    I know you said about Bragen being played by Marcus Scarman from Pyramids of Mars, but did you notice that Hensell was Chinn from Claws of Axos?

    Wonder if Whitaker had some "Silurians" style idea about the rebellion providing a "United we stand, divided we fall" moral? OTOH, he maybe just thought it would be a good dramatic backdrop.

    If, as some sources say, the story should be set on 2020, shouldn't we be setting up the colony soon?

  8. #58
    Wayne Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Logo Polish View Post
    Thanks Wayne.

    I know you said about Bragen being played by Marcus Scarman from Pyramids of Mars, but did you notice that Hensell was Chinn from Claws of Axos?
    Yes i did think it was him, but wasn't quite 100% sure, & i didn't bother checking if it was the same actor.
    Btw... Despite what i said earlier about 'The Underwater Menace', i've just done the first 2 eps, & will more than likely finish it off tomorrow.

  9. #59
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    Crikey, after a slow start, Wayne, you're really rattling through these stories. Nuzzink in ze vorld can shtop you now!

  10. #60
    Wayne Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Curnow View Post
    Crikey, after a slow start, Wayne, you're really rattling through these stories. Nuzzink in ze vorld can shtop you now!


    Truth be told, i've been keen to get to something that i can watch as it was meant to be seen. Even if it's just one episode! (For now) Of course there's a whole bundle of missing eps to get through before i get to the first complete story. But never mind.
    Last edited by Wayne; 2nd Dec 2006 at 3:41 PM.

  11. #61
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    Ah, I'd never realised that Hensell was Chinn (as it were!).

    The Highlanders - gave it its second spin back in September, and even spread over four days it's a bit of a struggle. It's not that it's a bad story per se, just rather dull and not much seems to happen. Highlight, as already mentioned, is the Doctor's slightly violent encounter with Perkins. Very odd that at the start the Doctor just wants to go back to the TARDIS, and the companions want to explore - a neat reversal of the usual status quo.

  12. #62
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    Speed it up, Jefferies!

    I started on the Hartnell stories at the same time as you (Autumn 2004?) and finished Troughton the week before 'Rose'. Now I can't remember anything about them.

  13. #63

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    "Power of the Daleks", when I first experienced it earlier this year was utterly amazing, a fantastic story. I actually want to listen to it again now.

    "The Highlanders" is entertaing but average stuff, but with the bonus of some great comedy.

  14. #64
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    If you've established that the things are intent on killing the unlike wherever they encounter them and have an utter inability to accept they would ever need help from other species, then it might be more probable that even a lone Dalek would just kill everyone in sight before starting the work of reviving or duplicating the rest.

    But surely the whole point of the plot is that the Daleks were not in a position of dominance to start with and had to build up their power. They were operated by a supply that one person could switch on and off at will to start with, and the first Dalek to be revived did kill on sight... and then promptly had its power switched off and its gun removed.

    They actually need the humans to help them to start with because they are vulnerable, but they very cleverly manipulate those same humans who have the power to shut them down (as Lesterson demonstrates when they get overexcited at the start of part 4) into believing they are working to better the colony. Once they do have their own power they do start killing everyone and everything in sight.

    Besides, it's not as if Terry Nation himself hasn't had the Daleks exploiting local populations for their gain. Human slaves in The Dalek Invasion of Earth; Aridians recruited to dig out the TARDIS, and then negotiated with for the handover of the Doctor and co.; the Great Alliance for their Master Plan. But in all those cases the Daleks have ultimately been in a position of authority. In Power they constantly have the possibility that the humans can simply switch them off hanging over them until they get what they want, and then they're more bloodthirsty than we've ever actually seen before.

  15. #65
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    The Highlanders

    Dull, dull, dull. This one remains (perhaps equally with The Smugglers) the least memorable story for me. I know I've heard it a couple of times, but I can't recall what happens or why we should care. It has no memorable characters in it at all Even Jamie doesn't really stand out, and if he'd never boarded the TARDIS no-one would have a clue who he was.

    Thank heaven it's only four episodes long and we can soon get it out of the way and move on to...

    oh, wait....

  16. #66
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    The Underwater Menace

    Episode 1 gets off to a fairly intriguing start, i thought. The Tardis team are trying to guess where they are, pretty soon they're off down a lift & on their way to unconciousness! I don't think the fish people look too bad as it goes. They kind of have that Dr.Who charm. The second half of the ep isn't the fastest paced in the world, but it introduces the guest characters, & finishes on what i think is a pretty good cliffhanger. I think Polly being forced down on the operating table is quite disturbing. This story made not have the best rep in the world, but after 'The Highlanders' this feels more like what i think of as Dr.Who!
    As Episode 2 progresses, we learn of Zaroff's plan to raise Atlantis - A plan which will result in destroying the Earth. After the Doctor escapes, he convinces Ramo that they must work together against Zaroff. The bits with lots of clambering through the caves by Jamie, Ben, & the miners seem a bit slow, but it's a watchable ep even in recon format, & a good ep for Troughton's portrayal of the Doctor.
    Episode 3 of course is a much improved viewing experience because of the vidfired episode on the 'Lost In Time' set. It's nice finally to get to see Troughton in action 'properly' as it were, & i found myself more impressed by his performance. I like the way Doctor tries to save Ramo by taking the blame for his part in things - also his defiance towards Zaroff as they are taken away to be sacrified, & his apology to Ramo as they are about to be beheaded, & his decisive forging of a plan to attack Zaroff. All good 2nd Doctor moments.
    On the other side of the coin, there's a terribly camp performance by Peter Stephens as Lolem, But it's not unentertaining, i suppose. Then there's Joseph Furst's characterization of Zaroff has come across a bit one dimensional & over shouty so far, watching him on screen in Ep.3 only reinforces the panto style villian that he creates. The haminess is especially evident at Ep 3's cliffhanger! But to be fair, i've seen worse, & script clichs like 'Nothing in the world can stop me now!', all play a part.
    Again, there's a certain charm to scenes at the fish people's market place, & even the underwater scenes where the fish people are spreading the word of their 'strike' is quite watchable, & made more enjoyable by Dudley Simpson's quirky music, which is almost a more melodic prequel to the Malcolm Clarke's Sea Devils incidental music a few years later.
    It's a shame to have to go back to the recon for the final episode, but it's not a bad ep. I would've like to've seen the proper action as the flooding starts in Atlantis, but the increasing tension comes across quite well on the recon, particularly as Jamie & Polly are trying to evade the floods. I like fact that the Doctor still wants to save Zaroff at the end, & the earlier line about the flooding 'What do you think that is - Amdo with indigestion?' (sic) made me laugh.
    The Tardis team escape being drowned of course, (that fate is reserved for Zaroff), & after some jovial ribbing from the companions about his lack of control over the Tardis, the episode come to a close with a teaser for the next story as the Tardis falls into darkness & the Doctor really does lose control of it!
    The Underwater Menace is not great, classic Who, & my impression is that it's widely considered to be a poor story. But i don't think it's that bad, all things considered. Troughton's performance is largely enjoyable. I feel he's making the part his own by now. The companions are all fine, & work well as a team of 3, i feel. Ok, it's not the most action packed story in the world, but it does have a certain charm. If i were to rate it, i'd probably give it a 6.5/10
    Given it's reputation, i'm curious to see what you all make of this one.

  17. #67
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    I've never felt that Underwater Mencase is as bad as it's been painted out to be. The OTT aspects to the story, especially the portrayal of Zaroff can be taken in a tongue in cheek way and it's all the more enjoyable when you watch it like that.
    As Wayne says, Polly being forced to undergo the operation to become one of the fish people is a disturbing moment in the story, and it's at odds with the way a lot of the rest of the story feels, which may also be why it works as well as it does.
    Three stories down, and so far none of them have been great, but things are looking up...very very soon.

  18. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Clement View Post
    Three stories down, and so far none of them have been great, but things are looking up...very very soon.
    I think 'Power' is great, but yes i'm looking forward to 'The Moonbase', which is a favourite of mine. Probably put my review up on Tuesday.

    And it's time Jason learned to use the quote button, so that we know who he's replying to! (It's the one on the far right of the bottom row that looks like a square 'speech bubble').

  19. #69
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    I'd been brought up by DWM and the like saying that Menace was one of the all time turkeys, and I must admit that when I got to watch part 3 a while back I wasn't really going to disagree with them.

    However, when I bought the audio CD a couple of years ago I found myself really quite enjoying the story as a whole. Indeed, it seems to me that the third part is the weakest of the 4!

    It's nothing special for sure, but there's a lot, lot worse out there across all eras of the show.

  20. #70
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    It's much darker than it's reputation and the surviving episode suggest. Zaroff is obviously a complete loony and it'd be great to see the scene where the high priest relises this and notices the mad look in Zaroff's eyes which the Doctor had pointed out earlier.
    There are some nice little touches in this one. We love it when we see the stovepipe hat on a stool in the TARDIS one last time, and the whole voice over bit in part 1 when the crew all think of their perfect destinations! I love Dinosaurs!

    Much better than it's reputation suggests.

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  21. #71
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    It's too long since I read the rather ploddy book to remember much about the story as a whole; but I always rather enjoy episode 3. Part of that charm, admittedly, is that it 'feels' so very different to most of the other surviving Troughton episodes - I like the almost-pixie performance in places, and the dressing-up. As regards the rest of the episode, the fish people sequence (which I didn't realise WASN'T filmed underwater until after having seen it a couple of times) is curiously compelling, and so too is the accompanying music, as Wayne rightly says. In fact, I think the main reason fans tend to scoff at the fish-people is because of DWM's infamous red-lip photos; in this episode at least (and in the brief snippet from part 1, with them peering in the window to give a chilling vision of Polly's intended-fate) they have a definite weirdness to them.

    So that's another vote for "not as bad as people say" then!

  22. #72
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    Whatever you think of 'The Underwater Menace', it's clear that on the design and direction side everybody worked really hard- the sets and costumes look good, and the fish people sequence is some of the most ambitious padding ever seen. Given that Zaroff is a caricature mad scientist, in a sense it's a shame that Joseph Furst gave such a one-dimensional performance rather than trying to get under the skin and give him a sense of motivation, although I do like the way Lolem is so totally over the top. Particularly when you realise that it's Cyril from 'The Celestial Toymaker'.

  23. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Thompson View Post
    But surely the whole point of the plot is that the Daleks were not in a position of dominance to start with and had to build up their power. They were operated by a supply that one person could switch on and off at will to start with, and the first Dalek to be revived did kill on sight... and then promptly had its power switched off and its gun removed.
    Which could just as easily have led, in theory at least, to the next one simply getting rid of whoever would have access to the power supply, activating the other two or three dormant ones, and then sending one of those out to finish off the rest of the colony, leaving another on guard perhaps, and carrying on the rest of the work (reproducing the rest) by themselves.

    They actually need the humans to help them to start with because they are vulnerable
    What's not clear though, is whether Daleks would ever admit something like that, even to themselves, and even if would, whether they would think in terms as subtle as that. What's that line "They kill everyone, even if they need them"? That's partly what makes up the sheer overweening arrogance they constitute.

    Besides, it's not as if Terry Nation himself hasn't had the Daleks exploiting local populations for their gain. Human slaves in The Dalek Invasion of Earth; Aridians recruited to dig out the TARDIS, and then negotiated with for the handover of the Doctor and co.; the Great Alliance for their Master Plan. But in all those cases the Daleks have ultimately been in a position of authority.
    And the being in authority makes all the difference, potentially at least.

    In Power they constantly have the possibility that the humans can simply switch them off hanging over them until they get what they want, and then they're more bloodthirsty than we've ever actually seen before.
    Like I say though, even one could probably wipe out two or three people in a room without too much difficulty within a few seconds, before anyone had the chance to turn anything off.

    I suppose what I have in mind is an article Anthony Brown wrote for DWB in 1994, when he commented that it was unlikely a species as blindly xenophobic as the Daleks would ever chant "I am your servant" even in deception, which is something that's stuck in my mind since. I can see the value of attempting to show them as cunning and deceptive, but as done in this story it possibly overlooks one fundamental fact, which is that, ultimately, Daleks aren't reasonable in the same way we'd recognise. Their priority would be more likely (in my view) to be in terms of finding a way to get rid of the humans before starting a mass reproduction drive rather than the other way round

  24. #74

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    The Highlanders

    Never really had much of a problem with this one. It's basic and straightforward, but there's a place for that, and as a riff on Robert Louis Stephenson's Kidnapped, I think it flows inoffensively enough. The period atmosphere is fine, the story simple but it seems to fit together well enough.

    The history itself is slightly misleading, insofar as it paints the Jacobite uprising of the Forty Five as an Anglo-Scottish conflict, which wasn't quite the case (it was a dynastic struggle, and there were divisions between both sides in each country, including Scottish troops in Cumberland's pro-Hanoverian army). Certainly though, the story's sympathies are decidedly with the losing side, which is not really surprising, in view of the well documented atrocities and bloodshed committed in the aftermath of Culloden (some of which are alluded to or demonstrated by example here). I think it's a case of the normal (for DW) support for the oppressed against the oppressors.

    As such, the characters are mostly archetypal, being drawn very broadly, whether the (Robert Newton-inspired?) "Arr"-ing of Trask, or the soulless cynicism and corruption of Solicitor Grey, with his bumbling spineless assistant who is clearly content to throw in his lot with whoever the winning side happens to be at any given time.

    The development of Algernon Ffinch is slightly more interesting, given that he starts out as typically brutal and vicious as the other soldiers are depicted here, but moves some way toward better qualities by dint of his feelings for Polly, which allows the day to be saved at the end. I'm not suggesting he's become a reformed character or anything like that, but his final actions do allow him to show he has a better side. There's even arguably a very mild touch of the kinky in the scenes where Polly is able to get into a position of power over him and use that to get him to do whatever they require, and Anneke Wills does quite well with the teasing sarcasm.

    Jamie is more markedly a man of his time in this story than subsequently, with his belief in astrology and bloodletting coming to the fore, in a scene which also demonstrates the Doctor's manipulativeness to good effect. This being his introduction he's also allowed to be a bit more aggressive and passonate than usual.

    The Doctor's Clouseau-esque ramble through silly voices and disguises is quite fun as well. Unsubtle, yes, and not something I'd want in every story, but it adds to the sense of his deviousness and being able to keep several steps ahead of everyone all along. The scene where he outwits Grey and Perkins, mentioned already by several others, is a particular highlight.
    Last edited by Logo Polish; 4th Dec 2006 at 2:56 PM.

  25. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logo Polish View Post
    Which could just as easily have led, in theory at least, to the next one simply getting rid of whoever would have access to the power supply, activating the other two or three dormant ones, and then sending one of those out to finish off the rest of the colony, leaving another on guard perhaps, and carrying on the rest of the work (reproducing the rest) by themselves.
    Except that they needed materials that the humans would supply.

    What's not clear though, is whether Daleks would ever admit something like that, even to themselves, and even if would, whether they would think in terms as subtle as that.
    But surely that fact that they do in the story is strong evidence that that's how they do think?

    No offence, but this reminds me a bit of something that I believe came up on the RT forum, when David Howe was going on about something in the series being a mistake because of the various conventions that have built up in later years. I believe it was MArk Ayres who pointed out that, as an historian, Howe's task was to record the facts, not insist that mistakes were made and try to reqrite the history to fit the later knowledge. In this case, surely we have to take what is presented on screen as primary evidence, not what someone else says afterwards? The Daleks in this story pose as servants (badly: they nearly give themselves away on so many occasions!), therefore we can conclude that that's how Daleks would behave.

    What's that line "They kill everyone, even if they need them"? That's partly what makes up the sheer overweening arrogance they constitute.
    Except they don't kill anyone they need. They need Chen, and they don't kill him until they have the Taranium core. They need human slaves to clear the mines, and they don't worry about killing them until the work is done. They need Mickey and Rose, so they keep them alive. They kill unless they need someone.

    Like I say though, even one could probably wipe out two or three people in a room without too much difficulty within a few seconds, before anyone had the chance to turn anything off.

    The one that was reactivated managed to kill one person before being switched off. Even with a full army of them, the Doctor was able to use a bunch of guards as a diversion so he could overload their power. A siongle Dalek could be distracted by a mass assault on it, which would allow at least one person to shut off their power.

    I suppose what I have in mind is an article Anthony Brown wrote for DWB in 1994, when he commented that it was unlikely a species as blindly xenophobic as the Daleks would ever chant "I am your servant" even in deception, which is something that's stuck in my mind since.
    See above. It's what they do on screen, and is not out of character in the least with regard to what's gone before, therefore it is what they do whatever an artcle written nearly thirty years later has to say.