Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Daleks' Master Plan: The Feast Of Steven


Oddly enough, this entry on what might well be the most bizarre episode of Doctor Who ever is going up on February 29th, a day which the very fabric of everything that makes sense is turn’d ‘pon its head.  Or something.

Sufferin’ sulphane...  Needless to say, it’s (sic) throughout…

Me:  I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time.  Well, ‘anticipating’ is probably closer to the truth.  It might be crap.

Him:  (shocked) You can’t say that – not on the blog!  Why not just say ‘rubbish’?

Me:  Because it may very well turn out to be a lot worse than ‘rubbish’.

And we’re off on the 1965 Christmas Number.

We recap.  This time round I notice that someone’s taken the proto-Leela comment to heart…

Sara:  Something’s gone wrong.

The Doctor:  What’s the matter, my dear?

Sara:  It’s stopped going up and down.

Steven:  It’s alright.  It means we’ve landed.

The scanner’s still on the blink, there are still dials and the atmosphere’s still poisonous.

We’re presented with a shot of a police station.  And then comes the title card.

Him:  Why did they call it The Feast of Steven?

Me:  Christmas, innit?

It certainly is.  We’re now greeted with drunken policemen singing carols.  It’s like L.A. Confidential is trying to be born – as though some future echo chamber of a televisual Hadron Collider is – Alright, I'll shut up. Sorry.  No it isn’t.  Although, of all the episodes of Doctor Who, this is the one that’s most similar to a James Ellroy story.  Wait and see.

A Sergeant peruses the TARDIS.  Someone’s dumping police boxes now.  Must be Banksy’s grandfather.

Inside the TARDIS the talk has returned to pollution.  The Doctor has decided that he’s by far the best equipped to go outside – probably something to do with the pipe.  Anyway, if he ends up in trouble the others have his permission to pitch in and save him.

Steven:  And how are we to know that something has happened to you?

Me:  “I’ll scream coquettishly.”

The Doctor leaves the TARDIS and meets a policeman.  Disappointingly, he fails to ask the time before popping back inside.  The startled copper and his pal exchange banter, whilst back inside the TARDIS, Sara and the Doctor do likewise.

After a few moments the Doctor leaves again and promptly gets nicked.

Policeman:  Alright, lad – it’s a fair cop.

Me:  “But society’s to blame.”

Inside, the police station is more Trumpton than Sun Hill.  A gentleman is complaining about ruffians “Moving me house”.  After a painful few moments, it turns out it’s actually his greenhouse. 

The Doctor is dragged kicking and screaming into the police station (he isn’t) and immediately recognises the Complaining Gardener (he does).

The Doctor:  Haven’t I seen your face somewhere before somewhere?  Yes, of course, I remember now: the marketplace at Jaffa!

Me:  He did.

Him:  Who did?

Me:  The Doctor did.

Him:  See him at Jaffa?

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  In The Crusade?

Me:  Spot on.

Him:  Was he playing someone else or is he just a really old guy?

Me:  Superb.

Steven leaves the TARDIS sneakily.

Deep in the bowels of Newtown Station, chaps with moustaches quiz the Doctor.  Must be C.I.D.  With Wiles and Tosh at the helm there's always the possibility that things'll go all Red Riding any second...

First Moustache:  You mean you’re not English?

The Doctor:  No, good gracious, no.

First Moustache:  Scottish?

The Doctor:  No.

Second Moustache:  Are you Welsh then?

The Doctor:  Ahflflflfflflf – far bigger wave than all that!  Your ideas are too narrow!  Too small!  Too crippled!

First Moustache:  Alright, alright.  What are you then?

The Doctor:  I suppose you might say that I am a citizen of the universe.  And a gentleman to boot.
"The wind of time is flowing through me, hmmm?"

Steven grabs a spare uniform and impersonates a Scouse police officer.  He finds the room in which the Doctor is being questioned.  After the Doctor has explained what the TARDIS is and how it works a, very sensible, verdict is reached.

PC:  He’s a nutter.

Me:  Barbara’s obviously had some dodgy cheese before retiring.

PC:  I told you, he’s a nutter.

Sara also leaves the TARDIS and bumps straight into a laughing policeman.  Luckily, she refrains from killing him.

Inside the station, Steven wangles the Doctor’s release using the ‘he’s a funny fella’ defence.

Sara manages to assault an officer and drag the gents into the TARDIS, leaving a befuddled policeman in its wake.

Him:  “Too much coffee.  Too much coffee.”

There’s a quick debrief on the TARDIS.  Sara’s fixed the scanner and the Doctor’s managed not to drop the taranium (remember that?).  Steven’s face hasn’t been blown off and he isn’t in a coma either, so that’s good.
Within moments they’ve landed somewhere else.  There’s a scream and everything goes mental.

Him:  They’re in the World of Fiction again.

Me:  You might speak truer than you know.

Our heroes rush from the ship to save Douglas Camfield’s wife who’s about to be sawn in two by a cad with a ‘tache.  Steven starts punching everyone.  Somewhere, a pianist wakes up and tinkling commences.

Him:  What’s with the happy music?

Me:  It’s supposed to be a silent film being filmed.

Him:  Reminds me of Buster Keaton.

Me:  It’s supposed to.

Having spoiled one scene, our heroes scurry to another set, failing to thump Charlie Chaplin on the way.

Inside a tent there’s a Sheikh who seems oddly familiar.

Me:  Tch.  Crowley again.

Original Carry On Ship of the Desert lobby card.
The scene is interrupted when Al starts mentioning camels without the right amount of chutzpah.  People shout at each other, because that’s always funny.

Sara is spotted and – for no reason that I can fathom – hides in a box.

Steven, still dressed a policeman, is press-ganged into the Keystone Kops.

Him:  It looks like Monty Python!

Me:  With a bit of Marx.


Him:  ‘Inside the tent…’

Me:  Brilliant!

Sheikh Crowley announces he’s coming!  He’s coming!  He’s coming on his camel!

Me:  Terry N used to write for Hancock, but he could certainly hide that when he needed to.

The Doctor is cornered by a Director and introduced to an Arabian princess.

The Doctor:  Nonsense, you put some more clothes on child.  Go on!

Him:  Why’s Sara in the box?

Me:  It’s the one thing we’ll never truly understand.

Meanwhile, there’s more shouting.  It’s hilarious.

Him:  Some of these pictures aren’t the best.

Me:  I’m impressed.

The Doctor and Sara are reunited and flee to Wardrobe where they find Steven.

Steven:  Where’ve you been?

Sara:  I don’t know.  But a strange man kept telling me to take my clothes off.
According to a caption, the chase is on.

Him:  Wrong story.

There’s another bad picture4 and then the Doctor meets a comedian

Him:  Does this episode have anything to do with anything?  Because if it has a storyline then I’m certainly not following it.

Me:  It’s just daft filler – it doesn’t count.  Like the new Christmas ones.

Him:  Don’t be mean.  You’ve never made a TV show.

Me:  I have, actually.

Him:  No, you haven’t.

Me:  I have.

Him:  Ok.  What was it?

Me:  Cancelled at the idea stage.  But that still counts.

Him:  Well, then.  I’ve made dozens of TV shows.

Me:  Good lad.

Him:  Was it the planet Mira they were one earlier?  Does that mean ‘mire’?  Oh, of course: Terry Nation wrote it.

Me:  I did crack a gag about that at the time.

Him:  Did you?

Me:  Almost.  I hid it in the words.

Him:  Which ones?

Me:  The ones that were funny in my head.

Him:  So, you didn’t say it?

Me:  If you like.

Him:  Can you just press play?

Me:  Oh – it’s paused.

"Thash ennertain'mnmnmnmn..."
Not for long.  The comedian turns out to be Bing Crosby (but of course) and then the TARDIS escapes.

Me:  That’s a weird photo.

Sara:  Whatever was that place?

Never mind, Sara, it’s Christmas.  Why not have some of Terry N’s champagne?

Steven:  Way-hey!

The Doctor:  Incidentally, a happy Christmas to all of you at home!

Him:  It wasn’t his fault.  It was scripted.

Me:  It’s no worse than David Tennant giving it, “Are you my mummy”.

Him:  Huh?

Me:  Or the Doctor being able to breathe in space because it’s Christmas.

Him:  When was that?

Me:  Last Christmas.

The Him then insists on watching Jedi Kittens Striking Back for some reason.  Seeing as he can’t stand Star Wars (I know) this never fails to tickle me.  Haven’t seen it?  Here you go:


And, speaking of Buster Keaton…

Me:  Sherlock Junior?

Him:  One Week.

Me:  One Week.  Right, I’ll see if I can find it.

4.  Robert Jewell, the actor playing the clown, took twenty photos of this episode off the telly according to Richard Molesworth’s Wiped!  Seeing as it was broadcast at twenty-five to seven on Christmas Day, I’m going to hazard a guess that he might have been somewhat refreshed when he did so.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Daleks' Master Plan: Coronas Of The Sun


The Him is listing vegetables that are actually fruits.

Me:  When we get through this episode we’re actually half-way there.

Him:  Ok.

We recap.  The Daleks have still won.

The credits gracefully inform us of things.

Him:  Ha!  ‘From an idea by Terry N’.

Me:  Yeah, that idea being: “Why not use the Daleks?  I’m almost out of champagne”.

The Daleks demand the taranium.  The Doctor refuses and in an unexpected moment of movement, there’s a rattle and shuffle of nettles and the Visians attack.


Me:  That’s a line that any accountant would rejoice to see in a script.

There’s a massive fight!  Probably.  Every so often the picture goes negative, which shows the Daleks are engaging the enemy.  This is often followed with shots of rattling jungle.

Him:  Movement!  Awesome movement!

Suddenly, a Visian is exterminated.  And:


Me:  Whoah!

The Doctor and chums run off.

Visian:  Ootini!

Me:  They’re Jawas!  Giant Jawas.

Him:  What’s a Jawa?


Me:  I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that.

The flapping foliage continues dancing like it’s at a Harrison Chase recital.  Eventually, the leafy disco is done.  Evil has triumphed.  Go on evil.


Me:  And that line, used in conjunction with the former, could earn a scriptwriter a big kiss from the producer.

The Daleks hunt for our heroes.

On the Daleks mothership an animated Dalek glides around.  The Dalek Supreme is given an update as to how badly the whole taranium recovery is going.

Back on Mira, the Doctor, Sara and Steven have made their way to the Dalek pursuit ship.  Steven tells Sara that she’ll have to trust the Doctor.  A Dalek slides down the ramp leading into the ship.

Me:  That’s a Sensorite chair.
As seen in television's Doctor Who.

Seeing as the images that can’t be cobbled together from stills or tele-snaps are made of composite images from other stories, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.  The thing that makes it really weird, is that I’m fairly sure I used to know someone who had a set of the same type of seat that would be produced at mealtimes for younger guests to perch on.  They were orange.  The seats, that is. 

Back in the real world, the Doctor ‘surrenders’ to the Dalek.

Sara and Steven sneak up on the Dalek who’s obviously got excited about recovering the taranium all by himself and the promotion that will no doubt follow.  He’s already planned how he’s going to spend his bonus when he becomes the victim of a cowardly attack from behind.  It’s odd that I mentioned the Sensorites earlier as the method of Dalek incapacitation appears to be the same as that used by Barbara Who

Me:  There’s mud in your eye.

Him:  Yes.  ‘Mud’.

The Dalek flaps around exterminating weeds.  Our heroes board the ship and prepare to escape.

Easily to assemble and clean.  Will stack for storage.
Me:  There’s the chair again.

The door closes and our heroes take off.

Him:  Did you hear the noise the door made?  ‘Chungk’!

Mavic Chen has been called before the Dalek Supreme for a telling off.  Unfortunately, as we’ve already noticed, his power-madness is leading to careless decision-making.  And rubbish excuses.  Worryingly, he’s also failed to notice that the Dalek Supreme is being sarcastic.

Me:  Don’t try reasoning with them.  They’re worse than toddlers.   Do you recognise the actor playing Mavic Chen?

Him:  No.

Me:  He appeared in two other Doctor Who stories.

Him:  No.

Me:  The Invasion and Revenge of the Cybermen.

Him:  How was I supposed to remember that?

Me:  Well, he’s unrecognisable in Revenge of the Cybermen, so I’ll let you off that one.

A report from Mira comes through.  The prisoners have escaped and the stranded Daleks are being kicked to bits by invisible attackers.  Someone uses this as an opportunity to dig himself a little deeper into his hole.

Mavic Chen:  And you have the audacity to accuse me, Mavic Chen, of incompetence?

On the stolen pursuit ship, the Doctor is examining the taranium.  He is planning to make a copy of it good enough to fool the Daleks. There’s buzzing from the console.  Turns out they’re being taken back to Kembel.

The Doctor:  Y'know, I’m very much afraid that we’re under the Dalek influence!

Me:  Under the ‘fluence, eh, Bill?

Steven breaks a bit of the console and the pursuit ship’s free.

By this point the Daleks are getting quite brassed off.  A magnetised beam is activated.  Mavic Chen offers some back-seat driving tips.

Me:  It’s a dangerous game that boy’s playing.

A cut-out of the pursuit ship meanders across the screen.  The Doctor’s copy of the taranium is finished, so I’m guessing a fair whack of time’s gone by, or he’s just photocopied it.  Sara isn’t sure that the Daleks’ll fall for it.  Steven believes it could be activated with the gravity force outlet he’s found.  The Doctor gently says that would be too primitive and dangerous.  Sara’s a little bit rude about Steven’s primitive ideas (she’d have loved Katarina).  Steven ponders whether or not his idea would work.

Me:  That’s a nice moment for Steven.

The ship’s changing course again.  Taken back to Kembel.  Again.  Smarting from the earlier criticism, and wanting to prove that he can act out of character if he wants to, Steven’s attached the fake taranium core to some jump leads or something.  There’s a Zap!  And Steven’s on the floor.

Me:  Dropping like Menoptra…

The Doctor and Sara rush and check on Steven.  He’s still breathing.  Sara makes an interesting discovery.

The Doctor:  Isn’t that wonderful? That’s wonderful!  Steven’s theory has proved successful!

Me:  “What a shame he’s lost his face.”

The Daleks and Mavic Chen are winding each other up in-between filling in the plot.  The pursuit ship’s under Dalek control and on the way to Kembel.  Mavic Chen offers to take the soon-to-be-prisoners back to Earth for a quick fixed trial.  The Daleks would rather just exterminate them, if it’s all the same.  But what about the mice-loving scientists?  The Dalek Supreme – still trying to pretend he’s a nice guy – offers Mavic Chen another chance.

Suddenly, the first sign of fatigue setting in occurs.


The Doctor and Sara have propped Steven into a chair.  Steven’s been ‘fluenced and paralysed.  Hopefully, this will only be temporary, or he’ll become about as much use as a companion as Kamelion was.  And we all know how that experiment turned out, don’t we?  Sara points out that Steven is, in fact, enclosed in a force-field.

The Doctor:  Sara, bring me that fake taranium.

Him:  “It’s a shame that the only way we could make it convincing was to make it out of taranium.”  Is this the first time you’ve watched this?

Me:  It is.

Him:  Ok.

Me:  That it?

Him:  Yup.

Me:  Where’re these coronas then?

The Daleks await our chums on Kembel.  Mavic Chen’s still taking the mick.

The pursuit ship lands.  The Doctor is nervous, but has a plan.  Steven – who can now walk – leads the way.

Me:  I don’t see how this going to get to Z-Cars in six minutes.

Our heroes approach the waiting Daleks, again there’s a bit of a stalemate going on because the taranium is so unstable no extermination can take place.  The Dalek Supreme must have a shooting gallery full of model TARDISes to take his frustration out on when he finally finishes each day’s shift.  At the sight of the taranium, Mavic Chen gets a little excited.  He demands that Steven hands it over.   Sara steps out and confrontation (and musical emphasis) fills the air.

Mavic Chen:  KINGDOM!


Music:  PARP!

Us:  ARF!

Kembel must be tiny – not much bigger than a television studio or something – because the TARDIS is only a recording break away.

Him:  We’re pretty close to the end of Hartnell, aren’t we?

Me:  Nearer the end than the start.  Not long now.

Steven is left holding the fake taranium while the Doctor and Sara pop into the TARDIS.  The Doctor shouts through the doors.

The Doctor:  Steven, hand the box over to Chen then come inside the TARDIS.

Me:  “Really, really quickly.”

Steven does and then zombie walks TARDISward.  Mavic Chen checks the core.  It looks fine.  The Dalek Supreme tries to work off some pent-up frustrated aggression on Steven.

Dalek Supreme:  EX-TER-MIN-ATE-HIM!!!

Despite being exterminated, Steven continues his shambling ramble up to the TARDIS and shuffles inside.

Us:  What?

Him:  They must miss-

Me:  Hang on - isn’t the ‘fluence a forcefield?

Him:  Oh, yeah.

Me:  Z-Cars it is then.

Him:  Why do you keep saying ‘Z-Cars’?

Me:  I’m afraid that’ll become clear soon enough.

The TARDIS leaves the Daleks and Mavic Chen to their victory party.

Mavic Chen:  The universe will be ours!

The TARDIS console moves for a moment, which is strange.  Steven’s ok – an explanation is offered but it’s not great.  I mean, if the Doctor didn’t realise that the ‘fluence would protect Steven from the Daleks extermination then wasn’t he offering up yet another chum as a sacrifice?

Before you know it, they’ve landed.  The scanner’s not working so dials are consulted.

The Doctor:  The whole atmosphere is entirely poisonous.

Must be Christmas.

Me:  Um…  Odd cliff-hanger.

Him:  I want a rest from Daleks.

Me:  No problem.  Just a couple of things to run by you.

Him:  Yeah?  I think I might be finding it boring because it’s Daleks.

Me:  I think it’s more fundamental than that.  Don’t give up though.  The next episode-

Him:  The Feast of Steven, broadcast on Christmas Day.

Me:  Yeah.  It was never offered as part of the overseas sales package for this story.  I’ve mentioned that earlier, but it was so long ago now that I’d be surprised if it stuck in anyone’s memory.

Him:  Why?

Me:  Well, because it’s more of a Chrimbo panto.  At least that’s my understanding.

Him:  What did Z-Cars have to do with it?

Me:  It was almost a cross-over.

Him:  With a taxi service?

Me:  Ha!  No, it was a show that was bit like The Bill of the day.  It was a cop show.

Him:  Right.  Every time you said ‘Z-Cars’ I thought it was an advertisement for the taxi company.

Me:  No.

Him:  I wish they’d released the Doctor Who DVDs in order.

Me:  It wouldn’t have been financially viable.

Him:  It would have been useful.  We’d have had The Sensorites, Planet of Giants and Reign of Terror.

Me:  Yeah.  Well, we’ve got The Sensorites now – and the extras on it call for a reappraisal of the story that I’ll make some other time.  The others’ll be out soon enough.

Him:  That’s a good cliff-hanger.

Me:  And there’s blood on it.

Monday, 27 February 2012

The Daleks' Master Plan: Counter Plot


                                          Savages, then The War Machines.  Isn’t that the one where Dodo leaves?

Me:  It is.

Him:  They’re starting to leave quite quickly.  It’s just the Doctor and Steven at this point.  When do Ben and Polly leave?

Me:  The Faceless Ones.

Him:  That’s quite a ways in.  I thought The Underwater Menace had Victoria in it-  No.  That’s Fury The Deep.  Is that not the last one with Victoria?

Me:  ‘Fury The Deep’?

Him:  Fury The Deep.  See?

The Him shows me where on the Doctor Who: The Television Companion (3rd Ed., Howe & Walker, BBC Books, London, 1999) contents page this can be found.3

Me:  So it is.  And, yes, it is.

Him:  When Victoria leaves?

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  Well, Victoria’ll remember the Doctor at least.  Even if Jamie and Zoe don’t.

Me:  Aye.

Him:  “Who was that horrible woman?!”

This makes me crack up.

Me:  What do you think of this opus so far?

Him:  I’m enjoying The Daleks’ Master Plan.  I prefer the old Daleks to the new ones.

Me:  That’s interesting.  Why the old ones?  Scarier?

Him:  No.  I hate the new Daleks.  Maybe they use them too much.

Me:  Do you mean the new colourful giant ones?

Him:  Yes.

Me:  Ah, right.  How about the copper beauty in Dalek?

Him:  I don’t remember much about Dalek.  I’ve only seen it once.

Me:  You’ve seen it more than that.

Him:  Doesn’t feel like it.

Me:  Well, we’ll sort that out soon enough.  For what it’s worth, I liked it.  Even with the Adric clone.

The Him sighs and the nightmare continues as we recap in glorious surviving episode motion.

Me:  Let’s see if the Brig gets a recap fee.

Sara Kingdom strides to the front of the frame.

Me:  Nope.

Borker, another agent, trots up and spots Bret Vyon off camera.  Sara Kingdom confirms this observation.

Sara:  Yes, he’s dead.

Me:  “So we won’t need to mention or look at him again.”

Sara Kingdom sends Borker off so she can finish off the cliff-hanger.

Sara:  -but aim for the head.

Me:  They’re not zombies.

Him:  I don’t think that Sara would have made that good a companion.  She’d just have been killing everyone.

Me:  Like a proto-Leela?

Him:  Well, Leela wasn’t killing everybody.  Just nearly that guy in The Robots of Death.

Me:  I meant other characters rather than camera crew.  I don’t think Jean Marsh built up a body count of technicians.  Also, she herself says that Sara wasn’t a companion.

Him:  Yeah, and I’m saying it again.

Me:  “Kill ‘em in the head.”

The Doctor and Steven take refuge in a very odd room.  It’s large and mostly empty except for an elaborate mouse cage containing mice and a constant beeping.

Me:  “Take his brain!”

Him:  It’d be pretty cool if mice had eight heads.


Me:  What?

Him:  We’ve had two-headed snakes before.  And six-legged ducks.

Me:  Now, when you say ‘we’?

Him:  You don’t keep them in the house anymore.

Me:  Ah.  Whimsy.

Him:  ‘Whimsy’?  “WIBBSEY!”

Me:  “VO-GA!”

Him:  “VO-GA!  Planet of GOLD!”

Me:  Back in the lab…

The Doctor:  Perhaps it’s some kind of experiment.

At this observation the beeping changes tempo and we’re in a swanky control room.  Two nervous chaps prepare to begin something that sounds very ominous.

Him:  What’s a dissemination?

Me:  Um… 


Me:  Keep watching and see if you can work it out.

Sara Kingdom bursts in on the Doctor and Steven at the moment of dissemination.
Iconic Moment #58

Me:  'Intense gurning', more like.

Him:  ‘Humming’.   

Iconic Moment #59
Him:  Oh, wait – is this not where William Hartnell looks really happy?

Me:  It is.

Iconic Moment #60

Him:  Why does he look so happy?

Me:  I’m not sure it’s ‘happy’.

Back in the control room the circuits register perfect dissemination, which is nice.  The scientists head to the room to see who just opened the door and come across the two agents who aren’t Sara Kingdom and an otherwise empty room.  Even the mice have scarpered.  This, naturally, leads to an obvious question.

Borker:  There were three people in here.  Where are they?

Me:  They’re on a trampoline.

The Him arfs at this.

Me:  That reminds me.  After watching Katarina’s Noble Sacrifice, Stanley Kubrick had a minion get in touch with the Doctor Who office to find out how they did the effect because he was planning something similar for 2001.

Him:  Ok.

Me:  Just saying.

In the most novel escape of the series so far it turns out that the Doctor, Steven and Sara Kingdom (who I can start calling Sara next episode when she doesn’t become a proper companion) have been sent away to a “strange planet in a strange galaxy, the nature of which we can only guess at” as part of a (truly random) experiment.  One can only assume that the scientists in the abandoned experiment base have been forgotten about and just started messing around with the equipment as way of staving off terminal ennui.  Anyway. 

Him:  The walls should have been transmitted as well.

Me:  I guess we have to assume they’ve found a way of localising the field.  It’s just lucky that the experiment worked or they’d have an awful lot of cleaning up to do and we’d be about to run out of blog.

Him:  Aren’t we out of-

There’s sudden glitter.

Him:  Oh – it’s the Atraxi.

And now: a jungle.

Me:  Ok, I take it back.  That’s the jungle set that I accused Derek Martinus of spending all of Galaxy 4’s budget on.  Looks good, mind.

Daleks pop up, just in case we’d forgotten them.  They feel themselves to be somewhat out of the loop and want a report from Mavic Chen on where the hell their time destructor battery is.  Back on Earth, the scientists reveal they’ve sent their mice to a planet called Mira.  Space Security isn’t happy about this.

Me:  Going on the Terry N planet-naming strategy, Mira must honk a bit.

We pan around the planet Mira and find that the mice seem to be alright, which is quite a relief.  It’s nice to know that no matter how much of a body count this story is building up, cruelty to animals remains a line it refuses to cross.  I mean, where would we be then?   

Back on Earth, Karlton informs Mavic Chen that the mice are fine.  Mavic Chen himself isn’t convinced that the Daleks are going to be quite as chuffed about this news as Karlton is.  This is mostly because the Daleks were expecting to be popping the taranium core he’d promised them into their time destructor and getting on with taking over the universe before Juke Box Jury. A taranium core that's now in the possession of a mad scientist’s pets on a far distant planet possessed of an atmosphere that could choke a horse.

Karlton:  Tell the Daleks that you trapped the fugitives in the cellular projector and sent them to Mira on purpose. It was a safety measure.  Unwelcome attention was being paid to the fugitives so you sent them to Mira on purpose.

Rather than shake Karlton until his head falls off, Mavic Chen takes this suggestion rather well.  A well manicured nail sneaks into frame and villainous beard-strokage commences.

Me:  Oh, nice.

Him:  I thought that was the other guy.  Giving him a prod.

This comment leaves me in stitches.  It takes some time to recover.

Me:  Kevin Stoney was really pleased with the nails and wanted to show them off.

Mineralogy is mentioned, but then, it’s always mining with the Daleks.  Mavic Chen rants about how he’s an essential component to the Daleks’ master plan.  He begins megalomaniacal monologuing.  We’ve all been there.

Me:  He’s making a slight error of judgement, isn’t he?

Mavic Chen:  Without me, they are but nothing.  Nothing!  When I am next to the Daleks only they stand between me and the highest position in the universe.  Then will be the time for me to take complete control!

"I'm a genius.  Yes, I am."

Me:  “Oh.  Did I just say that out loud?”

Meanwhile, on Mira, the Doctor awakes.

Me:  “What’s that terrible smell?”

After checking his wig’s still on, the Doctor counts his fingers and taranium cores - ten and one respectively.

The Doctor:  The mice couldn’t have done that.

Me:  “Insolence!  Take his brain!”

Him:  Mice are smarter than humans. 

Nearby, something is flapping Sara Kingdom’s unconscious limbs about, and it isn’t mice.

Me:  Do you think that’s Steven?

Him:  It’s Hi-Fi.

Steven recovers, awakened by the growls.  He disarms Sara Kingdom.  The Doctor has found the mice.

Me:  They still do the odd convention.

Him:  Who?

Me:  The mice.

Him:  I think the mice are probably dead by now.

Me:  Tch.  Realist.

Footprints begin to appear in the mire.

Him:  “Doctor Who in Another Exciting Adventure With Cutbacks.”

Me:  That’s quite a good effect.  And an invisible beast in a Terry N story.  I wonder if that’ll happen again?

Him:  Are you referring to when the Doctor graffitied a Dalek?

Me:  I am.

Him:  Ok.  Why is it spending so long in the air before it takes another step?  And sometimes it makes a little hop.

Me:  It's applied for developmental funding from the Ministry of Silly Walks and the decision hasn't come through yet.

The Doctor and Steven find each other.  Sara Kingdom slowly recovers.  The Daleks have discovered the location of their missing time destructor battery.

Him:  “MI-RA!”

With the subtitles on, the Him can join in with Dalek dialogue.  The Doctor explains cellular dissemination.  It’s magnificent, especially as when Mr Hartnell starts the lengthy speech it looks an awful lot like he’s forgotten his lines.

Steven:  That’s fantastic.

Me:  I’ll say it was.  Go on, Bill.

The Daleks have landed on Mira.  Swiftly they capture the mice.  Interrogation takes place.  And the Architect Dalek makes an appearance.

Me:  Oh – he’s back!

Him:  Butterfly Dalek!

The brave mice refuse to answer the Dalek’s questions. 

Architect Dalek:  DE-STROY-IT!

Me:  What?

In a moment that cements precisely what swines the Daleks are, the mice are exterminated.  We sit in a shocked silence for a moment.  A line has been crossed.  No-one is safe.

Me:  This is truly a dark tale.

The Architect Dalek senses movement in the foliage.  He shoots.



Him:  Why’s one of them high-pitched and one of them low-pitched?

Me:  Do you want the truth?

Him:  What?

Me:  One of them’s female and the other isn’t.  They make up a close-harmony quartet on days off.  It’s to tell them apart.

The Him sighs.  Back on Earth, Karlton’s intimidating the disaffected scientists who haven’t really got a clue what’s going on.

Me:  “We could… send… more mice?”

The Doctor is attacked by one of the invisible creatures.  It must have a death wish.

Me:  Bill’ll kill it ‘til it’s dead.


Him:  He did.

The Doctor identifies the beasts as the counter-intuitively named ‘Visians’, and that means he must be on the planet Mira.  Elsewhere, Sara Kingdom and Steven aren’t hitting it off.  She’s not a bad ‘un really.  She was just following orders.  Hmmm…

Sara:  What do you want me to say?  That I believe your fantastic story?

Him:  People don’t use the word ‘fantastic’ in that context anymore.

Me:  It would put an intriguing spin on the Ninth Doctor if they did.

It turns out that Bret Vyon was Sara Kingdom’s brother.  Jean Marsh has played this magnificently throughout.  This is another twist that repays a second viewing and, like I said in The Myth Makers, that’s something that the audience of December 1965 wouldn’t have been getting.  This does seem to suggest that the creators were expecting their audience to be paying attention – or has Doctor Who always been too complicated?  Ahem.

Sara:  Something… touched me.

Him:  "Was it a Thal?  They’re sneaky."

The Doctor explains about the vicious Visians, which sounds like a Horrible History to me.  Our chums are trapped.  Mavic Chen has a bit of a gloat about things. 

Me:  See?  Nails.

Mavic Chen stops tapping his nails and drops his pen before pouncing on the scenery and chomping furiously.

Me:  Kevin Stoney’s having a fine old time.

Back on Mira for our appointment with a cliff-hanger.

The Doctor:  Remember, my boy, aim high.  These Visians are eight-feet tall.

Him:  How does he know?

Before our heroes can defend themselves, a disposable Dalek (I’ll explain later) emerges from the jungle.


The Doctor:  I’m afraid, my friends, the Daleks have won

The credits rock on by.

Me:  Oo.

Him:  They didn’t give the Brigadier a credit.

Me:  Saving appearance fees eh, Dougie?  Good man.

3. I appreciate this is rich coming from me.