Monday, May 27, 2013

The Daleks are at it again!

Daleks Master Plan/Dalek Cutaway

First Doctor  - 19th "Serial" and 21st Serial

# Episodes, Companions: 13 total, Steven, Katarina, Sara Kingdom(?)

Summary: Dalek Cutaway:  First off, The Doctor and his companions aren't even in this one.  There's a whole host of reasons, and you can read about that else where.  So here we are on the planet Vicki spied through the scope back in Galaxy 4.  Our heroes are space travelers form earth, venturing to the Isop galaxy, also last seen in Galaxy 4.  One of the crew is infected by a Varga plant, which fills the man with an urge to kill, and makes this planet the deadliest planet, one typically avoided by all other life-forms.  The problem with this is that the Varga plants are native to, and bio-engineered on, Skaro, the Dalek home-world.  The Daleks mention are here to form the Great Alliance, and join forces with the 6 deadliest races of the Outer Galaxies.  The lone human spacecraft is not enough to stop them, as the most able crewman succumbs to the prick of a Varga plant...

Dalek Master Plan:

Summary: We begin with Steven suffering because of the poison, from Mythamkers. It is clear that no apparent time has passed since leaving Troy.  The Vargan crewman from the previous episode has managed to reduce the remaining crew to just a few.  Now, the Daleks mastermind a plan to create a Time Destructor, and form an alliance with the most vile conquerors in the known galaxies to conquer Earth.

The Doctor: The Doctor he's not taking delight here.  This is not a comedy, and outwitting the Daleks has become deadly serious business.  The fun Doctor of the past is gone, and we have a scared Doctor, who nevertheless claims tremendous confidence.  

Companions: Katarina just may be being written dumber than her ancient Trojan origins require - she starts by not understanding what a key is, even though the Trojans knew something could be locked from the inside.  Unfortunately, before we can get to know her, she is killed by the Daleks, which puts us in fear of the Daleks, at least, so her death does serve a purpose.  They aren't comedic anymore, they have killed a companion.  Many sites list Sara Kingdom, who joins the Doctor and Steven in this serial, as a companion, because she travels with them for a while, but she dies too, by the end.  Again, we prove the evil of the Daleks, making them scary again, but we don;t really get to know her much.  Steven no longer questions the Doctor, challenging him at every turn.  In the face of the companion-killing Daleks, he reassures Sara to have faith in the Doctor, that he's fought the Daleks before and can win.  This is a nice turn for him.

Continuity: Varga plants are from Skaro - well, we certainly weren't aware of this back in Serial 2, and we spent a lot of time in the jungles there.  Still, just because Baobab trees are native to earth doesn't mean there's one in Texas.  There's no universal law that planets native to a world are ubiquitous so before anybody calls that a "continuity error", they probably need to go outside more often and tell me how many native lifeforms are encountered within 2 miles of their home, and how many aren't.  The Daleks are allying with the 6 other most vile conquerors in the universe - both our galaxy and the Isop. Clearly they are not yet the genocidal maniacs they will grow to be, although it's fun to note that their reaction to finding a spaceship that they know to be empty is to destroy it.  I also note that the Daleks are allying with 6 races from "the outer galaxies", and the aliens there refer to the Daleks as being from the Solar (Sol) System.  The Earth Spaceship is from the Sol System, but the Daleks are not - Skaro is not in the Sol system.  I'd even forgive this as being the time after Dalek Invasion of Earth when the Daleks were ON Earth, but they are mentioned as being from Skaro, and the heroes try to send the message TO Earth, which means the Daleks aren't ruling there anymore.

Regarding various references to the Travelers being from The Solar System - Ok, clearly they mean the Milky Way Galaxy, Orion Spiral Arm, Sol System.  That's a mouthful. But that's how they use it, so that's what they mean.  I'm a bit of an Astronomy geek, took it in college, loved it.  But this is a science fiction TV show primarily intended for kids. So should the aliens be saying Travelers from the Milky Way? Yeah.  Or at least Travelers from the Sol System.  Not solar. Solar is a generic term for star-things - all planets that orbit stars are parts of a solar system.  The Sol System is us. A Solar System is one or more planet(s) in orbit around a star.  We are not in THE Solar System, we are in solar system.  They're going to say this more than once this Serial, and, because I had already watched most of Hartnell and some of Troughton before I started this blog, I know they're going to do it again later.  It bugs me.  But I'm not going to rant again (I will mention it though!) because I'm just assuming at this point that the writers know the sun's name is Sol and they mistakenly think the proper term is the Solar  System.  But it does bug me.  Besides, I acknowledge that this is a show.  I can get all twisted about internal continuity being wonky (although, really, it's about time travel.  When shit changed from Episode 2 to Episode 10, I pointed it out, assumed it had something to do with the Doctor meddling in the time stream, or, frankly, the Daleks meddling in it. Or the Monk, etc.) but in the end, I'm going to accept changing writers, hasty rewrites, creative decisions from upstairs reversing directions, etc and move on.  But still - The Solar System?  Come up with something Spacey like Travelers from Sector Prime or some shit, don't use hideously incorrect terminology.  It pulls me out of the show's presumed reality, kills my suspension of disbelief, and just in general drops my enjoyment of the Serial in which it happens.

Rating: Bear it.  It's a tad over long, and it spends way too much time with the Tarranium Core being chased, given over, subterfuged, etc.  The Doctor plays his outwit games over and over, and it gets repetitive and redundant.  Oh, and you can skip Episode 7, The Feast of Steven, entirely.  It's completely irrelevenat to the plot, by design, and is just a Christmas filler episode.  The Cricket Match scene in Episode 8 is kind of humorous, but I think it's the only real light moment (excluding Feast) in this one.  It's interesting, because the humor was ratcheted too high before, but I find there's not enough here. The Doctor and Steven will begin the next adventure alone, just the boys, a situation we won't see again for a while.