Monday, June 17, 2013

He's no Santa Claus.

The Celestial Toymaker

First Doctor  - 24th Serial

4 Episodes, Companions: Steven, Dodo

Summary: The Doctor and Team TARDIS .  But the Doctor knows the place, and its diabolical controller.  This is the real of the Celestial Toymaker - a lonely player of games that wants the capture the Doctor and his companions for his own amusement. Separated and forced to play a series of deadly games, the winners being allowed a chance to go free, the losers trapped forever, the crew must ... I'm never really sure what.  

The Doctor: He's barely here for this one, so it's hard to say. He's clearly annoyed by the Toymaker, whom he has knowledge of but has never faced, but doesn't do much to struggle beyond playing along and trying to warn his companions, for which he becomes a voiceless disembodied hand. 

Companions: Dodo kind of gets into the games, but Steven is strictly annoyed by the arbitrary rules, opponents that cheat and are themselves never penalized, and challenges that are nonsense.  Dodo tries to have fun, to enjoy the games, and it seems likely she would make a fine eternal friend to the toymaker.  Keeping Steven would be a terrible mistake, though, as he'd be antagonistic to the not-very-Asian white guy in bad Yellowface (Seriously?  The show is fairly progressive on women's rights, but the first minority character we see is a white guy in makeup??  Hate it.).  For once, though, I think both companions are true to themselves, and this is the real Dodo and Steven, and I don't mind either of them.  Dodo's exuberance is a great foil to Steven's gruffness.  She's not a comic character, just a cheerful one, and that's ok.  In fact, Dodo and Steven's strong presences are the best thing about this Serial.

Continuity: The Toymaker seems to be another Time Lord, like the Meddling Monk, or to at least have that kind of power.  He can make the doctor invisible, make him unable to speak, make dolls live and people into dolls.  He is, in his realm, like unto a god.  and yet he's a spoiled little bully that kills people, cheats at his own games, and punishes the crew for both cheating and not cheating.  In short, he's a moron.  Apart form the idea that he is maybe a fellow Time Lord, he's got nothing.

Rating: Bear it.  This one's horrible.  The reconstruction I have is barely watchable, but beyond that, the Yellowface is appalling, the story is garbage, and the "tension" and games are just dumb.  The Toymaker's arbitrary rules, inconsistency on the subject of cheating, and exactly what the rules are are irritating.  I don't mind bad guys who cheat, I expect it, frankly.  But this guy isn't even cheating in a fun way, he's just being a bully.  The more I think about it, the more I wonder why I didn't say Skip It.  The only reason NOT to skip it, if you must, is because you plan to introduce the idea that the Toymaker is a Time Lord, and you need the research material.  Heck, I'm doing it.  SKIP IT.