Thursday, 16 February 2017

Time is Relative. Season 6. part three.

Many people have done impressive things. But has anyone watched all of Doctor Who in order, all the way through? No. They haven't. They can't have. They'd be lying if they said they had, and we'd be within our rights to hurl bricks at their stupid lying mouths.

But I'm better than those liars. I am watching all of Doctor Who and, get this, I've got to the end of the black and white episodes. That's amazing. You should worship me. That's the hardest bit! And I've taken lovely photos to show you what it was like.

Here are the last three stories of Season Six, which makes them the last three stories of the 1960s, which makes them the last three black and white stories. Two of them are quite good. The other is... less good.


The Seeds of Death

A delightful shot, to start off. There's Jamie and Zoe, wondering what's going to happen next in this madcap life of theirs. And there's Doctor Who, giggling like a maniac. It's almost as if their adventures don't always result in loads and loads of horrible deaths.

Here are some space guys, doing space stuff. I think they're in charge of the moon, or something, which is what the story is going to be about.

The lady guy is trying to hide from the man guy. It has not worked. He's still talking to her. "Anyway I've got this spare ticket and, I mean, I don't know if you like space jazz, but..."

She hates space jazz. So she's standing very still, pretending to be some art.

It's a good shot. I like how weird it is. There's a lot of arty directing coming up, so get ready to be amazed.

Doctor Who and his friends turn up and meet the Moon Guy People. It's taken them quite a while, because Zoe had to find a skirt shorter than the one she wore in The Krotons. Which Doctor Who said was 'theoretically impossible.' But she's done it.

Right now they're not on the moon, they're in a museum that's all about space. Don't worry - they're not pretending that's a real rocket. The Moon Guys are cross with Doctor Who, because he's not meant to be in the museum. Also, something has gone wrong with the Moon.

This man is still on the moon. He's met the villains, and he's looking right at them. Except it looks like he's looking at us. We're the aliens in this scene, I guess. He doesn't seem that scared of us. He's all "I'm the King of the Moon. How do you like them apples?"

This is the leader of the villains. He's an Ice Warrior. They've been in Doctor Who before, and they go "Hisssss" a lot. This one wants to be King of the Moon. So he kills the other man, and now he is.

If I'd have been the other man, I wouldn't have been so cocky. This guy looks like an actual nightmare has come to life. And put on a hat.

The Ice Warriors take over all of the moon. I forget how. I think they're just so weird looking that everyone goes "Fair enough," and lets them do what they want. Sensible.

I like the way that the humans just get on with things, even though they're now being bossed about by evil space lizards. I'm not sure if we should be proud of our resilience as a species, or deeply ashamed at the fact that we'll obey anyone, no matter how evil, if they shout at us enough.

Later, Zoe does something.

I don't know what it is. I don't care. I just want to bathe in the glory of her excellent face.

Doctor Who goes to see the Ice Warriors, on the moon. They are delighted to see him, because it means they can go "Look, we made a big killy seed pod thing!"

Villains are always desperate to show off to Doctor Who. You can tell that the leader is going, "Yeah, it's the biggest and most killy of its kind. I can't imagine you've ever come across something as basically evil as what we have here."

To his credit, Doctor Who always pretends to be impressed. He doesn't have to do that. He could say, "This is significantly smaller than the bombs the Daleks use and frankly their overall aesthetic is more compelling." But he knows it's important for them, so he just pulls a face that suggests "Gosh indeed!"

A lot of the story is spent with this Ice Warrior going to look for humans, so he can kill them and tell the leader that yes, he killed the humans. Jamie is pretending that this is a big deal, and that they must hide, and that he must stroke Zoe vigorously. Zoe is growing sceptical of this. The monsters are always rubbish at looking, and she's pretty sure it's not because of the stroking.

Doctor Who runs away from the Ice Warriors, to give everyone something to do. This is lots of fun. Here he meets millions of other, infinitely recurring Doctor Whos. Or a couple of mirrors. This being the 1960s, it's hard to be certain.

What a great shot. You don't get your other science fiction heroes doing this kind of 'screech to a halt in a panic' business. Oh, I know Han Solo kind of does it on the Death Star, but he still sort of looks cool when he's doing it.

Actually, now I come to look at them, it's pretty similar. Did George Lucas watch the Seeds of Death? He started writing Star Wars not long after. And there is that bit later where Zoe turns off her targeting computer so she can blow up the Ice Warriors' battle station.

No, there isn't. I made that up.

Later, an Ice Warrior goes to Earth, to make the Seeds of Death happen. He's trying to hide between these trees. He's having limited success. He feels self conscious and wishes he could have stopped on the moon, where they get to chase Doctor Who up and down.

This is a better attempt at hiding, but still ultimately flawed. This is from the point of view of a soldier, who has been sent out to find the Ice Warrior. The soldier has found him. And the Ice Warrior has seen the soldier.

They stare at each other in an uncomfortable silence for what seems like ages. Then the Ice Warrior murders the soldier and wanders off. But I like to think he often reflects on what might have been.

The Ice Warrior in the background has found an excellent place to stand. Right in front of the great big 'Wall Of Light' that is, apparently, a vital part of making the Moon work. He knows that he looks fantastic and moody.

Later he will be asked if he can come and help fight the humans. He pretends not to hear. This will be his Facebook profile picture for months.

The Ice Warrior leader talks to his boss, over the TV. His boss has an amazing spangly disco helmet and, it seems, a mirrorball in his office. If this was made now, he'd be played by Matt Berry and there'd be extreme funk playing every time he phoned up.

Much time has passed and many people have died. Vain posing Ice Warrior guy has not moved even one inch.

There is a man in the middle looking sad. He has betrayed the entire human race. He is too remorseful to join in the Ice Warrior dance party that has spontaneously broken out.

Remorseful sad man is explaining to the Ice Warrior Leader that he doesn't think this 'betraying the human race' thing is working out, and maybe he's going to go back to college or something.

The Leader is not really listening. He's thinking, "Vain posing Ice Warrior was right - this is a great place to stand. I'm going to make this my profile picture, and forbid him from doing the same. We can't both do it."

Doctor Who gets some solar reflectory things and does some science to them so that they are extra hot. Then he murders the Ice Warriors with them. For some reason this is not the same as him using, say, a machine gun, or stabbing them with knives. It is clever science.

Doctor Who is explaining to the Ice Leader that he has won. The Ice Leader is shocked - he though he was winning. But Doctor Who is very convincing. He's been in enough stories to know when it's the end. And it's now. The Ice Leader is disappointed, but doesn't want to be seen as childish, so goes home.

The Space Pirates

This story features some really rather good model shots, like this one.

Mostly this one.

They use this one a lot.

It gets tedious.

 The plot is about this lady - who has space hair - saying, "Oh, I don't like the Space Pirates!" to the other guy, who is busy mansplaining space in the background.

She is lying. She loves the Space Pirates. She thinks they're great, and maybe she is one. Or something. She's certainly on their side.

The other guy is too busy talking about himself to ever find out that she is lying. I think Doctor Who tells him later. He's very cross.

 This is the only other photo I took from this story. Partly because it is one of those stories where most of the episodes are missing, so I didn't have that many options. But also partly because it is very boring for quite a lot of the time it is on the television.

Here, Doctor Who and his friends are clinging onto a spaceship, because it is going fast, in space.

Surely all spaceships go fast in space. Isn't that their thing? You don't see the crew of the Enterprise all clinging onto their chairs for dear life, shouting "Aaagh! It's so fast!"

I'm beginning to wonder how accurate Doctor Who is, scientifically speaking.

Anyway. it is a fun picture nevertheless. Zoe appears to have abandoned skirts altogether.

Now. I was going to do three stories, but I think I've gone on a bit. And I've taken loads of pictures of the last story - The War Games - because it's very long, and very ace.

So, The War Games gets its own entry - here.

Or, you could amuse yourself with my past viewing experiences. Take a look here, and see where it gets you.

See you next time!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Time is Relative: Season 6. Part two.

Morning. Love what you've done with your hair!

You join me in season six of Doctor Who, all the way back at the end of the 1960s. The colour scheme is monochrome and the quality variable, but I'm watching it all anyway.

My thoughts and photos from the beginning of season six are here. And now it's time for part two.

The Invasion

This is one of those stories where the BBC got drunk and lent all the episodes to their friends, but then forgot who it had lent them to. And some of those friends never brought them back. Because sometimes friends are jerks who borrow your DVD of, say, 30 Rock Season One and then totally pretend you never lent it to them, like, at all, in the first place.

Anyway. Some of this story has been made into an exciting cartoon version, as you can see. It's pretty good, I think. Cartoon Zoe doesn't look as nice as real Zoe, but that's not the animators' fault. She has an ethereal beauty that would be hard to capture.

After a couple of stories set in weird fantasy worlds, this story is suddenly in the real world, where guys on motorbikes shoot other people to death with guns. It's  quite the gear change, a bit like a friendly drunk who goes from chatting about Scooby Doo to suddenly trying to glass you in the face.

Jamie and Zoe makes friends with Isobel Watkins, a supremely irritating woman who takes photos and spends most of her time making shrill giggling sounds. I don't like her much, but I do like that she has lent Zoe this feather boa thing. She looks nice in it.

Isobel never shuts her mouth, as you can see here. Squawk, squawk, squawk. Jamie is saying "Could you please, even for a second, stop your constant wittering?" Zoe, on the other hand, is thinking that they could probably just kill her, and hide the body, and then she could keep the boa.


The Cybermen are in this story. They live underground, in some sewers. This one is drunk and spends a lot of his time stumbling round in the tunnels, shouting at people. It's fun to see a Cyberman really letting itself go. Normally they're so sensible and calm. If they were more like this guy, they could probably just come and live on Earth, without having to invade it. People would think they were ace.

This is the main bad guy for the story, and he's fantastic. He's called Tobias Vaughn, which is the sort of name you'd expect to find hosting some BBC show about vintage toys or something. Tobias is a big important businessman and spends a lot of time in his massive office, laughing at people and telling them that they are jerks.

He's got a big evil Cyber Brain Thing in his cupboard. Every now and then he gets it out and they have a chat. Their chats are always the same. Brain Thing says "I want to do an invasion." And Tobias says, "Yes, I'm on it," or, "We'll do it in a bit."

This time he's saying, "I can't do the invasion today. Doctor Who has turned up, and you know what he's like."

And the Brain Thing says "Oh no! Not Doctor Who! I hate that guy!" And Tobias says, "Tell me about it!" And they have a good old moan about Doctor Who, and they laugh about how stupid his trousers are.

Tobias has made a machine that makes the Cybermen go mental, by doing emotions to them. Cybermen do not like emotions. They are stoic. See their faces? That's not just a mask. That's how they actually feel about things. If they saw the Pixar film "Up", they'd still look like that, even when it got to the bit where Carl reads the big adventure book and realises that, for Ellie, the big adventure was her life living with him.

This machine basically makes them feel like you should do when you watch "Up", which is to say, it makes them overwhelmed with a deep sadness, shot through with a beautiful sense of joy and warmth at how wonderful life is, leaving them with a determination to live each day to the fullest and make the most of each moment with those they love.

Their response to this is to wander up and down the sewers, making electronic gargling noises. Tobias is delighted with this. He thinks "Up" is overrated. He is evil.

The Cybermen live inside big bags. When it is time to do an invasion, they burst out of the bags. This looks great and was an excellent idea of whoever thought of it.

It's interesting the difference angles make to the Cybermen faces. From the front, this one looks positively menacing, like you'd better pay him the money you owe him, or he'll use household tools to hurt your fingers and toes.

But from this angle, he looks like he's taken a shedload of pills and is going to dance to the music in his head until he dies of dehydration.

The Cybermen are excited because they are getting to do their invasion, at last. I like the composition of this shot a lot. It's not often 1960s Doctor Who relies on its visuals to sell an idea, but this is really well directed.

I also respect how organised the Cybermen are. If it was a bunch of me and my workmates trying to get up a ladder, we would not be this organised. We'd all be standing at the foot of it, trying to go up at the same time, then all apologising, then all standing around waiting for someone to go first, then all trying at the same time again. We wouldn't ever get round to invading anything.

The second Cyberman here hasn't been allowed to bring his gun for the invasion. He kept playing with his gun during the invasion planning session, and making "Pew! Pew!" noises when the Cyber Controller was trying to explain Sewer Protocol. He was warned that if he didn't stop, he would have his gun taken off him.

He is now regretting his playful instinct.

The one in front of him his carrying his gun in an unnecessarily ostentatious manner, as if to say "I behaved in the planning session."

This is another of those photos that is quite commonly used to show how exciting Doctor Who is, and with good reason. The Cybermen are doing excellent invading.

I like to think that the Cybermen put photos of this moment on Facebook and tag in the Daleks. "Just invading earth, about a hundred years before you did. And what's this? Stairs? Oh no, guess we better turn back! Or shall we just WALK DOWN THEM ON OUR AWESOME LEGS?"

The Daleks will seethe with envy, and wish there was a 'Don't like' button.

Zoe is instrumental to the defeat of the Cybermen. She does some great sums, and blows up all the Cyber Spaceships. She is so much better than Victoria or Dodo, both of whom would have just screamed or cried or pawed pathetically at Doctor Who shrieking "What shall we do?"

Also, her face is great.

This show should be called "Zoe Who" and when she leaves, it should follow her to see what she does next.

Doctor Who goes to see Tobias, in his massive office. Doctor Who is thinking, "Maybe I'd like a massive office." Tobias is looking out of the window thinking, "I hope it snows. Snow is great."

If it did snow, it would spoil the invasion. Everyone would stay at home and the Cybermen would turn up to all the important places and there would be no-one there. This would be embarrassing. If you invade a building, but no-one is there, does it count?

I don't think it does.

The Krotons

The TARDIS lands in a quarry. This happens a lot in Doctor Who, but rarely so definitively as here. The TARDIS is thinking, "I look great in this quarry."

Doctor Who and Jamie are excited about something or the other. Probably a bit of rock or a door or something. It's not a very interesting planet and you have to make your fun where you can.

Zoe thinks they should all be still talking about how great she is for blowing all the Cybermen up last week. She thinks that if Doctor Who had done it, they would still be in the TARDIS listening to him go on about it and drawing pictures of himself killing Cybermen on a whiteboard.

The Krotons isn't very good. The planet is a bit tedious and the people who live on it have little character to speak of. But it's enjoyable watching this TARDIS team hang out together. They have a nice dynamic and seem to be having fun, even when the plot makes no sense. Plus, one of them is Zoe. Look at her lovely, cherubic face.

It's a Kroton! He's quite impressive, in his own way. Though I'm not sure which way round his head is meant to go. Maybe he doesn't either. That would explain his irritable disposition.

The Kroton is cross with Jamie. I forget why. I think maybe Jamie has snuck into the Kroton's secret room. No-one is meant to go in there. They haven't tidied in ages, and there's a big bubbling vat of something in the middle of the room, which can't conform to health and safety regulations. If Jamie was to burn himself, they would be liable.

Doctor Who and Zoe, meanwhile, are outside, being hassled by the other Kroton. They don't seem particularly scared. They seem like they've been caught shopping, when they said they were too ill to come to work today.

Having caught Zoe, the Krotons do something that makes her face go all bendy and weird. I think they might be trying to suck out her cleverness. This is a great, trippy sequence where everything just goes mental for a bit. I like that about 1960s Who. It just does what it wants, as if it knows that soon it will be the 1970s and it will have to start behaving itself a bit.

What a great bit of design. It's like the Sydney Opera house had little robot children.

These are the only two Krotons in the story. Despite this, they still spend most of their time talking about their mission. You'd think they'd have some Kroton stuff to discuss, like who'd they'd like to play them in the film of their life, or something.

At the end, they die, horribly, because Doctor Who puts acid in their drinking water. That's pretty dark. They were a bit evil, I suppose, but you've sometimes got to wonder what goes through Doctor Who's mind.

That's enough for now. There are three stories left in Season Six, and then we're done with black and white, the second Doctor Who, and, distressingly, Zoe. See you soon.

Click here for Season Six, part three

Go back to Season Six, part one

Friday, 10 February 2017

Time is Relative: Season 6. Part One.

Greetings, humans. If indeed that's what you are.

My quest to watch all of Doctor Who - even the terrible bits - continues. I've previously watched and commented on seasons 1 to 5, and you can find those exciting adventures on earlier blog pages. Where? I don't know, go look. I'm not your mother.

Or am I?

Anyway. It's time for Season 6. Or at least, the first third of it. I've taken pictures off the TV as I've gone along, to give you some sense of how thrilling it is to watch TV from nearly 50 years ago.

The Dominators

Season six kicks off in exciting style with this incredibly butch man, standing astride a hill like he is the king of absolutely everything. Which, in a sense, he is. He's a 'Dominator'. And you can kind of tell, can't you? Just look at those trousers. You wouldn't wear those if you weren't absolutely confident of your ability to be dominant in any given situation.

The little guys next to him are called Quarks. They are his friends, but only in a kind of hanging-around-with-the-bully kind of way. The one on the left looks pretty confident, but the one on the right is looking at us, as if to say "None of this is my idea."

The Dominators are the bad guys in this story. Obviously. I mean who calls themselves Dominators?

Zoe is in this story. I'm not going to mess you about here - I'm in love with Zoe. There's going to be lots of pictures of her, so you might as well just get used to it. She's the best companion. All the others have been whiny to some degree, but she spends most of her time going "I am best." And she is.

Here, Doctor Who and Zoe have been caught by a Quark. They are unhappy about this because, despite looking like Christmas decorations, the Quarks are actually evil little psychopaths. I mean, they've got spikes all over their heads. That's not normal.

Doctor Who looks particularly freaked out. He's worried about dying, but he's also worried that if he does die, everyone will laugh at him and say, "You got killed by Dominators!" This will cause him no end of social anxiety. The Dominators are idiots, and everyone knows it.

This Dominator has been going on for ages about how brilliant he is. He's not even really talking to Doctor Who and Zoe any more. He's just caught up in his own story. "Then the store assistant realised I wasn't messing about and that he was going to have to give me a replacement kettle, even if I didn't have the receipt..."

Doctor Who wants to leave, but thinks that it might be rude. Plus there's the Quark.

Zoe is thinking, "I have made a terrible mistake. This adventure is awful and now I am stuck in it, possibly forever."

It does not go on forever. But it does feel like it.

The Mind Robber

In this story, there is no set. They forgot to make one. So everyone hangs around in some nothingness for a bit. Jamie uses this as an excuse to stroke Zoe's fingers. Even her fingers are lovely. She is a bit scared, but mostly just glad that this is not The Dominators any more.

The actors here have been given different instructions. Zoe has been told to act like she is facing the most terrifying thing she has ever seen.

Jamie has been told to act like he has to choose between a Twix and a Crunchie, and he really wants both, but he's only allowed one.

There are some robots watching them, and looking slightly ashamed to be doing so.

Doctor Who has been asleep for a bit. When he wakes up, the TARDIS has turned white, as well as everything else. His face suggests that he finds this irritating, but that he is prepared to put up with it, as he has a massive hangover.

Jamie and Zoe have been turned white too. The robot on the right looks absolutely mortified that this has been allowed to happen. He's thinking, "Why do we always do this? What's wrong with us? I'm going to have to say something."

He won't, though. People never do.

After a bit, the TARDIS explodes for no reason. The console floats round in space, doing a spin, with Jamie and Zoe clinging on, thinking "This is making me sick. But it's still better than The Dominators, which was like being sick, and then having to eat the sick, and somehow still being bored".

This sequence is amazing and weird. It is often used on clip shows, to demonstrate how wacky Doctor Who is. Which is kind of cheating, because most of the time they just stand around in corridors wearing idiotic hats.

This is the most popular still image in all Doctor Who, for reasons which are probably obvious. I almost didn't take it, due to it's ubiquity.

But then I thought, no. There's a kind of postmodern brilliance to taking the exact same shot as everyone else does to represent my own viewing experience. It's a kind of self reflexive comment on the nature of engagement with a text that is, in its own way, already commenting on itself.

That's what I thought and that's why it's here. Prove otherwise.

Later on, Jamie turns into a cardboard photo of himself and his face comes off.

Doctor Who just goes, "Right." and gets on with things. That's why this is the greatest show that has ever been on television.

I'll be back soon, with more photos and insights from Season Six. Featuring the Cybermen!

Click here for Season Six, part Two

Go back to Season Five