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

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