Saturday, April 5, 2014

Doctor Who Weekend: Back Again For the First Time


Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, your blue box of a blog in the storm tossed tides of time that is the internet.

I'm Dave-El and after a couple of weeks away, I am back with a ALL NEW edition of Doctor Who Saturday Weekend

Wait! Whazzup with the name change?

One reason is the post I do before this one is the highly acclaimed must be avoided at all cost news/humor feature Broken News which can take time to prep. 

Hi, sorry about the grey ghosting of the text above but seriously, this is not that terribly interesting. And I wrote it! Well, maybe I'm being too hard on myself. Let's see...

It takes a lot of work to come up with those witty lame jokes. Then to turn around and have a Doctor Who post ready for the next day can be a bit much for my considerable meager talents, particularly if I'm doing one of those fan fiction things.  

Oh my God! I'm still prattling on? I've been on blog hiatus for nearly two weeks and this...THIS is what I'm talking about?

Later when new episodes start, I like to review them for this post. That is not always possible to have done on Saturday, the same day as the show and I don't want to wait until the next week. So naming the post Doctor Who Weekend gives me the flexibility to move this post to Sunday as needed.

Lord love a Dalek, that was the most uninteresting thing I've ever written! Well, at least it's over now. 

I'm reminded of the Aaron Sorkin created sit com Sports Night which was a very clever and engaging program that of course did not become a hit. 

What the...? What am I going on about NOW?

The show was named after the show within a show, Sports Night. The thing was there would be a few times when the gang behind Sports Night would have to cover a special event during the day. Which made for some really odd sentences like, "Welcome to a special mid-day edition of Sports Night." So I'm trying to avoid "This is Doctor Who Saturday...on a Sunday". 

I think we get the damn point! Now if I can't stopping yammering on about...

Of course if I want to do a Doctor Who post on a weekday.... 

Oh no! Enough is enough! C'mon, Dave-El, you gotta do better than this. 

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During my blog hiatus, the El family here in our Fortress of Ineptitude have caught up on some classic episodes.  There are several sources for classic stories, most notably through Netflix. However, one source for Doctor Who that is absolutely free might be your own neighborhood public library. 

The selection at my local library branch is not extensive but still there are about a dozen or so classic episodes on DVD featuring a variety of Doctors from Hartnell to McCoy

The pair of stories we watched over the last two weeks were a couple featuring Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor, Terror of the Zygons and The Robots of Death

Terror of the Zygons is the first appearance of the red sucker-covered alien monsters who caused problems in the 50th Anniversary Special, Day of the Doctor. The story is also notable for other reasons as well: 


  • It was the last episode for companion Harry Sullivan. The character of Sullivan was created when casting of the 4th Doctor was still not decided; if the producers cast another elderly type in the mold of William Hartnell, the Doctor would need someone to hit people for him. As it turned out, the relatively young and fit Tom Baker was quite capable of hitting people as needed, thank you very much. Ian Marter, who portrayed Harry, would still remain part of Doctor Who, writing several episode novelizations. 

  • It was the last episode for Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethridge-Stewart, commander of UNIT. UNIT would appear again but without the Brig and when Lethridge-Stewart did return in 1983's Mawdryn Undead, he had retired from his post. 


As for the story itself, it's a bit of a muddle if you ask me. I'm not really sure what the Zygons' plan actually are and I'm not sure the Zygons knew either. Still, any excuse to have the Loch Ness Monster knocking down deep sea oil rigs, eh?  


Nessie herself makes an appearance on which my daughter commented, "Ah, what a cute monster!" So not so much with the terrorizing but hey, back in the 1970's, it was...well, to be blunt, the monster was still lame. 

The Zygons themselves look pretty well realized for rubber suit monsters. It's amazing how little they changed for their 2013 re-appearance. 



There are a couple of times when the Doctor and Sarah Jane share at a private joke between the two of them. Recently we re-watched the Tooth and Claw episode with the 10th Doctor and Rose who find amusement in Rose's attempts to get the Queen to say "We are not amused." It was interesting to see a similar dynamic being played out between the 4th Doctor and Sarah Jane. 

While Terror of the Zygons was flawed, it was still an entertaining adventure. However, The Robots of Death was a superior production. The art deco designs of the mining ship, the various rooms and set pieces and costumes gave a very distinctive appearance to the setting without being dated as a lot of 1970's stuff tends to look.  The robots with their unchanging faces give a very strong sense of strangeness and growing menace that calls to mind the Host robots in Voyage of the Damned


















The story has a strong hook to hang on to, an Agatha Christie inspired murder mystery on a distant world. The characters who populate this tale are varied with flaws that make them alternately sympathetic and irritating. 

This episode was the first episode for Leela as a companion after joining the Doctor in the previous episode. As Leela, Louise Jameson was taking on a female companion like none other before or since, a warrior woman with a sense of curiosity about the wonders she was seeing with the Doctor; yet her warrior's nature made her someone who didn't suffer fools lightly. It has been a bit of a shame that new Who keeps bringing in companions from 21st Century Earth. There had been companions before Leela that detoured from that pattern but Leela was the ultimate in defying that pattern, a savage from another world.  

Speaking of Leela and Ms. Jameson, I got a bit of a treat on Twitter after we watched The Robots of Death. 

March 23, 2014


  1. favorited your Tweet
    9h:
    The family watched Robots of Death last night. Very good classic episode. My daughter thought as Leela was so cool.
        


How cool is THAT, huh?  Thanks, Louise! That made my day! 

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Click on the titles below for more information on Terror of the Zygons and The Robots of Death

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So that's it for Doctor Who Weekend. Thanks for stopping by. In future posts I'll look at other classic episodes, speculate wildly on what the heck we might expect from the 12th Doctor, more fan fiction and other stuff! 

Until next time, be good to one another. 


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