livii: (magic box)
I've completely neglected to keep up with any sort of cross-posting between LJ and here. I haven't been doing anything of much substance fannishly lately - no fic since I posted in April, for example - but I have been watching and writing short/sometimes not-so-short comments on various Doctor Who serials, as I've had loads of time on my hands to watch them (I'm down to only 29 classic serials left!) and I figured I might as well repost a few of those here. These are things I write for my own recollection and amusement later, really, so there's no proper summarizing or anything resembling a coherent review in them; I'm almost ashamed to inflict them on any sort of wider audience than my poor, long-suffering LJ flist.

1) Death to the Daleks. I always like Daleks and I always like Three, but it was still a close call in declaring this one any good. The main complaint was, as is so often for this particular time on the show, the incidental music. Oh, dear, just, no. (Though it did amuse us that the Daleks apparently had a march). It was really horribly distracting. The secondary characters weren't that great either (in particular the dude from underground who went through the tests with the Doctor made me feel uncomfortable with how childishly he was portrayed and how devoted he because to the Doctor), and the broad-based background plot (SPACE PLAAAAGUE!) was a bit flimsy (if lolarious). Sarah Jane was unfortunately reduced to quite a lot of screaming, though she did get in some great bits with the female from the human expedition team, and they saved all of the mineral, so that was major win.

On the positive side, a whole lot of Daleks blew up in either spectacular or ridiculously silly ways (Dalek beaten by a living root made of metal and blowing up = awesome; Dalek being beaten around the head a little bit by a few Exxilons with clubs and blowing up = rather head-scratching). Also, Daleks who can't fire their weapons and instead make pathetic little whoosh-whoosh noises and the like were awesome; poor woobie Daleks! Though I really don't think one would SELF-DESTRUCT because it let some prisoners escape. That is SO not optimal behaviour for a Dalek. That I did have to protest. (Though the bit where they're like "let's let those stupid humans think there are only four of us" was so great).

I did really like the bit where the TARDIS went completely dead at the beginning, complete with needing to hand-crank the doors; it was suitably creepy and interesting, and continued a thread in many episodes I've seen recently of the Doctor outright stating that the TARDIS is a living thing. And Three did get to do some fancy judo moves and play hopscotch games; the trek through the living city was kinda neat, other than the simpering underground dude and the naaaasty skeletons that grossed me out with the whole idea of them, starving to death or whatever, ew. And then the plot ended by blowing up a ship of Daleks. So overall it was a bit of a runaround and had some of the worst music ever, but a pleasant enough way to spend a few hours; a little time spent with Three and Daleks always has its charms, even if at the end you can't quite say if it was any real good or not.

2. The Underwater Menace (3/4 recons). I did not realize it had a horrible reputation but I quite liked it; in fact I chose it as a treat because it had one surviving episode of only four total, and had more Ben and Polly in it.

I think right away I may have a different view because while the "nothing in the world can stop me now!" line was pure genius, I really think Ben's line about the Doctor - "Look at him - he ain't normal, is he?" - was the best one of the whole bit. Oh, BEN, ILU, and it's SO TRUE. <3 <3

True, the whole plot was Very Silly and Zaroff was insanely over-the-top - but I like insane, over-the-top villains with silly accents, damnit! And it was fun to see Jamie in his first adventure, adapting quite well, being useful, and looking quite lovely in his borrowed guard's uniform (though Ben in that same uniform was more than quite lovely and in fact smoking hot). Ben also got in some good bits; I like that he went off with the Doctor at the end to confront Zaroff, and really enjoy the relationship between Ben and the Doctor in general. The Doctor seems to genuinely appreciate Ben, and that's a lot of fun to watch. We even got flirty exchanges between Ben and Polly, and Ben being concerned about her first, and I think hugging her at the end? Oh, Ben/Polly you are such a great ship.

Polly got only a little to do and a lot of screaming and being too tired to walk further, unfortunately - pity, though I did like the bit where she found the bracelet and figured out their time period, and the bit where she was dressed up like a cute Atlantean (yummeh) and the bit where she did the voice of the goddess! There was lots of dressing up in this story, and that was very cool.

Two was tricksy and scheming and good as well; and I frankly loved the crazy fishpeople's costumes, even if I was just agog at the screen during the underwater ballet scene in episode 3, like, that went on forever and served no purpose, and yet, it was fascinating. I was so glad to have an episode at least, and it was the one where the dressing up and scheming occurred, so that was awesome.

I remain somewhat confused as to what the hilariously-accented Irishman and his friend were doing in Atlantis, and how Zaroff got to Atlantis, and how Atlantis still survives there, and and I am really overthinking this because clearly the plot is not the point, heh. But overall it was pretty entertaining and a friendly sort of way to spend a few hours this afternoon.

3) The Highlanders (4/4 recons). Yay, brave Polly and Houdini!Ben and tricksy Two and Jaaamie! As usual the recons tested my patience somewhat, but overall it was a really great story. And ooh, yay me, because I did not immediately clue in that I'd picked a historical, but then it was another true historical, which makes every recon instantly that much more watchable. :D I mean, the plot was Quite Historically Incorrect but I didn't care, it was still historical-based hijinks woo.

I remain so sad that so much of Ben and Polly was burninated because they remain COMPLETELY AWESOME; much as I love them with One, they are also brilliant with Two. Especially Polly, she was magnificent in this one. She was so brave, and made cunning plans, and used her feminine wiles to her benefit which I think is just terrific given her situation and the time period (and of course Ffinch fell for her!), didn't put up with whining, got to dress as a girl which only makes SENSE, and was overall A+++ awesome. Ben didn't have quite as much to do but he ripped up contracts, got thrown overboard while in restraints and got himself out of them and swam to safety, and was belligerent in his Cockney sailor way a lot, which I always think is fun. It was really Polly's serial but he got in a few really awesome moments, and the way he sympathized with the underdog immediately was yet another representation of why he's so endearing.

Two was magnificently tricksy; I quite liked all the disguises, and wish ever so that him in his old woman's outfit wasn't burninated. The "German accent" was hilarious. He didn't actually have a ton of plot but he was all manipulative and silly and very tough and brave when he needed to be - a brilliant portrayal of the character, and only two episodes into his run. I approve.

And Jamie wasn't a main character here, but he came off just lovely in his intro: his dedication to his laird, to his cause, and then at the end, to the new friends who saved the people who mattered to him. It's a winning portrayal all around.

Also, the guest characters were quite good, especially Ffinch, and there was a hearty old sea-dog of a captain and one of the only actual clips left was of a hilarious pitched battle between pirate sailors and Highlanders. Fantastic!

4) The Smugglers (4/4 recons). I found it a bit of a chore because the audio quality was atrocious and sometimes I could hardly tell what was going on in the plot, but on reflection it was really quite fun and I remain so utterly fond of the One-Ben-Polly team, and sad that now I've seen (or "seen") all of their episodes. The quality of the sound was bad, in part, because of the location filming, which is way cool and it's a shame we couldn't have seen more of it. I did love that it was a pure historical, which are some of my favourite bits of Classic Who. I really wish New Who could do one, but I accept that they won't and at least they give us a historical setting or two per year! Anyway, this one had pirates (aye, mateys!) and swordfights and lots and lots of violence; I found it utterly, flat-out HILARIOUS that the only film bits they had for the recon (other than recreated bits of a dude on a horse and such) were short clips of men dying awful, brutal deaths from knife wounds. Oh, censors, you rock the world for cutting that shit and then saving it to be found later and worked into the recon.

I do have to protest that ANYONE could think Polly was a boy just because she was wearing trousers; the eye makeup alone should have been a clue, but possibly the lovely figure as well? I could buy they thought her voice was that of a boy's that hadn't broken yet, but otherwise, c'mon. But regardless, she and Ben came off brilliantly on their first adventure, all "wot, seventeenth century? Well, Doctor, at least get me back to my ship on time, there's a good man." They're so marvellously chipper about it all. I was a bit concerned by the Doctor saying he couldn't pilot his TARDIS with any sort of ability whatsoever, despite doing so in earlier stories, but, eh, a plot point's a plot point, and it got us Ben and Polly and One outwitting pirates in the seventeenth century, so, it's all good.

5) Four to Doomsday. This was my last Five serial, proving I watched things in a very haphazard fashion generally, and other than some bits, I actually liked it quite a lot. I mean, Adric annoyed the shit out of me, with his sexism and then his smugness about Monarch; sometime during the 3rd episode I started making strangling motions with my hands every time he spoke. And I admit I went "yes!" when Tegan knocked him out, because it was hilarious. I am glad he was somewhat redeemy at the end, but, sorry, this was just not a good episode for the boy. But Nyssa was muy clever (if hypnotised/sedated a bit much), and Tegan got on all sorts of never-seen-again but badass skills (amazing drawing ability! Natural inclination to ancient Aborigine languages due to the fact she's Australian!) Generally I totally sympathized with her and also liked the way the Doctor seemed to recognize somrthing in her, what with giving her the key. (Also, her and Fivey's smiles as they emerged from somewhere together in the TARDIS at the beginning HELLO! I do love me some suggested Five/Tegan). Her hair was horrifying at this point, though, I'd forgotten! The pixie cut is SO much cuter.

I thought it was pretty clear that Davison had no idea how to play the character or what he wanted to do with the part but I found a lot to enjoy in his portrayal anyway; it was the sort of thing that works for a quite newly regenerated Doctor and there were interesting glimpses of how he would later settle into the role. I was shocked when he called Adric an idiot flat-out, but then again, Adric was being an idiot and the Doctor wasn't suffering fools. It worked for me, and anyway, he faked swooning, had to emmpty his pockets, and bounced himself in space with a cricket ball. That's my man!

I could have done without the "only the white dude wasn't power-corrupted" bit especially since I don't think that got the history right , but otherwise I thought the plot was great, including the dance sequences and especially the ultra-dodgy "I am a MACHINE!" effect. I was quite captivated by the storyline, which is always awesome.

6) Warrior's Gate. I had been on a Four-in-order quest with my husband, only we stopped with three to go at least six months ago, for no real reason. So we decided to get back on that train, and this one was next. Now, this was actually a good episode for Adric, more or less - his bit with the giant laser-telescope-thingy was such a moment of awesome I actually made my husband give me a high-five - Adric was useful, y'all! - but when they first showed the TARDIS crew I said "oh, no, I forgot Adric would be there!" Thankfully he got a moment of awesome, wandered about for a long time (so long in between appearances at one point that I forgot he was there!), and had a sweet moment where Romana mentioned she might leave and he was all like "but mummy and daddy wouldn't break up, would they?" Poor boy, she even took his pet dog with her.

Speaking of the dog: DON'T GO, K-9, DON'T GO! K-9 is one of my favourite companions and I was really upset when it looked like he was broken; Baker does such a marvellous job of making you feel that he really cares for the little guy, and I loved their friendship. And oh, when he got thrown out of the ship! And kicked! And yelled at! You just don't do that to my K-9. You just don't! Poor doggie. At least he will live on healthy in the lionworld place, I hope. Only to come back again and have Ten sacrifice him the bastard no, I haven't gotten over that. My K-9. :(

Romana's exit was extremely abruptly done, even if she foreshadowed it and I knew it was coming; still, I think it works for her character, and I'll admit that I'm far more broken up to lose K-9. I really liked Romana I best of the two Romanas, though she did have her moments in this story. She was sort of - omgawesome, and then annoying, then back again, that sort of thing. And I wanted to leap at her with a hair elastic and make her put that damn hair in a ponytail. Honestly, it was driving me crazy how often she had to push her hair out of her face and behind her ear. I know this is an extremely petty complaint but it was aggravating as all hell. Anyway, it's good she gets to go off and be superb for the lionworld people; and I like that she was pretty much like "eh, it's been fun, see ya" to the Doctor. It worked for me.

Four was Quite Great as he usually is. I liked the bit where he got into heaps of trouble by just being himself, walking around and touching shit. And the bit where a hot lady lion seduced him. Rawr. ;)

The rest of it? Well, I think the plot was really bad. I don't even know what the plot was, to be honest, beyond a few elements. And while I liked the comedy relief duo on the slaver ship, the rest of the cast there was dire, especially the captain, who I see is praised in all the reviews, but good god, he was bad. And the lionpeople were okay but all the male ones looked so much alike I couldn't tell them apart and got even more confused on the plot. And while there were a few good effects, the slaver ship was, hands down, the worst spaceship I've ever seen on the show. It was just awful. Also, I really think the bit with the serving girl who was hired for her boobs was unnecessary. I know there's the whole "something for the dads" bit and I personally don't feel Lalla Ward really filled that role, not finding her all that attractive myself (though I admit I'm not a 'dad'), still, wildly gratuitous tits in my Doctor Who was startling.

Anyway, the summary is, always listen to K-9, and thank god they pick up Nyssa next because after a TARDIS of K-9 and Romana and Adric, just Adric's a bit much to bear, I think.

7) Keeper of Traken. Next on Four-in-order! I liked it and also didn't, it was - well, interesting, and left me desperately needing to see Logopolis to make sense of the ending. The problem of course was that I knew Nyssa's backstory was "the Master kills her dad and steals his body" and even under that truly magnificent beard, it was clear from the get-go that Tremas was Anthony Ainley, and I know Ainley is the Master, of course. So I couldn't tell for quite a while if the Master had already taken over the body or not, until they showed the inside of the Melkur and then definitively with Crispy!Master. And then I was waiting for the possession to happen. (For a change, I didn't like the 'clever' rearrangement of the Master's name, because it led me to think that Tremas would be the Master from the beginning). So that threw a narrative damper on things. Still, other than that, it was quite enjoyable; I thought Adric came off beautifully here, as had been predicted to me, and in particular I liked the scene of him and Four reading through logs (that sometimes seemed to be empty pages!) and his gentle teasing of Four, and then the scenes of him and Nyssa together rigging up science stuff and running around. They were like two adorable little kids - they seemed so young - but very sweet. They made a good pair.

Nyssa was sweet, and even though she had a more minor role she got to be pretty freaking bad ass, what with her weapon-thing! And while the idea of a planet where everyone is perfectly nice sounded boring, lots happened (though I've figured out why Traken is so perfectly calm and peaceful - if anyone does anything the slightest bit wrong, they just get executed. Jesus. It's a bit scary!)

My main complaint was lack of emotional continuity; I could see Nyssa maybe not being too fazed that her stepmother (an interesting Lady Macbeth-type figure, with the goal less power rather than more, naturally) got possessed and turned traitor and then apparently died, though it seems a bit callous; it's her husband's non-reaction that threw me. He must have cared to bother to get remarried, and instead he's all like "hey, Doctor, you're such an awesome scientist. I love hanging out with you! Bros before hos!" Billy and I were both a bit taken aback by that part. "Well, my wife is dead, but Science Saved The Day, now let me just go look at this clock." Too strange.

(Oh, but how brilliant that when the Master stole Tremas' body he also regenerated his beard and everything! TOO CUTE).

8) Logopolis. Finished off Four with this! (I decided since Shada never aired, I could skip that one as necessary to continuity). It also finished off all of Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan's episodes for me. It was a pretty good story, what with recursive loops of TARDISes and Tegan making a great entrance (I loved the way she immediately lit up and perked up at being introduced to Nyssa, heee) and the Monitor on Logopolis who was a hammy GENIUS. I adored every one of his scenes. He was hysterical, in a very good way. And then there was the Master killing probably BILLIONS of people, lots of miniaturized folks (poor Auntie Vanessa, even if I knew it was coming!), Adric totally thinking of Nyssa as his girlfriend (meanwhile I am femslashing away), Nyssa not being entirely convincingly upset at the death of her whole planet, and magic number crunching. I read a review that this was meant to be Big, High Science but first the Doctor plans to, um, flush the Master out of the TARDIS by opening the doors underwater what, and then these mathematicians all make solid matter out of their BRAINS. Magic, dudes!

I made my husband hold my hand as soon as Four climbed out on the aerial, too. Poor Four. I was very pleased with the flashbacks to old villains and all of Four's companions (they included the Brig!!), and the Watcher thing makes more sense since I saw it compared to Planet of the Spiders, which it seems we watched in really good timing. And then we get like three seconds of Davison, and, cut! Hah, it was sort of hilarious. Goodbye, Four, you were a great Doctor; I really grew to enjoy you over the seven seasons, even with their ups and downs.

That is probably more than enough in one go. And now you, if you happen to find and read this and aren't on my flist on LJ, understand why I usually just keep these to my semi-private self!


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