It's easy to say the Lalla Ward is great and she really is...as Romana in the next season. In this story, however, she, or rather this episode she tends to over do things, overact or overemphasize. She doesn't really impress me here and possibly not in the whole story. The man playing the Marshall plays it completely straight against Tom's tom foolery (and here he's not really funny in most of his jokes, for once although I do like the "is this your final word?" and Tom saying No, I hope not to Romana's YES). The actor playing Shapp is pretty good and Merek is satisfactorilly pleasant, young, and good looking. THe threat of the Black Guardian has no lingered over this season, well, all season and without any real bites.
The mystery of the war...we know something else is going on. We don't see any Zeons. The Marshall is up to something and it might have to do with the Black Guardian. Who is the mysterious black robed figure that captures Astra? The being ---was it meant to be wearing a face mask or a was the fake looking mask meant to be a real monster? either way it's impressively creepy looking. Thankfully we don't focus too much in one place at any one time and things move a bit faster than expected...but still a bit slow, too.
The TARDIS is gone? Hasn't that happened once too many times or something? A nice cliffhanger just the same. Mary and Tom have a great rapport going now and with K9 they are unbeatable...or so it seems. The idea of a nuclear war between twin planets is not new but still interesting. Frankly it was better depicted visually on SPACE: 1999 at least once and maybe twice (THE LAST ENEMY). Here, from a more human stand point (as the aliens here are quite human in all ways) things are ...sad and strange at the same time.
There's enough mystery to keep at least me watching some more and not tuning out. Oh and there's a great TARDIS appearance in space scene. The Marshall and Shapp are watching a screen of outer space with stars. The TARDIS lights all appear first and then the rest of the TARDIS, first as a black object, then as the TARDIS. Very atmospheric and different from what we've seen for...forever maybe going back...although I tend to recall a Second Doctor story where the TARDIS appears in space but not quite this way...I don't think. It is possibly WEB OF FEAR and stock footage from that in WAR GAMES.
Nothing much happens in this ep and yet...it does. It stays in pretty much the same place as all of ep1 and Lalla Ward only appears briefly...thank goodness...as a captured Astra on a screen telling everyone to turn over the Marshall. Not sure how that figures into the Shadow's plans but at this point we don't even know who's pulling the strings and haven't met the Shadow yet anyway.
There is the K9 furnace scene and of course I didn't expect he'd be fried but as this is the end of the season story perhaps they were trying to fool people into thinking he'd die...funny thing is it seemed as if behind the scenes people were always thinking of getting rid of K9. Truth is: he's brilliant. And contrary to what everyone always thinks...he doesn't get the Doctor out of every scrap of problems all the time and in fact if you watch Peter Davison's full range of stories (bless you), you'll notice how K9 would have got him out of several boring scenes that he got Tom out of having to do, like being captured, caught, imprisoned, escaping, reescaping, getting menaced by guards, re...you get the idea. It happens sometimes with K9 around and the more he's around the more you have to invent things to slow him down or stop him from helping too much but in hindsight maybe...oh, heck, I just like K9 and glad he didn't go that way.
Another thing is: I happened to put on Tom's commentary and still find the man funny and intelligent, brimming with good ideas most of the time (although his idea to put John Leeson in a hairy costume and be K9 full life form is HORRIBLE!). It makes me want to actually watch or rather rewatch any of his DVD stories with the commentary on as long as he's doing the commentary--without him they're frankly boring! At one point he says the Armageddon Factor is a wonderful title...it's what he calls his wife when she's coming down the stairs screaming one thing or another! He also says (after the actor who plays Merak says he loves Astra) that "It will pass!" In another bit he calls the actor who plays Merek pretty, "He's very pretty, isn't he?" Likewise, Mary is quite brilliant in the commentary/ies when Tom is there. She seems very nice if a bit posh, calling Tom and John Leeson darling alot. Tom and she drink beer and eat something or other during the commentary.
This episode has the Doctor run from the Marshall, figure out things, get purposely recaptured by the Marshall, bluff his way around the Marshall, and have Romana and Merak find out about the two way mirror but too late...the Doctor is taken. Oh and he saves K9. Tom's jokes are kept down a bit but are quite good in this one, better than the first ep. One is, "Was Columbus sure? Never mind about that."
Anyway a watchable ep and one that furthers the story and keeps the mystery going and has good performances from all round...and isn't boring!
In the previous ep (2), The Doctor says, "K9's covering our rear."
An interesting episode even if it is just run around, capture, release...made interesting by dialog and delivery. And...the fact that there are no Zeons on Zeos. Who really saw that coming? Tell the truth now! This is why DW is so good, it could go either way, have a bold war between two alien worlds bringing the houses down on each other.. ala SPACE: 1999-THE LAST ENEMY but it could also go the other way: there are no real Zeons any more! The Doctor gets caught and bluffs his way out of the Shadow's clutches...not really a logical thing for the Shadow to let him go...btw was the Doctor telling the truth about the limbo room thing or was that just a bluff?
Anyway, what other show except maybe LOST IN SPACE (and any show that clones Dr. Smith like STARGATE ATLANTIS's resident genius who's name escapes me, funny that, I can't recall the more recent show character but I can recall the more memorable 40 plus year old show's character!)...what other show can have a guest star (or a main character) lost in a hall on a strange place, not knowing how he got there and report in to his leader but starting out in a hoarse girlie voice and then correcting himself after rolling his eyes at himself! Really, only DW and LOST IN SPACE. And DW goes right back to seriousness after that!
I saw a mike shadow on the ceiling at one point. Also of note is Romana was once thought of before inception, of having karate or self defense skills. This was never really added to her character except maybe here when she choke holds Merak, who stole the tracer from her. It's amazing the tracer's not been stolen before, it's been lost (KROLL) but not stolen.
Things do slow down a bit and will do so more as the Marshall prepares to attack and he gets stuck in some kind of time repeat loop...rather like Sci Fi Channel used to be...but anyway...
another good ep with some surprises...love how the Doctor just takes the Shadow's little box off his neck...
On commentary mode, Mary Tamm, on the second commentary (thre were TWO for all the Key To Time season; one was done for the USA first and for a long time not released in the UK until recently --2007 I think---and most of the ones or maybe all of the USA ones didn't have Tom's commentaries at all; the UK versions have Tom's commentaries). Mary Tamm tells of of having her hair in rollers on the Xmas tape that they did and a scene that John Leeson wrote part of with the Doctor's birthday cake and of another scene John might have helped write as well...where the Doctor gets rude with Romana or says something rude of both!
Too bad they can't put THAT on the dvd!
Oh yes, one more thing: the last few shots are GOOD SPECIAL EFFECTS for this show and for this budget. The window of the Marshall's spacehip shows a pretty decent outgoing view of the stars and the model work is rather good.
It's difficult to say if the orignal idea of there being Zeons on Zeos would have been better but it's starting to get very slow moving now. Still, the effect of Zeon showing up across the window of the Marshall's ship is just about as good as but not as good as the stuff Irwin Allen was doing from 1964 to 1970 (and better if I didn't make that clear). Still, it's 1979 and effects in DW might not get any better than this (ENLIGHTENMENT might come close).
One of the small Tardis window panes is very visibly cracked.
The actor playing Shapp mistakes a Mute for Merak!? Then he very over the top yells as he's shot but it seemed to miss over his shoulder or hit it just and he delays his yell and falls backward in Abbott and Costello fashion, yelling, "Merak" in a very comedic (but unfunny) way. Tom, Mary, and John thought this very funny on the commentary but it's really not. It's stupid. The Shadow's plans are equally stupid in a way.
I must say Lalla comes into her own in this ep as she's much better when playing scary and menacing as she was in VAMPIRE CIRCUS (where she sucks the blood from a pre teen boy!). Here, she's taken over by the Shadow and even though the Doctor suspects her, he lets into the TARDIS...he seems to even know what she is. His plan of fashioning a fake piece built around the other five pieces of the Key to Time is brilliant. In the original storyline Romana knows more about the Key and tells the Doctor. How? While on that subject, who built the key and why? The Guardians? that was what was implied...
I had forgotten much about the first part of this ep with Merak falling down some black hole like pit and Astra passing through him illusion style...reminding me of some of the early Dark Shadows stuff (with similar effects in the 1960s and early 70s).
Okay this is not terribly bad but not as good as the first three eps and with some flaws and slow bits but the Doctor vs Mentalis is interesting anyway and having K9 taken over leads to the story's first really chilling cliffhanger...well, kind of. The Shadow talks to himself it seems or maybe he's talking to K9 who's been taken over...for the first time ever I think.
Some general sloppiness going on here. The Doctor acts as if it's a secret to the Shadow that he knows about the box that goes on the neck but the Shadow already tried to use one on the Doctor already and the Doctor took it off in front of the Shadow and told him he knew what it was in an earlier episode. There was a bat monster filmed for this story but it was cut out. Maybe that's the red eyes in the rock stalls but the Doctor talks to them as if those are the Shadow's eyes.
Drax makes a pleasant addition to the story and with a lack of guest stars here (Shapp and Merak do not appear and the Marshall is still in the time loop and the Shadow and his mutes do not really speak much and when they do...or rather the Shadow does, the mutes do not speak, it is typical villainry and dull. Drax adds a layer of depth even if most of what he says is supposed to be funny and/or give us a view of his days with the Doctor and how he came to be here on the Third Planet, which by the way looks pretty creepy within a great set.
Romana is tortued. Hmmm, too bad this doesn't lead into her regeneration but apparently they were still hoping Mary Tamm would stay. SO was I. She's very pretty and has a firm handle on Romana and Time Lords and the show. Everything she says is either very Time Lady/Lord like, posh (the same thing as Time Lord like) which I think Tamm herself is---charmingly so, seriously dramatic, or like Baker himself, funny. She just seems to get the show in its entirety. Still Lalla is a good choice for her replacement. But a bit too trad companion in some ways, not in others. I just think Romana One gave the Doctor as good as he got and was formidable for him.
What else? Weak scenes of the Doctor being illusionized again, this time having more Romanas around (must have been scary for Tom and the Doc) and a falling black hole pit. Not scary, not funny, and just stuff we've seen here and in DEADLY ASSASIN. Enlivening the whole thing is K9's possession which in a way maybe should have lasted longer but would have been scary for young kids who liked K9. Interesting that K9 never calls him Doctor until he's taken over.
All in all, this story is perhaps too long and this ep shows that. It's not terrible or totally dull but it's okay. We do get learn the Doctor's name or nickname from Drax and the year ending that he graduated...92. Lalla is better in this ep so that's something, too.
Onto the GRAND finale...I guess it's grand...
I guessed wrong. This is not very grand at all, is it? I mean at least things work out and we don't get a morbid ending. Still one only has to glance at ABOUT TIME's Things that Don't Make Sense for this story to see how strange everyone was acting: Merak, the Shadow, Drax...nothing really makes much sense or holds up under scrutiny and this is not really just the end episode, the whole backstory of Drax is suspect, the Shadow's plans are...crap really. He lets the Doctor go at least once. The sixth segement being a human being or a person is an interesting idea and yet...this makes the show fall squarely into the realm of fantasy...how can the segment be a person? Who made it that way? Merak says the computer tells him that someone there's a genetic abnormality or something passed from generation to generation. What? Were the people all the sixth segment and every cell of their bodies, what if they get a hair cut? Or lose skin cells? And just how does the computer know that?
The ending with the Guardian is poor also: did the Black disquise himself as the White from the beginning of THE RIBOS OPERATION? The crew didn't see it that way and I don't think the writer did either. Yet...that's how it seems. Let's look at the whole theme more closely: the White Guardian asks the Doctor to gather the Key to Time to effect some kind of balance in the Universe...or else...the Doc gets it all. He puts it together. The White one doesn't show up but the black one does. He can't get into the TARDIS. Perhaps they are both one and the same or parts of each other.
Thing is none of this is explained properly and the story isn't the worst but certianly it is the worst of this season as it does not properly end the great five stories before it, nor does it seem as exciting as any of the other parts, nor does it set up a grand story really. Cheapness is on display in the reduced guest stars, the reused but effective sets, and the guest stars sitting out an ep or two (Shapp and Merek don't appear in ep5). Yes, then the Doctor gets the Key to Time and then...he disperses it which is there it was at the start of RIBOS. Was the Doc tricked by the Black to get the Key? Or was the Shadow the helper of the Black, like the Doctor was the White?
If the White was the Black then for an entire season, the Doctor was fooled by the Black to go on a quest he really didn't have to go on in the first place, which makes the whole season...rather pointless and yet the point of the whole quest theme was to give the Doctor a point in the beginning of the season to hold it all together. It fails to do that in this story. Or maybe it was to prove the Doctor couldn't be saddled with a theme for at the end of this, we get the randomizer which will be just the opposite of knowing where you are going and a mission: more random wanderings as Ian once said to the Doctor (I think in THE CHASE or THE RESCUE, not sure).
Still, Drax is reasonably fun...at times. The best scenes come at the very end. The Doctor now has the Key To Time. Everyone is safely safe. The Marshall, we don't really see him back on Atrios but we hear he is. We also hear Merak is safe. Drax is improbably going to make a deal with the Marshall.
The Doctor used a forcefield of the TARDIS to save a planet. So why doesn't he do this more often?
The Shadow is dead, the Black Guardian is not yet duped but soon will be. The Doctor muses over the Key to Time to have absolute control over every particles in the universe and he rages against Romana's not listening to him which she is listening to him. His eyes go fluttery into the back of his head and in GREAT Tom Baker fashion he goes off on her and on how he can make her listen, how he can make her do anything and his voice goes strange ...when she asks him if he is all right, he comes out of it---he's been joking. She play hits him.
Then after the Black G is duped and gone...some powers HE has...Romana rages against the Doctor, pinning him against the wall as she calls him names, arrogant, capricous, with no sense of responsibility...and then he tells her about the randomizer. He seems happy he's not going to know where they are going...
Another thing: why anyone would pick Lalla Ward for Romana after seeing her in this is beyond me. Perhaps Mary's suggestion was taken seriously and Lalla seemed to function well among the rigors of DW shooting. I love her as Romana, as I've already written, but really...as Astra she's poor. I shall miss the great, posh, beautiful Mary, who gave the Doctor as good as he gave. What this could have been if Romana had been so badly injured by the Shadow or the Black Guardian to leave us on edge until the show reappears...would have been mean but...on second thought maybe not.
Coming up: possibly one of the best, if not the best season of DW...season 17
[QUOTE BY= Chase]Coming up: possibly one of the best, if not the best season of DW...season 17 [/QUOTE]
Before I go ahead and make a fool of myself - you're being sarcastic, right?
[QUOTE BY= sgb1975] [QUOTE BY= Chase]Coming up: possibly one of the best, if not the best season of DW...season 17 [/QUOTE]
Before I go ahead and make a fool of myself - you're being sarcastic, right?[/QUOTE]
I hope so too. After all that season garnered us "The Horns of Nimon" and "The Nightmare of Eden". I still shudder with distaste when I think of them.
NO, I'm not. I love the team of this Romana and this Fourth Doctor and K9 whirling through space and time and being flippant and sarcastic and goofy with some plots that are different (a story about drugs? On DW? a small scale planetary problem? On DW?) and dare to be funny. Yes, I like CITY OF DEATH a great deal, I like CREATURE FROM THE PIT, HORNS OF NIMON, and NIGHTMARE OF EDEN (especially CITY and EDEN). MOre on those when I get to them I guess but really what show would dare combine the plots that EDEN does? What show would put the female secondary character in charge while the male lead gets lost in a maze (and using those stickers IS a rip off of BATMAN's first CATWOMAN episode but never mind). I find these breezy, light jokey Doctor and Romana far superior to the "seriousness" of some of the early Sarah Jane's, all of the invasion of Earth stories ever, and a few of Leela's stories. I like it when Tom does whatever he wants. True, we do get some goofery that goes far over the top and crashes down (mostly the EDEN scene where he yells, "Oh my everything." But yeah, I love seasons 16,17,18, and 19 probably more than any other Classic Who, arguably I also like almost all the First and Second (and Third if I'm being truthful bar CARNIVAL OF MONSTERS and CLAWS OF AXOS and even THEY have some good stuff) Doctor stories too. Pity about when we get to ATTACK OF THE CYBERMEN, THE TWO DOCTORS, TIME AND THE RANI, TRIAL OF A TIME LORD...those are the stinkers. IMO of course.
[QUOTE BY= Chase]It's easy to say the Lalla Ward is great and she really is...as Romana in the next season[/QUOTE]Mary Tamm is certainly no Brando, but Lalla Ward is worse imho. Not sure why they replaced her after TKTT season, but I wished they kept her after seeing LW. I'd pick Romana I over Romana II any day. II's acting just feels so forced, especially any intensely dramatic scenes. But I will grant you that her comedic quips with TB are better than I.
[QUOTE BY= Chase]Coming up: possibly one of the best, if not the best season of DW...season 17 [/QUOTE]Oh dear lord, you really were serious. I was really hoping this was part of the Chase-sarcasm we've come to know.
Destiny: Predictable, but watchable. Also features the first in a series of wobbling Davros'.
City: Overrated. It's not terrible, but it's not as great as many make it out to be. I think the guest-stars and French setting get people all giddy. Slightly above average at best.
Creature: Vastly underrated (imho) - the one true gem from this season. People probably scared away by the lame title.
Eden: Quite possibly the worst story from the classic Who era (and yes, I'm aware of the CBaker and McCoy seasons). Could even give Love & Monsters a run for the title of all-time worst. Voted the worst of the TB era in the recent hurt/heal thread, whose ranking I wholeheartedly agree with.
Nimon: Often-quoted-from, and worth a one-time viewing, but nothing to write home about. Not coincidentally voted 2nd worst in the hurt/heal poll.
Shada: Tough to say, as it was never completed, and I'm no fan of narration filler. I bought a VHS copy years ago and sat through it once, but don't remember being blown away. If completed, probably still would've been ranked near the bottom of the TB era. Slightly below average. Average at the extreme best.
IMO, after The Key to Time season, there's 2 maybe 3 stories worth watching in the TB era. The rest are forgettable. And even if this season included Genesis, Pyramids, and Talons, it'd still be a stretch to be the best simply because of the 2 clunkers (and very big clunkers at that) at the end.
[QUOTE BY= sgb1975] [QUOTE BY= Chase]It's easy to say the Lalla Ward is great and she really is...as Romana in the next season[/QUOTE]Mary Tamm is certainly no Brando, but Lalla Ward is worse imho. Not sure why they replaced her after TKTT season, but I wished they kept her after seeing LW. I'd pick Romana I over Romana II any day. II's acting just feels so forced, especially any intensely dramatic scenes. But I will grant you that her comedic quips with TB are better than I.
At the time Tom Baker had a lot of power at the time(some say too much). Since he and Lalla Ward were dating at the time he used his influence to get her on the show. We all know what happend then (I hope), they later married (December 1980) and then after 16 months - divorced.
Yeah I knew they had been married, but wasn't aware of the strings he pulled to get her on the show. So were they together before Armageddon Factor, or was that when they first met?
I think Mary possibly the only one after Liz Sladen and Ian Marter, got on with Tom the best but one can tell she wanted out from her comments on the dvds and from what she says she reocmmended Lalla as the next Romana somewhat as a joke. I don't thnk it was Tom pushing Mary out but one never does know what the real stories are, does one?
For the record, though, I think the comedic interplay was GREAT between Tom and Mary AND Tom and Lalla both.
You'll see (or not) what I think of these stories whenI do them separately. Frankly, I hate to pit stories against each other but I often do. If I had to choose between the inconsistencies of GENESIS and the blandness at times of PYRAMIDS and the lame ending on PYRAMIDS or the awful ANDROID INVASION or the ripoffedness of BRAIN OF MORBIUS and PLANET OF EVIL, all from what people often say are great Tom Baker's...and I like them...I'd pick the entire range of seasons 16 to 19 over those any day of the week.
Why? Well, for a start, even if they ripped off stuff, such as PRISONER OF ZENDA, it wasn't as often and they tended as each season progressed to do that less and less and anything left over from the past eras such a STATE OF DECAY tended to twist the left over ripoffedness of that into something creative...yes, if I had to choose the "we've been turned into something from generations ago" storylines I guess I'd pick FULL CIRCLE and STATE OF DECAY over FACE OF EVIL and UNDERWORLD and others, not to say that I didn't enjoy them all. I've said time and time again there are only about two poor Tom Baker stories, sometimes I count others and make it four but I now since the rewatching UNDERWORLD bit, don't count UNDERWORLD as poor. I even like REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN, how's that for being positive.
Anyway what the hell was I on about? OH yeah, the later Tom's have more humor but I like that. They also have ...in what you suggest is the worst story, NIGHTMARE OF EDEN, some of the best presentation of sci fi ideas ever, two ships interlocked via hyper space in hyper space or not, while trying to jump out of it WHILE at the same time a drug runner is using some method to run drugs. Hands up whoever knew it was in the Mandrels? You liars! ") Innovative, mysterious, and plot wise very very good EDEN is hands down better than many "classic" stories from Tom and Pertwee's eras and is full heads IMO above so many other later classics such as ANDROZANI (which to me has a far overblown rep than CITY OF DEATH). But never mind, then we get SHADA about a man trying to make his own mind THE universe and then we get LEISURE HIVE and MEGLOS (don't hold it against the show though, both tried new things but MEGLOS falls really flat).
Hinchcliffe's era, great as it was, would never have tried to age the Doctor or make him a cactus, nor would they have had the gumption to do real sci fi like KEEPER OF TRAKEN and LOGOPOLIS, both with great new ideas for TV. Chris Bidmead should have been kept on. For me everything from FULL CIRCLE to EARTHSHOCK is just great (except Black Orchid: BLACK ORCHID could have been better however so I exempt it frm that list) but even BO tried to do something new and fresh.
For me too, it's Tom Baker. The man in his first few years was held back and some feel that was a good thing. I think he's a genius and his imput made the stories better and better and the more involved he got, the better and more sensible and relatable the stories and characters got. Without him, CITY OF DEATH could have been a mess. The more outrageous he got, the more I loved him (although even I admit he went a far field away too far with the "oh my everything" bit in EDEN). I find much of pre Tom DW a bit too slow moving, dull, and humorless and much of Tom's first two or three years similarly a tad too blunt and not outrageous enough. Tom changed all that slowly at first but by the 17th season, he was just as he should be: a funny, humor filled Time Lord whirling through space and time with energy unbound and it so shows. THAT otherworldliness and his humor and energy along with the science of Chris Bidmead and a good script editor could do nothing wrong with this show. And JNT's first season or two were just marvelous. Then JNT got...changed somehow and he also had Eric Saward around in a large role...that was not a good thing. But I digress: the 17th season is as DW should always be (or course more historicals could have been nice but we even get a bit of that in CITY): here one moment, gone the next, on a giant spaceship beset by monsters and criminals in the future, on a planet of Daleks, in Paris the next, and on a mythological type world the next facing swarming monsters and an over the top king...saving the universe, young teens, and old people alike...all with a quip and a sneeze at the danger...
and oh yes, let's not forget the companion: for the first time we get a companion who is like the Doctor in almost every way and she turns her nose up at authority perhaps even more than he does, makes saracastic, almost conceited remarks, puts down the villains, and acts haughty. She and the Doctor are either child like (such as when she hides and listens to the policeman blame friendly Della for being the drug runner in EDEN, putting her feet up on the table in CITY) or against authority (again in EDEN, "Della indeed") and sort of college like in demeanor, academics who have either dropped out or realized the caution in being mean bullies! Of course, Romana isn't the first alien, Leela was and she was just a great contrast to Tom's Doctor, then Romana 1 with her extreme know it all ness and finally Romana 2 with her Doctor like behavior and quips, too. I won't go into this long debate here...it's long enough...but then we got what is perhaps the best idea for a companion ever, Adric, and one that had extreme dramatic potential Nyssa (almost never reached). And Matthew's performance, nervous at best, only further enhanched Adric's unstable personality but more on that in future.
of course it all went back to Earth girls are easy: Tegan, Peri, Mel, and Ace were all rather dull, boring Earth girls again. Ace picked up on the end and Tegan was only likeable thanks to Janet Fielding and some strong scenes in some stories but for the most part the show played it safe again but Romana 2...now there's a funny and intelligent companion....otherworldly...
[QUOTE BY= sgb1975]Mary Tamm is certainly no Brando, but Lalla Ward is worse imho. Not sure why they replaced her after TKTT season, but I wished they kept her after seeing LW. [/QUOTE]
I believe you will find that Mary was preggers, that why she got replaced.
-Edit- For the record, I refuse to read TRIPPLE post ever again. For the love of Rassilon man learn to use the edit key. -End Edit-
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