3 – The Dominators

Hi everyone, the Historian here. Joining me this week are Ketina, Ronelyn, the silent Schmallturm, Spoo, MiniSpoo, Photobug, Altair, Cz and Abhorsen.  Not much to say for preliminaries this week, so let’s get to the episode. This episode first aired 24 August, 1968.

H = Historian
K = Ketina
R = Ronelyn
Sp = Spoo
P = Photobug
A = Altair
Cz = Cz
Ab = Abhorsen
MS = MiniSpoo

Sp: This week on “budget cuts”

R: I was going to say…

R & Sp: <Dominator expressions, with their shoulders up by their ears.>

R: That was just an unhealthy amount of happy he was displaying after destroying that building.

Ab: We had to wait all episode just to see him destroy one thing.

Cz: One destroy per episode.

R: “Yes, but if I don’t get to destroy things, I get all backed up.”

Sp: Well, does styrofoam count? Because we have a metric ton of that.

Cz: Budget cuts.

Sp: Budget cuts!

K: And Spoo’s back this week.

Sp: Let me say, on a technical note, it’s all ready challenging as an acting job to pretend that things have weight. So, the actors were doing the best that they could, mimicking hard labor with Styrofoam rocks…

Ab: Are real rocks really that hard to find?

Cz: They’re in a quarry.

H: They’re in a studio this story, actually.

Ab: Is the studio inside a quarry?

P: It should be.

H: No.

Sp: <frog voice> “Liability.”

Sp: But, where I was going with that was, moving Styrofoam rocks and pretending they have heft… you kind of make allowances for as an audience. But when it seems like Styrofoam is all they had for building materials, and they’re blowing up doors, and walls, and dropping arches on secondary characters. Yeah… it was distracting.

R: “We Dulcians are a weak and plastic-y people.”

P: With kungfu action?

H: Apparently not.

Sp: They don’t believe in action. Tai Chi, maybe.

P: What, you push a button and they surrender?

K: You were paying attention this week right. Pretty much, yes. They surrender.

P: Yes, that’s where I was going. They push a button and they surrender.

K: Yep.

Cz: They didn’t surrender, fight, or run away. They did nothing.

P: Apparently “Better to do nothing than to do something wrong.”

Sp: Yeah. I had a hard time having sympathy for the planet of the bureaucrats.

R: <old man voice> “Hum… we should assemble a tribunal to convene a conference to design a pointy stick.”

P: You know… it was odd that they’re lugging these very heavy rocks and never thought of knocking the robot over with them.

H: There’s more than one robot. That could have been part of the problem.

R: And they’re made of much stronger Styrofoam.

Sp: So yeah. I have to kind of side with the Dominators on this one. They’re reasonably useless cattle.

H: So you’ve bought into the idea behind the story that total pacifism, no matter how it is preached, can be a bad thing.

Sp: Have we met?

H: <laughs>

P: Is this politics of the time.

H: Yes.

K: This is the time of the hippies. Yes.

R: Dude. At least if there were hippies on this planet…

H: I seem to recall that you didn’t want the space hippies.

R: No. But at least space hippies could kill the Dominators with… syphilis.

Sp: What’s the name of the main Dominator?

H: I don’t know. They have names, but I just don’t know what the hell they are. The problem is that I don’t remember all of the names of the Dulcians either. So it’s kind of hard to do it from a cast list.

R: Guy in diapers #3 is nervous about man wearing asparagus #4.

Sp: Anyway… chief post-it note really amused me when his firm instruction was “see if there were any survivors and bring them to me ALIVE.” Well, if they weren’t alive they wouldn’t be survivors, would they!

H: I think the idea is “Dominator 2 – don’t kill them!” The one that made me laugh was “When they are totally exhausted, bring them to me.” I just had weird flash backs to Laurence Olivier in Sparticus. Is it just me? Did anyone else? No? Okay.

P: They were instructed to “work for their lives.”

R: I think it just indicates that their lives weren’t work very much. “We’re not used to physical labor on Dulkis” Yeah… you’re not used to much on Dulkis.

K: Well, the rocks weren’t really supposed to be made of Styrofoam.

R: What, the people or the rocks?

Sp & R: So… um…

K: Only one at a time, guys.

P: So, how about Jamie and the Doctor and their physical acting in the capsule.

Sp: Yes. I was more entertained by Jamie miming a flight stick…

<laughter>

Sp: Then by all of the Dulcian debate scenes all put together.

H: Something that I was going to say that is a positive note, I thought the acting was better this week. Especially the Dulcian debate scenes. They made have been tedious, but they were well acted. I especially liked the “we have three options” scene. Not because of the dialog… but it was well acted.

R: I admit. That acting was good. I really believed that they were that boring.

Sp: Jamie spoke for all of us I think. “I’ve got a gun… in my room. I can just shoot them!”

<dissolves into Jamie as “Scott Evil.”>

P: I gotta say that when the Professor said “I cannot let you incite my pupils” I thought he meant his eyes at first, and was momentarily confused. I am an idiot?

A: Yes.

<pause>

H: No.

Sp: To be fair, the whole student / teacher relationship thing that was demonstrated so well in the first episode doesn’t really have a place here anymore.

H: Well, it does in that one of the pupils went along with the professor, and the other one said “No, I want to fight” so there’s a contrast-y kind of thing.

Sp: Which does point out another challenge of writing this kind of story: demonstrating conflict believably among a society of pacifists. Which is pretty much why the acting was fine but they were doing what they could with the story they were given. And the really thrilling bits were Jamie and the Doctor trying not to crash land at their destination and lots of exploding Styrofoam. And that was pretty much it.

H: I would be fascinated to see the original scripts before they were chopped up and rewritten by the script editors.

P: So there was also some good ad libbing throughout the scene. Two examples I can think of… one of the guys in the debate scene was playing with the round thing on the table.

R: “Leave us. I must play with my wizzy top.”

K: It did look like a giant top.

P: The other thing is the shtick where the Doctor pulls out his spyglass and Jamie casually swipes it from him…

H: While asking him what he sees.

P: And then also “I said I’m sorry” by Jamie when he caused Cully not to shoot. I think that kind of character exchange filled in this episode quite a bit.

H: Again, more the acting than the script itself.

<pause>

H: I think we’re at final thoughts.

Cz: I noticed, not counting the asparagus, the Doctor was the only person wearing pants.

H: Oh my god, she’s right!

Sp: That was… that um… that was insightful.

Ab: Despite all of the negatively towards the “asparagus people” they’re actually, so far, one of my favorite early designs of a Doctor Who villain.

Sp: Whoa. Okay, you’re going to have to back that up.

Ab: Compared to the Cybermen or Daleks I feel they have a much more threatening and imposing silhouette. The overall design seems a little more original.

H: How much early Doctor Who have you actually seen?

Ab: Not much.

K: We must fix that.

H: Because I think the Dominators is among the least original and interesting designs I have scene, really.

Ab: What would be a more interesting one?

H: Honestly, I think the Daleks are a more interesting design. The Dominators are just guys in suits.

Ab: Their design or their motives? I just like their visual aspect, not the characters themselves.

K: I would argue we’ve see much better, or at least more interesting designs… the Menoptra, the Mechanoids…

H: The servo robot from the Wheel in Space we just watched. Anyway, there’s a lot of really cool designs in early Doctor Who. I highly recommend it all. And who knows, maybe someday you won’t have to watch it as recons for so much of it.

K: Next?

A: It was awesome.

H: That’s it?

A: I knew a girl in high school who had no neck.

H: Did she always want to destroy?

A: She seemed pretty unhappy. She was very sensitive about it.

H: Okay.

P: Let’s start with the Quark’s adorable death.

H: It was adorable.

P: I seriously thought that the kid playing the part was actually enjoying it. I was perplexed of how the Doctor landed the ship, on an island, without any kind of view screen. But all in all, I enjoyed that scene most of all.

K: The Doctor and Jamie are definitely comic relief for this story.

P: I thought that Cully would have pulled the trigger accidentally when Jamie interrupted him. But overall I thought that scene was well done, and actually led to a real cliff hanger for a change.

H: Hey, what did you think of the story Minispoo.

MS: I was really expecting the guy that was trying to shoot the Quarks, like Jamie interrupted him, that he’s just immediately go huh and zap Jamie. And then the Quarks would come over and blast him.

P: So you thought he’d only get one shot and the Quarks would kill him.

MS: Yeah. But then Jamie would survive the blast, but he’d act like he was dead so the Quarks wouldn’t get him.

Sp: Do I need to be the one to point that out that that would make a better story than what we got?

MS: I liked it a lot <nods>

H: Spoo?

Sp: I actually enjoyed this quite a lot. And it moved along at a pretty brisk pace, even the somewhat tedious debate scenes managed to hold together pretty well. I see what they were going for, I can sort of sense the shape of a solid story lurking beneath the surface of this. And the actors all had fun with what they were doing. And the Dominators chewed scenery with the best of them. And really, I kept going back to lots of Styrofoam jokes. But, I was really able to embrace the painted back drops and lightweight building material, and just kind of enjoy it for what it was.

K: So the “budget cuts” weren’t so bad this week?

MS: <frog voice> “Budget cuts…” <singing> “Budget budget budget budget cuts. Gotta catch em all! Digital budget cuts.”

Sp: <moves mouth. No sounds come out.>

H: He’s your son.

Sp: Yeah.

H: So… Ronelyn?

R: All I have to say is, tote that Styro-bale, lift that foam barrel.

K: Totes.

H: That’s it?

R: Yup.

P: Honestly, we covered most of the episode.

K: Me? Well, what Photobug just said. To add to that… I still adore Cully. He’s just… I dunno… fun. Like the only fun character on the whole planet who’s not part of the TARDIS crew. He’d be a neat companion if they just got him better clothes.

Cz: Cully? He’s too old to be playing the “my dad doesn’t pay attention to me” role.

Sp: He’d have to get a different shtick, they already have a dude in a skirt.

K: But, anyway… this one, at least watch week to week like this, and particularly getting to watch it with all of you guys… has been really, unexpectedly, fun. While the costumes and plot are pretty much just as bad as I remembered, the story itself is very entertaining. I’m having lots of fun.

H: Well, I enjoyed this episode more than the first two. But there is something that we haven’t mentioned yet. And that’s Zoe in this episode. It’s interesting that by separating her from the Doctor and Jamie she’s really allowed to shine on her own, which gives her a very good opportunity to make an impression on us on her first TARDIS trip. And she is cute as a button.

Sp: I supposed she’s not as shiny as she could be, though.

H: Just wait.

Sp: No, not that way! I mean, she was all defiant and stuff in the face of Captain Post-It Note, and that’s fine. And she was inciting the pacifists and tourists to riot, and that’s spiffy. But, it’s vaguely unfortunate that she wasn’t the one getting back to the museum to get the only working gun and take a shot at Cutie-6000 herself.

H: She did try. She was stopped by a Cutie-6000 in the building.

K: But still, it could have been her on the second attempt.

Sp: Exactly.

K: And she would have had more experience with guns than Cully.

P: Well, he grabbed the right end of the gun.

H: And he knew how to use a sight.

Sp: Oh yes, more gratuitous gun sight and telescope shots in this episode. They sure do like their little lens masks in this one, don’t they?

R: Yes.

H: I told you there was stuff we hadn’t talked about.

Sp: Final thoughts always brings out the best in us.

H: Well, I’m done? Is everyone else done?

<general agreement.>

And that’s all for this week. We’ll be back next week with another… exciting… oh, I can’t do it. Another episode of The Dominators. Until then, I remain

THE HISTORIAN

NEXT WEEK: THE DOMINATORS EPISODE 4