Hello everyone, the Historian here, with a full house tonight! Everyone is here, including the ever-silent Schmallturm and the often-silent SpookyGrrl, to see the first episode in our new story! After some discussion, we’ve decided to go with the animation on the DVD for this first episode, rather than the Loose Cannon reconstruction. So, without further ado, let’s get to the episode! This episode first aired on 2 November, 1968.
Full house this week:
H = Historian
K = Ketina
R = Ronelyn
Sp = Spoo
MS = MiniSpoo
EG = ElfGrrl
Cz = Cz
P = Photobug
A = Altair
E = Ezio
P: I really, really liked seeing that in animated fashion. It really filled the story out for me.
H: Yeah. Except for Zoe’s outfit, I liked it too. That still bugs me.
EG: I agree. She was supposed to be from the future. Also I kind of liked it when she was with the lady with the pictures. “Well, you can’t lose a wall, can you?”
K: I’m writing all my notes on the wall now.
P: It also felt very much like a James Bond kind of story line.
H: My name is Benton. Unknown first name, Benton.
<brief discussion of Benton’s first name… gonna have to look that one up>
R: On top of that, we even have a bad cloned James Bond sound track.
Sp: Was the soundtrack from the episode or the animation?
H: Yes, it was all from the episode.
Sp: I really liked it.
K: Good animation quality. Although a little quirky at first.
R: Yeah. That was the slowest episode of Aeon Flux I’d ever seen.
H: Benton’s first name was never revealed in the TV series.
<discussion comparing this animation to Aeon Flux and also 60’s animation styles>
EG: Who is Benton?
H: You’ll find out.
MS: I won’t.
K: If you’re not here to see it, you can borrow the DVD later.
H: So, did Tobias Vaughn seem familiar to anyone? The actor playing him, I mean.
Sp: <Mavic Chen voice> “Why are looking at me?”
H: Yes, it’s amazing his desk was not rotating. That is, indeed, Kevin Stoney, who played Mavic Chen in the Dalek’s Master Plan.
K: So he’s totally a bad guy then.
<technical problems interrupt us for a bit>
Cz & E: Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr <commenting on the sound effects>
Cz: Every door that opened.
Sp: How many door sound effects are there?
H: There’s at least one other “Eeeeeeeeeeeee – ktck”
R: And there’s “Fsshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht” And there’s “Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrm”
A: “Please to be of service”
R: And there’s “Braaaaaa merm”
H: Fascinating though this conversation is, perhaps we should move on.
Sp: I would move on, but there’s all these doors in my way.
R: Speaking of budget cuts…
Cz & Sp: Budget cuts!
R: “We’ve replaced this evil corporation’s knock out gas with deodorant. Let’s see if they notice.” Like, when would it ever be a good idea to have knock out gas that just kind of makes people feel icky. It’s just knock down gas.
P: And I have that.
R: And my last complaint on budget cuts…
Sp: Budget cuts!
R: Apparently animated motorcycle wheels don’t need to rotate.
H: To be fair, this animation was originally done for the BBC web site and then not used.
E: Well, that explains a lot.
H: That’s how the DVD companion could afford this. This was the first animation and for many years the only animation of a missing episode because they said “we had this sitting there already made, and actually animated an episode would be too expensive.” This was made with the idea of it just going up on the web site before the show came back, when it was just the Doctor Who cult web site on BBC.
R: I’m not complaining that they did a bad job on the animation as a whole, that’s actually why the motorcycle wheel thing stood out to me.
H: It also explains walking movements and why they were a little juttery, because they were intended for the web. And, since I haven’t mentioned it in the discussion or on our web site, yes the animation was by Cosgrove Hall, the same brilliant minds that many years earlier gave us Danger Mouse and Count Duckula.
R: They must have loved doing Troughton’s cape.
Sp: I loved this animation, and I would watch the hell out of an entire season of this.
<Agreement from around the room>
H: Well, you’ll have a chance to at least watch one more episode of it later in the story.
K: But moving pictures for the next two weeks.
H: I just wish they’d gotten Zoe’s jump suit right. That’s the whole thing behind Isobel’s “Wow, that’s really fab” about Zoe’s outfit.
P: Why can’t you believe that she changed during that time – that she slipped behind a changing screen and changed.
H: Two things – one there was no time for her to have done it in the episode. And two, I’ve seen the telesnaps.
P: Well, I haven’t.
R: Neither had the animators. I think that’s the problem.
H: That’s the thing – they clearly had. The outfit that Zoe is wearing is the one she changes into after Isobel has her change and put the bow own, rather than what she was wearing at the beginning of the episode.
P: Budget cuts.
R: We it just me, or does Isobel have a whiff of future companion about her?
Sp: I thought the first that we saw her, that she had the PC glow, because she’s got a quirk with the camera, and she was instantly comfortable interacting with the Doctor and companions, and sounded… just had a tone of voice that sounded like she was almost already their equal. Oh, two quirks – she writes on walls.
Cz: I like her. I forgot about that. Can we write on the walls?
P: What’s quirky about a camera? Says Photo guy.
R: Have you seen anybody else stop to take pictures on this show? “We’re in ancient Rome. I’ll just stop to write about this in my journal.”
Cz: Oh, you’re right. That’s dumb!
E: And then you’d find the journal later and decide that someone was really off their rocker.
K: We’re talking pictures, not journal.
H: It’s all good.
R: That’s what I’m saying. Pictures, or it didn’t happen.
P: I bet they have an awesome photo development studio inside the TARDIS.
R: Not enough diffusion of light. Okay, now we’re getting really obscure.
K: Only now?
EG: I liked how… I kind of liked the radio when… “that’s how you turn it off, Jamie”
R: I thought that was a really cute line. It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s another instance of he and Frazer taking a smoke break and are like “I know what we should do!”
K: So… about the TARDIS reforming at the beginning of the episode.
H: Should we go into that now.
K: I know there’s a “controversy” around that… but I don’t feel it. You explain, Historian.
H: I wouldn’t call it a controversy.
H: Yeah. So, there’s one reading of the Mind Robber that says that everything except episode one is a dream. Is the Doctor’s dream, and none of it actually happened.
P: That’s a meta escape.
H: No, actually. There’s actually some textual evidence in both the first episode of the Mind Robber and the first episode of this story, if you see them closely enough. The first episode of the Mind Robber ends with them trapped – the Doctor’s going to try something – and the TARDIS starts to break up. Then all the stuff in the Mind Robber apparently happens, including the writer being left at the end – ostensibly an innocent person. This episode begins with the TARDIS coming back together and Jamie said “Doctor did it work” and Zoe asks “Are we moving or are we still stuck?” No reference to the writer, no reference to anything in the previous story, except the first episode. It’s like it never happened. That’s one fairly prevalent theory. Of course, the other is that it did happened, they just didn’t mention it and shut up.
Sp: Our people do not speak of this. Like Klingon forehead bumps.
H: So that’s what I’ve been kind of alluding to which watching the Mind Robber, but it doesn’t make any sense until we get to this episode.
P: Do you really think the first time viewer would catch that?
H: Apparently some did. There were some people at the time who made that leap. Although it’s not clear if this was intentional or if it’s just a fan theory – it’s really not clear. What do you guys think?
A: I’d have to see the context that you mentioned – the clues that you mentioned.
R: Personally, I’m not buying it. I mean, the show has not really shown “Twin Peaks” like subtlety.
H: Another thing is that there’s a point at the very end of the first episode of the Mind Robber where the Doctor is sitting down, with his eyes closed, where the Doctor is starting to nod off – just before the TARDIS breaks up.
K: I thought he was more meditating to deal with the situation, not just falling asleep. Personally, while you could interpret it that way, I don’t think they intended it that way. I agree with Ronelyn that the writers are generally not that sophisticated with their script writing. And with two different writers working on the last episode of the Mind Robber and The Invasion – the Invasion writer wasn’t thinking about the last episode of the Mind Robber.
H: The writer of both the first episode of the Mind Robber and the Invasion was the same person – the story editor of Doctor Who. So he was the one who was rewriting the Mind Robber scripts as well.
K: Okay, that does make it a little more plausible.
E: Mind blown.
EG: Well, I thought that you should never, ever agree with a computer. Even if you don’t agree with the computer.
H: Did you think the last story was a dream?
EG: Well, it could have been. And it also kind of feels like it could have actually happened because it could feel like without the TARDIS you time travel anyway. You could time travel without the TARDIS because of the white robots they took you and could time travel. Basically, they got taken so they could time travel so that they wouldn’t be dead.
EG: A mistake and not a mistake at the same time.
P: So did anyone notice that the dark side of the moon wasn’t dark.
H: “Well, there is no dark side of the moon really..”
H & A: “It’s all dark.”
K: It’s the FAR SIDE of the moon, not the DARK side of the moon.
R: It’s you smart jerks who took away Pluto.
K: One less planet to memorize man. One… less… planet… to… memorize!
MS: Well, that was one of the only four that I can remember right now. The sun, moon, earth, and Pluto.
H: Only one of those is NOW a planet. But Pluto should be.
<And the debate continues. And once again the Historian and I are on opposite sides.>
P: Why is the TARDIS afraid of just a missile. Also, why did the Doctor say it’s as if they knew we were coming.
Cz: Is that missile ever going to become relevant again in this story.
H: It could be.
Cz: You never really know in Doctor Who. It’s probably Cyba-men.
P: It’s probably the guys with stalks. “Exterminate”
MS: First of all, I don’t like the Cybermen because they are enemies of the Daleks. And I love the Daleks. <talks about the awesomeness of Daleks for a bit>
H: So, what do you think Spoo. Was it a dream?
Sp: Sorry, I was meditating to deal with the situation.
H: I just remember during the Mind Robber we had all this discussion about dream logic and I kept my mouth shut.
P: We were so happy then.
H: So, final thoughts?
MS: It was awesome!
EG: Everything is awesome… <degrades into singing>
R: I was mad at the Doctor for taunting the poor computer. <robot voice> “I’m sitting right here!”
A: I love the fact that both times after he realized it was automated he still insulted it.
E: Hey man, it gets the stress out.
H: True that.
P: I found the bottom layer of the building to look exactly like of the BBC building during the 50th anniversary special.
R: Yeah. I don’t think it was the same building, but it did have a strikingly similar feel to it.
A: It was probably pretty much the most modern example they could find at the time.
<note that we are apparently not yet on final thoughts… except maybe for the kids>
P: Some guy died by gun fire and we have not mentioned this yet! Exterminated by gun fire.
MS: You cannot say exterminate. That was not a Dalek kill.
EG: No Dalek kill, no Dalek chill.
MS: I will not let you say exterminate, because I am the king of Daleks.
<I didn’t have to put it in caps because Minispoo is, apparently, not that crazy. Or so he claims>
P: Alright, gun fire in England. Strange. Foreign.
A: It’s the future.
K: And there’s my question.
H: Please don’t get into the dating controversy. Please, I beg you. I will get down on my knees and beg you.
K: <giggles> So… when..
H: I can’t get into this without tremendous spoilers.
K: Is… this…
H: And this is more than you want to know.
Cz: Were they cops? Don’t cops normally have those sticks?
H: They were private cops.
MS: <sings> private cops! Gonna shoot some innocent… people!
H: <turns to Spoo> I know, it’s probably not as fun as if you have to live with him.
A: I can assure you… it’s not as fun <referencing Photobug>
K: So, Historian. Are you going to answer my question?
K: <big sigh> I can look it up later.
H: Did y’all enjoy the call back to professor Travers and his daughter from the Web of Fear?
K: Random thing – so the Doctor has two circuits that he needs to repair. Would he really have left BOTH of them with the weird, clearly evil, scientist guy?
Sp: Have you been watching this show ever?
K: Wouldn’t he have left just one?
P: This is the first episode of the arc. Of course they’re going to give away their weakness.
H: I’ll make a point – the Doctor didn’t leave the circuits with Vaughn. Vaughn took the circuits from the Doctor.
K: My point is, that the Doctor should have only shown him one, to snatch, instead of both. Or insisted that he give one back. Just… meh. Foolish on the part of the Doctor. He’s supposed to be so clever.
H: Vaughn clearly had him off balance.
P: It doesn’t make sense that they would let the truck drive leave uninspected and then chase him down and kill him for not coming back.
K: It does make sense. The people who let him go were different than the people who ran him down. They were hiding from the motorcycle riders in the woods when they went by the first time. Then they reached the gate and the gate guard let them through. The motorcycle riders reached the gate and chased them through the gate. And then the driver let the gang out shortly before the motorcycles caught up to them.
R: It could also very well be that they discovered something he had done, and sent the motorcycle guys to chase him down. The radio call comes through to the gate house “saying stop anyone from going through” and the guy at the gate house says “somebody suspicious just left” and an ominous voice says “release the hounds!”
K: So, transistor radio bugged?
<”duhs’” from around the room.>
EG: I have one last thing to say – I kind of like the brrrrrp when the doors opened. “Buuuurrrrrp”
H: Well, I think that’s a good transition as any to final thoughts.
E: So, Zoe’s a model now.
E: Well, she is very photogenic.
P: She’s on a TV show. Just saying.
H: Apparently Wendy Padbury was a bathing suit model before her acting career took off.
E: Really? Interesting.
Sp: And the sound of a hundred search engines is heard rumbling in the distance.
E: Meanwhile our other two intrepid adventurers are probably getting themselves in trouble. As usual. But hey, it’s not like we didn’t see that coming.
A: I liked the animation.
P: Actually, I thought the animation really added to the show. I can’t imagine they filmed it as awesome as the animation was.
H: I hope some day you might have the chance to find out.
A: I have more. I liked the music this time – it was really good as well.
Sp: I can’t say enough good things about the animation. The animators got some really expressive facial poses for the Doctor, and Zoe, and even some of the minor thugs.
P: Which they did reuse.
Sp: Yeah. And they reused them well.
K: I liked both the lack of blinking from Vaughn and also the dark shadowy hall way that the Doctor and Jamie go down. It was nicely animated.
Sp: And little whimsical touches in the animation during Zoe’s photoshoot.
H: Those were based on telesnaps.
Sp: Well done. It’s a setup episode. There’s not much more to say that we haven’t already covered. If anything the animation is buying this story some story some good will because the novelty of the animation style is… strong enough to cover any typical first episode slow parts.
K: I agree.
Cz: So, animated Jamie… not too bad on the eyes. I’m just going to throw that out there.
MS: They should put some color in it.
Cz: I didn’t realized it was in black and white. It looked… correct.
Sp: So doughy, sketchy, and kilted does it for you, does it?
Cz: <leaves the room>
H & K: Ronelyn?
R: We all live in a gray scale submarine… a gray scale submarine… a gray scale submarine.
H: Is that all you’ve got?
R: I can understand why the Beatles started doing drugs, that’s all.
K: This DVD has been sitting on my shelf, unwatched, for way too long. Historian borrowed it when I got it, then it got buried in a pile when it was returned and forgotten. And then when we decided to do the TARDIS Project I decided to hold off on seeing it until we reaching it… now. So this is cool.
Sp: I hope that the Invasion has more plot twists than the story you just told.
K: Yeah. I already know it does, and I don’t know much of the story. But this was really cool. A very packed first episode – especially given how massively long this story is.
H: It’s not as long as the War Games. Or the Dalek’s Master Plan.
K: Okay, You’ve only named the two longest Doctor Who stories. And this is <not counting Trial of a Time Lord> the third longest. Anyway… we’ll be watching this story most of the summer.
H: I recuse myself from final thoughts to prevent spoilers.
P: The Historian is spoiled.
And there we have it, another episode enjoyed—and hopefully another discussion enjoyed by you! We’ll be back next week, as the mystery of International Electromatics deepens….Until then, I remain
NEXT WEEK: THE INVASION EPISODE 2