Tuesday, April 29, 2008


A wealthy ex-soldier has gathered his three sons and their respective wives together in his isolated country mansion to celebrate his birthday, away from the distractions of 1920s civilization in what promises to be a quiet and dignified occasion.

However, strange things are aboard that night – all the clocks in the mansion have stopped, portents of a coming apocalypse can be found everywhere, spectral figures can be spotted lurking the corridors out of the corner of your eye, and if you listen closely you can just hear someone... or something... laughing insanely. Is the family losing their minds, or is something reaching out to them from beyond the grave?

The Doctor and Peri arrive at the mansion, claiming something murderous is prowling the dark woods outside and soon one of the family is dead while others disappear. The time travellers are immediately suspected, and as they attempt to establish their innocence and find out the truth it becomes clear that they are dealing with an old enemy, one they never expected to see again.

Cover by Chris Hale

Monday, April 28, 2008

Doctor Who - Playing Soldiers


Hey, babe, take a chance with me,
I'll take you down the river tonight!
A full moon with a big wolf too?
The end won't be a pretty sight!

If I were to live forever
I'd hope you'd apply the coup de grace!
And then we seeking something
We need the coup de grace!

Oh lord, I'm on my knees!
Saaaaaaaay-haaaaaaaaa-veeee ouuuuuuur soooo-uuuls!
Or it's the coup de grace!
Saaaaaaaay-haaaaaaaaa-veeee ouuuuuuur soooo-uuuls!
I really mean it now!
Saaaaaaaay-haaaaaaaaa-veeee ouuuuuuur soooo-uuuls!
And it's the coup de grace!
Saaaaaaaay-haaaaaaaaa-veeee ouuuuuuur soooo-uuuls!

It's easy pigeonhole writers as odd as the characters and stories they write. When the name "Eric Saward" is said, it's almost instinctive to visualize an overweight miserable bastard sitting at the type writer not doing work but throwing darts at a poster of JNT. "Nicholas Briggs" conjurs up a wild-eyed bald guy shrieking into a voice modulator as he writes and edits scripts, maybe with more than one pair of hands like some strange Indian god. "Chris Chibnall" is either a sweaty adolescent who won't take his hands out of his pockets or some strange sunglasses-leather-clad Matrix extra who does his work without saying a word. "Steve Moffat" is, well, Jeff Murdoch with a sinister gleam in his eyes. I'm not sure about Robert Holmes, though, as I see him splitting like an amoeba into Avon and Vila as they write scripts.

"So the Doctor picks up the rifle and but, you see old chum, he's actually shooting at the assassin."
"You're a fool, Vila. Better he shoots the President,
claims he was shooting at the assassin and has to prove it."
"How's he going to do that? He's on trial for his life."
"He'll get off on a technicality."
"That's brilliant, Avon! Absolutely brilliant! It'll never work, though."
"It doesn't have to, there are still two episodes to go."

As for Helen Raynor, well, the impression there is of a Jo Grant type klutz, judging by her going ALL the way to America to study 1930s architecture, politics, history and then boiling it down to a couple of characters saying jobs are too scarce for anyone to cause trouble. It's like she put so much effort into the script, then... handed in the wrong one. If you get the Season 3 box set, check out the deleted scenes from her Dalek story. It's like they removed the most important parts of it; the admittedly length scene in the TARDIS where the Doctor and Martha confront the fact he intends to take her home and travel on alone, but handles the character arc so much better than what is effectively Martha bitching that the Doctor is still hung up on Rose. Similarly, Tallulah's "meh" reaction to losing Lazlo in that same sequence is rubbish compared to the cut sequence where they return to Hooverville and Tallulah bitches about EVERY damn thing from getting mud in her shoes to leaves in her hair before breaking down under this displacement anxiety. This scene also has Solomon greeting Frank, you know, the boy he left for dead...

Basically, the uncut version of Daleks in Manhatten is far superior to the 'cut to the chase' dumbed down version televised. But there are STILL incredibly dodgy plot devices. Even ASIDE the retarded idea that solar flares turn into lightning that absorbs and transmits DNA, and DNA contains "freedom", we have the nonsense idea of the Pig Slaves and Lazlo. Just THINK about it. How the hell did Lazlo escape? Why did he not get turned into a full pig? WHY THE HELL ARE THEY TURNING PEOPLE INTO PIGS ANYWAY? RTD wanted a story where Daleks were capturing pigs and turning them into people, not the other way round.

Ghost Machine and To The Last Man suffer from similar issues. In both, the first three quarters are - at worst - acceptible, with a Torchwood member getting too attached to a historical figure to the point it clouds their judgement. But the plot won't stretch the extra ten minutes. In the former, we suddenly have a completely pointless "fight the future" idea - which could have worked just as well as Jack trying to stop Owen without any foresight saga - and the latter we have a stupid problem (no one explains how the time thing works) and an even STUPIDER solution: Tosh uses DNA to become a ghost and travel through time. Raynor clearly has the talent to act as a script editor, polishing dialogue, coming up with some nice set pieces, but full episodes?! No, no good there. Give her a shopping list, she messes it up, leave her alone, she panics.

Now, I would love for nothing more than my ass to be handed to me with The Sontaran Stratagem - to get two episodes of ass-kicking Sontaran action worthy of the clone bastards, and proof she's just had a bad break. Chibnall managed it, so why not her? Hell, she puts more effort into it than PJ Hammond, surely!

But somehow that 'simplified' feeling oozes from every frame, even in the opening sequence where a Journalist Who Knows Too Much is thrown out of a college by the owner who phones a Sontaran and suggests they kill said Journalist Who Knows Too Much. And the Sontarans (unseen of course, since we're supposed to have Spoiler Amnesia, that odd phenomenon that means we're surprised at the monsters despite them being in the title, the trailers, the magazine, the news, etc.) carry this out with their usual subtlety by...

...making her car drive itself into the river.


Why is this sequence feel so... childish? Is the way the characters don't have conversations, but exposit in a manner with enough characterization in it so it doesn't appear they exist only to convey information to the audience? Having seen everything with the Journalist Who Knows Too Much... I still know nothing about her. She's a journalist, she's angry, and she has a connection to UNIT. And she is part oriental, judging by her eyes, giving her a kind of 'identikit' like face. But that's it. Even Rattigan, the American clever teenage bastard, is only given another dimension through his possessions in his room and 'Cold blooded murder? Neat!' acting. On paper, these characters are wallpaper. So maybe it's the blunt, relaxed direction that seems designed to remove any kind of passion or tension from the scene?

Or is it the incredibly retarded idea of the Ultimate Warriors of the Universe building GPS systems for cars... that are EVIL?!? All three episodes before hand were, in comparison, gritty and hardhitting - or at least washed over us. This, like ALL of Raynor's work, feels like there's a layer of plastic stopping all the stuff reaching the audience. It's too obviously a TV show. {Damn, I wish I was Lawrence Miles for that paragraph. He'd at least be able to explain what was wrong with it before going off on a tangent.} However, it seems that it's someone BEHIND the camera, not in front of it, that causes this bland, uninvolving vibe. Maybe when they're coupled with Raynor's less-than-nuanced script, they combine into truly tasteless television. And not in a "eew, gross" sort of tasteless. Bland, tasteless tasteless.

Suffice it to say, this K factor (not the X factor, which is inherently good, but the K factor - spot the D-Gen reference), is going to be one hell of a downer when it comes to my final score.

An aside: does anyone else like it when the title sequence actually fits into the narrative? For example, in The Unquiet Dead, Father's Day, the Children in Need specials, New Earth, Tooth and Claw, Girl in The Fireplace, Rise of the Cybermen, Idiot's Lantern, Fear Her, Army of Ghosts, The Shakespeare Code, Gridlock, Daleks in Manhatten, Utopia (kinda) and Planet of Ood, the sight of the TARDIS lurching through the vortex is pretty much a lengthy establishing shot, as we then cut to the console room or else the police box appearing somewhere. This week does the same thing as the pre-credits end with the Doctor changing course and the title sequence ends with it arrive at its destination.

Which destination is this? Why, Earth of course in the heady year of 2009. Martha Jones as - as promised in Last of the Time Lords - phoned the Doctor and the Doctor - as promised in Last of the Time Lords - has come running. However, it's fair to say he's not been looking forward to meeting Martha again, as he's downright anxious as he creeps from the TARDIS as it arrives at their rendezvous. Is he worried she might not still be friends with him after he completely ruined her life? Is he worried her mother, Bullcrusher Jones, may also be present? Is it just that this goes against his 'closure' rule?

Well, Martha is the same Grown Up Lady we saw in Torchwood 2 (wow, it might actually be canonical this year), and it has a very different effect. In Torchwood, she was the professional showing up the regulars for the useless-if-well-meaning twats they were, but here is very much a case of 'you used to be a lot more fun'. Having steeled himself against some kind of outcome, the Doctor is shocked when what he fully expects to be School Reunion 2: Spartha Jones and Donna Kebab Fight To The Death actually... is a dull, polite affair. The audience, braced for the biggest bitch fight since Charley used the immortal words, "WHO... IS SHE?!?!" relax. Donna wouldn't waste her breath on being jealous of the Doctor, and Martha has got over him. Like "Martha, why are you wearing that ring? Is it a human thing?" got over him. He is then humiliated as Donna explains purpose of said ring. It's quite like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in the respects the hero returns to find no one really missed him and the heroine is engaged, except in Torchwood there was a subtext of "Dear God, how sad and pathetic ARE you, Gwen?". Here it is, "Hah! The Doctor never thought Martha would use her incredible strength of will to get over her crush, and now feels lower than when she walked out!" Finding out that niether of his fiesty companions consider him worth fighting for is a bit of a kick in the bollocks for the Doctor too, and he'd starting to think Donna is getting tired of travelling with him as well. It seems the Doctor's crisis of confidence arc - while still being played mostly for laughs - is a big thing this year.

(Oh, and Martha's engaged to Tom Milligan, the bloke she fancied in The Last of the Time Lords. Exactly how they got together since she only really knew a emotionally-scarred suicidal version of him who died then ceased to have ever existed is kind of glossed over. But even Martha notes she might be transferring a bit engaging a doctor who restlessly travels the world helping people...)

Yet, while part of me welcomes this surprisingly mature and not so freaking obvious approach to multiple companion get togethers, it has to be said a bitch fight betwixt Donna and Martha would give a bit of a spark to proceedings. Instead Freema Agyeman gets to do her Esme act - her cancelled-at-the-last minute role of hardcore military preacher in Rise of the Cyberman. Basically, Martha turns into cold-eyed soldier shouting orders into her walkie talkie. However, this isn't so much bad characterization as rather good, especially as she appears more comfortable in her "Go go go!" persona than the one who embraces the Doctor in the first scene. Once again, if you haven't seen her eps in Torchwood, this little volte face might give you whiplash but judging by the reactions of the Doctor and Donna, it's supposed to.

For dear Martha Jones is in UNIT - aka Unified Intelligence Taskforce, as they bizarrely shout at each other when giving orders - cementing her role as the New Brigadier, but there's a caucasian twit in uniform to cover anything they've missed. Martha has brought the Doctor to the ATMOS factory as her red-beret troops storm the area and raid it for illegal aliens. And UNIT aiming sub machine guns at unarmed factory hands is certainly harsher than expected, giving another inch to Torchwood canonicity - Jack's gang may be heartbreakingly pathetic, but they're a lot friender than these blokes who are a uniform change away from being Servalan's shock troopers. The Ninth Doctor was only too happy to check out his old personal army, the Tenth is wishing he'd hung up on Martha and stayed on giving Donna driving lessons; as shown by him not realizing that UNIT actually wanted his expertise - he doesn't think of himself as one of the gang any more. Donna, for her part, shows what Ace COULD have done in Battlefield, instead of just having a stroppy tantrum that the Brigadier calls her "miss". UNIT are the ones getting all the funding and support Torchwood Three wishes it had, but their defense of "Home World Security" is getting uncomfortably fascisitic. Martha, like Jack, is smart enough to see this and her immersion in the military is about changing it from the inside. But we all know how good intentions pave the road to hell...

All in all, this is a great idea, knackered slightly by the poor "it was in the 70s... or was it 80s?" gag. Yeah, Lawrence Miles can bitch, just this once, coz he did that joke first. And funnier.

Just what is ATMOS? Well, first off, I'd like to mark my appreciation at the fact that the taxi in Partners in Crime has an ATMOS sticker, even though it's not really a plot point or foreshadowing. Not like Rose. It's that ATMOS is so widespread in 2009, it would be ridiculous there is no sign of it when the Doctor visits that particular year. ATMOS is a special system fitted to cars dead cheap - a combined GPS system that somehow stops the cars making any kind of pollution or carbon footprint. So, just off the top of my head, the fact that numerous people have died of some unspecified poison when using such ATMOS-fitted cars MIGHT JUST be down to the system pumping car fumes or somesuch into the car.

However, why the Sontarans used this "invisible poison" routine to such a scale UNIT notices, but the relatively cleverer 'force them to crash' method on the Journalist Who Knew Too Much escapes me. Did they think car crashes would be less explicable than invisible poisons? If, as it appears, they're laying a trap for UNIT, why not be more freaking obvious and use both? This might be explained in due course, so I'll let this go for now. Oh wait, that IS explained. My bad. I'm also conflicted about the yobbo UNIT troops who, when investigating a possible alien base, don't really notice the strange hypnotized demeanor of the zombie workers guarding an area of the base not on the official maps - either UNIT has lowered its extrance qualifications now everyone knows about aliens or else someone assumed UNIT troops would be pig ignorant bully boys. I'm honestly not sure if either explanation is inherently problematic. Hell, the yobbo is downright compassionate to the first blobby alien he meets...

The ATMOS factory IS, believe it or not, a base for aliens. Sontarans, in fact, if that's not too spoilery. Why there is a Cyber conversion unit in their (floridly lit in neon pink, green and blue) main lab I don't know. If I thought Torchwood 1 was canonical, I might joke the potato heads bought it off Ianto when he had a garage sale. And why the creature in their ominous tank of green slime looks just like an Auton from Terror escapes me as well. Cybermen, Sontarans, Autons... this is my spoof of The Doomsday Signal! DAMN YOU, RTD! DAMN YOU ALL THE WAY TO SWANSEA!

As for Chris Ryan as Staal. Well. The good news is... he looks like a Sontaran. A proper Sontaran. I dunno how it happens, but those redesigned costumes seem to work on camera. Especially the face, much better than the carnival mask shown elsewhere on this blog, though there is a touch of Vogon when seen in profile. It seems that the production team are reading the novelizations - which always have Sontarans taking off their helmets to reveal "a face from a nightmare". Pretty much everyone seems to freak out at the head beneath the helmet (except the Doctor, natch), as if in atavistic terror. Getting actual SHORT people to play Sontarans is novel too. They always seemed so freaking huge. And Staal's dialogue is appropriately Sontaran as well. You can imagine Lynx saying similar things in his thoughtful mood - except maybe the casual sexism about "womenfolk". But Ryan's voice is absolutely the same as Lord Kiv's, and the fact he's a very chatty Sontaran makes it look like the Mentor's in fancy dress. So, despite all odds, it just manages to work. The other Sontaran who talks is pitch perfect though, though he DOES have the carnival mask shown elsewhere in this blog. Oh well. And I have to mention this, my favorite bit:

"There is an enemy of the Sontarans known as the Doctor, a face-changer. Legend says he lead the battle in the Last Great Time War. The finest war in history. And we weren't allowed to be part of it... Oh, but this is excellent! The Last of the Time Lords will die at the hands of the Sontaran Empire in the ruins of his precious Earth!"

The Maori-style haka of "Sontar-hah!" is not so good.

As for the other main baddy, Rattigan, the lost fourth member of the Troika from Buffy... I like him. There's a touch of Nigel Verkoff about him (or maybe that's just the way the story contrives to have Martha naked and covered in slime at one point?), and the Doctor's "irritating childish babble" is perfect for when he tries to fight back with his own "irritiating childish babble", and ends up trumped. Hell, if he wasn't obviously evil, Rattigan could be a decent companion, moreso than Adam ever was since he actually convinces as in any way a genius. Benton replacement Ross also works well with the Doctor, so well in fact he has DEAD MEAT tatooed on his forehead.

Meanwhile, it's Aliens of London time as Donna checks up on her family after her whistlestop tour of time and space. Wilf rocks. Nothing more need be said, as his total acceptance of Donna travelling with the Doctor as long as she's sure she knows what he's doing. Sylvia is not the utter scum of Partners in Crime, but she's still not particularly nice to her own daughter and her bigging up her own observation skills while completely missing the fact her daughter has vanished off the face of the Earth for a week... well, she deserves to be kept in the dark. The companion having her granddad as a confidant is like something you'd expect from a much younger companion, but instead they've given it to the eldest - well, I ASSUME Tait is the oldest woman companion on the show, at least since the relaunch. And the scene where the Doctor meets Sylvia and Wilf - for them both to recognize him, much to their mutual embarassment, ALMOST balances out the frankly dull plot point where the Doctor finds out the hidden alien booby trap by activating it before the mass-activation by nasty aliens. Wow, that hasn't happened since... Partners in Crime? Reset? Invasion of the Bane? Sleeper? The Lost Boy? Forget worldwide distribution of death machines, THIS is a cliche!

All in all, I have to say The Sontaran Stratagem impressed me. While Raynor still has that irritating habit of boiling everything down to people expositing at each other, she is at least coming up with interesting things to exposit about. A classic sign is Martha telling Donna about how the Doctor unwittingly destroyed her family - big, important... and word by word ripped off RTD in various interviews and outlines. The Doctor's attitude to General Mace is well played, especially when he starts giving attitude back, but it repeatedly decays to "you wear a gun, you are therefore nasty until proved otherwise". Didn't Jack teach him anything? Or, if it is just culture shock to big bad UNIT (which is fair enough), a touch more subtlety would be nicer. For example, Donna walking down her home street thinking about what she's experienced so far could easily be done WITHOUT the flashbacks. Say what you like about Doomsday, it credited us with enough braincells to remember who Mickey and Pete were without their youtube character summaries flashed up on screen. And if she's in such a contemplative mood, why doesn't she remember The Runaway Bride?!

So, given the nightmare I anticipated, it worked. A mark off for the 'kids only' direction, though. The Sarah Jane Adventures are harsher and grittier than this. And cliffhanger goes way, way, WAY too long. Followed by the side-swipe of the logo, before cutting to the closing credits. Someone forgot to reedit the trailer properly. It looks SHIT! And, seriously, why doesn't the Doctor use the sonic screwdriver to break the windows of evil possessed cars? Sweet Jesus.

Oh, and the new title sequence doesn't work. "AND FREEMA AGYEMAN" just looks stupid.


(7/10 if directed by someone halfway competent)


A week has passed; passions have cooled and all in all I find myself like The Sontaran Strategem a lot more than I did. Only three things really strike against it (bar the writer, obviously) - Martha's story of joining UNIT doesn't square which what she said in Torchwood; the gormless tit playing General Mace; and how the hell does the ATMOS thing fill Wilf's car full of poison gas after the Doctor has physically removed it from the car and THEN knackered it?

And a brief digression onto Deadlock Seals. This really has gotten silly. They were first introduced in The Parting of the Ways to foreshadow the fact Satellite Five was built by Daleks who knew someone with a sonic screwdriver might tamper with it. In School Reunion, the Krillitanes added them to their computers for exactly the same reason. But then in Season 3 it seems everyone has the bloody things, from cruise ships to run down cargo freighters to soft drink factories... what was once the preserve of Higher Evolutionaries like the Time Lords, the Daleks and the Krillitanes to deliberately stop sonic screwdrivers is now anything you can get from Mitre 10. OK, the Sontarans are probably tech-savvy to use them, but why? They're not expecting anyone on Earth to get the better of them, and aren't even expecting the Doctor to have survived the war...

The big problem is it's made clear that while Deadlock Seals are immune to the sonic screwdriver, they aren't immune to many other things. Like brute force. Or Jack's wrist manipulator gadget. Why the Doctor hasn't built a second screwdriver that works ONLY on Deadlock Seals, I just don't know. Is it THAT difficult to mug a Time Agent? What's more, the script has a much more interesting plot device to stop the Doctor easily saving the day - the evil cloned UNIT traitor!

I only hope that the Doctor's "stand in the middle of the road freaking out" act, perfected at the end of Utopia, is down to his continuing confidence issues thankfully played down by the last two episodes, rather than a lack of ideas. When even Sylvia "Die Already!" Noble can work out a logical solution to a locked car filling with exhaust fumes - break the windows - it is a buzz kill that your childhood hero didn't even THINK of it. This, coupled with the extended-beyond-credibility cliffhanger, is a big failing of the overall story. Hell, even Bernard and Manny at their drunkest would have been more competent and pro-active! Mind you, he instantly twigs about the evil clone given half a chance, in a lovely moment which at first seems to be a direct uncanonizing of the Pertwee era, but is actually a bluff! And to make sure we get that, the Doctor wishes the Brigadier ('Sir Alistair') was around to help. Of course, it strikes me now that a situation involving UNIT and Sontarans would definitely freak out the Doctor, since the last time he was in a war zone he made his own species extinct, a rather big difference between the Classic Doctor and the New one. The 'I don't like guns' could really be done a lot more subtle though.

Of course, the main thrust of the cliffhanger with the Earth's atmosphere turning to car exhaust, still kind of works - especially as it's absolutely, abdundantly, no hesitatingly stated that everyone knows about aliens. Therefore, devastating most of humanity is the next logical step in separating Doctor Who Earth from out own. While I was slightly taken aback at seeing Circular Quay lost in smog, how did anyone tell the difference in Manhatten? And do they get good old Mal Loup to show the international face of disaster like the last three times? Well, yes, but they also get Kirsty Wauk to do it. And good god she's ugly. Dead Ringers once again leaves us with a parody far more interesting and aesthetically pleasing than the genuine article. Damnit. Still, UNIT deciding to lead the fight against the latest alien menace feels appropriate too - after three series of Slitheen, Daleks, Cybermen and the Master pushing humanity around, they were bound to snap sooner or later. How appropriate that official contact is not "We come in peace" but "BRING IT ON!!"

Of course, with all brand new cars pumping out lethal fumes, the Doctor and Donna must use something antiquated, sans ATMOS, and visually ridiculous... a cab. Not Bessie. OK, maybe a bit fanwanky but makes more sense than a cab. What kind of logic decides that when we first see the ATMOS logo, it's on a cab, then a cab is the one car that WON'T have it?! And why, in a scene nicked from Planet of Evil when the TARDIS is teleported elsewhere, does its light flash? Come to think of it, why nick sound effects from Blake's 7 to use a teleport, but NOT the sound effects for the Blake's 7 teleport? If Big Finish can manage it, even without the "budabadudababump", surely the BBC can? Or has Sky's revival got in the way?

While Sylvia and Wilf are forced to seal themselves inside the house (surprisingly effective that, especially as I'd be stuffed in such a situation - with all my cats and dogs, hermetically sealing the house is impssible), Rattigan goes postal and rants his Space Nazi dreams and scheduling breeding program to his doubting followers (one of which I swear is Arj Barker), in a sequence reminiscent but more heartbreakingly pathetic than one with Dennis Lawson in Jekyll. Yep, Adric was never this bad, even when Saward was bored shitless. Oh, it's sad as everyone calls him a nutter and leaves him alone, stamping his foot - and his speech started so well with him chanelling Kieth Allan's Black Knight speeches.

And... oh my. I didn't notice that before... he really should check the answer machine more often...

Smacked back into reality by Sylvia's bitch of the week: with humanity left only hours to live, Sylvia responds to Donna's promise to help sort it out with, "Oh, what would YOU know?!" For fuck's sake! Is there ANY redeeming feature to this woman? She doesn't even care what her only daughter is up to during the apocalypse! Even Chrissy Thickaspigshit-Jackson managed THAT! Far more sympathetic but no less frustrating is UNIT, who decide their emotionally-vulnerable scientific advisor is no longer worth his weight in gold and decide to go nuclear on the Sontarans' collective cloned tinfoil-coated arses with the entire planet's arsenel while simulteanously attacking their planetary base with the Valiant.

As you can imagine, for our Toad Face guest stars, all their Christmases just came at once...

There are plenty of brilliant moments in this ep, this story even, and the sight of the entire Earth burning is but one of them. The scenes with Donna alone surrounded by Sontarans are a corker - suddenly it actually feels dangerous and important rather than the plastic runaround. Does Raynor need time to reach critical mass? The "Are You My Mummy" gag wasn't bad either, followed by the impressive sequence where UNIT show they're not the amateurs of the Pertwee era and have been capable of defending Earth while he is away (mind you, they seem to be starting to fall under the Torchwood self-shaggability spell...). And the slightly flirty convo between Donna and Martha raises a smile too, while their reactions to the Doctor's amazing survival made me laugh out aloud. The cliffhanger ending was good too, if a bit familiar of a certain Fifth Doctor story.

The real pity - bar the awful cliffhanger trouble - is how dull and uninspired the Sontaran's ultimate aim is. In fact, I'm trying to think of an alien race who HASN'T tried it (just in this series alone), doubly tragic considering how well set up the resolution is. The music is also rather poor, now I think about it. Murray Gold doesn't manage to make a single note stay in the memory, and he's business as usual around the Sontarans. Surely their freaky grating march from Invasion of Time pt 4 deserves to come back, if all the SFX from Destiny of the Daleks does... and seriously, the "I'll do it!" sequence really WAS adequately explored with Eccleston's Doctor.

And why the hell did they get Chris Ryan to be a Sontaran rather than Alexei Sayle?!

While I do kind of wish the first Sontaran TV story was a bit braver - like the Tenth Doctor's comic debut The Betrothal of Sontar - this two parter does manage to live up to the hieghts of the first three stories. With UNIT, Martha, Sontarans, Doctor angst and Donna development, this story would have been hard pressed to be better... but I dare say it could have managed it anyway. As a light mid-season tale, this kicks the arses of The Daleks in Manhatten, Rise of the Cybermen and quite probably Aliens of London. And I LIKE Aliens of London.

At this rate, I'll actually look forward to Raynor's next script.

Next Time: The Doctor, Donna and Martha watch in awe at a hot blonde teenage girl doing Buffy-style stunts and fighting monsters. The Doctor recognizes her.
"Where did she come from?" asks Martha.
"From me," the Doctor whispers.
"From you? How?!" Donna asks.
The Doctor looks awkward. "Well... She's my daughter..."
The blonde expertly arms a submachine gun. "Hello, dad!"





Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ashes to Ashes - Karma Kamelions

The Happy Day

"It's like a powder keg around here. Just waiting for a spark. But it's not going to happen, not this week, not on my patch, not for Di. Chris, get up there and kick the door down."
"Hang on. Why risk a spark? Look and learn, fictional constructs!"
"Right... let her do her stuff for a minute and THEN kick the sodding door down."

How the hell do I review this episode beyond, quite simply, "much better"?

The writers have clearly had a decent night's sleep and downed a bottle of Chris Chibnall patented talent retcon before working on this. The characters have been slightly modified to be less pointless and annoying. Raymondo, for example, while still pig ignorant and offensive, is shown to be a hard working copper who, while not able to work out the answers, can at least ask the right questions. Chris is not the complete arse of last week, but instead shows himself to be a kind of social Kamelion. I dare say few saw that brilliant Aunty Jack skit where the waiter at a club changes personality and manners to become equal to every person he serves, (butch beer drinker, camp martini know-it-all, shy soft drink collector)? Here we see Chris changes similarly in company - he's vulgar and coarse with Ray, exhuberant and open-minded with Shazza, a vaguely competent cop with no personality to Alex, and... well... Chris when he's with Gene. Gene too has lost the 'talk tough' of last week and IS the hard bastard we remember, quite willing to strap an innocent man naked to a pool table and then play a game if it will prevent loss of life.

The loss of life in this case is the London Liberation Front, a mysterious terrorist organization disguided with "Thatcherite economics" and in particular the upcoming marriage betwixt Charles and Di. Gene tells his superiors he will stop this outfit and their plans and makes sure his whole department is on the same page. Well, except for Alex of course, who walks the knife's edge this week between pure comedy character and someone Sparacus would aspire to.

One of the truly heartwarming parts of Life on Mars, was the fact that Sam's compassion drove the storylines. True, he might be lying in bed and this is all a dream, but he can't take that chance, and so helps people whenever he can. Alex, however, thinks this is all a dream and refuses to become involved. She openly tells everyone she's dreaming all this, and they clearly hear what she's saying. Gene, Ray and Chris have wordlessly decided to avoid discussing this, but the rest of the world do not know Sam Tyler and think she's a nutter.

Worse, an incredibly condescending and patronizing nutter. For all her bollocks about being brilliant at personality profiling, she is unable (or more likely unwilling) to talk in a manner anyone understands, and sounds like she ate a psych text book that keeps repeating on her. Worse, she goes out of her way to be annoying in a way unseen outside of Ben Chatham. Imagine him trying to console someone, crank up the cynacism and you have Alex Drake.

In short, Gene spends a good chunk of this episode apologizing for HER behaviour. And considering he at one point decks a suspect and drags them down four flights of steps after they dare call him a coward, its damning that he still seems the more responsible and sympathetic of the two.

To my intense relief, the story makes it clear that Alex's detachment to Gene's World is not endearing and cheerfully smacks the bint down as Alex bumps into her own mother - who in 1981 was a successful female lawyer single-handedly trying to bring down the Metropoliton Police Force. But just in case we start to feel for Alex's mum - who died in 1981 in a car bombing - we get to find out that not only is she blinked by an unreasonable hatred of the police, she is a careless and neglectful mother with a chip on her shoulder. For such an intelligent woman, it takes a REMARKABLY long time to notice the police woman she's tearing chunks out shares the name of her daughter and even calls her "mum". Pretty much all my feelings on Alex Drake senior are summed up by the following phrase I hurled at the screen after she stormed out of a pub screaming feminist propaganda:


This episode is more like Life on Mars as it gleefully skips from comedy to some quite dark places indeed. Gene is brilliant at both, of course, from the side-splitting treatment of some cardboard boxes, his incredibly backhanded compliment to Shazza when she points out the freaking obvious he overlooked, to his passionate belief in office moral and police tradition. There is also amongst other stuff him being serious, such as having to provide police protection to a man he wants dead, having to arrest a man whose cause Gene personally believes in, and the scene where he insists that the police have the rare ability to change things and are duty bound to do to make life better for the people they serve.

There's also a brilliant sequence where Alex visits a New Romantics disco and meets Boy George as Fade to Grey plays in the background (that's the music video for State of Decay if you check out the BBC site), only to discover Shazza and Chris are some of the... er... New Romantics. Then of course, there is Pointless Clown Cameo where she chases him into the toilets and nearly throttles some poor girl whose only crime was to go to the loo dressed a bit like a clown. And said girl is more frightening than the Clown anyway. PCC also leads to plenty of other 'twisted flashback' sequences which just go to emphasize how much better Sam was at coping with Gene's world.

The plot also has a dark root in it that leads to a shockingly dark finale as a drunken remark from Alex concerning the future leads to, well, bad shit happening. But, like when Alex puts on her tart outfit (which she seems to be contractually obliged to do at least once an episode) to get laid, she insists on taking no responsibility for her actions as this is all a dream. But how many times is Gene going to accept this philosophy? We're heading for showdown, and the complete lack of URST between Alex and Gene gives me hope the result will be worth it.

Luigi is still a waste of space though.

Next Week - Trixie la Bouche from Red Dwarf claims she's been raped. The police aren't interested. Alex is. Everyone goes to a fancy dress ball. Alex dresses up as a prostitute. Again.

Um... not a lot to say except it better stay as good as this.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Parents and DW Story Arcs

At the zenith of the episode Planet of the Ood, the Doctor says his farewell to the titular aliens.

OOD: And what of you now? Will you stay? There is room in the song for you.

DOCTOR: (Slightly embarrassed) Oh, I've... I've sort of... got a song of my own. Thanks.

OOD: I think your song must end soon.

DOCTOR: (Stops smiling) Meaning?

OOD: EVERY song must end.

DOCTOR: Yeah...

Following the end credits, my mum turned to me and asked, "Is that the end of Tarrant then?"


"Eh?" I replied, utterly mystefied and wondering if she thought Steven Pacey was in The Sontaran Strategem.

"Is he leaving at the end of the series?" she explained.

Right. She said, "Tarrant", but she means "Tennant".

But then I was struck that the above discourse had apparently struck her as foreshadowing of a regeneration. As it appears to have struck every single fan on Outpost Gallifrey and Behind the Sofa DESPITE the clear fact DT has been seen filming the finale scene for Season Four and the next Christmas Special. Barring some strange Wormwood-style multiple Doctor chaos, he's still in the show. So once again, an Ood story has cast a completely false shadow over the fate of the main cast. First Rose dying in battle, now the Doctor dying.

I say this because RTD's story arcs have, it seems, completely gone over the heads of my parents. While not hardcore fans like myself, they do enjoy the show and in my youth were able to explain the complicated sequelitis of Destiny of the Daleks to me, as I never saw Genesis of the Daleks. They also firmly knew Season Sixteen as The Key To Time Season, and they were happy to use the phrase "E-Space Trilogy" without a gun pointed to their heads. These were the people who could explain to me what the hell was going on in part four of The Curse of Fenric when the evil Russian dude Ace fancied started bitching about Iceworld, Cybermen, time storms and Lady Peinforte.

But any of the repeated memes?

1. Bad Wolf

I can't really speak for my parents' opinion of Series 1. Basically, they only saw the first two episodes before having to wait for the ABC to screen them. This meant that often their hectic lives would leave them dozing through the episode, knowing I'd tape it, and watching Dalek or The Empty Child was completely out of the question since my near-as-dammit brother Bindie turned up with a bundle of joy called Kiera who screamed, ranted and was so utterly cute the antics of Van Statten or Constantine were ignored. I still don't think they've ever really watched Dalek... after all, when you don't need to be convinced how hard the metal bastards are, a whole episode of them floating up stairs and shooting people doesn't grab the imagination. Also, Eccleston's quitting killed a lot of their enthusiasm for it, especially as they really liked his Doctor.

As for the story arc, it's amazing they didn't register it. Even the freaking obvious ones. When Bad Wolf was spray-painted on the TARDIS, they laughed because it was just some punk spraypainting a police box. Gwenyth freaking out about The Big Bad Wolf didn't garner a reaction. Nor did that bit in Boomtown when the Ninth Doctor screams, "OMG! RUNNING STORY ARC!" as he bounces up and down. Or Rose doing the exact same thing in the next episode. Innumerable times.

Our reception was ruined during the night Parting of the Ways was screened - a fact celebrated by Rage who played Orbital's version of the theme tune that night, followed later by Doctor'n the Tardis. So, at the first opportunity I bought the vanilla DVD, which for various reasons meant the last three episodes of Season 1 were the most they've seen of the whole reboot.

It clearly didn't stick in their memory, for both of them replied "Who?" at the announcement of Captain Jack getting his own show called Torchwood. When I finally got them to WATCH Torchwood, on my computer, turning the room into a mini-theatre, they still didn't recognize him. Despite the fact the only episodes they'd ever properly watched featured him in it, fighting Daleks and snogging the Doctor. They didn't even pick up on the Doctor Who connection, assuming that the references to Cybermen were just one-off gags. Even though the whole bloody show was called...

2. Torchwood

Torchwood was an arc poorly done, we all know that. Despite being even MORE obvious than Bad Wolf, my parents didn't react. They enjoyed the episodes, sure, and actually watched them. Definitely. But Harriet Jones whispering darkly didn't register. Queen Victoria ranting? Nothing. The Torchwood Archive? Not a flicker.

In fact, the only time they seemed to notice the arc word was the ABC ad for Army of Ghost - part of which featured the words DOCTOR WHO breaking up and reassembling as TORCHWOOD. They hadn't noticed that before. Worse, they zoned out halfway through Doomsday. I was amazed when they didn't immediately ask to watch it the next day, since they were delighted that the episode just EXISTED! They had assumed that it was the finale when the Daleks emerged from the sphere, assuming a season cliffhanger.

Nevertheless, despite ALL that, when a show called Torchwood arrived about Captain Jack and alien hunters, they didn't make any connection until Cyberwoman.

3. Mr Saxon

This one has worked, albeit postumously. Since I finally was able to show them episodes at times of their convenience rather than the ABC, they were able to watch the series while getting a re-scheduled Torchwood series to keep them going (for the record it was Everything Changes, Cyberwoman, Countryside, Greeks Bearing Gifts, Out of Time, Ghost Machine, Random Shoes, Small Worlds, Combat, Captain Jack Harkness, End of Days and Day One). They understandably missed the references in Love and Monsters, CJH or The Runaway Bride (though they noticed it on the last viewing).

But all those Vote Saxon posters were overlooked. The Lazarus Experiment's references were vaguely noted... but 42's weren't! It was only with Sound of the Drums they noticed.

Mind you, they got the joke when the next issue of DE came with VS poster. And they got the watch business without necessary explanation. Though the Face of Boe gag was totally lost on them. They had no idea why the Doctor and Martha reacted so much to what they (rightly) assumed to be one of Jack's gags. However, they managed to be surprised when

a) Utopia wasn't the season cliffhanger
b) The Sound of the Drums wasn't the season cliffhanger
c) Niether were the season cliffhanger when they saw it AGAIN on the ABC, and had already seen the rest of the season

Sometimes I wonder if they're just messing with me. Like the time they said they were excited about the TV movie.

Grudging success.

4. Season 4...

But this time... it's difference. The bees they noticed. They twigged the soothsayer sequence as VITAL right away, though I doubt they got the references to the Medusa Cascade or Donna's back. And this ominous note from the Ood all lead up in my parent's minds to...

Season 4 ends with a regeneration!

Yet, scratching my head, I have to wonder... is there a precedent for this?

Eccleston didn't have any real build up to his departure, partially because it wasn't planned and mainly because they were desperate to keep it secret. Niether Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy or Colin Baker had a chance to do so. My parents, while watching the repeats of the show on the ABC, were startled when the Doctor perished in The Caves of Androzani (mind you, they hadn't watched it before, but my point is they were not expecting him to change any time soon). Tom Baker is an exception as he dressed in red, stopped smiling and hung around with Adric while visiting other universes - but there isn't a cameo of the Watcher in The Liesure Hive, nor does the Doctor mention his ability to regenerate in Full Circle. Jon Pertwee gets an episode of foreshadowing, including a passing Time Lord dying and regenerating to explain it all satisfactorily. The War Games works precisely because, even at the cliffhanger to part nine, there's no hint of what's to come. The Tenth Planet doesn't even manage that, with Hartnell ducking out, as usual, then saying he's feeling knackered in a story full of people feeling knackered. The regeneration is entirely haphazard.

Basically, my parents sometimes baffle me beyond words. They understood entirely the significance of Grey, but never twigged that Captain Spike was the same guy they saw in the first episode...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Doctor Who - The Might of The Terran Empire!


You jump when you're told to
Through the open door
And the King of Nowhere
He's the man you all died for

In a file marked "secrets"
In a drawer kept closed
Nobody wonders
Because nobody knows

About this jacob's ladder
The only way up is down
Three days in the water
Watching all the secrets drown...

The title of today's blogpost comes from Grant Goggans' Professor X program guide, one of numerable spoof guides to the cult sci-fi show that people in Doctor Who talk about when they want to talk about Doctor Who. And, like all the others, this guide to the running gag of New Adventure pop culture references, vanished without trace, sadly just after Stephen Moffat had given his seal of approval to the guide and it's Colonel X section (you need to see Press Gang to get that). Now, The Might of the Terran Empire! is the substitute for The Mutants, only starring Michael Jayston as Colonel X and Joanna Van Gyseghem as Sandy...

This story, dealing with Earth's colonialism, saw conflict between our planet and a galactic alliance over territories and Earth's handling of native populations. There were no clear cut good and evil characters, and it was somewhat surprising to see humans committing acts of what we would call villainy.

Now, I mention this as it works quite well as a starting point for Planet of the Ood. We're once again in the 42nd century, as the (Second Great And Bountiful) Earth Empire continues to crumble despite a brief respite in the form of free Ood slaves to do all the dirty jobs. Sales of Ood, however, are starting to drop as whispers spread that these seemingly mild-mannered slaves have a darker side. Thus, Ood Operations has had a drastric slash of prices, as well as providing a range of optional voices including D84, Jessica Rabbit and Homer Simpson. No, seriously. But the Ood are suffering "red eye" more and more frequently, and some of them have gone rabid. The situation's a powder keg, and when the Doctor randomly sets the TARDIS for the Ood-Sphere (two on from the Sense-Sphere in The Sensorites) in the tear 4126, it's just a matter of time before two centuries of exploiting blow up in everyone's faces.

It's perhaps a pity they abandoned the original version of 42 - wherein the SS Pentallion's stock of Ood fell under the influence of the sentient sun. While it may have prevented us the pant-wetting horror of the Doctor growling, "I can make you BURN, Martha!", it would have satisfied the deep-rooted desire in humans for trilogies. Instead, the Ood join Margaret Slitheen, the Cult of Skaro, Cassandra, Sil and the Mentors, the Mara, the Yeti, Peladon complete with fixtures and fittings, as only getting two proper TV stories and kaput. Oh well.

Graham Harper is directing again, and makes sure that Planet of the Ood is as intense an experience as Utopia or 42 beforehand. It also has to be said that this week's episode is noticeably less kid-friendly than previous ones. I'm not saying they were dumbed down, but Planet boasts amongst other things mass slaughter, torture, torment, vivisection, slavery and other such unfriendly themes, culminating in one character's face rotting off their shoulders. Yet, the old 'translator globe electrocution' trick is as bloodless as ever and despite promises, no one turns to bubbling slime as the scripts specified. There's very little humor, most of it of a black variety, and in a story where both humans AND aliens are evil murdering scum, there is no real audience identification figure bar Donna - and what she experience so sickens her she asks to go home, her wonderlust killed stone dead, temporarily at least.

Like Caves of Androzani, this is a rare Doctor Who story that shows us a universe of total bastards, NONE of whom obviously worth saving. There's one faceless bloke, an Ood supporter who technically counts as a good guy, but even he is a 'ends justify the means', quite happy to have thousands of Oods sacrificed to win - and it's unclear whether he really likes the Ood or just really hates the company. Even the closest the story has to innocents, the buyers of the Ood who turn up to be massacred, aren't sympathetic - I defy anyone to feel any sadness as they get fried while laughing at their own bigotry. There are some out and out psychos, including the black guy whose gleeful attempts to slaughter the Doctor and the Ood border on Dr Evil-style ridiculousness, and no tears were shed when the Ood dished out an innovative brand of vengeance. Hell, I don't even remember the names of the characters, even though they are distinctive - annoying IT-support Indian PA lady, sleep-deprived scientist in white coat, psycho black kommando with wierd facial scar, and Tim McInnery who is not once either Percy or Darling throughout the episode, though the final scene reminds much of his performance as le pimpernel scarlette in Nob and Nobility.

As for the Ood, well, much of this story is about them and expanding on the sneeze of characterization they got in The Satan Pit. After all, what do you expect of an alien race created because the Slitheen outfits were too knackered to be used? In that, we learned these bald telepath aliens in drab clothes (as Planet notes, they're the yokel cousins of the Sensorites) offered themselves up as slaves the humans, as without being given orders and duties they 'pine away and die'. They lack personalities, conversation, initiative... no wonder everyone was so contemptuous of them and saw them as livestock. Yet, despite Rose's attempts to see if there was anything beyond subservience (and there wasn't) people still slagged off the story for the Doctor not trying to free the Ood! The facts that a) he was a bit busy fighting Satan at the time and b) the Ood seemed happy being servants were not went into.

The Doctor notes in this story that Donna cannot really comment on the Empire's use of slaves - the same thing was happening in Pompeii, and even in her own time sweat shops full of refugees provide her designer clothes. But given time to think about the Ood, it becomes obvious the tale spun about them offering themselves as slaves makes no sense. And if the Doctor and Donna can work out the flaws in that PR campaign in a few minutes, then surely the rest of the Empire has as well? It seems the humans at the Torchwood Archive weren't the arrogant goodfornothings you automatically assume will work in the organization. It's dispiriting, cynical, and just like the corrupt bastards in The Mutants. And that was in the galactic empire before this one!

The problem is, of course, the fact that people keep forgetting Doctor Who is no longer a TV-only event. While we no longer have Tardisodes, or those stupid tie-in-websites, there are still the stuff in Doctor Who Annuals and the monster books like Aliens and Enemies. Just as the monster books spoiled the plots of Boomtown and Gridlock, and the annuals unwittingly announced the return of the Daleks, the Master and the Face of Boe's message, Planet of the Ood was unintentionally compromised by an unexpected source. Quite simply, one page in the rubbish 2008 Doctor Who Annual with a picture of an Ood and some exciting facts about it. Like WHY the Oods really serve humanity. I saw story potential in this right away and you can find an OG thread I started calling for the return of the Ood in a story where the Doctor finds out the info in the annual if you ar so inclined. So. Thanks for ripping me off yet AGAIN, RTD. I won't reprint the info here for spoilers, but the scenes cryptically revealing the secret of the Ood was like wondering who the mysterious aliens are in a story with "Daleks" in the title. Idiotic.

The plot resolves itself as plots are oft to do, and there are hints that the Doctor is missing out on something big as he meddles about with events on the Ood-Sphere, something that is causing time to run out...

Next Time: "Is that what you do to them? Turn them into soldiers?"
What IS it with Helen Raynor?! How does she infect proceedings to such a degree everything looks false and plastic? The Sontarans somehow look more cartoony and toy-like than they did before! Chris Ryan uses his Lord Kiv voice (even down to the sound effect) to sound like the most delicate and piss poor of Sontaran ever! UNIT are just blokes in red berets, but at least Martha's there... Anyway, the Sontarans are at work on Earth, and Martha calls in the Doctor to help UNIT defeat them. I very much doubt there is anything beyond that for the next two weeks. Seriously, how the hell do you make an add jam-packed with toad-face action and DT shouting "SONTARANS?!?!" boring?! The only hope of salvation is the fact the quoted line, from Donna, is not about the Sontarans but about the Doctor...


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ashes to Ashes - Major Tom Goes To Rehab

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know Major Tom's a junkie...
God, I hate the eighties.
Watching human development, we see the shell shock of the 1940s bubble over to the 1950s, then shatter in an explosion of inventiveness and revolution in the 1960s. The 1970s deal with the fall out as the fact no one can change the world leads the acceptance of compromise, which in turn leads to cynacism. And then there's the 1980s. As the easily-forgotten sitcom Shock Jock shows, it was the decade to hate. The clothes may have been no more ridiculous than any other period of history, or the hair, or the music, but the sheer greed of it all. The selfishness. The rise of yuppiedom as people threw aside every belief they had and made life consist of looking after number one. Where share prices overtook conversation. It was all about money, dinner parties, and lying about how everyone looked great in peach. You want proof of a god? The stock market crash wiping out half the yuppie population overnight, that is what we call divine retribution, and the 1990s saw European society as a whole hit a kind of stability which has, in turn, become increasingly introverted and technology focussed.
I won't continue this rant like some nutter, bemoaning what attitudes and symptoms caused Doctor Who to go off the rails or why the world should have ended, Threads-style in 1979. The fact is, I hated the 1980s, even when I was living in them - all five years there - and 1990 couldn't come bloody soon enough. Everything beyond the TV shows and pop music sucked, and sometimes even them. When Father's Day showed the 1980s as the grey, miserable and dispiriting world Rose was shocked by, I was relieved they didn't try any of the self-romanticism of The Empty Child or The Idiot's Lantern.
So, Life on Mars set in the 1980s did not appeal to me. Life of Mars set in the 1980s without Sam, Annie, Nelson or Phyllis certainly lost a few points. Life of Mars set in the 1980s without Sam, Annie, Nelson or Phyllis but KEEPING Ray... Matthew Graham, are you TRYING to make me jump off a building like Sam himself?
It is a rule universally acknowledged that pilots are the worst episodes to start watching a show. Yet, there is no other way. First episodes suck, and are often completely different from anything else in the show you'll want to watch for, since they are compromised by having a deliberately pisspoor plot so as not to detract from establishing the characters. Unless you're Steven Moffat, choke this truth down and move on.
Ashes to Ashes, parte the first, it has to be said, would not have got me excited about parte the first. Like Torchwood at its worst, it doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. The episode is basically a line-by-line rewrite of the very first episode, so new folk can tune it, but the whole plot and indeed series rests on you having watched the last episode of Life on Mars and at least partially understanding it. Anyone knowing enough about the show to get all the references will find it tediously predictable at times - me and my parents anyway - and all the 'new stuff' just rubs in how much of the 'old stuff' was a lot better. At least in comparison to this opening episode, anyway.
Rather than the pleasant suburban streets of Manchester, now we're in Central London. Nelson the philisophical cod-Cockney barman is replaced by Luigi the downtrodden restaurant-hostel owner - he doesn't get any decent scenes beyond establishing that he hates his life and everyone in it, particularly the main characters. Annie is replaced by Shazza - a young, cute, endearingly vulnerable teenager with a haircut stolen from Dodo Chaplette who, the story seems to imply, is gay. She might blossom in later episodes, but her personality seems to consist of breathlessly starting every sentence with 'Yeah, right' and hanging around Chris. Phyllis is replaced by some black guy, who could possibly be the same guy from Series Two who was Sam's mentor. I honestly don't know and dare not check for fear of spoilers.
Sam himself is replaced by Alex Drake. And, well, this week at least, it didn't work.
Alex is a woman, a psychologist from the heady future of 2003. It turns out that, just like Sam, not only does she have dark secrets in her past that only a trip back to 1981 could uncover, she also happens to be "written" into the history as a transfer to main police station at her own request, and also has her own Jungian archetypes following her around and being creepy. Well, I say "creepy". Sight gags in Spaced were far more terrifying than anything in this week's installment. The Creepy Little Girl from the Test Card is replaced by a clown, like Joey from The Celestial Toymaker played by Mark Heap.
He has to be THE least-threatening-and-or-scary clown ever.
I have a stuffed toy beanbag clown in my dining room that fills me with more avatistic horror than this guy. Maybe because, you know, he's not smiling or being creepy polite like the Little Girl, but looking pissed off. He doesn't have any smiles or false expression painted on his face. He just looks pissed off. When he suddenly appears stalking Alex when she alone creeps around a deserted warehouse, I was more amused than intimidated. He then had to suddenly 'notice' Alex, talk in the voice of her estranged daughter, then race after Alex roaring and waving his arms before Suddenly Vanishing When You Look Away. Did Creepy Little Girl have to do that? She just stood in the corner and offered friendly advice. This guy might as well have a T-shirt saying FEAR ME! because nothing else is going to help. When Zippy and George make a cameo (played by Roy Skelton, would you believe, reprising his voice role from Rainbow - this is a genuine crossover!), well, these two muppets pretending to be policemen were scarier.
In fact, Life on Mars was scarier full stop. The trouble is, we KNOW what the rules are now. We don't QUITE understand it, but Gene Hunt World can only be accessed when someone is caught between the worlds of life and death, and only then by someone who wants to go. So, when Alex finds herself dumped in 1981, I have little sympathy for her. In fact, impatiently waiting for her to notice her clothing, hair, and surroundings have changed and the place is now bedecked with Adam & The Ants posters annoys me as well. Worse, she's a psychologist who is looking over Sam's memoirs of living in the 70s (narrated by him in the last episode), so she goes "Oh, this is a dream" and starts picking up random ringing phones and talking to televisions, trying to get the rules of this 'fantasy'. Yes, it's what a level-headed woman would do in that situation, but it's hardly thrilling TV when the main character is telling us NO ONE else in the whole wide world is real.
Why, then, should we bother to watch it?
It isn't for the return of Chris and Ray. Despite being seven years older and working with Sam all that time, Ray is absolutely identical to when we last saw him. In fact, he's even more stupid and misogynistic as before. You would have thought he'd be able to bite back to comments after seven years of Tyler and Cartright on his tale. He comes across as odious comic relief, the most stupid character since Tony Robinson got dirty and started telling people he had cunning plans. No, wait, Ray isn't QUITE the stupidist, as Chris manages that.
I expected Chris to change. Seven years on the job, with Gene and Sam mentoring him. Well, he's changed but not much. He's still nervous, prone to putting his foot in his mouth, uncomfortable around non-possibly-gay women, and is as lewd and uncouth as Ray. His stupidity is almost as horrific as him bragging about stealing evidence to keep as souveniers. In front of the bloke who unwillingly provided said evidence. But worst of all was when he leads a bunch of his co-workers in a chorus of Shutuppa Ya Face to annoy Luigi and makes endless racist comments and jokes, seemingly just to wind up Luigi. He's also quick to pass off any responsibility for wrongdoing on his part, blaming Alice for various catastrophes as she's in charge though, when he DOES try to make amends, he's so damn reckless and stupid you wonder if maybe CHRIS is the one with the brain damage and not Alice.
Finally, the Gene Genie. Well. What can I say? You think Phil Glenister would turn in a bad performance? GET OUT OF MY BLOG, SAH! But the core of the character is shifted. Gene worked because, just as he was a good cop continually presented with taking the easy way of corruption, he was also possibly Sam's best friend and also the evil bastard trapping him in the past. Now we know he's a good bloke and innocent of such machievllian stuff, so with that element of mystery gone, we're left with the demeaning sight of Gene having to field phone calls from his supers and defend his decisions. The Gene Genie lacks his exhuberance, as he clearly sees on the horizon the rise of corruption and self interest both inside and outside of the police force, and his quiet hurt as he observes that, in the 1980s, no one trusted the cops and no one liked them. His vow to keep fighting to keep innocents safe until his inevitable chopping is nice, as is the hints he is devastated by Sam's departure, but still...
We're left with a story set in a period of history I don't like. With a bunch of characters who don't want to be there. Who don't like each other much. Or themselves. Worse, the 1980s are so close to the present, the frustration Sam had being stuck on the cusp of so many technological advances and reforms is lost. When Chris shows Alex the Tomorrow's World room of advanced equipment, it's hard to be disappointed: surveillance videos, tape recorders, the lot. Where Sam bemoaned the lack of computers, Alex is left complaining how inefficient the harddrive is. It's symptomatic of the whole episode, trying to impress with an old gag that's less than it was before. Imagine Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch retold except it's not a parrot, it's a goldfish and it turns out to be alive.
There are, however, some good aspects. The music, for example, is closer to the fore in this series, and I could only cheer as I Fought The Law and the Law Won and No More Heroes rang out as the Gene Genie... actually, he calls himself the A Team now... swept in to save the day in his cowboy boots and black-outfit-white-tie Mike Thecoolperson look. The credits done in the style of 1981 DOS was a nice joke, and there are plenty of witty lines from DCI Hunt. He still manages to come out of the series as the best thing in it after half an hour of being defined as a pointless hallucination of no import whatsoever. Certainly, the series should be sold on him rather than Keely Hawes' Alex who, for some reason, cannot cope with the business as entertainingly or as competently as Sam did, with everyone reasonably assuming she's nuts, on drugs or both. When Sam lost it and panicked it was serious. When Alex loses it and panics, it's just embarrassing. And unlike Sam, there's not much she's missing - after all, which is more serious: attending your daughter's birthday party, or helping the police save your girlfriend from a serial killer? She doesn't have as much to lose staying in the 1980s, but I have to admit sighing when she WASN'T returned to the present on her first try.
Next week - while Peter Davison and Janet Fielding are busy visiting Deva Loka, and Charles and Di are getting married, Gene has to stop some terrorist assassins. Cue naked pool tournaments, Alex dressing up as a prostitute AGAIN and the classic sight of obedient dogs fetching burning sticks of dynamite...
I'm sure the rest of the series will improve... assuming I live long enough to download and watch it. But this first episode falls into the Torchwood trap of mindlessly copying something and totally missing what made it work in the first place. It expects us to be impressed with asking questions everyone already knows the answers to.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

At last...

Eve: So, let me get this straight. You're reading a short story you KNOW is awful so you can shout out abuse at the awful bits. And it's so awful Dave refuses to participate.
Nigel: In a nutshell.
Eve: And this is the last part of it.
Andrew: Yes.
Eve: So... what happened in the others?
Andrew: Well, the TARDIS arrives in a parrallel universe absolutely identical to the one he just left except the Master is UNIT's scientific advisor, and he's reviving the Silurians and the Sea Devils for strange reasons as yet unknown. Then the Doctor gets captured by the incredibly stupid Silurians when they find out the Master is reviving some dragon monsters and everyone panics. Any questions?
Eve: Yeah. Is this Eccleston or Tennant?
Nigel: Uh, Baker. Colin Baker?
Eve: Who?
Andrew: Ooooooooh, boy...

Tanget: Earth IV
by Ron Mallett
N: Four Earths and he still can't get it right!
E: It's a pretty dull name. I mean, alternate Earth is the plot. It's not very exciting, or interesting.
A: Yeah, but Mallett has issues about titles that do what they say on the tin.
E: You mean he hates them?
A: No, he hates any title that isn't instantly appropriate and understandable.
E: What a jerk.
N: Such judgement in one so young.

"It may now be necessary to form an alliance with the humans Tobok - for the sake of our mutual survival," Myrak suggested.
A: A bit late in the day, but finally something reasonable is proposed.
N: "May" be necessary? Um, what exactly is your plan if it isn't? And you wanted to nuke humanity five minutes ago!
E: Maybe they're all crazy because they've been frozen for so long?
N: Maybe Mallett was put in cryo-sleep when he was younger?

The Brigadier was inspecting his troops for the forthcoming raid
N: Raid? I thought this was a nuclear attack on some caves!
A: Obviously sending in men with ineffective weaponry and no idea what they're facing the first time didn't work, so UNIT does it all over again and again.
E: Well that's stupid.

when he noticed some small spots appearing on the horizon.
A: "Oh look, some small spots appearing on the horizon."
N: "Damn cataracts! Shoulda retired years ago!"
E: Why did only he notice them? Was everyone else facing the wrong direction?
A: Well, they WERE on parade, so they'd all be facing the Brigadier. Though why they'd happen to be doing parade on the opposite side of the base to when they were leaving, I'm not sure.

"What the hell is that?" He asked Calder.
N: The Brig doesn't talk like that!
E: Even if he did, why is he asking a soldier looking in the wrong direction?
N: Why does he assume Calder of all people would notice?
A: Why didn't he ask Archer?
E: Why are we reading this again?
N: That's dangerous talk, Eve.

Both of them raised their binoculars to inspect the closing aircraft.
E: So, if it was an aircraft, why didn't know what they were? Don't they have planes in this universe?
A: That'd be an interesting idea.
E: Oh. Thanks!

What they saw made Calder drop his lenses.
E: Well, he shouldn't have been holding his lenses if he was using binoculars as well! No wonder he dropped them!
A: Calder doesn't strike me as an easily shocked type. Especially since the base has just been raided by giant sea turtles in string vests and/or samurai armor.
N: It's funny, isn't it?
A: Not really.
N: I mean, when Calder drops his lenses, we're supposed to go "Ooh, this can't be good!" when it just clearly is a signpost "prepare to be underwhelmed"!
E: Maybe that's what scared Calder?
N: What?
E: The flying signpost.
N: ...yeah.
E: Jeez. That was a joke.
A: Sorry, Eve. After a few of these things you start to assume the worst when something stupid is said.

What were approaching were winged reptiles.
E: So... They WEREN'T aircraft, then.
A: Maybe they're winged reptiles IN aircraft. Pterodactyls in bi-planes!
N: Nazi Dinosaurs - the ancient enemy of Mankind!

Their beaks were open as if they were shrieking in ecstasy
E: "As if"? So they weren't shrieking in ecstasy?
A: Well, they can't hear any shrieking in ecstasy. So either these dragons are miming to a non-existent sound track and Calder can lip read OR...
E: ...it's a stupid description?
N: You learn the rules of the game quickly, little one.
E: Don't patronize me, you bastard.
A: They had their mouths open. Maybe they were just hungry.
E: Or burping.
N: Nazi Dinosaurs with Bad Breath! The ultimate enemy of Mankind!

and their long talons clawed at the air in an expectant manner...
A: So, just at a guess, that means these dragons are kind of excited?
E: Shrieking and waving their claws around while flying must be kind of hazardous.
A: At this rate, they'll knock themselves out of the sky before they reach UNIT.
N: Well, if they're as stupid as the Silurians and Sea Devils...
E: So this is good news, then?

The Sky-Dragons crossed the distance between the distant mountains
A: Mountains?! So, in Central London there are beaches, caves and mountains in walking distance?!
E: You know, I didn't see any of those when I went to London.
N: You've been to London, what was it like?
E: Cold. I didn't see any dragons, mountains, beaches, caves or reptile people though.
N: Tut. Tourist.

and the compound with alarming speed.
N: "Alarming Speed, Number One. Make it so."
A: "I cannae do it, Cappun! I don't have the power!"
N: "Then make Ever So Slightly Intimidating Speed!"
A: "Ye cannae break the laws of physics!"
N: "OK, how about Mildly Irritating Speed?"
A: "Yeah, I think I can do that."
E: I have no idea what you two are on about.
A: Fun, isn't it?

Their wails were deafening in.
N: In? In what?
E: Their wails were deafening in... the fact that they were really loud?
A: Oh, so we can HEAR them shrieking in ecstasy now, can we? We're not just beak-reading?
E: Maybe it was defeaning in... A sharp minor?

They began to circle HQ as if they were studying their targets.
E: If they weren't studying their targets, then what WERE they doing!?
N: Take it easy, Eve. That sort of thinking snapped Dave like a twig.
A: Why are the Sky Dragons (and nice how Mallet forgets to be coy despite the fact no one in the scene would know them as Sky Dragons) attacking UNIT HQ?
N: The Master's summoned them.
E: Why?
N: I dunno. Same way he summoned the Sea Devils?
A: You mean, sending out spam emails and hoping they'd come-a-looking?

"Fire at will!" The Brigadier cried.
E: Which one's will?
A: Oh smart move Alistair. Open fire on a bunch of dragons above your base. Even ASSUMING you manage to penetrate their hide and don't just annoy them, that leaves dead dragons falling on top of you?
N: Who cares? They're not the real UNIT!
E: Lucky escape.

The Sky-Dragons began to dive, their talons scraping through metal and flesh with nauseating ease.
E: Nauseating is right...
A: Where did all this metal and flesh come from since they're only BEGINNING to dive?
N: Maybe they bring their own?
E: Like security blankets?
N: Yeah.
E: ...Why the hell not?

One of them landed a few feet from The Brigadier, screaming as it eyed him off.
N: "Eyed him off"? What the hell does that mean?
E: It's hard to keep your eyes on something when you scream. You lift your face automatically.
A: Maybe "eyeing it off" works around that?

It was clear they weren't mindless.
E: Was it? Exactly what leads you to that conclusion?
N: They can fly?
A: And they can "eye you off"?

The Brigadier pulled his revolver and fired directly into the centre of its body.
E: Right. So if it HAD been mindless, would he have not shot it?
A: I dunno, but he seems to think that its brain will be in the centre of the dragon rather than, oh, I dunno, maybe it's HEAD?! Don't aim between the eyes, aim for the part of the body most likely to be reinforced to protect internal organs.
N: Senile dementia. It's so sad to see the Brig reduced to such a moron...

It crumpled for a moment then got to its feet and screamed with more than a hint of anger.
A: Well, bugger me sideways! It turns out that it can survive a shot to the gut! WHO SAW THAT COMING?!?
E: So its screams fall into two groups: ecstasy and "more than a hint of anger".
N: They've got a great range, haven't they?

"Fall back to the compound!" The Brigadier ordered.
E: Um, you're already in the compound. Dumb ass.

The troops complied very swiftly,
E: Since they were already in the compound and thus had obeyed before the order was given!
N: British troops. Best in the world.
A: These are from the UN.
N: Well. That's obviously why they're so crap.

as it had become clear that bullets only served to make the creatures keep their distance.
E: Isn't that good enough?
N: Why don't they use their oh-so-fancy motar gas bomb thingamajigs?
A: Knowing this lot, that was their entire supply.

The Brigadier was at least relived that their barely half-a-dozen of them.
E: Huh? What's he "relived" about?
A: Well, my gut reaction is "at least there're only six dragons" but he could be talking about anything.
E: His own troops.
N: His own viagra tablets.
A: Subplots in Eastenders.
E: Episodes in this story.
N: Brain cells in the author.
A: As many as that? Looking at this sentence I thought we were dealing with something MUCH dumber! Two spelling mistakes and a completely confusing statement.

Once inside he almost ran into The Master.
E: Who just happened to be passing.
N: "Jesus, you freak, watch where you're goin!"
A: Isn't he supposed to be in his secret shed laughing evilly and playing with his toys?
N: Oh who cares any more?

"Where the blazes have you been man?" The Brigadier shouted.
A: Oh, never mind the huge dragons outside, focus on what's REALLY important!
N: If he's so bothered, why didn't he have someone look for the Master? Why didn't he notice that one of the jeeps had come back without the soldier he left on watch? No, forget the fact the guy you don't trust is wandering around with a ridiculously huge Sea Devil weapon shoved down the back of his pants...
E: This Brigadier needs to switch to decaff. He's gonna have a heart attack.

"Inspecting The Sea Devils Brigadier," The Master replied calmly.
E: "So fuck you, old man."
A: Are the Sea Devils still alive?
E: Dunno. Don't care.
N: Shouldn't he have 'inspected' them on the beach? As part of his cover story?
A: Maybe that IS his cover story. He never said he was talking about the Sea Devils that got gassed.
N: Oh, you're so right. There we go again, assuming this stream of non-sequiters is any kind of coherent plot.
E: I'm bored.

"I'm more concerned about what's happening outside!"
E: ...and that is?
N: Haven't noticed anything happening outside. You people realized your bullets slowed the dragons down, so you run inside. Nothing's happened since.
A: So. Thanks for sharing, Brigadier. Now sod off.

"Oh... I would say they are an evolutionary offshoot of The Sea Devils I could always ask them I suppose..."
E: He's so terribly casual about it all, isn't he?
N: How exactly are dragons and evolutionary offshoot from turtles? Since one is a winged, airborne monster and the other is a barely amphibious sea creature?
A: Well, the Master's probably talking crap.
E: Oh, well, that's depth of characterization sure makes up for it all. So what's the excuse for everyone else?
A: I wish I knew, Eve. I wish I knew.

"Well get on with it then!
N: On with that? Asking them if they're an evolutionary offshoot? How does that help?
E: Maybe the Sea Devils know how to stop them?
N: Aren't the Sea Devils... you know. Dead?
A: Since we've established the Dragons aren't mindless...
E: By shooting them.
A: ...yes, by shooting them, well, surely the Brig can just stick his head out the window and say, "Back off or the turtle-heads get it!"
N: That's impossible. The author isn't smart enough to think of that.

Calder get some heavy artillery up on the roof I want to know how tough those things are!" The Brigadier shouted.
N: "You already know how tough they are you senile bastard!" Calder shouted back.
A: Where's Archer in all this?
E: Who?
A: Exactly.
N: Since they were about to go on the raid, shouldn't they already have some artillery? And since you know, this is a military base with standard tracking rooms and the like, why aren't there standard anti-aircraft defences?

Calder saluted and went to organise the counter-attack.
E: Because everyone higher in the chain of command was dead, absent or had wisened up long ago and fled.
N: Some would call it defense. They call it counter-attack.
A: I can't find it in my heart to care.

The Master strode of to the detention cells, cursing his superior under his breath.
A: Since the Master has his Sea Devil gun, why not just shoot everyone?
N: If he didn't want to get waylaid by the Brig, why did he leave his hut?
E: If the whole base is under attack, why doesn't he sneak off again?
A: Honestly, how pathetic is this Master? He sulks for crying out loud! NO FIST!

The Doctor pulled up in a jeep with some Sea Devils and Tobok.
N: ...you gotta be kidding me.
A: They agreed to go right into the heart of enemy territory WITHOUT letting the humans know they were coming? And they don't expect to be fired upon? These morons are supposed to be CLEVER!
E: Sea Devils can drive jeeps?
N: I'd not thought of that before. She's right! This is ARSE!
A: Are we to assume the Silurians don't have their own transport, some mountie velociraptors, for example?

The UNIT soldiers had pulled back to the compound so it wasn't difficult to confront the attacking Sky-Dragons.
E: Um, since the Dragons are INSIDE the compound with you, I suppose it wasn't difficult.
N: It was impossible.
A: On the other hand, the monsters are nice and close. Maybe that's what he means?
E: Yeah. Maybe.

The Dragons took back to the skies at the sight of The Sea Devils. They were obviously instinctual enemies.
E: Obviously.
A: Why would the dragons be instinctual enemies of Sea Devils? They can fly away from the ocean! It's hardly like the Sea Devils could have come after them - especially as they're supposed to have evolved at the same time.
N: If the sight of a few Sea Devils scare off a flock of Dragons, why are they such a threat?
A: I'm wondering how the Dragons got into suspended animation when they can't communicate, have no obvious technology, hierarchy or any signs they're not wild animals. And to threaten the Silurians AND the Sea Devils, they'd have to be very clever and dangerous. Not a bunch of pteradons who leg it at the sight of some Sea Devils. In a jeep. A long way away.

"Engage," Tobok ordered.
N: "Make it so, number one."

A number of Sky-Dragons fell with the first barrage of fire.
E: Just to clarify, its the Sea Devils doing the firing and not the conveniently-easily-attacking UNIT troops?

The beams of The Sea Devils' weapons punching holes through their armoured hides.
E: Oh, well. Thanks for that.
A: And THESE are the creatures so formidable the Silurians will instantly agree to an alliance to fight.
N: Ronny, baby, what is WRONG with you?!

On the roof of the compound, Sergeant Calder ordered the first shell to be fired. It exploded between two of the Dragons causing both of then to fall to the ground.
E: "Both of then"?
A: So they can be killed... without actually having their armoured hides punctured?
N: This is fucking deranged. The beachball alien from Dark Star was a more ferocious unstoppable killing machine than these Dragons!
A: And that just ate toy mice...

The Sea Devils advanced on the downed Sky-Dragons.
A: In the jeep? Or did they get out and walk?
N: Shouldn't they shoot the Dragons a few more times to be sure they're dead before getting so close?
E: This sucks. No wonder Dave gave up.

Both of these offensives convinced the couple of creatures that were still air born to retreat back to the mountain range from which they had come.
A: Well that sure was lucky, wasn't it?
E: It's "airborne" with an "e".
A: At least he didn't use the dreaded "seems" again.
N: Weakest. Aliens. Ever.

The Master made his way back to detention area
A: Ronny's really losing it, isn't he? Did his computer crash and take out random words?
E: "Back" to detention? Wasn't he already there? Did he get bored and leave?
N: Who can blame him?
E: He must have bumped into the Brigadier AGAIN and then gone back!

to the sound of the battle outside.
E: But the battle's over! WHAT noise?
A: Ronny's forgotten which order his scenes are in now!
N: The Brig's not the one with Alzhiemer's, it's Mallet!

He nodded to the guard on duty and passed the Sea Devil cell and entered Peri's which was unlocked.
A: They haven't locked her up? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!
E: Maybe they trust her?
A: Why put her in a cell then? She was gassed less than a day after nearly dying from her spectrox poisoning! She can't be in good health! Why isn't she in medbay?!
N: Plus, the stupidity of the Sky Dragons must mean her breasts are filling up the cell!
E: ......................what?
A: Oh, don't listening to him. I never do.

"It sounds like a war zone out there!"
"Indeed it is Miss Brown.

N: Yeah. I think Peri should have been able to work that out on her own.
E: But the battle is OVER!! Does she think a war zone sounds like silence?!

In the absence of The Doctor I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask for your assistance!"
"Yes, The Brigadier seems to feel that you and The Doctor have some connection with these creatures."
"But that's ridiculous!"
"Yes, I know that.

N: Even the characters in the STORY realize how stupid this is?
A: I'd call it post modern if I thought Ronny had any idea what he was doing.
E: Why does the Brigadier think they are connected to the Sea Devils?
A: Well, the Doctor ran off with them and the Sea Devils chose Peri as their prisoner.
E: Whoa. You mean that it actually MAKES sense?
N: ...spooky.

But I'm going to have to ask you to play along. It's vital I retrieve some equipment from my TARDIS. To get you out of here unchallenged, they'll have to think that I'm taking you across to the interrogation room."
E: Wouldn't it work better if you weren't telling everyone that?
N: And the fact soldiers are always listening at the door?
A: Damn it! This is so stupid but it could have been brilliant! If the Master was lying to them because he knew the Brig would be listening, it might have given a whole new spin. But instead every time he appears in the story he ends up stupider and stupider!

Peri hesitated for a second. She couldn't bring herself to trust the man but it was better than doing nothing.
A: Has this Master given her any reason not to trust him?
N: And since she decides to trust him anyway, all this shillyshallying is a waste of time!
E: If she doesn't trust him, why not ask him why he needs her to get some stuff from his TARDIS? Or even what stuff it is and why is it vital?

"Okay then."
The Master took her gently by the arm and lead her out.
"She's ready to talk about her connection to the aliens - I'll take her across to the interrogation room so she can brief The Brigadier. Could you let him know?"
The soldier nodded and headed off.
"Come on," The Master directed.

E: Well. That was thrilling reading.
A: Almost tolerable. Though why they don't use walkie talkies in an emergency situation, I dunno.
N: Maybe the Silurians were too stupid to shut down the barrier?
E: Or maybe the Master is the one behind the barrier, using this confusion for his own ends?
A: ...Eve, you are priceless.
N: Unlike the author of this drivel.
A: Who is "worthless".

The Doctor had arranged a meeting between The Brigadier and Tobok.
A: And why would ANYONE be interested in how he did it or what was said?
E: Yeah, only freaks expect that kind of detail.
N: And Mallet is not a freak. He's normal. Normal, you hear me? NORMAL!!
A: The Brig and Tobok. The senile and the stupid. Meeting to settle a dispute between two whole species... This cannot end well.

"It's almost too big to comprehend. You say there are millions of those creatures hibernating beneath the ground all over the world!"
E: "Yes, I did. Honestly, are you paying any attention?"
N: Well, he clearly got over the enormity of it all...
A: Senility comes in handy. He forgot about the mindboggling hugeness of it in between sentences.

"That is correct. The Silurians and Sea Devils were united in their opposition to The Sky-Dragons - but our culture does not permit genocide," Tobok explained.
N: Um... yes it does. In every Silurian story it's made clear that it does.
A: And why do they think the Dragons are dangerous when not only are they completely pissweak, but the Silurians can hide in caves and the Sea Devils can hide in the ocean! The Dragons should have starved to death!
"So Doctor they'll be after reinforcements?" The Brigadier asked.
E: Who? The Silurians?
N: I think he means the Dragons...
E: THOSE morons couldn't understand reinforcements. And they seemed to attack with the full force.
N: Unless they breed rapidly...
E: Don't go there.
A: The Brigadier now completely trusts the Doctor and the whole concept of inter-species war is forgotten. As is the instinctive blind hatred mammals feel about Silurians. Sweet Jesus this is stupid. Even the parallel universe angle doesn't change the fact. If you're going to do things differently, go the whole hog.

"Without a doubt," The Doctor replied.
N: I love how he's really got inside the head of the character to show us the TRUE Sixth Doctor.
A: A walking exposition machine with no redeeming features or intelligence.
N: You know, if this was actually made instead of The Twin Dilemma, the show would have been axed on the spot.
E: A mercy killing.

"We knew that The Sky-Dragons had a compound not far from this location," Tobok admitted,
E: What? Another compound? This makes it even more confusing!
A: Not as confusing as the fact the Silurian Triad, the most important people on the planet built their survival bunker within spitting distance of a Sky-Dragon one if they're that scared of them.
E: Or the fact that those mindless vultures could BUILD a survival bunker in the first place.
N: Or the fact that either remained perfectly intact after sixty-five million years...
E: This is just... beyond stupid.

"it's possible that some of the chambers may have endured.
N: No shit. What gave it away? The attacking Sky-Dragons?
E: So there's a compound full of chambers? Is that right?

The Master's signal would probably only have awakened their leaders - they will attempt to revive their people manually."
E: How did they work out it was the Master? Did he sign the messages or something?
A: Maybe the Doctor did caller ID.
N: "Curses, foiled again! Damn your last number redial, Doctor!"
A: Still, I hope the Doctor has proof that the Brigadier's scientific advisor is a traitor.
E: Apart from the fact he's a prisoner there and hates the Brigadier.
N: And wears black and calls himself the Master.
A: Yeah, apart from that.

"I'm still having trouble believing it was him who sent that signal to revive both races in order to bring about a conflict...
N: Hah! You can't HANDLE the truth!
A: It might be a little easier to swallow if we knew WHY the Master wanted to start a holocaust on the same planet he was marooned on - isn't he worried about getting caught in the crossfire?
E: Are there people in the real world who talk like that? I mean, really?

oh, my word,
N: The part of the Brigadier was played by a Patrick Troughton impersonator.
A: Very mild language for him. No hell, no blazes, no damn...
N: Obviously, he won't swear in front of Silurians. Or ladies. Or royalty.
E: Is this over yet?

I sent him down to question The Sea Devils we captured...
A: You mean... you actually TRUSTED him? Despite all the evidence in this story you weren't THAT stupid? GAH!
N: Why is this bad news? Are they worried he's going to kill the gassed Sea Devils? That he might convince the Sea Devils to turn against their superiors? How is he supposed to do that?
E: Hypnosis?
N: If he could hypnotize people, why didn't he take over UNIT years ago?
A: This plot is reaching terminal credibility extinction. Do not approach.

Miss Brown is down there as well, she wasn't well and I wanted her supervised you see..."
A: "So putting her in the medical section was totally obviously the wrong thing to do, so I threw her in a dirty cell with no running water and left her unguarded..."
N: "Alistair?"
A: "Yes, Doctor?"
N: "Retire. Now."

A soldier appeared at The Brigadier's side
A: Shocked by this appearance, the Sea Devils shot him.
E: ...yeah. Whatever. Is it over yet?

and reported: "The Master wanted me to inform you that Miss Brown has agreed to talk about her connection to The Sea Devils Sir. He's taking her over to the interrogation room."
A: "Well, that's what he SAID he was doing, but we haven't given him an escort, watched where he's going or noticed the whacking great alien gun in his back pocket."
E: Not suspicious at all.
N: "And YOU can retire as well!"

The Doctor rushed away.
N: Unable to cope with any more expostion.
A: Is his regeneration playing up? I just asked because there's been no evidence apart from fainting. Once. With no reference to said fainting ever again.
E: Where exactly is he rushing away to? The interrogation room?
A: Why didn't he just interrogate her in the cell?
E: I dunno. Just end the madness. MAKE IT STOP!

The Master approached his TARDIS. It stood in the shape of a Police Box - just like that of The Doctor but not so battered.
A: So it wasn't JUST like the Doctor's then?
E: Why, exactly is the Master's TARDIS stuck as a police box?
N: Because it means... THIS picture... is now totally representative of the plot.
E: Is that supposed to be Derek Jacobi?!?

It was clearly guarded at all times by a UNIT sentry.
E: Clearly.
N: How exactly is it clear? Is there a guy standing there with a T-shirt saying HI! I'M A UNIT SENTRY AND I GUARD IT ALL THE TIME?
A: Don't be stupid. There's a sign above the TARDIS saying TO BE GUARDED AT ALL TIMES BY A UNIT SENTRY.
N: And it says that quite clearly.
E: Jesus Christ, this is unholy.

"I'm sorry Sir - you are not allowed in this area, orders of The Brigadier," the sentry reminded him.
N: Wow. I bet that bit of info had COMPLETELY slipped his mind.
A: Is everyone at UNIT HQ so forgetful?
E: What are the odds he's turned up now because he's going to do something evil then?

With unexpected savagery, The Master bent Peri's arm behind her back at an uncomfortable angle.
N: Wow! Just matching that photo!
A: It's almost like it was a photo from the unmade Tangent: Earth and not a publicity still from Planet of Fire after all!
E: Uh, why is the TARDIS door open? How come they are so close to it and the sentry is nowhere to be seen?
A: The same reason the TARDIS is a police box. He's writing this around the illustrative photos he has. No wonder he's been raping and pillaging Season 21, it's so he can use the photos.

"Step aside or I'll kill her!"
N: By twisting her arm? Go ahead, punk, make my day.
A: Doesn't he have a Sea Devil gun? Just shoot the guy!
E: Why does he need Peri again?

He rasped with malicious glee.
E: Uh... quite.
N: If you're so turned on by killing Peri, why are you using as a threat rather than just shooting the soldier and killing Peri?
A: Or just killing Peri and then the soldier?

The Master had pulled out a long, cylindrical metal object and was waving him aside with it.
E: "Pulled out"? From where? It sounds VERY unhygenic.
A: Waving who aside? The soldier? Himself?
N: Is that the TCE? He had the TCE all the time? Why did he need a Sea Devil gun?
E: Maybe, I dunno, so when he shot people they thought it was down to the Sea Devils?
A: That would only work if everyone knew the Master had a shrinking gun and they found all the miniturized corpses.
E: Which the Master could have just pocketed.
A: And if he only just, say, nicked it from the shed, why the hell did the Brig leave deadly weapons lying around the base?!
N: Peri's boobs must be able to flatten the Master by now...

Unsure as to what it was the sentry hesitated for a moment
N: So they DON'T know what the TCE is!
A: Why didn't the Master just steal a proper gun from the soldier he killed, or the armory or something? No, just wave around something that looks like a sex toy and hope the sentry will be intimidated!
E: If he's threatening Peri with his shrinking gun, why all the stuff with her arm?
N: Because otherwise the photo wouldn't make any sense!
E: Oh well, that makes it all clear.

but the evil gleam in The Master's eye was enough to convince him to let them pass.
N: Is that supposed to say, "the Master hypnotized him"?
E: If the Master can hypnotize people... why is he doing all this?
A: I note the sentry's not really surprised that the trusted scientific advisor is threatening to kill teenage girls with wierd sex toys then?

The Master pushed Peri up against the door
Well what?
This is where you tastelessly suggest the Master rapes Peri against the TARDIS.
I won't dignify this story with such a suggestion.
Fair enough.

and handed her the key.
"Open it!"

E: "It's already open, you retard!"

"I knew you couldn't be trusted!"
A: Yes. She did. You can't argue with that.
N: Yep, after four episodes of her thinking, 'I don't trust him', she's proved right.
E: What a fluke.

"Just open it or I'll do this to you," he explained
E: That's not an explanation. It's a threat.
N: I don't believe that. No witty comeback? No "Pity you didn't do anything about your suspicions, Miss Brown"? Just a puny, "please open my TARDIS which is already open"?
A: And why, exactly, can't the Master just do it himself?

as he fired at the sentry who promptly vanished from sight.
A: Was Ronny trying to get the casual violence of that scene? Coz it looks like he put the dialogue before the action.
N: Ronny's clearly thinking the Master has his souped-up TCE from Mark of the Rani. Though the fact is TCE stands for Tissue Compression Eliminator, not Random Extra Deleter!
E: Anyway, if his gun makes bodies vanish... why didn't he use it already? He could have escaped to his TARDIS ages ago!
N: Even without the gun he should have been smart enough to do it. The Doctor managed it within an episode!

There was a deep chuckle as The Master entered the TARDIS and it dematerialised.
A: Ok. Let's start from the top.
E: What caused the deep chuckle? The Master? Why was he laughing?
N: How did the Master enter the door without it being opened?
A: If Peri DID open it, where is she? Is she left behind?
E: Why did the Master need her to open it anyway?
A: How come the TARDIS works at all?
N: Why didn't any of this happen back in the 1970s when the Master first joined?
A: OK. Any answers? No? No.

The Doctor followed The Brigadier down the stairs and into the interrogation room. The Doctor walked over to a small object on the floor. It was the sentry!
E: So... the gun DOES shrink people.
A: Yes. But it turns them invisible briefly.
N: Wait a minute, this is the interrogation room! Not the shed with the Master's TARDIS! That means he must have gone to the interrogation room, shot the sentry for no reason, then left again and Peri didn't ONCE think, "Hey, that's dodgy!"
A: If the Master's trying to start a war, surely he should have used his Sea Devil gun to kill the sentry and blame the reptiles!
E: Wait, you're saying there are TWO sentries the Master zapped? Does his TCE only work on sentries?

Tobok had also followed them down into the room.
E: ...and?
A: Giant lizards...
D: Stupid giant lizards.
A: Sorry, stupid giant lizards, are now being given free run of the base without any prejudice, suspicion, or people collapsing in Lovecraftian horror.
D: Sounds about right.
N: Dave! You're back!
D: I'm just passing through.

"Brigadier, we need to discuss terms on which to launch a concerted attack on the Sky-Dragon base."
A: Discuss "terms"? What, are you going to argue over which one uses a nuke?
E: If the Silurians still have any weapons, surely THEIR weapons would be the best ones to use on them since they were designed for it?
N: In any case, why discuss it now?

"Yes, err... Your Excellency. I technically can't guarantee instant support.
D: "Technically"? What the fuck are you on about?

But given the gravity of the situation - I believe we are facing a global invasion of sorts
E: Which you're not. There's only one base full of easily-killed dragons.
D: Oh, Ronny's remembered the global emergency then.
N: He still hasn't given a reason for it.
A: Wait, the Brig says, "I believe we're facing invasion" to the giant lizard who has just told him the whole situation. Alistair, he knows!
N: Alzhiemer's Alistair, they call him.

- I'll pre-empt approval from Geneva and agree to launch a combined strike. I do have some authority to act in these situations," The Brigadier explained.
E: Well. That's nice. You half-wit.
A: So, that long boring and unnecessarily expositional speech meant, "Yes".
D: I'm off. I've had enough.
N: Come on, Dave. Stick out.
A: Yeah, prove yourself stronger than Mallet.

"The Master is already there...
All: WHERE?!

at the base I mean.
A: So, we still don't know how they deduced the Master was behind it or why he's waited this long to make his move.
D: I get the strangest feeling that the answers aren't worth noting.

He'll attempt to cause as much anarchy as he can before he leaves the Earth." The Doctor offered.
N: Oh, and why is he going to these lengths when he could have shot Reagan and triggered world war three?
A: All he's managed so far is to kill a few members of UNIT, and ally the most senior Silurians and UNIT against the Sky-Dragons. He seems to be trying to make things on Earth BETTER if anything.
E: That'd be an interesting angle.
D: So it's obviously wrong.

"I thought you couldn't work your TARDIS - that you were an exile!"
E: Huh? Who's talking?
D: It must be one of us, they're pointing out the holes in the plots.

The Master laughed at her before replying:
N: "Hahaha. Stupid girl with the ever-expanding breasts!"
E: "Hahahah! Stupid girl points out plot holes!"
D: "Hahahah! American teenager!"
A: "Hahahahah! I just felt like laughing at you, Miss Brown."

"I'm an exile in the sense that I no longer have a planet of my own."
A: ...so, you're not an exile AT ALL.
E: Fuck, Mallet, what is wrong with looking in a dictionary!

"But you come from Gallifrey - just an alternative version, don't you?" Peri countered.
N: Which would have been impressive except Peri doesn't know about Gallifrey.
A: Why does she need to emphasize the idea that she's from a different universe? Why does she assume everything is just the same in this universe?
D: Because it damn well is. Everyone's just a lot stupider.

"My dear child, I destroyed Gallifrey and The Doctor.
D: ...why?
A: When?
E: How?
A: And why did you go to Earth, pretend your TARDIS was broken and join up with UNIT for ten years?
D: Doesn't this mean that the Brigadier worked with the Doctor? And thus fought the Master? So the Brigadier might have believed the exile idea, but we're supposed to believe he hired as scientific advisor a man he knew to be pure evil?
A: Worked in Face of the Enemy.
N: Because the Brigadier didn't mindlessly trust him. He didn't trust him for an INSTANT. This Brig lets him wander around with his TCE, allowing him access to build revivals and stuff... THIS IS JUST BULLSHIT!

I think the subsequent tear in time and space is probably the anomaly through which The Doctor's TARDIS passed into this reality.
A: Oh. Plot. Wow.
E: Ah, surely the Master should have said "YOUR Doctor"?
N: Um, wouldn't the Master have shown the slightest bit of recognition when a strangely-dressed Time Lord turns up saying he's the Doctor? Not even a flinch or, "I saw you die, damnit!"?

This universe is destroying itself you see and I mean to get out!"
A: And to do that, you've spent the last ten years moonlighting on Earth causing anarchy. Yeah. That'll help.
E: Maybe the Master went all nihilistic and decided to spend his last few years screwing with the people of Earth?
N: Maybe... um, why did blowing up Gallifrey cause this universe to destroy itself VERY VERY VERY slowly?

"You mean you killed The Doctor..." The terrible truth was sinking in.
D: Oh, for fuck's sake...
N: Peri! You know he's not talking about your Doctor!
A: And you didn't trust him in the first place!
E: And how can the truth sink in when he didn't really lie to you?
N: Sweet Jesus, Peri, smother the bastard with your tits and spare us this crap.
E: I still have no idea what you're talking about...

"My dear - I've effectively destroyed this entire reality and everything in it!" He grinned.
A: Except... it's all still here.
E: Why is he so pleased? He had no idea there was a way out until an hour previously! This is a deathbed rescue and I don't believe for a moment he INTENDED to end everything!
N: This has to be the worst-characterized Master ever. EVER, you hear me? EVER!

"You inhuman monster! What kind of being are you?" She screamed.
E: I think you might have answered your own question there.
N: Probably the same inhuman monster as the one you met on Sarn, lady.
A: Sweet Zarathrustra! WHO TALKS LIKE THAT?!

"A survivor
E: Ooh, is he going to start singing Destiny's Child songs?
A: ...no.
E: Darn. I love it when he sings.

and I mean to go on surviving no matter what the cost... to others of course.
If you mean to go on surviving, then ending the entire universe was A FUCKING STUPID THING TO DO, DON'T YOU THINK?!?
If Mallet DARES criticize RTD's Master... I will kill him. I will fucking kill the bastard and drown him in his own congealed blood.
And his family will applaud.

I intend to follow The Doctor out into your own reality and start over,"
How are you going to follow the Doctor? He's still on Earth!
Why doesn't the Master just go for the Doctor's TARDIS and use that to escape?

he chortled, "and you're going to help me..."
"You are insane. I'd never help you!"
... This is supposed to be PERI for fuck's sake! PERI!

"Oh but you will... you will you see... I am The Master and you are my slave... my slave you will obey my will and my will alone..."
D: Oh god! HOLY GOD NO!
He can't even get the catchphrase right!
Why the hell didn't the Master hypnotize her in the cell!?!
What the fuck is Mallet thinking? WHAT THE FUCK IS HE THINKING!??!

Peri couldn't break away from the stare of his eyes...
N: Use your tits, girl! Break his concentration!
A: In Mark of the Rani, she knew he'd try to control her, for God's sake!
D: I can't breathe... room spinning... too much badness...

The Brigadier was busy issuing orders to his troops outside UNIT HQ when The Doctor rushed up to him.
"I've not got the time now Doctor, we're organising a joint assault..."
N: No shit! It's all you and Tobok have talked about all episode you forgetful bastard!
A: Why the hell is he ignoring the Doctor? You don't think, Alistair, it might be IMPORTANT or anything?!

Hordes of Sea Devils and human troops were pouring onto trucks.
E: Hordes. Not platoons, phalanxes, regiments or squads. But hordes.
N: He's got a knack for military etiquette, has Mallett.
A: Oh, that's smart. Use the sea creatures who can't stay on land for long otherwise they drown in the air!
D: They need trucks?! Don't they have, you know, their own transport?

Helicopters were being loaded as well.
N: Wow. I bet Sky Dragons don't destroy THEM ever so casually.
A: Screw "love sweet love". A remake of The Giant Claw. THAT'S what the world needs now!

Tobok was briefing the junior UNIT officers including Colonel Archer.
N: Archer's a colonel, he's hardly junior!
D: Why the hell are they taking orders from a giant lizard?
N: What's he going to tell them? "You know those big dragons we killed this afternoon? Well, we have to kill some more. Yay team! Gimme high five! Anyone? No?"

"I understand that Brigadier, and I think for all sorts of reasons that's all for the best but it'll take hours for you to reach the co-ordinates that Tobok has nominated.
All: Huh?
A: I think he's saying, "shut up, you stupid ape and listen for once."
N: Why couldn't he just say that?
A: I have absolutely no idea.
E: Surely the Brig should have noticed it might take a while to get there?

In the TARDIS, I can get a small number of you there in an instant.
E: Um, the TARDIS is bigger on the inside? You can get ALL of them there.
A: This is the SAME TARDIS he spent part one bitching he had absolutely no control over?
D: I can't take much more of this...

Dealing with the remaining Sky-Dragons can remain the province of the alliance - I just want to stop The Master from interfering."
A: Oh, well, that's all right then. "You can all fight and die the big dragons, but I just want to piss off the guy behind it all."
E: What an asshole the Doctor is.
N: I dunno. The Master - even this retarded version - is clearly more of a threat than the dragons.
D: Which doesn't say much.

The Master was busy exploring the myriad corridors of The Sky-Dragon hibernation complex.
D: Well, good for him.
A: So, instead of capturing the Doctor's TARDIS and escaping the dying universe... he's gone to the place the Silurians and humans are bound to attack... a place full of dragons who'll be a bit pissed off the Master's also revived their enemies and got their friends slaughtered.
E: This Master must have a death wish. He WANTS to die! There's no other explanation!

Peri was walking beside him with a blank look on her face.
D: Wow, you think she might be hypnotized?
N: Her brain's shut down after all the things that don't make sense.

She was clearly in a trance.
D: OK, you win that one.
E: So she's last seen with a hypnotist hypnotizing her, and then she is seen with a blank expression silently following him. But you have to TELL us she's CLEARLY in a trance, as if we're too stupid to work it out.
N: I hate you, Mallet.

The Master paused at the entrance to one chamber.
"Follow me," The Master ordered, "and carefully. All the corridors look the same."

D: Is that... supposed... to be funny?
A: I fear it was.
E: Surely if she's following him, the corridors DON'T look the same - she just stays in the corridor with the Master!

He wandered up to a towering control panel.
A: Cause, you know, no hurry.
N: It's not like the entire universe is imploding.
E: Um, yes it is?
D: Is it? SHIT!

Height was obviously no barrier to a species that could hover on the spot with ease.
E: Obviously.
A: Except it's never been revealed the Dragons can hover on the spot at all, let alone with ease.
N: If it was so obvious, why didn't the Master take the TARDIS to the top?
E: I'm still boggling that a bunch of psychotic vultures built their own civilization.
A: In some world where this was written by someone with any kind of intelligence or creative talent, maybe there's an explanation. Maybe the Silurians were morally obliged to freeze the Dragons or something, like inbred cousins in the attic. Or maybe they were mutants or genetic experiments or something.
E: So many possibilities.
D: Tragic.

"Your friends will be here soon... I want you to watch the door..."
D: Who said that?
A: Who were they talking to?
N: Who were the friends?
E: Where was the door?
A: I think it might be the Master talking to Peri. About UNIT coming. But the door they'd use would surely be built for Sky Dragons and so huge he could keep an eye on it himself!
E: Come to think of it, where ARE the Sky-Dragons?

Before The Brigadier, Sergeant Calder, Tobok and a high ranking Sea Devil entered The Doctor's TARDIS, which was still standing unnoticed in Hyde Park, the helicopter that had transported them was waved away.
D: Holy fuck that sentence is bad!
A: Another Sea Devil with no name.
E: Why is the Brigadier taking Calder with them?
N: Where is the Doctor?!
A: Why did they use a helicopter to go to Hyde Park when a) it's in walking distance and b) there are lots of dragons at large that would attack the helicopter?

"The convoy is on its way to the complex Your Excellency," The Brigadier informed Tobok as he had just received a message before he disembarked from the helicopter.
D: AGH! It hurts! It honest to god HURTS! That writing makes my lungs ache!
E: Why isn't Tobok getting updates from his own side?

"Excellent Brigadier. Your species is very efficient in relation to mobilising for war," Tobok answered.
A: "In all other factors, your species sucks!"
N: "Well, fuck you, lizard boy!"
D: "Make me, apeshit!"

"On the national front, cabinet has also been advised and given us tacit approval.
A: So... the whole Brigadier-taking-matters-into-his-own-hands speech was COMPLETELY pointless. They agreed anyway.
N: But UNIT is supposed to be ruthless and evil in this dimension! Why are they being nicer than the ones we saw on TV!
D: Mallet clearly suffers dementia and forgot all about that subplot.

They want us to nip this threat in the bud before beginning actual negotiations for a treaty," The Brigadier added.
E: Yes. A global emergency. Nip it in the bud.
N: Why the hell would this Earth give the Silurians a chance when they wouldn't in another? When the planets are exactly the same?
A: How does the Brigadier know this?! If they rang him up during the helicopter ride, the others would have heard as well!
D: Seriously, my lungs HURT!

The Doctor unlocked the door of the TARDIS and in a friendly way motioned them inside.
N: The old 'flip the the bird' method always looks friendly.
E: Why is he being coy? Uh, massive emergency here!

"There's something awfully familiar about all of this Doctor!" The Brigadier noted. E: ...like what?
N: I think Mallet's joking. There's not a single fucking idea in this story remotely original.
D: Wait a minute, the Brigadier can remember things from the other universe?!
A: Maybe he's remembering meeting the Doctor of this reality?
E: Surely he knows what the TARDIS is, because he stole the Master's and locked it up!
N: Seriously, if he's NOT senile, nothing makes sense.

The Master had examined the main timing systems of the Sky-Dragons' hibernation chambers and was puzzled.
E: That a bunch of Ring of Fire rejects could build this in the first place.
D: And that he seemed to be wasting what little time was left after he accidentally destroyed the universe

"There's something wrong here. They should have been operational by now..." He whispered.
A: Oh, NOW he notices something wrong with the plot.

Peri was still standing blankly at the door.
"Miss Brown!"
Peri wandered over.

E: Does Mallet know words beyond "wandered" and "explained"?

"I want you to help me pull this screen down," The Master ordered as he took a sonic screwdriver out of his pocket.
E: Sonic?! Who'd have sonic?!
N: This is just getting beyond pathetic.

The Doctor and his group piled out of the TARDIS.
E: At least they didn't wander.
N: They just went inside!
D: You don't think he forgot to explain the whole 'bigger on the inside' shebang, did he?
A: Probably.

The Sea Devil hissed quietly as if he could smell danger and was holding his weapon in a nervous manner.
A: "As if". So it turns out the whole "obvious" natural emnity between Sea Devils and Sky Dragons is not right. Because if it was, the Sea Devil COULD smell danger rather than just act like it.

When they got to the central chamber they found Peri standing before a hibernation canister. Its covering screen had been opened. Inside were the skeletal remains of a Sky-Dragon.
E: Well, they clearly had no obstacle with the identical corridors or anything like that.
D: How come they know how to navigate a place they've never been?
N: Why is there only one canister in the whole room?
A: Mallet seems to have forgotten that the dragons are supposed to be huge!

"Miss Brown are you all right? Where's The Master?" The Brigadier asked.
D: Why would the Master be there? They never seemed to notice he'd left with Peri...
E: Why hasn't the Doctor asked over her? Doesn't he care?

"He's gone Alistair. He's run out of toys to play with..."
D: What a shithouse villain.
A: Wait, so it turns out he couldn't work out any kind of use for a whole Sky-Dragon base? Or somehow use it to sabotage the Silurian or Sea Devil technology?
N: He didn't even realize that the Sky-Dragons were so stupid their hibernation machinery might not work.
E: Sweet onion chutney! This is AWFUL!

The Doctor answered as he studied Peri.
N: "Yep, those boobies are big all right."

"They're all dead Doctor. Their technology failed millions of years ago," Tobok explained looking up from the main console.
D: What gave it away? All the skeletons?
N: How did Tobok look at the controls when they're supposed to be so high up?

"What about the Sky-Dragons we encountered at UNIT HQ?" The Brigadier asked.
A: Fuck me! An intelligent line of dialogue!

"The leaders of their race used a separate system. Like the Triad they were revived first and it would have been their task to supervise the revival of the rest of their colony... they will be no match for the combined might of our nations now," Tobok explained.
A: They were no might before hand, you slaughtered them with hand-pistols!
E: So, let me get this straight, the Master revived the Silurians and the Sea Devils to spark a war with the humans. And then, he revived the Sky-Dragons, which ended the war with the humans, and didn't check more than six of the bastards survived?

"What about Miss Brown?"
"Hypnotic trance," The Doctor answered clicking his fingers in front of her face, "you know I think I prefer her this way!"

E: Fuck off!
D: I wish YOU were mindlessly hypnotized, you shit!
A: What exactly has the Doctor achieved in this story? He misheard a number, blamed Peri, picked a fight with the Brig, fainted, put his trust in the Master, tried and failed to talk to the Sea Devils, and acted as a chauffer.
N: He didn't even broker a peace between the species, they worked it out without him.
A: All he's done is give the Alt-Master a chance to attack a whole new universe!
D: I knew the Sixth Doctor was never really involved, but this is shithouse!

"I think the alliance can deal with the situation with the surviving Sky-Dragons now.
A: BOTH of them? Wow, what confidence!
E: Mallet's forgotten to tell us who's talking, where we are and what's going on?
D: Look on the bright side. We're better off not knowing.

Their main threat was not just their savagery but their numbers.
A: I say again. BOTH of them? They just happened to be male and female?
N: And they can get killed pretty easily. They'll probably be domesticated as pets.
E: God this story is awful. Is it over yet?

They could breed with great ferocity... a bit like cats!"
E: What?!
N: You're thinking of rabbits, you moron!
A: For the love of Led Zepplin, is that supposed to be a Sixth Doctor "cat moment"?
D: If it is, it sucks.

The Doctor babbled as he began to set the co-ordinates.
A: Babbled. Yep. That's what he's doing.
E: Finally, a word used properly.
D: Wait... they just left? The Doctor and Peri have just left everyone in that deserted base? And didn't say goodbye or anything? No big battle? No confrontation? Nothing?! Everything just resolved itself, like Reformation of the Daleks.
A: Mallet seems to dislike any kind of drammatic build up.
N: Well, we hate him back.

Peri seemed troubled:
D: Seemed??! SEEMED?!!?
E: DAVE! Calm down! Calm Down?
N: Dude, look at that vein!

"Doctor, The Master told me that this universe was destroying itself because of some catastrophe he caused. That enabled us to get here in the first place."
D: Oh. NOW you mention it.
N: Shouldn't there be some kind of hint that the universe is destroying itself? Stars vanishing? Planets exploding? Come on!
A: That would be a good reason for the global emergency, for the Silurians and the humans to band together...
E: Oh, what MIGHT have been.

"Yes," he replied sadly, "I thought that might be the case."
A: Did you? How very kind of you totally forgetting to mention it!
E: The unfeeling bastard!

"Then everyone that we met, everyone that exists in this reality will just die?"
D: What, are they immortal where you come from Peri?
A: I like how she seems to think there's a chance that they'll SURVIVE the destruction of the entire universe.

"They won't know it. One moment they'll exist, the next they won't. They won't feel any pain, in one sense they're lucky," The Doctor pondered.
E: Callous fuckwit!
D: If he knew all about the universe ending, why did he waste time trying to get a peace with the two species when they seem to have only hours to live!
N: The Sixth Doctor wouldn't waste time like this.
A: I still don't get why or how the universe is ending in such a way it will end like a light switch. Or how the Doctor knows all about it.
D: You'd think at least he'd be hurrying to get moving!

"That just seems... inhuman..."
"Well as I keep telling you I'm not human!" The Doctor exploded.

E: "Keep telling"? You haven't said it once, you utter shit!
A: What is with Peri's sudden 'inhuman' repeated meme?!

"You used to be a lot more compassionate and understanding," Peri moaned.
D: "Moaned"?!? MOANED?!?
A: Yeah, she's moaning.
N: Never let it be said that The Twin Dilemma couldn't have been much worse.
E: It was City of Death compared to this shit!
D: YOU'VE seen City of Death?
E: Course I have. You think I'm stupid?

"Oh do be quiet child, I'm trying to concentrate.

I'm doing our best to reverse our course, exactly... if not a little more evenly..."
E: So, you're doing your best NOT to reverse it exactly!
D: I can't believe we're supposed to like this lazy, cowardly, childish arsehole who is willing to let millions die while he has a childish argument.
N: I doubt even Colin himself could have rescued this.

The world went double-negative for a moment and then all returned to normal.
A: Well, that's using all the imagination and descriptive powers Mallet posseses.
N: And THAT is nicked from Logopolis!
A: How fucking weak is that jump between realities...

"That's odd. We're actually transmitting some kind of signal. I didn't notice it before..."
D: Oh, you noticed a fucking UNIVERSE ending but NOT a signal?!
A: It's obviously the Master. Why didn't he just head for the place Gallifrey used to be if THAT is the anomaly that let the TARDIS through?
E: Why was the TARDIS passing through Gallifrey on its way to Earth?

The Doctor looked up and walked over to Peri. He pointed to her pocket and she placed her hand inside. She pulled out a small, metallic device that was blinking rapidly.
N: He didn't even booby-trap the TARDIS?! HOW WEAK!

"How did this...? The Master!"
"Yes you were hypnotised to forget it was there but why would he?"
"Oh Doctor, he was telling me that he wanted to survive the death of his reality... he's followed us through hasn't he?"

A: The Doctor wasn't suspicious that the Master just happened to leave Peri totally unharmed? He didn't check her pockets or undo any mental conditioning?
E: Why didn't the Master just shoot the lot of them, then steal the Doctor's TARDIS?!
D: He's actually done all of this OFF-SCREEN!
N: I'm more disgusted at the idea the Master died in Planet of Fire and the one seen ever since was a strange parallel universe copy. You'd think someone might have mentioned that...

The Doctor only stared blankly at the scanner and thought, dark thoughts...
E: He thought "dark thoughts".
D: Surely he thought "fucking obvious plot twist".
A: More likely, "we really should have gone to Joconda and wackiness ensued."
N:The Twin Dilemma is completely redeemed in my eyes. I will never, ever, have a bad word spoken about it again.
D: Unlike Mallet who I will hound to the corners of the universe.
A: Anyone want to see his Pompeii-psuedo historical? ... Guys? It was just a joke! No! Wait! Argh! AGH! JUST A JOKE! OH, ARGH! THE PAIN! JUST A JOKE! YOU'LL REGRET THIS IN THE MORNING ARGH!