Sunday, December 5, 2010

200 Moments: The Fifth Doctor!

"OH NO... MIGHT AS WELL SKIP AHEAD TO 'THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI' LIKE EVERYONE ELSE..."


Castrovalva
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The people of Castrovalva drag the Master to his supposed death.
WHY: Just what would the Master do with the universe if he took it over? Here we get a glimpse of a world where the bearded Bastard rules supreme - and it's a peacful place where housewives gossip, wild boars are roasted, and everyone spends their time reading books. Everyone's nice and happy. OK, it's a trap, but it says a lot of how both the Doctor and the Master consider "civilization" and relaxion. But then the Master shows off his true colours, gleefully switching off the inhabitants. "I populated Castrovalva!" he laughs. "I will dispose of these creatures as I choose!" But the Master has made one fatal mistake - to be completely convincing, the BTC-created people needed free will. And just as the fake Adric died trying to warn the others, Shardovan will turn against his creator. The Master has never been more upset or angry. "YOU DO NOT HAVE THE WILL!" he screams. And he's wrong. What's more, all the other slaves he has created turn on him, refusing to let him escape the destruction of the city. He created a world of people so kind and brave they would never accept him - no wonder Ainley plays the Master in that final scene as a helpless, screaming madman, his defeat so total he can't even control imaginary people. It's perhaps his ultimate loss, and perhaps the best candidate for the "final meeting between the Doctor and his Master."

Four to Doomsday
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor and Adric rescue Bigon with the aid of some street performers.
WHY: Monarch is a classic Who villain, the archetypal 'more money than sense' kind of guy. He despises wonder and magic and wants nothing but facts. He believes he knows everything, he transforms people from the miraculous quirk of organic life into printed circuits, he even plans to travel back in time to meet God and prove it to be... himself. This guy isn't big on imagination. Even his flight computer assumes the TARDIS runs on "the occult", refusing to accept the idea there might be someone out there smarter or cleverer. And the Doctor and Adric rub it in like salty lemon juice, joining the Chinese Dragon and snatching out a decircuited droid right in front of Monarch's green nose. Only a complete moron could have fallen for it - and what more proof do we need that for all his high-falutin' talk, Monarch is probably one the dullest and dumbest characters created on television. Not played by Chris Lilley.

Kinda
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Aris, possessed by the Mara, strides through the jungle.
WHY: Aris has been defined as a lonely, emo loser desperately loitering around his daughter's teacher for some love and encouragement. Miserable, hurt, and completely mute. Because Kinda males can't speak. But then, now with his mouth red and his eyes gleaming, Aris begins to talk for the first time in his life. And what does he say in that hideous rasp? "All things are possible!" And then he's running off through the trees, laughing and smiling for the first time - but cruel and nasty laughter and, we soon see, he's intending to murder his own daughter if she gets in the way...

The Visitation
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Nyssa hides in her room as the andorid storms the TARDIS.
WHY: The bitter cynacism of Saward can be easily seen through the character of the Terileptil leader, an intelligent and sarcastic bastard who turns down the peaceful solution because he's a stubborn asshole. He treats the Doctor as a time-consuming moron rather than a dangerous adversary. To him, the sonic screwdriver is just a bit of metal to blow up and the TARDIS is merely something to cut out the long rides on horseback. Even Monarch and the Urbankans a story ago thought the blue box a magical prize - but here the silent android lacks voice or imagination to treat the place with any reverence. In The Invasion of Time, the monsters storming the TARDIS lead to a madcap chase through the vast interior, whereas here it seems to be smaller than the average bedsit. On the plus side, this gives the sequence some real tension - the silent masked killer has trapped the heroine in her bedroom and the sweet, non-violent Nyssa is the one who blasts the tin git to oblivion... using vibrations. The sonic screwdriver is avenged!

Black Orchid
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor is worried when the Cranleighs seem to be friends with his oldest enemy.
WHY: The last time Doctor Who had a story properly set in a historical period was 1977, and the last time there were no alien was 1974, and the last time there were both was 1966. So there must be some evil alien time mucky business going on! The way the upper class seem to be expecting the TARDIS crew, know of the Doctor, seem to have dubious intentions for Nyssa... and then it reaches the zenith when the Doctor's cricketing skills (no doubt down to his amazing Time Lord powers) are dubbed, "Worthy of the Master." Our heroes freeze, waiting for the familiar chuckle and Sir Charles to pull off a latex mask. "The Master?" the Doctor echoes. "The OTHER Doctor," Sir Robert clarifies. Another pause as the TARDIS crew prepare to run for their lives. "WG Grace?" the old man finally explains and everyone sighs in relief. But for once both we and the main characters are taken aback that there ISN'T a nasty alien time meddler causing trouble. It's almost enough to make us think everything's going to be fine and normal, just this once...

Earthshock
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Captain Briggs finally understands how serious a threat the Cybermen are.
WHY: Briggs is selfish, bullying, rude, callous, cruel and stubborn. But the one thing she isn't is stupid. True, the Cybermen have slaughtered her crew and she's no way of stopping them, but she's confident they can get to Earth and let the local militia mop them up - after all, the Cybermen may be tough, but they're not invincible. Briggs' dismissal of the threat is hard to argue with. "They're an invasion force," the Doctor sighs. "Earth is where they want to go." "There's only a few of them," Briggs shuts. "How many of these silos are you carrying?" asks Adric worriedly. "Oh," Briggs shrugs, "fifteen thousand." And then the truth dawns on her exactly what 'mineral ores' she's transporting are. And as the severity of the situation finally sinks into the biggest cynic in the story, we wait for the Doctor to come up with a solution. But he can't...

Time-Flight
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: As Stapley tries to free his men from the illusions, he too is drawn into their dreams.
WHY: There's something disconcerting about seeing people wandering around, smiling and happy, convinced they're in some other reality. Bilton is calm and matter of fact as he tries to break into an alien temple: "Hello, Skipper," he says to Stapley as though they're still at work. "We're not on Concorde!" the Captain protests but Bilton simply goes into pre-flight checks, so routine that Stapley joins in. It'd be funny, if it weren't for the look of horror on Stapley's face. He shouts for help, but none comes and soon he's another grinning zombie. He can't help the Doctor or save the day, because he no longer understands what's going on. The Doctor's attempts to free them from the illusions aren't as effective as we all thought...

Arc of Infinity
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Nyssa realizes how Omega can exist in the physical universe.
WHY: Ah, reversing the polarity of the neutron flow! It can stop nuclear reactors blowing up, prevent the Earth splitting apart, rip holes in the air, cause Sea Devils to explode, turn screwdrivers into magnets, turn chickens into eggs, delete chunks of the TARDIS, get a kettle to work... it's simply explained. It simply flips things upside down. If the Doctor and Martha are trapped inside a hypersonic soundwave manipulator, reversing the polarity means the noise goes OUT instead of IN. If the Doctor is being plugged into a brainslurping death machine, reversing the polarity means his mental powers are cranked up to 100 plus. And so how can a being from the antimatter universe exist in the realm of matter? Omega's reversed his polarity! That's what the whole story is about! It only took them 20 years too...

Snakedance
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Dugdale tries to convince the possessed Tegan to set up a ventriloquism act in the market.
WHY: It's a deliberately sick parody of Kinda, with the circle of mirrors that stopped the escape of evil now a sideshow carnival that only helps the Mara, run by a trickster who tries to hustle everyone and everything he comes across. Whereas on Deva Loka, Tegan's battle for sanity was horrific, here someone mistakes it for stand up comedy. And then Dugdale's attempt to make Tegan a sideshow attraction turn to a self-pitying monologue, revealing he was once a spiritual and inquisitive young man who has become greedy and cynical. "At the end of the day when the lights come up, someone's standing there holding out his hand," he despairs to the silent Mara. "And long ago I decided that someone should be me." In one moment we know Dugdale better than anyone else in the story, and how he's technically been a slave of the Mara much longer than since Tegan got a tattoo...

Mawdryn Undead
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Brigadier has an LSD flashback.
WHY: Lethbridge-Stewart, defender of humanity, fighter of monsters, one of the bravest men on Earth... is left a forgotten maths teacher. Life sucks, huh? But as the story demonstrates, the Brig is happy in his profession, even if it's a hideous comedown between careers. No, the real tragedy is the Brig being a traumatized, paranoid nervous wreck who treats kids like dirt and prefers cars to people. And the Doctor, the most passive and non-aggressive of his selves, breaks the spell by just chatting to him. Others would have whipped out medallions or rings or simply glared at the Brig with a mesmeric stare. Here, he almost Cracker-style paints the old man into admitting his connection with UNIT, and the others who worked there, and his unpaid scientific advisor. What follows is a simply brilliant sequence, underscored by thrash metal music simultaneously bitter and life-affirming, the Nicholas Courtney of 1983 turning into one of 1973, and boggling at the inside of the TARDIS in The Three Doctors. That wondrous look, the roundels, the lack of dialogue... even today that bit in the Pertwee story sticks out, as though retroactively added for future flashbacks. Wordlessly we see the world the Brig lived in, the world he's lost, the monsters he's fought, and the friend who helped him. And how does it end? "One lump or two Brigadier?" echoes and suddenly the Doctor is making tea. "Pon my soul," the soldier whispers. "You've done it again!" The Doctor just smiles and hands him the tea, knowing exactly what's happened and his old friend is back. It's the little things that matter.

Terminus
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Valgard admits his connection with Olvir.
WHY: There are no real villains in this story. Is the Garm eating people? Are the Vanir trying to conquer the universe? Is Terminus run by an insane computer? Nope. Just a bunch of depressed losers trying to make ends meet. Valgard, the bravest and arguably nicest of the Vanir is the biggest enemy, simply because his interests involve beating the shit out of the Doctor and pals, only to end up left half-dead. "In my day we had better training," he tells rookie space pirate Olvir, "You’re a raider, aren’t you? Combat trained. Colonel Periera, was it? The one they call the Chief?" Olvir wonders how the junkie thug could know. "I recognise the moves... he taught the same ones to me. I was with him for five tours until he turned me in for the reward..." A character oft-mentioned but unseen suddenly gets a huge bit of backstory, and Valgard is painted as the same kind of poor schmuck as Olvir and Karri. But Valgard has more to reveal: "We’re slave labour, all of us. If we don’t work, there’s no Hydromel for us." The 'finished and dying' Vanir begs for help, offering to assist Olvir in saving Nyssa but the frightened boy isn't willing to take a chance, even to a fellow betrayed raider. "Don't leave me," wails Valgard pathetically... and the moment Olvir is gone, the warrior is on his feet. It turns out that Olvir's suspicions were right, even though he clearly hated himself for it. Never, ever judge by appearances.

Enlightenment
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor saves Turlough.
WHY: The plot thread of a companion plotting from day one to kill the Doctor is rather unusual. The original idea was for a shock reveal that Turlough was an assassin, but we found out about that in his first scene, long before we found out he would be anything other than a one-off companion. We see everything from Turlough's point of view, rather than the Doctor's - he seems blissfully innocent of the whole thing, unable to see any reason wrong with his new ginger friend and seeming to want an alien orphan to replace Adric. But Turlough's gotten in too deep, made promises he can't keep, and he can't tell anyone. It might as well be his own conscience rather than the Black Guardian tormenting him. Despite his cunning people skills (even Tegan, the most suspicious of him, doesn't think he's anything other than a complete prick), he has no friends, no one to turn to. And now his desperate double-dealing has got him trapped in an airlock about to open up - his latest ally abandoned him, the Black Guardian refuses to answer his call, death is certain. Turlough may be too old to be a schoolboy but he's a genuinely terrified child as death approaches, with the sick realization that no one even wants to save him. For all his eloquence and cunning, all he can do is scream... and then the Doctor steps into the airlock, saving Turlough with one fell swoop, calm and concerned while Turlough all but weeps with relief. The scene that follows is awkward, uncomfortable, like two people at a party who had a huge fight the day before. The Doctor doesn't cheerfully assure Turlough he's been in worse scrapes, and Turlough is too ashamed to thank him. "I thought I was going to die," the boy croaks. The Doctor glances at him. "Not yet." And it clicks - the Doctor has known about Turlough all along, from the moment he found the crystal. The Time Lord's been playing dumb, keeping his friends close and his enemies closer. And he was far more convincing than even Turlough could manage...

The King's Demons
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Fitzwilliams turn on the Doctor.
WHY: The King's Demons completely subverts the usual pattern of Doctor Who stories. Normally, the Doctor and his friends spend a story struggling to deal with a crisis and at the same time the distrust and suspicion of the natives, finally becoming allies and ending with a gag as everyone watches in amazement as the TARDIS dematerializes. But not here. The Fitzwilliams see the TARDIS land at the outset, and befriend the Doctor immediately since the first thing he does is save the life of their son. But as the story goes on, they steadily lose their trust and respect of the Time Lord as he struggles to bluff and double-bluff the Master and Kamelion. By the end of the story, the entire clan are out for the Doctor's blood - Sir Geoffrey, the only one to know the Doctor's good intentions, is shot in the back and dies seemingly blaming the Doctor when he's actually urging his cousin to side with him. The Master may not have conquered the universe, but it is he who leaves the castle a mysterious and trusted stranger, while the Doctor is the villain on the run for his life...

The Five Doctors
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The First Doctor gives Tegan a pep talk.
WHY: Richard Hurdnall's performance as the first Doctor isn't often discussed, and often he comes across as damn well scary - look at him sneering "What happened to the other?" at Turlough as if he's about to torture him for information. Even with Tegan, he's just as bitchy and grouchy as she is (shutting her up for once in a way "her" Doctor would never say to her face). Finally, the time come for her - like the Brigadier and Sarah before her - to admit the psychic attack is getting to her. "Do you feel weird, Doctor?" she asks embarrassedly. "Full of strange fears and mysterious forebodings?" asks the old man knowingly. "That's it," she admits. "No, as a matter of fact, I don't," the Doctor shrugs. "Just ignore it as I do. Fear itself is largely an illusion. And at my age," he confides in her gently, "there's little left to fear." It's a nice moment, since we've seen the Third and Second Doctors fail to reassure their companions in any way, while the Fifth would have no doubt told Tegan "Brave heart" in the rightly-held belief she would be too butch to back down in front of her friend. The First Doctor has always been the biggest softie of all his selves, hence his continual bluster of vitriol. Yet, when things are serious he doesn't patronize Tegan, but shows faith in her ability to fight off the mind of the most powerful Time Lord ever - at the same time admitting for the first time he's not the spring chicken he likes to pretend to be. It's ironically much more powerful than if they'd just had to ward off phantoms of Steven and Dodo...

Warriors of the Deep
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Preston suggests using hexachromite.
WHY: I'd like to, if I may, take a chance to slag off Thomas Cookson, a miserable media student with a hypermasculine overcompensation complex and the irritating desire to repost the same anti-JNT rant in every single review. He describes Warriors as (technical flaws aside) "unforgiving, hateful and mean-spirited, with nothing to say but a twisted scorn on humanity for not subscribing to the most suicidal pacifism, or even for having a survival instinct". Now, Tommy seems to have seen a different episode four to me - "the Doctor tells us that the humans are pathetic savages, despite one human woman taking a bullet to protect him". What actually happens is this: upon learning that hexachromite will be perfect to wipe out every living member of the Silurians and Sea Devils, Preston urges the Doctor to use it. The Doctor is disgusted at her bloodlust, especially as she and everyone else on Sea Base 4 work specifically to kill other human beings. As Icthar points out, the Silurians simply couldn't attempt to fight humanity if they didn't have these nuclear weapons ready for exactly that purpose. The Doctor then snap, "Sometimes I wonder why I like the people of this miserable planet so much. Don’t you realise the Silurians and the Sea Devils are ancient and noble races, with skills you pathetic humans can only dream about?" He's angry at Preston's racism at dismissing a whole civilization as "invaders" when they at least are spared internal conflict. Sea Devils don't fight Silurians. And as Turlough points out, respecting the reptile people doesn't balance out their MAD plans for humanity. And the Doctor concedes that Turlough is right. It is only later that Preston dies, AFTER the Doctor had switched on the hexachromite gas - she doesn't "take a bullet", she shoots at Sauvix and he shoots back. She only opens fire to stop the Doctor turning off the gas, not save his life. But then, why let facts get in the way of being able to dub a story "hollow, pointless, obfuscationally pretentious, nihilistic trash"? Tom is, after all, the guy who wants to see a story where the Eleventh Doctor is traumatized for life when some bellydancers rape him for shits and giggles...

The Awakening
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Will tells the Doctor what happened to the last Queen of the May.
WHY: It's a brief moment that is easily overlooked. As they hide by the village green, the Doctor and Will watch the pagent unfold. "It’s just like before," Will mutters miserably. "They burned Queen of the May!" The Doctor nods silently. "The toast of Little Hodcombe." "It ain’t funny!" Will snaps, "She was screaming!" The Doctor continues to watch the bonife being prepared. "That’s nothing to what Tegan would have done," he mutters. in this simple exchange, we get so much. We now know the fate of the May Queen hinted at throughout the story; why Sir George is so insistant on period detail; and how the Malus intends to break free. But on top of that we get some of the Fifth Doctor's typically sick humor; a restatement of his faith in his friend, and an insight into just what horrors poor Will Chandler must have been through.

Frontios
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The rets turn on Cockerill.
WHY: As Tegan notes, the humans on Frontios are their own worst enemies - their shoot-deserters policy is hurtling them towards extinction faster than any tractor or meteor storm. And when the likeable, easy-going Cockerill finally decides the colony is finished and makes a run for it, we don't REALLY believe that big butch Brazen is going to shoot him through the head... do we? "This planet's doomed! We’re all Rets now, Brazen!" Cockerill insists, stealing whatever he can that isn't nailed down, abandoning the last pretence of civilization. Brazen escorts Cockerill out of the ship, not wanting anyone disloyal on his side, but makes no attempt to kill him. "It’s not easy living inside the system," he declares. "But living outside it? It takes more than you’ve got!" Cockerill is left to the mercy of some wild and savage rets - the apparent sympathetic deserters who we now see are not much above savage Futurekind. And maybe, just maybe, Brazen's been on the right side of this conflict all along... but it doesn't make it any easier to see him watch Cockerill get beaten half to death with a solemn, "He’s made his choice..."

Resurrection of the Daleks
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Stein warns Lytton the Daleks will turn on him.
WHY: For once the Daleks seem to actually be doing something sensible at last. The moment the Doctor's in their territory they charge at him from all sides, intending to exterminate the undying crap out of the Time Lord... and then Lytton dryly points out that their massive conspiracy does require the Doctor alive. Grudgingly they lower their weapons and escort the Doctor away. "They'd kill anyone," Lytton sneers, "even if they NEED them." But if the cliche is that they'll never exterminate their enemy, the cliche is that they'll dispose of the hired help. "How long before it's your turn?" Stein asks. Lytton just smiles, and we soon learn why: he's known all along and has his own escape strategy ready. For once the Daleks' allies aren't stupidly naive and optimistic, but worryingly professional...

Planet of Fire
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Timanov justifies his religious genocide against unbelievers.
WHY: Timanov is an interesting character - especially given the fact he resembles a 1970s porn star dressed as Lawrence of Arabia - in that he is ot an evil priest manipulating his followers, but nor is he a gullible moron. He believes in Logar the firegod because he was saved by a silver being who granted him something approaching eternal youth; he believes Malkon to be the miraculous chosen one because the branded baby was the only one to survive a spaceship crash. When Amyand sneers "You were drunk!" at Timanov's tales of devine encounters, it turns out the skeptic is the one in the wrong. True, that Triic samaritan was no god but he was nevertheless completely real. But how can a man who is clearly no sadist or barbarian order otherwise-needless slaughter of innocent people? Before Logar's existence, Sarn was a thriving planet but now is on the brink of extinction. Timanov is well aware of the facts, he just sees them from a religious point of view. As Amyand points out, the Trion exodus of Sarn could easily be Logar's way of saving the faithful. But Timanov instead walks into the fires to die - a notable change to the same author's novelization, where Timanov is a dimwitted puppet who survives the holocaust by accident. But it's all summed up when Timanov explains to Malkon why burning people to death is acceptable. "Unbelievers are such unhappy people," he reveals. And Timanov is anything but happy as he walks into the flames...

The Caves of Androzani
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Stotz kills Krelper and Stark.
WHY: Having only recently seen the uncut version of this story on DVD, Stotz' turning on his former comrades completely passed me by. In the ABC-sanctioned tale, the two beret-clad gunrunners survive the story like Krau Timmin - and the battle between Jek and Morgus is lost completely, as the Doctor staggers into the lab to find the corpses lying amongst the burning ruins. But the cuts mean Stotz comes across in a completely different way. Whereas before he was a stock Holmesian figure, witty, sarcastic and adaptable, he's now a barely-controlled psychopath forcing cyanide down people's throat at knifepoint. In the Androzani I grew up with, Stotz farewell to the others was a tense moment - he picks up a machine gun, the others tense, then Stotz shrugs "Bye, Krelper!" and walks out. A nice little wind-up gag between this gang of outlaws who, on paper, could be easily named "Avon" and "Vila". Ah, but Holmes also wrote Orbit. So maybe I shouldn't have been surprised when Stotz wanders back into the ship as if returning for his keys, but instead guns down his allies with a frozen, insane grin... it is, after all, not too different from what Avon could do on occassion.

16 comments:

Tommy said...

I'd like to, if I may, take a chance to slag off Thomas Cookson, a miserable media student with a hypermasculine overcompensation complex

Wow, I didn't know you cared....

and the irritating desire to repost the same anti-JNT rant in every single review.

And of course that's different to devoting an entire blog to venting your issues with Eric Saward and rewriting entire scripts from Season 22 to your personal preference.

upon learning that hexachromite will be perfect to wipe out every living member of the Silurians and Sea Devils, Preston urges the Doctor to use it.

I've often heard apologists for this story, desperate to make out that there's a valid moral dilemma here, say that the invading Silurians and Sea Devils are the last of their kind. Nothing on screen bears this out however. The Silurians just happen to find another colony of Sea Devils within minutes which suggests there's plenty more of them, and the Doctor says there's more Eocenes out there who need a leader like Ictar when he's urging the genocidal Silurian to save himself for his people's sake.

Funny how they never give a thought to the possibility that the 'warmonger' humans seen here might actually have been forcibly drafted (in regards to Maddox's remark of being only a student before being sent here), but then that would mean no-one could say the Doctor was 'torn' between two sides as bad as each other.

The Doctor is disgusted at her bloodlust, especially as she and everyone else on Sea Base 4 work specifically to kill other human beings. As Icthar points out, the Silurians simply couldn't attempt to fight humanity if they didn't have these nuclear weapons ready for exactly that purpose.

Wow, that moral angle certainly seems worth quibbling about whilst people are dying and the countdown to launching the nukes begins.

He's angry at Preston's racism at dismissing a whole civilization as "invaders" when they at least are spared internal conflict.

Yes she's being 'racist'. Nothing to do with all her crewmates who've been massacred by the invaders or the fact that the Silurians are preparing to destory her planet... she's just being.... prejudiced.

Oh but I thought I was the one who's supposed to be guilty of misrepresenting the story's meaning and what her character motivations were.

It is only later that Preston dies, AFTER the Doctor had switched on the hexachromite gas - she doesn't "take a bullet", she shoots at Sauvix and he shoots back. She only opens fire to stop the Doctor turning off the gas, not save his life.

Regardless, she DID save his life. If she hadn't done what she'd done then the Doctor would have been killed by his precious, noble Sea Devils he speaks so highly of.

But then, why let facts get in the way of being able to dub a story "hollow, pointless, obfuscationally pretentious, nihilistic trash"?

Or indeed why let facts get in the way of making out that there's a worthy, coherent moral meaning to this ghastly story that doesn't exist.

Tom is, after all, the guy who wants to see a story where the Eleventh Doctor is traumatized for life when some bellydancers rape him for shits and giggles...

And yet here you are defending a story where the Doctor's stance of what to do in a violent situation is very much one of 'blaming the victim' and telling them not to fight back or resist their attackers in any way.

Youth of Australia said...

Wow, I didn't know you cared....
Near-death experience, and all that. You google yourself or something? This has only been up a few hours, that is FAST reaction time. Well done.

And of course that's different to devoting an entire blog to venting your issues with Eric Saward and rewriting entire scripts from Season 22 to your personal preference.
Yes it is. Because that's not me doing it on SOMEONE ELSE'S website over and over again.

I've often heard apologists for this story, desperate to make out that there's a valid moral dilemma here, say that the invading Silurians and Sea Devils are the last of their kind. Nothing on screen bears this out however.
Of course not. Icthar out and out says there are millions more to take his place if he dies. It's amazing how people just make up stuff, isn't it?

Funny how they never give a thought to the possibility that the 'warmonger' humans seen here might actually have been forcibly drafted (in regards to Maddox's remark of being only a student before being sent here),
I can't speak for "them", but the novelization makes it clear Maddox WAS drafted since he's one of the few humans that can synch-up with the computers.

but then that would mean no-one could say the Doctor was 'torn' between two sides as bad as each other.
Oh, the humans and Silurians are as bad as each other. Was that in doubt? The Doctor, in my unworthy opinion, is merely upset he can't end things peacefully and is in a clear case of denial.

Wow, that moral angle certainly seems worth quibbling about whilst people are dying and the countdown to launching the nukes begins.
But... he DOES quibble about it. And this isn't unusual for the Doctor to become troubled by minutinae in a crisis. Not an admirable character trait, but a consistent one.

Youth of Australia said...

Yes she's being 'racist'. Nothing to do with all her crewmates who've been massacred by the invaders or the fact that the Silurians are preparing to destory her planet... she's just being.... prejudiced.
When does Preston emote about the death of her crewmates? When does she show any signs of caring? Remember, this is a place where people are shown to be brainwashed - they do it to Maddox, they intend to do it to Turlough... Is Preston and Bulic and the others anything other than zealots?

Oh but I thought I was the one who's supposed to be guilty of misrepresenting the story's meaning and what her character motivations were.
You are in terms of the simple matter of events not being described properly.

Regardless, she DID save his life.
But was that her intention?

If she hadn't done what she'd done then the Doctor would have been killed by his precious, noble Sea Devils he speaks so highly of.
Would he? The Sea Devils are always shown, in both TV appearances, to spare the lives of non-combatants. See how Sauvix shoots down the gunweilding Neelson at the start of episode four and spare the Doctor and Tegan who are unarmed. Or how they spare Turlough and Preston when they surrender. See how Icthar says that the SB4 crew would have been spared but chose to keep fighting.

Or indeed why let facts get in the way of making out that there's a worthy, coherent moral meaning to this ghastly story that doesn't exist.
You've seen Threads. Is there a moral in that?

And yet here you are defending a story where the Doctor's stance of what to do in a violent situation is very much one of 'blaming the victim' and telling them not to fight back or resist their attackers in any way.
Ah, but did I ever say the Doctor was in the right? Besides, there's a clear exchange between Vorshak and the Doctor: "Are you telling us not to defend ourselves?" "I'm telling you you have no defense." And if the humans HAD not opened fire, the Sea Devils wouldn't have killed them. The Silurians would have, though, but since the Doctor is amazed at their ruthlessness, it's a plotpoint. The Doctor is shown to be wrong. As the monks would say, sometimes people are just too outrageous.

And I didn't see any justification on your part for "Men Should Weep".

Youth of Australia said...

Editor's Note: Still missing a few pints of blood, not firing on all cylinders, so if I've missed a whacking obvious point you've made, I apologize in advance - you're a passionate, erudite bloke while I'm blitzed on morphine and Christmas food and may not be making much - or indeed any - sense.

But, as the manager of the Ford Theatre almost said, "apart from that, what did you think of the rest of the article?"

Tommy said...

Near-death experience, and all that. You google yourself or something? This has only been up a few hours, that is FAST reaction time. Well done.

I discovered your blog a while ago (can't remember how, but I guess since I often search Doctor Who topics it was inevitable) noticed my name mentioned a few times, then gradually realised I was finding your articles quite absorbing reads, and that I was even coming to see the funny side in my being satirised in this way. I was quite keen to follow this 200 Greatest moments list actually.

Yes it is. Because that's not me doing it on SOMEONE ELSE'S website over and over again.

Fair point, and to your credit you did something genuinely creative with your issues and didn't adopt my kind of siege mentality. But I think at the end of the day your own strength of feeling in your blog and how you've made a labour of love out of that demonstrates that neither you or I are more or less obsessive, 'sad', opinionated or motivated by nerd-rage than the other.

Oh, the humans and Silurians are as bad as each other. Was that in doubt? The Doctor, in my unworthy opinion, is merely upset he can't end things peacefully and is in a clear case of denial.

The humans aren't exactly model citzens, no. But they're hardly much worse than any other suspicious, hostile human characters existing in a state of perpetual threat that the Doctor's come across elsewhere and decided to help protect from attackers. The humans in Warriors of the Deep are part of a machine, who comply with the rules that hold everything together. The Silurians however have decided to hell with the rules, let's kill everything. It should be obvious who's the lesser of the two evils.

Besides I can't get away from the nagging fact that the Doctor's moral judgements and denial in this story is not at all down to the situation he's presented with, and more down to what the plot requires him to do for the sake of ensuring that set-piece ending happens.

But... he DOES quibble about it. And this isn't unusual for the Doctor to become troubled by minutinae in a crisis. Not an admirable character trait, but a consistent one.

I can think of far too many exceptions to this in the Doctor's history to buy that as a valid motivation unless there's some genuine and lucid weight behind it beyond him suddenly lapsing into denial to plot-convenience.

There was no quibbling on the Doctor's part in Terror of the Zygons or Seeds of Death before he destroyed the entire invasion force, and that was where the position of the invaders who'd come from a dead/dying world was *far* more desperate, so why does it happen all of a sudden here, and compounding that, why is the Doctor suddenly condemning the humans for even suggesting a course of action he's been guilty of resorting to himself? And far from acknowledging his hypocricy the story seems to be actually rewriting the Doctor's whole history.

Tommy said...

When does Preston emote about the death of her crewmates? When does she show any signs of caring?

That doesn't make her a cold, uncaring character necessarily, it just means she wasn't written with much thought or dimension, and it reflects on the story being one in which character reactions to the events taking place are not the remotest bit sincere, par for the course in that period of the show.

But all the same I can pretend she's a real person and imagine what it would be like to be in her situation and what a jerk the Doctor would come off as, in demanding she do it all his way, despite it putting her in maximum risk.

Remember, this is a place where people are shown to be brainwashed - they do it to Maddox, they intend to do it to Turlough... Is Preston and Bulic and the others anything other than zealots?

Perhaps she was a brainwashed zealot, but either way her stance concerning the Silurians that it's 'kill or be killed' is still a valid one.

But was that her intention?

Her intention was to survive, and last time I checked that was a worthy goal (except in Season 21 of course where any behaviour other than self-destructive just isn't fashionable). and generally if someone in a besieged group acts for their own survival they contribute to the survival of the rest of their group.

Would he?

Well yes he would, because Ictar ordered the Sea Devil to kill the Doctor and the Sea Devil actually said "I must kill you, but first turn off the pump."

The Sea Devils are always shown, in both TV appearances, to spare the lives of non-combatants. See how Sauvix shoots down the gunweilding Neelson at the start of episode four and spare the Doctor and Tegan who are unarmed. Or how they spare Turlough and Preston when they surrender. See how Icthar says that the SB4 crew would have been spared but chose to keep fighting.

In the Doctor's first encounter with the Daleks, they spared him and his companions' lives and held them prisoner, but that didn't prove them to be 'noble' or trustworthy, and the Doctor still urged the Thals to fight rather than surrender. For that matter, in The Sea Devils the Doctor helped the prisoners on the marine base to break free and arm themselves, and didn't seem to condemn them for using lethal force (notice the scene where he casually asks the tank officer who's blowing away Sea Devils, if he's seen the Master anywhere).

The humans on the base aren't really to know that if they lay down their weapons they won't be gunned down, Ictar later makes it clear their human prisoners will be killed anyway out of 'mercy', and the fact that the Doctor and his companions are allowed to live seems more down to plot contrivance than any genuine honourability on the part of the Sea Devils.

But was that her intention?

Her intention was to survive, and last time I checked that was a worthy goal (except in Season 21 of course where any behaviour other than self-destructive just isn't fashionable). and generally if someone in a besieged group acts for their own survival they contribute to the survival of the rest of their group.

Would he?

Well yes he would, because Ictar ordered the Sea Devil to kill the Doctor and the Sea Devil actually said "I must kill you, but first turn off the pump."

Tommy said...

The Sea Devils are always shown, in both TV appearances, to spare the lives of non-combatants. See how Sauvix shoots down the gunweilding Neelson at the start of episode four and spare the Doctor and Tegan who are unarmed. Or how they spare Turlough and Preston when they surrender. See how Icthar says that the SB4 crew would have been spared but chose to keep fighting.

In the Doctor's first encounter with the Daleks, they spared him and his companions' lives and held them prisoner, but that didn't prove them to be 'noble' or trustworthy, and the Doctor still urged the Thals to fight rather than surrender. For that matter, in The Sea Devils the Doctor helped the prisoners on the marine base to break free and arm themselves, and didn't seem to condemn them for using lethal force (notice the scene where he casually asks the tank officer who's blowing away Sea Devils, if he's seen the Master anywhere).

The humans on the base aren't really to know that if they lay down their weapons they won't be gunned down, Ictar later makes it clear their human prisoners will be killed anyway out of 'mercy', and the fact that the Doctor and his companions are allowed to live seems more down to plot contrivance than any genuine honourability on the part of the Sea Devils.


You've seen Threads. Is there a moral in that?

There is indeed a narrative pay-off. The film does after all depict two families joined together by a teenage pregnancy. It is about the family tree and the bloodline. The conclusion of the film is the point of realisation that the family bloodline has come to a permanent end when her daughter turns out to be sterile, marking effectively the end of our species.

What I took from Threads was an appreciation of the world we live in, and nature's delicate balance and how precious the things and people we take for granted are. What I took from Warriors of the Deep was a message that apparently I'm a bad person if I think the gift of life is even worth fighting for.


Ah, but did I ever say the Doctor was in the right?

No you didn't, fair point.

The Silurians would have, though, but since the Doctor is amazed at their ruthlessness, it's a plotpoint. The Doctor is shown to be wrong. As the monks would say, sometimes people are just too outrageous.

It's not made lucid that he's shown to be wrong, or that he even acknowledges his mistake- he certainly doesn't seem to ever learn from it given how he still seems to treat Ictar as 'noble' and urges him to survive for the sake of his people. But given his misjudgement was artificially grafted onto his character for the sake of having a story, I suppose there's no way the Doctor could ever naturally reckon with that part of himself.

Tommy said...

And I didn't see any justification on your part for "Men Should Weep".

Justification? I didn't know I owed one.

I'm gathering from how you worded it that you think I hate the Moffatt era, hate the new Doctor, and wrote the story out of sadism towards the 11th Doctor character. None of which is true, I think Series 5 has been a massive improvement on the RTD era and I'm even in a position where I find the fans who hate on it annoying.

The point of my story (and bearing in mind you must have noticed the disclaimer that it was a joint writing venture) was to somewhat address something of a problem I and my co-writer had with the way in both End of Time and Flesh and Stone, the Doctor finds himself being molested by a woman but the story treats this as a harmless bit of fun. So if my story had an aim it was to challenge Amy and have her consider her own sexually aggressive behaviour. It was intended to be clearly rape the Doctor suffered, but I felt it important to emphasise the vagueness, and that the Doctor's emotional grief could have just as easily been caused by remembering having his bum touched before he blacked out, even if nothing else happened, and his feelings would be just as valid.

I'm also assuming from your psychological diagnosis of my hypermasculine overcompensation complex (not saying you're right or wrong there) that you perhaps see my story in the same light as, say, the film Disclosure in using the premise of a man being sexually harassed for gimmick's sake coupled with an anti-feminist agenda to externalise male guilt by showing women at their worst.

Well, I'll say on that score my intention was somewhat to redo Disclosure 'right' (and whilst we're on the subject, I can't say I found your rewrite of Resurrection to be any less unrefined and nasty than the version Saward wrote, but I guess that criticism doesn't mean much given my own Time War story's body count), and the problem I had with the film was that for all it's ballsy assertions about how men can be victims of the same sexual abuse as women can, the film seemed terrified to acknowledge that such male victims can feel the same pain. As such I half got a nasty sense the film was saying women who get emotional or tearful about such treatment need to stop being such crybabies about it.

This is something I certainly wanted to rectify in my take on the issue, and say that it's important to make a fuss and to emotionally unleash- hence why it's called Men Should Weep. Yes, I have a fixation with the morbid and the miserable, I guess it comes from having an obsessive personality, but I figured if I could write something on a sensitive issue and produce some kind of worthy sentiments and gague empathy, it was worth putting up. Though I do say it myself I think it was written with heart and compassion that gave the story a clear moral sense.

But, as the manager of the Ford Theatre almost said, "apart from that, what did you think of the rest of the article?"

I've only skimmed it so far, was quite interested to see what moment you picked from my least favourite story, and noticed my name. Tell you what, when you've got all eras put up I'll read them all chronologically and let you know what I think.

Youth of Australia said...

That doesn't make her a cold, uncaring character necessarily, it just means she wasn't written with much thought or dimension.
So the fact that this was the infamous everyone-thought-it-wasn't-a-genuine-take scene means nothing then?

what a jerk the Doctor would come off as, in demanding she do it all his way, despite it putting her in maximum risk.
And he is. He's called on it by Turlough and admits he's wrong.

her stance concerning the Silurians that it's 'kill or be killed' is still a valid one.
Quite true.

Her intention was to survive,
Was it? Could have been a noble sacrifice. Vorshak does that and expects everyone else to as well - he tells off Turlough for wanting to save lives instead of working for the greater good...

Well yes he would, because Ictar ordered the Sea Devil to kill the Doctor and the Sea Devil actually said "I must kill you, but first turn off the pump."
Actually he says "You must die", not that he'd be the one to do it.

In the Doctor's first encounter with the Daleks, they spared him and his companions' lives and held them prisoner, but that didn't prove them to be 'noble' or trustworthy, and the Doctor still urged the Thals to fight rather than surrender.
That was after the Daleks tortured them, exterminated Temmosus and tried to kill Ian.

The humans on the base aren't really to know that if they lay down their weapons they won't be gunned down,
Despite the Doctor repeatedly telling them that.

Ictar later makes it clear their human prisoners will be killed anyway out of 'mercy',
Yes. Icthar is the villain, though.

and the fact that the Doctor and his companions are allowed to live seems more down to plot contrivance than any genuine honourability on the part of the Sea Devils.
But if this contrivance is so consistent, doesn't that suggest it could be deliberate?

The conclusion of the film is the point of realisation that the family bloodline has come to a permanent end when her daughter turns out to be sterile, marking effectively the end of our species.
Sterile?! She has a baby! A live baby! OK, not in the best of conditions, but that's hardly her being barren isn't it?

I notice the boyfriend's best mate is in the bed next to her, laughing his head off. Which is obviously significant, thought I dunno what it is.

What I took from Warriors of the Deep was a message that apparently I'm a bad person if I think the gift of life is even worth fighting for.
No I don't get this at all. The Doctor makes a moral argument and is shown to be wrong. He admits he's wrong. The last line of the story shows that.

If the gift of life wasn't worth fighting for, the Doctor wouldn't risk frying his brains out, or provide oxygen to defeated enemies, or the Commander fighting to stay alive long enough to save humanity. Would they?

It's not made lucid that he's shown to be wrong,
Maybe the assumption is the audience can make up their own minds?

or that he even acknowledges his mistake- he certainly doesn't seem to ever learn from it given how he still seems to treat Ictar as 'noble' and urges him to survive for the sake of his people.
Which he admits is a desperate, off-the-top-of-his-head negotiation technique since Bulic increased the gas flow without warning. Ictar SAYS he's the honorable one - defensive wars and all that - and the Doctor tries to use that argument against him.

But given his misjudgement was artificially grafted onto his character for the sake of having a story, I suppose there's no way the Doctor could ever naturally reckon with that part of himself.
The very next story has him admit that killing Sir George is a viable option to save people from the Malus, though.

Tommy said...

Maybe the assumption is the audience can make up their own minds?

That's not the impression I get from this story. It seems to me to be a very cultish story that demands that the viewer is either with the Doctor or against him, and it's a recurring tone in the 80's era.

I'm not sure I can explain it. I know I didn't approve of the Doctor destroying the Zygons , I know when in Death to the Daleks, the Doctor says the Daleks are entitled to the Perinnium cure, I was wondering how the Doctor could agree with saving Dalek lives after all the death and destruction they'd wrought, I know I couldn't see why the Doctor has to stop Scaroth saving his people until the story's final twist, and on a recent note I didn't approve of the Doctor handing Prisoner Zero over without even trying to find out it's guilt.

But those stories make me feel I've learned something about my own moral code, and about the Doctor's. The key thing is the Doctor has understandable reasons and a clear goal in mind- i.e. gives the audience something to genuinely consider. In Warriors of the Deep he has neither and yet seems rigid about his stance all the same.

Warriors of the Deep just seems confused, but makes a big deal about how some abstract 'right path' should be followed all the same. The message of the ending seems to be a self-serving 'you must see this story as meaningful'.

Ictar SAYS he's the honorable one - defensive wars and all that - and the Doctor tries to use that argument against him.

It's a Doctorish technique, yes. But the ends of ensuring Ictar survives and that his race is led by a genocidal warmonger seem against everything the Doctor stands for.

The very next story has him admit that killing Sir George is a viable option to save people from the Malus, though.

You can choose to see that as a character development. Problem for me is it's a development that requires regressing the Doctor first in order to work. There's plenty of prior examples of the Doctor not shying away from what has to be done. In The Seeds of Death he despatches the Ice Warriors (who's position was far more desperate than the Silurians) with none of the moral agonising seen here. It's often said Season 21 is about the Doctor learning he has to be more ruthless but the Doctor already knew that beforehand, it's just that Warriors of the Deep takes the character so far back as to make the Doctor's subsequent ruthless streak look like a far more shocking development and radical reinvention than it actually was.

Tommy said...

That was after the Daleks tortured them, exterminated Temmosus and tried to kill Ian.

Not sure I remember the moments of torture. Infact I remember Ian consistently asking the female companions if the Daleks had hurt them in any way which was always met with 'no'.

It does seem disproportionate though for the Doctor to advocate military action and outright invasion of the Daleks' base over just two deaths, when the Silurians are in the process of killing far more humans in their invasion of the human's base and the Doctor insists on the non-violent appeasement stance.

Despite the Doctor repeatedly telling them that.

But the first thing the Silurians unveiled on the humans was the Myrka which killed indiscriminantly regardless of who was armed or not, which probably suggested to the humans that the Silurians weren't interested in taking prisoners.

If the gift of life wasn't worth fighting for, the Doctor wouldn't risk frying his brains out, or provide oxygen to defeated enemies, or the Commander fighting to stay alive long enough to save humanity. Would they?

But the point is the Doctor decides his own absolutist terms for what moral code we humans must adhere to in the fight for survival, even if it means an avoidable collateral of humans has to die just to satisfy his sanctimonious standards.

Youth of Australia said...

That's not the impression I get from this story.
Manifestly.

It seems to me to be a very cultish story that demands that the viewer is either with the Doctor or against him, and it's a recurring tone in the 80's era.
Don't see how - the Doctor's actions are questioned from the start when he sets the reactor to blow. The Doctor, Icthar, Neelson, Solow, Sauvix, all have their own agendas and think they're all right. If anything, I find Warriors asks us to question our hero rather than blindly follow him - OK, it could have been done a hell of a lot better, but still...

I was wondering how the Doctor could agree with saving Dalek lives after all the death and destruction they'd wrought,
Interesting. I thought they needed it for their slaves, or Ogrons or the like. In any case, the Doctor just reports what the Daleks tell him, he never says they deserve it, just they are desperate and will ally themselves with humans.

I didn't approve of the Doctor handing Prisoner Zero over without even trying to find out it's guilt.
Well, it had killed a dozen people and planned to have an entire planet destroyed - kill or be killed. Zero never tried any "I was wrongly imprisoned" or anything, and took sadistic pleasure in tormenting Amy and would have killed her had the Doctor not intervened.

In Warriors of the Deep he has neither and yet seems rigid about his stance all the same.
Yep. His high ideals - like good intentions - pave the road to hell.

The message of the ending seems to be a self-serving 'you must see this story as meaningful'.
Well, I never got any pretentious vibe - just the TARDIS crew surrounded by corpses. Not a happy ending. Even Earthshock had a more positive vibe, with the Cybermen defeated and history saved. Here, a bloodbath, the only consolation it could have been much much worse. The same as the ending of the Dalek masterplan really - and THAT had whole episodes of comedy fun with whacky monks, Egyptians and zany Arabs, or Sara Kingdom completely dismissing the death of her brother to laugh about Hollywood directors. Then it has the bald-faced cheek to have the Doctor (six seconds prior giggling at the melted scrap of a Dalek) to suddenly tell us what a "terrible, terrible waste" it was.

But the ends of ensuring Ictar survives and that his race is led by a genocidal warmonger seem against everything the Doctor stands for.
No doubt, but the Doctor was panicking. He's made offers to alien killers before and since - in the Tenth Planet he offers the Cybermen sanctuary on Earth even after he knows of their plans to convert every human being.

You can choose to see that as a character development.
You make a good point but it seems best nowadays to think of each Doctor as an individual. It doesn't matter if the Second Doc killed Ice Warriors in cold blood (heh), it's the FIFTH we're talking about, and he's come to a decision, rightly or wrongly. It seems just like the Doctor needs to relearn magic tricks every regeneration, he needs to recalibrate his moral compass too - Eleven actually tries the "no interference" rule for crying out loud.

Youth of Australia said...

Not sure I remember the moments of torture.
You're right. I was summarizing (bloody hell it hurts to type). I was summing up

- zapping Ian paralyzed when they can simply close a door in his face, then threatening to keep him paralyzed forever
- refusing to give any medical supplies to our heroes and watching them die
- forcing Susan to go into a dangerous zone to get drugs they will not give the TARDIS crew anyway.

And they DO torture the Doc and Susan in the last episode, when they're chained to the walls.

It does seem disproportionate though for the Doctor to advocate military action and outright invasion of the Daleks' base over just two deaths,
Yes, which is precisely what Ian does, calling him out on the selfishness of the Doctor who only stays to fight to get the fluid link back. "Am I going to hold it up and say 'thank you very much, this is what you fought and died for'?" Ian demands.

Plus, that's the first Doctor before he "mellows".

But the first thing the Silurians unveiled on the humans was the Myrka which killed indiscriminantly regardless of who was armed or not, which probably suggested to the humans that the Silurians weren't interested in taking prisoners.
No, the first thing the Silurians used was the particle suppressor that seemed to be in nothing more than self-defense. The Doctor notes they could have destroyed the base and - not realizing they want the missiles - assumes this is a sign the Silurians have peaceful intentions.

While I agree with your point about the Myrka, the Doctor only finds out about it after the base crew have begun shooting at Sea Devils and probably sees it (wrongly) as a defensive rather than offensive measure.

But, yeah, he's in serious denial.

But the point is the Doctor decides his own absolutist terms for what moral code we humans must adhere to in the fight for survival,
He snaps AT HIMSELF when a rather unpleasant woman confronts him with the truth. He actually says "Why do *I* like you people so much?" If he thinks humanity is warlike scum, what does that make HIM?

It's no deeper a comment than in Zygons when the Brig tells the Doctor off for ignoring the loss of life on the riggs and focussing on the long journey to Scotland. There, as here, the Doctor sucks it up and gets on with everything.

even if it means an avoidable collateral of humans has to die just to satisfy his sanctimonious standards.
Well, I don't recall the bit where the Doctor deliberately lets people die so he can look good.

Shouting at someone in a tense situation before doing EXACTLY WHAT THEY SAID HE SHOULD DO, long before any Sea Devils turn up, is a completely different matter.

Tommy said...

Interesting. I thought they needed it for their slaves, or Ogrons or the like.

Hmm, I never thought that might have been what they meant before. But basically it was my gut reaction at the time, and I always have remembered the way I respond morally to a Doctor Who story (I was 11 when I first saw it, and Genesis of the Daleks was still fresh in my mind, and gave me the impression the Daleks didn't take prisoners).

Well, it had killed a dozen people and planned to have an entire planet destroyed - kill or be killed. Zero never tried any "I was wrongly imprisoned" or anything, and took sadistic pleasure in tormenting Amy and would have killed her had the Doctor not intervened.

I don't recall it killing the coma patients (if that's the twelve you mean), I remember there was a cutaway hint that it killed the nurse (oh so it must have killed everyone else in the room) but that was after the Doctor had caused it to panic by nearly exposing it. It wasn't Prisoner Zero (every time I type that I nearly type Patient Zero and think of Mila) that was going to destroy the planet, it was the Atraxi, if Prisoner Zero didn't surrender, which to me hinted that the Atraxi were fascists and their justice couldn't be just taken at their word.

I think in a way Moffat's love of time travel gimmickery fudged it a bit in having the Doctor skip ahead 12 years... but the underlying point for me was if Prisoner Zero had lived in Amy's house all that time without harming her, how bad could it be?

The same as the ending of the Dalek masterplan really - and THAT had whole episodes of comedy fun with whacky monks, Egyptians and zany Arabs, or Sara Kingdom completely dismissing the death of her brother to laugh about Hollywood directors. Then it has the bald-faced cheek to have the Doctor (six seconds prior giggling at the melted scrap of a Dalek) to suddenly tell us what a "terrible, terrible waste" it was.

That might indeed be why Warriors of the Deep gets to me so, because like a lot of the early 80's period it's tone is so serious and the Doctor seems to mean every word of what he says, with little of the reassuring spontaneous levity you mention here. The stuff that gives the show and its hero a sense of flexibility and hope seems absent in this era (the elan that made the Doctor's lapses in moral judgement in Invasion of Time and Brain of Morbius seem forgivable, but at the same time the viewer could still take the moral to heart if they chose, like I said of my moral reaction to City of Death), which makes the show feel like it's walked a dead-end with seriously no way back.

You make a good point but it seems best nowadays to think of each Doctor as an individual. It doesn't matter if the Second Doc killed Ice Warriors in cold blood (heh), it's the FIFTH we're talking about, and he's come to a decision, rightly or wrongly. It seems just like the Doctor needs to relearn magic tricks every regeneration, he needs to recalibrate his moral compass too - Eleven actually tries the "no interference" rule for crying out loud.

I suppose that is valid.

Miles Reid said...

What I took from Warriors of the Deep was a message that apparently I'm a bad person if I think the gift of life is even worth fighting for.

But that isn't the 'message', if indeed there is a message at all. Because everyone on board the Sea Base is fighting in one way or another to survive. It's just that the Doctor is trying desperately to use an alternative to a pointless gun battle and to find a better way. Each time he's met the Silurians and the Sea Devils, he's tried and failed miserably to find common ground. Only this time both sides are more on a war-footing than ever before and thus any chance to create a peaceful dialogue was long destroyed before he even really got there.

And on the case made long ago that the humans could have been unwilling draftees. Why would any government or military worth their salt put draftees in charge of a nuclear deterrent where the safety of the world is in their hands? Japanese Anime such as Mobile Suit Gundam not withstanding. Since none of the base crew ever say 'I'm only a draftee' or 'I'm not even supposed to be here today!' It's just as likely they're all pumped up on G.I Joe and Patriotism and thus believe in the Manifest Destiny of Democracy.

It's just as plausible.

Youth of Australia said...

I don't recall it killing the coma patients (if that's the twelve you mean), I remember there was a cutaway hint that it killed the nurse (oh so it must have killed everyone else in the room) but that was after the Doctor had caused it to panic by nearly exposing it.
Well, it did. I've got the Season Five Companion mag, and that's what it did. Slaughtered the lot of them.

It wasn't Prisoner Zero that was going to destroy the planet, it was the Atraxi, if Prisoner Zero didn't surrender, which to me hinted that the Atraxi were fascists and their justice couldn't be just taken at their word.
I'm not defending the Atraxi, but Prisoner Zero was willing to let the whole Earth be destroyed than surrender. It had TWELVE YEARS and never even tried to escape the Earth, never tried to get the Doctor on side even though it knew he was, and just tried to kill everyone it met even though there was no way they could communicate with the Atraxi.

Prisoner Zero had lived in Amy's house all that time without harming her, how bad could it be?
It was willing to kill her in cold blood the moment she saw it. It was also going to kill her again at the hospital along with Rory. Just because a serial killer goes for a week without murdering people doesn't mean they're harmless all of a sudden.

That might indeed be why Warriors of the Deep gets to me so, because like a lot of the early 80's period it's tone is so serious and the Doctor seems to mean every word of what he says, with little of the reassuring spontaneous levity you mention here.
Fair enough. The guard with bad breath wasn't in the same league, though the Myrka's hand jiving always raised a smile for me.

which makes the show feel like it's walked a dead-end with seriously no way back.
Nah, it only reaches THAT point in Resurrection of the Daleks.