Terror of the Autons part 4
5 October 2013 at 16:09 #17878
The Doctor attempts to stop the Master activating the deadly plastic but UNIT have a more military plan. He tries to decode the plastic’s programming but soon comes face to face with the Master.5 October 2013 at 20:09 #17895
Lovely twist on the “escape from the cliff-hanger” by the simple action of “calling for help”!
Jo showed that she is not a helpless bimbo. It is a long time since I watched the Jon Pertwee episodes, so I hope that the script writers didn’t turn her into a numpty.
At least The Master wasn’t completely too wrapped up in himself his own plans, and could take an action that was in the common interest.
I found it interesting that the Doctor called Mike Yates by his rank and surname, and Jo called him by his first name. Is this an indication of a developing relationship?
I also found the Doctor’s final comments, where he was relishing further meetings with the Master a bit sinister, as though he was turning to the Dark Side. (Oops, wrong programme!)5 October 2013 at 22:56 #17899Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip
Funnily enough, considering it was the final episode, I found that the weakest part of the story. The air strike seems to take forever to turn up – the bus could have been to Birmingham and back in the time it took to scramble that jet. The denoument depends on the Master realising in ten seconds that the allies he’s been working with for ages might possibly turn on him once he’s brought them to Earth. And poor old Rex Farrell spends his time being knocked down, getting up, being knocked down again – before finally being killed as a decoy.
Yes, the final bit with the Doctor looking forward to meeting the psychotic mass murderer again is a bit creepy. It’s that attitude that all Time Lords, even the nice ones, seem to have – that, when push comes to shove, they’re the only important people in the galaxy.6 October 2013 at 12:11 #17914
Agreeing with stevethewhistle and @bluesqueakpip, yes, the anticipation in The Doctor at the end looks very weird, especially in retrospect as The Master being on Earth inevitably led to a lot of deaths.
As time goes on you do see The Master and Doctor are basically fighting old childhood battles of one-upmanship, with Earth as their playground. The Doctor is pretty smug here, as he’s reduced the Master to his level, trapped on Earth. The Master’s sudden realisation that he may be in danger himself does seem a little, er, rapid. I think it would have worked better if he’d known at that point he had no escape route (with the wrong dematerialisation circuit). That aspect of jeopardy and fear of being trapped with the invading Nestenes would be a more convincing reason to turn.
I think those who saw the Target covers that @jimthefish and I put in the first episode blog will understand his comment that, having seen those, the end of the actual story can’t help but disappoint in a way. Tentacled monstrosity, or wibbly wobbly light effect? Target books were both a blessing and a curse.
I still do have a real soft spot for the period though. I think as an intro to the Pertwee years, it is a good story as you have a fub-romp that features all the main players and effectively sets up that Master/Doctor dynamic.6 October 2013 at 13:28 #17921
Any ideas for Troughton?
I think @arkleseizure msuggested The Mind Robber (at 5 eps) and I suggested Tomb of the Cybermen (at 4 eps, although for people with access to the Watch TV channel, that story will be featured in the UK showing of The Doctors Revisited). If you don’t fancy B&W, he does feature in The Three Doctors (10th anniversary 4 episodes), The Five Doctors (20th anniversary 1 feature length ep) and The Two Doctors (2 45 minute eps, Sadly with Colin Baker). @chickenelly enquired about those on another blog.6 October 2013 at 14:04 #17923Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip
I’d vote for avoiding The Two Doctors – we’re all wishing @htpbdet well and hoping for him to get better, and reshowing that travesty will not help.
The two anniversary shows do have their charms, especially The Three Doctors – but on the whole, I think if we’re trying to introduce Patrick Troughton to people who’ve never seen any of the BG series beyond these retrospectives, Troughton ought to get something from his own era.6 October 2013 at 15:10 #17926
As I have Watch Channel and can record it on TiVo (which I will have to do as I will be out walking on that day), I would like to go for “The Tomb of the Cybermen.
It is to be shown in a 2 hr block (at 14.30 on Sunday, 13th of October), but, I assume, that there will be breaks between the episode for the ads.
Should we watch it one episode at a time?8 October 2013 at 21:21 #18011Anonymous @
I’d vote for Tomb but am happy with whatever the consensus is.
Just wanted to agree with @phaseshift with the way that the Nestene reveal is something of a let-down to those brought up on the books. Still, it’s not too late. Now that the Autons seems to be something of a fixture of New Who, maybe we’ll see a proper rendition of of the Consciousness yet.
The Doc’s cavalier attitude to the Master is quite odd. It’s really quite something of a bro-mance the Third Doctor and the Master. Everything they do is to get each other to notice the other. It’s a pity that SM hasn’t really written for the Master because it’s maybe the case that he kind of understands the dynamic of the relationship — as seen in Curse of Fatal Death.
It struck me recently at just how much of an establishment figure Pertwee is (which is something, I believe, that Verity Lambert disliked about him). And not just of the human establishment. He’s the one incarnation of the Doctor who I think would actually fit in the most back home on Gallifrey with the other Time Lords. It’s ironic that the Time Lords punished and alienated the Doctor at a point at which maybe he would have been ready to come home.
My only other thought is that this illustrates that the Master has always been a bit of a bloody idiot and that the blame can’t be entirely laid at Ainley’s incarnation’s door for ‘crap plans inc’. It’s just that Delgado’s Master was a bit more suave with it. But right from the off he’s not really been thinking things through which leads me to think that the Doc’s description of him as an ‘incompetent bungler’ in episode one is actually quite accurate, rather than just simple jealousy…9 October 2013 at 09:40 #18040
Re: The Master
But right from the off he’s not really been thinking things through which leads me to think that the Doc’s description of him as an ‘incompetent bungler’ in episode one is actually quite accurate, rather than just simple jealousy
The Master definitely has a higher opinion of himself than his capabilities seem to justify.
Mind you, at times this seems to apply to the Doctor as well.9 October 2013 at 13:34 #18057
Thanks for revisiting this story – had a ball rewatching it. It’s a great intro story for Jo – bit of an airhead, but very sweet, intensely loyal and surprisingly feisty. And never stays put when she’s told to! Had a chuckle when she did the Susan thing of spraining her ankle. (I was a bit in mourning for the departure of Liz Shaw, but you couldn’t not like Jo. And she had a great line in boots 🙂 )
The Master comes across as a brilliant conceptualist but he’s not a detailed planner. He comes up with the big ideas but he’s not interested in filling in all the steps – he needs a PA/assistant/companion. And yes, he’s very much Moriarty to the Doctor. There was a real sense in this of the TL’s being much more powerful (not saying better!) species than us (continuing the thread started in the War Games) – the human race is just one of many “small” species to most of them – they mock the Dr for his attachment to us. Re the Doctor’s reaction at the end – he’s bored on earth, remember. Agree with @bluesqueakpip that the Master’s turnaround is very fast – but if he knew he was trapped then, then they couldn’t do the Dr’s line at the end and the reveal of him having tricked the Master with the wrong circuit.
The third Doctor was having to live life on the slow path. He’s still a Time Lord but they’ve erased his knowledge of how to make a TARDIS. He’s bored out his brain and sitting on a massive pile of frustration which he just about keeps under control – you see him snappy quite a lot, but then will turn on the charm and apologise. He was living with people whom he likes, but who are intellectually and socially on a different plane from him – all his little digs at the Brigadier about when in doubt shoot it (which he usually does – see the lock in this episode), and destroying the bomb’s tech early on. The Master offers a diversion, a challenge and some adventure.
Re the third Doctor’s establishment conformity – only up to a point. He’s playing the game because he has to. UNIT represents his best chance on earth to get access to a science lab and equipment so he can work on the TARDIS. His sole aim is to get it working again. What does he do when he accesses the Master’s TARDIS? Steals the dematerialisation circuit. He’s not interested in stopping the Master, that’s a side effect. He wants the part. He can’t wait to fit it into his own TARDIS. And he’s secretive about it, he doesn’t want anyone to try to stop him. He tells Jo he’s off for a “test flight” but make no mistake, he thinks he’s free again.
The Master is a dilettante. He has the whole universe at his fingertips, but unlike the Dr he doesn’t get excited about just exploring, he wants to manipulate, to see what happens. Like a little boy (think Banks’s Wasp Factory) with an ant colony who experiments on it to see what happens when eg you throw in an anteater. Delgado sells it so well with just a look or a phrase. And a great beard. He’s the suave Victorian villain to Pertwee’s (equally suave when he wants to be) be-caped good guy. In other hands it goes pantomime.
These are thrill-seeking aliens with big brains and short attention spans.
The FX were very much of their time, but were scary watching as a 70s teen. Plastic daffs, ANY plastic (cf not every shadow but ANY shadow), big carnival heads – add those to the exisiting list of shop mannequins, seaweed, foam in general, sink plungers… One thing that occurred to me watching now – if the plastic nose/mouth covers dissolved almost instantly in CO2 from the Dr’s breath and were designed to do so to disappear from the victims’ faces – how come they stayed intact long enough to suffocate??
But overall I’ve enjoyed this rewatch, the direction’s pacy (I don’t mind the jump cuts), the outside locations are good (a quarry 🙂 ) and the dialogue between the Dr/Brig and the Dr/Master, crackles.
Finally – what’s not to like – “You’ll need to chnage the polarity“!! 😆9 October 2013 at 13:42 #18061
Re Troughton episodes – maybe wait a day or 2 more to see what comes up in the press announcement this week before making the final decision?
Don’t have a problem with Tomb otherwise, tho the Mind Robber is a classic. Is the Mind Robber complete?
Link between Terror of the Autons and Tomb – if it’s not been mentioned already, circus strongman Roy Stewart was the controversial Toberman in Tomb.9 October 2013 at 13:54 #18064Anonymous @
@scaryb – nice post about the 3rd Doctor. This that you mention also bothered me:
if the plastic nose/mouth covers dissolved almost instantly in CO2 from the Dr’s breath and were designed to do so to disappear from the victims’ faces – how come they stayed intact long enough to suffocate??
I thought it must have been due to, people who are feeling suffocated spend more energy trying to inhale … and when they can’t do that, they may not be exhaling. (This probably isn’t correct medical science, it was simply how I justified it all in my mind.) However, when they die, all air will be expelled from their lungs, containing CO2, which then should have melted the mask … ergo, I have no idea either!9 October 2013 at 14:14 #18070
I think you have the general theory ;-). I do remember it led to a bit of a phase with people at school experimenting with plastic bags on the face LOL – great effect!9 October 2013 at 21:17 #18078
Is that everyone?
I’m thinking Tomb myself. It’s Troughton and it’s Cybermen… The original Cybermen!
And Victoria… I have a soft spot for her. 😀
If you don’t want spoilers then don’t watch below, but I quite liked this fan-made trailer.
It reminds me how, even with all the CGI, special effects and expensive costumes they have now, it could still be scarier back then. Makes me want to watch it all tonight.9 October 2013 at 21:51 #18079
One of the great Doctor Who bloopers involves the plastic face covering.
If you go to around 6:25, just before Jo gets sprayed, you can see someone shoving the plastic face cover onto the desk.
It just goes to show how cheaply it was made in those days. But how great it is, because we didn’t notice.9 October 2013 at 21:55 #18080Anonymous @
@craig – that’s hysterical! Nope, I didn’t notice that first time around. And you can even hear the swoosh of the mask slipping across the desk a bit. 🙂9 October 2013 at 23:55 #18088
Haha, well spotted. I did notice she had nearly as much trouble wrestling it on to her face as Harry Towb had with the chair.10 October 2013 at 02:42 #18093
Great – Tomb sounds like a plan. Loved the vid – got me properly excited.
Oddly apt as well. Whatever is announced on Friday, Tomb was one of the last big finds that put a whole story together.21 February 2014 at 16:52 #25598Marinus lost his keys again @marinus-lost-his-keys-again
I did enjoy this story, apart from the ridiculously easy way in which they talked the Master round at the last second after he’d spent ages setting the whole thing up.
Also may I ask why four seperate threads ? Seeing as Jon Pertwee is my favourite Doctor, and one of the funniest men to have ever lived, I hoped to find a place to talk about his other stories, like Inferno for example.21 February 2014 at 17:22 #25602Anonymous @
@marinus-lost-his-keys-again – the original point of these BG [Before Gap, i.e, pre the disgustingly and dispairingly long wait for Doctor Who before the 2005 re-boot) episode viewings was to watch the programmes the way they were originally broadcast. Which means, one part of the serial each week.
Patience, my dear boy, patience! 😀
Your vote for ‘Inferno’ is interesting. Seeing the big yawning gap of DW until this autumn, there are a number of weeks to fill with BG stories. Why would you vote for Inferno over any other of the 3rd Doctor stories?28 November 2014 at 10:03 #35868BadWulf @badwulf
I have finally got around to watching this series. I thought I would post my thoughts on the entire story here for brevity’s sake.
The Master’s introduction was surprisingly low-key – it certainly didn’t indicate that this character would become the single most iconic individual foe for the Doctor, a character who would keep returning for more than forty years!
The re-use of the autons might have felt a little unnecessary so soon after Spearhead from Space, but it was interesting to see how the Nestenes’ strategy had evolved now that they only had a single meteorite to begin their invasion with. The story used their ability to manipulate plastic far more innovatively than the previous auton story had – lethal plastic flowers, dolls, cables and chairs were far more interesting deathtraps than just shop window dummies, so the story must get credit for expanding and enriching the Nestene enemy.
With the off-screen departure of Liz Shaw, and the goofy introduction of Jo Grant, the writers/producers of the show signalled their adherence to the norms of the time – explicitly stating that Liz’s replacement would be no intellectual challenge to the Doctor. Jo is charming and funny, but I’m still not particularly happy about the replacement of an intelligent and qualified female character with a prettier but far less intelligent one – it seems a bit regressive and rather infantilising. I’m glad they rectified this a few years down the line with the introduction of Sarah Jane.
As for the story itself, outside of the interesting new characters and a new look at an established enemy, the plot itself was rather pedestrian. The circus elements went nowhere of note (and the shot of the dancing elephants made me relieved to think that we have done away with such animal cruelty these days), the incidental characters were all one dimensional, and disposed of in quick succession without being much missed by the audience.
The one exception was the levitating city gent timelord, who was a hilarious caricature of the old-school condescending tory elite that revealed much more about how Gallifreyan culture regarded itself and the rest of the universe than any amount of elaborate alien costumes and headdresses. @bluesqueakpip – That self regard does seem to be characteristic of timelords: they consider each other to be the only *really* important inhabitants of the universe!
Thankfully there was not too much padding in this story – if it had been stretched out to six or more parts it might have outstayed its welcome. Nonetheless, despite its flaws, I really enjoyed much of the character interactions, and by the end, Jo had redeemed herself and been shown to be not such a useless ditz after all – escapology is definitely a useful skill!
Overall, I give this story a 4 out of 5 – missing out on top marks because the plot itself was not particularly fresh.
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