The Awakening part 1

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    Craig @craig

    A very strange episode this. The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough arrive in an English village, Little Hodcombe, so that Tegan can visit her grandfather.

    The village is in the middle of celebrating the anniversary of the Battle of Little Hodcombe in 1643 and are enthusiastically re-enacting war games (@Rob will be pleased).

    However, Tegan’s grandfather has disappeared and a schoolteacher, Jane Hampden, fears the re-enactments are going too far.

    In addition, there is an ominous crack in a wall (reminds me of something… it’ll come to me) and the Doctor discovers there is some sort of confusion in time. Projections of the past are manifesting themselves in the present.

    Remember, we’re watching this episode by episode, so NO SPOILERS.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    This story is strangely unnerving for Doctor Who. It has a definite Sapphire and Steel air about it. And with Tegan dressed up at the end, perhaps a bit of The Wicker Man as well. What is particularly interesting is the way it presents the past as malevolent.

    But, dear me, does Tegan have to be quite so whiny? All the time?

    But I will leave it to @phaseshift to do his erudite and comprehensive assessment, as he does with all these retrospectives.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    I think you may be over-selling me there, but thanks. 😀

    Just before I post my notes, spot on the money with Sapphire and Steel. The Daemons is often cited (evil thing in Church), but I think it draws more from PJ Hammond. The writer, Eric Pringle, has said he hadn’t seen or read Daemons before this.

    This was the only story he wrote, and in fact the Director Michael Owen Morris didn’t either, which is unusual. One of the flourishes that always reminds me of S&S is the cliffhanger as Polly James “Doctor” is echo distorted into the theme. That is so S&S.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    So the second mini-two parter for Davison. The Awakening. Galloping Horses, and Polly James exploring. A nice confusing meld of two time zones. It doesn’t take long to introduce most of the support cast, and learn these are war games. Perhaps being taken too seriously by some, especially Sir George who is played by marvellous NZ character actor Denis Lill.

    Over to Team TARDIS, and there have been a few changes since Black Orchid. Gone are Adric (yay!) and Nyssa (oh well). We have a strange, ginger, overgrown schoolboy fixing the TARDIS, so I best do introductions.

    Tegan is still here, looking far more colourful since she returned to Earth and lost her job as an air hostess. She does, as @blenkinsopthebrave said, continue to whine, though less forcefully than earlier. She’s here by choice now.

    New boy is Turlough, played by Mark Strickson. An alien condemned to imprisonment on Earth. In a public school. Hilarious. His introduction saw a mini arc in which he was charged with killing the Doctor. Since that was resolved, he’s characterised by being quite a cautious character (to the point of cowardice). He’s smart, so he can help fix the TARDIS.

    So the team are on course to visit Tegan’s grandfather. Is she deranged?! When she met the Doctor her Great Aunt became a shrunken corpse at the hands of the Master. She left, then met him again leaving her cousin traumatised and potentially brain damaged. You hope grandpa is up to date with his insurance policies! Tegan is the Who version of Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote. Havoc follows her for friends and family.

    This story is remarkably different when you compare it to the leisurely opening of Black Orchid. The Doctors compassion leads him into danger and we’re knee deep in jeopardy, collapsing churches, suspicious cracks and imprisonment by the Cavaliers. Should have listened to Turlough.

    Sir Georges pronouncement that the village is isolated from the outside world chimes with the energy field the Doctor talks about, and he obviously knows something is going on.

    Just as an aside, it’s interesting that the 3 (sorry all, there are 3 double parters. I always forget the Season 20 King’s Demons. Mainly because it’s King’s Demons) all saw more than usual amounts of outside location work. I’m not sure if there are good logistic reasons for that, and it may be @bluesqueakpip can shed some light on the production aspects. Little Hodcombe looks quite charming though, and continues the long tradition of horror in unlikely places.

    The Colonel is a 17th century buff from his office. Apparently Tegan’s grandfather is missing. The curse of Tegan Jovanka strikes again!

    I do love Davison’s splutter of disbelief at the question as to whether he’s a “member of the theatrical profession.” “No more than you are” is certainly a more polite response than “hark at the ponced up poodle. Pot. Kettle. Black”. Still the mirth lasts long enough for him to pull a “look over there” escape, and he legs it.

    Meanwhile, after chasing a bag thief, Tegan is trapped being menaced by a harrowing apparition – it’s a 1980s blocky video effect! The Horror!! Turlough stumbles in to rescue her from a fate worse than death. Probably.

    The Doctor makes it back to the Church to suffer an apparition himself, with a roar of a battle from the past out pops a historical figure – we know he’s historical because he says “bain’t”. He thinks it’s 1643. As an aside, MrsPhaseshift comes from a small village in West Cumbria in which the many of the locals think exactly the same thing.

    It’s a breakneck pace this. Just time for a hurried meeting between the team to compare notes, and some useful exposition about psychic projections. I like Tegan’s “very scientific” as the Doctor does his version of head/tails to determine the action plan.

    And off we go to make the discovery that the ghastly video effect has infected the TARDIS. Backing out, Tegan and Turlough go off to find the Doctor, who has been distracted by a secret passage.

    As Tegan and Turlough don’t realise this, Tegan falls victim to the dastardly cavaliers. They want to make her their May Queen, the dastards. Colonel Ben isn’t all that keen on how this is all going, obviously.

    Meanwhile the Doctor and his new country bumkin assistant rescue Jane and we have a bit of exposition about the Tantlavic – an off-world metal remnant of a space craft?

    Tegan gets a nice dress and a ridiculous bonnet. Her captor makes we laugh with “You’re beginning to annoy me”. Try her in her first season, mate.

    And so back in the Church, with the Doctor drawn to the ominous crack, he rips it apart to reveal …. Glowing eyes?! As the fog engulfs him, we get a forlorn scream and into the credits.

    This is certainly breakneck pace episode with a lot of usual business cut out. Personally, I think it works surprisingly well, although I don’t think it’s had time to establish the “creeping menace” that the (as yet unseen) Malus presents.

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    I love when they find the secret entrance (nice carving!).

    @phaseshift – Tinclavic is a nod to ‘The Visitation’.

    The cliffhanger demonstrates that you should never start picking away at any chipped plaster on your walls…

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Yeah, it’s interesting that this period began the “fan-friendly mentions in exposition” thing which was the more innocuous form of continuity that the new series has retained. Eric Saward as Script Editor obviously tying it in to his earlier story as a bit of universe building.

    It’s just when he started to write involved sequals to stories that probably 20,000 people remembered in detail that it all started going “Pete Tong”.

    Anonymous @

    I like this episode for many reasons: the long, deserted pathways and shadowed Church, remind me of the early Pertwee period. I enjoy the humour as others have noted but I like the obsessive undercurrents washing through this episode (much of the ’80s was obsessive in many ways): the ‘gentlemen’ desperate to avoid their pallid workaday boundaries turning war games into something like ecstasy; Tegan (dressed in some hideous dress) desperate to locate her family (again) with her particular brand of accent: “this is stringe, we need to find another rerm”.

    I liked the camera work where the Dr and companions walk from quite some distance toward the camera. You sense village life, -its stillness, and therefore you determine whether you’re compatible with it -or not~. I liked the wilful blindness of those ‘following’ their leader who, as it’s implied, has ‘researched’ (far too much) the mystery of malice and worked some kind of ‘hoo-doo’. I sense their impending concern for his real goal…

    It’s quite astonishing in such a short episode to set up and even begin to answer some of the questions presented in the opening 10 minutes. And yet it’s not done formulaically as some family -friendly programmes of that era (and even in recent times) tended to do. There’s surprise and amazement -for the viewer and genuinely for the characters. I personally love the no nonsense but intelligent Germaine Greer-type teacher. An excellent character all the better, perhaps, for introducing a different female type from Tegan 🙂  Personally, someone should burn her handbag!

    Kindest, purofilion

    Arbutus @arbutus

    Well, this is fun. As with Black Orchid, we’re given an everyday setting in which something is pretty wrong. But unlike that story, this time the “wrongness” is immediately apparent. As @purofilion says, the atmosphere is lovely. It’s the kind of setting that, back when I first watched it, would have had me thrilled that there are places in the world where they live this way. The fact that the 17th century character can step through time into the modern world and it feels like such a small step.

    I’m enjoying the portrayal of the Doctor here. He is all the things that we know and love: inquisitive, unflappable, kind, humorous. I loved it when he just started right in with the schoolteacher about the strange metal, it’s from another planet, of course. I find myself remembering that Five was David Tennant’s Doctor, because I could really see Ten interacting with the characters in a similar way.

    Although Tegan is certainly less annoying here than she has been at times, she is still pretty irritating. I’m pretty sure that Five’s gentle incarnation is one of the few that would have put up with her!  Turlough is pretty much in the background in this story, which is fine with me as I never cared for the character.

    @wolfweed    Yes! I loved it when the Doctor’s response to the obvious threat behind the cracked wall was to suddenly start pulling the whole thing apart! Such a Doctorish moment.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Much happier with this than Black Orchid. Tegan is indeed whiny, but I’m wondering if Janet Fielding is deliberately going for ‘starting to have difficulty coping’. As @phaseshift says, when Tegan’s relatives disappear, the usual explanation is ‘horribly murdered by aliens’.

    I think the explanation for the extra location work is simply that it’s easier to show off the location work in a two-parter. Any location work will take up an entire filming day – but if you’ve only got a 50 minute story, each of those filming days will fill a bigger proportion of the total story than would be the case for 4 episodes.

    @blenkinsopthebrave – It is a horror rule that all small villages will have a secret history of annual ritual murder. This helps support the oft-cited suggestion that writers are bad at maths – given one ritual murder per year, with the victim drawn from the young adult population age 15 – 25, in some of the smaller villages you’d have a one in seven chance of getting slaughtered before reaching 25. No doubt this explains why young people have a tendency to leave their native village for the nearest large town and the slightly desperate villagers have to resort to passing Australians. 😉

    The special effect is indeed blocky. I kept expecting a rectangular ‘bat’ to appear and knock one of the lights to the other side of the screen… and how the heck did Tegan do that dress up by herself?

    And yes, that’s the Doctor. If you open the crack in time to its full extent, it’ll snap shut. Of course it will. Everything’s going to be fine. 😉

    ScaryB @scaryb

    I liked this. The location shots look great, and it’s quite pacey. It’s also extremely creepy – definite shades of the Wickerman. The female characters in particular are gradually but steadily disempowered in a quite unnerving way. Good turn from Polly James (she was my favourite Liver Bird) and the rest of the cast.(Not daft on Turlough (my first experience of him) but he’s mostly ignorable! (ouch!))

    And yes, that crack does look very familiar!

    <Yeti brain blows a fuse at timeywimey implications… expects Clara to appear in part 2!>

    Whisht @whisht

    ah – glad I made the effort with this one!

    I didn’t say anything about Black Orchid because “if you’ve nothing nice to say, best say nothing”.

    I said nothing A LOT as I hated BO about as much as I hate…. BO.

    But The Awakening was excellent – I thought they could’ve almost teased us with the confusion for the viewer as to “what century are we in?” at the beginning even more, but as has been said – its at breakneck speed and had to get on!

    As well as Wicker Man, my own “ooh- Roundheads and demons!” call-out would be to The Witchfinder General with Vincent Price (A great Hammer film). But I say that whenever I see Cavaliers or Roundheads, even in documentaries. 🙂

    btw, I’ve known a few Australian women (I even went out with one) and they’d all have absolutely destroyed the soldier making the aggressive remarks. In fact I almost shivered thinking how my ex would’ve just annihilated him.

    He’s lucky it was Tegan!


    janetteB @janetteb

    Actually @whisht I would love to hear why you didn’t like Black Orchid. Difference of opinion is the making of good conversation 🙂 as was happing with the off topic discussion about GoT on The Sofa thread. I had the same hesitation about posting on what I dislike about GoT but decided to post anyway and I am glad I did because friends don’t always share the same opinions.

    I found BO watchable, even vaguely enjoyable. The Awakening was surprising. I have never seen it before and honestly did not know that any of the PD stories were so good. Thankfully both (I’ll repeat that, both) Nyssa and Adric were gone. Turlough I find inoffensive which is an improvement. (Personally I don’t like any of the assistants from the departure of Romana to Ace though I have not seen any Mel episodes) Turlough is, at least, a redhead. I have a soft spot for redheads and having got no closer than ginger in my own children am holding out for redheaded grandchildren.

    Another quaint English village and something is seriously wrong, as it always is in quaint English villages. (I lived for over a year in a quaint English village and there was certainly something wrong there so I wouldn’t disagree.) I certainly hope @rob doesn’t take his war games so seriously. That crack looks ominiously familiar only this is past in a time line that isn’t wibbly wobbley.






    Anonymous @

    @craig on the Awakening video part 1 it seems to say “vid removed due to breach of terms”?? Panic!! I hope we get to watch Part 2? Looking forward to it -a tear drips down 🙁 Puro

    janetteB @janetteb

    Oh and I forgot to mention, re’ Tegan’s accent. I read at the time that she was recruited the producers didn’t think that her accent was “Australian” enough so she was taught to speak with what the English considered to be a proper Australian accent, hence her speaking with an accent that would raise blisters on galvanised iron.



    Whisht @whisht

    Hi @janetteb – you’re absolutely right in that contrasting views make for great conversation, debate and even good arguing (“arguing without a capital ‘A'” as it were).

    However, I din’t post about Black Orchid because I have a feeling my dislike of it is probably due to idiosyncratic reasons.

    But… I’ll post my thoughts over on the BO thread.


    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Turlough is, at least, a redhead

    You know – I actually met Mark Strickson once and it was disconcerting because he’s not a redhead! It was dyed because the producers cast him and then suddenly realised that he and Davison were very alike in colouring on camera.

    He’s pretty hilarious in real life, and could probably make a career in anecdotes on the fan circuit. After who, he did a Zoology degree and relocated to NZ to become a wildlife documentary Director. He introduced Steve Irwin to the world.

    After Lalla-schoolgirl-gate I was interested to see if anyone mentioned his get-up. It rarely gets mentioned (perhaps because it’s stated that he was recruited in a school).

    Lalla always maintains that she chose the Schoolgirl uniform herself, because she hated her own uniform and wanted to see if she could make it cool for other kids. Stickson didn’t like his costume, but JNT thought it was a “unique” look. It really didn’t make sense. Turlough hated the school, the earth, etc. Why the hell would he continue to dress like that?

    He came to realise it was a bit of fantasy “barely legal” Schoolboy stuff on JNTs part, and he had developed an enthusiastic gay following (which he finds fairly flattering). He suddenly realised what the “Turlough rescues Peri in a pair of very, very, very tight speedos” was all about in Planet of Fire.

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