It’s the return of Sue’s favourite monsters: Terry Nation and Richard Martin. It can only end in tears…
The Chase begins with a lengthy TARDIS scene that warms the cockles of Sue’s heart.
Sue: I like this a lot. Everyone is chilling out, having a nice time. It’s a bit like a relaxing Sunday afternoon on the TARDIS and it’s amusing to watch the kid moaning to the grown-ups about being bored.
The gag about Ian’s Monster book being too far-fetched goes down well and, some wobbly camera work aside (“did they install speed bumps in the studio?”), Sue is very taken by the witty repartee.
Sue: Are you sure this is a Terry Nation script? Isn’t it too funny and too clever for it to be him? Oh, I like Vicki’s trousers. I’ll be wearing a pair just like hers this summer.
The Space Time Visualiser reminds Sue of a Stargate, even though she’s never seen a single episode (we’re saving that series for next year’s marathon), and when Barbara describes it as a time traveling television, Sue declares: “It’s a Tachyon TV!”
She’s even more amused by the sight of the Doctor using gigantic SD cards to programme the machine and by the time The Beatles turn up she’s completely enthralled.
Sue: The Beatles? In Doctor Who? I didn’t see that coming.
Me: Yeah, the closest you’d get today would be Athlete.
Sue: I’m surprised they didn’t sue for breach of copyright.
Me: The Beatles wanted to be in Doctor Who! The original plan was to have them performing at their 50th anniversary concert in old-age make-up but they were too busy making Help! so they used this instead.
Sue: It’s probably for the best. How would the fans square that version of events with the fact that two of them are dead now? Oh dear! Ian is doing some of the worst Dad-Dancing I’ve ever seen, bless him. And why is he still in his pyjamas?
The fun and frolics finally over (“I could watch that all day”), the TARDIS arrives on Aridius, a desolate planet of sand dunes bathed in the heat of two blazing suns.
Sue: It’s just like Tattooinnie (sic). George Lucas is a thieving bastard, isn’t he? It’s obvious that Ian is C-3PO and Vicki is R2-D2. What a cheek.
Me: That’s not really Vicki running up that sand dune by the way. It’s actually the actress who played the earwig who committed suicide in The Web Planet.
Sue: Who needs production notes when you’ve got an autistic husband…
When a Dalek emerges from a sand dune it takes Sue an eternity to work out what it is she’s looking at – even though a handful of Daleks have already been in this episode, including one with learning difficulties (“is that a cock-up or a joke?”).
Sue: There’s no sense of scale. It could be a thimble or a tower block. I haven’t got a clue. Oh, it’s a Dalek. A Dalek with a nasty cough.
Me: They’re trying to top the underwater Dalek from the Invasion of Earth.
Sue: So what’s next? A Dalek emerging from a lake of manure? But that naff special effect aside, this was another strong opening episode. All the opening episodes have been pretty good, haven’t they? If only they could keep it up. Anyway, if I was marking this episode in its own right, I’d probably give it a solid eight out of ten.top
The Death of Time
Me: It’s time to play that age-old parlour game, ‘Spot the Famous Aridian’. The rules are very simple, all you have to do is -
Sue: It’s Shelley!
Bloody hell, that was quick! However, to be fair – and entirely by coincidence – I have recently been re-watching the classic 1980s sitcom that depicts an insane Tory government, spiraling unemployment and economic decline – you know, just to escape from reality for a bit – and Sue is delighted when she immediately recognises Hywell Bennet in a badly fitting bathing cap. Not that she has a clue what his real name is, of course.
Sue: Bless him, he’s really going for it, isn’t he? I can imagine Shelley and Martin Jarvis swapping horror stories in a 1960s pub outside the BBC.
One development that causes the most consternation for Sue is the Daleks newfound ability to travel in time and space.
Sue: So the Daleks have a time machine now?
Sue: How did they manage that?
Me: I don’t know! They just built one, I guess.
Sue: I thought only the Doctor could travel in time? I mean, what’s to stop the Daleks going back to that botched invasion of Earth and getting it right this time?
Me: It’s a bloody good question and one that will be obliquely addressed in about 22 years time.
On a positive note, Sue is very impressed with Vicki, especially the fact that she never screams (the closest she gets is a nervous giggle in part one) and when a giant tentacle wraps itself around her throat she doesn’t even raise her voice.
Sue: Vicki is great. She’s just as feisty as Rose and she doesn’t take any shit.
The Daleks force the Aridians to collaborate with them on pain of death and Sue is worried for their safety. She certainly doesn’t trust the Doctor to help the poor sods overcome their oppressors if push comes to shove.
Sue: I love how the Aridians are unearthing the TARDIS one grain of sand at a time and how the Daleks don’t attempt to shoot it until every last grain has been removed from the lip of the door. Such perfectionists.
Thankfully, the Daleks haven’t got enough time to commit genocide and the Aridians get off on a technicality. It’s not enough to placate Sue, though.
Sue: Look at them, celebrating in the TARDIS without a care in the world! No one stops to consider the fact that an entire race is going to be wiped out because they managed to escape. It’s not morally right. Would Matt Smith have left the Aridians to die like that? I think not!
Me: The Aridians were a bunch of spineless collaborators and they deserved everything they got. If they had stood up to the Daleks then the Doctor would have helped them.
Sue: Bullshit. He’s a ****. Now stick the next one on.
Me: We can’t.
Sue: OK, so it’s a recon. I don’t care.
Me: No, it’s the rules. We said we’d never watch more than two episodes a night.
Sue: Sod that. Look, this isn’t too bad. We should keep watching the stories we are enjoying -
Me: Speak for yourself!
Sue: – and we should spread out the stories that feel like torture.
She makes a good point, and The Chase is nowhere near as bad as I remember it – up to now, at least – so we forge on.top
Flight Through Eternity
Me: It’s time to spot the famous actor/presenter doing their first telly!
Sue: Is it Al Pacino?
Me: No, it’s not the guy doing the “let’s have some cawfee and tawlk” New York accent who’s just made a joke about a lady’s breasts on a kid’s TV show -
Sue: OK, so is it the wife from Till Death Do Us Part?
Me: No, it isn’t the woman who looks a teeny-weeny bit like Dandy Nichols, either.
Sue: So, is it the guy in the Stetson?
Sue: Hmmmm. Wait! I’ve got it! It’s Blue Peter!
Me: Spot on. So who is it?
Sue: It’s Noakes!
Me: You are so close, it’s ridiculous. Come on, you can do it.
Sue: Peter somebody.
Me: That’s it. Come on, think ‘children on motorbikes’ and ‘pure breed dogs’.
Sue: Peter Nolan? Norris? Morris? Peter Purves!
Sue: He’s not really an actor though, is he? You can see why he ended up presenting children’s television: an acting career was never going to pan out for him after this performance. Still, Terry Nation should take some of the blame. I mean, what else can you do with material like this? You’d have to send it up just to get through it.
The pace doesn’t let up and the Daleks and the Doctor continue their battle of wits in the vortex.
Sue: Do you know what this reminds me of? That Battlestar Galactica episode where the Cylons keep coming after the humans at regular intervals until they all get pissed off and depressed.
Me: I’m pretty sure you are the first person to compare The Chase to the award-winning Battlestar Galactica episode, 33. And you are certainly the last.
Sue: Why don’t they just stay put in the TARDIS? They are supposedly in a life or death chase and yet they keep stopping to admire the scenery, which is bad enough in itself, but every single time they do this they always find themselves in avoidable danger. It makes no sense. Just sit tight and lock the impregnable door! Oh look, Barbara has been caught by a sailor. Oh, and here’s the threat of some sexual violence, it’s been days since we’ve had some of that.
Luckily, Vicki saves the say (we love Vicki) and they leg it back to the TARDIS, leaving the occupants of the ship to deal with some marauding alien monsters who are a few minutes behind them. Our heroes don’t even bother to leave them a note.
Sue: Wow, this is weird. A few minutes ago someone clapped eyes on a Dalek for the first time and they laughed themselves silly, but now the standard reaction to seeing a Dalek is to immediately commit suicide. It’s a little inconsistent.
Me: Oh look, baby death in Doctor Who. Nice.
Sue: The Daleks haven’t even shot anyone yet. Do you not think somebody might at least try to find out what they actually are before they all throw themselves to their deaths? The Daleks are on a strict timetable, if they hang back for a bit they’ll sod off and leave in a minute. And why has the Captain taken his jacket off? Is he going to jump in and save somebody? How the **** does he intend on doing that? This sequence does look expensive, though. It would be impressive if it wasn’t so silly. Oh look, a Dalek has just fallen overboard for no readily apparent reason. And its top has fallen off. That’s not very dignified. It must have been the one with learning difficulties.
Me: By the way, have you guessed where we are yet?
Sue: I don’t have to guess – there’s a sign on the ship that clearly tells me it’s the Mary Celeste.
She’s right, of course. If only Richard Martin had noticed (although, to be fair, we are watching this on a 50″ television screen) because the way he reveals the “mystery” of the ship is so drawn out it beggars belief.
Sue: Classic Richard Martin.top
Journey into Terror
The action shifts to a haunted house. I hate this episode but I don’t let on to Sue. I’ll let her discover its awfulness for herself.
Sue: Vicki are Barbara are suddenly being written as damsels in distress.
Me: There’s no consistency from one episode to the next. Although, to be fair, Ian is cacking himself as well.
When Frankenstein’s monster makes an unexpected appearance, Sue doesn’t bat an eyelid. She’s happy for fictional characters to turn up in the show, and she has no problem accepting the Doctor’s insane theory about them inhabiting the realm of pure human thought.
Sue: Let me get this straight, Frankenstein -
Me: Frankenstein’s monster.
Sue: – Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula and a Ghost are all living together in a house, yeah? So, this is basically Being Human 40 years early.
Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t take Sue long to realise that Dracula is actually a robot.
Sue: OK, so it’s Being Human meets Westworld. Fair enough. Maybe this is another weird museum? Perhaps it’s a theme.
However, she is furious when the crew manage to leave without Vicki and I have some fun pretending this is the last time we see her alive. She almost falls for it.
When the episode reveals that the location for this “adventure” is a psychopathic fun fair – the sort frequented by Scooby Doo, we assume – Sue is more than happy to go along with it.
Sue: Yeah, I thought as much. That makes sense.
Me: Doesn’t it strike you as odd?
Sue: Not really.
Me: What has Peking got to do with it? Why did they cancel an exhibit in Ghana? Why are the robots still walking around?
Sue: That’s easy. The robots killed a tourist and no one could turn them off, so China, who must be the world’s police, a bit like America is now, ordered an evacuation. Simple.
She didn’t really say that. What she really said was “Who gives a shit?”
When the Daleks announce that their next location is Mechanus, Sue is delighted.
Sue: First New York and now Mykonos. This is like a travelogue!top
The Death of Doctor Who
This episode makes Sue very, very angry.
The fungoids are bad enough (“do me a favour!”) but that’s nothing compared to Edmund Warwick’s portrayal as the Doctor’s doppelgänger. Incredibly, she actually started out feeling well disposed to the Daleks plan in the last episode; she initially believed the Daleks were making a robotic caricature of the Doctor, in much the same way that Frankenstein and Dracula were simply artificial caricatures. But when the Daleks suggest that Warwick is a perfect replica, she quickly changes her tune.
Sue: He doesn’t look anything like him! Why don’t they just use William Hartnell in these shots? Why are they showing someone who clearly isn’t him? Why aren’t they shooting this guy from behind and shooting Hartnell from the front? It’s madness! Utter madness!
Me: Perhaps it wasn’t possible to have Hartnell in two places at the same time due to the nature of the -
Sue: Then then shouldn’t have bothered with this plot! He looks nothing like him! It’s laziness or incompetence – take your pick. And now they have swapped the actors! It’s as if Richard Martin just realised that’s what he should have done in the first place. It’s pathetic.
And then the Mechanoids arrive.
Sue: Oh no.
Me: I know what you mean.
Sue: No, it just said “Oh no”.
Me: No it didn’t, it said, “follow”, but don’t worry, no one understands the Mechanoids: it’s one of their least annoying traits.top
The Planet of Decision
Me: It’s time to play ‘Guess the Blue Peter Presenter’. Again.
What follows is quite brilliant. Sue knows it’s Peter Purves but her brain won’t allow her to say so because that would be silly.
Sue: He looks like George Michael in his Faith phase.
When I tell her it is Peter Purves, she can’t believe it.
Sue: Is he playing a descendant of the idiot on the Empire State Building? Is this an important plot point about time travel?
Me: No, they just thought Peter Purves was a good actor so they asked him back.
Me: Give him a chance.
Sue: Actually, he’s a lot better here, bordering on the very good. I take it he’s going to join the TARDIS team, then? It’s going to be very crowded in there.
The climactic fight between the Daleks and the Mechanoids is dismissed by Sue (“Richard Martin has reverted to drawing explosions on the screen in a felt-tip pen!”) and she is apoplectic with rage when she believes that the last we see of Ian and Barbara is the back of their heads as they are led into the Daleks’ time machine. When the Doctor and Vicki leave the craft and exit screen right, Sue is practically off the sofa in protest.
Sue: They can’t do that!
When Ian and Barbara emerge from a lock-up to wave at an omnipresent Doctor, she’s still not convinced.
Sue: That’s better but I’m surprised we didn’t see a proper goodbye scene. It’s very odd.
Me: That would have been too distressing to show, I think. And I don’t think William Hartnell could have made his way through a scene like that – he wasn’t happy they were leaving, to put it mildly.
Sue: I thought he looked more angry than he had any right to be.
Sue isn’t impressed by the montage of still photographs that show Ian and Barbara gallivanting around London, either.
Sue: This is a bit naff.
Me: It’s supposed to express their boundless joy and excitement.
Sue: Really? It looks like Ian has just witnessed Barbara getting run over.
When this turns out to be a gag involving a real police box, Sue finally allows herself to be swept up in the moment, and as Ian and Barbara relax into each others arms, she is finally convinced that they have been given the send-off they deserve.
Sue: That was sweet.
Me: No tears?
Sue: Not really. I’m happy for them. I’ll probably miss Barbara the most. She was brilliant.
As we watched The Chase this week, news filtered in that William Russell will be attending Gallifrey 23 in Los Angeles next February and it is now my mission in life to get Sue to attend with a “They Should Have Called The Show ‘IAN’” t-shirt so she can have her photo taken with him. Wish me luck with that.top
The Final Score
I enjoyed it. Some of it was very witty and even the silly bits were acceptable in the context of the story. And there are some really nice moments at the beginning and the end. I’m getting a bit bored with the Daleks, though. Anyway, I’ll give it -
Sue: It’s a shame about Peter Purves, though. I honestly thought he was going to be a proper companion. Oh well.
The experiment continues…top
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