After the crushing tedium of Galaxy 4, the wife and I are treated to a pithy and gritty journey into unknown territory. But is it canon?
Mission to the Unknown
It takes about ten minutes for Sue to ask the obvious question:
Sue: Where the hell is the Doctor?
Me: He’s not in this one.
Sue: He’s gone on holiday again? Where to this time?
Me: Everyone has gone on holiday this week.
Sue: What? They can’t do that! I don’t understand…
Me: This is the first and only time in the history of the series that none of the regulars appear in an episode.
Sue: So, technically, this isn’t actually Doctor Who?
Me: Well -
Sue: Just answer one question. Does anything we’re watching now have any bearing on the next episode?
Sue: So why the hell are we watching it?
Me: This is Terry Nation’s attempt to get an American TV show featuring the Daleks off the ground. I suppose you could regard it as an experiment to see if the metal meanies could hold their own without the Doctor being around, although I expect some pedant will put me straight in the comments section.
Sue: The more I hear about Terry Nation, the less I like him. He’s just in it for the money, isn’t he? So, does any of this have any impact whatsoever on any of the episodes this season?
Me: Oh yes. Wait and see.
Sue: Oh. Well, in that case, this is pretty interesting.
Sue picks up on the James Bond subtext almost immediately (“So this lot are MI6 in space?”), and when the Daleks are name-checked, she’s gives an obligatory “Ohhhhhhh!” – and I don’t think she was being ironic. She finds the Varga plants suitably scary (“Kids would be terrified of getting rose thorns stuck in them”) and she’s happy to see the Daleks back to their evil, implacable ways after the bumbling farce of The Chase.
Sue: This reminds me of Battlestar Galactica…
Me: It is Battlestar Galactica! The person responsible for the recon has inserted a shot of a Battlestar where an alien ship should be. Try to ignore it.
As the Daleks and the representatives from the seven planets (ooh, scary) discuss their nefarious plans, Sue asks the next obvious question.
Sue: Who are these guys?
Me: That question is so complicated, you’ll probably fall asleep halfway through the answer.
Sue: Is the evil Christmas tree real?
As the credits roll, we both wave goodbye to Verity Lambert.
Me: Do you want to say anything about Verity before we leave her era behind?
Sue: She was a pioneer, an inspiration and a legend. But I bet she was happy to move on. I met her once, you know. She was lovely. In fact, you made me ask her a question.
Me: Did I? What did she say?
Sue: I have no idea. That’s why I’ll never be a ming-mong.top
The Final Score
Sue: Well, that was different. I liked it. It reminded me of Babylon 5 a bit, especially with the aliens having a big meeting, and the Daleks were a bit like the Shadows returning after a thousand years. It’s a shame that a young Bruce Boxleitner wasn’t cast in it, Terry Nation might have got his American series then.
Me: Did you miss the Doctor or his companions?
Sue: Not really. I guess that must mean it was successful.
Sue: I know I said I liked the recons, but I’m sure I would have scored that one higher if I’d actually seen it.
The experiment continues…