As luck would have it, when the story’s title appears on-screen, Sue is momentarily distracted by Tegan, our cat (who really is a mouth on legs).
Sue: Sorry, I missed that. What’s this one called?
Me: The Antiques of Death.
I think I got away with it.
Sue: This is very odd. It’s as if they’re still hanging around the fringes of the last episode and they can’t find a way out. I suppose they’re getting their money’s worth out of Gatwick Airport but the Doctor must be knackered after his last adventure. He’s not Jack Bauer, you know.
Sue quickly engages with the mystery at the heart of this episode, although she does become frustrated when the Doctor appears to carry just the right sort of Earth money to pay for a taxi.
Sue: I’m glad this is another story set on contemporary Earth. I find them really easy to watch. Ooh, it’s the Beatles again.
Sue works out that Waterfield must be a time traveller very early on (“Forget the antique sideboards, it’s his antique sideburns that give him away”), but she runs into trouble when he addresses his alien overlords.
Sue: I can’t say I’m impressed with the monsters in this one – they look like evil StairMasters.
Me: They’re not aliens! That’s a time machine!
Sue: Oh, I thought they were tiny robots. Bloody recons. So does this guy have a better time machine than the Doctor? It’s a lot more reliable. Is Waterfield a Time Lord? Is he the Mad Monk? Has he regenerated? Who is he working for?
When Kennedy surreptitiously enters Waterfield’s secret hideaway, Sue is immediately distracted by a large, ornate chair.
Sue: It’s the Big Brother diary room.
And then a Dalek turns up.
Sue: Oh! I didn’t expect that! Oh, that is exciting. Hang on a minute, does this mean there were two sets of aliens running around Earth at exactly the same time? The Daleks and the Chameleons?
Me: Yes. And don’t forget WOTAN (with a V).
Me: We’re in London on the very same day that Ben and Polly joined the TARDIS crew – 20th July, 1966 – can you remember what happened on that date?
Sue: England won the World Cup?
Me: No, what was the Doctor doing?
Sue: God knows! I haven’t been taking notes.
Me: The War Machines! Remember? We only watched it two months ago.
Sue: Oh yeah, the Post Office Tower and those silly robots. So does that mean there were two Doctors in the same city, on the same day?
Me: Yes. In fact, at the time you thought the Daleks were involved because Hartnell’s Doctor believed he could sense them (which, in retrospect, he probably did). But I’m guessing you don’t remember and that stroke of genius is wasted on you.
Sue: Can the Doctors meet each other? If, for example, the Chameleons hadn’t turned up, could Troughton have jumped in a taxi to the Post Office Tower? Is that allowed? Or can you only do that for Children in Need? Could William Hartnell give Patrick Troughton a hand with the Daleks?
Me: That’s a very interesting idea.
We both revel in the luxury of moving images and this episode goes down a storm. Sue is quick to pick up on how much better Troughton is when you can actually see him moving (“You can’t take your eyes off him”), and his arch enemies are on top-form, too.
Sue: These Daleks aren’t pissing about, are they? They sound as if they really mean business.
The Doctor and Jamie are kidnapped and taken back in time to a Victorian house. A maid named Mollie informs the Doctor that the Master will see him soon.
Sue: Ooh, the Master is behind this!
Me: It’s not the Master. It’s just a Master.
Sue: Oh, that’s disappointing. But the Doctor definitely looked worried when they mentioned the Master back there; it can’t be long before he turns up if they’ve started dropping massive hints about him.
When Jamie wakes up he is drawn to a painting of Victoria’s mother and he is told that Victoria is the spitting double of her (“I bet that will prove to be very significant later”). He is immediately bowled over by her, erm, beauty.
Sue: That picture looks nothing like her! How can Jamie believe Victoria is beautiful with that as his reference?
Me: I’ve seen sexier Jackson Pollocks.
When Maxtible and Waterfield spill the beans to an increasingly suspicious Doctor (“He knows what’s going on already”), Sue gets fixated on the increasingly bizarre science that is being bandied around.
Sue: Did this bloke really make a time machine out of mirrors, or are the Daleks winding him up? It doesn’t sound very credible.
As the cliffhanger, which, to be fair, you can see coming a mile off, eventually arrives, Sue declares that she is very impressed with what she’s seen so far. The Evil of the Daleks is living up to its seminal status.
Sue: That was a 10/10 episode. I can’t complain about that one at all.
It’s at this point in the experiment that I made a terrible mistake. I honestly thought I was doing the right thing when, instead of plumping for a tried-and-tested recon on YouTube, I decided to go with the Loose Canon reconstruction that I happen to have on a DVD. The main advantage is that we can watch it on our big telly in one hit, instead of buffering several sections on our crappy broadband connection. But it’s a decision that will have far-reaching consequences for the story.
Sue: This doesn’t feel right.
Me: It isn’t. The people who made this recon have hired actors to stand around with their back to the camera.
Sue: They really went to that much effort?
Sue: But it looks weird.
When the Turkish Wrestler, Kemel, turns up, Sue can’t work out where he’s come from and she eventually concludes that he must have been dragged through time by Maxtible’s magic mirrors.
Sue: Does the Doctor steal this guy’s Fez? You know what he’s like.
The highlight of this episode occurs when the Doctor provokes Jamie into having a blazing row with him. It’s an electrifying scene and Sue’s extended silence suggests that she must be gripped the drama too.
Me: This is powerful stuff, don’t you think? Sue? …. Sue? … Sue!
It’s no good. She’s out for the count.
Me: You’re asleep.
Sue: No, I’m not. I was just resting my eyes.
Me: So you saw the bit when Jamie argued with the Doctor?
Sue: Erm, yes. Um, it was, er, very good.
Me: What about the bit when Jamie punched the Doctor in the face?
Sue: Okay, okay, I fell asleep. IT’S BORING!
I refuse to rewind the scene, opting to sulk instead. Sue doesn’t say a word until the credits have finished rolling.
Sue: Did Jamie really punch the Doctor in the face?
I’ve made Sue sit up in her chair. She has a coffee in her hand and it’s only half past seven. It doesn’t help.
Sue: This is getting very difficult to watch. It’s far too quiet. There’s too much sneaking around endless corridors. I can’t get into this.
When the Doctor helps the Daleks to extract the ‘human factor’ from Jamie, Sue can’t get her head around the concept. And who can blame her?
Sue: How do you extract the human factor anyway? Is it a gas? A liquid? How does any of this work?
Me: You’ll just have to go with it.
Sue: I can’t do that. I need to know how it works or I won’t be able to concentrate.
Me: Jamie’s thought processes and emotions are stored on a computer, I think.
Sue: Is ‘shitting yourself’ one of the emotions they are trying to extract?
When Jamie and Kembel eventually join forces, Jamie can’t stop going on about how beautiful Victoria is, even though they haven’t actually met yet.
Sue: Yes, she is very beautiful, Jamie, but she has a voice like fingernails scraping down a blackboard. You are going to be very disappointed when you finally rescue her, love.
As CGI versions of Jamie and Kemel climb a CGI rope towards a CGI balcony, Sue sinks deeper into her chair.
Sue: I’m really struggling with this story, Neil. Be honest with me now, are you really enjoying this rubbish? Does everyone struggle with this story or is it just me? And it started so well.
Sue: Is Kemel going to be the next companion?
Me: That could be a bit limiting.
Sue: And racist, probably.
Me: Don’t worry, it’s not as if they make a habit of using muted ethnic minorities as evil – but strangely misunderstood – henchmen.
We both agree that it’s Maxtible who is the most dangerous character in this story.
Me: Something tells me this isn’t the first time Maxtible has hypnotised Mollie.
Sue: Is Mollie the next companion? She seems very nice.
And then Sue’s patience with this particular recon runs out.
Sue: I’m starting to believe that the story was badly directed. It’s as if the director is shooting everything from the waist down.
Me: They are using stand-ins again. It wouldn’t have looked like that.
Sue: So why do it? It’s distracting. I need the narration too. I think I’ve turned into a recon purist. God help me.
When Jamie challenges the Doctor’s motives again, Sue manages to stay awake this time.
Sue: Jamie is the first companion who has given the Doctor a hard time since Barbara, I think. I like it. It gives an edge to the story. A bit of tension between the heroes is always very interesting to watch.
When a human factor Dalek suddenly takes the Doctor from behind, Sue can’t help herself.
Sue: Is the Dalek being influenced by Jamie’s sexy thoughts, here? That has to be the weirdest cliffhanger yet.
At this point, we finally switch to a completely different recon. Chadmore36 has never let us down before and I’m kicking myself for not sticking with him in the first place. Sorry, Chadmore 36. Or can I call you Chad?
The biggest topic up for discussion is the childlike Daleks.
Sue: So these Daleks are children? We’ve never seen Dalek children before. How does that work?
Me: They’ve been injected with the human factor. It makes them childlike.
Me: Now you’re beginning to sound like them.
Sue: Is it because they’ve just been born? Because we saw Daleks being born on that production line story not so long ago, and they didn’t seem very childlike when they were born.
Sue: Why weren’t those Daleks childish? Childish in a Dalek way, I mean.
Me: You’ve completely lost me now.
Sue: Never mind. But if this is what they extracted from Jamie, he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.
Me: Don’t you find this scene disturbing? These Daleks with the sing-song voices freak the hell out of me.
Sue is far more disturbed by Maxtible, who seems to be getting madder by the second.
Sue: Why is he still obsessed with alchemy? He’s invented time travel! He could make more money as a time travelling Lovejoy, surely? How much money does he need? It’s not as if he’s spending any money on hair care products.
Me: What do you think of Victoria so far?
Sue: Soft. Soft and spoilt.
Sue isn’t impressed by the Emperor Dalek either.
Sue: It doesn’t look right. It looks silly.
Me: Silly? It’s looks fantastic!
Sue: He’s got massive tits!
Damn, she’s right. I’d never noticed that before.
Sue: Are you sure it’s not an Empress? If the Doctor gives this Dalek a name, it should be Jordan.
Sue: Why is this story seven parts long? Seven feels like such an arbitrary number. You could have told this story in four parts. Easy.
As the story hurtles towards its conclusion, the Doctor starts banging on about Gallifrey like he’s David Tennant in, well, every episode David Tennant was in.
Sue: The Doctor is very keen to get back to Gallifrey, isn’t he? Does Gallifrey exist at this point or has it been destroyed in the Time War?
Me: Let’s not get into that now.
As the Doctor walks towards the archway that makes Daleks even more Daleky, Nicol walks in on us.
Nicol: So this is what a recon looks like, is it? How can you watch this? I had no idea you were torturing mum like this.
Sue: Don’t step through the door, you idiot!
Me: Don’t worry, Nicol, she’s fine.
Nicol leaves, shaking her head in mock pity on her way out.
When the Doctor starts talking like a Dalek, Sue appreciates the impact it must have had on a younger audience who saw it at the time.
Sue: That’s a very scary moment for the kids. He must be putting it on, though. He’s far too smart for the Daleks.
As the guest cast start dropping like flies, Sue finally succumbs to the conclusion she has been subconsciously battling against ever since the story started.
Sue: So, is Victoria the new companion? I’m running out of options and I know the rules.
Me: Finally, she gets it.
Sue lets out a huge sigh.
Sue: She’s no Shirley Valentine.
The Doctor manages to infect a squad of Daleks with the human factor and before you can say ‘genocide’, the Doctor has managed to kick-start a civil war on Skaro.
Sue: This probably looked great. It feels like a proper series finale with all these explosions going off. It feels very epic. Is this what it would have looked like when it went out? The moving images we are watching now?
Me: No. Not exactly.
Sue: Oh, this is really starting to piss me off now. What’s real and what isn’t? How am I supposed to judge this?
Another thing Sue has a problem with is not seeing Maxtible die.
Sue: They can’t do that! He has to get his comeuppance.
Me: He’s wandering around insane and brainwashed on an alien planet that’s tearing itself apart. I don’t think he got away with it.
Sue: He could come back.
Me: Don’t hold your breath. But if anyone from Big Finish is reading this, call me.
As the civil war rages below, the Doctor proclaims it to be the Daleks’ “final end”.
Sue: Yeah, yeah, yeah. They’ll be back next year. Just you wait and see.
Sue: That was a game of two halves. I was going to give it 3/10 but the last two episodes were quite good and I’m torn. I think the choice of recon ruined it for me. I’m going to blame you for that.
Me: Don’t worry, I have a special treat lined up for our wedding anniversary this weekend.
Sue: A nice romantic meal?
Me: Better than that. Our first Troughton story that exists in its entirety!
Sue: You really know how to treat a woman.