We are faced with two wildly divergent timelines: one where Sue watched the Special Edition, and one where she didn’t…
Me: I’m sorry, but I need you to close your eyes during this title sequence.
Sue: Wait, don’t tell me – is it The Return of the Master?
Sue: Is it The Return of the Cybermen?
Sue: The Return of the Daleks?
Me: Just stop it!
Sue: It had better not be The Return of the Toymaker.
Me: Just close your eyes – you used to do this every week when we watched Battlestar Galactica.
Sue: OK. (short pause) Can I look now?
Me: Hang on… OK, you can open your eyes now.
Sue: This had better be worth it.
The story begins with Sir Reginald Styles, organiser of the Second World Peace Conference, narrowly surviving an assassination attempt by a guerrilla who vanishes like a ghost. UNIT are called in to investigate.
Sue: Do UNIT change their base of operations every single week? Do they ever appear in the same location twice?
Meanwhile, the Doctor is playing with his faulty dematerialisation circuit.
Sue: He still can’t get his skateboard working properly. My, Jo looks very pretty today. That’s a good look for Jo.
When he plays with the TARDIS controls, the Doctor and Jo are visited by projections of their future selves.
Sue: You know, I’m sure they’ve done this gag before…
Meanwhile, the guerrilla who failed to kill Styles at the top of the show is desperately trying to run away.
Sue: He looks like Tom Petty.
Suddenly, two hulking, ape-like Ogrons appear from nowhere to shoot him down.
Sue: Are they Klingons? Is this one called Doctor Who and the Klingons?
The Ogrons report to their Controller.
Sue: This bloke reminds me of David Cameron. A lot.
And then this happens…
Sue: He’s having a laugh! Did he think he was still in rehearsals? Why didn’t the director demand a re-take? Was he sacked? Has anyone ever tracked him down and interviewed him for a DVD extra? I think he should explain himself.
And then we are treated to a very brief glimpse of a Dalek.
Sue: Ooh! It’s a Dalek. OK, I understand now. I bet the kids were made up when they saw that.
The Doctor decides to take the place of Sir Reginald and he waits for the guerrillas to return. He passes the time eating cheese and drinking wine.
Sue: He really is a pompous twat, isn’t he?
Just as Jo is about to feed Benton some very strong cheese, Yates orders the Sergeant to check on the UNIT patrols.
Sue: How is Yates superior to Benton in rank? How is that even possible?
The episode concludes with three (count ‘em) Daleks announcing they are back and ready to kick ass.
Sue: It’s nice to see the Daleks again. It’s not really Doctor Who without them.
Me: Do you notice anything different about them?
Sue: They’re in colour?
Me: Well, yes, obviously. Anything else?
Sue: They sound different?
Me: I know! It’s a disaster!
Sue: But I like the new voices. I can understand them.top
Sue: What the hell was that? Is there something wrong with your DVD?
Me: No, the director doesn’t know how to make Doctor Who.
We are referring to the opening recap, which includes part of the music sting from last week’s cliffhanger. It’s very jarring and Sue is now convinced that Paul Bernard couldn’t give a shit about getting anything right. He certainly hasn’t thought through the design of the doors in the futuristic city.
Sue: You wouldn’t catch me standing under a door like that. It could snap back and slap you in the face.
Meanwhile, at UNIT HQ, the Brigadier is on the phone to the Ministry. He is surrounded by a pool of typists and the noise is almost deafening.
Sue: It’s like Dickie Davies in World of Sport. The Brig is always on the phone, isn’t he? He’s always juggling balls in the air.
Me: Maybe that’s how he keeps his affair with Doris a secret.
The Doctor and Jo are captured by guerrillas, but when Jo complains about this, the Doctor dresses her down.
Sue: Does Pertwee ever mellow out, you know, like Hartnell did? Jo has saved his life several times now and yet he still talks to her like she’s shit on his shoe. And he wants Jo to treat the people who have tied her up with compassion and respect. It’s totally inconsistent.
As the time travel plot becomes clearer, Sue spots the obvious parallel.
Sue: It’s The Terminator. Years before The Terminator. I’m very impressed.
Yes, yes, The Outer Limits did something vaguely similar a few years earlier (badly, I might add) but I can’t be arsed getting into that. Sue is impressed, let’s just leave it at that.
Sue: It’s impossible not to love Jo but she isn’t written very well. She’s written with contempt, actually. Annette (she means Anat) is a good, strong female character, which just proves that it can be done, so why is Jo written so badly?
As the Daleks and the Controller discuss their plans, Sue appreciates the change of pace.
Sue: At least it’s not the Master this week. Actually, has the Master ever teamed up with the Daleks?
Sue: Does he ever team up with the Daleks?
Me: No, of course not.
Sue: That’s a shame, that would have been funny.
Now, I realise that some of you believe that I make this sort of thing up , just so we hardcore Doctor Who fans can indulge in a sly wink, but Sue really did say that. Just like she mentioned The Clangers during Colony in Space last week. I mean, have you listened to the music in Colony in Space recently? How can I not include references like that? And now I’ve ruined the surprise for Sue by getting all defensive about it. Yes, love, The Clangers do turn up in Doctor Who. Sorry.
Sue: Magnetron would be a great name for a band.
But Sue likes the Ogrons even more.
Sue: They are really scary. They remind me of the Orcs in the Lord of the Rings films.
Me: Well, Peter Jackson is a Doctor Who fan.
Sue: I bet when they were making Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson stuck this story in his DVD player and he said – “I want the Orcs to look exactly like that!”. I can definitely see that happening. It’s uncanny, actually.
And then Sue becomes fixated with the Controller’s make-up.
Sue: He looks plastic. He’s not an Auton, is he? Or is that silver paint on his face? It’s very New Romantic. He’s well ahead of the curve.
When Jo is questioned by the Controller, he asks her to tell him the date where she comes from but, crucially, he doesn’t ask for the year.
Me: Damn it!
Sue: What’s wrong?
I pause the DVD and then I attempt to explain to Sue the fundamental basics of the UNIT dating controversy. She really can’t be arsed with it. She points out that BBC3 doesn’t come along for several decades, so either the Pertwee era is set in the 2000s or “it’s probably just 1972″. So that’s another controversy cleared up by Sue.
As the Daleks continue to plot and scheme, I can’t help but tut.
Sue: They sound fine to me. Obviously they sound much better nowadays when Briggsy (sic) does them, but I really don’t have a problem with them. As long as I can understand them, I’m happy.
And then the Doctor picks up a gun.
Sue: You don’t see that every day. Bloody hell! He just killed an Orc! And he doesn’t show any remorse! What’s he doing? That’s just wrong.
She is so convinced that the Doctor couldn’t possibly have shot an Ogron like that, she makes me rewind the DVD, just to be sure.
Sue: Oh dear. It’s just wrong.
The episode concludes with the Doctor finally running into his old enemies.
Sue: I’m surprised that he doesn’t start shooting at them.top
We decide to plough on with the next episode immediately. And this is where I performed a miraculous – and almost certainly blasphemous - switcheroo. In a move that will annoy purists everywhere, I sent Sue to the kitchen to make me a cup of tea that I didn’t really want (I know this makes me sound like a sexist pig, but I didn’t have a choice). Anyway, when she was out of the room, I muted the volume on the amp (to avoid the nice woman telling me that I was about to watch Day of the Daleks disc two) and then I switched the discs. It was an agonising wait as the machine cycled though the completely unnecessary and increasingly irritating menu screens, but I managed to reach the episode selection screen just as Sue returned with a nice cup of tea that I didn’t really want. I realise, as I write this now, this sounds exceedingly mundane, but seriously, the tension was so unbearable, I felt like I was in a bloody Hitchcock movie.
Now let’s see how long it takes for Sue to deduce that we are now watching a Special Edition version of Day of the Daleks with 21st century special effects. If you can’t bear the suspense, and you want to know the result now, simply highlight the invisible text hidden in the brackets (19 minutes!).
Sue: The Brig should be a lot harder with the Doctor, sometimes. He lets the Doctor walk all over him. He needs to toughen up a bit. Hang on a minute, that wasn’t like that before, was it? Eh? What? Neil?
As Sue’s confusion grows, I continue to pretend that there’s nothing strange about a CGI effect turning up in the middle of a television programme that was made in 1971. Somehow, she shrugs it off.
The next thing that throws her is the new Dalek voices, now provided by “Briggsy”.
Sue: Have they changed the Dalek voices again? They sound different. Did they change the settings between episodes? Or are there two different timelines with different Daleks in them? I’m really confused now.
When the Daleks hear the Doctor’s name, they almost wet themselves.
Sue: I love the way the Daleks freak out when they hear the Doctor’s name. They do that in the new series as well.
Then we are treated to a glorious CGI landscape.
Sue: That looks very nice. There are some really nice visual touches in this.
I am not making this up. I only wish I were.
Sue: You know, these Daleks sound great. I don’t know why people have such a hard time with the Daleks in this story.
When the Controller starts talking to a female technician, Sue has an issue with her choice of eye-line.
Sue: Is that woman blind? Did she just hand him something written in braille? It might be a dictatorship but at least they have an equal opportunities policy in the admin depart. Oh, perhaps not – she’s looking straight at him now. Well, that was very odd…
Meanwhile, the rebel guerrillas are bickering with each other and chain-smoking.
Sue: It looks like they are smoking Hamlets.
Me: The mild cigar from Benson and Hedges.
To any American readers who didn’t quite get that reference, well there’s this thing called Google, right, and what you do is…
Sue: It’s Rob Shearman!
She’s talking about the Senior Guard – a character who really deserves a much better credit than that – and when he interrogates the Doctor, Sue can’t understand why the Time Lord doesn’t just “stick his finger in his chest”.
The Doctor decides to take the Controller to task about the world they now find themselves in.
Sue: It’s very difficult to argue effectively when you’re lying down, but Pertwee is doing a pretty good job of it. And when the bad guy said his family has ruled this sector for three generations, is that definitive proof that he’s related to David Cameron?
The Doctor becomes more and more angry as the debate continues to escalate.
Sue: That’s the best the Doctor’s been in ages. That’s the way the Doctor should act.
The Doctor and Jo manage to escape from an Ogron guard by smashing a bottle of wine over his head. The Doctor decides to make a joke about the wine’s vintage.
Sue: And that’s the way the Doctor shouldn’t act. Leave the James Bond stuff to James Bond, thanks.
Jo and the Doctor find a conveniently parked trike for them to escape on.
Sue: Is there anything this Doctor won’t drive? I really don’t think James Bond would have lowered himself to this level. He’d probably have just walked.
And then Sue notices something odd about the Ogron’s weaponry.
Sue: They have green rays coming out of their guns now. They didn’t have that before. It looks like Star Wars now.
Sue: Hang on a minute!
Yes, it took her all of 19 minutes to figure it out. I really am not making this up.
Sue: I thought it looked too good…
Me: I can’t believe you didn’t work it out sooner.
Sue: People will assume that I’m really thick now. I knew something was up but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Thanks for that.
A cushion is thrown.
As the Doctor is subjected to the Dalek’s mind analysis machine, his past incarnations flash before his eyes.
Me: Does it give you a thrill, seeing the old Doctors like that?
Sue: No, not even remotely. Sorry.top
It’s the next day and Sue has a very specific demand.
Sue: Can we watch the special edition version of the last episode? Please?
Me: Some of our readers will hit the roof.
Sue: Pretty please?
Me: OK, but only if you promise that I can show you the original version of the climax once we’ve finished this.
Sue: Two climaxes in one night – you really know how to spoil a girl.
As the episode begins, Sue wants to know a bit more about the special edition.
Sue: So what else does this version change? Is it just the effects?
Me: Well, they cut the “no complications” line for a start.
Sue: You can’t blame them. I would have done the same thing, it was ridiculous. And at least you can still watch the original version if you feel the need. It’s not as if they’ve done a George Lucas on you.
Sue continues to praise Aubrey Woods’ performance as the Controller.
Sue: He is very good. He is giving a very subtle and believable performance. The Master would have been “ha-ha-ha”-ing and chewing the scenery by now.
When Jo jumps up suddenly, Sue demonstrates that she has the eyes of a hawk.
Sue: Jo is wearing red knickers this week.
Me: Damn, I missed that.
Sue: Of course you did.
Meanwhile, the Brig is getting into a flap about the security required for the imminent peace conference at Auderly House.
Sue: The Brig is having a nightmare this week.
Me: He’s appearing in his own personal sitcom. An unwanted vicar will drop in on him any moment now.
The guerrillas want the Doctor to travel back in time and kill Sir Reginald, but the Doctor won’t agree to cold-blooded murder.
Sue: But you killed an Orc! You didn’t have a problem with that!
The Doctor describes Styles as “vain to the point of arrogance, a trifle obstinate, perhaps, but basically a good man”.
Sue: Pot. Kettle. Black.
And then the Doctor exclaims that this future, which the guerrillas are actively trying to avoid, was created by their own (frankly stupid) actions.
Sue: Oooh. That’s very clever. I didn’t see that coming. And Pertwee is really going for it this week. This is very good. And it has nothing to do with the new special effects.
The Controller discovers Jo and the Doctor as they attempt to escape back to their own time. But he decides to let them go.
Sue: I knew he’d come good in the end. He can’t be related to David Cameron after all. Oh no, Rob Shearman knows!
The senior guard grasses up the Controller to the Daleks and they immediately exterminate him. The senior guard happily takes up the vacancy that has just opened up:
Sue: Rob’s been promoted and he’s chuffed to bits!
Meanwhile, back at Auderly House, the media are out in force.
Sue: I like it when the programme uses the media like this. They should do this every week. It feels really modern.
The Doctor tries to evacuate the building but Styles won’t listen to reason. The Brig finally loses his patience and he basically tells Styles to shut the **** up. Sue lets out a heartfelt “Yay!”.
Sue: But I thought the Time Lords exiled the Doctor to Earth so he wouldn’t interfere with stuff like this? It’s not really working out for them, is it?
And then we enjoy the spectacle of UNIT battling Daleks and Ogrons. It really doesn’t get any better than this.
Sue: This is very exciting. Sure, the new effects help but the plot has a real urgency to it. It’s a great way to start a new season.
The episode concludes with the Daleks being blown up and the timeline reverts back to normal (we think).top
The Final Score
Sue: I enjoyed that one a lot. It had a great plot, a great script, some really nice performances and an excellent twist. The direction varied between excellent and appalling, but it had pace and there were some outstanding moments. And it was four episodes – the ideal length for any Doctor Who story. What’s not to like?
Me: We have to watch the original now.
Sue: Do we have to? I can imagine what it looked like without seeing it.
But a deal is a deal:
Sue: There aren’t enough Daleks. There. What else do you want me to say? It looks crap. Oh dear, that Dalek can’t get through the door. Look, just switch it off. I’ve seen enough.
Me: Do you want to change your score?
Sue: Not really. I’m much more interested in the script and the characters. And it was a bloody good story.
You can skip this bit if you like, it isn’t really canonical.
Firstly, thanks to everyone who took the time to complete our recent survey. We were inundated with responses. I was expecting to give away a couple of t-shirts, I wasn’t expecting to give away nine in the first 24 hours! I will be in touch with the winners later this weekend (good luck with that if you happen to be in the 8% that don’t like any of the designs). Oh, and that reminds me: a huge, heartfelt thanks to the handful of you who kindly donated some hard cash to the site yesterday. I can put this towards the cost of the t-shirts, so the Perrymans should still be able to afford Christmas this year after all. Cheers!
The survey provided me with some very interesting data. For example, 88% of you are male (who saw that coming?) and 49% of you are aged between 36 and 45. The Moff is the clear winner to write the introduction to the book that 44% of you will buy regardless of its content (although Sue Vertue, Jane Baker and Dudley Simpson were interesting suggestions), and while most of the feedback was overwhelming positive, I would like to discuss one issue that appears to have riled up a good proportion of you (34.6% at the time of writing). Yes, we need to talk about Gary.
Gary has watched 4 out of 296 episodes with us. That’s 1.35% of the experiment so far. I just thought that was worth pointing out, especially to those of you who weren’t very nice about him (to put it mildly). I also believe you are missing an important moment where Sue and Nicol both defended the programme when Gary criticised it. We wouldn’t have seen that kind of display from Sue otherwise, so maybe having Gary along occasionally isn’t the end of the world after all, eh? However, I promise that I will never allow the site to include more than 2% Gary, OK?
The experiment continues…top
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