Drinking games without frontiers…
Before we settle down to watch the first episode of Frontier in Space, I inform Sue that we have been watching Doctor Who together for exactly one year.
Sue: It’s flown by.
Me: Really? I thought you’d be fed up with it by now.
Sue: Not at all. In fact, I think it’s probably brought us closer together.
Nicol: I think I’m going to be sick.
Me: Go away, Nicol.
Sue’s opening gambit is reserved for the bombastic fanfare that accompanies a model spaceship.
Sue: This sounds a lot like Dudley.
Me: Oh yes, this is definitely Dudley. This is basically what Doctor Who sounds like for the next seven years.
Sue: I can live with that.
As the camera sweeps through the ship’s cockpit, Sue is very complimentary.
Sue: I like the direction straight away. That was a lovely tracking shot. And that pilot is very easy on the eye, too.
Me: I am still here, you know.
Sue: Yeah, this has a nice, pacey start. I hope they can keep it up.
The TARDIS avoids a collision with the spaceship by materialising inside it. The Doctor and Jo decide to explore their new surroundings…
Sue: It reminds me of the Doctor Who Experience a bit. Did they model the railings after this episode? I bet they did.
A high-pitched whine tricks Jo into believing that she is being attacked by a Drashig.
Sue: Not the Drashigs again! How’s that going to work?
Before she can get bogged down in the logistics of a Drashig invasion, Sue is distracted by a picture that has been used to decorate the ship’s cockpit.
Sue: There’s a woman with a laser coming out of her nipple over there. Look at it! I can’t believe they put porn on the wall of a children’s TV show. That’s shocking.
And then Sue gets her first look at the Draconians. And she is seriously impressed.
Sue: Their masks are great. They look like the Klingons. Who came first? This lot or the Klingons?
Me: The Klingons did, but they didn’t look like this. They look more like this eventually, but many years from now. Does that make any sense?
Sue: Forget the Klingons – this reminds me more of Babylon 5.
As General Williams stomps about, demanding war and retribution, Sue has his card marked.
Sue: It’s Eric Cantona. I bet he’d be good in a face-kicking competition.
The Doctor explains to the Earth authorities that the recent victims of space piracy were all forced to witness their deepest fears, thanks to a post-hypnotic command.
Sue: Is it the Master? This has the Master written all over it.
The Doctor unlocks the door to his cell but he is immediately captured again, just as he tries to leave it. He apologises and pops back inside.
Sue: That’s funny. I like that. It’s padding with a punchline.
I don’t have the heart to tell her that this scene works as a metaphor for the whole story.
And then some Ogrons turn up.
Sue: It’s the Orcs again! Are the Daleks in this? Are the Master and the Daleks in this one? Is that even allowed?
Sue: It’s nice to see a woman in charge. This must have been well ahead of its time. I hope she doesn’t turn out to be useless. That would be a blow for feminism.
It seems that the TARDIS has been nicked by the Ogrons.
Sue: How did they get the TARDIS through that tiny door? That’s impossible!
A security team from Earth turns up to investigate. One of them wants to know if the Doctor is on his way to a fancy dress party.
Sue: He’s a fine one to talk. Has he looked in a mirror recently? What is he supposed to be wearing? He looks like he’s late for an American football practice. Just look at that headgear! If you lit him from behind, he’d look like Mickey Mouse.
The episode concludes with the Doctor and Jo accused of being Draconian spies.
Sue: This isn’t too bad. It feels quite epic for a Doctor Who.top
Sue has decided to fixate on the picture of the woman with the laser for a nipple.
Sue: It’s realistic – it’s just the sort of thing a bloke would blu-tack to the wall – but did we really need to see it? Having a female president implies that we’ve gone beyond all that nonsense in the future. It’s a bit sad.
Luckily, I have the perfect distraction:
Me: We could play the Frontier in Space drinking game. If you think you can handle it.
Sue is up to the challenge and Jack Daniels makes a very welcome appearance. We consume a shot every time the Doctor or Jo are incarcerated in a cell. This can be a very dangerous game indeed.
Sue: You know, if you lit that pilot from behind, he’d look just like Mickey Mouse.
Me: You said that yesterday.
Sue: Trust me, it’s worth repeating.
General Williams threatens to use a mind probe on the Doctor…
Me: No! Not the mind probe!
I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Sue: Is the mind probe really bad?
Me: You have absolutely no idea. Actually, we could push the boat out by playing two different Frontier in Space drinking games at the same time: we have to take a shot every time somebody mentions a mind probe as well. We may require medical attention once this is over.
To pass the time, the Doctor regales Jo with a tale about the time he met a purple horse with yellow spots.
Sue: Now that’s an episode I’d like to see.
When he is questioned, the Doctor claims that he has never been employed by anyone in his entire life.
Sue: What is he talking about? Isn’t he technically working for UNIT right this very second? And then there’s the Time Lords. He’s always doing odd jobs for them. What a liar.
Sue believes that General Williams is “definitely in on it” (whatever “it” is). Incredibly, she also believes that the actor playing him (Michael Hawkins) exudes enough menace to be the big man himself.
Sue: Is this bloke the Master? Is this a new Master who has regenerated between stories? Or maybe an old Master? They could do that if they wanted to, couldn’t they? That would be a shock. Instead of The Three Doctors you could have The Two Masters. Am I close?
The action shifts to the Draconian embassy on Earth…
Sue: I love the Draconians’ flat. The Draconians have great interior designers. It’s very bright and airy. Maybe Habitat make a big comeback in the future? It’s possible. Actually, I bet this looks more believable now than it did back in the 1970s. This reeks of the 1970s.
Thanks to all the locking-up and mind probe posturing, it’s at this point that my notes become more and more illegible.
And then a strange whining sound is played into the prison…
Sue: That’s driven the dog out of the room. That’s the first mark to be deducted from this story. It was doing really well up until that point. Oh, but I might have to give a mark back for this bit – this is quite exciting. These Orcs don’t piss about.
The episode concludes with a platoon of Ogrons storming the prison, with the Doctor and Jo revealed to be their ultimate quarry.
Sue: Yeah, this is pretty good, actually.
Me: You’re drunk.top
Sue: It’s a hard life being President of Earth. Actually, I don’t like this scene. It implies that she cares more about her nails than she does the Draconian threat.
She is, of course, referring to the scene where the President is pampered on the brink of war.
Sue: I love her shoes, though. They’re very trendy right now.
After what feels like weeks of build-up, the Doctor is finally subjected to a Mind Probe.
Sue: Is that it? It’s a sink drainer! Actually, this is what they do to people who volunteer to go on Jeremy Kyle. “Have you ever had sexual contact with a Draconian?” And why does every woman in this society looks like she’s about to go to a cocktail party? That’s a bit silly.
The Doctor defeats the mind probe by telling the truth.
Sue: That’s another failure for the Jeremy Kyle researchers. Jeremy will not be pleased.
The Doctor decides to gloat at the mind probe’s ineffectiveness (a word that Jon Pertwee couldn’t say in real life).
Sue: Shoot him in the kneecaps – that’ll wipe the smug grin off his face. Or threaten him with a DNA paternity test.
The authorities decide to pack him off to a penal colony on the Moon instead.
Sue: Is it Guantanamo Bay in space? We are going to need a very big drink when he gets banged-up there.
Me: Are will still playing the Frontier in Space drinking game? I’m still dealing with the hangover from yesterday.
Sue: You wimp.
The Doctor arrives at the lunar penal colony.
Sue: Why isn’t the Doctor dressed in blue pyjamas like everyone else? I demand to see the Doctor in blue pyjamas.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, the Ambassador for Sirius IV demands custody of the Doctor and Jo. There’s just one tiny problem – the Ambassador is none other than…
Sue: Oh, it’s him. Again.
Me: I love how the Master doesn’t even warrant a cliffhanger. He just waltzes into the scene in the middle of a wide shot.
Sue: I quite like that. It’s subtle.
Me: But do we really want the programme to be subtle at this point?
Sue: To be honest, I’m less interested in the story now that the Master has turned up. The story felt quite fresh up until then. Now I’m just waiting for him to **** it all up. I wonder who he’s working with this time? It can’t be the Daleks. Even he isn’t that stupid.
The Doctor quickly ingratiates himself into the colony’s escape committee.
Sue: The Doctor has been reduced to drinking out of a cup designed for a toddler. In a pair of blue pyjamas. This is not one of his better days.
The episode draws to a close with a botched escape attempt that leaves the Doctor trapped in a room with no oxygen.
Sue: The story is beginning to lose a bit of momentum, but I’ve seen worse. The drinking probably helps.top
Sue: It’s Battle of the Beards!
Sue is referring to scene where the prison governor and the Master duke it out for custody of the Doctor.
Sue: The governor can’t stop fondling his whiskers. I think he might have goatee envy. The Master wins this round.
Meanwhile, in another cell…
Sue: This is the best cell that we’ve seem so far, and I am becoming quite the expert. You can actually film around this one. I’m guessing that we’ll be spending a fair amount of time in this particular cell.
The Doctor wonders who the Master could be working with this time.
Sue: Yeah, who is the Master going to be betrayed by this time? Is it the Cybermen? Or the Yeti? They are hyping it up, whoever it is.
The new cell that the Doctor and Jo now find themselves in comes equipped with a state of the art CCTV camera.
Sue: So no knocking one out before you go to sleep!
As the Master pilots the ship, he decides to eavesdrop on his captives.
Sue: I notice that the Master doesn’t have any porn on his dashboard. He’s a class act.
The Doctor pretends to talk to Jo as he surreptitiously breaks out of his cell at the same time.
Sue: There is a lot of continuity in this story.
Me: Yeah, there’s a surprising amount of references to old stories. Maybe it’s tied into the fact that this is the 10th anniversary year.
Sue: I like it.
Me: So you like a bit of fanwank then, do you?
Sue: I beg your pardon!
By the time I’ve explained this concept to her, Jo is still banging on about UNIT’s past glories.
Sue: They should talk about all the times the Master has ****ed it up. That would wipe the smug grin from his face. And why doesn’t he just pay an Ogron to watch over them? I bet they come cheap.
As the Doctor slips out of the cell, Jo keeps the fake conversation going.
Me: For the love of God, give her a Target novel to read!
The Doctor makes it outside the spaceship.
Sue: I can see the strings. But they’re trying, bless them.
Sue is shocked when the Doctor suddenly flies off into the inky blackness of space.
Sue: That’s a great cliffhanger.
Me: There’s still 10 minutes to go.
When the Doctor uses the air flow in his oxygen tank (“Nice radiator tap”) to propel himself back to the ship, Sue is reminded of James Bond, which is odd because Jo Grant references the super sleuth in her very next breath.
The Master eventually becomes suspicious of Jo’s never-ending monologue, and he doesn’t believe her for a second when she tries to convince him that the Doctor is fast asleep.
Sue: Yeah, she bored him to sleep.
Me: She was halfway through The Mutants at the time.
Sue: Hey! I like The Mutants!
Meanwhile, the Doctor is clambering towards an airlock on the side of the ship…
Sue: Oh dear, he’s got his leg caught in one of the strings.
The Master isn’t fooled by Jo’s antics and he taunts her for her being a very bad actress.
Sue: He’s very funny, I’ll give him that. The Master does liven up things, I suppose. I just can’t take him seriously. He smells of failure. And why does the Master want the Doctor anyway? You’d think he’d keep as far away from his arch-nemesis as possible, especially given his track record.
A Draconian landing party boards the ship and the Master and the Doctor are quickly overcome.
Sue: Just use your fingers!
The Master, Jo and the Doctor are thrown into a cell.
Sue: Do we have to take three shots of Jack when all three of them are locked up? Is that how it works?
Me: If you like. Any excuse will do.
The Master activates a device that he has secreted in his pocket.
Sue: Why didn’t anyone search him? That’s the first thing you do before you throw someone in a cell. Even I know that!
The episode concludes with a shot of an Ogron flying a spaceship.
Sue: What a rubbish cliffhanger.
Me: And no Ogron porn, either.top
Our heroes – and villain – are brought before the Draconian Emperor.
Me: This is the scene I remember from my childhood. It’s a very sketchy memory. I’m in my nana’s house. There’s a white rug on floor. Pikelets may have been involved.
Sue: The Draconians look great, I’m not surprised that you remember them. At last, an alien you can give a close-up to without feeling embarrassed about it. Their masks are very impressive. Why haven’t they turned up in the new series? I assume they must turn up quite a lot in old series from this point now on. You don’t create something that good and not use it again. It’s a bit like the Orcs – they were too good not to use again, too.
A Draconian is assigned to partner the Doctor in his quest to avert interplanetary war.
Sue: I hope they become firm friends. The Doctor should have an alien companion for a change. It would make him appear less racist.
And then we are treated to a dogfight in space – Doctor Who style.
Sue: Say what you like, the director is doing his best with what he’s been given. He wouldn’t know a cliffhanger if it bit him on the arse, but he can do the action scenes pretty well. This isn’t bad at all, all things considered.
The Doctor suggests that they arm themselves against the Ogrons’ boarding party.
Sue: The Doctor loves to shoot Orcs. I’m beginning to believe that he might have something against them.
And then Jo makes a social faux pas when she claims that all the Ogrons looks alike to her.
Sue: Oh, Jo! No!
Meanwhile, General Williams is recounting the events that led to the first Earth-Draconian war…
Sue: Hang on a minute – this is Babylon 5! It’s not just similar to Babylon 5 – it is Babylon 5!
You have to admit, it is uncanny.
Sue: I’m glad that Eric Cantona came good in the end. Just like the real Eric Cantona.
The Master attempts to hypnotise Jo into doing his bidding.
Sue: If Jo falls for this, I will be very disappointed. She should have been trained to – oh – right, she has been trained. Thank God for that. Jo is back to being her brave self again this week. I love how she takes on the Master and wins. You go, girl.
The episode ends with the Master reverting to his tried and tested fear-ray instead.
Sue: That’s another sloppy cliffhanger. We should have ended the episode with Jo seeing a monster. That’s just basic.top
The gap between Episodes Five and Six became a lot longer than we originally anticipated, hence the delay to this particular update.
It all started when one of our cats, Captain Jack, came down with a urinary tract infection. It’s a bloody good job we took him to the vets when we did because we were later told he would have been dead by the weekend if we hadn’t. Captain Jack hasn’t been a good patient, though, and the last few days have been spent fielding late-night phone calls from distressed vets who don’t seem to understand why Jack wants to bite them whenever they try to stick a rod up his penis. In the end, they sent him home, but it looks like they did this because they can’t be bothered with him, and now he has to go back for yet another procedure. It’s been stressful to say the very least and the Ogrons just had to wait.
And then, in the middle of this, I succumbed to a pinched nerve in my neck. This sounds trivial but believe me, it is probably the most excruciatingly relentless pain that I have ever had to endure. I can’t move my left arm at all.
In fact, I am currently typing this up with one finger, and if this entry makes less sense than usual, please blame the copious amounts of codeine and tramadol that I’m taking. Hang on, did a purple horse with yellow spots just walk past the window?
Sue: Why is Jo frightened of that thing?
Me: The Mutant?
Sue: Yeah, I thought they were supposed to be the good guys. She almost slept with one once, didn’t she? That makes no sense at all.
Back on Earth, politicians are calling for all-out war against Draconia. As an American rants about the Draconian menace on a television screen, Nicol walks into the room:
Nicol: He sounds like a T-bagger.
Sue: I can’t believe you know what that means.
Me: And I can’t believe that you clearly don’t know what that means!
Sue: Oh look – another cell. I do hope that’s chocolate Angel Delight Jo is eating.
Jo decides to dig her way out of her cell with a spoon.
Sue: Use the bowl. You’ll be there forever, love.
Me: When she gets out, she can give the Master his just desserts.
Sue aims a cushion at me but I manage to talk her down.
Sue: What’s that picture on the wall supposed to represent?
Me: Ogron porn?
Sue: It does look a bit testicular.
As the episode builds towards its rather infamous crescendo, I can tell that Sue has become distracted. She can’t take her eyes off Captain Jack, who has become completely engrossed by the Ogrons.
Sue: The cat loves this episode.
Me: Yes, but he’s smashed off his face on drugs.
And then the Doctor finds himself outside the spaceship. Again.
Sue: There’s a lot of padding in this episode. This is the last episode – it should be pulling its finger out. We did this last week, didn’t we?
We finally arrive on the fabled Ogron planet (“What a dump”), and our heroes stumble into a shoot-out with the Ogrons. Luckily, the Ogrons are frightened off by something hideous/ridiculous.
Sue: It’s Jabba the Hut.
Me: Jabba the Hoover Bag, surely?
Sue: I’m surprised you know what a hoover bag looks like.
And then the Master appears with his new allies – the Daleks!
Sue: I knew it! I said it was the Daleks. They’re very late. It must have been exciting for the kids until they realised that they’d only see them for 10 minutes. Oh dear, they sound terrible. Is there a special edition with Briggsy doing the voices?
The Doctor finds himself in another cell. It’s getting to be a habit and we’ve run out of Jack Daniels.
Sue: The Doctor will escape by reversing the polarity. He always reverses the polarity.
The episode concludes with a confusing shoot-out and a Doctor who appears to be shitting himself.
Sue: I can’t believe this isn’t over yet. How many episodes is this really? Be honest.
Me: Well, technically, it’s 12…
A cushion hits me right between the eyes.
Sue: So I don’t have to mark it?
Me: No, you still have to mark it.
Sue: Is the next episode called Frontier in Space Episode Seven?
Sue: So, is this 12-parts or not?
Me: It’s two six-parters that run into each other.
Sue: Is that supposed to make me feel better?top
The Final Score
Sue: These stories are far too long. Finding out that it isn’t even over yet doesn’t exactly help. If they had compressed that into four episodes, it would have been a seven, or maybe even an eight. But they blew it.
Sue: I still can’t believe it isn’t over. However, having said that, watching the Master work with the Daleks should be fun.
As you know, we won’t be making it to the Gallifrey convention in Los Angeles this year. We had hoped to photograph Sue next to William Russell in a “They Should Have Called The Show ‘Ian’” t-shirt, but, alas, it was never meant to be. But wait! We now have an opportunity to get our hands on the next best thing. Please check out this blog and donate what you can so we can live vicariously through this fan. Cheers.
The next site update could be another week away. It’s just a very bad time at the moment. We’ll keep watching the episodes, though, so once things get back to normal, the updates could speed up a bit. We are very close to releasing some new merchandise too, so please stay tuned for that.
The experiment continues…
Just when I thought that this week couldn’t get any worse, seconds before I hit the ‘Publish’ button for this entry, I received a phone call. Sue has been rushed to hospital with chest pains. This has almost certainly been brought on by the increasingly complicated Captain Jack saga, and, given her family history, they will be running some tests and keeping her in overnight. I’ll keep everyone updated via Twitter and our Facebook page. I’m sure she’ll be OK. She has to be – we have to finish Planet of the Daleks.
UPDATED: The Wife in Space in no longer the Wife in Hospital. She’s just been discharged and she’s going to be fine. Many thanks for your all kind wishes.top
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